Last week, I wrote about how frequent changes are often a hallmark of ADHD. Today, I want to caveat that entire post by saying “often, but not always.” There’s an important point here: just because something tends to be true of ADHDers on average doesn’t mean it’s true of every single ADHDer.
My previous post talked about how many people with ADHD change jobs, hobbies, or locations more than is typical. But that doesn’t mean that making frequent changes in your life is a requirement for having ADHD.
As an example, let’s say you’ve found a job you really like. It fits well with the way your brain works and it keeps you engaged everyday. It’s entirely possible, of course, that you would keep doing that job for years on end, even if you’re someone who’s prone to making impulsive changes in most situations. More generally, the point is that even if you are someone whose brain predisposes you to making frequent changes in your life, your circumstances might stop you from actually doing so.
Let’s go a step further, though. There are many situations where people with ADHD would actively avoid making life changes.
Often, major life changes involve things that people with ADHD struggle with. Moving requires extensive planning and organization. Starting a new job requires leaving behind the coping strategies you know work and having to learn to navigate a new work environment with ADHD. Even starting a new hobby can require a lot of self-discipline to get off the ground. Basically, while people with ADHD might be prone to making impulsive changes, that doesn’t mean they’ll embrace every possible life change that comes there way.
Part of this will depend on what flavor of ADHD you have, too. Naturally, if you have the hyperactive-impulsive symptoms associated with ADHD, you’re probably going to have more of a tendency to make impulsive changes in your life. If you’re an inattentive-only ADHDer, you might relate less to behaviors linked to impulsivity like the ones I talked about in my post on frequent changes.
Despite these disclaimers, I still think looking at whether someone switches jobs, residencies and hobbies more than average can be a useful data point in spotting possible ADHD. I suspect many people, especially with combined or hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, will hear about that symptom and go “aha, that makes a lot of sense.”
But not everyone. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the hundreds of comments I’ve gotten on this blog over the years, it’s that different people with ADHD experience their symptoms very differently. Just because something is true of people with ADHD as a group, on average, doesn’t mean it’s true of every individual within that group.
So sure, if you’re someone who repeatedly finds yourself impulsively switching careers or locations, that could be a telltale sign. But if you’re not, that doesn’t rule out you having ADHD.
Image: Flickr/Damián Navas