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Does ADHD Define Me?

by Jane

I have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I have known since I was ten years old. It’s a big part of how I am seen by people in the world. My schedule, routines, actions (or lack thereof) are all affected by this neurological disorder, and it changes the way I have to operate in order to function every day. And while all of that is true for me, and may be true of most ADHDers, this does not mean that ADHD defines me. Sure, ADHD is a big part of who I am, but my interests, strengths, and personality traits are mine alone.

ADHD Does Not Define Me

If you ever spend time interacting with a community of ADHD adults, you will discover something: While we all relate greatly to one another’s daily struggles and experiences, we come from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions. There are artists, teachers, doctors, life coaches. Some are extroverts, while some prefer the comfort of their own homes. Many people with ADHD are successful in fields that you wouldn’t imagine a person with ADHD being. For instance, a professional organizer. Being organized is probably the last thing people would think to associate with an ADHDer – and anyone who has seen my bedroom would know why. But that just proves that there’s more to us than our ADHD.

When We Shine

When we are passionate about something, we can succeed, and even excel, in spite of our ADHD. Sometimes the unique attributes of an ADHD brain might even be an asset to us—be it the power to think outside the box, to see beyond the obvious, or to effect change in our chosen field. In this article from Scientific American, studies showed that qualities like “distractibility and chaotic mind can give people with ADHD an edge when it comes to creative, original thinking.” Pretty awesome, right?

How To Cope

Despite these advantages, many of us need medication to help us get past the roadblocks of ADHD and become the version of ourselves that we want to be, while others may find it possible to succeed simply by using coping mechanisms and a driving passion for their interest.

It took a long time for me to accept that medication was the best route for me. But even now, while medicated, I still feel like the same “me” I’ve come to know and, on good days, love. I know I maintain the creative and quirky characteristics that define me– my personality hasn’t changed – despite medication or ADHD. The difference is, when I’m medicated I can be a better and more functional version of myself. And, thank goodness, now I can actually remember to turn the stove off. Well, almost always, anyway.

Do you feel like ADHD is who you are, or is it simply one aspect of your whole self?

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