Most of the time, I like my ADHD. I received the formal diagnosis in my forties but I always suspected that my brain isn’t wired like everyone else’s.
By the time I was in 4th grade, I’d developed a fascination with how our brains work. I chose “Left Brain Right brain” by Sally P. Springer and Georg Deutsch as my first “big deal” book report.
I remember it well because my Uncle Joe had to sign it out of the Public Library for me since I was under the age of 18. The librarian explained there was a reference to human sexuality in it and he teased me good-naturedly for a long time after that – wondering what it was schools were teaching these days.
This was around the same time I heard teachers talking about kids they thought were “hyper.”
That’s how I snuck by. I wasn’t “hyper” on the outside. But if you took a peek into what was going on in my head when I appeared to be paying attention – you’d definitely know something was not like the others.
By the time I was in the workforce, I read an article that was a perfect description of me as a child. The article broke out differences between ADHD symptoms in girls versus boys.
The word “hyper-focus” was the first to make me take notice. If something got my attention, I could work on it for hours and days on end. A great book – I’d read it in one sitting. A job I loved – can you say workaholic? The internet in the 90’s…
What I found even more interesting was the mention of inattentiveness. Wasn’t that a conflict? It wasn’t for me. If the topic wasn’t of interest, my mind was off in a million different directions. This was a symptom attributed more to females than males. Being withdrawn and having poor self-esteem were two more. I was also that kid in school who’s disorganized locker was overflowing.
My takeaway by the end of the article was that if I was ADHD, my options were to take medication for it, or learn to cope and get organized. Since childhood Asthma and allergies left me with a severe dislike of medication, the choice was easy.
In the early days, planners, color coded folders, and lists with check-boxes helped me manage and hide how I felt on the inside – disorganized and chaotic.
Today, thanks to people like Peter Shankman, author of the “Faster than Normal” book and creator of the #1 ADHD podcast on iTunes, I don’t feel broken. His mantra that ADHD is a gift, not a curse is one all of us with ADHD need to hear. If you have, or suspect you have this gift – check out these two resources – they’ve helped me.
I left home at eighteen because the parents that raised me became hoarders. It was challenging enough to have my brain. The hoarding triggered my anxiety and Asthma. The tendency for risk-taking that comes with ADHD helped me moved cross-country to California with no job, no place to live and not much money.
An ability to hyper-focus allowed me learn new markets and industries when I entered the workforce. I found ways to to do more of what I loved at every company I worked for until I transitioned to being on my own.
It hasn’t been all unicorns and puppies along the way. Finding the right people and right mindset have made it a lot easier. That’s key for anything you’re working through.
What’s your biggest struggle right now?