Brain imaging experiments found patterns associated with attention span.

An Experiment for People Who Don’t Understand ADHD

“All my life I had to fight,” in my Oprah voice of course.

My fight was not with a man or external factors, but with my own mind. It’s like I was constantly digging in a sand pit to find the real me. For those who have never experienced what I am explaining, it may seem a bit wild, but stay with me. Take your computer. Now open most of the tabs, run a couple of programs and, just for fun, turn on all the notifications. OK, now try to work in this manner for let’s say six hours (I don’t want to torture you too much.)

What happens? I will just give you a few possibilities. Your computer slows down, but hopefully it doesn’t crash. It takes forever for anything to open. Your patience grows thin. You grow annoyed and either stick with it or give up. Either way, now you are short-tempered and annoyed by not only just your computer but every and anything around you.  When you do get something to work, you are hyper-focused on that one task. You are so happy you can actually get something accomplished.

What you don’t notice is you have missed everything else. You pretty much work on whatever pops up on your computer as long as you can, until it goes away again. At the end of your six hours, you are frustrated, tired and unmotivated, knowing tomorrow you have to endure this again. You had so many hopes for the day but got nothing accomplished.

In this scenario, my brain is the computer and you are my body. This was my life with undiagnosed adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This example may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, but it is actually downplayed compared to the reality. I remember being so frustrated with knowing all I was capable of, but always being too tired to stay focused and accomplish what I wanted. Always being afraid of success because I was afraid I could not keep up and worried someone would see my flaws. Having to take all my energy to filter my thoughts into speech, only to be told you are speaking too fast or “I can’t understand you.”

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In my mind, I am speaking too slow and will never be able to get it all out. Trying not to cut people off or finish their statements because I have already finished the whole conversation in mind with almost complete accuracy. Trying my very best to keep listening because something else has already won my attention.

To add to this, I am very analytical and I see life in patterns. I assume this a byproduct of me coping with my ADHD or maybe it is just me. So when I know everything someone is going to say or what they are going to do, it is because people are creatures of habit. So when someone asks me, “Are you psychic?” I want to say, “No, just a byproduct of 39 years of coping with ADHD.” Instead, I just answer, “Context clues.” This has been one of my ways of organizing my thoughts and my environment all to stay sane.

Now to get to the point of this: how and why I got diagnosed. It was not the unfiltered  thoughts but my recognition of my growing inability to control the increased impulsivity that led to a diagnosis. After many years of over controlling my emotions, I had become dull, feeling nothing. Eventually, I was starting to feel again, but it was all flooding in too quickly and was more than I could handle. I was getting to the point of losing control. I would say and do things without thought, as though my brain’s gatekeeper was on vacation.

After a day of trying to stay focused, my nights were the worst. There were nights I felt like my brain said screw it and that’s if I didn’t just crash. I tried meditation and it helped me think clearly about my life and all the things I didn’t put together before. Meditation helped me focus on getting help, which was the best decision I have ever made. I found a brilliant doctor, who also suffered from adult ADHD, and got medication, which I have never believed in. Today, I am a believer. For me, my medication is a blessing — and this is coming from a person who believes Manuka honey and Braggs apple cider vinegar can fix anything.

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I am not sharing my story to promote any drugs because everyone’s struggle is different. I am sharing my story to help me heal and no longer be ashamed. I am sharing my story for anyone that is suffering as I did.

Please, always remember you are not alone. You are not broken. Your mind is complicated and you just need help organizing your brilliance. For those of you who have never experienced what I am speaking of, I have one request. Do not judge another person’s struggle until you have walked in their shoes.

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