ADHD is More Than Just Inattention
The signs and symptoms of ADHD I wished I had known sooner
My morning started like it always did; I got up and was ready to leave for work. As I get outside and head to my car, I notice something small folded on the ground.
It looks like someone dropped their wallet — it sucks for them!
I was unbothered until I saw that it was my wallet.
I had dropped my wallet the night before when getting home.
Thankfully, my wallet seemed to be untouched, with nothing missing.
I could’ve sworn I had brought it in. Then again, I do remember not even noticing my wallet was missing.
I wasn’t new to this type of situation happening. Unfortunately, losing my wallet like this was a new achievement for me.
More situations like this began to pop up frequently. It was as if I had lost all sense of caring for my own personal belongings. The more responsibilities that I took on from work and socially seemed to enhance this pattern of behavior.
I began setting alarms on my phone to remind me to check for my wallet. The alarms worked on occasion, but I would forget the second I would shut it off.
I was furious with myself! Why was I so lazy that I couldn’t even remember to check that I have my wallet with me!
I kept this mindset for a while and tried my hardest to break away from it. I wasn’t lazy, but my actions didn’t show that.
I really wanted to be a certain way: clean, organized, and consistent.
Most of the people around me didn’t need to think about these everyday things. But I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the demands of life. I felt so lost and ashamed. What was wrong with me?
I carried on with this mantra for quite a while. I decided it was best that I try to rid myself of my bad habits.
After years of trying, I learned that these ‘bad habits’ were just a part of my personality. I was doomed to forever be the disorganized messed that I was.
I dreamed of Pinterest-style organization and clean countertops — and no dishes overflowing out of the sink! I learned that fast; this is a goal that is hard to obtain.
But I would settle for less than perfect and obviously go for something I could manage. Unfortunately, I failed time and time again.
I had enough and decided to seek help. I sought out a clinician that I felt comfortable with and got an appointment to review possible ADHD.
What does ADHD look like?
ADHD is a developmental disorder categorized into three separate parts: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Someone who is diagnosed with ADHD will show various symptoms throughout each category, fluctuating.
According to the DSM-V Revised, ADHD is a developmental disorder that affects one’s executive functioning. Executive functioning is the part of our brain that helps us stay organized; it’s like our little assistant throughout the day.
ADHD is not a matter of procrastination or laziness but a missing key in our brain to help us achieve our goals.
All goals, no matter how big or small, take a specific plan to execute.
Following through with achieving goals is the issue, those with ADHD struggle along the way.
With ADHD, and updated DSM-V Revised criteria categorize patients with either inattentive presentation, hyperactive presentation, or combined presentation (both inattentive and hyperactive).
Inattention is a lack of attention in tasks and everyday life. This can disrupt the quality of life when you have to refocus on what you’re constantly doing.
I am certainly inattentive, and I always have been. I often find myself struggling to get back on task. Since I was a kid, I’ve always had attention issues, but I was mostly written off as ‘distracted.’
Hyperactivity is defined as having more energy than the average person. Hyperactive behavior can manifest in many ways and can look different for many people. I always saw my hyperactivity as taking on too many projects. But, I must admit that I am that person who is always shaking their leg or moving around.
I like being busy and having something to do, but it leaves me with a lot of stress. If I have missed deadlines, and I overall struggle to get through the day.
Impulsivity comes down to having a lack of control over one’s actions. Just like hyperactivity, impulsivity can come in many different forms.
Impulsivity can be seen in issues with overeating and other potentially harmful behavior. Impulsive behavior can also be seen through risky behavior or getting into unsafe situations; this stems from a lack of awareness of what consequences might occur.
Forgetfulness is inconvenient — but it can be harmful
By forgetfulness, I don’t mean forgetting to take your allergy pill on occasion.
The most prominent issue my ADHD causes me is forgetfulness. I have to write everything down, or else I will forget. I see so many different tasks, and they all seem so important to me that I can’t make any progress.
Forgetfulness can have a real impact.
For example, you want to send your cousin a birthday card — that’s pretty simple.
First, let’s break down the steps to send your cousin that birthday card.
You’ll need to go to the store to find a card to send them; then, you will have to purchase it, write a little note inside, and mail it off. Simple as pie.
Except for the person with ADHD who will struggle along the way. Maybe while you were at the store, you got distracted with a clothing sale or the detergent you meant to buy, and while you’re here, you might as well buy the pasta sauce for next week’s dinner.
Those with ADHD start with good intentions but get lost along the way.
Forgetfulness can manifest in more harmful ways. Forgetfulness can lead to missing important bills or deadlines or losing opportunities. Forgetting to lock your front door regularly poses a serious safety risk, and forgetting to turn off your stove is another one, too.
Small occurrences of forgetfulness are normal, but repeated forgetfulness that deals with more important matters may cause issues.
Much like with many diagnoses, there typically needs to be evidence of behavior occurring over a period of time. A short instance of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, with any combination of, is not a sure-fire ADHD diagnosis.
I exhibited signs for many years that were marked as laziness. I felt like I was trying the best that I could, yet I was still falling short.
ADHD can often be overlooked in adolescence by the child adapting and managing their symptoms; the real struggle isn’t seen until adult responsibilities arise.
Those with ADHD are most likely to experience comorbidities with other mental health disorders. Comorbidities are disorders that a typically seen alongside other diagnoses.
For ADHD, the comorbidity for anxiety and depression is higher, adding to issues you may already be experiencing.
ADHD is a real disorder that affects a lot of people. If you notice any similarities and question if you have ADHD, call your doctor — it’s worth a shot.
ADHD is not a curse that scars your ability to function properly. Some people have ADHD that do not need medication — while many do not. I am still a perfectly functioning person; I need to work a little harder to stay functioning — and that’s okay!