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
Hyperactivity is a core ADHD symptom, but you'd never know that if you saw me most mornings. No matter how many times I promise myself I'm going to start my day at a certain time tomorrow, waking up always turns out to be an intricate process.
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.
If you're in college and thinking about seeking mental health treatment, the logistics can seem tricky. You might find yourself in that position of being somewhat but not entirely independent, if you're on your parents' health insurance for example.
I'm a big believer that an important part of treating ADHD is finding coping strategies that work for you. I think one reason getting a diagnosis is important if you have ADHD is that it helps you develop the insight you need to replace unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones.
But with that said, there's a question I've been struggling with for a couple years now: what is the limit on what coping strategies can do? Where is the point beyond which I just have to accept that I can't do some things "normal" people can do, no matter how ingenious the coping strategies I try to use?
Going by how ADHD is sometimes represented in the media, a reasonable person could end up with the impression that people with ADHD simply did not exist until about 1990.
Of course, that's not the case, and the condition we now call "ADHD" has been around since long before modern medicine, begging the question: what was it like having ADHD in centuries past, and how did society view people with ADHD?
Patience is a virtue, but not when it comes to seeking treatment for mental health issues.
Before I was diagnosed, I had some idea I might have ADHD. I knew it ran in my family, and I knew a lot of the symptoms applied to me. I knew there were some things I struggled with that other people seemed handle much better.
Nonetheless, seeking treatment for ADHD didn't seem urgent. I didn't realize what a big difference dealing with my ADHD could make in my life, and I didn't see that the stress of living with undiagnosed ADHD was getting a little worse every day.