How ADHD led to my success: The benefits and challenges of having ADHD
Updated: Aug 21, 2022
It's been just over a year since I was diagnosed with ADHD. In many ways, it's been a relief.
For so long, I've struggled with consistently feeling like I was in multiple places at once, that I could not focus, and that I kept forgetting important things. It was like I was treading water. I felt like a constant mess. Having a name for what was wrong was so validating, it made me feel like there was hope for me after all. Of course, receiving a diagnosis comes with its own challenges. I have had to come to terms with the fact that this is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. I have also had to learn how to manage my symptoms to support my daily function. At times, it has been really hard to balance and overcome these challenges. Overall, I feel so grateful for this diagnosis. It has given me a greater understanding of myself and how this condition effects my abilities.
It's not easy living with ADHD
For years, I struggled to understand why I couldn't seem to focus or sit still like other kids
my age. I was labelled as "rude" and "inattentive" and "distractible". I realise now, that I just
couldn't help the way my brain worked. When people found out that I had difficulty paying
attention and retaining information, they assumed that I was not very intelligent. It became a
constant battle to prove myself. Now, I know I wasn't just some hyperactive kid, but
someone with a medical condition that affected my life in a very real way.
Having ADHD can be overwhelming and confusing at times.
One of the things that I have struggled with throughout my life is sensory overload. Certain
sounds actually cause me physical pain. These include things like chewing, clicking fingers or sudden loud noises. These can trigger a strong reaction for me, including sudden bursts of rage. I've learnt to mask my hatred for certain sounds. It can make daily tasks difficult such as catching a bus, but I'm grateful for the progress I've made.
As a child, I was paradoxically a slow learner and a fast thinker.
From a young age, I was embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up with my peers, so I stopped
caring and engaging. I was disciplined for my hyperactivity and criticised for my constant
movement as it was a “distraction” to the classroom. I had so many creative thoughts I
wanted to express with my friends and family, but this was shunned because it was seen as
disruptive and irrelevant.
I wanted to be free with my thoughts.
Learning about dates in history and writing essays about scientists felt irrelevant to me.
Being told what to think and how to learn has always been difficult because if I didn't see
the purpose of learning something, I simply could not engage with the content. Over
time, I have come to realise that there is value in learning things that may not be
immediately relevant to me. It helps me to see things from different perspectives and to
understand the world around me in a deeper way. While I still have difficulty learning in
traditional ways, I have come to appreciate the importance of pursuing knowledge for its
ADHD as a Teenager
Looking back on my adolescence, I can see how much it impacted my mental health. I started to fall behind at school which made me lose confidence in myself. This resulted in me becoming increasingly socially isolated. To feel more control, I started to obsessively restrict my food intake, which quickly spiralled into an eating disorder that had a huge impact on my physical and mental health. Although it was clearly an unhealthy coping mechanism, at the time it made
me feel powerful and special. In many ways, my teenage years were defined by my battle
with mental illness. Despite the challenges I faced, I managed to come out the other side
stronger and more resilient.
ADHD as a Young Adult
University was once again an academic struggle. I felt I had to put in more effort than any of my peers but I was driven by the degree that I would get at the end, that would lead to a
career that would make me happy and fulfilled. The learning style was more appropriate for me. I had freedom in my environment, and I knew that if I failed, it was on me. It wasn't always easy, but it was worth it.
ADHD as an Adult
After I graduated from University, I struggled to find my place as an employee. Certain rules
and regulations never made sense. I also didn’t like being controlled and “disciplined”
because I was a fast worker. For example, if I completed my work in 3 hours instead of
8, I would have to stay in the office, when I really wanted to be at the beach.
It took me a while to realise that not everyone is like me. I came to understand that many people need structure and clear guidelines to be productive. Once I started to understand this, I began to appreciate the value of some of the rules and regulations that I had previously found so frustrating. Now, I can see that having some parameters in place can be helpful for both the employer and the employee. It can create a more efficient workplace
The silver lining of having ADHD
Finding my niche in Speech Pathology was a bit like stumbling upon hidden treasure. I knew that I wanted to investigate it further. The more I explored, the more I fell in love with it. The idea of starting my own business, being my own boss and setting my own hours was very appealing. Looking back on my journey, each milestone in life has given me experiences to be able to handle life's curveballs.
The positive aspect of ADHD
As I've grown older, I've come to see ADHD as a unique strength.
Able to see patterns quickly and easily
Not afraid to take risks
Able to hyper-fixate when I'm genuinely interested in a topic
An expert in many different fields.
Although I'm sensitive to noise and certain sounds are uncomfortable, this is now an asset. I
can hear subtle changes in people's voices and notice slight shifts in behaviour that others
might miss. While there are challenges that come with having ADHD, there are also many
gifts. It's taken me a long time to appreciate and recognise these gifts.
I'm so glad that I've come to accept my ADHD
Accepting ADHD has led to some amazing opportunities and experiences that I wouldn't
have otherwise had. When I was younger, I always felt like there was something wrong with
me. I was always the impulsive one, always getting in trouble for talking too much or
fidgeting too much. I see that those traits are just a part of who I am. They're not
necessarily bad things. They've helped me to be successful in business and to connect with
other people who are like-minded. If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self
that there's nothing wrong with me. I'm just wired differently and that's okay. In fact, it's what makes me interesting.
ADHD can be both a blessing and a curse. For me, ADHD is liberating because I
understand my strengths, talents, and limitations. This is a process and can depend on the persons environment and ability to adapt and cope with their condition. I believe with the right support, people with ADHD can lead happy and successful lives.
How can Socially Speaking help someone with ADHD?
Socially Speaking is my chance to embrace my differences and use my experience to support others. You, your son, daughter, or staff member is smart and "enough" — the magic is finding out how you can nurture their talents to help them thrive in their endeavours. At Socially
Speaking, we believe that everyone deserves to feel included and valued. We know that
neurodiversity enriches our lives and communities, and so we strive to create a warm,
supportive, and safe environment for people of all abilities. Our team is passionate about
helping people with ASD, ADHD, and other social challenges to learn the communication
and planning skills that they need to have positive social experiences. We see the potential in
every individual we work with, and we are committed to helping them reach their full
We are proud to be a part of an inclusive community that celebrates neurodiversity. If you
would like a friendly chat to discuss your challenges, click on the link below to get started: