Explain Adult ADHD

Successful and Simultaneously Struggling. Explain Adult ADHD

Explain Adult ADHD

Part of #ExplainAdultADHD.  A campaign to reduce the ignorance, misinformation, and stigma against adults with ADHD.

Successful and Simultaneously Struggling.


“4.0 GPA and I feel like I’m drowning. Thoughts move 500 miles an hour and ambition to pursue them all at once follows.

What’s mistaken for motivation by most is a compulsion – an itch that I can’t quite scratch. I’m constantly exhausted but constantly begging for more until it all becomes too much and I can’t help but curl up with the lights off.

All my life, I’ve been known as a smart, talented person. Outwardly, it looks like I’ve got it all together. I can hold down a job, attend full-time university, write and perform music, exercise 3 times a week, and eat a balanced diet.

I’ve always been busy. I’ve always done well in school. It’s no wonder my ADHD went untraced until I pursued a diagnosis in adulthood. My mom always told me I was in la-la land, but that it was just part of who I was in her mind.

My symptoms never impeded my performance as a kid. What it did affect was my self-esteem, which is something that was kept private from my family. They couldn’t have known. How could I blame them?

The hardest part about having ADHD for me is not knowing how much of who I am is composed of symptoms.

Is my perfectionism a product of my ADHD or is it just part of my personality? Am I supposed to do well in school if I have ADHD? Do I struggle with imposter syndrome because of my ADHD? Is the reason I’m sensitive to everything yet another by-product of the illness?

Am I supposed to feel ill or am I supposed to feel capable? Why do I feel both all at once? I have so many questions that I can’t find the answers for.

I wish I could understand my brain more.

Most of the people I’ve disclosed my ADHD to have been initially surprised. I’ve heard things like, “But you’re so smart!” and “You don’t have a disability, you’re always doing something productive”.

I’ve felt like I’m undeserving of student aid because I feel like I’m not disadvantaged enough, yet I’ve also felt so overwhelmed by school and work that I’ve felt as if I’m never going to amount to anything because of these symptoms.

I’m working on learning that ADHD isn’t a type of person. I think once I, and those around me realize that ADHD manifests in different ways for different people, I will be a lot more at peace with my diagnosis.

You can be successful and have ADHD. You can work out and eat well, have a social life, have a career.

You can have it all and you can have ADHD, and that’s perfectly fine because you’re being your authentic self.”

By Micaela Pirritano.


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