Being a thirtysomething adult with ADHD ain't all bad ... and it ain’t all good either. Living and working in a world that does not favor the oftentimes misunderstood mind of someone with ADHD presents itself with many challenges. Overcommitment, time management, and a busy social calendar are my closest frenemies. Welcome to my life with ADHD.
by Stephen Anfield
My attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is, unfortunately, my life partner. As with any relationship, you take the good with the bad. For me, it seems that more often than not the good outweighs the bad. For years, I never really knew how to label this relationship, as I could never find the right word to describe it. If I had to put a label on it, though, I’d say, “It’s complicated.” Thank you, Facebook.
I went through my early childhood not really knowing there was a problem, but looking back there were some signs. At school, I enjoyed English and science, but I despised math and history. The first time I had an inkling that my brain worked differently than most was in my ninth-grade biology class. I always sat toward the front of the room, and I was an active participant. I didn’t make many friends in that class because I always screwed up the curve, and there were times that I felt that I should pretend to be dumb to gain the approval of my peers. One day, my teacher approached me and said, “Stephen, I’ve noticed something about you. Your brain works a bit differently. When given a scientific problem, most people reach the solution following the same steps. You, on the other hand, take a different route from the rest of the group and end up with the same result. The world needs people like you. Don’t ever forget that.” I left her classroom not really understanding what she meant. I remember thinking, Wait. Did she just call me stupid?
After school, I played basketball, soccer, and baseball -- each for one year. Then I thought that Cub Scouts would be fun, but I quit that after a year also. The only activity that I really committed to was music. I played cello for two years and bassoon for eight years. I played bassoon long enough that it landed me a scholarship at the University of Tennessee and I even performed at Carnegie Hall. For a while, I was set on being a professional bassoonist until I realized that I’d actually have to practice -- definitely not cool!
When I entered the workforce a few years ago, I began to notice my inability to stay on task. If I was not given multiple tasks to manage, I quickly became bored. This became a problem for me as I struggled to meet deadlines and follow through on instructions. I had no idea what was going on, so my mother suggested I see a doctor. Upon being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, I became angry and swore that I did not have a problem. Reluctantly, I began treatment and began reading more about my disorder. The information I found comforted me because I could proudly say, “Yay! I’m not a freak after all!”
Since being diagnosed, I’ve tried a number of techniques to assuage the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. I’ve learned that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all panacea for ADD/ADHD, and I’m always fine-tuning and tweeking techniques that I have discovered from the ADDitude community. Part of coping is discovering what works for you.
My goal is to entertain my readers with funny anecdotes, lots of spontaneity, and helpful insight on coping with ADD/ADHD. The level of excitement I have for blogging for the ADDitude community might make me burst! I'll do my best to refrain from doing so, but there are no promises.
Welcome to my life!