Last summer I was diagnosed with ADHD. Before she had brought up the possibility I had never even given it a thought. But as I have become more educated about ADHD I realized how I have been struggling with it as long as I can remember, but only saw the depression and anxiety that might have actually been a result of untreated ADHD. I found out how common it is for people to miss ADHD in girls because so often we don't act out the same way boys do. And yet, untreated ADHD can be a risk factor for drug use, anxiety and depression.
A lot of people don't know that there are different types of ADHD, and many people don't even have the hyperactivity that the acronym suggests is a required symptom. If anything, I'm not active enough. I can sit in my office at work all day, getting up only when I absolutely have to for coffee or food. At home I'm at my computer and it's hard to make myself get up to clean or cook.
I have the inattentive type of ADHD, which means I am easily distractable, unorganized, and easily or frequently fatigued. I also struggle with serious procrastination and memory problems. It's often a challenge to explain this to people who don't have ADHD. For example, when I explain how I can lose a pencil I had in my hand two seconds ago, pretty much everyone can relate to that. But there is a difference between those occasional times when someone is so focused on something that they forget where they set down their pencil, and having that be the everyday experience of life.
Think about that feeling when you suddenly realize you can't find something you just had. The confusion, cloudiness, the disorientation that comes with realizing you have absolutely no idea what you just did. You can remember all kinds of other things... maybe what you were just reading, or the smell of your coffee. So much is very vivid, except for what you did with that damn pencil and how could you lose soemthing you just had moments ago?
Or that feeling when you go into the next room and can't remember why.
The word on the tip of your tongue.
Those are the closest experiences I can use to explain how I feel almost every single moment. Not because I am always literally experiencing those kinds of things (but frequently enough), but that is the kind of.. um.. sensation I have.
People with ADHD don't have the right kind of filters for our attention. Many have argued it's an abundance of attention, not a deficit. My brain just doesn't know how to prioritize the stimuli it receives: the music playing, the paper I should be reading, the bee in the ad on the side of this screen. Trying to focus on what I should be doing is like having to consciously think about blinking. Something that your body should take care of for you requires you to make a conscious effort. It is draining!
My post tomorrow will address how being expected to adjust to and succeed in the world designed for "normal" people makes living with ADHD more difficult than it needs to be and how that is a consequence of disablism.