Compared to What?

Diagnostic questions can be confusing when ADHD is “normal.”
Life in the Fast Brain | posted by Kristen Caven

ADHD is normality, to me. I grew up surrounded by people who were late, lost things, forgot things, had moods, drama, and wild ideas, people who were night owls and nappers.

— Kristen Caven

In my family, I’m the together one. I’m the one who shows up, completes a task, and makes the necessary connections to make things happen. I pay my bills (automatically, of course). I reframe negativity and keep people positive. I make amazing things happen in my life, when I put my mind to it. So when I was screened for ADHD, time after time, I had trouble answering, or even understanding, the questions.

When I brought a test home, my husband laughed at the question, “Did you have ADD as a child?” He asked, “How would you tell?” I did daydream all the time, but I never acted out or failed a class. I was the middle child (the peacemaker) and the only girl. Unlike my brainy brothers, I never lit fires at school or had insomnia so badly my life fell apart—so my parents never perceived me as the problem child. They were the ones with problems, not me.

On the question, “Do you sometimes find yourself talking too much?” I had to ask, “Compared to what?” I am surrounded by people with intense thoughts and flocks of words flying out of their heads. Among them, I have learned to be a good listener and a restrained and reflective speaker.

“Do you say inappropriate things?” Inappropriate…for what? We are outside-the-box thinkers. “F--- that,” says my husband. Practically everything on TV, the Internet, and in the movies is inappropriate. We just call it like we see it, like we feel it.

ADHD is normality, to me. I grew up surrounded by people who were late, lost things, forgot things, had moods, drama, and wild ideas, people who were night owls and nappers. “Do you have trouble keeping track of things?” Well, how often is sometimes? How often is often? I lose my glasses in the house weekly, but I have taught myself to always put my keys on the hook, and I usually know where my child is. My desk is a nightmare, but I can always put my hands on things when I need to.

Clinical tests are so, well, clinical. ADHD is so contextual. It is hard to define and understand ourselves, especially when we are distracted by details and can’t remember things. And with such change-able consciousnesses, it is hard to say what is really what sometimes. “Do you often feel misunderstood?” Yes, most definitely I do!

Kristen Caven is a mother and a writer, a mover and a shaker, and a creative force in her community. To her, ADHD stands for “Awesomeness Development & Happiness Directive.” Learn more at www.kristencaven.com.

 
 
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