ADHD is not merely a label. Calling it a label minimizes the struggle for those of us living with it. Especially when we are diagnosed later in life. I am not living by a label. I am not using a label to excuse bad behavior. I do not find my identity in a label. I am not defined by ADHD.
I am being set free from weaknesses I can’t control. ADHD is an explanation that has brought me grief, shock, confusion, relief, peace, and clarity.
Grief that I must accept that my executive dysfunction, distractibility, short-term memory problems, and other challenges are not due to a defect of character. I have a lot of character defects, like anyone else, but these are NOT that, in spite of the messaging to the contrary, both from the world and from my own mind.
Most people struggle with distraction, procrastination, brain fog, chronic overwhelm, depressive episodes, and other characteristics common to people with ADHD. It’s easy to think that someone with ADHD can just try harder, do better, be less lazy, etc… However, as with any neurological challenge, it’s not the traits themselves that make the diagnosis, but the frequency, duration, and the degree to which they interfere with daily life.
I was diagnosed with ADHD, inattentive type in July this year, and I am still learning how ADHD is really and truly at the bottom of nearly all of my daily life struggles. In some ways, I am still in denial.
I am so used to thinking that my brain and the way I think is “normal,” thinking that everyone struggles with the same things, that when I read a blog post about using Bullet Journaling to manage my ADHD, I am not just relating to the author, but breaking into ugly crying sobs in a visceral reaction. It blindsides me every time. There’s “relatable,” and there’s a deep knowing that this — this explains EVERYTHING.
Learning I have ADHD is not so much a paradigm shift as it is finally knowing what the paradigm actually is.
What makes it worse is that the tools required to manage ADHD make me feel like I could actually manage ADHD if I didn’t have ADHD! It’s a nightmare of trial and error, and I hate trial and error. I crave structure, but my brain cannot provide it. It has to come from outside of me, and yet be driven by me. It’s maddening. On the one hand, I wish someone could just tell me what to do. On the other, I have to do it myself, because my brain and struggles are unique. What works for one person won’t work for the next.
Furthermore, managing ADHD has nothing to do with trying. If it did, I wouldn’t have a problem. There is no one who tries harder than me to get my act together. No one more invested in finding the structure than me. All the Zig Ziglar quotes and the Seven Habits and the inspirational Bible verses don’t work for ADHD brains.
It’s time for me to let go.
What’s next? I have no idea. I can only handle what’s right in front of me. Thinking outside of Now just breaks my brain.