Earlier this year, I completed neuropsychological testing, referred by my psychiatrist. She wanted more insight about how my mind worked and organised ideas, so I completed the testing. A lot of it was puzzles, some of it was vocabulary, and I had to draw a clock showing a specific time. I failed at that task, drawing the numbers outside the clock face. I lost points.
“You do realise you have ADHD, right? And that’s not a pejorative.”
Unbeknownst to my treating doctor, I had actually been diagnosed by a paediatrician in 2001, aged 11. This was due to my impulsiveness and poor behaviour, as well as my disorganisation. At the time, I had been prescribed dextroamphetamine. I was on it for only a short time as my parents didn’t believe I had ADHD. It made me kind of spacey, but it kept me on track.
As an adult, I couldn’t imagine how I could have ADHD. I thrive in my studies and my work. I finish my assignments early and I get good grades, even in the face of multiple obstacles.
But I do get distracted.
So how do I cope?
I start everything early. If I have 60 days to complete a 4500 word assignment, I divide the number of words by the number of days and become micro-productive. It usually ends up being about 100 words per day and I can finish on time. When I’m in my flow state, I keep writing. That’s how I manage to finish early, most of the time.
So where do I feel it the most?
I am impulsive. I have racing thoughts and ideas. The fact that I took on a masters degree with a full time job was a complete whim, and one that I have managed to stick with.
I fidget. I constantly crack my knuckles, move my legs, and fiddle with my phone.
I am disorganised. As a specialist teacher, I move from classroom to classroom throughout the day. By the end of the day, my coat, instruments, hat, lunchbox, and water bottle are in all different places. This is how I managed to lose a box of LEGO when I was a learning support teacher, at 30 weeks pregnant.
I get distracted a lot. One assignment is usually full of many hours of looking at memes and true crime documentaries, as a side road to actually getting stuff done.
As a teacher, I often hear ADHD used as a pejorative to describe children who are not a ‘good fit’ for the classroom environment. However, I would urge people to give these children time. As an adult, my ADHD is my greatest strength. My impulsivity has forced me to make beneficial decisions for myself. My stubborn commitment to tasks sees me through to the end, though I do get distracted a lot.
Many so called pathologies have huge benefits when they are channelled in the right way. For some, this means medication. For others, it means finding ways to compensate.