A Letter to All My Friends about my ADHD
My ADHD impacts so much of me and even I have a hard time making sense of it. As my friend, I think there's a few things you should know to better understand my unique brain. These aren't excuses but I do think they'll shed light on how you experience me.
What is ADHD?
"ADHD is a lifelong, neurobehavioral, genetic syndrome that leads to a structural, chemical, communication, and arousal differences in the brain that subsequently impact what is called the "executive functioning" system of the brain." Sari Solden and Michelle Frank in Women with ADHD
Inattentive ADHD: Struggle to get going or activate to to do things, forgetful, disorganized, zoning out, hard to manage time, and emotional sensitivity.
Impulsive ADHD: Emotionally and mentally hyperactive, hard time sitting still, impulsive, interrupt others frequently, and often have an inner sense of restlessness.
Combo ADHD: A little bit of both above and have many characteristics of the inattentive type but also overly talkative, prone to interrupting, impulsive decisions, and mental/physical hyperactivity. This is me!
The tricky thing with ADHD is that so much of the struggle from the outside look like character quirks that I should be able to change. The reality is that there is a real cognitive challenge going on inside me. I'm doing all of the things (medicine, supplements, exercise, eating well, organizational strategies) to lessen the consequences but there is no cure. I will never have a normal brain and understand that impacts how I show up in work, motherhood, friendships... all of life.
As my friend, here's a few ways that my ADHD might impact YOU that you need to know about.
1. I feel deeply and love BIG though it is hard for me to look fully present. I might zone out or ask you to repeat something occasionally. I might not actually sit down and look you in the eyes when you are telling me a story. I want to be able to do that, but it's actually easier for me to ACTUALLY listen to you when I'm moving. Please don't judge how I feel about you by those outward signs. I'm capable of sitting still but it doesn't come easily AND it often makes it harder to really be authentic and vulnerable.
2. I'm incapable of faking it. If I don't want to be with you or don't find you interesting, I will get it out of in some way. If I'm making time and energy for you in my life, it's on purpose. Spending time and energy on things that aren't interesting to me, is really really really hard. So if you are in my life and I'm showing up, you matter to me. You are one of my people.
3. If you are one of my people, I will care BIG for you. I will think about you. I will pray for you. Your problems will weigh heavy on me and I will want to help. I will text you. Again, I might still not be able to sit down for hours on end doing girl talk, but I care about what is going on with you big time.
4. Distractions matter. If I seem aloof at the soccer game or after church or at the birthday party, it's not you, it's ME. I'm distracted. It's hard for me to show up fully when I'm trying to keep my three kids alive. Please don't take it personally. I'm just overwhelmed and overstimulated. You are still one of my people.
5. Since you are one of my people and I care about you, I will want to say YES when you ask me to do something. I also struggle with impulsivity so I'll probably say yes right away without checking the calendar or thinking about my capacity. This is a problem that I'm constantly working on. Please don't quote bible verses and talk about my "yes being yes" because I know these things. I'm trying. So if I have to change my mind or change the plans, know I love you. I'm not flighty or a hot mess. I just have a unique brain.
6. I will say YES and want to help. I might also actually be able to do it and still some how for some reason be LATE. I want to be there on time. Yes, working on this too! But if that's going to give you heartburn or anxiety and leave you feeling hurt and disappointed, maybe ask someone else. You are still one of my people. I still care about you. I just might get there late.
7. It is hard for me to let people in my head. It's a busy, busy place. I've heard messages my whole life about being "too much" and I know that not everyone thinks like I think. For me, it's much easier to write out my thoughts and feelings. My brain is like a massive spider web of thoughts. If I let you in, be patient with me. There will be tangents. Lots of tangents. Hang in there. I often need to process things out loud to get to where I'm going. And if I love you enough to let you in to my crazy, you are one of my people.
8. I often forget normal small talk and get right to it. I will probably send you many texts forgetting the normal "Hey friend! How's your day?" and get right to the point. Again, trying to get better at that. But if you are one of my people, expect some random. Lots of random! It means I'm thinking about you.
9. I will inevitably interrupt you. I really struggle with this and wish I didn't. No, that's not an excuse but I hope it's an explanation. If I could change one thing about myself, this would be it. Know that I still love you and please give me grace. I'm really hard on myself about it. It's embarrassing and you deserve better. You are still one of my people.
10. I hyper focus on the regular. If I'm hyper focused on something, it's super hard for me to pull away. It feels impossible. Please don't take it personally. It's my brain. You are still one of my people.
Thanks for being in my life and for showing me grace. I'm so extremely thankful for your friendship and love.
For all my ADHD friends, what would you add? I'd love to hear! Send me a message at [email protected].