It's ADHD Awareness Month.
Seeing as how I was diagnosed just last year (which explained the first 34 years of my life) I can't ignore an opportunity to well, make you more aware about ADHD. Because that's how this stuff works.
At the age of 16, I was misdiagnosed as clinically depressed and put on Prozac. I didn't know to question the diagnosis, or that the constant anxiety and racing thoughts that prompted me to keep asking for higher doses of my medication (that, quite obviously, didn't actually do anything for me) meant something was off. What has always stuck with me, however, is what the therapist said when she sent me off to the psychiatrist for further evaluation: "You are the most highly functioning clinically depressed person I have ever worked with."
Turns out I didn't fit the label because the label didn't fit me. ADHD is a complex brain-based pshyciatric disorder that has so many nuances that it's easilyu confused with other conditions and just as easily dismissed by those who don't understand it. I joke a lot about the squirrel and shiny things because there is truth in how scattered I am, and there's humor in that truth which is just as important to me to hold on to as it is to set the record straight on ADHD and the adults dealing with it.
Well, DUH. Yes, we're forgetful because we have ADHD. It's all in the name, folks: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Becoming easily distracted, failing to follow through on projects, forgetting to pay bills on time, or even having difficulty keeping track of conversations are all signs of ADHD. None of these mean we are lazy or stupid or self-centered or even selfish and irresponsible. Just as a person suffering from depression can't just flip a switch and be happy, ADHD means we can't just suddenly decide to get our shit together just because we want to (and trust me, we do want to. In fact, we usually think we're doing a fantastic job of getting our shit together until a spouse or a friend or the credit card company reminds us with a late payment call or a frantic YOU BURNED THE EGGS YOU WERE TRYING TO HARD BOIL AGAIN that we are cute when we think we did something right.)
Right now I'm hoping a very pretty watch The Husband bought be recently magically shows up in my house because the last memory involves me taking care of housework or yardwork and thinking how I shouldn't be wearing the watch. So I took it off and put it somewhere with the intention of putting it away when I finished my work. For all I know, it's buried under a pile of leaves in the front yard. Not a good thing, y'all.
That being said? It's typically our short-term memory that get us in trouble with things like, you know, life. I might not know where I set my keys five minutes ago but I can name every teacher I had in order by grade from kindergarten to high school and tell you the design on the T-shirt I was wearing when my mother stood me before my father and asked him if he thought his 8-year-old needed a bra.
For the record, it was a pink tee with a glitter-lined, red, white, and blue arrow next to the words THIS END UP.
We are ONLY forgetful
ADHD is often an umbrella under which many other traits and issues tend to fall. Issues like poor self-image, depression, anxiety, learning disorders, executive function issues, distress tolerance, insomnia, bipolar disorder, and even bulimia (as cited in the book Fast Minds: How to Thirve if You Have ADHD or Think You Might) are often associated with ADHD. These and other diagnoses can be co-morbid with a person's ADHD or be simply be manifestations of an individual's ADHD. For me, that means that my aniety nd depression are controlled when my ADHD medication is at the right level. It's different in every case, so don't think it's a One Size Fits All Label.
We also tend to hyper-focus during any activity that we may truly enjoy. For me that means I kick ass on deadlines (which, interestingly, is a common ADHD trait -- we tend to shine when our asses are put to the fire) and tend to get engrossed in things like crafting projects. Hell, I even wrote an entire manuscript and revised it three times to convince my agent I was made of awesome.
The flip-side is that hyper-focusing tends to leave other people in our lives feeling a tad bit neglected possibly, maybe. I won't lie... I've been known to put Sex with The Husband on my To Do list because that's how I roll, you guys. It works, by the way.
Obviously. Or we wouldn't be losing track of the bills we meant to pay when they showed up in the mail an hour ago. My workspace is a cluttered mess I keep meaning to make sense of until I get distracted by something else I need to do right this hot minute.
But? Disorganized doesn't mean hopeless. We tend to thrive in high-stress situations and usually are pretty good at multi-tasking. That's why I rocked busy nights while working as a waitress and thrived on the deadline rush while filing stories in the newsroom for cranky editors. ADHD is our super power.
I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on this blog. But I am an adult with ADHD who tend to hyper-focus while researching things like ADHD and hyper-focusing so I'm fairly certain I sounded slightly intelligent in this post. Either way, you can't sue me because I told you I'm not a professional. You can, however, take solace in knowing you aren't the only one if you're the one with ADHD or take a moment to better understand the people you love.
I promise you we remember that kind of thing.