Why I’m Glad I Have ADHD

I’m glad I have ADHD . . . now. But I haven’t always felt this way. I’ve wished I could quit fidgeting, keep my mind fully on what someone was saying, and stay at a task long enough to finish it. Even at what should be the sedate age of sixty-five, I feel a tinge of panic when I have to go to a long meeting and act like I’m grown up.

But I’ve come to the place where, if I had a choice, I’d keep my racing brain and my urge to move, move, move. And this is because attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has given me gifts. Here are a few:

Multitasking: It’s not that my brain doesn’t pay attention. It pays attention to everything. As a teacher, this worked. Five or six tracks ran through my mind at the same time—the pucker on Jamar’s forehead as I explained the difference between the omniscient and limited points of view, the surreptitious exchange between Kali and Jeremy in the back row, an unusual ruckus in the hallway, Jennifer slipping into class late again, and the latest directive from the state department of education. With ADHD, I could do lots at once.

Creativity: Because so many ideas bounce around in my mind together, they bump into each other with interesting results. A thick wet snow fell one afternoon. And just as I was concluding a lesson on Greek and Latin roots, the intercom crackled. A warning about snowballs, I predicted before the principal said a word. And that announcement at that time birthed the annual Silent Snowball Fight—200 crumpled paper balls thrown into the air so students could scramble around matching 100 roots to their meanings.

Get-Up-And-Go: Staying at one task drains me. I struggle to fold a whole basket of laundry or write a whole page, and so I don’t. All day I alternate, one task giving me energy for another. Instead of fighting ADHD, I’ve given into it, and it serves me well.

Perhaps ADHD is not so much a disorder, as a different ordering.

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