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Beyond the Letters ADHD: What Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Actually Is…
This blog is about what the letters ADHD mean, the societal connotations that stem from the letters, what is happening in the brain of individuals with ADHD, and what I’ve learned from my knowledge and experiences as someone diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.
My desire to pursue learning everything possible about ADHD on paper, and about the lived realities of other people living with ADHD was slightly before I received my ADHD diagnosis (February 2021).
What do the letters ADHD and what do the words mean?
What is the reality for others living with Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder, ADHD, ADD, and comorbidities?
What is going on in the brains of individuals with ADHD in comparison to those without?
How can I help move the needle toward a better general understanding of neurodiversity at large and ADHD?
These have been a few of my many recurring thoughts this past 2 years, causing learning about, and teaching others about ADHD to become one of my most consistent hyperfixations.
This gained knowledge has helped me in understanding what ADHD really is and has given me the ability to realize how ADHD has shown up in, and impacted me, my entire life, before and post-diagnosis.
What the Letters Mean
Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder is what the letters behind ADHD mean. To me, that would translate as somebody who lacks the ability to pay attention and is very hyper; while this could be true of someone with ADHD it isn’t necessarily; which goes to show problem #1 with the name ADHD, it doesn’t fit many ADHDers.
While there are 3 different subtypes of ADHD, including one that is completely focused on hyperactivity of the mind, the umbrella term being very broad can cause an understandable misunderstanding of what ADHD is. Read to the bottom to find out which type of ADHD I am diagnosed with!
The Harms of How ADHD Is Often Discussed in Modern Society
If people were to read what is listed on the National Institute of Mental Health’s website as examples of people experiencing symptoms of ADHD, at first glance, they’d likely be under the impression that individuals with ADHD are going to showcase symptoms of not being able to focus much, unable to have any self-control in social situations, and someone who seemingly chooses to behave out of a pure need for immediate reward or self-fulfillment.
While some of these things are understandable to a degree, anybody who truly understood ADHD would see the flaws and the connotations that could stem from that being the first thing that people read on an influential mental health organization’s website.
Like many sites, this site has the primary focuses on children with ADHD and lack a thorough address of what is seriously going on in many adults’ lives, especially those who are diagnosed late with ADHD, and the repercussions of that. Some of the repercussions of being diagnosed with ADHD late is an exacerbated increase in the likelihood of premature death. This site also doesn’t immediately provide any sort of tips or advice to those who for one reason or another aren’t allotted the ability to receive medication or treatment for their ADHD.
We all must be especially mindful of how we disseminate information on neurodiversity and disability. When the society one lives in lacks inclusivity for people with neuro differences, combined with ADHD being talked about from the childhood ADHD perspective constantly, it causes for the general public to believe that choice made and behaviors that are enacted upon to seem as though they are simply poor personal choices made from a state of an individual who is similar to that of a child.
Another part of the harm in the narrative of ADHD being solely told from the lens of how it plays out for children is the infantilizing of adults with ADHD that this causes. This also causes for others in society to not look at the entire picture of ADHD, such as what is going on in the ADHD brain, and how that impacts people with ADHDs’ livelihoods, behaviors, etc.
From emotional regulation, to avolition, memory differences, and everything inbetween that many people with ADHD experience, what is going on in the regions and chemicals in the brain explains what is going on, though they don’t know exactly why it is going on.
My Life with ADHD Beyond the Letters
Beyond the letters and all the jargon, ADHD to me is a brain difference that I have that impacts my ability to do things in a way that would be most ideal in the society of which I live. A capitalistic society that isn’t necessarily too uplifting of people pursuing things when their brain and body allow them the ability to. A society that doesn’t necessarily appreciate people who pursue many different hobbies, tasks, passions, etc., such as myself and many other ADHDers. To me, ADHD beyond the letters is something that is misunderstood both in the healthcare field, in the classrooms, in the media, in the workplace, and in many spaces.
It is in my plans and desires to dispel the myths that stem from the words associated with ADHD to help people in understanding ADHD realities so that it is viewed as the deep, complex, and at times debilitating diagnosis that it is from the perspective of those of us living with ADHD.
Congratulations on making it this far, the answer to which type of ADHD I am diagnosed with is combined type!
For more AD your homie with ADHD content feel free to checkout my Instagram @lexshedlight!
 Lex’s Definition of Hyperfixation: An activity, subject, object, thought, etc. that causes for disconnect with other things going on in the environment. Can be a positive or negative source of stimulation, causing the person in a state of hyperfocus to be in a deep head space. Think of it like a zoom on a camera. Can cause for the body and brain to tune things out so deeply that other senses seemingly change, increase immensely, or lessen completely.