Finding out I have ADHD was almost like the missing puzzle piece. For so many years, I had danced through life surrounded by a world I thought everyone perceived in the way I do. I’d always thought everyone found meaning in everything, made stories out of everything, saw magic in anything and everything…
Then, a while ago, I found out I was wrong!
As a child, I was probably the most energetic girl at the party. Apparently I was filled with a chaotic energy and moved from thing to thing with a rapidity not seen in others my age, (mum now admits she always suspected ADHD). I was actually very successful at school (academia-wise), but even now, I don’t think I truly lived up to my potential. For example, I hated maths from year nine onwards and remember spending most of my GCSE years either talking about my favourite pop group of the time or doodling on my books. I’ve always had a problem focusing on things I don’t like. I know everyone feels the same, to some extent, but for me it truly is painful to pay attention when I am bored. There is a constant motor inside my mind driving me to engage in something interesting and, if my engagement is not high, I will become restless and fidget. I always remember back to the days when I used to swim once a week in a lovely little village pool near my home. My teacher was the best swimming teacher you could have wished for and I was a talented swimmer, even though my problems with focus were clear even then. Julie used to say I was having an ‘on’ or ‘off’ day according to my levels of concentration. Apparently, some weeks I was just in a trance-like state for most of the lesson – I still did all my badges regardless of this! I also remember struggling intensely when I went to places where I couldn’t move around; my parents admit they avoided a number of activities because of my constant need to move. Moreover, I was miserable when bored and mum says I needed constant stimulation in order to be relatively well-behaved.
When you have ADHD boredom is an enemy. You spend your life trying to avoid it and, for me, finding a job with constant variation was always the aim. It’s difficult trying to describe to a neuro-typical person what my brain feels like as I’m not sure words would do it justice. Ideas bubble constantly and I see my mind as an elaborate universe circling above me, with all the ideas formed by my engagement with the world making up this fantastical place. Every so often, the universe stops its orbit and pauses for a millisecond. In this time, I am able to take something from inside. If it engages me, I place this idea into a miniature glass bottle where it glows like a firefly. I always see my ideas as glowing and I use the metaphor of a bottle as, to make my ideas reality, I do need to create a physical barrier around them so they don’t escape and join the universe again.
My mind is a factory of ideas and I never remember a time when it stopped, even for a moment. Of course, I was a messy child and I also remember having great difficulty learning to tell the time, as well as differentiating between left and right (I still have problems with this even now). I was a chaotic force of nature, but as I grew older I learnt coping mechanisms to overcome the difficulties caused by ADHD. Even though I was never a particularly disruptive child, I was moaned at for starting tasks impulsively before instructions were given, and I also remember struggling intensely with social interaction so chose to have friends who were 2-4 years younger than myself. As schoolwork became more intense, I developed a perfectionism which did, at times, cause great anxiety. Sometimes I ripped up work because it wasn’t ‘my standard’ and I remember focusing intensely on ensuring I didn’t make any mistakes. My often scruffy work became neat and I became more and more anxious as I covered up my internal chaos with the common ADHD coping mechanism: perfectionism. Additionally, I developed an intense fear of being late and, even to this day, I am usually ridiculously early for appointments. I don’t want to be ridiculously early, I am just terrified of being late. Everyone thinks I am hyper-organised but it’s a coping mechanism and not something which brings me joy! I am also incredibly tidy and nowadays anything out of place is a distraction. When I was a child, I was ridiculously untidy, and now I am ridiculously neat. However, my true form always makes itself clear when I am being creative; I love to draw and paint on the floor and creating a doughnut of scattered supplies is my preferred way to work even to this day.
I am so lucky and I am happy with my brain. Yes, it can be tiring, but it’s part of me and it made me. If I didn’t have ADHD I wouldn’t be the tutor I am today and I also wouldn’t be able to teach in the way which has made my business successful. ADHDers are often seen as ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers and this describes me extremely accurately. I find it incredibly easy to think of unique ways of carrying out activities and my vivid imagination makes it easy for me to engage children in imaginative learning. I do struggle to motivate myself to do the administration, but I have developed a resilience and discipline which I know is partly down to my mother’s careful parenting and also down to the fact that I have ALWAYS wanted my business to succeed above anything else!
If you have ADHD you have an awesome view of the world! Inside my brain, everything is linked and everything is waiting to be explored!
You are awesome – go out there and shine! ⭐️