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Interesting ways ADHD can impact your life

Most of us are aware of the the “cardinal” symptoms of ADHD, like inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Many of us, however, aren’t as aware of how these and other ADHD symptoms can actually impact a person’s life. In fact, we often come across individuals with ADHD themselves who are surprised when we show them a potential connection between something going on in their life and ADHD.
Below are a couple of those connections – some of them you might be aware of, some of them might be surprising. Either way, we hope that they will be interesting tidbits that at least give you something to think about:

  • Trouble falling asleep (and staying asleep). A strength of an ADHD-style brain is how “Ferrari-like” it can be. This can translate into difficulty, however, when a racing mind makes it tough to fall asleep at night. Interestingly, we’ve also come across a lot of clients who fall asleep easily when they’re physically exhausted, but their mind seems to wake them up in the middle of the night.

  • Motivation for self-care tasks (like exercise). Getting started on something like exercise does not easily engage an ADHD-style brain. Despite motivation and/or interest in the grand scheme of things, it can be hard to remember in the moment how much you love doing it, or how good it feels afterwards. That first step can feel overwhelming. On top of that, ADHD individuals do well with a sense of urgency – something that isn’t necessarily there if you’re only accountable to yourself.

  • Doing “simple” things like sending emails. Something like sending an email or making a phone call can often feel too “big” or tedious to deal with in the moment – even if “intellectually” you know it isn’t a big deal and won’t necessarily take a long time. Frustratingly, an ADHD-style brain can get stuck on stuff that feels bigger than it actually is.

  • “Hyper-sensitivity” to emotions.  Many people with ADHD are highly empathetic and in-tune with the emotions of others, which can be a huge strength. This sensitivity can be so sharp, however, that it can be overwhelming at times. A random example? When watching something awkward on TV, many people with ADHD end up changing the channel because they feel that awkwardness so deeply.

  • Emotional “flooding”. Emotional regulation can be significantly impacted with ADHD. Because of that, individuals with ADHD are often easily “flooded” – they can seemingly go from 1 to 10 in 2 seconds flat. This can be tough to deal with in the moment, and often requires the person to step away from the situation briefly to stop themselves from drowning.

  • Trouble shifting gears. Having ADHD doesn’t mean that you can’t focus. As we talked about here, individuals with ADHD can often “hyper-focus” on tasks (e.g. become absorbed in them). This can be a strength and can lead to innovative outputs. On the other end, however, this can make it tough to pull out of what you’re doing and focus on a new task (like going to bed, starting a more “boring” task, or even remembering to eat lunch!).
This list was by-no-means comprehensive – it was just a little teaser to give you an idea of some of the ways symptoms of ADHD can impact a person. If you want to add to the list, let us know your own experiences and surprises in the comments below – we’d love to hear about it!


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