Could it be ADHD?
Updated: Oct 21, 2021
Is everyone ADHD? I'm often asked for my opinion regarding ADHD, and the most common question seems to be, is everyone a little bit ADHD? It makes sense since I'm sure most can relate to a couple of the traits.
But it's a question that's been on my mind lately too. Since, I seem to be surrounded by a lot of ADHD friends and family. So is everyone really ADHD, or just a lot of the people I know? And is that because I'm looking for the signs; I'm educated in neurodiversity and could be over-relating. Or is it because I'm ADHD… Does my vibe truly attract my tribe? To answer these intriguing questions I've embarked on the epic task of firstly trying to explain the phenomenon known today as "ADHD". Creating these articles has been so hard! ADHD both sounds and feels hypocritical. Writing about it, when my own mood switches between characters, and my mind runs multiple lines of thought, has brought equal elation and stress. I just want to do justice to this curious and diverse subject.
I would like to know how many of you can, or can't, relate - and to which parts. I hope to give you an insight into what ADHD is, how it looks and how it can feel, from an adult's perspective. The well-known traits of ADHD, and the benchmarks for assessment, comprise of things that are not abnormal or uncommon. They are human characteristics, so of course, most people can relate to parts or even all of them. Chances are you, or someone you know, completely matches the ADHD criteria yet doesn't consider having an ADHD type brain as an underlying reason for other issues (anxiety, mood disorders, depression, OCD, problems in relationships and with work.) There will also be ADHD brains out there that have mostly coped, by adapting their worlds to suit their ideals - for these people the negative impacts might be relatively unnoticeable and/ or unproblematic. A musician, artist or entrepreneur, living without traditional structural constraints might not be recognised as having an ADHD brain, unless their difficulties start to become a problem - and then they might be misdiagnosed with a mental health condition instead. ADHD is not currently recognised by the many shared, positive qualities. But it is a full picture; one that includes creative talents, exceptional abilities and desirable skills.
ADHD is the label given when it's an issue. That's why young males are picked up on as being ADHD more commonly, because their presentation of disrupting class, lashing out, unable to sit still and to attend on command are problems in school, and they're obvious. These can be signs. But they are nowhere close to the only considerations. ADHD systems differ from the typical counterpart. They actively seek feel-good chemical releases that occur in the brain. They don't perceive time in the same way. And they operate on an interest-based focus. ADHD people's senses, emotions, feelings and experiences can feel FULL volume. This results in many things that can cause problems for the person and those around them (unless they're taught to understand why, as this can seriously help). ADHD people can be extremely kind, giving and caring. They enjoy the feeling of looking after others and doing nice things for the people they love. Without realising it, their system is seeking the chemical reward they get for this behaviour. ADHD people tend to be sociable and well-liked by many, even if they can be described as marmite (love them, or hate them!) This might be why they're susceptible to being taken advantage of. For example, attracting unhealthy relationships or, commonly, left without much time or resources for themselves as they're too busy giving everything to others. Along the same lines is an ADHD person's attraction to thrills and risks. Breaking the rules or doing something daring equals another chemical reward. The problem is when this includes breaking the law and endangering health in the bid to receive this hit. ADHD people are more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol as they're recreating a craved-for feeling of excitement. They are also an over-represented group in prisons. These people might feel like they 'attract' drama and crazy situations. ADHD type brains are receptive to making mountains out of molehills and they may conjure or exaggerate things into a drama or seek it out. Without recognising it this way, the brain likes how it feels when caught up in or involved with heightened circumstances. They may well tire of this and try to steer clear of upsets and fallouts. ADHD adults often realise they're not the sociable butterflies they once were - this can be thanks to damaging experiences combined with such intense feelings alongside these encounters. ADHD minds feel stronger emotions in every sense, with a particular sensitivity to excitement, impatience and frustration. This is because of how the emotions are processed, or rather, not processed so well. There will be many times that feelings become overwhelming and all-encompassing. The hyper times can be wonderful; feeling elated, content and finding yourself skipping, singing, humming and dancing. Stressful and upsetting times however can be savage, with even seemingly trivial things triggering a physically painful flood of intense emotion. Emotional outbursts can drain as quickly as they appear and they can be part of an up and down roller coaster. Sometimes these emotional storms can result in self-harm, punching things and smashing stuff up, as well as excessive sleeping. This all adds to being recognised as irrational, neurotic, over-the-top or 'too sensitive' and can feel just as baffling to the person experiencing it as the person observing.
ADHD people live in the moment. This can make learning from past mistakes tricky, plus planning for the future a non-priority. This might be why ADHD people are described as spontaneous and impulsive. For them, it's NOW and NOT now. This could be why any issue can seem massive - everything associated with the problem exists to the ADHD person in the here and now. The passage of time is just not perceived in a "regular" way. This can mean tasks deemed mundane seem to take forever, resulting in impatience and frustration. As well as time flying past without noticing when doing something enjoyable. Both can be equally problematic. Menial things are avoided because they're perceived to be long-winded, and the rewarding behaviour is longed for - adding to feelings of distress when these activities can't be achieved. Sometimes life is on fast-forward and other times it feels slow-mo: everything seems to take forever, even if it actually isn't. We are forever late (or 'too early' to overcompensate) and have a general sense of disorganisation or inability to keep up. Many ADHD people develop OCD and strict routines to counteract these shortcomings. ADHD people tend to be a bit of a whirlwind, operating at one hundred miles an hour. They often at least feel this way even if their hyperactivity isn't so obvious. As good as being hyper can feel, this too can become overwhelming. The internal swirling sensation, increased heart rate and temperature can all feel very similar to anxiety and even a panic attack.
The ADHD brain struggles to feign interest in anything it deems boring and is easily distracted. This can include being distracted by your own mind and many people report zoning out during conversations or films (or rather zoning back in, and being suddenly aware you haven't been present.) Despite being distractible, and finding some sounds an issue, ADHD people often report that they need particular background noise or even other people around in order to concentrate.
They also often undertake two, three or more tasks at a time, rather than focusing on one thing. Being interest rather than importance based means an ADHD person more easily engages with the things they deem enjoyable and will find it fantastically hard to attend when things aren't rewarding their system. Hyper-focus is the term used to describe the ability to remain intensely engaged with an activity, for hours and hours. This can be very useful and prove an extremely productive ability. But it can also be at the detriment to personal welfare, with ADHD people forgetting to eat in favour of continuing with an activity. It can also impact on what other things get done, or when, with the person repeatedly favouring a hobby over "necessaries" like cleaning or working. When interrupted in this mindframe the person can become extremely irritable and be unable to switch their focus over, causing a variety of issues. With the other elements combined - seeking chemical rewards and living in the moment - trivial tasks (and often some of the important ones) get ignored. This can add strain when it comes to life expectations like keeping a home, being a 'proper' wife or 'good' husband and earning a consistent wage. Without recognition, understanding and a few helpful tactics, an ADHD person can turn to crime, drugs and other unsociable behaviour. They may never reach their true potential, be unable to enjoy truly healthy connections plus suffer with poor mental health due to this lack of awareness about their own brain. Other common traits amongst ADHD people include: Strong sensitivity to certain textures, smells or sounds. This can be a repulsion or desire for particular things like fabric, scented candles, particular sounds and music. ADHD people can have strange tastes or quirky requirements around food (disliking sauce or the mixing of foods together, liking unusual foods with strong or distinct tastes). The mind can be busy, loud and distracting. Racing thoughts and a number of internal voices competing to be heard is often reported by ADHD people. This can make it harder to regulate what should - or should not - be said in conversations resulting in blurting things out that are inappropriate or irrelevant. This could also be why many report to lose their train of thought mid-sentence. Also associated with ADHD is a poor memory. This can mean a range of things, noticeably conversations that have just been had, words, ideas or things that should be common thought, yet poof, they're gone, plus random memory-loss. This is alongside having a distinct memory for perhaps lyrics, directions or combinations like registration plates or phone numbers. ADHD people are also always leaving things behind, losing things and looking for them. The feeling that something is missing, but not knowing what, is common. ADHD people might, purposely or without realising, go against the grain. A dislike for rules, or questioning them, is a strong theme. As well as clear morals and a definite sense of justice. Demand avoidance is linked with ASD however common with ADHD type people.
Rejection sensitivity and RSD, perceiving the actions of others as direct responses to personal faults, is another additional difficulty. This physically painful emotion around rejection can affect relationships and careers, and adds to withdrawal due to avoiding this type of upset.
Sleep is a regular discussion point, with many having problems falling or staying asleep. There are a range of reasons from being unable to switch off to twitchy arms and legs. Learning meditation and breathing techniques can be really beneficial. I have found through my research, interestingly, that left handers are more likely to be classed as ADHD plus those with low-blood pressure. Makes sense since lefties are said to operate from the side of the brain responsible for imagination and creativity. Plus those with low-blood pressure are more likely to exhibit thrill-seeking behaviour in a bid to 'feel' something. All recognisable things in modern-day ADHD. ADHD people can be bigger, louder, brighter presences. They might stand out with their style or unconventional ways, for better or worse. Often ADHD minds are very creative, musical and visual, reporting to have lots of wow moments and a sense of deep understanding. Many also share a sense of intuition, strong empathy, perception and spiritual or alternative beliefs. ADHD is a label that reflects a small part of a wider difference. But whatever it is called, it isn't a simple or blanket answer. Further complexity develops when coexisting with the autism spectrum. Regularly associated also includes: misophonia, tics, tourettes, dyslexia, dyspraxia and speech and language issues. It basically presents, and feels, highly contradictory. These things appear and affect us in extremes, and are sometimes polar opposites to one another. Most ADHD people tend to feel as baffled as those questioning them. Many feel they cannot justify why they thought that, did that or acted like that. Neurodiversity is a term that covers all brains wired differently to the mass. This includes dyslexia, autism and ADHD. Having worked around it, studied and experienced it, I view it as one inclusive spectrum which everyone exists on somewhere. If a person has differences in areas, the way these manifest is how they are ultimately labelled. (Can't read? Dyslexic. Hyper? ADHD. Anxious? Autism.) If they don't display these differences, they're classed as neuro-typical. Of course there are many other factors that impact a person and their character. Despite that, ADHD is genetic and lifelong. There are more ADHD type people in the world than statistics suggest. The point of my social experiment is not because I think everyone should get diagnosed and be medicated. As with all medication, it works for some and not all. I don't think that's the final answer. I think there are unexplored solutions out there that deserve researching. And I believe that with understanding, living with an ADHD system is a wonderful and amazing thing. The hardest parts for me to deal with come from external pressures. A majority of which can be managed, and altered, to lessen those impacts. Just like with everything else, the person themselves is labelled and saddled with 'being different' to the norm or not 'being able' to do something that others find fairly natural. To the people asking if everyone is a little bit ADHD, maybe the better question would be, why do I relate to so much of this? Perhaps we've all been tricked, and we all have these extremities and none of the rules and expectations currently in place work for any of us? I want to know your thoughts! If you don't relate, I want to hear from you too. Are you up for being surveyed and interviewed by me in my quest to discover the scale of ADHD? Drop me an email and tell me your story here Lindzimayann@outlook.com