Adult ADHD – No, you are not stupid!


Adult ADHD – No, you are not stupid! Shutterstock

Adult ADHD is not an easy thing to live with, especially when you don’t know you suffer it. My sister can attest I always thought I was stupid. I had the attention span of a mosquito. I still do, but I have learnt to curb it.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is now worldwide. Its main symptoms are lack of focused attention, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity. Sixty percent of the children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to suffer from these symptoms into adulthood. That is 4 percent of adults in the U.S. Adult ADHD: No, you are not stupid. At school, it always took me forever to finish a task. What would take a normal kid 30 minutes, took me hours. This is till a reality for me. Going from one activity to another, not being able to sit still, starting a project… or two… or three, at the same time –that’s just me. Running out of patience when something takes too long and giving up, convinced that I can’t do it, even when it’s something I am really interested in – that’s also me. Sometimes I cannot even remember my social security number and it is difficult for me to sit through any activity, like a movie for example, without fidgeting and looking at my watch non-stop. But beyond that, ADHD has affected the way I perceive myself. I go on ‘screen saver mode’ when some says, “Let me explain.” I immediately think I won’t understand.

Symptoms of ADHD in adults:

I always suspected and joked about having ADHD, but finally, having someone test and diagnose me, was a real relief! There is nothing like the “knowledge” of one’s condition to be able to overcome it, or in my case, befriend it and work with it to my advantage. ADHD symptoms can be divided into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness.

Inattention symptoms manifest at work or in social situations as:

  • Being easily distracted and interrupting tasks to attend to something else.
  • Being unable to focus on any task or activity for a prolonged length of time.
  • Shifting from one uncompleted activity to another.
  • Procrastinating tasks, which are found boring or tedious.
  • Being disorganized at work or at home. Being forgetful, usually about daily activities, appointments, calls or groceries.
  • Frequently shifting conversations or having difficulty listening to others.
  • In extreme cases, not following social rules.

Hyperactivity symptoms often manifest as:

  • Getting up frequently and being unable to sit for a prolonged period.
  • Having difficulty engaging in leisure activities that are not physically active.
  • Always being on the go.
  • Talking excessively. Being fidgety

Impulsivity manifests as:

  • Blurting the first thing that comes to mind.
  • Perhaps becoming addicted to gambling, drugs or alcohol.
  • Being impatient and sometimes acting recklessly.
  • Doing something without taking into account the possible consequences.
  • Interrupting people when a thought comes to mind.

It all depends on the intensity of the ADHD symptoms, which can go from mild to extreme. In many cases, when extreme symptoms are present, ADHD is best treated with medication and therapy.

Advantages of ADHD

I found out having ADHD can have lots of advantages. People with ADHD are highly creative and constantly on the move to find even more fun things to do. Working on something new and trying out new experiences can keep you on your toes. ADHD is all but boring! I have always admired Sir Richard Branson for being a daredevil and for passionately pursuing – and accomplishing – his dreams. This man, I discovered, suffers from ADHD, as other famous people do. They have exploited their creativity and channeled their energy in creative ways. And, I found out, I can too.

How do I do it?

  • I use post-its and carry a little notebook everywhere I go. I write lists of things to do. The problem is remembering to read the darn notebook though!
  • If I am distracted in a conversation, I now ask people to repeat. I’m not afraid to tell them I have ADHD.
  • If I don’t know how to do something, I will ask and tell people to be patient with me.
  • When I have to focus, I make sure I turn off my phone, close the chat window on my computer and that I don’t listen to music.
  • Whenever possible and if an option, I avoid doing anything I don’t like. I become frustrated, anxious and moody if I do. Besides, I can do what I am passionate about so much better.
  • If I am angry, I leave the room before saying anything that I’ll later regret.
  • I remind myself that life is not all fun and excitement, and I can find creative ways to stave off boredom.

I have learned that we can overcome most everything – it’s all about intention!

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