What does ADHD feel like? Are we sufferers just lazy? Unmotivated? Absent-minded? These are questions I constantly encounter as a special education teacher as well as an ADHD-er. I have had ADHD as long as I can remember, therefore I know nothing different. My mind has always worked 1 billion miles and hour and I have always lost EVERYTHING I own. However, people who do not have ADHD often wonder why we can’t follow simple directions such as putting away laundry, cleaning our rooms, doing our homework, paying the bills. Well, let me give you a little glimpse into our mind.
The best analogy of ADHD that I have ever encountered explains it as have your internet browser open and having 50 tabs open at one time. The more tabs that are open, the smaller the tab. The size of the tab relates to the attention span we are able to give to each task. If you want someone with ADHD to make their bed, yet they have many other “tabs” open their memory may be slow or perhaps a “pop-up” will show up and take away their attention. Those of us with ADHD are not purposefully trying to avoid work (for the most part). We just have so many “tabs” open at one time that it is nearly impossible to function at a normal rate. We often have to click over to different tabs and check things and switch back, and so on and so on. While our minds are busy sorting through the tabs we are missing out on what is happening in the present. It’s not because we are ignoring you. We just are sorting through our tabs and trying to make sense of it all.
I have days where I feel as if I have 300 tabs open and others where I only have 10 or 15. There are highs and lows. I have noticed that when I am on a high, the longer it is the bigger the crash will be. It takes an incredible amount of energy to keep functioning at 100 miles per hour. Just last week I had a two and a half week high and over the weekend my crash finally hit, and it was huge! I felt as if I had just finished a marathon, which in a sense I had. My mind has been running at warp speed for so long that my body could no longer keep up.
Overall, I love having ADHD. It gives me endless creativity and energy to do all the wonderful things I want to do. However, it is frustrating when I forget things, miss out on the present, and can’t follow multi-step instructions. But I wouldn’t trade my mind for anyone else’s! 🙂
I hope that this analogy has allowed you to understand ADHD a little more. There is so much about it that is misunderstood because of the attention it has gotten in the media. So many people get diagnosed with it who don’t actually it, and that is frustrating to those of us who actually have the real disorder. We are more than just day dreamers and lazy people. We are just trying to sort out all our tabs!