LIVING WITH ADHD — MARCHING TO A DIFFERENT DRUMMER
Let’s talk about the upsides of living with ADHD — wait — hold that thought — I saw the cutest dog ever yesterday. I have to show you this picture.
Okay, we were talking about the upsides of living with ADHD (or ADD). Excitement, energy, creativity, and a 360° view of the world are a few. Your attention jumps from sight to sight at lightning speed. And that’s a great benefit. You march to a different drummer and you see things other people miss. Sure, your route isn’t a straight line — but you get there — and with a big bag full of impressions, images, information, and ideas.
Some people call it a disability* and tell you to take a pill for it. But they don’t get it — living with ADHD is your superpower. Your mind can leap tall buildings in a single bound. You move fast, think fast, and have rapid-flow ideas. All that, plus you’re able to flip a switch, go to hyper-focus, and do amazing things.
You can’t find the scissors — again? You don’t remember what day it is? So, what?
YOUR DIFFERENT DRUMMER
You have to get used to having superpowers — and how to people react to them. When I was a kid in school, the teachers didn’t appreciate my powers. I could tell. The teacher who told my mother I marched to a different drummer didn’t mean it as a compliment. But it was. And there is something she didn’t know. It’s even better than just having different drummers — I march in different parades — a lot of them — and all at once. Every day is Marda Gras.
“Pay attention and you may learn something!” Did you hear that from teachers when you were in school? I did — even when I was paying attention. I was paying attention to the teacher and to a funny orange bird with a black head outside on the windowsill. I’d heard all about how George Washington never cut down a cherry tree and I saw the weird bird prancing on the window ledge with a worm in his beak. I didn’t miss either thing — until the teacher yelled at me.
If getting our attention is a teacher’s goal, they fall short of it when they embarrass us. For the rest of that class, all I was focused on was whether my face was red and if the other kids were laughing at me. I’d wanted to ask the teacher what kind of bird it was, but I didn’t.
I GOT IT THE FIRST TIME YOU SAID IT
You can take in and assimilate information quickly. That’s a great superpower — until you learn that people like to repeat themselves — and your power annoys them. I learned that in the first grade. We were lined up on the playground where the teacher was explaining the fire drill rules again. I got it — you line up, you march out, you don’t talk, you stand by the big tree until the bell rings, and you march back in.
But a praying mantis had landed on a nearby bush — and way too close. I had to watch it because I knew about praying mantises. If it spit in my eye, I’d go blind. My friend Sally told me, and she knew. She was a second grader. Suddenly, the teacher loomed over me. “Ruthi, you are not a good listener!” Yes, I was. But I didn’t say it.
Another kid was braver. They were repeating a basic and boring lesson. When the child picked up a book, the teacher snapped, “If you’d pay attention, you might learn something.”
“What?” said the girl, “Like the letter R?” She was my hero.
THE UPSIDE OF LIVING WITH ADHD – YOU CAN FLY
You can fly! Hyper-focus is your sky — a place of clarity. Distractions are cancelled out. You are clear on the goal and the steps to get there. Exhilarated, you get things done fast.
But people want you to slow down. When you can fly, slowing down is not fun. Waiting for other people to catch up is boring. Boredom is painful. So you have to find ways alleviate the boredom. But that’s not always possible because other people may not know you need to keep flying.
The tricky thing about ADHD is finding the right career. Read the funny side of taking the wrong job here https://lifefunscripted.com/my-first-day-at-my-first-job-failure-isnt-fatal/
BOREDOM IS THE ENEMY WHEN YOU LIVE WITH ADHD
Have you ever been stuck in a situation where you couldn’t move on till other people caught up? When I was in the third grade, we had weekly arithmetic tests. If we finished our work early, we had to stay in our seats and wait until the last kid was done.
The first week, I finished early. And I sat there — for a minute. Then I started drawing on my test paper — a vine with flowers filled the right border. The next week, finished and bored again, I drew flowers and added rain drops falling through them. The next week I added more flowers, not just on the border but scattered through the problems. Then, I got really creative — I added clouds at the top and raindrops falling on the flowers and a little girl holding an umbrella.
My teacher, Mrs. Williams, was nice and patient. She didn’t say anything about my artwork until half of my answers were lost in a pond filled with goldfish.
We have so many things to see and learn, dreams to dream, and inventions to imagine. The world is an exciting place — too exciting to slow down long enough to read the instructions. Details get missed. Things get lost. That doesn’t bother us so much — but other people….
“Where are the scissors? You just had them!” I don’t know — they’re just gone.
When I was a kid, my daddy got fed up with having to replace things. He preached a principle — a place for everything and everything in its place. I must have heard him say it a thousand times because it stuck. I have to admit it’s better than buying a new pair of scissors every time you need to cut something.
IF YOU CAN’T SEE IT, IT DOESN’T EXIST
If being organized is good, is being super-organized better? Maybe not. I bought a beautiful baker’s cabinet in an antique store. It has twenty small drawers, and I could see right away it was perfect for organizing things. I worked all day, making a place for everything — receipts, notecards, pens, paints, and scissors.
I beamed whenever I walked past the cabinet, but I didn’t open it. It felt scary. I couldn’t remember what things were in which drawer. I went back to stuffing receipts in a shoebox. And I bought new scissors. (Recently I emptied all the drawers. I like the cabinet so much more this way.)
IT’S NOT MULTI-TASKING — IT’S THE UPSIDE OF ADHD
You have to have a sense of humor if you’re a multitasking superhero. Have you ever had a friend laugh at the way you do things? It’s going to happen — somebody is going to watch you doing some normal thing and laugh.
My friend was sitting on a kitchen stool talking to me while I cooked dinner. She stopped talking and was staring at me with an amazed expression. “What is it?” I asked.
She laughed. “Do you know what you just did? You were dicing onions, but stopped mid-onion, opened a bottle of wine, then put plates on the table — but not all of the plates. You stopped halfway through and went back to dicing the onion. Do you ever finish one thing before you start another?”
I thought about it. “No. Probably not,” I said. “I suppose you don’t ever stop in the middle of brushing your teeth to comb your hair.”
She doesn’t. Too bad for her. My way is so much more exciting.
THE UPSIDES OF LIVING WITH ADHD
These are just some of the upsides of ADHD (and ADD) — wait — I just remembered. I saw this beautiful cat. Look at this picture! Is he gorgeous?
Enjoy the upsides of ADHD — your energy, creativity, excitement, and 360° view of the world. Have fun marching to your different drummer, jumping from sight to sight at lightning speed and seeing things other people miss. You don’t need your route to be a straight line. You’ll get there — and with a big bag full of impressions, images, information, and ideas.
*There are people who need and are helped by ADHD medication. Unfortunately, it is often pushed on those who do not need or want it.