Friday, September 24, 2010

Thank You To My ADHD

I know this is going to seem like a strange blog post but I feel moved to post it anyway. A few years ago, my mother told me that I was once diagnosed with ADHD. Now it caused me trouble as a kid (though I didn't know I had it) as I was a motor mouth with no sense of time (or direction, but that's another story) and I was so busy thinking a million-miles-an-hour that I found it hard to make friends as I spent too much time thinking about what I would say next. I once had to stick a post-it note in high school to my forehead to remember that mum had put a bottle of Coke in the freeze to quick-cool it and I had to get it out after an hour.

Very forgetful.

Fast forward and almost every one of my skills are due to learning to cope with what others might label a disorder. I'm sure I got off lightly. I don't believe my ADHD was very severe so I don't blame anyone who found only trouble from it and I'm certainly not saying that I'm awesome for being able to learn to cope with ADHD.

What I'm saying is that my ADHD was awesome for me. My thoughts fluttering a million miles an hour taught me how to let my thoughts soar. My low boredom threshold taught me to daydream constantly in any dull moment or analyse the surroundings or jot down notes for novels or think about all the things I had to remember to do and what order to do them in and how best to get them done. I learned to cope with my scatterbrained nature by doing up lists which show me what I've done and what I've yet to do and where my planning fell down and where it can be improved.

I've also learned to pay more attention to other people. Sometime I find it hard to stay 'in' the conversation but I do put a lot of thought in and around conversational times about what someone said and how they said it and how they reacted. I've become a lot more conscious of how I present myself and my words. My psychology degree mixed with my ADHD-fueled analytical time mixed with my novel-writing / role-playing / improvised theatre mind to help me figure out how other people interacted and why and how best to approach people. It also helped me to sit back during my daydream-times and take some perspective and think about personal philosophies like:

Never make a promise you can't keep.
Never offer something you aren't willing to give.
Never get caught up in an argument (as opposed to healthy debate) if you can help it. Antagonism benefits nobody.

Since I can't turn my mind off, I can't simply pretend that social gaffes didn't happen. I sit there and I think about it and I figure out how to do it better. I think about who I've seen that did it successfully. I think about what I could do or should do. And when I'm not thinking, daydreaming, or analysing, I'm reading and that opens my mind to further viewpoints and perspectives, both in non-fiction and fiction.

My ADHD has also given me the need to swap between tasks to keep my mind refreshed and on-task and while I'm not a great multi-tasker (I'm not great at doing multiple things at once), I am pretty good at task-swapping successfully and this often cuts down on procrastination and the slow-down that often comes from keeping with the same task for too long.

So yes, thank you to my ADHD. You have provided me with the energy to think, the drive to spend my time doing / thinking, and the need to find ways to regulate my time to keep myself on track - skills that have led me to becoming the imaginative, analytical, efficient, and inventive person I am today.

I am who I am and I am happy with that.

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