By MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, M.S.
Many people misunderstand what it means to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “ADHD is not like pregnancy,” said Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “It is not an either you have it or you don’tphenomenon.” Each of us has some ADHD traits some of the time, he said.
“When diagnoses exist on a spectrum like that, it can lead people who have a trait, but not ADHD, to think that they know what the latter part of the spectrum feels like, when they don’t.”
We asked people who have ADHD to share what ADHD feels like. You might notice both similarities and differences in their descriptions, because as writer Kelly Babcock said, “ADHD is never exactly the same for any two people.”
According to Dan Perdue, an ADHD coach, blogger and parent with ADHD:
“For me, ADHD often feels like living in a room with a dozen TVs all at about half volume and each playing a different station. In that room are also another dozen people having six different conversations at the same time. There are probably several small children running around in circles laughing and squealing, and on the far side of that room is someone trying to get my attention and tell me something important and probably upset with me because I am many times unable to filter out that person from all of the other noise and commotion in that room called my brain.”
Zoë Kessler, author of ADHD ADHD According to Zoë: The Real Deal on Relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys, compared ADHD to being an immigrant.
“We have our own language, our own culture. When I speak with others with ADHD, our conversations are completely different than when I talk to non-ADHD people. We ‘get’ each other.”
She elaborates on this concept in this piece on her Psych Central blog “ADHD from A to Zoë.”
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