The experience of figuring out my ADHD was really eye opening, because it helped me understand a lot of the reasons why I was the way I was.
Explorative Artist, Photography & Social Media Strategist
Diagnosed in College, Inattentive Subtype
Tell us about your ADHD journey
My ADHD journey really started in college, because I had a lot of structure in high school, so I did well in high school, but in college, the complete lack of structure was not the best thing for me. I was socializing all the time, I was a social butterfly, huge. I just accommodated or responded to every hello and gave it my time, because I wanted to be present in everything. Every hello turned into a conversation. I remember before I was diagnosed, my friend started to point out… “You just recognize everything.” “Beatrice, you are always up at 2:00 AM doing random stuff.”
I got to know a lot of people in the process and really it was beautiful. But I started to recognize that I was really struggling in school and not turning work in even though I was doing it. I started speaking to a counselor and started researching on what ADHD was. When I saw that I had nine out of the ten symptoms or qualities of ADHD, I was like, “Oh snap. Shit, I had this.” I spoke to a doctor. It took a few months to figure it out. I forgot the details, but I remember speaking to the doctor.
It gave it a little bit of closure for me, but then gave me the thought in my head if I have this, I’m going to fight it.
I don’t want to be a victim to these things that made me struggle in school. I want to use these as strengths and find the environments that help me succeed in the things that I do well in.
What are the struggles of ADHD?
There’s just so many frustrations piled up in doing simple things like writing a to do list, when it should be really easy, because it should be pretty straightforward, get up, do this and do that, write this email, send this email. Here goes sending emails. It takes me about an hour to send one email because I would read it over so many times.
The best way that I could put it is imagine you’re in a room and everything that could possibly be involved in your life is in that room, it’s a party. You’re trying to write an email while you’re at a party. There are all these distractions in your head. There’s somebody trying to text you. That person trying to text you is literally patting your back while you’re writing your email. You could turn your phone off, but your mind is on the text that you’ve received or the other tasks involved. You’re at that party, there’s music playing and there’s something projecting on the wall. Meanwhile you’re realizing, “Oh yeah, I have to clean my room, but I have guests right now. I have guests to attend to.” That’s the best way I can put it in the simplest terms. You’re in a room at a party. There’s something projecting in the room. You have to write an email, you have to clean your room at the same time. Maybe you should clean the room first, but you have to write that email the next hour. Oh my god, this stress of having to write that email in the next hour. I don’t know what to write. I have to read this email maybe ten times before I send it. Oh my gosh, that text. “Hey, what’s up are you doing?”
It’s like you’re a host of a huge party that never ends and it’s in one room. It gets pretty overwhelming mentally. It’s mentally exhausting to do a simple task, because that’s what it feels like. The party in my head that never really silences.
When is your mind clear?
When I’m creating, I can think very orderly. One time when I was supposed to be doing homework in college, I was editing photos and I was so focused. My friend noticed and she said, “Beatrice, I’ve never seen you so focused before.” I was like, “Really?” She’s like, “Yeah, maybe this is what you should be doing.” That really sparked in me the thought of maybe this is the direction that I should be going.
My mind is absolutely clear and my workflow’s seamless when I’m editing photos, when I’m on Photoshop. When I’m drawing something, I scan it and I put it on Photoshop, I can think very orderly when it comes to anything that has to do with my creative work.
Doing something that is my strength instead of forcing myself to do something where it’s extremely difficult to just sit down and read a book and sit still without wanting to get up all the time. Realizing that was possible, I started taking photography seriously. I just get in the zone and be in the moment. That’s really when I’m in the moment.
When I’m editing, I can’t wait to see what I could create. It’s a beautiful experience. I feel so calm thinking about it. I feel fuzzy feelings, because I’m in a good place here. Definitely when I’m creating.
And after the ADHD diagnosis?
I’m very hesitant about using the word ‘disorder’ for anything because I pretty much embrace the qualities that I have.
I know that I do struggle more than other people with attention and with little things like organizing and stuff like that, but to call it a disorder, it’s not really my thing. I appreciate the ADHD acronym, I don’t have to say the whole thing out, but at the end of the day, it’s called a disorder and I’m just like you need to find another name for it.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve been much more aware of when I interrupt people. I’ve been much more aware of recognizing these little things that I do. I’ve been so much better at focusing now. It’s a lot of work.
I feel like having ADHD and recognizing that I have ADHD just put an empty book on my table. It’s like an empty handbook that I have to fill out myself of little things that I have to do to be successful in having ADHD. I figured it out on my own for the most part, I found success, I study successful people and what strategies do they use that I can too.
What would you say to someone who was just diagnosed with ADHD?
If you have ADHD, you’re a passionate human being. You are diligent. You are positive, you are spontaneous. You have something that people will light up when they see you for. My friends who have ADHD, they’re the ones I want to travel with or the ones I would be super down to be on spontaneous excursions with. I understand where you’re coming from. You don’t have to feel weird around me. You’re going to be the safe space for other people, because you will understand yourself, you will be nonjudgmental of yourself and you’ll be nonjudgmental of others. You’ll be a compassionate, fucking awesome human being. Excuse me for saying that. You can bleep that, but … That’s what I want to say.
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