I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was young, in first grade, and it mostly manifested as distractibility and boredom. It didn’t affect me academically until studies grew more demanding, such as late middle school and high school.
It was something that really affected me, really frustrated me, and affected my self esteem.
I hated the label, and I hated being treated differently, so I denied it. But it didn’t help anything.
You grow up feeling different, and isolated, like there’s something wrong with you. The easiest tasks for others, seemed monumental for me, and impossible.
Usually there were large discrepancies in my grades. Didn’t matter the subject or the difficulty. It all revolved around my ability to become engaged with the subject. Even if it were easy, if it wasn’t stimulating or challenging, because of the material or the teacher, earning easy grades wasn’t so easy.
It wasn’t until I began college did I learn about coping strategies and study habits that were absolutely necessary to overcome it.
The other thing is that, when you have it, you’re totally unaware of how and when it manifests until someone points it out. Or until life abruptly reminds you that you aren’t doin it right.
The inability to focus and become highjacked with random, lateral thoughts is something that’s normal, for ADHD. It’s the operating process that’s governs every moment of your life. So there’s no alarm or indication something is wrong until you’re reprimanded or criticized by others. This is the part that slowly begins to wear on your self esteem.
I found that once I understood the way my mind/ attention worked, I could implement these strategies toward any undertaking and domain and succeed.
There are still some domains where I know I’m not suited, such as repetitive, detail oriented task work, clocking in at a 9-5 and sitting still all day. I become depressed and under-stimulated and work becomes hell on earth as I’m left to cope in a figurative straight jacket.
Jobs such as sales, management, entrepreneurship, project management, etc require more multitasking and are more stimulating in general.
The other area it manifests is relationships. The inability to provide sustained, reliable attention to a person can be frustrating and confusing. It’s something that’s maddeningly difficult to be aware of when it’s happening, and control, and requires immense energy to manage, which becomes exhausting. The other partner often feels uncared for, not listened to, and often unloved by the inconsistent attention and feedback.
For all its downsides, the upside is an uncanny ability to hyper-focus on specific tasks or subjects, which allows for incredible absorption of information, at the expense of everything else going on around you. Absorbing information and learning in this state is almost effortless, as you become entranced into a deep meditative state of engagement.
Coping strategies help facilitate this hyper focus, but they can’t guarantee it on call, or necessarily at will. Which is why deadlines can be troublesome, if the strategies are not practiced and implemented daily.
The other benefit is lateral thinking. Because the ADHD baseline lacks a basic stimulus filter, which most people use to easily ignore mundane or seemingly irrelevant information to the task at hand, it can be immensely helpful when problem solving. The ability to capture or register excess information leads to out of the box or lateral thinking that can be leveraged for problem solving or creativity.
I believe ADHD is vastly over diagnosed, but there is scientific consensus that there are neurological differences in these brains, which brain scans reveal.
I think that our current education systems caters to a very specific type of learning, which is very formalized, passive, and emphasizes rote memorization, and lack of any meaningful engagement. There are teachers who are amazing, and buck this trend, and for those I am forever thankful. They reminded me that I’m capable of learning and excelling, despite past experiences.
Whenever I listen to anyone saying anything interesting or stimulating, my brain just starts convulsing with ideas and tangents and thoughts, which is overwhelming when you have to focus and listen and reflect at the same time.
I think meditation is crucial, and I also think exercise has a lot of parallels, and provides the same or similar benefits.
I think “will power” or “self control” plays a role in both, even though there’s a ironicism to that, when speaking of meditation, which appeals to “losing the self”. But I think someone that can do that has the most self control of all, which is what I’m pointing to.
I would like to explore mindful meditation as much as I’ve explored the role of focusing and using will power to exercise intensely.
I imagine any serious athlete can relate to the meditative mental state that is achieved when exercising. It’s something that you must practice. It’s not just going through the motions in the gym, or running, just like it’s not going through the motions and sitting still with your eyes closed for 30 minutes a day.
To become great, you must learn how to control the mind, control the attention, choose your thoughts, narrow your focus, and let all distractions pass through you.
Pain, distractions, stress—- they are all irrelevant states of being that hinder self actualization. Unless you can actively bypass the impulse to yield to them, that hijack your state of being, you will not achieve your desired state of being—- or goal or feeling or whatever.
I do think there are parallels.
The mind is a muscle, I believe. The same principles apply to training both for maximization.
Ironically, I feel that the people who have the most self control, are best at giving up all control. They don’t try to control. They simply manifest intentions, which seems like a higher level “drive”, which produces less “resistance”, in the form of emotional stress or mental anxiety.
Intention is almost passive, like the unconscious mind takes the wheel, and just manifests the desired “state of being”
Exercise and diet has been the best mood and mental stabilizer.
Intense exercise that challenges the limits of the body, and a high protein, high veggie diet with carbs when needed had historically manifested my best self, my most stable self, whatever the hell that means.