By Kortney Sweeney
It took me five hours to actually start writing this blog from the time I forced myself to sit down to begin it, and it took me another four hours to finish it. During the first five hours, I checked social media multiple times, made coffee and read a few paragraphs for another homework assignment. I walked into a room without remembering why, made food and then forgot about it, and got distracted for hours designing irrelevant flyers on InDesign before ultimately turning to the very important task of taking a quiz to find out which “How I Met Your Mother” character I am (I’m Robin).
This, in a nutshell, describes some of the main symptoms people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), particularly the inattentive aspect, deal with every day. ADHD makes it difficult for people to actually start an activity, but if they love what they’re doing once they begin, they become so hyper-focused that they lose track of time and often even forget to eat or sleep. They can’t sit still, and they feel the need to try to work on several tasks at once, but it’s hard to actually finish even one of those tasks. Impulsivity and spontaneity are also symptoms.
People often view ADD/ADHD as a disability, and my disclosure that I have it is often met with an awkward pause or pitying smile, as if they suspect I’m embarrassed about my ADHD. I’m not. No one else who has it should be either. Accepting the condition and actively searching for ways to function with it are the first steps in controlling it and beating it. Unfortunately, this is often made more difficult because many people refuse to admit that ADHD is a real condition and not a side effect of laziness or too much energy.
I’ve always had ADHD, but I wasn’t diagnosed with it and prescribed medication until high school. The first day I took my Vyvanse, I called my mom crying after my first class because I had never known until that morning what it felt like to be able to fully focus on something.
Medication helped me at a time when I needed it most and is often a life-changer for people with ADHD, but it isn’t always the best or only option. Its uncomfortable side effects, such as loss of appetite and nausea, convinced me to cease medication and combat ADHD on my own. It’s a different fight for me than before I was diagnosed because I accept and understand my condition.
Dealing with it isn’t a breeze, but I’ve learned to set strict deadlines for myself along with incentives for meeting those deadlines. I try to complete my homework in plain rooms with as little distractions as possible, and I exercise regularly to release pent-up energy. Even doing simple things like setting alarms and placing sticky note reminders around my room makes day-to-day responsibilities easier.
That reminds me. I have a dozen unfinished tasks waiting for me to begin.