OPINION: Living with ADHD not easy, but disorder made me who I am

Mar 28, 2023 | OP-ED, Tales From Humber

Living a life with ADHD can be really tough. But despite the difficulties, I would never trade the life I have now for anything.

Since I was a toddler, my mother always knew that I was different from other kids. I was extremely hyper and had a hard time concentrating on activities in school and would always cause a disturbance during class time. My mother received so many complaints from teachers and school staff, she decided to take me to a child psychologist to see what was going on and why I was so different.

I had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. At the time I had no idea what ADHD really was, I just knew that I apparently had it and that’s why I acted weirdly in school and could never seem to pay attention to anything.

Once my school learned of my disorder, I was moved to the special education program where teachers were more equipped and educated to deal with kids like me. During this time, I was able to learn strategies to do school work in ways where I could focus and get less distracted.

“If you were, let’s say, studying for an exam, you would specify some time period, let’s say 20 minutes, you set a timer and you do not allow anything,” said Dr. Steve Joordens, a psychology professor from the University of Toronto Scarborough. “You turn your phone off if you have to and enter a world where you get rid of all your distractions and you tell yourself, ‘I will live in this world for 20 minutes.’”

Joordens said this method of learning is called the Pomodoro Technique, a time management system with 25-minute periods of focused work followed by a short break.

This method was used in my special education program, where I would sit and work for a little bit of time, and then get rewarded with some time to let me be distracted. I would then get back to work after that break period.

I use this strategy to this day. I give myself time to focus on school work, and then take a break to allow myself to get distracted.

As I got older, I began to notice more people around me also claimed to have ADHD but never got diagnosed, or got diagnosed with it much later in life.

“Part of the answer is that it was prevalent back then, but those people just fell through the cracks, And when those people become adults they go out and investigate it and realize that their whole life they had this thing,” Joordens said.

According to an article in Healthline, adults who have untreated ADHD can face a lot of complications in life.

“Symptoms such as trouble managing time, forgetfulness, and impatience can cause problems at work, home, and in all types of relationships,” the article read.

This makes me grateful that my ADHD was diagnosed and treated early. When I was 13, I was prescribed medication that I still take to this day.

Many adults who have ADHD show less hyperactivity but still struggle with inattentiveness. The same Healthline article says more than 60 per cent of adults with ADHD struggle with paying attention.

While growing up I had a period where I hated myself for having ADHD. I couldn’t find anyone to blame but myself. I would ask myself why did I have to be born this way, why do I need to struggle so much.

But I eventually learned to love my ADHD.

I have such a special bond with it that I would never choose a different lifestyle because this is who I am. I learned that, yes, I have trouble focusing on one thing, but I can also focus on 10 things at once, and I don’t get distracted because I have these 10 things on my plate that occupy my brain from other things.

Joordens said there’s no simple solution for ADHD.

“It’s not something that can just go away. It’s more of a matter of finding these strategies on how to deal with it,” Joordens said.

ADHD is such a complex thing that I learn new things about myself every single day. As I move forward with life, I find new ways to cope with it one step at a time.