I'm now a proud iPhone owner, but I held off getting a smartphone for as long as possible. As someone already prone to distraction and obsessive email checking, I knew a smartphone would be a dangerous device in my hands.
One of the best things you can do with an ADHD diagnosis is use it as a starting point for reevaluating your life, questioning your assumptions about what life is and figuring out what your priorities are. Now, I realize that's very philosophical for early on a Friday morning! But I want to talk about this because I think it's one of the most empowering parts of ADHD treatment.
You'll often hear people explain that ADHD is a brain-based disorder by comparing ADHD to [insert medical condition here]. ADHD is like diabetes and ADHD meds are like insulin. Or ADHD is like myopia and meds are like glasses.
You can learn a lot by listening. There's no skill more valuable than being able to really listen to someone. That said, being able to ignore people is a close runner-up.
Why are so many people with ADHD drawn to creative activities? A lot of us either have creative careers or have creative hobbies that are a big part of our lives. For me, writing and music are two activities that are central to my life. One possible reason I see is that distractibility and creativity are actually two sides of the same brain. The difference between them is partly just a question of semantics.
Having ADHD doesn't feel like anything. It just feels normal. You feel the way you've always felt, and you don't have anything to compare it to. When you're growing up with undiagnosed ADHD, it's not that you feel a certain way. It's that you start noticing things.
Because of how science works, researchers usually name disorders before they understand them. So we're stuck with terms like "ADHD" even though the heart of what ADHD is goes far beyond inattention and hyperactivity. One aspect of ADHD that doesn't always get as much credit as it deserves is motivation. Researchers are increasingly recognizing problems with motivation as a fundamental part of what ADHD is, and they've linked these issues to concrete brain differences having to do with dopamine.
Words are tricky things. They can be dangerous. One reason ADHD stigma is so persistent is that it's hard to find the words to describe ADHD to people who haven't experienced the condition first-hand. Talking about ADHD in terms of "distraction" or "lack of attention" not only doesn't adequately convey what life with ADHD is like but can even make things worse because it gives some people the false impression that ADHD is basically the same as everyday distractibility, so people who complain about having ADHD just need to stop whining and suck it up like the rest of us.