There’s not much individuality in ADHD symptoms. People with ADHD all have more or less the same symptoms, just to greater or lesser extents and in slightly different contexts. In a sense, ADHD is boring that way.
What’s more interesting is how people react to their symptoms. Two people with ADHD might cope with the same symptom in very different ways. Often it’s the secondary symptoms people develop in response to their core ADHD symptoms that make the disorder so complicated.
If you meet enough people with ADHD, you might start to notice some patterns in how different people cope with ADHD symptoms. For example, you might know some of the following kinds of people with ADHD:
- The Perfectionist: Some people compensate for ADHD by developing an obsessive attention to detail. These are the people with ADHD who show up half an hour early to appointments to avoid being late, make extensive use of organizational tools like lists and schedules, and agonize over every bit of work they do. They cope with ADHD symptoms by preemptively planning every detail of things.
- The Minimalist: Organizational problems often come with the territory when you have ADHD, but one way to sidestep organizational difficulties is to just make sure you don’t have anything to organize. For these people, having as few possessions as possible becomes a major life priority because the fewer possessions they have, the lower the chance of ADHD organization issues striking.
- The Improviser: A subset of people with ADHD seems to cope with the disorder by readily accepting chaos as a way of life. They expect that things won’t go according to plan, so they don’t put much stock in having plans in the first place. In a sense, people who approach their ADHD symptoms and the situations those symptoms land them in with a devil-may-care attitude are using the anti-coping strategy of coping by deliberately not trying to cope and just seeing what happens.
- The Adrenaline Junkie: It’s common for people with ADHD to find that their symptoms get worse in understimulating environments, so some ADHDers make a point of regularly putting themselves in the most stimulating situations they can find. These people seek out fast-paced, high-pressure jobs and risky leisure activities.
Of course, not everyone with ADHD fits one of these profiles. And many people with ADHD use all of these ADHD coping styles to some extent. But I think at least some people are predisposed to gravitate strongly to one of these ADHD coping archetypes based partly on non-ADHD-related personality traits and life experiences.
Do you know people with ADHD who fall into any of these categories? I’m sure there are also other major ADHD coping attitudes I haven’t listed – if you can think of any, let me know in the comments!