by Cynthia Hammer, MSW, Executive Director, the Inattentive ADHD Coalition
Have You Found Your ADHD Gifts?
There are entrepreneurs who value their ADHD and say they wouldn’t want to be without it, but I am not one of them! Even some of them admit their ADHD isn’t a total gift. Glenn Beck, conservative radio host, said his ADHD is a gift for his work, but not for his marriage. While both Ty Pennington and Michael Phelps, in spite of their successes in life, have been arrested for drunk driving.
I believe most who claims their ADHD is a gift have the hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD. With their creative, out-of-the box ideas and high energy, they have what it takes to be successful entrepreneurs. But, for those of us with inattentive ADHD, it is another story. Few of us say it is a gift we wouldn’t want to be without. But if those with inattentive ADHD find their passion in life, they might be thankful and consider it a gift.
Unwrapping the Gifts
Dr. Hallowell writes about “unwrapping the gifts” of ADHD. This conjures up the image of a beautiful woman on Christmas morning slowly opening her presents to marvel at her gifts. But unwrapping the gifts of inattentive ADHD is not like that. It is like receiving a stack of Russian dolls, where you remove one, and there is another. You remove that and there is another, and another, until you finally find the tiniest doll hidden deep inside.
Clearing the Hurdles
Another image for revealing the gifts of inattentive ADHD is a hurdle race. You must jump over a series of hurdles before claiming the prize — your ADHD gifts.
Hurdle 1. Parents or teachers who didn’t recognize our inattentive ADHD during our childhood
Hurdle 2. A widespread belief that ADHD only exists in hyperactive little boys.
Hurdle 3. Stigma about ADHD and people not believing it is a true medical disorder.
Hurdle 4. People minimizing the challenges of ADHD by saying, “Everyone has a little bit of ADHD.” Whereas those same people would never minimize depression or anxiety by saying, “Everyone has a bit of depression” or “Everyone has a bit of anxiety.” They recognize depression and anxiety are serious mental health conditions, but they don’t give the same credibility to ADHD.
Hurdle 5. Physicians and therapists who believe you can’t have ADHD if you did well in school or who only see depression or anxiety and not your inattentive ADHD.
Hurdles 6 and 7 and many more. We need to overcome problems with procrastination, disorganization, distractibility, forgetfulness, time blindness, low self-esteem, masking, rejection sensitivity and often depression and anxiety for living years with undiagnosed inattentive ADHD.
If we are to make the most of the gifts of our inattentive ADHD — our creativity, problem-solving, passionate interests and hyper-focus — we have to overcome all these hurdles.
When you do, you will join those with Inattentive ADHD who exclaim, “Whew! And finally, I unwrapped my gifts!”
Cynthia Hammer is the Executive Director of the Inattentive ADHD Coalition – www.iadhd.org.
She earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1972. For many years she was a stay-at-home mom raising three sons while her husband spent long days at work as a general surgeon. She started a non-profit organization in 1993 to help adults with ADHD, and she recently started a different non-profit, the Inattentive ADHd Coalition to create more awareness of Inattentive ADHD. Visit it here: www.iadhd.org