Have you ever felt like your brain is constantly jumping from one thought to another, unable to focus on one task for more than a few minutes? Do you struggle with forgetfulness, impulsivity, and restlessness? If so, you may be one of the millions of people worldwide living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
For me, it wasn't until I was 30 years old that I finally figured out that I had ADHD. Like many people, I had always struggled with staying focused, and keeping up with daily tasks. But it wasn't until I started researching ADHD that I began to understand why I struggled so much.
In this blog post, I will share my personal experience of discovering that I have ADHD, and the journey of understanding why I have it. Through research and conversations with healthcare professionals, I've gained insight into the possible causes of ADHD, including genetics, brain structure and function, environmental factors, brain injury, and diet & nutrition. By sharing my experience, I hope to help others who may be struggling with similar challenges and encourage them to seek out support and resources.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 5-10% of children and 2.5% of adults worldwide. The disorder is characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can impact an individual's daily functioning and quality of life.
Symptoms of ADHD
It's important to note that symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person, and not everyone will experience the same set of challenges. However, speaking from my personal experience, I began to understand that I had ADHD when I noticed some recurring patterns in my behavior.
From a very young age;
I found myself either having high bursts of energy or feeling lethargic and low.
I had difficulty focusing on things that didn't interest me, but when I did find something that I enjoyed, I could laser focus on it.
I found that I needed a clean space to focus but often had a hard time cleaning,
I would either obsess over every little detail or miss all of the details altogether.
These were just a few of the challenges I experienced that eventually led me to seek out a diagnosis and treatment for ADHD.
My Experience with ADHD: Endless Guilt, Low Self-Esteem, and a Perpetual Sense of Failure
Living with ADHD can be a challenging experience, and one of the most difficult aspects of it can be the impact it has on an individual's mental health. In my experience, living with ADHD has been characterized by a constant sense of guilt, low self-esteem, and a feeling of failure.
For many individuals with ADHD, the symptoms of the disorder can lead to difficulties in various areas of life, such as school, work, and personal relationships. These struggles can often lead to feelings of guilt and shame, as it can be challenging to keep up with the expectations of others or even one's own expectations. Additionally, the impulsivity and distractibility associated with ADHD can make it difficult to complete tasks, leading to a sense of failure and frustration.
Furthermore, the negative impact on one's mental health can lead to low self-esteem and a negative self-image. It can be challenging to feel confident in oneself when struggling with daily tasks, forgetfulness, and poor time management. The sense of failure and guilt can further exacerbate these feelings, leading to a negative cycle of self-doubt and criticism.
It's essential to recognize that these feelings are common among individuals with ADHD, and seeking support can make a significant difference. Through therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, it's possible to manage ADHD symptoms and improve one's mental health. It's essential to focus on self-compassion and self-care, and to remember that ADHD does not define an individual's worth or abilities.
Factors Contributing to ADHD Development
While the exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, research has identified several factors that may contribute to the development of the disorder. Here are some of the possible reasons why people may have ADHD:
Genetics: ADHD has a strong genetic component, with studies suggesting that up to 80% of the risk for ADHD may be due to genetics. Several genes have been identified that are associated with ADHD, including genes that regulate dopamine levels, which is a neurotransmitter involved in attention and reward processing.
The article "Genetics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" by Faraone SV and Larsson H. (2019) provides a comprehensive review of the genetic factors that contribute to the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The authors discuss the heritability of ADHD and highlight the various genes and pathways that have been associated with the disorder. The article also covers topics such as the role of gene-environment interactions, epigenetics, and the genetic overlap between ADHD and other psychiatric disorders. The authors conclude that while genetic factors play a significant role in the development of ADHD, the disorder is likely caused by a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. The article provides a valuable resource for researchers and clinicians seeking to better understand the genetic underpinnings of ADHD.
Brain Structure and Function: Studies have also shown that individuals with ADHD have differences in the structure and function of certain areas of the brain, particularly in the prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia. These areas are involved in attention, impulsivity, and executive function, which are areas of difficulty for individuals with ADHD.
Environmental Factors: Exposure to environmental toxins such as lead, alcohol, and tobacco during pregnancy or early childhood may also increase the risk of developing ADHD. Other environmental factors such as premature birth, low birth weight, and maternal stress during pregnancy have also been linked to ADHD.
Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been associated with an increased risk of developing ADHD, particularly if the injury occurs during early childhood. TBI can disrupt the development and function of brain regions involved in attention and impulsivity, leading to the onset of ADHD symptoms.
Diet and Nutrition: While diet and nutrition are not direct causes of ADHD, studies have shown that certain dietary factors may exacerbate or alleviate ADHD symptoms. For example, consuming a diet high in sugar and processed foods has been linked to worsening symptoms, while diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients have been associated with improved symptoms.
While the exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, research has identified several factors that may contribute to the development of the disorder. Genetic and environmental factors, brain structure and function, brain injury, and diet and nutrition all play a role in the onset and severity of ADHD symptoms.
Understanding these factors can help individuals with ADHD and their families better manage the disorder and improve their quality of life.
I Used a Habit Tracker to Transform My Life as a Woman with ADHD
As a woman in my 30s with ADHD, I struggled for years to develop and maintain healthy habits. I often felt overwhelmed by the idea of making positive changes in my life. However, I found that using a habit tracker: Insumo was a game-changer for me. By setting small, achievable goals and tracking my progress, I was able to gradually build healthier habits, such as regular exercise and meditation.
The habit tracker helped me stay motivated, hold myself accountable, and celebrate my progress along the way. While I still face challenges in managing my ADHD, using a habit tracker has been a powerful tool in helping me change my life for the better.
You can download Insumo and start transforming your lide too!
Hearing Other People's Experiences with ADHD Transformed My Mindset
As someone who has struggled with ADHD, I have found it incredibly helpful to read, listen to, and watch other people's experiences with the disorder.
Hearing about the challenges they have faced, the strategies they have used, and the successes they have achieved has been incredibly validating and relieving. It has helped me understand that I am not alone in my struggles and that there are concrete steps I can take to manage my symptoms and live a fulfilling life.
Additionally, hearing about the strengths and unique perspectives that can come with ADHD has helped me shift my mindset from one of shame and inadequacy to one of self-acceptance and empowerment. Whether it's reading memoirs and self-help books, listening to podcasts, or watching videos on YouTube, exposing myself to others' experiences with ADHD has been a transformative and essential part of my journey.
Book, Podcast and Youtube Recommendations about ADHD
"Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder" by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey
"You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder" by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo
Check out Andrew Huberman's Podcast; Huberman Lab Podcast #37: ADHD & How Anyone Can Improve Their Focus
Bonus: ADHD Fox