6 Stories On Living With ADD And ADHD

“When you live with ADHD without knowing it, you find ways to cope and push your way through difficult situations.”

Flickr / Ishrona / Via Flickr: ishmaelo

"I have had ADD all my life and it has caused me to constantly crave new sources of entertainment...or, later in life, academic material. The learning part was a big revelation for me at Berkeley. I don't need to be watching TV or talking to friends all the time. But my brain needs to be stimulated most of the time, even if I want to relax. I found that one of the most calming things I can do is actually to listen to academic podcasts in my downtime from studying. Not only do I find them interesting, but listening actually relaxes me, whereas, if I did nothing for 15 minutes after studying for 45 minutes I would actually be less rested to begin my next study sprint. Sitting around with nothing to do with my mind actually causes me to get anxious. I crave the next object of my attention.

I still think that my ADD has limited my productivity, however, I did manage to get pretty good grades at one of the most competitive undergraduate programs in the country. I have learned that by creating a study plan and switching up subjects as well as the objects of my attention I can actually sometimes use my ADD productively.

On the other hand I can barely get through an episode of TV on Netflix before wanting to start a new show. Oh well." —Alec Strachan

"It's the super focus and inability to properly assess how long things will take that get me the worst. I can get completely lost in a project for days on end to the exclusion of eating and caring for myself — a lot of people don't realize that intense super focus is a side effect of attentional disorders. I'm also constantly late and panicking about it — either because I've completely lost track of time because I'm so immersed in what I'm doing, or because I've just plain underestimated how long it will take me to get somewhere, no matter how many times I've been through it before. I use about 27 different reminders and alarm systems to keep me functioning at a level that won't ruin my life.

On the flip side, I can multitask like a mo-fo and my attention issues have helped me to launch three successful small businesses (the key is a grounded partner)." —Anonymous

"I've never been diagnosed with it — I'm too shy about going to a doctor — but my mom has and I know I have a lot of the same symptoms. School and projects were always hard because I always want to do a million things at once and then it's overwhelming when I have a bunch of half-done things. Once I started understanding it as an 'over-awareness' of my surroundings, I started to just convince myself I only had this one thing to do (whatever it may be), I have an easier time finishing it. Basically, understanding it this way makes me less harsh with myself about it and know exactly what strengths and weaknesses come from it.

Overall, I still have trouble in conversations going from A to E with people and having to backtrack and say what my thought process was. A lot of the time, when someone is getting to know me, they assume I'm changing the subject when there is actually a linear progression in my mind so it IS related even if it's not apparent. I think it's the most difficult with people who think very linearly (like my current BF), but I find if I take the time to explain what's going on in my head, people are more onboard. Overall, I try to embrace it as an asset because it allows me to think differently than other people which is ideal for someone in a creative field." —Anonymous

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