Let’s Talk… ADHD Awareness

October is ADHD awareness month and I am glad it exists. Why? Because ADHD needs more awareness. It needs more understanding. Most of all it needs more acceptance. Whatever your stance is on ADHD, it exists!! Whether you believe it is caused by environmental factors, genetic factors, environmental factors that express the dormant gene you already have, it doesn’t matter, the bottom line is that it exists and it needs to be accepted and supported.

We can talk about it and blame the environments that cause it (genetic or not) and we can discuss in length about poor parenting, schooling and the government and that’s fine too, but please let’s not forget and dismiss the individuals who already have it.

Some think it can be cured, some believe they don’t have the symptoms anymore, some feel that people can grow out of the symptoms, okay fair enough, I can see why, but for all those others that struggle in their daily lives because of the self-deprecation, self-loathing and stigma, ADHD is real and it’s here to stay.

ADHD is a neurological condition. It affects both, males and females, albeit in different ways and it’s not picky about race, religion or the global landscape. It is even found in children in the far reaches of China.

I often hear people say, ‘It seems like everyone has ADHD these days!’ I see how it might appear that way. Yes, we know many people were diagnosed (especially women) with the condition after the pandemic lockdowns. Yes, the NHS has long waiting lists for both child & adult diagnosis and yes, we are seeing more students at universities that are being diagnosed or waiting for a diagnosis. BUT NO! Not everyone has ADHD these days. That is a myth and here is why:

More adults are being diagnosed with ADHD because up until about 4-5 yrs ago, adults were dismissed for having the condition. It wasn’t considered for adults because ADHD symptoms were thought to have dropped off by adulthood. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the Bible for diagnosis, still have criteria for ADHD in children. Many of the questions are all related to childhood. We always looked at ADHD as a childhood condition.

Remember in the 90s, when we heard the term, ‘ADHD’, we equated it to the US and all the children who were being diagnosed and medicated. Even today, some people will ask ‘ Isn’t ADHD that overmedicated thing they have in children in the States?’. Many parents/friends/partners, still roll their eyes when their adult child/friend/partner says ‘I have ADHD’. We just don’t equate it to adults so easily.

Afterall, as an adult, you are not climbing the walls of your office and causing mayhem when you are emotionally distraught are you? No, you just suffer your emotional rejection in more quiet ways: addictions, and quiet self harm. Some of you lose jobs because of time blindness, poor organisation, lack of concentration, poor planning and your partner (s) leave you because you went from 0-hulk in seconds, you are a DIY fiend (who has amazing intentions) but never finishes anything, you forget birthdays, don’t show up for appointments or dates, or you just live with ‘C.H.A.O.S.’ – can’t have anyone over syndrome (coined by a friend of mine).

ADHD, goes beyond just being inattentive. It goes beyond just having a few moments here and there of memory lapse because you were distracted and it goes way beyond just running around, because you have a few errands to run and can’t stop for a chat.

ADHD can be debilitating for some people. Many undiagnosed individuals cannot hold on to jobs, partners or even their homes and children. Many people who have ADHD, are like gliding swans, where on the surface they appear to be gliding along while flapping their feet rapidly underwater to stay afloat.

Meeting deadlines, staying on top of tasks, managing finances, juggling life, that comes easily to the organised, focused and goal oriented, is a nightmare to people with ADHD.

In my experience as a coach, mentor and mum who works with ADHD (and I am blessed to see a span of people from 8yrs to 58yrs old) I see how ADHD really affects the people who have it. The struggles, the tears and the joys.

Finding out you have ADHD as an adult goes two ways in my experience; Relief or denial. Either way though, there is still a grieving process: The ‘euphoria/shock’ of finding out. The ‘anger’ at why, no one picked up on it earlier so that they could have avoided a lifetime of pain. The ‘analyses/acceptance’ what is it? How can I work with it and get myself on track? or as my friend put it, ‘how do I live my best life?’ and finally ‘ forgiveness/ acceptance’,I have ADHD and hey that’s okay, I can embrace it and just be me’

So to come back to awareness and acceptance. Here is my goal: 1) to raise more awareness of ADHD as an advocate and 2) as a coach to see more of my clients say ‘ hey I have ADHD, that’s just me and I am living my best life my way.’

Photo source Unsplash -Jen Theodore

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