I know a lot of people who believe ADHD is a wonderful gift — some even see it as a sort of superpower.
I don’t fall into that category.
To me, the challenges of ADHD sometimes seem never-ending. Anyone who has experienced life with this condition can tell you how difficult it can be to manage. And I know too many people whose lives have been made very difficult by the challenges of ADHD to see it as a gift.
And yet — think about all of the people you know who live with ADHD. Are they not some of the funniest, most exciting people you know? There is another side of the story, and it is this: There truly are some things to love about ADHD.
I think both sides of the story are important, so I wanted to understand and share perspectives from people who see the upsides of ADHD. That’s why I reached out to some amazing women I know who live with ADHD and who are part of my Facebook community, Black Girl, Lost Keys. These women are talented, successful, and ready to talk about their ADHD — and what they wouldn’t change about it.
Creativity is one of the things most people will tell you that they love about their ADHD. In my experience, those of us who have ADHD don’t just think outside the box — the box is probably gone. And if you’re confused about where the box went, I can tell you: We probably lost the box.
Being creative may also allow people with ADHD to find unique solutions when challenges present themselves. And that’s definitely something you need when you’re living with this condition. ADHD is also associated with the ability to “hyper-focus,” which means we may experience some things very intensely.
One woman in the Black Girl, Lost Keys community had this to say:
“To be honest, I can’t say that I like anything about having ADHD in and of itself, but I do appreciate some characteristics that it seems that many ADHD people have. For example, I love being creative and able to hyper-focus on things that I really enjoy. That feeling of being ‘in the zone’ when creating is amazing. Also, though being sensitive to rejection can make relationships difficult, I also feel like it shows how much people with ADHD deeply feel things. I think many of us have the biggest hearts you’ll ever find, even if we do wear them on our sleeves.”
When you live your life forgetting things, losing things, and getting your schedule mixed up, I think learning to be flexible is par for the course.
Through years of living with ADHD, I’ve learned how to think quickly on my feet, and I’ve learned how to compensate when things don’t go the way that I expect. At times, I’ve been my own worst enemy when it comes to forgetfulness or lack of planning. It’s true that everyone has an off day once in a while, but when things go wrong for me, I think that ADHD has helped me to be extra adaptive and responsive.
Here’s what a community member had to say about how ADHD, and the flexibility that may go along with it, has helped her career:
“I can say that one area that [ADHD] has benefited me has been in terms of television and concert production. Behind the scenes, you have to notice a lot of different things at once. Being able to do that and move quickly to resolve things that may be out of place comes a bit easier to someone with ADHD.”
Sense of self
If you’re going to survive the challenges life throws at you, you’re going to need to have a strong sense of self. Living with ADHD is no different. Among those I know who have ADHD, I’ve noticed a pattern. Usually, before someone is diagnosed with ADHD, they have struggled in life and known for a long time that something is wrong. It’s like something is missing, and they just can’t put their finger on it. Despite this, they’ve learned to appreciate themselves.
To sum it up, one of the women who responded shared this perspective:
“Since my diagnosis, I have become me. I am more confident because I can articulate my thoughts and turn them into action. I do not like it, but begrudgingly I have to be grateful for the journey to self-discovery that it has taken me on.”
In my experience, life with ADHD isn’t always easy. In fact, occasionally I find it downright depressing. However, there is an upside: empathy. Since those of us with ADHD have dealt with being different all of our lives, it may be easier for us to accept other people who are different. We’re able to understand other people’s situations and potentially empathize with how they may be feeling.
Here’s what one community member had to say about empathy:
“When you live your life in chaos, other people’s chaos becomes easier to understand. People with ADHD are almost TOO tolerant at times because we understand.”
I find that having ADHD can sometimes make me feel as if my brain is doing juggling tricks. It reminds me of the circus trick where the performers spin multiple plates in the air. The downside is that you may spend a lot of time worrying that the plates will come crashing down. The upside is the ability to multitask.
For some people, the ability to do or think about several different things at once is a bonus of having ADHD. One of the women who responded said she loves that ADHD improves her ability to multitask. She explained that her ability to manage several projects at once has been helpful to her career.
The take away
I’m not in love with my ADHD, but I’ve made peace with it. You might say that ADHD and I have reached a truce. Because I love myself, I’m learning to accept that ADHD is just another part of my life. I’m aware that the condition has given me so many unique capabilities, and I’m living in that truth.
ADHD-US-NP-00011 MAY 2018