By Chase Slater.
On the outside, my life looks the same as everyone else’s, but I feel completely different on the inside.
My brain always seems to be going 100 mph and I cannot seem to stop. I get distracted easily. I have trouble starting tasks, and even when I do start, I have trouble finishing. I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—ADHD for short.
Dr. Edward Hallowell says ADHD is like having “a racecar brain with bicycle brakes.” I have heard others describe it as their brain flipping through 30 TV channels, but they don’t have the remote.
ADHD is not what it seems. Everyone experiences some symptoms of AHDH, but the brains that actually have it are constantly impacted by it. It appears in differently for different people.
ADHD is recognized by three symptoms: impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity.
We do not have a deficit of attention. Instead, we have trouble regulating our attention. For example, sometimes I start cooking something, only to forget about it for an hour. I repeatedly forget where my keys and phone are only to find them three hours later in the pantry or some other odd place like the refrigerator.
However, we do have a superpower that no one really talks about when discussing ADHD: hyper-focus. When we find something that is stimulating to our brain in the right way, we can focus on it for hours and nothing is able to tear us away, even the important stuff (food, sleep, work, etc.).
ADHD brains develop and function differently than neurotypical (average) brains. ADHD brains have a deficit in the some of the brain chemicals that help with executive function (your brain’s ability to plan, prioritize and maintain effort toward a goal).
Some say that ADHD does not exist, but it is one of the most well-researched neurodevelopmental disorders in the world. This month is ADHD awareness month. If you know someone with ADHD, make an effort to encourage them.
Graphic courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.