Get to Know and Love Your ADHD Brain

Yes, ADHD is real

Yes, ADHD IS Real

Back when I was working as a speech therapist, I met a guy who, at the time, was finishing up med school. After telling him about my ADD (a term no longer used), he responded with something along the lines of, “ADD isn’t real. It’s just because you’re not interested”.

First off, what a jerk. And secondly, please don’t make the same mistake I did and allow someone to dismiss your mental condition. โค๏ธโ€๐Ÿฉน

Yes, ADHD is real.

Read Short Version

Let’s cut to the chase!

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a known neurological disorder that affects your behavior. For example, you may have trouble sitting still and concentrating on one thing at a timeacting on impulse, and regulating your emotions.

How do you know if you have it?

You may face ongoing challenges that our pals with neurotypical brains only experience from time to time. Studies have shown that in an ADHD brain, there is less blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain in charge of concentrationplanningorganization, and completing tasks.

According to the DSM-5, to be diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, you must present:

  1. Five or more symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity or impulsivity, or a combination of such behaviorsthat have have negatively impacted your everyday activities for at least 6 months.
  2. Symptoms that you experienced in childhood before age 12.
  3. Symptoms in at least two environments (e.g., at work, school, home, or with friends, etc.).
  4. Clear evidence that your symptoms have negative affects on functioning across academic, social, and occupational areas.
  5. Symptoms that occur separately from ones that align more closely with a psychotic disorder or another mental condition. 

How does it feel to live with ADHD?

  • You’re either trying to do everything at once, or you barely feel like moving at all. 
  • You’re easily distracted and overstimulated. Your squirrel brain often races from one thing to the next.
  • Your attention is typically divided up into a million different places. How can you possibly keep your mind on just one thing at a time?!  
  • Your sense of time is either NOW or NOT NOW. For me, it’s usually the latter. Some of us also consider ourselves time blind.
  • The struggle is real when it comes to getting and staying organized. Things tend to get misplaced easily. Emails pile up seemingly out of nowhere. 
  • You often think “f*** it” and act on impulse anyway! It’s common for people with ADHD to display impulsive tendencies.
  • Procrastination is your middle name. A lot of us indeed struggle with this whether we have ADHD or not. But ADHDers often experience procrastination that is more persistent and grueling to overcome.
  • You have trouble staying still. It’s like you have a rocket under your butt, and you can’t stop fidgeting! 
  • Emotional regulation is not your strong suit. You feel emotions intensely, and it can take extra time and effort to pull yourself out of a negative cycle once it begins.

Do any of these characteristics sound like you? If you’re curious or concerned, consult a professional to be tested and receive an official diagnosis.

What’s ADHD Anyway?

ADHD is a known neurological disorder that affects your behavior. For example, you may have trouble sitting still and concentrating on one thing at a time, acting on impulse, and regulating your emotions. 

So you still have doubts about whether ADHD exists? ๐Ÿค” According to a 2016 study conducted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for my non-American friends), over 6 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. And that’s in the U.S. alone!

If you’re a fellow ADHDer, you may face ongoing challenges that our pals with neurotypical brains only experience from time to time. Studies have shown that in an ADHD brain, there is less blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain in charge of concentration, planning, organization, and completing tasks.

You can see the differences on the brain scans below.

ADHD is real
Curtesy of Amen Clinics

And to make sure we’re on the same page, there’s a lot to consider when determining whether someone has ADHD.

How Do You know If You Have ADHD?

According to the DSM-5, to be diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, you must present:

  • Five or more symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity or impulsivity, or a combination of such behaviors that have persisted for at least 6 months and have negatively impacted your everyday activities.
  • Symptoms that you experienced in childhood before age 12.
  • Symptoms in at least two environments (e.g., at work, school, home, or with friends, etc.).
  • Clear evidence that your symptoms have negative affects on functioning across academic, social, and occupational areas.
  • Symptoms that occur separately from ones that align more closely with a psychotic disorder or another mental condition.

What ADHD is Really Like

These are the symptoms that I’ve experienced first-hand. Keep in mind that this is by no means an ADHD test or diagnosis.

You might have ADHD if: 

  • You’re either trying to do everything at once, or you barely feel like moving at all. 
  • You’re easily distracted and overstimulated. Your squirrel brain often races from one thing to the next.
  • Your attention is typically divided up into a million different places. How can you possibly keep your mind on just one thing at a time?!  
  • Your sense of time is either NOW or NOT NOW. For me, it’s usually the latter. Some of us also consider ourselves time blind.
  • The struggle is real when it comes to getting and staying organized. Things tend to get misplaced easily. Emails pile up seemingly out of nowhere. 
  • You often think “f*** it” and act on impulse anyway! It’s common for people with ADHD to display impulsive tendencies.
  • Procrastination is your middle name. A lot of us indeed struggle with this whether we have ADHD or not. But ADHDers often experience procrastination that is more persistent and grueling to overcome.
  • You have trouble staying still. It’s like you have a rocket under your butt, and you can’t stop fidgeting! 
  • Emotional regulation is not your strong suit. You feel emotions intensely, and it can take extra time and effort to pull yourself out of a negative cycle once it begins.
is ADHD real
When someone asks me if ADHD is real

#relatable

Do any of these characteristics sound like you? If you’re curious or concerned, consult a professional to be tested and receive an official diagnosis. 

So, is ADHD real?

Takeaway message:

Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with ADHD or you suspect you have it, do keep in mind that:

1. It’s not your fault! While it is your responsibility to learn how to work with your brain, there’s a scientific reason why you operate differently from others.

2. ADHD is an actual biological condition. It’s never an excuse. 

3. ADHD looks different in every person. Of course, there are commonly shared strengths and weaknesses, but one size does not fit all!

So what traits resonate with you, if any? I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts! ๐Ÿ’–

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