What I Wish People Knew About ADHD

Since being diagnosed with ADHD in March 2021, shortly after my 41st birthday, I have come to realize that many of my behaviors are connected to ADHD. This revelation has led me to think about things I wish people knew about ADHD – things that I find fascinating and that might explain some of my puzzling actions throughout the years. As I continue to learn about the disorder, I am witnessing firsthand how it manifests in me depending on the time of day, month, year, and the quality of my sleep. With so much to share, I have compiled a list of these things, as there is no single theme to focus on.

One thing I wish people knew is that my tendency to interrupt is not because I don't care about what they're saying, but rather because I am intensely interested in our conversation. Additionally, I want others to understand that even high-achieving individuals with ADHD are impacted by their symptoms on a daily basis. How I spend my time does not necessarily reflect my priorities. For example, I may end up running late for a long-awaited reunion with friends because I got caught up in low-priority tasks before the mounting stress of impending deadlines forced me to refocus.

It is important for others to know that procrastination is not a choice for me and it is detrimental to my mental health. Despite meeting deadlines and goals, it always generates anxiety. Another aspect of ADHD that goes unrecognized is the many masking behaviors I have developed over the years. Even though someone familiar with the disorder kindly suggested that I fit the textbook definition of ADHD, I dismissed the idea because I had become so skilled at masking my symptoms.

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Furthermore, the seemingly contradictory trait of hyper-focus that many individuals with ADHD possess can often feel like being chained to whatever has captured our attention. It differs from the uplifting experience of flow and instead makes it feel impossible to do anything else until we break free from it. This can result in hours passing by without eating, drinking, or taking a break, as we continuously tell ourselves that we will do one more thing or work for one more minute before stopping.

Shaking my foot or tapping my pencil should not be interpreted as impatience or boredom. These actions do not reflect my state of mind and are simply a part of my ADHD.

Additionally, self-esteem issues are common among those with ADHD. It is a constant confusion for us why our highly creative and quick-thinking minds do not produce or create more. These complex feelings add another layer of difficulty to managing the disorder.

The above points only scratch the surface of the factors currently affecting me. I encourage everyone to take a few moments to jot down what they wish others knew about ADHD. Even if you never share the list publicly, it can offer a new perspective on how your brain works. Revisiting the list later may reveal how your concerns change based on your circumstances, the time of year, and your mood.