Ready. Set. FOCUS!

Imagine sitting in a room full of TVs. They are all on a different channel and at full volume. Your task is to focus on just one. ONLY one. Don’t pay to the others.

Hard to do? Impossible even?

Welcome to my every day.

I envy people who say I want to do this, or I am GOING to do this and then do it. Honestly, it’s like this unattainable superpower to me. How do you just make yourself do something? Especially when it’s a particularly daunting task. To anyone else, this might seem like a weird problem. Something only a lazy and unmotivated person would struggle with. I am not lazy and I am not unmotivated, I have goals and make plans just like anybody else. The difference is I have ADHD and that means my day to day is a constant struggle of focusing on one task long enough to get it done.

They say one of the signs of a learning disability is a upper-moderate to high IQ with low academic performance. My entire academic career, teachers were always telling my parent, “she’s incredibly smart but she doesn’t focus”. I never knew what that meant. I took down the notes and followed along in my book just like everyone else…sort of. Have you ever done that thing where you read a paragraph or wrote something down but you were so in your head that you had absolutely no idea what you just read or wrote? Well, that’s what I did. ALL. THE. TIME. I could have entire conversations and still have no idea what was just said. I would say enough to come off as “engaged” then as soon as the other person started talking, I’d check out mentally. It was a fool proof method, except for when they asked a question or required a more in-depth response. To this day, full on conversations scare me a little. I’m constantly scared my brain won’t sort my thoughts fast enough to get out what I need to say and then I’ll come off mildly retarded. It doesn’t help that I’m pretty introverted, so social interaction is right up there with drinking vinegar. Can I do it? Absolutely. Am I enjoying it? HELL NO. This makes it sounds like I don’t have friends, or even want them. Totally not true. I like people, and would absolutely enjoy knowing more people. Just not too many people. Cause that’s stressful.

“I truly hope the results come back positive because that means I’m not the problem. If I don’t have ADHD it means I’m just a lazy person who’s not doing anything in life.” I remember telling my mom this and I think it made her feel worse than I meant it to, but I knew I wasn’t this person, someone who just sat around and made goals but never actually did anything to achieve them. I knew that’s how it looked and I hated that. When I got those papers in the mail, I read all 20+ pages of it. Every word that explained all the tests I took and what they meant. The funny thing was, they basically said what I had been hearing my entire life except for one small change. She’s incredibly smart but she can’t focus. The results read that I showed 8 out of the 9 signs of what represented ADHD. I was ecstatic. There was finally an explanation for why everyone around seemed to be excelling while I was stuck at “start”. I sat down with my Mom and made a game plan for myself. I was going to refocus my life and my goals, but this time I was going to tailor it to what I was capable of versus what I thought I should have been doing.

It’s been roughly 5 years since and I am proud of those changes. Even though school is taking me way longer to get through, I am doing it at my own pace and because I’m staying in control of my academics I have made nothing lower than A’s and B’s in my classes. My goals don’t seem light years away and my plans are much more tangible. I have a support system and I know where I can go and what to do with myself when things become overwhelming. Growing up with ADHD has been an absolute challenge and I have no doubt life would be easier without it, but I also know those same struggles have helped me grow as a person and I consider myself lucky for it.

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