For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreaded coursework or long complex tasks. Not because of the subject itself, but due to the fact I knew I would spend most of the time planning to do the work, procrastinating and avoiding the work as much as possible. Instead of executing the project, I would find the desperate need to do house chores, or even find myself scrolling through social media just to avoid the work. Does this sound familiar? For years I put it down to laziness, at least that was what my head was telling me over and over again. Did you know it is estimated that 2-4% of adults in the UK have ADHD, and most of them are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed? Symptoms can easily be missed for other personality traits or conditions, like anxiety, OCD, or even just simply too much caffeine consumption.

Adult ADHD has been such a misunderstood disability for many years, but what is adult ADHD exactly? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Some symptoms include difficulty in focusing attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Common misjudgements include ‘ADHD is a child thing right? The kid that is misbehaved in the classroom?’ this definitely not the case, especially when it comes to adult ADHD.

What impact can this disorder have in your everyday life? Everyone’s symptoms can vary in intensity, but a majority of symptoms can affect your work life, education, friendships, relationships and certainly your general mental health. Do you find yourself staring into mid air whilst trying to complete tasks? Or maybe struggle to relax when you have time to yourself? I mean, you have the intention to meditate and unwind, but your mind just isn’t letting you? How about having a long list of to dos, then being distracted and adding even more tasks to that list? You can either talk for hours non-stop or say nothing at all, and when someone is trying to tell you something important but you’ve only taken in about 10% of what they said? It’s OK, there are a lot of people that understand.

Adult ADHD can look completely different when it comes to gender, which makes it even more challenging to identify. I only really identified it in myself after going through therapy for PTSD and battling with severe anxiety for years, ADHD can be hidden by other mental health conditions, so you can understand how it can go undiagnosed for so long. It was my doctor that initiated the conversation, and truth be told, I felt a blanket of anxiety around me throughout the whole discussion. Surely I’m just being dramatic? Not another mental health issue, how am I going to tell people this? They will think that I’m a liability, not able to live my life normally and just plain crazy. The good news is, you are not being dramatic, there are multiple coping strategies and treatments that can help!

What treatments are there for ADHD, how can I control my symptoms? Good news is there are many ways this can be done, this can be through either medication or just by a change in your daily routine and coping mechanisms. Medication can take a long time to become effective, some people find it instantly relieving which is a huge positive. For others, medication is not the resolution for them, I personally wanted to take an alternative route. There are many incredibly useful tools online, but just simply organising your week better, finding time to exercise to channel your hyperactive behaviours or making a list of tasks but getting the ‘horrible ones’ out the way first can have a huge positive impact. The one thing I have started to do (that I need to push myself to do more of) is meditation. This can help to reduce the negative thoughts that circulate in your head and calm your nervous system down entirely. Meditation can be done in the form of a dog walk, a bath, or even just simple breathing techniques.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are many benefits to having adult ADHD, let’s not just focus on the negatives even though they might be the ones you spot straight away. I’m continuously complimented on my enthusiastic energy and overly positive mindset everyday, it’s a great feeling to have the energy to lift people up and share your creative ideas. If you need an urgent task done, I am your go to. Adults with ADHD are known to be incredibly empathetic individuals, and the person that will most likely be calm in a stressful situation. There are clearly plenty of benefits with employing someone with ADHD or many other neurological conditions. Spreading awareness around neurological diversity will help to give people more confidence being themselves day to day and also educate businesses on how to accommodate a diverse workforce, so let’s continue to spread the word.

By Chantelle Hooper

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