Hadie looks into a grey puddle. All around, the world is blossoming with colour, love and energy, but Hadie doesn’t notice. She has seen a book discarded on the floor and desperately wants to reach down, grab the leather-bound volume and begin reading. However, something keeps stopping her. She is hyper-focused on the puddle and sees her reflection bouncing around in the water molecules like a rainbow which has been washed away to join an unknown stream. She feels sadness, but also joy; confusion, but also perfect understanding. As she watches the pool with deep fascination, a rainbow flower blooms next to the box and sends its enigmatic energy up into the sky with a wave of vibrant petal.
Hadie has never seen her box before. Hadie didn’t even know a box existed until she found a sign and, even though she wants to climb inside and see the world from a new perspective, she is distracted by the magic of the puddle and the beauty in her reflection. This is what it’s like living with ADHD. We are often described as people who ‘think outside the box’ and I have always enjoyed playing around with this idea inside my head. I know I have never really seen my ‘box’ as I’ve always felt as though the way I think is very different from many other people I know.
However, thinking ‘outside the box’ has its advantages and, rather than being a mournful post, this is actually written to celebrate some of the gifts of ADHD!
So, what are we usually good at? Here’s a list of my top five:
- We are spontaneous! I think most people with ADHD will admit the desire to act spontaneously is hard-wired in our minds and I, for one, don’t enjoy activities which are too regimented. I remember working in an office when I first left school (not a great fit) and I was bored every day because there was no spontaneity in the role. As I have grown older (and I am sure this applies to many of you), I have learnt to embrace my love of the spontaneous and, even though I need to keep a schedule to ensure I am organised, the creative nature of my work means that spontaneity is something I can include in my everyday life
- We are creative! Although my creativity manifests itself in drawing (as you can probably guess), writing, singing and running my business, I know other people with ADHD who are inventors and scientists. I’m yet to meet anyone with ADHD who isn’t creative and, like spontaneity, creativity runs through our veins and keeps our brains happy. I set up Bedford Tutor to ensure I could be creative everyday and feel so lucky to have a job which is both imaginative and fun.
- We are humorous! All the people I know who have ADHD are great fun to be around and all of them have a great sense of humour. I am frequently told I am funny and I think becoming a professional clown when I was 15 (and still in school) confirms the importance I place on being able to make people laugh. Laughter is a large part of my business and I believe engaging children with humour is one of the most successful methods of educating as it breaks the ice and is also a great way of enhancing memory.
- We are empathetic! I think most of us understand what it is like to feel different and I think this really helps us develop empathy for those around us. When I was in school, I always tried to look out for people who didn’t have a close circle of friends and also befriended those from younger year groups who struggled with general aspects of school life. Although back then I just thought I was different, I now realise my high levels of empathy, which I now apply in my job, are down to my ADHD and my constant childhood constant struggle to understand why I was different.
- We are persistent! Although being easily distracted comes as part of the package, if hyper-focused, there is nothing as persistent as someone with ADHD working on a project they love. The drawing above was completed when I was hyper-focused and I almost skipped my dinner to finish it – luckily it was a salad and nothing hot, although the ice cream afterwards almost melted! If I am interested in a project, I will persist until the bitter end and my best friend, who also has ADHD, is the same when he is hyper-focused!
I hope this list makes you feel grateful for your awesome fast brain! It may be difficult thinking in a different way when most of the world around you doesn’t, but the gifts of ADHD are numerous and far outweigh the negatives!