For many of us as adults, being diagnosed with ADHD or being told we need to go for an assessment, can quite often leave us feeling offended. But, why? Surely discovering a new part of our identities is empowering, no?
The truth is the stereotype for ADHD we are all so used to is the idea of hyperactive young boys eating too much sugar and disrupting the classroom or causing a scene in public. Of course, this stereotype is a false representation of ADHD, but still it is what most of us are conditioned to believe. So, when proposed the possibility having ADHD as an adult it does feel insulting. It feels like being told we have a behavioural problem or have been subjected to a lack of self-discipline.
The issue with the stereotypes is that they focus on all the negative aspects of ADHD. Essentially, they are just representing all the characteristics that others find annoying or disruptive. What we should be doing is providing a balanced overview, showing both potential difficulties found in ADHD as well as common strengths.
Perhaps by finding some nuance in the diagnosis of ADHD we can empower each other.
Disorder or Difference?
I have and never will consider myself disordered. Yes, in terms of the diagnostic criteria ADHD is considered a disorder and hidden disability but my own personal interpretation is that it is a neurological difference. Personally, I find empowerment in having this ‘difference’.
Maybe there is another way we can look at our traits.
Not hyperactive, but energised and enthusiastic
Not over-sensitive, but passionate and empathetic
Not deficient, but subject to an alternative efficiency
If we consider the effects of trauma on the mind and body, quite often it can look like ADHD. With that in mind, already having ADHD and also carrying trauma could (and often does) exacerbate our traits.
And where does a lot of ADHD trauma come from? Being misunderstood.
Perhaps constantly being told we are broken, disordered, dysregulated is a massive contributor to our trauma? Instead, if we could change the language that we use to describe ourselves and the language others use to describe us then we might just avoid a tonne of unnecessary trauma.
It is easy to be confused by what dopamine is, especially when in relation to ADHD. It is the main chemical our brain releases to motivate us to do something. In connection to ADHD, it is widely considered we have a dysregulated or deficient supply. However, one of the greatest positive characteristics of ADHD is our ability to hyperfocus. This is when we get a huge release of dopamine allowing us to maintain and curate our focus on something for a large amount of time.
So, are we really dysregulated? Alternatively, maybe we just have a different way of regulating.
Quite often I find when struggling to concentrate on something I find that it is because there is something else that I’d rather be focus on. When something is new or interesting to me, I can happily explore it for hours, sometimes days or weeks. It is like I have a selective focus. Often this can be incredible. There are so many random things I have learnt to do because of. For example, last year my boiler broken, and my flat was freezing which then led me to becoming quite the expert on boiler maintenance and has saved me a lot of money.
If we really want to be satisfied in life, then maybe we should pursue and be encouraged to pursue whatever it is that we are truly fascinated by.
Impulsivity vs Creativity
If we didn’t take any risks in life, then what would be the point? The world would be a dull and dreary place. Think about all the great art and music we have created over the centuries; it all came from creativity and experimentation.
Yes, I will admit being impulsive can lead to some disastrous consequences. However, it also leads to creative flow, new discoveries, out-of-the-box ideas, problem solving and excellent crisis management. Where will you find another group of people who share all these wonderful features?
The combination of passion, imagination and a little bit of obsession sets people with ADHD apart. So, who cares if a little bit of impulsivity causes a tad of chaos from time to time…
Name Calling & Judgement
Eccentric, weird, dramatic, over-dramatic, over-sensitive, annoying, overbearing, psycho, wild, intense, childish, immature, fragile, lazy, disordered, irrational, unstable… How many of you have been called these before?
Really, I think people just love to label things they cannot quite fully comprehend. We face this kind of name calling pretty much on the daily, and after a while you do start to believe it. However, we don’t have to accept it. People will always judge, but really that says more about them then us.
There awareness of ADHD isn’t quite there yet, and honestly the science and studies into the condition are very convoluted. It seems nobody can quite agree on where we come from and why we are the way we are.
Perhaps we are not a collective group of eccentric, weird, overdramatic people but instead just a bunch of crazy little renegades…