ADHD, My Superpower and My Kryptonite
Throughout the course of my life, I have struggled to find my place among the vast realm of a society inundated with convergent thinkers. I have often felt restricted by the reality that those around me would rather celebrate the subpar standards of orthodox conformity, than to admit the inadequacies of a broken system that refuses to understand and validate the brilliant complexity of individuals who are divergently wired. As a child, I was often subjected to those types of biases as a result of being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Regardless of the dark shadow that many have attempted to cast over my future, as a result of humanities misinformed predisposition of my “symptoms,” labeled as the undesirable consequences of a learning disability, I still refuse to accept that ill-fated existence. I desperately desire to prove that those of us who “suffer” from ADHD, aren’t “suffering” as a result of a disability, we suffer because of the dismissive classifications inaccurately branding our greatest strengths, like creativity, spontaneity, and energetic zeal as symptoms rather than blessings. For our society to begin reversing the damages caused by their misguided attempt to “fix” those of us who process reality differently, they must validate the good with the bad; thus, initiating a more universal positive dialog that seeks to validate the strengths of people, rather than isolate and brand that which we don’t understand.
While I may never be able to fully conceptualize how the socially accepted can categorize an entire group of people based on how they process information, I can concur that the full totality of ADHD is so multifaceted, varying case by case, that it is no wonder outsiders can’t accurately formulate a conclusive synopsis. One characteristic of being ADHD, that many people are unaware of, is the level of creativity that we innately possess. From the outside looking in, our creativity may take the form of perfectionism, or obsessive-compulsive disorder; however, these are only “symptoms” displayed by many of us with ADHD who have been damaged by the dismissing trauma society has inadvertently placed on us. Because our minds wander and drift in and out of different thought patterns, not separated by the normal facets of time such is the case for more linear thinkers, we are able to construct different ideas plucked straight out of the bleak obscurity from un-forged territories, elegantly repurposing thoughts while utilizing our crafty ingenuity. This quality has been a huge benefit to me for as long as I can remember but, because of my anxieties relating to failure, exposure, and inadequacies, many people are completely unaware that I harbor such talents.
Regrettably, for a moment of my life I allowed the flawed interpretations of my diagnosis to dictate my behaviors. Impulsivity is generally frowned upon. But regardless of how often I would try and force myself to walk in line, narrowly down the well-constructed, pre-planned path as instructed for “my protection,” I would somehow innocently find myself chasing that proverbial white rabbit down an endless blackhole, seeking out an adventure. As I am sure you can guess, I always would end up at the receiving end of a long-winded lecture demanding to know, “what were you thinking!” Oddly enough, I could never formulate a response, because honestly, I hadn’t a clue what I was thinking in that moment; that “moment” had already passed. From the many times of getting in trouble because of my impulsive nature, I finally had determined, like the rest of society, that impulsivity would subsequently be a deterrent to my future. It wasn’t until I became an adult, that I began to see this characteristic as a benefit to my life. There are many times in our lives where we are challenged to set aside logic to take certain risks for the potential of obtaining something great. In situations like these I thrive; as opposed to someone who would never accept any kind of offer without some sort of safety net in place first. While it’s only fair to still admit that impulsivity has caused my journey to be more tumultuous than most, I still celebrate it as a blessing, because ultimately it has given me an exceptional ability to problem-solve, think under pressure and initiate solutions quickly. Now looking back at the past, seeing that crying little girl being lectured for the thousandth time for not following the route designated for her, I wish I could hold her face in my hands and give her a glimpse of how her once shunned vivacious spontaneity will evolve over time, casting out all her self-doubt as she sees how eventually the good will outweigh the bad.
As a child of the late 80’s and early 90’s, my explosive energetic zeal was unquestionably not revered as a positive attribute; especially during a time when kids were supposed to be seen and not heard. Well, I didn’t go “unheard,” ever! Even though this behavior was starkly condemned by all authoritative persons over me, I have learned to appreciate my high levels of energetic drive. Other people may view my hyperactivity as a negative trait because of my tendency to over talk others, or because of my inability to sit still for long periods of time; however the talents I hold because of hyperactivity that most fail to validate are, my ability to persevere when others can’t, my capacity to calmly juggle multiple things at one time in the midst of adversity, and the tenacity to endure moments that may require a daunting demand for hyper focus! I also feel incredibly fortunate to be blessed with the ability to handle chaotic situations with an eerie sense of calm; while others around me may not be able to problem solve in those highly stressful situations, but for me, that’s technically my “normal” wave length used for data processing.
Although as a child, I was unfortunately misunderstood and categorized as an individual with behavioral issues relating to ADHD, I was still able to somehow turn off the external dialog that was beginning to warp my own internal discourse and learned to embrace the good qualities that resided just beneath the surface of a dismal diagnosis. When I finally was able to release the skewed depictions of my own reality, I felt an incredible freeing liberation come over me. My hope for future generations, is that they will learn from the mistakes of the past, and rather than continuing the negative dialog stigmatizing those who have been diagnosed with ADHD, they begin embracing the creative individuality, the unrestricted spontaneous spirits and the energetic drives, of individuals that are different than the majority.