Guest Blogs

Snap On Your ADHD “Uppers”

My combo type ADHD has many facets. I summon them as needed.

Last week I took an overseas trip to the Bavarian region of Germany and needed some good walking shoes. The older I get, the louder my feet protest at being squished, unsupported and generally abused for the sake of fashion. I’ve already acquiesced; I sorrowfully gave up high heels several years ago. But I’ve managed to avoid those “Really Ugly Shoes.” Until now.

A week before I departed for Deutschland, I ordered eight pairs — yes, eight — of carefully selected, extra comfy shoes from None of them were quite right, so they all went back to the company. (Free shipping! Zappos is my new best friend.)

I ordered more shoes, this time, ten pairs with expedited shipping. Three of ten made the cut and I kept all three. Yes, they fell into the category of “Really Ugly Shoes.” But comfy. Very comfy.

[Self-Test: ADHD Symptoms in Women and Girls]

The afternoon before my flight, I made a quick trip to Costco (my FORMER best friend). In my distracted rush to the checkout, I rammed my cart into a newly erected display that rudely jutted out into the aisle.

As I untangled my cart, I noticed the banner: “The Perfect Travel Shoe.” Seriously? Any shred of confidence that I had made the right choice with my mail order shoes vanished. Clearly, THESE were the perfect travel shoes.

Several styles of black shoe “bottoms” were on display beside racks of curiously shaped stretchy fabric. The clever trick: the stretchy fabric was the interchangeable “upper.” It attached to the edges of the shoe bottom via four sturdy snaps. Hey! I could create an entire wardrobe of shoes simply by changing the inexpensive “uppers.”

So I bought them and wore all of them in Germany; mail order during the day, snappers at night. (Travel hint: Do NOT pack four pairs of shoes; they weigh a ton. My suitcase barely squeezed under the 50-pound limit.)

[Master Packing List for Adults with ADHD]

As I snapped and unsnapped the different stretchy bands on the “perfect” travel shoes, they reminded me of my ADHD. Is that too much of a stretch (pun intended)? Stay with me here.

My combo type ADHD has many facets. I summon them as needed. When I am in Get Stuff Done mode, I snap on my Hyperfocus ADHD. When I shift into problem-solving gear, I snap on my Creative ADHD. When I am overwhelmed, I snap on my Quiet Inattentive ADHD. And when I need spontaneity, I wear my Impulsive ADHD.

I admit that, on occasion, my interchangeable ADHD is less of a choice than a brain skip. I might end up in Distracted ADHD when the Hyperfocus is more appropriate. And I could be in Going Overboard ADHD (see above re: eighteen pairs of shoes) when my Creative ADHD is required.

By now, you know that I’m an “ADHD isn’t a curse” kind of gal, so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I view this interchange as a good thing. ADHD is a curse only if your brain suddenly switches to a soft blue Daydreaming facet while you were planning to wear the bright red Creative one. It can surprise us, this change of “uppers.”

To use our ADHD to best advantage, we need to recognize 1) the outward situation and its requirements and 2) the appropriate aspect of ADHD that will work best. It’s a tall order, but one that can work if we notice which facet is in play at any give moment. That’s when a deep breath and a mental reminder to stay centered come in handy. When we slow down our brain just a tiny bit, we can make conscious choices that turn ADHD from a liability into an asset.

Who knows? When you make choices about the ADHD “uppers” you use, you might find yourself feeling a bit more “up,” as well.

What are your ADHD “uppers?” More importantly, how can you be deliberate about utilizing them more effectively? Remember, we’re not trying to get rid of ADHD; we’re trying to harness it for good.

[What I Would Never Trade Away]