As we build the site here are some common questions.
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Q: What is it like to have ADD or ADHD?
A: The boring, tedious and uninteresting things in life are painful.
The interesting, exciting, stimulating, enjoyable, passionate, engaging, vital and fun things in life is where you excel and thrive.
Life has both.
It’s an epic roller coaster ride. It can be sheer terror and exhilarating. Relaxing and enjoying the ride will help you not puke all over life.
Q: How does one distinguish between ADD and being undisciplined, without being tested?
A: The appearance of being undisciplined can be one sign of ADD/ADHD but lack of discipline can be from other things. Even with testing it can be difficult for health care professionals to accurately determine ADHD is behind symptoms and behaviors associated with ADHD.
ADHD is a diagnosis of exclusion and more than one condition needs to be considered and this is called “differential diagnosis”.
It is vital to make sure symptoms aren’t from anxiety, depression, bipolar, physical problems, life situations and other things. A misdiagnosis of ADHD and prescribing stimulant meds will often make other conditions worse.
An example of this is an anxious person with racing thoughts that becomes “inattentive” and can’t remember things because they’re not sleeping. If prescribed stimulants they would see an improvement because they’re more alert.
In the long run they get more tired and need more stimulants because the “drugs aren’t working”. That cycle of upping the dose has not ended well for many people.
Unfortunately many health care professionals do not take due diligence on this matter. Even the “specialists” may not look deep enough just administering a self-report questionnaire and going by “gut feel” they call their “professional opinion”. This is a point of contention with me because it leads to under diagnosis or misdiagnosis of ADHD adding to the stigma and misunderstanding.
Here’s an really good answer from someone who trained me. David Giwerc’s answer to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: How do I know if I have ADD vs. just lacking self-discipline?
So, one does not distinguish between ADHD and being undisciplined. The appearance of being undisciplined is only one sign.
Q: What’s it like to get diagnosed
A: I didn’t believe I had ADHD until I actually got diagnosed and read “Driven to Distraction”. Then I thought “That is totally me!”.
It has been 14 years of improvement of my life after the diagnosis. I was already working as an Aerospace Engineer and ADHD traits helped me get there. Of course there have been disasters along the way but none were impassible obstacles.
Here is what I wrote about being diagnosed. I am about to reach 40 and I realised that I have ADHD. What are the best steps to get a proper diagnosis in the UK?
Your fear of being misdiagnosed is valid. There are guidelines for diagnosis and are not always followed. Diagnostic & Treatment Guidelines It is important to be accurately diagnosed because ADHD shares symptoms with other disorders and their treatment is different.
Meds are still the most effective treatment and they are safe. Exercise has been shown as the second best treatment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is good for clearing out obstacles and improving interaction in the world (behavior).
But all that is just “management” of ADHD.
To really use your ADHD to your advantage requires mindfulness and self-reflection to find the strengths the “disorder” has given you. Otherwise there will be constant “ADHD messes” that you are cleaning up. Things can go just fine and then ADHD trips you up. It’s frustrating to “pick up the pieces” and have it all fall apart over and over again.
You mention being a bit “weird and quirky”. We can call ourselves weird and quirky or we can own our ADHD and the unique talents and skills that come along with it. I can think of weird things all day, some of those weird thoughts got my name on a patent. I am proud of the unique way I saw that engineering problem. That project also paid well. ; )
Now I help people get use the weirdness and quirkiness to their advantage. It’s a lot of fun because I use my “ADHD vision” to help people to see their ADHD traits in awesome and positive ways.
Using this disorder requires more than just looking at the “positive” side of ADHD. It is taking the whole disorder and what it does in life then aligning the attention and hyperfocus towards true personal desires and goals. It takes work but the return results provide even more motivation and energy.
ADHD provides a lot of energy both mental and physical. It is up to the individual to use it or have it use them.
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