Let me introduce you to ADHD. Well, contrary to the theories of various obnoxious journalists (see Rod Liddle of The Spectator, but don’t look too hard — you’ve got better things to do with your time) that it’s an excuse for bad and / or lazy parenting… it is indeed a real thing.
So, what is ADHD? It’s a ….OH LOOK, A BUTTERFLY! A classic ADHD gag right there for you.
The experience of having ADHD is essentially akin to sitting at 3am, victim to a youtube induced rabbit of hole of stimuli, all day, every day.
Do you know what it even stands for? Let me educate you!
Give me an A: ATTENTION
Give me a D: DEFICIT
Give me an H: HYPERACTIVITY
Give me a D: DISORDER
…. GO NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS!
ADHD can also be linked to a few different things:
1. Intensity of emotion — so what I’m saying is the more you praise me for this piece of writing the happier I’ll be and the better it will be for everyone around me!
2. Anxiety and Depression — so what I’m saying is the more you praise me for this piece of writing the happier I’ll be and the better it will be for everyone around me!
3. OCD — so what I’m saying is…who am I kidding? I just REALLY like the rule of 3.
Lots of people ask me about my coping mechanisms with ADHD: “How do you stay so cool, so calm, so collected” you might hear my fans ask. Let me tell you the key to my success…
There are 3 reasons I love lists:
1. Stationery. Sweet, sweet stationery.
2. Notebooks! The true companions to all great stationery!
3. And most importantly…. Ticking. Things. Off. Such satisfaction, such control, such arousal.
So yep, in the words of Meghan Trainor (ish), I’m all about those lists.
But seriously, lists are the saving grace for someone like me whose brain at any given moment resembles that of a filing cabinet that has been set upon by a leaf blower.
For my own list based catharsis, here are 3 key challenges related to having ADHD:
1. Everything around you feels like sensory white noise; a constant distraction.
2. An inability to focus attention on even the most compelling of tasks. So let’s just say I’m doing pretty well getting this far. High five me.
3. An irrepressible physical and mental energy, which means, for example, I can be known to interrupt people (a lot). It’s like an itch that must be scratched.
Now, I am nothing if not balanced (readers who know me will appreciate the irony of this statement!) and so let me end this piece by sharing with you some of the positive elements of ADHD, that I personally experience.
A while ago I took myself off to a conference for Adults with ADHD. You can imagine the productivity levels in that room! One of the contributors, from the Brighton Adult ADHD Support Group, brought an image called the ADHD Sun! See below:
As you can see, it shows various positive features to love about ADHD! I have roughly 50 copies stapled to my boyfriend’s bedroom wall.
As my final list — based swansong, here are 5 positive elements of ADHD.
1. I’m HILARIOUS (as you’ll agree, having belly laughed your way through this piece of writing)
2. I’m creative (you’re just going to have to trust me on this one)
3. I’m unique (we’re literally all unique so this is a massive cop out, but I’m having it anyway)
4. I’m positive (well, I’m bringing this piece to what I’m sure you’ll agree is an inspirational climax with the positive elements of ADHD, so…)
5. I’m inspired. No witty follow up. I am inspired. By everything around me. That’s sometimes the beauty of ADHD. You can feel inspiration so intensely at times that — and I’ve come to learn this over the years — it really is a privilege. I’m also inspired by anyone brave enough to share their own story of mental ill health and/or neuro-diversity.
I’ve performed a version of this writing as stand up comedy a few times. The story of how how it came to be shall be kept for another time, but when I performed it at a neurodiversity event, I was genuinely moved by how many people took inspiration from my words.
So whether you struggle with your mental health, are neuro-diverse like me or are merely intrigued — I hope that these words inspire you to laugh, understand and take action to embrace us in the workplace.
Finally (I promise), in the words of the inestimable Captain Holt of Brooklyn 99: “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place”.