In 2018 I was finally diagnosed with what was strikingly obvious from the beginning of my life, I have ADHD. You see my brain is quite literally different to yours, if you sliced my brain up in two, well perhaps less guesomly, plugged me into an FMRI machine. My brain would light up very differently to yours, the neural circuits are different, the neurotransmitters work different and my frontal lobe – my executive functions – which are the parts of the brain that likes logic, order and organisation is just not up for the task a lot of the time.
A lot of people when they think of ADHD think of children, bouncing off the walls and causing chaos in the classroom. Well, although this is true to an extent, ADHD shows up in completely different ways for each individual depending on many, many clever things that are happening in your brain. Plus boys and girls act differently with the disorder, it’s a complicated disorder, It is estimated that 70 percent of children with ADHD continue to exhibit symptoms into adulthood, not exactly surprising due to the fact it is a literally a brain disorder, that doesn’t just go away. Often, the hyperactive behaviors common with children decrease with age, but symptoms of restlessness, distractibility, and inattention continue, and for me they got a hell of a lot worse when I am in on office surrounding and make it particularly hard to function effectively at work.
So what does my ADHD look like?
MAJOR distractibility, restlessness, difficulty organising my self or other things, tendency to act or blurt out before thinking (I am ridiculously impulsive), chaotic spinning mind, frustrations, forgetfulness, difficulty maintaining long-term relationships, isolation.
I am extremely impulsive, I have quit more jobs than you can even begin to fathom, made completely rash decisions that literally no one, even myself can begin to understand. I literally cannot watch a film all the way through, I need constant breaks, I switch from one task to the next, like a computer my brain has 85 tabs open at any minute, 3000 emails in my inbox and I forget where I have put things 3 minutes after putting them down. My brain constantly flicks to one idea to the next, and I get bored very very easily. Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? Or a comedy sketch, But its not, it’s my everyday life. And because I am always so hard on myself, I get very very frustrated with myself easily, forgetting that I actually have a different brain to others and I need to accept that. I am just not wired to do what others do in the way they do it.
You know what though? Apart from the glaringly obvious negatives of having this disorder most days I can see the positives in it.
This came as a surprise to you, but a lot of psychologists and entrepreneurs actually title ADHD as a kind of superpower. Did you know that Albert Einstein, Justin Timberlake and Richard Branson all have ADHD? It’s worth noting that some of the trait’s most common characteristics – creativity, multi-tasking, risk-taking, high energy and even resilience- are, in fact, strengths when leveraged in the right way and in the right career or in the right lifestyle. It’s why so many successful and high profile people are beginning to publicly embrace their diagnoses of ADHD. There is nothing to be ashamed of. As difficult as the disorder is, you can really leverage it to become a kind of superpower.
You see my ADHD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things, I am highly creative, restless, always searching for the best things in life and the best way to do it. Besides being easily bored with routine and the status quo, people with ADHD including myself tend to thrive to feel the urge to keep moving, to take massive risks and keep life well, lively. In fact the gene associated with ADHD is sometimes called the “explorer gene”. I love to try new things, to travel and have adventures and I am never afraid to jump into the unknown, conformity, stability and routine scare me to death.
That’s not the life I want to live, and that’s okay, so I believe my ADHD is a gift, as it really pushes me outside of my comfort zone, which is where we all should live. Right?