Embracing ADHD for all it has to offer
It is not an illness, but we really do see the world differently than you do. That does not make ADHD people wrong.
“Can’t you just sit still?” he asked with irritation dripping from his lips.
“Nope,” I answered without missing a beat and continued to move around.
I don’t even explain it anymore.
ADHD is real, but it is not an illness. It is not an excuse for laziness, or for not paying attention. It is a different way of seeing and interacting with the world.
I didn’t know I had ADHD until I was an adult. I knew I saw the world differently than most people did, and I knew things often didn’t work for me the way people said they would.
My wife was a nurse at a pediatrician’s office, and she worked with a lot of kids who had ADHD, and some whose parents wrongfully thought their kids had it. One day she brought home a brochure for me to read. 10 symptoms of adult ADHD. I had nine of them. I don’t chatter a lot, other than that, I’m the poster child for this condition.
There are some good things about ADHD. While I do have it, it is not extreme. I am able to function just fine, and most people don’t even notice. People think I’m a little scatter-brained or that I’m not paying attention. In all honesty, if you are a speaker and see that I am looking right at you and not moving, I am not paying attention, I am taking a nap. If im scribbling on a piece of paper, not looking at you at all, and perhaps looking at my phone, i probably am deeply concentrating on your every word.
Here is an example of how it works.
I was the editor at a newspaper that had a noon deadline each day. So imagine 11:30 a.m. I am finishing up the front page, talking to a reporter about a story I need and how long it should be. Listening to another reporter talk about a story that will be in tomorrow’s paper. The phone rings and its someone wanting coverage on some minor thing, so we plan that while I use the software to finish up the front. The publisher walks by and asks me a question, I don’t answer. The phone rings again and its my wife wanting me to pick up something, and of courses she insists that I write it down so I wont forget. I have to ask the photo dept. to re-do a photo real quick, so I just holler across the room. Now its 11:50, front almost done, reporter handing me the last minute story. A city councilman on the phone wanting to know why the hell I didn’t put something in the paper. I have a very quick talk with a reporter about possibly doing something last-second for this issue, but we decide against it. I get the redone photo just in time and send the front at 11:55. Pressman comes up and gives me an inquisitive gesture. I flash a thumbs-up, and the paper is done. Another normal day. I call the publisher to answer his question.
A lot of people would be rattled or stressed in that situation. To me it was fun, relaxing even. That is where I am at my best. 10 things going on at the same time. Pressure from several angles. It looks like a jumbled mess to the casual observer, but to me that is normal. So in the rush and stress of deadline, the rest of the newsroom gets to see how my internal world is at all times.
It’s in the afternoon, when things are slow, then I have trouble. No deadlines, no interruptions, time to do one thing at a time. I might as well go home and take a nap.
Here are some truths about ADHD:
I never feel interrupted. I actually like doing several things at same time.
I can hear 10 people tell me i cant really multi-task, while im ordering pizza — are artichokes ok? — and writing the rest of this post. It isn’t that we are doing two things at once, we are just really good at shifting gears quickly. We can go back and forth so fast it looks like we are doing them all at once.
It is hard to get focused, but once we are focused, it takes an army to break that focus.
I see how things relate, that apparently don’t relate. We can see the big picture and how changing one tree will affect the entire forest and all the other individual trees. We really do see the world in a different way than other people.
We drive linear, black and white thinkers crazy, and they drive us crazy too. Im not real sure that black and white even exist.
We do get bored easily, which goes back to the focus thing. Give me one task with no deadline, it may or may not get done and may be half-assed when finished. Give me 10 things to do with an impossible deadline, and ill get 12 done by the original deadline and manage to get lunch in there as well.
I can’t explain it. I also can’t change it. Some people understand and some don’t. What I have learned is to accept myself and to accept others.
So keep telling me I can’t multi-task. Ill respond as im doing two other things at the same time.
When I see articles on how to eliminate clutter, and how to get organized, my initial thought is … “why would you want to do that?”
Kind of new to Medium, so give me a little encouragement. A fan would be cool, but what I really want is feedback. Id love to see some comments on my stories.