It took a long time for me to admit that I actually had ADHD. This is pretty common for most whom have been diagnosed as an adult. It’s a thing kids have, right?
On one hand, when I learned and understood what the symptoms were a feeling of peace actually came over me. This explained everything! I’m not a nut-job!
I came to understand, but I didn’t really accept. There is a difference, and it is profound.
For a while I used it as an excuse to explain my abnormal behaviors.
“Jim, you forgot to pick up your daughter from school!”
Hand slapping forehead: “Damn that ADD!”
You can probably guess how far that route took me. Every other day some event would happen and I would spiral. It’s no fun for anyone involved.
After a particularly brutal spiral I made a decision to learn everything I could about ADHD. I read books, blogs and dissertations. I talked to people who had dealt with it for many years, some who’d known about it for a short time, and several who said, “Oh yeah! I have ADD, too!” But weren’t doing anything about it.
I re-read a classic book on the condition and a couple of truths hit me between the eyes, like a horse kicking some sense into me.
First, ADHD is a disorder. It is a bonafide medical condition, neurobiopsychosocial disorder. And it wasn’t going away just because I wished it would do so.
Second, short of divine intervention, my disorder wasn’t going to be cured. Unlike a broken leg, which would mend with proper treatment, my disorder was permanent. Maybe it could improve over time, but it wouldn’t be cured. I was born this way.
Third, because I was born different, there were two very different actions I needed to take that I had not yet done: I needed to mourn the fact that I wasn’t born with normal brain function. There were certain executive functions that I would always find hard to do. I would struggle with organization, focus, distractability, and other behaviors.
In grieving, I would also do the other necessary step: I would accept and embrace my condition. I was born this way. Because this was so, I chose to believe that I was born this way for a reason.
While I would most definitely struggle with certain things, I would also excel in different areas, too. Being very creative, I think quickly about problems and solutions, often seeing downstream much farther than my “normie” friends and colleagues. I am visionary in certain ways. I can easily grasp the big picture. As a creative type, I routinely put hyper-focus to good use, especially when I write.
The other concept I came to accept was more difficult, because it requires discipline and constant awareness.
As one born with a disorder, I must make a daily choice to accept and manage its effects to the best of my ability. Does this mean I’ll be perfect in managing the nuances of this disorder? Hardly. It just means that I will do whatever is necessary to keep it in check as best as I can.
The fact is, as much as I might attempt to be perfect, it’ll never happen. No one – not even the most organized normies, are perfect. At best I can minimize my weaknesses and accentuate my strengths. That’s all anyone can do – it’s all you can do.
So…accept. Make a choice today to do all you can. When you have moments where things don’t work out, have grace with yourself.