*Please note that the term "ADHD" refers to both ADD and ADHD-related characteristics in this article
When people receive an ADHD diagnosis, particularly those who are diagnosed later in life, they often experience a flood of different emotions including surprise, regret, grief, and sadness. However, many report that they also felt an overwhelming sense of relief.
For the first time they were able to put a name to all the things they were experiencing on a daily basis that made them feel “misunderstood”, “crazy”, or “different”.
There is no doubt that getting an official diagnosis is a major turning point for those with ADHD and while it may feel like the journey has come to an end, it is really just beginning.
What is often woefully absent from the ADHD diagnostic and treatment process is client education. You’re given a diagnosis and maybe a prescription for meds and that’s that. But even so, it is not enough to know about ADHD.
You need to know about YOUR ADHD. How is ADHD showing up in YOUR life?
The answer is different for everyone because ADHD will manifest in various ways from person to person. Further, not every tip, trick, strategy, or tool will work for everyone. Again, it is a matter of discovering what works best for you and your ADHD.
Identifying the ways ADHD is showing up in your life is crucial to not just managing your symptoms but actually making your unique traits and abilities work for you and not against you.
Believe it or not, ADHD traits can be hidden strengths once you name them and tame them.
Working with a coach who has been trained in the management of ADHD can be a huge step forward in discovering the role ADHD plays in your life. Together, you and your coach can also identify strategies to address areas such as focus, follow-through, time-management, and organizational skills that will be tailored to meet your specific needs.
Here are some of the unexpected and surprising ways ADHD might be showing up in your life…
People with ADHD may be incredibly impulsive, especially when they feel bored or impatient. They may repeat the same behavior over and over again in hopes of feeling the level of satisfaction they expected but never reach. This can result in addictive, repetitive actions such as overspending or devoting a great deal of time to watching TV or playing video games.
When channeled in a positive way, impulsivity allows for tremendous creativity, spontaneity, and a willingness to try new things.
2. Difficulty processing information and poor judgment
People with ADHD may have a hard time making decisions because they simply cannot remember or think to draw from past experiences when they made similar choices. Instead, they rely on their emotions to help them decide. As a result, they may agonize over or put off making decisions till the last minute.
The up side is that these individuals tend to be keenly instinctual and are not constrained by the past. As a result, they are often able to make gut-level decisions in areas of ability where they feel the strongest.
3. Time insensitivity
Many people with ADHD struggle with time and are unable to accurately determine how long it will take to complete a task. As a result, they are often perpetually late or early.
People who experience time insensitivity may also display a great deal of perseverance and will stick to something until they see it through. They are often creative daydreamers who are able to discover unique solutions and ideas.
4. Emotional reactivity
People with ADHD may feel emotions so strongly and intensely that they become overwhelming and intimidating. This can result in angry or emotional outbursts and may get in the way of making decisions or completing tasks.
Those who experience intense emotions are also often highly empathic, expressive, playful, and loving. They may be able to exert great willpower and are often highly motivated when they find the task-at-hand particularly interesting.
5. Environmental hypersensitivity
Some individuals with ADHD are highly sensitive to the world around them. Temperature, textures, sounds, colors, lights, smells, tags in clothing, the emotions of others, and the energy in a room can complete derail their ability to focus, pay attention, and make decisions. They may also have difficulty following directions, judging physical distances, and may be clumsy.
These highly sensitive individuals may also be incredibly personable, empathic, and charismatic with strong interpersonal boundaries and are committed to self-care.
6. Lack of self-awareness
Many individuals with ADHD have a great deal of difficulty identifying their own behavior patterns and may also be completely unaware of their strengths, talents, passions, and desires. They may have a strong desire to succeed but dread starting new tasks and may experience feelings of shame and confusion due to perceived inadequacies and daily struggles.
Though these individuals have a difficult time acknowledging their own strengths, they are often easy-going while also highly driven to succeed, learn, and contribute.
Do you recognize any of these traits in yourself? Or perhaps in a loved one who has been diagnosed with ADHD? This list is by no means exhaustive as there are many more ways ADHD might be showing up in your life. And remember: You've got to name them to tame them!
Information source: © Copyright ADD Coach Academy, 2012-2014
Natalia van Rikxoort, MSW is a social worker, therapeutic arts facilitator, and life coach with specializations in ADD/ADHD and family coaching