The Blessing of an ADHD Analysis
My days have changed drastically. The struggle between chaos and control that shaped my life has finally subsided. We have found a peaceful compromise.
Like others diagnosed with ADHD later in life, I struggled with a myriad of situations and skills before I fully understood my brain – and how to work with it, not against it. Without knowing this, I had to blame myself for my deficiencies as my dopamine-poor brain desperately reached out to relieve its hunger.
These deficits weaken. They create a lot of fear and can make it impossible to complete a task in a timely manner.
My complicated relationship with time
Consider this innocuous statement: “The quiz starts at 2pm”
To a neurotypical college student, that statement means that you’d better clarify your schedule for the assignment by 2:00 p.m. In the meantime, you can continue your day as usual.
But the ADHD student will find it impossible to focus on anything other than the quiz all day. It will be the only event of the day that everything else will revolve around. Anything that happens before 2:00 p.m. will be done on autopilot as all of the attention is focused on the upcoming quiz.
[Free Time Assessment Chart for Adults with ADHD]
Until recently, I didn’t understand why watching a 30 minute lecture was a 2 hour task for me. Why couldn’t I watch the lecture and take notes at the same time like my colleagues? I didn’t understand why I started reading a textbook chapter just to remind myself that I had to wash my bowl with oatmeal, and while I was rinsing the bowl, I noticed a stain on the counter that made me do the cleaning whole kitchen, which leaves me with the chips on the counter that would remind me to fill my water and ice bucket and where did I leave my phone?
Oh no, my quiz is ending soon and I still have a long way to go. I am so disappointed in myself. Why didn’t I just do what I had to do?
I hope the mess in the previous paragraph illustrates only part of what someone with ADHD is experiencing. That’s how I spent my time every day. Now that I know about ADHD, I can find healthy ways to manage and spend my time.
How I took back control
As I type each sentence of this blog post thinking about what I want to illustrate the most, I realize that I haven’t stopped looking at my phone, getting a snack, or starting another task. I haven’t even zoned out yet. A low battery warning flashes on my screen, but I don’t want to get my charger because I’m so busy writing.
[Read: 12 Ways to Maintain Focus All Day Long]
This is a mindset and skill I’ve long wanted – and one that has been denied me all along by a chemical imbalance. Now my ideas can flourish the way they should. I can dream, initiate, work on my goals and achieve them.
It is 8:26 pm. Today I worked one shift in the emergency room, worked out in the gym, bought groceries, ate three meals, tutored and learned something. This productivity would not have been possible before my diagnosis. It was during those times that I fantasized about all of the tasks I wanted to do in a day until inattention, distractions, and chronic fatigue destroyed my ability to focus on one.
The strange thing about the ability to pay attention is its mask of simplicity. Watching out is anything but easy. It depends on a world of complexity. Eye contact, planning, relationships, self-reflection, and many other aspects that enrich life require you to be in the moment – which you cannot do without your full attention.
Finally acquiring the ability to live my life consciously was the most profound change in my life. Gone are the days of watching the film Jacob Munoz’s Life. I am now the protagonist responsible for how everything turns out.
One after the other
Experiencing life in the first person is a blessing. It’s great to do the big tasks, but I’m just as amazed at the little things I can try now. My interest in calligraphy has always been hampered by my lack of sustained attention. Now I organize my supplies and set up my station for an hour of non-stop creativity. I sit down and create a piece of art to be proud of instead of restarting 10 times because of a missed detail.
These profound moments create a new picture of my day’s activities and timeline.
I always thought jumping between tasks was my way of increasing efficiency without losing focus. But that was just a failed coping strategy. Switching tasks allows the stimuli to be varied, but compromises thoroughness. Now I focus on one task at a time and nothing else.
Quantum physics, calculus, and biology are all disciplines that I enjoy studying in my spare time. (You can come in handy as a neuroscience major.) I can spend hours talking about any topic and possibly distracting other topics if I get distracted. But it’s the textbook readings, the 30-minute assignments, and other related assignments that have been controversial. If necessary, my classmates can memorize the content of a chapter for an examination without really understanding the material and its context. I struggled with the opposite – the science of quantum physics fascinates me and I understand what there is to understand. But if I got a 50-question test on the subject from reading, I will definitely fail. Fortunately, I am convinced of my knowledge and feel safe to apply these concepts. While I don’t test well, tests don’t always accurately measure knowledge.
Understanding the once-hidden components of me has not all been easy. Finding a doctor who could see me and answer my questions proved daunting. Unanswered calls, text messages, emails, and voicemails left me feeling unheard and unnoticed as my problems increased. Just as I was starting to feel defeated, help in the form of counseling came within an hour. That appointment confirmed that ADHD was responsible for the problems I believed I was causing myself. It was the beginning of my journey to self-discovery and forgiveness. The support of those around me and my belief in the will of God have led me to discover myself as I should be created.
My everyday life looks different than it used to be and will undoubtedly change if I continue on my path of self-discovery. I am in my final year of study, but I am looking forward to the next semester in which I will complete an assignment in one sitting. I look forward to finding peace in my days knowing that I have achieved what I wanted. I look forward to appreciating every detail of the beautiful world around me. I am happy and appreciate the now.
Take Control Of Your Life: The Next Steps
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Updated June 4, 2021
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