The Benefits and Drawbacks of ADHD as an Adult
Dealing with ADHD as an adult is much easier than when I was a child. In fact, ADHD as an adult actually has some benefits. In this post, I will look at the drawbacks and benefits of having ADHD as an adult. If you have ADHD or know someone who does, you might find some interesting tidbits in this post.
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First, let’s look at the biggest drawbacks I know of having ADHD as an adult.
The Squirrel Brain
Ever see a squirrel running across the road, only to stop midway and run back, and then change his mind again and run the other way? This is how my brain works. It is my biggest issue when it comes to dealing with my own ADHD. My brain runs, and runs, and runs but not necessarily in a straight line (or about anything I would like it to think about).
Oh yea, and on some days it WILL NOT TURN OFF.
- Journaling is by far my favorite. It gives me a way to dump all of the thoughts out of my brain, and it helps me organize my thoughts a bit when I am working on something.
- Let it run. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the fight. If I have the time and space I will give my brain 30 minutes to have it’s fun. Often this is when I come up with my best ideas, so I usually bring a notebook.
- Short breaks. This is the one I use most often because it fits into most any schedule. I take a walk for a few minutes or go to the bathroom for a few minutes to give myself a minute to refocus on what I am supposed to be working on. On most days my brain listens.
- Meditation has helped me a lot in the long run. It has given me a way to get better control of my brain and train it to listen to me, at least some of the time.
- Google. Sometimes, I need to feed the squirrel to keep it still. If a question comes up, instead of letting my brain simmer on it all day, I just hop on Google and look it up. Once the question is answered, my brain has no reason to stew on it anymore.
I have a hard time concentrating for long periods of time. I can usually focus on one task for 15-20 minutes and then I need to do something else for a minute and give my brain a break. I might take a walk, throw a load of laundry in or work on a different task that I need to get done. Something for just 5 minutes.
If I don’t take these brain breaks I am LESS productive than if I do take them (this is hard to explain to an employer). After 15 or 20 minutes, I spend most of my energy trying to force my brain to concentrate on whatever it is I am working on and almost no energy doing whatever it is that I am working on.
By walking away from it for a minute, I give my brain a chance to relax, breathe and run in circles if it wants to. Often times I end up thinking about the task I just left and by the time I am back to work, my brain is on board and ready to tackle the task at hand.
A Benefit and A Drawback
I once had an employer say of me “She does great work, just don’t sit her by a window, she might jump out”
Truth be told I am an awful office person. The few office jobs I have had were miserable for both me and my employer. It is not that I can’t do the work, it is just that I can’t sit still while I am doing it. Apparently, receptionists are supposed to SIT at their desk all day long! That is really not me, I need to MOVE.
I needed to find employment that suited me better. I was the round peg, and the office was the square hole. In my life, I have had 2 jobs that really suited me. Both allowed me to use my brain, get plenty of exercise and were never the same day after day.
My current job is a railroad signalman. In this job, our construction team is given a shipping container full of material, a set of prints and some equipment (read big toys!). It is our job to take those items and create a working signal system to tell the train engineers the speed they should operate their train at. According to my child, it seems a lot like building a lego set.
This job plays to my strengths. Thinking on my feet, lots to learn, lots of new questions to answer and it is never the same thing day to day. My brain has to switch channels quickly, exam and solve new problems each day and work in a fast paced environment.
People with ADHD thrive in these types of environments and employers love the amount of work someone with ADHD can produce. They also love a number of ideas your brain can conjure up. Stock brokers, doctors, veterinarians, designers and tons of other jobs all fall into this category.
If you have ADHD, you should probably stay out of the office, but there are plenty of places for you to really thrive in the workforce.
The All Out Benefits of ADHD as an Adult
Besides being able to be super competitive in a fast-paced work environment, ADHD has some other benefits you might not think of.
- Easily work on multiple projects because you can jump from one idea to the other very quickly.
- More energy than most people, so you can work all day and play with the kids in the evening and not get (really) exhausted.
- Come up with multiple ideas very quickly
- Always willing to learn new things.
Honestly, I have looked at my ADHD as a benefit the more I grew and learned to tame the squirrels.
I may never work in an office, but I do get drive backhoes, crane trucks and then turn around a wire in a multi-million dollar railroad system.
I may need breaks every 20 minutes, but I promise I will get more done in a day than most people get done in a week.
I may not be the most qualified for the job, but I will show up, work hard and learn fast.
When someone asks you how you get so much done, just look at them and say “I have ADHD, and I know how to use it!”