What ADHDers want you to know.
We have ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
It’s actually a pretty imprecise name, because what we have doesn’t necessarily involve hyperactivity, it CAN be more of a gift than a “disorder,” and it doesn’t involve a deficit of attention so much as an inability to FOCUS that attention at will.
Regardless, having this disorder means there are some things we do a little differently, some we don’t do well, and some we have to expend an exhaustive amount of energy to do at all.
A few of the things we struggle to do, like listening when you have important things to say, keeping promises, or calling you when we’re going to be late (again) make it seem like we don’t care about you or consider your desires important. Others, like forgetting to pay bills, missing meetings, leaving a trail of clutter everywhere we go, and avoiding tedious chores or tasks, make us seem lazy, selfish, or even downright stupid.
We’re not any of those things.
We’re smart. We may not always do well in school or the workplace, but we have high levels of intelligence, creativity, and curiosity. We instinctively know how to think outside the box, and we have tons of great ideas. We’re wild, crazy, kooky, and fun, and most of the time, we wouldn’t want to be anybody else.
We try hard. Sometimes, you don’t even realize HOW hard, because organization, focus, and motivation come so easily for you. Not so, for us…but we are fighters. We are passionate. We are stubborn. We are strong. We work well in a crisis, and we are some of the most resilient people you have ever met.
We DO care about you – very much.
Sometimes, we’re just as baffled as you are by our own behavior. Not only do we not look before we leap, but we don’t even realize we TOOK that leap until we find ourselves coming in for a landing – usually in hot water. Often, we know what we should do but simply can’t make it happen.
Deep down, we know you want to help us. Deep down, we know we NEED you. Unfortunately, sometimes your attempt to provide a solution or encourage positive change makes us feel trapped, judged, or controlled. In those cases, we tend to defend ourselves by fighting back, running away, or shutting down. As much as we know these actions won’t help the situation, we have a hard time controlling the emotions that drive them.
Reading these words may make the world seem even more confusing, at first. You may not know what to think or how to react anymore, especially since each ADHDer is different and each of us will need something different from YOU.
The best advice we can give you? Keep educating yourself about ADHD.
Ask us what we need, and patiently talk us through the options when we just don’t know (which happens a lot – it’s often just as hard to see the big picture as it is to see the little details.) If you see us doing something that takes forethought, motivation, impulse control, or sustained focus, give us a little praise – to us, that’s often just the reward we need. When necessary, protect yourself with healthy boundaries so that you can lend us your assistance without burning yourself out. Most importantly, SUPPORT us by reminding us that we are valuable, talented, and loved.