These days, people seem to use the term ADHD quite casually — any moment of forgetfulness or lack of focus is construed as “ADHD.” It’s almost become a punchline, but living with ADHD is no joke.
For me, ADHD is both a blessing and a curse. While it’s certainly made life more interesting, it’s come with many challenges.
Here are the eight things I want people to know about ADHD.
1. It’s a real condition
Hopefully, this one is obvious. ADHD is a real neurological condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
Yet, in my experience, some people still don’t believe ADHD is a real condition. They think it’s an excuse to be lazy or engage in bad behavior. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
2. It’s ADHD, not ADD
If you have ADHD, you can be one of three types:
- inattentive ADHD
- hyperactive ADHD
- ADHD combined type
If you want to play it safe, saying “ADHD” is fine if you’re referring to one of the above types. But you should avoid saying ADD. It has become sort of an outdated term in the ADHD community. (But don’t worry, we won’t get offended if you still say ADD sometimes.)
3. It’s not limited to children
While most people develop symptoms of ADHD in early childhood, some aren’t diagnosed until later in life. I didn’t receive an ADHD diagnosis until the age of 24.
Also, ADHD is a lifelong condition. Symptoms of the disease might not be as apparent as you get older, but that doesn’t mean you’re cured.
4. ‘Distractedness’ is only one piece of the puzzle
I always remind people that ADHD is incredibly complex. Words like “distractedness” or “hyperactive” don’t complete the puzzle. There’s much more to the condition.
5. It’s a challenge
I had a hard time in high school. Reading was a serious challenge for me because I lacked motivation. I had to really push myself.
I hear so many parents complaining that their child with ADHD is “lazy” and “always slacking off.” We aren’t lazy, but just more distracted than the average person. It can feel like our brains are moving at a million miles per hour, 24/7.
Sometimes we can’t bring ourselves to start homework or study for a test. There’s a strong force in our head that makes it hard to accomplish these tasks. Please be patient with us.
6. We’re trying really hard
During my junior year of high school, my English teacher said, “Nerris, I’m going to need you to operate in the same universe as everyone else today.”
I'm not trying to be different — I just am. I learn differently than other people do and sometimes take an alternate route to solve problems. At times, this would cause problems. For instance, in math class, there were times I would lose points on a test for not using the “correct” method to solve the problem, even if my answer was right.
It was like being punished for thinking differently. Know that we’re trying as hard as possible to see things the way others do. It’s just a bit of a challenge sometimes.
7. You’re not ‘sooo ADHD’
I’m personally not bothered by this phrase, but it can sometimes feel like it minimizes the severity of the condition. A moment of forgetfulness doesn’t equate to having ADHD.
ADHD is an extremely complex, lifelong condition that affects all of your cognitive abilities. Just because you forgot your keys, it doesn’t mean you have ADHD. Comparing the two is unfair to the people living with the condition who face so many challenges every day.
8. There are positives!
ADHD does have its perks. I attribute some of my best qualities to the condition. ADHD has made my life much more interesting! It helps with my creativity. Also, I can focus on things with great intensity when “hyperfocus” kicks in.
Having ADHD doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to fail at school or anything of the sort. ADHD is what you make of it.
For more information on how to manage ADHD, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
ADHD-US-NP-00044 FEBRUARY 2019