Life as an Adult with ADHD

On the world stage, I’m a functioning member of society: I’m a CEO, I drive a nice car, I own a home, and I even engage in public speaking. Yet, the reality is behind the curtain every day is a struggle to keep up with myself. Deadlines missed, chores forgotten, personal projects abandoned, insomnia because of nightmares. The list goes on. I am an adult with ADHD.

When I was diagnosed with ADHD, the general public understood very little about the disorder. Even today, many still believe it only to be a phase or to mean someone is easily distracted, and I remember being told by countless adults in my life that I just needed to “try harder” to control myself. This misunderstanding of the disorder and the social stigma surrounding it has made for an incredibly lonely life.

Other disorders have clear external signals that provoke compassion and patience from others; most of the symptoms brought on by ADHD often incur harsh criticisms and judgment. Decision Paralysis is characterized as being lazy. Executive Dysfunction is seen as being messy and unorganized. The inability to process conversations in real-time comes off as rude and uncaring.

In Man of Steel, a scene ends with a character crying in agony after their newly found powers begin overwhelming all their senses. That is what it is like to live with ADHD. For me, emotional pain manifests as physical pain. Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD), personal failures, or other triggers cause extreme distress, and due to difficulty shifting gears, endless rumination prolongs that distress.

ADHD is a disorder that subtly and viciously undermines the ability to form relationships, participate in social norms, and build one’s self-esteem. I’ve lost friends, partners and at times felt unloveable. Living with this disorder is alienating, hard, debilitating at times; there is no beauty in the suffering it causes, but each day I work on improving myself just a little more, showing myself kindness and celebrating the victories along the way.

I am neurodivergent, I struggle with my mental health, and I look at the extraordinary life I’ve built at just 25 years old despite the impossible odds stacked against me, and I’m proud. So while I am sure the road ahead won’t be easy, if I believe that tomorrow will be better, I can bear a hardship today.

You’re gonna carry that weight otherwise.