What is it like to live with ADHD?
Imagine spending your school years being told off for being lazy, not paying attention, being stupid and generally wasting time. Would you have enjoyed the school experience or carried on to further education? What about as an adult, entering the world of work, if you were lucky enough to have been offered a job; wrestling with timekeeping, personal organisation, struggling to meet deadlines, and seemingly unable to prioritise your workload? Combine this with missing appointments despite reminders in your diary, on your calendar and on your mobile phone. Just a general feeling of constantly being on the back foot.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is caused by low levels of brain neurotransmitters yet, even within medical society, there are many who question its existence. That child "just needs some discipline".
Yet for the individual it means that they have little or no impulse control, cannot judge risk, might know the answer to the question yet cannot sit still for long enough to write it down, will shout out the answer or correct the teacher if they know they are wrong and have a very acute sense of fairness.
Children and adults with ADHD can struggle with friendships, making friends easily but lacking the ability to maintain relationships. They can spend their lives on the edge of friendship groups, not getting party invitations, and feeling excluded. And sleep, what is that?
It is hardly surprising then that many clients present themselves in counselling due to either living with the condition themselves and the despair it brings or existing in a household where another family member is challenged in this way.
Many parental relationships are tested to the limit trying to co-exist with teenagers with these added hurdles. Sometimes one parent accepts the diagnosis and another doesn’t. The hereditary element also means that many adults only get diagnosed as a result of answering the endless questionnaires for their child’s diagnosis, realising that they could just as easily be answering the questions about themselves.
What are the benefits of ADHD?
Luckily living with ADHD can have plus sides too:
- fantastic ability to ‘think outside the box’
- creativity and sensitivity
- unlimited energy
Some highly achieving individuals co-exist with ADHD – Justin Timberlake, Richard Branson, Michael Phelps, Jim Carrey and Jamie Oliver to name but a few.
My job as a counsellor is to help ADHD clients recognise what is working for them and see how they can move forwards with this. I saw a lovely motto on a children’s t-shirt which just about sums it up; it read: ‘ADHD – I have more ideas before breakfast than you have in the entire day.’