You ask me “What is it like to have ADHD”?
Though medicated, I’ve been making changes to my scripts so I’ve had some very ADHD moments. Especially, lately.
But how I experience ADHD is not how you will experience it, because truly the only consistent thing about ADHD is its inconsistency. Also we’re kinda inconsistent people because of our inconsistent ADHD.
What do I mean when I say the only consistency is inconsistency?
I mean we all will experience the symptoms of ADHD in different ways. ADHD affects people differently. But here’s the kicker – those symptoms will also be inconsistent.
Dopamine. – But we’ll get to that later.
So back to the first question now that you understand you can’t judge yourself or any person you know with ADHD by my description here. We are a product of our genes, our environment, our upbringing, our family, our education – each and every one of us different.
A million thoughts fly through my head and I can’t hold on to one for more than a few seconds. The minute I settle on something to do, my brain thinks of all the other things that need to be done and thus the cycle begins. Whatever the task ,I’m unable to just do it. Why? Because I’m so overwhelmed with options, that it requires me three times as long as normal to do anything and I’m unwilling to torture myself like that. I also become paralyzed by the fear of picking the wrong thing.
I know in the past after one of these episodes, I’d make myself feel miserable– My inner demon critiquing my lack of productivity in painful ways. I didn’t want to listen, I wanted to turn it off but was helpless. Why? Because I had no control over it. That’s right, all it took to get through this crisis moment was to understand and truly accept that I was powerless at that moment. Then I took a deep breath and some of the stress slipped away. The anger dissipated as I accepted I have weaknesses, boundaries and limitations. I’d pushed myself too hard and thus needed a little self care to get me back on track.
The simple act of giving yourself a break can be one of the hardest things to do. To say, I am powerless, is hard. It goes against everything I knew as a child then as a young adult.
We try to live up to the expectations we have in our head. Expectations formed from bits and pieces of our lives. A few words here, an impactful movie there, sage advice from a friend, but mostly from our parents. Whether they know it or not. ADHD brains soak up criticism and bask in it like the sun. We relive painful or awkward moments over and over again.
Do we want to? NO. Personally, without medication and therapy, I had no choice. I was helpless to direct my own brain.
But how did you do so well in school? How did you have such tough jobs?
I’m not unintelligent. We are not our diagnosis. I’m just as capable as the next person, I just do things in a different way. I had a lot of help along the way but most of it was sheer determination and grit. Persistence. I just had to so I just did. But as an adult I know that mindset made me my own worst enemy. I can vividly remember how cruel I was to myself. I remember how much I believed the negative things I would think about myself.
The things I could have accomplished in college or right after had I had a normal brain haunted me for a long time. Now I realize there was no other way this could have been or I wouldn’t be here talking to you. Trying to help all ADHDers understand: don’t be your worst enemy. The soundtrack playing in your head is created by you and fueled only by you – your words.
That’s right– you’re the only one belittling yourself. Your complaints might be valid but give yourself a break already! You’ve got a different brain. Some things are going to be harder for you, period. Understand your weaknesses and seek coping mechanisms to help get you through. Understand what your body needs to be at it’s best every day and try to do those things every stinkin’ day. You’ll fail 4 maybe 6 days out of the week but I’m telling you, if you just keep trying you will achieve. It takes us longer, but we get there.
I know what it feels like to operate at peak performance for me. I know what normal feels like. This is not it. Unable to decide on anything, I switch to something easy and tell myself it’s ok, it’s just one of those days. See here’s the thing, I have no control over this so why get mad at myself.
Did I answer the question? Wait, what was the question again? 😉
So in summary this is what ADHD is like for me. In this article, my thoughts are everywhere! In my mind I’m switching between my child, young adult and what I consider my adult perspective. Yes I can vividly remember how mean I was to myself. I remember how much I believed the negative things I would think about myself. But it didn’t have to be that way, and it doesn’t for you either.
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