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The Stress and Strengths of ADHD



ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Contrary to popular belief, ADHD does not indicate a lack of attention, but rather differences in regulating attention compared to neurotypical brains. 


ADHD can often be recognized first in childhood, when a child has difficulties living up to standardized classroom expectations. However, some children may have a missed or late diagnosis because their ADHD doesn’t match the “stereotype”, or because they are socialized in a way that reinforces “masking” (concealing) their symptoms.


Kids with ADHD often grow up to be adults with ADHD, and some adults may not find out they have ADHD until after childhood. Life changes, such as starting school or a new job, going away to college, or becoming a parent, can sometimes shine a light on the struggles of ADHD symptoms. 


Symptoms of ADHD


There are three kinds of ADHD: primarily inattentive type, primarily hyperactive type, and combined type. ADHD can present with any of the following symptoms:


  • Inattention: Difficulty sustaining attention on tasks, being easily distracted, overlooking details, and frequently switching between activities.

  • Hyperactivity: Restlessness, fidgeting, and difficulty remaining seated in situations where it is expected.

  • Impulsivity: Acting without considering consequences, interrupting others, and having difficulty waiting for one's turn.


The stress of having ADHD


While we recognize that ADHDers have numerous strengths (see below!), there can be a lot of stressful challenges that accompany being a neurodivergent person in a world largely built with only neurotypical brains in mind. If you have ADHD, you may have experienced:


  • Your impulsivity or forgetfulness causes conflict with loved ones.

  • Frequent “mood swings” or difficulty managing your emotions

  • The “ADHD tax” of life leading to late bills and extra fees, lost items, and other small mistakes that make you feel like you can never catch up in life

  • Constant anxiety about the pressure to mask your ADHD symptoms in order to please others

  • Burnout from that consistent pressure that may lead to feeling shut down, blue, or depressed


The strengths of having ADHD


Neurodiversity advocates like us prefer to use neuro-affirming language when discussing ADHD. The symptoms of ADHD can cause a lot of daily stress and difficulty in a system built for neurotypical brains. However, there are many strengths that can be embraced in the ADHD brain! If you have ADHD, you may find:


  • You excel in environments that require innovation, adaptability, and quick thinking. 

  • Your ability to hyperfocus on subjects and tasks of interest makes you an expert in your chosen interests and able to produce great achievements. 

  • You are highly energetic and passionate, which can also be inspiring to others. 

  • Your love of novelty means you are constantly discovering new things to get excited about

  • You, despite the challenges, are always able to bounce back after difficulties or setbacks 


The full picture


Many ADHDers find themselves struggling in certain areas while excelling in others, which can be confusing or lead to feelings of shame. Instead of getting trapped in a shame spiral or trying to force a round peg into a square hole, you could try using a combination of these three things to support your emotional wellbeing:


  • Develop and understanding of your own internal processes

  • Give yourself permission to function how your function

  • Learn to play to your strengths and delegate the things that don't make you shine


ADHD Therapy in Asheville, North Carolina


Working with a therapist can be a great way to learn how to harness the strengths of your or your child’s ADHD while learning skills to adapt to challenges as well. At Flourish Counseling and Wellness, we embrace neurodiversity and are excited to support you as you navigate life as an ADHDer.  


If you’re interested in learning more or scheduling an appointment, please email jill@flourishasheville.com or give us a call at 828-532-6717.


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