Gifted With a Disorder


(Image created by Dani Donovan; Image via BBC)

Joshua King, Arts and Entertainment Editor

My siblings were born with ADD, which stands for attention deficit disorder, meaning they can’t pay attention as well as others. They got it from my mother, it’s minor in them and doesn’t affect their lives too heavily. I was born with an evolved form called ADHD, which stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Unlike my siblings and my mother, mine is severe, very severe. ADHD means that not only do I get distracted easily, but I have way too much energy and an impaired ability to control impulses. In layman’s terms, I can’t sit still and my mind is constantly racing.

When I say that my case is severe I mean that I take the maximum dosage allowed for the medicine that I take, and I am close to the most severe case that my doctor has ever seen. The symptoms of ADHD differ with whatever mind it is affecting, but it always includes impulses and attention loss. For me, it means that I never stop moving, even when I sleep I roll back and forth and in class, I’m constantly fidgeting around with something. It also means that I get fixed on some tiny thing and become totally oblivious to my surroundings. If a blade of grass is blowing in the wind, changing directions, I’ll lose all focus on anything happening at the time and focus completely on the grass. My mind is still working, thinking about things and planning, but all centered around that one blade of grass. My mind is always racing, I can’t stop moving, I lose all focus and the list goes on and on. Anyone in their right mind would label it as an unfortunate disorder that totally impedes someone’s life. I, however, am not in my right mind. Call me crazy, but I see it not as a curse but as a gift.

Why would I ever think that? Well, there are a few reasons. The speed at which my mind moves through different thoughts can be a bit distracting, but because it moves so fast, I’m never caught up on something for too long. I can have a thought and expand on it at blistering speeds because my mind refuses to stop moving. I analyze and notice small details quickly because small details interest my mind and mesmerize me, causing me to become fixed on them and shift my focus to the smallest possible details, like a blade of grass on the lawn or one facial expression that’s out of place in a set of a million people. My inability to focus on one thing for too long and my mind’s constant thinking and brainstorming allows me to analyze things quickly and adapt to my environment easily.

Another reason for enjoying ADHD is the physical hyperactivity part. It’s not just my mind but also my body which is hyperactive. My body has too much energy and not enough to do with it, so I don’t tire out too quickly and I recover energy at astonishing speeds. I could sprint for 5 minutes, rest for 1, and be ready to sprint again like nothing ever happened. My body also releases my excess energy as heat, which has given me the occasional nickname of the “walking radiator” because I am very warm externally.

There is a cost to all of this obviously, I’m not superhuman, it is still a disorder. I forget things extremely easily and can only focus if there aren’t any distractions or if I use a lot of willpower, listening to music is one of the main ways that I do this. When I listen to music, it blocks out all of the sounds around me and dampens my grip on my surroundings, which causes me to enter a state where I can only focus on what’s right in front of me. However, the problem with this is that getting something done is very black and white, now or never. If I start something then I have to finish and if I don’t, then I’ll more than likely forget it exists and never finish it.

I am very different without my medicine. It allows me to have a better grasp on my mind and body, but not a perfect one. Pure ADHD, in my case, is quite insane. I can barely control myself, mentally, emotionally, or physically. I move in sporadic and sloppy ways, I’m too loud, I constantly feel this swell of emotion in my chest, it’s almost like I’m floating, and I am rarely able to drag myself to attention. If you spoke to me when I’m not on my meds, you might think I’m crazy or that I don’t care about you, because I’ll forget every word of what you say to me the moment that you stop talking, and then I’ll talk for an eternity or simply be completely confused. Music always works to calm me or let me focus, however, and a quiet environment also allows me to calm down and regain composure. I’ll laugh maniacally for way too long and I’ll have to physically stop everything and mentally reset completely to regain a grasp of my situation.

All in all, even with all of the negative effects of the disorder, I find ADHD to be more of a gift than it is a curse, and I am happy to have been able to share that with you and open your eyes to what living with the disorder is like. Even as I write this, I’m occasionally getting distracted by the feeling of the keyboard, and running my hands across it for longer than I’m proud of before snapping out of it. Before I lose focus again, I’ll say thank you for stopping by and reading this, it means more than you could ever know.