Cynical about ADHD? I absolutely get it. But if you’ve ever thought the traits sound familiar, you owe it to yourself to take a closer look.
There’s no blood test for ADHD. Although brain scan studies have shown significantly different neurobiology in people with and without the diagnosis, there’s no scan to test definitively for ADHD. There’s only assessment and diagnosis by a medical professional.
The clinical label Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) refers to people who struggle with being easily distracted, impulsive, and/or hyperactive. Other common traits include forgetfulness, emotional intensity, difficulty getting started on tasks, and disorganization in time or space. There are also many ADHD-related strengths, such as being exceptionally creative, intuitive, or charismatic.
Does any of that sound like you? Many people who recognize the traits, resist the label. Most are held back by pervasive myths about ADHD. Some believe ADHD is a fake diagnosis manufactured by pharmaceutical companies to peddle Ritalin, Adderall, and other multi-million dollar drugs. A lot of resistance stems from concerns about profit-driven overmedication of children.
I’m not here to defend pharmaceutical companies or advocate for ADHD medications. Many of my clients have found a well-informed mix of meds helpful. Others haven’t. But as an expert on Adult ADHD who has been living with the diagnosis myself since 1997, here’s what I can tell you for sure: knowing my neurobiological wiring is “different” has made all the difference in my quality of life.
This has been true for hundreds of people I’ve worked with over the past 15 years.
Here’s my message to adults with ADHD traits:
- You don’t have to pursue a clinical diagnosis or take medication to benefit from learning more about Adult ADHD.
- The point is not whether you fully accept the ADHD label. Maybe you’re just “ADHD-ish.”
- What matters is accepting, understanding, and making the most of your own unique brain wiring.
Because the truth is that people with a lot of ADHD-spectrum traits struggle. They feel different. They are different. There’s no such thing as “adult-onset ADHD.” People with this collection of traits have fundamentally different brain wiring that was evident from childhood.
The only truly respectful and helpful response to ADHD traits comes from a perspective of neurodiversity. That means recognizing that ADHD traits are at one end of the normal range of human behavior. People with these traits are different, not broken.
The goal isn’t to “fix” people with ADHD wiring and make them “normal” but to set each unique individual up for success. Everyone must create their own definition of success as part of the process, but essentially it’s about being able to get more of what you want out of life.
Achieving this requires a patient, curious, non-judgmental approach. If we toss out our entire conceptualization of ADHD, we lose out on insights and strategies that can be profoundly useful. Talk about babies and bathwater!
So, if you have ADHD-related traits, don’t worry about the label. Focus on whether you’re satisfied with your life:
- Do you feel stuck, like you’re not able to move forward?
- Are you often bored, restless, or frustrated?
- Do your traits cause problems in your career or relationships?
- Does your life feel more chaotic than creative?
- Could you benefit from connecting with others who have similar challenges and strengths?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, don’t let anything hold you back from getting the support you deserve to live a more satisfying life!
Consider signing up for Opening the Suitcase, my 4-week online course of information, support, and inspiration to get you started on a more hopeful, successful path. Get clear on what ADHD is, what it isn’t, and what that really means for you. Opening the Suitcase is the first course in the 3-part Unpacking ADHD Core Series.