Having struggled with ADHD and a plethora of mental health diagnosis my whole life I have decided to create this blog which will be a mix of information for a book I am working on about adult ADHD and creative artwork I make. I achieved my undergraduate degree and then went on to become a peer support specialist so I can help those in need. I come from a place of compassion and lived experience. I went undiagnosed and then inaccurately diagnosed until my late 20s, and made it through college with no medication and only my own drive. It was difficult, and as you may see on this blog, the writing may not always be perfect and may seem rushed on occasion as ADHD effects executive functioning and small details can sometimes be missed. However, I love to learn and have deep passion for any and all topics involving mental health care and trauma informed care.
With that; I will start my first post with some information I want to include in the book I am writing currently:
ADHD is one of the most treatable, and most commonly misunderstood mental illnesses to date. It is theorized that 4% of adults has this neurological condition, but the numbers could be much higher, as girls were often not properly diagnosed even ten years ago. Let’s break down the title of the term in itself. ‘Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder’. There is some debate with the title, some professionals feel the words “deficit” and “hyper” are inaccurate to describe the symptoms and portray the neurological disorder itself. This title would imply that all peoples with this disorder are hyper and are lacking the ability to focus. These assumptions are now known to be wrong. It is thought that around half of all people who live with this neurological disorder are not hyper and do not have concerns with impulse control; showing far more varying signs and symptoms than the title and even diagnostic criteria suggests, and that it is not the inability to focus, but rather the ability to selectively focus.
Selective focusing brings me to another important aspect of ADHD which is its effect on executive functioning, as stated above. Executive functioning is as followed; Executive functioning is necessary for the control of behavior: ones ability to successfully monitor specific behaviors. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attention, impulsivity, memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and problem solving. Every individual with ADHD has deficits within their executive functioning, that is the primary concern with the disorder. This is why they are often unable to plan time accordingly or pay close attention to detail oriented work if their brain does not release enough dopamine to hold their attention. However, this can also result in altered levels of dopamine when their brain is responsive leading to hyperfocusing.
Hyperfocus is what is often also referred to as “flow state” — a state of mind in which you are deeply immersed in a task and become one with it, to where the rest of the world becomes non-existent and you often lose track of time. Various brain scans have shown that the hyperfocusing brain literally “lights up” with specific activity and pleasure. With hyperfocus, you can easily lose all sense of time and perspective, but it can also be utilized to create success if it is activated in the correct scenarios. Many college students with ADHD find themselves go into a state of hyperfocus in order to finish projects. It is both a super-power and a curse.
These wonderful imaginative, creative, passionate people have a verity of strengths that the title of this neurological variation forgets to mention. Our biology is different from person to person. While DSM diagnostics can be useful and helpful for treating various illness, it does not always give a complete picture into each individual and each mental health professional needs to ensure they take note of that for the clients they see on a daily basis.
Diversity can be celebrated, even during treatment and during times of change.