One of the incredible insights you have when you start learning about ADHD is that you’re not alone. There are other people out there with variations on the same life story you have.
In this sense, the similarities between people with ADHD are more interesting than the differences. So we talk about ADHD like it’s one concrete thing and use terms like “people with ADHD.”
Of course, the differences are important too. We don’t all have the same symptoms. Just because I have problems with chronic lateness, doesn’t mean you have problems with chronic lateness. Similarly, there are probably some symptoms you experience that I don’t experience.
That’s fairly obvious. But it’s still worth saying – the symptoms I write about here are based first and foremost on my personal experience of ADHD, which isn’t always going to be the same as yours.
More interesting than just what ADHD symptoms you or I have or don’t have, however, is how our ADHD symptoms interact with other unique traits we have that aren’t symptoms. People with ADHD aren’t one-dimensional. Our symptoms our intertwined with all our other personal strengths, weaknesses, motivations, psychological hangups, etc.
I’ve talked before about how being a self-employed writer is a job that works pretty well with my ADHD. It doesn’t work well for me just because I have ADHD though. Some people with ADHD hate writing. Some find it easiest to manage their symptoms in more structured environments than what freelancing allows for.
Two names I’ve seen on lists of famous people with ADHD are Michael Phelps and Ty Pennington. That’s interesting, because you can see how having ADHD in combination with the right skill set could predispose someone to being a competitive athlete or an entertainer. Personally, though, I’m pretty sure I don’t have it in me to be even a third-rate swimmer or reality TV host.
We each have our own personal ADHD. Our symptoms don’t exist in isolation – rather, they’re filtered through all our other qualities and express themselves in terms of everything else we have in our lives.
The reason this is important is that when it comes to treating ADHD, we’re actually treating our very own unique ADHD. We have a shared problem, but the solution isn’t exactly the same from person to person.
Sure, some of the treatments and coping strategies are the same. But the part of learning to live with ADHD that’s about figuring out how to make the most of your own special ADHD situation isn’t identical between any two people because it necessarily ties in with everything else that makes you who you are.
One of the most empowering parts of getting a diagnosis is discovering what you have in common with other people with ADHD, which lets you put your life in context and learn from other people’s experience. But all the insights and coping strategies and treatments that realization about what you have in common with so many other people leads you to, all those things aren’t enough by themselves – it’s up to you to synthesize them and take the next step of putting them all together to find a better way of living with your one-of-a-kind personalized ADHD.
What makes your ADHD situation unique? Please share in the comments.
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