Personal Stories of Living with ADD / ADHD

What's It Like Living With ADD / ADHD?

Rear view of woman rock climbing
Cultura Exclusive/Tanveer Badal/Getty Images

One reader posted a question, “What is it like NOT to have ADD/ADHD?” I asked readers for comments to this question. The response was overwhelming.

The following is a list of some of the responses. The ADD/ADHD experience is unique for each individual. The comments below reflect individual personal experiences and opinions. While some of these symptoms and behaviors can often be part of the ADD/ADHD picture, they are not inevitably so and can also be present independent of the diagnosis.

Living Life to the Fullest

One of our regular readers, Elna, shares about her adventures and thrills of life with ADHD:

“While I could have done without being called ‘stupid’ at school and being made an example in front of many classes when I made mistakes or didn't hear what was being said because my mind was not in the classroom but was busy watching a bird outside the window or watching a plane high in the sky, I would never trade my ADHD for the chance to be a non-ADDer.

“I may never have experienced the thrill of taking on challenges that many average people had no desire to do. Bungee jumping, parachuting, climbing steep cliffs just because they were there and I wanted to climb them. I may have never learned how to fly a plane, get my pilot's license and learn to do ‘stunt flying’ by trial and error. Crash landing my first plane in the Long Island Sound because I forgot to check my fuel gauge was another ADHD ‘oops,' but I plane didn't!

“If I did not have ADHD, would I have the impulsivity and lack of fear when someone was in need of help that made me fight my way past firefighters who tried to stop me from going into a burning building to save a woman? I got her out and she is still alive today. It has been said that many people who choose challenging jobs like firefighters, police work, E.R.

nursing and many other challenging jobs most likely have some ADHD in them. I believe it as my friends are those in these challenging professions and we speak the same language, the language of ADDults and only ADDults can understand what I mean.

“Would my mind be as creative as it is if I didn't have ADHD? Would I be interested in learning something new all the time? Would I be aware of everything going on around me and still comfort a family member whose loved one was dying at the same time if I were ‘average’? That ability is crucial to me and I can react to any emergency quickly. I can hear a cry for help over any noisy conditions and I respond. Would I have the ‘sixth sense’ that could predict when a ‘Code Blue’ was coming into the E.R. and set up for it before the radio transmission came through if I were average? Would I ‘feel’ when a friend or family member was ill or just ‘down’ and in need of help? I don't know.”

Longing for Inner Peace

Cyndy, who has ADD, is married to a man with ADHD, and is mom to three college age kids with ADHD and ADD shares:

“Not a day goes by that I do not wonder what it would be like not to have attention problems and short-term memory issues of my own and those of my families. I can only guess that my life may be less stressful, filled with more self-confidence, less worry and maybe much less of a hectic pace. What would it feel like to experience the feeling of inner peace?”

Diagnosed as an Adult

Kim is 49 years old and was diagnosed with ADD approximately 2 1/2 years ago at age 46. Her 23-year-old son was diagnosed several months later. She says, “I have taken courses to help me deal with the mourning of 46 undiagnosed years, especially as a single ADD mom raising an ADD kid, and work on improving my management skills constantly.” Though her years before diagnosis and treatment were extremely difficult, Kim’s outlook on life is now much more positive and she expresses appreciation for her wonderful gifts.

Thank you to all the readers for sharing such personal experiences. ADHD presents itself differently in each individual. Some common themes can be found. Find support and self acceptance, self care, nurturing strengths, developing strategies to help minimize weaknesses, and surrounding yourself with positive people who appreciate your gifts and understand how ADHD impacts your daily life. All these strategies are helpful for living life to the fullest and finding joy in the ADHD experience.

Continue Reading