For me, being diagnosed with ADHD (as an adult) was the biggest relief thus far in life. At first the concept of having a “disorder” was upsetting, however simply having an explanation as to why I was “different” than other people was worth the discomfort. See growing up with ADD you are told to “sit still” or “pay attention” and you get used to being the kid that acts out. Other children are able to listen to these instructions, but you just CAN’T HELP YOURSELF!
Does ADHD mean I am stupid?
I have horrible spelling. I always have and always will. I can remember vividly having a friend give me a hard time in college because I spelled so many words wrong. When I asked him “Do you think I am stupid because I can’t spell?” he responded with “I think I am more intelligent than you because I can”. This hurt, BAD. He was not the first, nor the last person to judge my intelligence because of my ADHD.
Of course now I know better than to take the words personally, but still it is easy to get sad or offended. What people don’t understand is that there are parts of my life (every day) which are significantly more difficult for me than for the non ADHD. It is hard to explain this to people and often not worth it.
Getting Diagnosed with ADHD
For me the worst time was when my natural coping skills where no longer enough to keep up with the rest of society. This happened just after college when the forced structure of “school” was removed and I just couldn’t get anything done. I became depressed as I watched the world cruise on by and felt like I just didn’t have what it takes to compete. The depression got bad enough that I sought out the help of a therapist. Thankfully withing 10 min of our first session she identified ADD and recommended I speak to a specialist.
It took about 6 months to nail down a proper balance of personal coping and medication. As I became comfortable with the concept of being “ADD” the anxieties and depression caused by being “Different” went away. Although I still struggle with the difficulty of some parts of life (do you know how hard it is to pay bills on time?) knowing that I’m not just “dumb” has become a huge relief.
Adjusting to life with ADHD.
One of the best parts of realizing that I have ADHD has been understanding my behaviors and being able to either explain them and/or adjust them. When I realize that the impulse control is real and not just my lack of discipline, I can better understand how to control it. An ADHD diagnosis was not a band-aid to me, but rather a clear view into what makes me “tick”. It helps me accept being different than the majority of the population. As far as managing the down sides of the disorder, it goes up and down. Although I will always be dealing with this disorder, I at least know what I am dealing with.
The Benefits of ADHD
Every cloud has it’s silver lining, and ADHD is no different. As I have come to understand what make’s an ADHD brain different than a “normal” brain, I can now understand some of my strengths. Ask anyone with ADHD about “connecting the dots” and they will have a story for you. Since my mind is CONSTANTLY going I am connecting thoughts all day that might just go un-noticed. In my line of work, the creativity (which I largely attribute to my ADHD) is a strength that has gotten me where I am. I can think of things others wouldn’t, even if I have trouble balancing a spread sheet. Coming to appreciate these qualities has been a huge part of my healing process. Although there are times that the difficulties of the disorder weigh on me, I would not trade it for anything.