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.

Squirrel Control

  • 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.

Brain Breaks

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.

via GIPHY

 

A Benefit and A Drawback

Employment

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.

 I have ADHD and I know how to use it! #adhd #notadisability #useyourenergy Click To Tweet

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!”

6 Comments

  1. joleisa

    May 17, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    This is an amazing piece of writing Michele. As a teacher, I often deal with kids who are diagnosed with ADHD and honestly, it’s not fun. It is difficult for me and for the majority of the group. So I have two questions for you. Your readers may want to drop in their two cents too.
    1. Should students with ADHD be taught in a ‘regular’ classroom with others who don’t have the condition?
    2. In light of how you say adults with ADHD should see it as a positive, should they also write it on their resumes or highlight it during job interviews?
    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Michele Cook

      May 17, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Hi Jo, thanks for your insight as a teacher, let me address your questions one at a time.
      1. I can see where it would not be easy to have a child who doesn’t want to sit still in a classroom environment. ADHD as a child is tough on everyone. Children don’t understand how to verbalize what they need to succeed and teachers like you are left with disruptions in the classroom. That said, I would love to see a change in the way teaching is done for all students. I think children need a lot more hands-on learning and a lot more lessons tethered to things that mean something to them. I think we teach to test too much and teachers like you should have the freedom to adapt lessons to suit how students learn more.
      To help your ADHD kids, I suggest incorporating lessons that require movement (if your school system will allow it). Math relays (split students into teams, have each child complete a set of math questions, grab a baton and do a lap around the room, pass the baton to the next student and repeat), building basic machines (think Punkin Chunkin https://www.punkinchunkin.com/) or physics experiments are great ways to keep energetic kids engaged.

      2. I don’t know whether I would say “Hey I have ADHD” on a job application because so many people do see it as a negative, but I would put down some of the traits in a more positive outlook. Things like “Ability to learn quickly”, “Ability to manage multiple projects” etc. Adults with ADHD learn to hone their strengths and manage their weaknesses just like everyone else, I see no harm in highlighting them on an application.

  2. Misty | Home Health and Happiness

    May 30, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Very interesting article Michele. ADHD affects several of my family members including my son. He was diagnosed in kindergarten after his teacher asked me to have him evaluated. He was placed on medication that basically altered his personality. It was heartbreaking to watch and as a young mom, I was unsure what to do. He remained on medication until 5th grade when he finally told me that he didn’t want to take it anymore. School was definitely much harder after that. He attended summer school every year from that summer on in order to graduate on time, but he did it.
    I know it’s hard for teachers to deal with but it is equally as hard if not harder for the parents. Deciding what is best for your child in this situation is very difficult. Kids with ADHD are very smart and therefore I don’t feel they should be singled out or treated any differently than other children. I believe that teachers should receive special training or education on how to deal with these students as well as any other student that is not considered “normal”.
    Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading it.

    1. Michele Cook

      May 31, 2017 at 6:45 am

      Hi Misty,
      Thanks for sharing your story. I think there are a lot of moms who can identify with the struggle you faced.
      I’m glad to hear your son was able to graduate on time, was there anything you found particularly helpful that might help others going through the same struggle?

      Glad you enjoyed the article,
      Michele

      1. Misty | Home Health and Happiness

        June 1, 2017 at 6:51 am

        Hey Michele,
        My recommendation is really just to listen to your child. Looking back I believe that my son tried to tell me how unhappy he was on the medication. I could see that he was not himself and regret that I didn’t make the decision sooner to take him off of it. I just wanted him to get the best education possible but now I do feel there are other ways to achieve that. There are OTC supplements and vitamins that do help somewhat such as Focus Factor and Natural Kids ADHD supplement. A healthy diet is also important for kids, or anyone for that matter, who suffer from this condition. There is no one right decision. What works for one person doesn’t work for someone else. Support groups or discussion boards are good places to go for information if your child suffers from ADHD.
        I hope this helps 🙂

        1. Michele Cook

          June 1, 2017 at 9:56 pm

          Thanks Misty!
          As I am sure you know, everything helps when you are in the midst of struggling with a child with ADHD. Somedays just some understanding is enough. I appreciate your comments and I am sure my readers will as well.

          Michele

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