I have always been easily distracted and found it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 40’s that I received an official ADHD diagnosis following a neuropsychological exam for memory loss. While the medical diagnosis made sense based on my behavioral traits, I never considered that my memory problems could be caused by ADHD.
Also known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD is a neurological developmental disorder that most often occurs in children but can be diagnosed in adulthood. Those who are diagnosed later in life, like myself, usually experience ADHD symptoms at a young age, including not listening in the first place and nine symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
ADHD can be difficult to diagnose in children as parents often confuse their child’s rambunctiousness, inability to sit till, and lack of focus as “normal for their age”. Today, a teacher may address the issue with a parent especially if the child’s behavior is disruptive in the classroom or affecting their school work. ADHD can also accompany autism, anxiety, depression, borderline personality, and numerous learning disabilities including dyslexia.
If you are diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, you most likely had it as a child. But if you did not experience these symptoms at an early age and are uncharacteristically distracted, overly impulsive, unable to organize your thoughts or experiencing memory problems, you may be suffering from a mood disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or mania.
Symptoms of ADHD can present quite differently from person to person and most diagnoses are made largely through observation rather than blood testing or other physical markers. ADHD symptoms can also manifest in different ways as a person ages. For example, in younger children, hyperactivity may present as an inability to sit still, while adults may simply seem restless. Thus, it's important for both children and adults with ADHD to stay physically active.
Like many people with ADHD, I tried to mask my symptoms by creating coping mechanisms. Instead of being seen as someone with a short attention span, I would say I was multitasking. When I got bored or restless, I took on new challenges and increased my level of exercise.
Due to the lack of focus and restlessness associated with ADHD, holding down a 9 to 5 job can be extremely difficult. Therefore, the key is to pick a job that makes the best use of your skills and where your challenges won’t create major issues.
Research shows that people with ADHD are often creative and think up unique ways to problem-solve. Look for a job that will reward you for originality and innovative thinking such as: marketing, sales, advertising, the arts, teaching and design. Jobs to avoid if you have difficulty staying organized or on task would be accounting, medicine, or legal services. Instead, look for jobs with more flexibility.
You may also want to consider starting your own business which has its pluses and minuses. On the plus side, you can work independently and choose your own hours. On the negative side, running a business does require organization and accounting skills. As a business owner myself, I have learned to outsource those tasks that do not fit my strengths, including bookkeeping, billing and payroll.
Living with ADHD does not have to limit your ability to live a fulfilling and successful life. There are many entrepreneurs, celebrities, actors, politicians, and entertainers who are living with ADHD. Among them, Sir Richard Branson, adventurer and founder of Virgin Airlines, who is best known for his risk taking and big spending. While these thrill-seeking ADHD traits can be cause for concern, they’ve helped Branson become an inspiring, successful businessman.
If you are living with ADHD, please comment below and let us know your biggest success and be sure to tune into our biweekly podcast and follow us on Instagram for inspirational stories and quotes.