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ADHD: A Gift or a Curse?

“ADHD is a horrible disability that makes it impossible to do anything!”

“No, ADHD is a gift that allows us to think creatively and outside of the box!”

I have seen this argument over and over again online. As you read this, one statement probably resonates more with you than the other.

So which is correct? Both! There are people with ADHD who experience it as extremely disruptive and there are people who feel like it contributes to their happiness and success.

Why? How can the same brain type be experienced so differently?

There are 3 primary reasons:

  1. Trauma: This is probably the biggest factor. While big “T” trauma such as abuse or life threatening experience is certainly a factor, I'm talking about what I call little “t” trauma. Those seemingly small but hurtful things that add up and have a BIG impact on our life. These can be things like being repeatedly told you're lazy and don't try hard enough, or being called scatterbrained or “too much”. It can also be through actions like having to stay in from recess day after day until you finish what you're supposed to do. These things can turn into on-going feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and not feeling good enough. When people have fewer traumas related to ADHD they tend to experience it as less problematic overall.

  2. Expectations: These can look like expectations to go into a certain job, or make certain grades, to behaving or feeling certain ways. Some expectations don't take into consideration the different way the ADHD brain works, or even personal choice! When we're constantly fighting against who we are and trying to fit into someone else's box, we can feel like a failure. Other times, early expectations are created in ways that help us feel valued and successful. That makes a huge difference as we grow.

  3. Failure focus: We humans tend to gravitate toward and remember negative things over positive things. This is why the new focuses on the bad things that happen. There's a reason for this- remembering negative things has kept us safe throughout human history. Unfortunately, when it comes to ADHD, most social media- and even many medical/mental health professionals- focus on how bad ADHD is and how hard it is to be “normal”. While it's true that succeeding with ADHD in a world full of non-ADHD people can be really hard at times, when there is an overabundance of failure focus, it can increase anxiety and depression which make ADHD even worse! When we give ourselves grace, try our best to restructure our lives around our natures, and surround ourselves with people who see and point out our successes and delightfulness, this can change the experience of ADHD.

We are all so unique with different personalities and experiences and paths that there are likely thousands of things that impact who we are and how we experience our lives with ADHD.

If you're curious and want to explore more about YOU and YOUR best life with ADHD, schedule a free session with one of our coaches.

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