What does it feel like to have ADHD?

For most people, the idea of struggling with focusing on something you really want to do is baffling, particularly if you don’t have ADHD or any other similar mental health issue.

Imagine the following scenario:

You love your job and are good at it. But one day, a loved one is in the hospital, yet you still have to go to work that day. How would this likely affect you?

  • you’ll likely constantly think about them and worry
  • you wish you were there with them, rather than having to work that day
  • no matter how much you tell yourself “they’re in good hands, modern medicine is awesome and the doctors there are the best in the country”, you won’t stop thinking about them
  • you have to constantly fight the urge to check your phone and see if you got any update on their health
  • that thing the boss asked you to do? It probably just slipped your mind
  • there are likely several small mistakes in your work, as you got distracted mid-typing by thinking about them
  • it likely takes you a bit longer to do the same job, even if you’re awesome at what you do

It’s a horrible experience, and I wish you and your loved ones good health so you never go through that.

Now, imagine that every single thing happening in your life would dwell on your mind as much as that emotionally-charged event.

  • worrying about what your cat is doing home alone, or the meeting you’ll have later in the day with your boss
  • wishing you were out with friends or playing that new video game
  • you remind yourself “I love my job, I need and want to do this”, but it has no effect, now you’re just worrying about losing your job on top of everything else
  • you have to fight a strong urge to see if your friend texted you back, or if someone posted anything new on Reddit
  • with so many thoughts racing through your mind, you inevitably forget things and make small mistakes (or sometimes big ones)

It almost sounds crippling when you think of it this way. But people with ADHD are usually amazingly resourceful and creative (they have to be, to go through life with a mind as distracted as that). We usually find ways to cope, like writing down everything so we don’t forget it, leaving our phone in our jacket so we’re not tempted by it, reading an email 3 times before sending it to make sure we don’t have any typos and didn’t forget something important, etc.

As a result, people with ADHD are often great under pressure and in a high-pace workplace full of distraction, because they’re used to functioning that way. They are often great at problem solving, since their brain is on overdrive, giving them 1000 ideas at once. Many often have irresistible bouts of curiosity about random things, so they have knowledge of a wide array of topics. On top of that, medicine helps reduce the mental chatter, and therapy/mindfulness help as well, so they take charge of the issues quite well. You may not even know they have ADHD.

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