October is ADHD Awareness Month.
There are a lot of misconceptions about ADHD, from "it only affects children" to "it's not real". ADHD affects between 4-5% of adults and is very real. It is also very serious; sleep problems, financial struggles, lower life expectancy, difficulty maintaining relationships, comorbidity with anxiety + depression, and social stigma are just a few of the realities people with ADHD have to live with.
Fortunately, with support and medication it is very manageable, but that doesn't make it easy to live with. ADHD is challenging enough on its own, but you can make it easier by learning a bit about it.
October is ADHD Awareness Month, and Orange is our color.
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Since we're talking mental health lately, let's shed some light on some of the less talked about ADHD symptoms and issues.
For one, getting diagnosed, especially as an adult, is REALLY HARD. I've had several doctors tell me they thought I was faking or exaggerating symptoms just to get the meds. It took me a total of five different doctors to finally get one willing to help me.
Executive dysfunction never really goes away, but in the rare moment it does, you often have to do the thing you've been putting off because of it right away and in one go, or else risk not completing it before the executive dysfunction comes back and this fucking sucks. So many of my projects, even simple tasks such as cleaning my room, have gone unfinished because my brain suddenly decided that it's had enough activity for the time being and needs to recharge.
STIMMING: Cracking fingers/joints, leg bouncing, fidgeting, etc. feels so good and can sometimes help you concentrate better. Too much of it, however, is never really a good thing. Most people find it annoying.
Time blindness is real and it probably has to do something with, or is extremely similar to, dissociation. There have been times where I found myself staring at the ceiling or wall without a single thought in my head and suddenly two hours have gone by and when I look at the clock I just go ????? Also goes hand in hand with the next one which is
Hyperfocus is probably just as bad as having no focus, except people don't often see it that way because they can get stuff done at this time. The bad thing about it is that sometimes you can go for literal HOURS doing something without taking breaks and, when you finally finish, you realize that your bladder is about to explode, you're dehydrated, and you've got a headache from not eating anything.
Hating yourself is common because mostly all your life you've had people tell you that you're a lazy good for nothing, who just needs to "try harder" or "focus more." I once had a teacher (I think it was in second or third grade) tell me I wouldn't get anywhere in life if I continued being the way that I am.
Dating is really hard because neurotypicals usually can't understand why your gaze is focused on that bright, shiny object in the corner of the room while they're speaking to you and often take things like this as a personal insult or as you thinking they're boring.
Keeping a list/journal or something similar is really hard because eventually it just becomes another unstimulating thing that'll just be ignored by your brain.
Short term memory problems are more common than you think.
Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) is one of the worst things you could possibly experience, because you just assume everyone hates you and you ruin so many opportunities/relationships because you're so afraid of being rejected that you cut yourself off from whatever or whoever the thing/person is before they have the opportunity to do so.
Sometimes your thoughts get so loud that it becomes impossible to focus on anything else.
Sometimes you don't have any thoughts at all.
People (read: Neurotypicals) will often see you as lazy or crazy or a mixture of both.
Honestly the way most people see you in a general sense is just wrong or hurtful.
The fact that any loud or crowded or overstimulating area can trigger sensory overload, leading to a total brain meltdown.
Medication stigma is high. Yes I take Adderall, no I am not a meth addict. They may both be amphetamines, but they are totally different.
Impulsivity is often high and can lead to many regrets.
Some doctors will outright refuse to give you your meds, even if you're already diagnosed and have been taking them for a while. The local urgent care in my area has often turned me away when I was in the middle of finding a new psychiatrist, leaving me unmedicated and unstable, because apparently doctors can have personal biases related to certain meds and that's totally fine or whatever.
I'm sorry this got so long. Honestly I just wanted to bring some awareness to some of the problems I or people like me have faced.
If you've got any personal experiences you'd like to add or share, please do! The more people that see this, the less ignorance there will be about ADHD.
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I've literally been unable to do anything productive for over a week. Suddenly got some random hyper focus. Knocked out a realistic portrait in <4h wtf brain?!
I was (am) always really ashamed about how long something this skilled takes me bc getting all my school work done the night before and getting A* did NOT win me any friends and I was already a loner and being bullied. It sucks for other people who find it hard to find out that it looks easy for me - but what looked easy from the outside was me compensating all my life for a brain that wouldn't cooperate when I wanted it to.
This kind of art is one example of my skill masking my neurodivergent brain. Everyone is always impressed with the outcome, but art teachers be like - why can't you do this every time? If you applied yourself... We expected top grades what happend in the exam? Where is your working out?
I've made my peace with never being a consistent creator. That's why I started doing stupid little doodles in the first place. So I didn't place high expectations to produce work like this all the time. So when I had the urge to create I could do small things and still gain the reward from producing art that is 'good' for different reasons. So I could just have fun!
Now I am trying to learn how to trust my skill even when I can't focus like this. It's ok if it takes 8 hours and the outcome is the same. Like thats a normal pace for any human. And it's still fucking impressive.
I want to start being proud of my ability. Like yeah I did this super fast and it's a piece of work I feel proud of.
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