Admittedly, there will be many people who may find this a bit ridiculous. We have awareness months for everything now, huh? Well, if so, this blog is not for you. If you have noticed, I have been doing my best to appeal to the aviation community over the past month or so. However, I need to start bringing the content back to the middle with more of a balance.
October, primarily known for Breast Cancer Awareness, is also the month for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While ADHD is not a disorder with a high mortality rate, we can at least spend the month increasing our understanding of what exactly it is. I was diagnosed with it early and have been medicated for as long as I can remember.
What is ADHD?
While most of us have some inattentive or impulsive characteristics, those with this chronic condition particularly struggle with several behaviors.
Some common symptoms of inattentiveness are:
Having a short attention span.
Being easily distracted.
Inability to stick to tedious or time-consuming tasks.
Appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions.
Constantly changing activity or task.
Having difficulty organizing tasks.
Now, all the above are qualifiers for baseline Attention Deficit Disorder. However, ADHD is one step further. This is a common misconception among those not entirely informed that the two are one and the same. The hyperness and impulsivity are problematic enough to result in underachievement, poor social interaction, and lack of discipline.
Some common signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness:
Being unable to sit still, even in calm or quiet surroundings.
Being unable to concentrate on tasks.
Excessive physical movement.
Being unable to wait their turn.
Acting without thinking.
Little or no sense of danger.
I find others have a hard time comprehending a couple of these. Believe me, if I could stop shaking my leg, I would. However, the most troublesome for me is the uncomfortability with silence. I almost always have some white noise in the background, regardless of my surroundings.
Silence provides an opportunity for an active mind to run amock. Controlling thought trains can be complex, sometimes impossible. By listening to music or a podcast, our minds are better focused, and our moods are lifted, resulting in increased productivity.
Finally, due to the symptoms and side effects ADHD can cause, it is often paired with other disorders. Over two-thirds of those diagnosed with ADHD have a coexisting condition, 38% of which are mood disorders. For myself, I have ADHD paired with anxiety, a widespread setup.
There are educational articles and publications written by individuals far more qualified than myself to talk about the science of why ADHD exists. Unfortunately, I know of people who fake the symptoms of ADHD to access the available high-performing prescription medications. These people are the reason many people do not believe ADHD is a legitimate disorder.
I'm not here to tell you what you should or should not believe. I know that it has been a challenging condition that has wreaked havoc in both my childhood and the present day. Due to my hyperness and impulsivity, my weight has historically fluctuated significantly, and controlling some less desirable behaviors is a tall task.
There are several ways to mitigate and reduce the effects of ADHD. When appropriately executed, some can turn the tables and make the condition a positive. This blog is actually an excellent example of just that. Not only does this provide a healthy outlet, but when I can hyperfocus on content, I feel in a flow state.
The ability to hyperfocus allows an individual to hone in on a project or task, which makes exercise even more conducive to personal health. When I am at my best, I am in a healthy routine and consistently exercising. Whether running or strength training, both provide a way to get it out of my system for a while.
A few years ago, I bravely entered counseling for my conditions (shoutout Dr. Jim!). How do you know you are at that point? Well, anyone in the ballpark of ADHD could benefit from therapy. Everyone has a different capacity, and we are all bound to exceed it occasionally. Sticking with therapy provides a routine and a resource. Therapy is complex, and thus, it is hard to articulate the benefits of therapy. It is one of those things you have to see for yourself.
Finally, medication. Since I was medicated from an early age, it always seemed normal. I could not understand how difficult it is to take the leap, but I know the longer you wait, the harder it becomes. Sure, I can admit that often these conditions are over-diagnosed, resulting in the current Adderall shortage in America. The lack of primary medication has resulted in secondary drugs also becoming understocked.
So, for this month, you do not have to donate a dollar every time you check out for awareness. However, I suggest taking a moment to leave this blog and reading up on ADHD. There is actually a book I will link to below that I thoroughly enjoyed and talks about everything you need to know about the disorder. In fact, it was so popular that a follow-up book was written to answer more reader questions to help understand.