I'm an overthinker. I always have been. My inability to reach a decision has gotten better as I've become a better planner and figured out an organizational system that makes sense for me. Still, there's one thing that helped even more: a diagnosis of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Living with Adult ADHD
I’m Austin Harvey, a screenwriter, author, blogger, musician, and new addition to the "Living with Adult ADHD" blog at HealthyPlace. I was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in February of 2021, at age 24, but no matter what year it is, hindsight is 20/20. In other words, my diagnosis explained a lot. I used to procrastinate on all my assignments and never planned much for the future; I was terrible with money (okay, I'm still terrible with money); I spoke without thinking first, then wondered why I'd said what I'd said; I struggled with simple, stupid things like what color shirt to wear or how I wanted to spend my free time, which often meant wasting my free time thinking of all the things I could be doing. It was an exhausting life, and it was through learning about my neurodivergency that I was able to explain some of these behaviors and, more importantly, work on correcting them.
My attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis should have been a bipolar disorder diagnosis. I've thought I lived with ADHD for 14 years. Here's my story.
October is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) awareness month, and I want to share some soft skills ADHD has helped me develop. I know that for many people having ADHD is everything but a superpower and a gift. Because ADHD is a spectrum disorder, it affects everyone differently and to varying degrees. Some people would trade their ADHD in a heartbeat for something less debilitating or frustrating, and some relish in all the things ADHD enables them to do. This post isn't another one of those toxic positivity posts, but more of another perspective—the side we may not always see, but may later come (or not) to appreciate in all its subtleties.
After being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I went through several stages before coming to full acceptance of the disorder. I don't know what it is about life after an official diagnosis, but I experienced everything from liberating aha moments to depression and despair. Everyone processes their emotions differently post-diagnosis—so I thought it would be helpful to share my timeline for those who've been recently diagnosed and/or struggling. The stages are listed in the order they were experienced.
Social rejection hurts me much more than I would like. I'm sensitive, and therefore I experience all emotions to a greater a degree. Everything from joy to depression can sometimes be overwhelming. And it's that tendency to experience emotions so strongly that keeps me from revealing parts of myself that I've labeled "unlovable."
As a kid, anytime I watched TV, read a book, or engaged in an activity where I had to sit for long periods, I would rock back and forth (a self-stimulating behavior). To my parents, watching me rock backward and bang the back of my head up against the couch was not odd since my brother was also a "headbanger" as they would jokingly call it. Recently, I learned that my means of self-soothing as a child is called stimming—and there's a connection between self-stimulatory behavior and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
How do you know if sharing too much information is a problem attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes for you? Do you ever find yourself during a conversation anxiously waiting for the person to finish their sentence so you can get your thoughts out before you forget? Do you have word vomit, fixate over the things you wish you would've said, or do you go off on tangents when you speak? Even worse, have you been told or noticed that you share too much information? Then you're in good company.
Ever since I was clinically diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I'm hesitant to disclose that I have it—even with close friends.
I learned how to trick my brain by accident. You see, several years ago (before my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis), to lose the weight I gained from my second pregnancy, I went on a diet. After learning the ins and outs of nutrition, I began meal prepping and working out four times a week, with only one caveat—Wednesday was "cheat" day. My weekly 10-piece nugget meal accompanied by a medium, mountain berry Powerade was the absolute highlight of my week. However, once Thursday hit, I was back to my daily egg whites, chicken, and broccoli.