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Living with Adult ADHD

While some people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are wildly successful, a recent study has shown that there could be a connection between ADHD and homelessness. I am fortunate to have friends, family, and other resources to keep a roof over my head, if necessary. Still, I have a faint fear about ending up in a state of destitution. A large part of it is the sense of panic that comes with having ADHD, a creeping fear that, one day, your life will collapse around you. Because of that, it does not surprise me that some people with ADHD become homeless.
I first heard the term "perseveration" in a lecture by psychologist Russell Barkley about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and hyperfocus.1 People with ADHD struggle with boredom, but they can often focus on things they enjoy. In fact, they can focus too much, obsessing over one thing and ignoring other subjects and tasks. Barkley suggests that ADHDers do not hyperfocus, as people with autism do, but perseverate. He defines perseveration as the inability to stop doing an activity at an appropriate time.
Psychiatrist William Dodson developed a term specifically applicable to people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD). Rejection sensitive dysphoria applies to people with ADHD because ADHDers tend to be particularly sensitive. While the existence of RSD is up for debate, the emotionality of ADHDers is not. Many with the disorder agree that they are extremely sensitive to rejection, criticism, and failure.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are a tough combination. Many women with ADHD also suffer from PMS, which can be severe enough to resemble premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), an extreme form of PMS. PMS impacts women's mental health and I find that my ADHD symptoms worsen right before my period. There is actually a scientific reason for this as hormones play a major role in ADHD.
Renaming attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is on my mind because, in honor of ADHD Awareness Month, I binged on lectures by ADHD-expert Dr. Russell Barkley. He points out that “attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder” is a poor term for the condition, and he is not alone in thinking that renaming ADHD is a good idea. Fellow ADHD-specialist Dr. Edward Hallowell claims that “ADHD is a terrible term,” and many with this condition agree, myself included. I started to wonder about the history of the term, if there were alternative names for the disorder, and if renaming ADHD could reduce ADHD stigma.
I love getting new books, but attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) makes reading difficult. Discovering what is between book covers is a wonderful experience. However, finishing those books is a different issue. As is often the case for people with ADHD, I have difficulties with follow-through on things, and that includes reading; other people with ADHD find reading difficult for other reasons.
October is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity (ADHD) Awareness Month. Many are familiar with the term “ADHD,” formerly known as “ADD." The disorder is characterized by impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and difficulty regulating focus. However, many people are not familiar with why ADHD should be recognized and not dismissed as a made-up or exaggerated condition. This is why we have a month dedicated to bringing awareness to ADHD.
I have wasted so much time trying to orient myself while traveling thanks to my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and my lack of sense of direction. My iPhone battery is a precious resource when I have to constantly check its GPS. I try to inform others that I have a terrible sense of direction, but many still seem surprised at my incompetence (ADHD: Better Late Than Never?). The connection between ADHD and a sense of direction is more complex than I realized.
To be fair, the Stanford marshmallow study is itself not stupid. It is the way that it is reported that often leaves me frustrated. In the 1960s and ’70s, Stanford psychologists conducted a series of studies in which researchers placed a marshmallow (or another treat) in front of a child. They told him that he would receive a second treat if he could wait for 15 minutes while the researchers left the room. Follow-up "marshmallow" studies revealed that the children who could wait longer tended to be more “successful” than those who did not. Unfortunately, this is the kind of narrative people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) know too well, and it is the kind of test they often "fail." ADHD and self-control is a big deal.
People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience a sense of urgency. In fact, people with ADHD have a complicated relationship with time in general. ADHD-ers often suffer from "time blindness” that makes time management difficult because we often can't accurately measure time. It can make both everything and nothing seem urgent. Today, I would like to address this “now or never” aspect of adult ADHD and urgency.