ADHD, what I like to refer to as Attention Differences Hyper-focused Distraction, is clinically called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Although we know a lot about ADHD, it is often misunderstood and stigmatized in a way that ignores the facts. ADHD is handed down through the generations by our DNA. It has proven to have evolutionarily advantages to society. Having people in the community with different circadia rythms whose sleep patterns were different helped early societies. Having someone awake when the rest were asleep meant there was someone alter in case of an emergency. And ADHD folks tend to respond well to emergencies. Perhaps that is why so many people who work for the fire department have ADHD. With an alternative way of thinking, there is innovation and creativity to be offered. There is also the ability to hyperfocus with ADHD when there is something of interest. People with ADHD can zero in on a special interest and give it their undivided attention for hours.

It’s a neurotype, not a disorder. It’s about differences in the brain and body of some people who experiences challenges with dopamine and it’s important functions in the brain. It’s also ranges from hardly noticeable to severely troubling. There is a blend of traits from hyperactive to mostly inattentive, but many people experience a mix.

For many people learning tools and habits are developed to avoid the downfalls of ADHD. Getting organized can be a challenge, so having a place for keys, purses and homework is important. Breaking things into smaller pieces so as not to get overwhelmed, such as when cleaning. Using timers, watches and clocks can be helpful to keep track of time. There is an element of time blindness that can make being on time and knowing how long things take more difficult than the average person. Using list, making notes about things that come to mind in the moment is good. Having note paper and a pen in various places where you spend time is important, such as by the bedside, when watching television and in the car.

Additionally, others benefit from a stimulant that increases the dopamine in the brain. Stimulants have been used to treat ADHD since the 1930’s. Age related hormonal changes can also make a difference. More middle aged woman are being diagnosed and treated for ADHD now more than ever.

Dopamine acts on areas of the brain that give feelings of pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. It plays a role in controlling memory, moods, sleep patterns, learning, concentration, movement and other bodily functions. It also allows us to regulate emotional responses.

I have heard there is a stigma associated with ADHD as if those with it are spacy and unreliable. In fact, rather than being unaware, or inattentive, we are bombarded with stimuli and struggle to screen out what is unimportant. With being so aware of the environment, the people around us and their energy, it’s hard to screen out what to pay attention to. Imagine being aware of 20 things at once that Neuro-typical people only notice three of. There is a lot of stimulation to sort through in a matter of seconds. It can be exhausting.

Another piece of ADHD is the intensity of emotions. Feeling are very big and a fear of rejection, or Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, are powerful components of how the brain works. It causes emotional dysregulation, which can lead to meltdowns or shutting down. There is a stress response to overstimulation for everyone. Some use particular behaviors to try to calm the nervous system. This is called stimming and includes things like playing with hair, picking at nails or skin, wiggling feet and tapping fingers. They are behaviors that provide soothing and offer pleasure in a stressful circumstance, particularly when the nervous system has been overtaxed.

There is much to learn about living with ADHD, and it’s important to get support when you are struggling. I know and understand it intimately and have helped many clients find balance, self-compassion and order in their lives.

ADHDers, a term I’m borrowing from B. Lourenco, are