What The Friday! How I Make My ADD Work For Me

This started off as a What The Friday! post, but I got really into the content and it took me a little longer to finish than I expected. Without any further ado, here is last week’s What The Friday!..on Monday. 

I pulled this off Facebook last week because it really resonated with me, and rubbed me the wrong way. I wrote a pretty long response when I reposted it, and it inspired me to write this post for the blog.

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This bugs me because I think living with ADD/ADHD is only a challenge if you’re being forced to learn in a conventional way.

When you take someone with mild autism or ADD/ADHD and FORCE them into a school system that works against their natural instincts, “(hyper-focused on things that interest them, does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace [not due to oppositional behaviour, or failure to understand instructions], avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period [such as schoolwork or homework], is often easily distracted]“, of COURSE they’re going to struggle.

Same goes with work environments. When I worked in retail, and I wasn’t stimulated enough, or if I was overstimulated, the mental anxiety, inner turmoil, and rage that I felt at being forced to do something I didn’t want to do (hello facing lube bottles!) was nearly crippling.  I also lashed out at the people around me, which wasn’t fair to them. It’s not about being lazy (which I’ve been accused of many times), and it’s definitely not about lacking a positive attitude.

I can hyper-focus on things that interest me, (oh God how I love the English language and all its nuances!) but in school when I had to learn about things/concepts that I found difficult to grasp (math), you better be damn sure I didn’t get good grades. It didn’t mean I was stupid, even though I was meant to feel that way by the majority of people in my life.

My husband and I read a book about this and the author, Thom Hartmann, likened people with ADD/ADHD as hunters, and ‘normal’ people were farmers.

Farmers can work long hours doing tedious/intensive (maybe not tedious for them?) work, and hunters need to make quick decisions (when chasing a rabbit they come across a deer, split second decision needs to be made: hunt the rabbit or the deer?) which is why they are more flighty but can focus on the fact that they have to hunt for food.

“The hunter vs. farmer hypothesis was proposed by Thom Hartmann about the origins of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults, suggesting that these conditions may be a result of a form of adaptive behaviour.
Hartmann developed the hunter vs. farmer idea as a mental model after his own son was disheartened following a diagnosis of ADHD, stating, “It’s not hard science, and was never intended to be.” However, more recent molecular and clinical research has given support to the hunter vs. farmer hypothesis, and some researchers use the hunter vs. farmer idea as a working hypothesis of the origin of ADHD.
Hartmann notes that most or all humans were nomadic hunter-gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years, but that this standard gradually changed as agriculture developed in most societies, and more people worldwide became farmers. Over many years, most humans adapted to farming cultures, but Hartmann speculates that people with ADHD retained some of the older hunter characteristics.
A key component of the hypothesis is that the proposed “hyper-focus” aspect of ADHD is a gift or benefit under appropriate circumstances. The hypothesis also explains the distractibility factor in ADHD individuals and their short attention span for subject matter that does not trigger hyper-focus, along with various other characteristics such as apathy towards social norms, poor planning and organizing ability, distorted sense of time, impatience, attraction to variety or novelty or excitement, and impulsiveness. It is argued that in the hunter-gatherer cultures that preceded farming societies, hunters needed hyper-focus more than gatherers.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_vs._farmer_hypothesis

My favourite part is when Thom Hartmann talks about using the “hyper-focus” ability as a gift.  Because I believe it is.

My father taught me from a young age to take what makes me different and wear it with pride. “You don’t want to be like everyone else, right? You want to be you.” And he was right. never wanted to fit in, be the same as all my peers, listen to popular music, wear the same popular clothes. Fuck that.

I have always been true to myself, and I have never been ashamed of who I am.

I’m not sure if what my dad said created my ‘apathy towards social norms’, or if what he taught me fanned a spark that was already there, but I’m so grateful that he taught me to take my perceived faults and use them as strengths.

This is particularly true for business.

I’m easily distracted, but I I draw inspiration from many different places. This enables me to generate lots of ideas for your business that you might not otherwise have thought about.

I’m hyper-focused on the proper use of the English language and I’m impatient, which is a bonus for you because this means I get my work (your copy!) done faster.

My planning/organizing skills leave a bit to be desired, but this allows me to fly by the seat of my pants with wild abandon. I can reconfigure my day/week on a whim to suit your project.

My impulsivity and attraction to excitement means I love looking around for fun and interesting business ideas, business models, engaging copy etc.

When it comes to your business, I know it’s easy to get caught up in the entrepreneur/solopreneur groups and stagnate trying to find new ways to grow it. I’m constantly searching for new and exciting ideas to help innovate your business.

These are some of the ways I try to get my ADD to work for me. Are you, or someone you love, living with ADD/ADHD? What are some of your coping mechanisms? Are you medicated? Does it help, or not?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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  • Jasmine
    Reply

    Hi there!
    I absolutely just fell in love with this blog post.
    I agree with everything you have written.
    I have the same issue and LOVE my ADD.(while sometimes hating it—bill paying etc….)
    I am learning to manage it and know how I work and it works for me very well..but anyone looking in sees insanity.
    Luckily I chose a husband who is my polar opposite but still loves the crazy fun ADD brain I have.
    All three of my kids have a varying form of this and some days I am so happy they have this gift/difference, and then when I see them struggling I feel sad that I have caused this.
    But what is life without struggle?
    Love your blog and will now follow it.
    I actually have two blogs…one about ADD and one about my vintage Etsy store…but I can never find them/finish a post!! =)
    Keep going and happy mania!!
    Jasmine

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