I have ADHD. That does not mean my ideas are less important or my actions are less right. I am not less. Is ADHD a disability? Yes, though mostly it is irritating. To others, but especially to me.
I Wish People Could See the Real Me
People often judge intelligence expressed in writing by the spelling. They discount the ideas shared. They think, “If he doesn’t make the effort to get it right, why should I bother?” If they only knew how I read and reread, spell check, and rewrite almost everything I write. Yet, still there are errors.
I have similar experiences with luggage. Once, I checked all the rooms twice. Then someone called me to help them. When I returned, I retraced my steps through the rooms again. I picked up everything and loaded the bags and other items in the car. Somehow, I never noticed my main suitcase was not in the car. I was 200 miles away when I received the call saying I had left my suitcase behind. I had walked right by it before I left, but its presence did not register. My own thoughts distracted me even as I was conducting a sweep, looking for things I’d forgotten.
I returned to pick up the luggage. That’s when I realized that when called for help, I set the luggage down in a deep chair, similar in color to the luggage. When I returned, the luggage was invisible. I changed tasks mid-task, so my mind had changed tracks. I’m sure you can relate. Transitions are deadly.
This doesn’t happen as often as I now understand the danger of transitions. The shame I felt – I know it’s not life threatening – makes me spend a great deal of time and energy trying to prevent them from happening. Or, at least to make sure no one notices them. I’m always on the alert. And it’s exhausting.
I don’t notice my own errors. But, I can spot anything that doesn’t fit (errors, things left out, etc.) on other people’s work. Co-workers rely on my ability to review work and fill in work gaps in projects. I complete their tasks without losing a beat. Explain THAT to others.
I Wish People Could Hear the Real Me
I spent thousands on therapy long before my ADHD diagnosis. I described symptoms. I explained how the symptoms were affecting me. No one heard or understood. I’ve had good therapists and horrible therapists. I’ve had good doctors and quacks. It took 51 years to diagnose what to me now seems more than obvious.
Just… “How do you feel about that?”, “You need some success.”, “You’re smart, bright, and handsome.” and “You may need to change how you think.”
Really? How I think, is already very different from the way you think I think!
“What outcome do you want from our work?”
I only want to live happily with others. How many different ways can I say that, and not be heard?
I Want Understanding, Not a Label
I have a cynical side. That side of me doesn’t feel or doesn’t want to feel, part of a “tribe.” It feels like we’re saying, “Everyone with two ears. You’re part of the two-eared tribe. Come live with us. Ignore the other tribes. You can’t belong with them.”
I do feel more comfortable among people with ADHD. I get the friendships, the camaraderie, the sharing. When I’m with them, I find more people who understand the brain, the science, the synapses. I find people who can understand me. I find people who see what I’ve done and what I am able to do. They see what I struggle with. They understand when and how that struggling occurs. And they’re ready to accept me, so I can “fit in.“ With them, I can be “part of” rather than being an outsider looking in.
But my thoughts and ideas are important with or without ADHD. The ADHD is not an excuse for me. It’s also justification for belittling or bullying. I want a friend. I don’t want a manipulator, or a cheerleader. I need people I can trust. People I can be around and be myself. People I can be around who can be themselves. I don’t need a label.