This Is What ADHD Is Really Like, Because It’s Not Just Being Easily Distracted And Hyper

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I’ve always been a pretty hyper person. When I was a little kid, I LITERALLY couldn’t stay seated. Like, I would be unable to sit through a dinner out with my family without getting up to run around or dance quickly. I had so much energy that nothing could tame it or me into acting in a way that was more socially acceptable.

Because of all the excess energy I had, school was torture. Being quiet was nearly impossible. I couldn’t focus to save my life. Sure, you could attribute my hyperactivity and difficulties concentrating to being “just a kid,” but other “just kids” didn’t struggle the way I did with grades, with interpersonal relationships, with being bullied for being different, with impulsive behavior. There was so more to the way I was than just being young.

Eventually, an ADHD diagnosis shed some light on the situation. Suddenly, everything made a lot more sense and I was able to get some assistance in school and in life to help me deal with everything that came with the disorder. Now, as an adult, I’ve been able to manage my symptoms better but it still isn’t easy. Because people don’t really get it.

To a lot of people, ADHD is just a quirky, catchall term for being a little hyper and distractable. But it’s actually so much more than that and it’s a lot harder to deal with than most people realize.

Because while it’s tough enough to have ADHD as a kid, when you have ADHD as an adult, it’s almost more difficult because missing deadlines, being disorganized, and having difficulty concentrating at work isn’t attributed to you being “just a kid” anymore. Instead, you’re thought of as lazy, as careless. Incompetent. And that fucking sucks because you’re seriously doing everything in your power to stay ahead and things still fall through the cracks.

Besides having an extremely short attention span, ADHD also contributes to difficulties in interpersonal relationships. You often feel misunderstood by the people in your life because you think they assume you’re flaky when you get the details confused about an event or when you accidentally blurt things out when they are mid-sentence.

It feels super embarrassing because it feels as though your mind and your mouth are disconnected at times. It’s like an out of body experience because you see yourself listening but suddenly you’ve interrupted them and then they’re understandably annoyed and you feel like a shitty friend and socially inept. 

Impulsivity that’s associated with ADHD is a major factor in this and you try so hard to fight it and you know it’s not your fault, but it’s still hard not to feel like shit about yourself and wonder if it is just you.

And let’s not forget the people who will say how overdiagnosed ADHD is, and how you probably don’t really have it. (PS, do people not realize how invalidating and insulting this is?????) While a diagnosis brought me peace and help, constantly hearing how the disorder is bullshit can be exhausting and incredibly frustrating even though I know they don’t really know what they’re talking about.

ADHD also co-occurs with a number of other mood disorders. In fact, 47% of adults with ADHD also suffer from depression. Having a mental illness, no matter what it is, can be totally draining and isolating, ADHD included.

The thing is, I know the way my mind works isn’t exactly “normal” and it never has been. I know that it probably never will be either. But there are good sides to having ADHD too. I’m more creative. I do have a lot of interests, which can definitely help me as a writer. And having a little extra energy in adulthood isn’t always a bad thing either. (Because we all know adulthood is fucking exhausting.)

If you have ADHD, remember to be kind and patient with yourself. You really are doing the best you can and that’s all you can ask for yourself. And, of course, never feel bad for asking for help. You are not alone. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Molly Burford

Writer. Editor. Hufflepuff. Dog person.

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