When you search for ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on the internet you will find a lot of online tests and quiz questions. However, no online test can be definitive, diagnosing ADHD is a tricky process. A process that needs to be done by experts and not by yourself online. However, most quiz questions can give you some guidance about what ADHD really is.
Like most people online I thought I know everything about ADHD, however everything I have read online about ADHD turned out to be nonsense, and most of those myths are still things people really believe in. It would be a good thing if we spend more time explaining what ADHD is not instead of saying what ADHD is.
When I look back in time I think getting the diagnoses ADHD was one of the better moments in my life. It means that I could finally see the thing that was sabotaging my best efforts to be like the “normal” people. When I think about it, it was a big surprise, maybe even a shock to discover that you spend your whole life in a boxing match with an invisible opponent. Or even worse being in that boxing match without even knowing it.
Years later it’s very helpful to know what is going on inside your brain. Most of the days I would be able to manage the downsides of this diagnosis. Getting the diagnoses also helped me become who I truly am. While this is kind of hard when you are distracted, restless, forgetting things and did I mention distracted already?). At this moment I don’t believe that this is a bad diagnosis to have.
I started this post by saying that a lot of places on the internet tell you what ADHD is, and there are a lot of people thinking ADHD is causing stuff it doesn’t. So below you will find my list of 5 things what ADHD is not! If you have one of the below things, there is a big chance you do not have ADHD. And please note you don’t have ADHD “something” or “just a little bit”. It’s there or it’s not.
1. You can’t hyperfocus.
Despite the fact they called it Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder it doesn’t mean we can’t focus on things. It’s about being unable to manage your attention, or have unpredictable attention. Most of the people with ADHD can hyper-focus. When I am really interested in something I can be super focused about it. And would be able to spend all my time focusing on that one thing.
2. Your desktop or the surface of your workbench is visible.
A lot of us have an issue with “working memory”. Most of the people around me are already used to my questions like: Where is my phone? Where are my keys? Where is my wallet? Where is my laptop? Most of the times instantly followed with: Found it! It’s so much easier to remember where things are when we can see it. So yes my desk is a mess, I have piles of stuff laying around. However, I know exactly what is in that pile.
3. You are able to walk in a room, grab something and leave again.
This is not something I would be able to do. Normally when I enter a room one of my first questions is: What did I come here for? It also won’t be the first time I went to a store to forget where I came for. Go back outside, remember what I needed. Walk back in and forget it all again.
4. You have a great sense of time.
Please tell me how that is like? Issues with time management are a common challenge for people with ADHD. I can switch from chaotic to hyper-focused. However, normally I am hyper-focused on the wrong things. And most of the time I am hyper-focused on the wrong moments. It won’t be the first time I started something big 5 minutes before I needed to go somewhere and totally lost track of time.
5. Someone tells you that it seems like you have ADHD lately.
First of all, ADHD is driven by genes. Normally it will present itself during childhood. So when you are really confused, overwhelmed or chaotic since a specific moment in time you don’t have ADHD. Your confusion, overwhelmed feeling or chaotic behavior is most probably a normal reaction on whatever happened that specific moment. Losing your job, losing a loved one, getting a divorce or any other life crisis will not cause temporary ADHD.
And do you have ADHD?
So did you just find out that you don’t have ADHD? Don’t worry about it. Everyone can struggle with ADHD like symptoms sometimes. However, for 1 in 25 adults, it isn’t sometimes, its always interfering with our lives. And ADHD is not just one thing that is on some list somewhere. It’s a combination of a lot of things that really mess up your day. That is why they call it a disorder. And please don’t get me wrong, every person with ADHD is unique. The severity of symptoms varies between people. However, for everybody with the diagnoses, it will mean the symptoms are there all day every day.
What did it mean for me?
I think that knowing what was going on in my brain really helped me get my life on track. And since there are a lot of really successful people with ADHD there isn’t really something that can prevent me from reaching my potential. However, it also starts with understanding that it’s not about trying harder, its not about willpower, commitment.
It’s all about low levels of neurotransmitters. It’s about understanding that you are not crazy. But also realizing that you have a mental illness that you won’t be able to cure. It’s all about learning tricks that will help you understand your symptoms. Getting the right medication that would help you focus on your job more. And getting the right people around you that respect you for who you are.