(My story and thousands of others)
Over the past several months I have learned a lot about life with ADHD. As a therapist, this information is vital as I meet with many who battle the intricacies of a uniquely-wired prefrontal cortex. The brain is way complicated. For myself, the diagnosis didn’t officially come until this year. I’ve always teased that I had ADHD before those letters even existed, but not until this year have I begun to explore, and subsequently free myself from, the condemnation of symptomology.
Periods of dark mood have characterized many of my years on this planet and so have times that passed at joyful, lightning-like speed. I am super gifted at rejecting myself for you so you don’t have to make that call for yourself. For much of my life I’ve heard things like, “How do you get so much done?” and “Have you always been this scattered?” I make poor food choices and after a day of eating way too much I can still squeeze in a fudge brownie. None of these things sound like ADHD do they? Well, in fact, they are; or at least they can be.
Those with ADHD are human. We make poor choices, hurt others with our words, and show up late just like everyone else, but the descriptors in paragraph two can also be underlying symptoms of a brain wired to live in the now. After an interesting conversation with a good doctor, I realized that the majority of my darker moods follow an intense sense of boredom. I need to be challenged. I ache for new things that offer a chemical boost in the moment. When that doesn’t happen all the time, (like really, ALL the time) I get depressed. Call me or offer a new idea to work on, and I am good to go in no time at all. Researchers are also now connecting a heightened experience of rejection with ADHD. It’s called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and that certainly explains a lot.
And eating habits? My lifelong shame? Also explainable. Late one night last week, I was lamenting poor food choices and vowed in my head that I would never eat again. Two minutes later, my son walked in with two fudge brownies. He tossed me one, and captivated by the novelty, the shiny new thing that just landed in my lap, I scarfed it down before my brain had a nanosecond to evaluate the wisdom of such a thing.
Don’t get me wrong. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is no excuse for poor decisions and behavior. But it sure accounts for why they seem to follow at a closer-than-kin distance. The wow in all of this is that deep labels once plastered over my heart are now lifting. Depressed. Rejected. Glutton. Over-committed. Under-committed. I’m carefully peeling them off now and looking at them from a new perspective. As they are removed one by one, I’m committed to making sure I take responsibility for myself, but I’m also working on replacing those labels with ones like Grace and Kindness.
Feel free to share this with those who might be interested.