Many people think that ADHD is a myth because major diagnosis didn’t begin until the early 1990s. It can be traced back to as early as 1798. I can tell you it’s real because I live with it every day.
ADHD is a very difficult thing to explain. Like most disorders, it is greatly misunderstood. I am going to attempt to explain how my mind works. I don’t know how well it will come across in writing.
In my case, I am not hyperactive, but that may have described me as a child. It’s not that I can’t focus, but I struggle with it at least 90% of the time. I did show some compulsive behaviors as a child. I have an awareness about this as I still have to fight that sometimes.
In general, I am a very determined person. I don’t dabble in things. I am either “all in” or “all out”. I am obsessive about completing things that I start. My work looks different than most other people that I observe. I might work on 1 thing for 10 minutes, then the next, then the next, back to thing 1. I don’t want to do that. I liked thing 3 better.
I never considered myself creative. I am not artistic in most traditional senses. At work, people describe me as highly adaptable and a creative problem solver.
I can see angles that often others can’t see. This can create a problem when I can’t describe what I’m seeing.
I struggled to embrace creativity to describe me for many years. I finally identified that my creativity comes from my ability to assess situations and likely outcomes at a rapid pace. I am a great problem solver and resourceful.
School teachers – “Trent would be great if he applied himself”.
Me – “This isn’t interesting. Let’s ride bikes or go to the arcade”.
Reading was virtually impossible through high school and college. I couldn’t focus. This is especially true of subjects that were of no interest to me and teachers that were out of touch with reality. I dropped out of college early.
In 2012, when I enrolled in San Diego State Master’s Program for Hospitality Tourism Management, I was laser focused for the whole year. I thrived with audio books and applicable material. I thrived with teachers that cared about me as an individual. I thrived with determination to be better as a leader and a person.
My mind can go a mile-a-minute. I excel in fast-paced environments. While I can be a procrastinator, I never miss a deadline.
I worked at Mcdonald’s from age 14 to 16. It was fast paced and challenging from a volume perspective. For the following 2 years, I worked nights and early mornings in a drug store. I figured that if I worked overnights, no one will notice that I can’t stay in one place. Later I switched to shipping and receiving so no one would see me fidget in the back of the store.
I finally found my element in hotels. It is a world of distractions. Every. Single. Day. I did that for about 9 years and then was lured away with money and a lot less pressure in 2003. Unfortunately, it was an office job and it was torture. I was out of my mind with repetition and boredom. I became a day trader to keep things exciting.
I was finally officially diagnosed with ADHD in 2004 and was prescribed one of the popular medications. I became a zombie and had some weird side effects. I stopped taking it after just a few months.
After 5 years, I returned to hotels and I am back in my element. I was an opening and takeover specialist in hotels because I could make things happen.
It’s hard. Some nights impossible. They say eliminate alcohol, don’t eat late, exercise, do this, don’t do that. Try this medicine, meditate. Get up at 4 am. I’ve tried it all, to no avail. My mind won’t stop.
Laying on the beach soaking up the rays? Impossible. In the water, exploring, finding creatures, even coral formations…amazing.
I don’t go to the movie theater. In the rare instance I watch a movie at home, I usually pause often to walk around and do random tasks.
Working out is tough. A gym is boring (and gross). Riding trails on a mountain bike and finding new trails is the only fitness activity that I have found that I enjoy.
Listening can be torture. My mind wanders. My work-a-round is asking questions that I am interested in. I find that asking relevant questions keeps my mind in the conversation. If someone decides to drone on about themselves, my mind ‘bails’ and I tune out.
One of my employees is from Russia. I’ve never been there. I asked her about the culture, the people, the prisons (I have read about them), and even the vodka (I have “researched” those). What was it like in the 80s? How does it compare now? If you didn’t have family there, would you ever go back?
Overall, life with ADHD is fun and torture in a neat, scrambled package. It can be a weakness but, it can also be a strength in many situations.
Living with ADHD is fun.
Living with ADHD is a nightmare.
Living with ADHD is real.