It is not going to come as a shock to anyone who knows me that I have severe Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). It runs in my family, and different members have chosen their own ways to work with it. I know that ADD/ADHD is something that has a lot of myths, negative connotations, and misunderstandings attached to it, so I thought I would share a bit of my story and why ADHD works for me. I feel like there is such a negative focus on this disorder in the media, and I hope to shed some light on the upside of how ADHD/ADD has worked for good in my life.
Like any characteristic, talent, disease, disability, etc., there is a good and bad side to ADHD. We must remember that some of our greatest greatest weaknesses are also our greatest strengths. I’m not going to share the downsides of my ADHD in this article (though there are many); instead I am going to focus on how it has helped me become who I am today.
Some of the advantages of having ADHD are increased empathy, determination, hyper-focus, problem solving, intuition, passion, endless energy, creativity, and originality.
For me, in particular, ADHD has allowed me to have many diverse opportunities and to stay very productive in my life. I work full time at an amazing job, I co-founded a non-profit organization (basically another job), I published a book, and I did all of this while maintaining healthy relationships as well as taking care of civic and religious responsibilities. I am fully aware that part of the reason I can do all of these things is because of my ADHD.
While ADHD has caused some problems in my life, work, and relationships, I have consciously chosen not to use it as an excuse. Instead, I have helped people in my life work with me, understand me, and even hold me accountable. I have learned to put things in place to help me better manage my life, and to use my ADHD as a strength.
Here are some things that have helped me manage my ADHD. Feel free to use them as tips for managing ADHD in your own life:
- Hang a hook by the door in your house/bedroom/office to place your keys once you go in. This way, whenever you need your keys, they will be right there. Once you do this for a few days, it will become a natural habit.
- Always be sure you are holding your keys when you get out of your car.
- Use Cruise Control while driving around town to avoid unintentional speeding.
- Go paperless. Paper is really distracting for those with ADD/ADHD.
- Go through your mail and deal with it right when you get it—don’t wait until later.
- Use timers, watches, clocks, etc. Give yourself more time than you think you will need. Those with ADD/ADHD are prone to underestimate time, and have difficulty with time management.
- Have a way to stay organized. You know you have a million things going on in your life, so use a calendar, app, planner, sticky notes, etc. to stay organized.
- Prioritize your day, and then finish the tasks at hand one at a time.
- Get a LOT of sleep. Try especially to get in your deep REM sleep at night.
- Learn to say NO!
- Move around.
- Take breaks.
- Incentivize yourself to get tasks completed.
Here is a great article that offers more tips!
Choose to see people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. Choose to encourage greatness instead of critiquing weaknesses. Choose to take advantage of your circumstances rather than becoming a victim.
I hope by sharing some of my story, you will be able to better understand your own ADHD/ADD or that of someone else you love!