Oct 5, 2020

In the spirit of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month, I’m going to open up about something I normally try to avoid having conversations about. I’ve grown up with ADHD, and there’s still so much I don’t know about my condition.

My diagnosis came at a time when everyone was just starting to figure out what ADHD was, beyond it involving children being louder and not sitting still. I was fortunate to have parents who made sure I could go to therapy and did all they could to educate themselves on ADHD… but they won’t always know everything.

Instead of talking about how I’ve outgrown feeling awkward about my diagnosis or why I feel like I don’t know enough, I figured I’d talk about the things I wish I knew about my ADHD as an adult—the things I wish I could have prepared for before I went through them.

 

Turns out focusing takes a lot of work

There was a point in my life when I’d mellowed out and thought, incorrectly, that maybe I’d “outgrown” my diagnosis. I wasn’t as hyperactive and fidgety as I was before, my focus was a little better and I was getting through my workload at school. 

But that was before I graduated college, got a job and quickly realized that my ADHD now looks a lot like the time management problems I’m still struggling with today.

Have I tried helping myself out through time management hacks? Yes. Have they stuck? Not really. Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Jumping from one task to another did very little at the best of times, but now it’s done absolutely nothing to help me get through the ever-growing to-do list that came with a fast-paced media job. Despite my best efforts to give myself more time to get work done—whether it’s timing in early or working a little later—I’m still struggling to get through my workload in one sitting. 

Now, you’d probably come to the conclusion that I could probably get more done if I’d done less of the jumping around and focused on one thing. I’m more than aware of this fact, except it just isn’t possible for me to focus unless I put in extra effort, whether it’s looking for music or YouTubers to write to.

 

The stars aren’t responsible for your impulse control

Aside from knowing surprisingly little about ADHD, I also tend to make light of some of the aspects I go through on the daily—like my impulsivity

The jokes were funny but I wish I could tell my younger self that her lack of impulse control wasn’t because she’s a fire sign

I’ve had a history of acting on things before I’ve thought about them, which I’ve written off as weird character quirks that everyone was just going to have to live with. When I started getting into astrology, I blamed my reckless decisions and online shopping sprees on me being a Sagittarius. 

I didn’t think there was a reason for me to take my lack of impulse control seriously, since it was often described in extremes that I don’t see myself ever resorting to—but that was until my budget was in shambles and I genuinely found myself panicking over using up what little money I made.

 

Your ADHD has friends

One of the biggest things I wish I knew about my diagnosis was that, most of the time, I won’t be grappling with just my ADHD. Studies show that women with ADHD were at higher risk of developing depression, and, really, that’s a statistic I wish I would have paid more attention to growing up.

My diagnosis for depression and anxiety came in my junior year of college, a good 10 years after my ADHD diagnosis. It took a number of conversations with my psychiatrist, medications and late-night deep dives for me to figure out that this was really something I should have seen coming. 

If there’s ever any advice I can offer, it’s to do your best to stay informed about ADHD. One mistake I made growing up was taking so much stock in all the assumptions people made about why I am the way I am, when there are so many resources available for me to learn from.

 

Header photo by tribesh kayastha on Unsplash

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TAGS: ADHD anxiety Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder depression mental health nolisoli