A few weeks ago I woke up and decided not to take Adderall for the day. As someone who is severely attention deficit and has been taking Adderall for 7 years, I skip my morning dose once in a while just to see what it feels like. Note: I also skip my dose when I have a lot of free time to do whatever I want.
To recap, ADHD is a genetic disorder that causes a chemical imbalance of dopamine neurotransmitters in your brain, making it very difficult to control your impulses and causing your mind to wander at a million miles a second.
While I was attempting to clean out my closet, I discovered an old sweater with an elephant on it. Due to my lack of Adderall, I somehow ended up on my computer researching programs on how to save baby elephants in Thailand.
After hours of reading about ways to get myself to Thailand, amongst a million other pointless activities, I completely forgot what I had intended to get done. After a further waste of time, I finally finished cleaning out my closet.
But Dr. John McManus, a marine bio professor here at the University of Miami, has suffered from ADHD his entire life and told me how he uses it to his utmost advantage. Something I had never heard anyone say before.
He calls himself a “generalist,” as opposed to a specialist in one specific field. He says his “focus is constantly rotating from thing to thing,” so he is able to see things and make connections that people who don’t have ADHD cannot.
McManus is currently working on solving one of the biggest geo-political issues facing the world today involving the South China Sea. (He requested that I keep the specifics of the issue classified until his research is published.)
“I probably wouldn’t be the best expert on the issue if I didn’t have ADHD, because I have to know about all different things, so I can start to make sense of what’s going on,” he said.
Dr. McManus further explained to me how this diverse global issue overlaps into so many different facets of science and politics. He said that due to his ADHD he’s able to “fill the gaps” between each aspect of this one huge issue and make more progress on this problem than any one scientist or politician was ever able to do.
For the majority of my life I have struggled with trying to deal with ADHD. I’ve tried several methods including medicine, therapy and different coping mechanisms. But throughout all of this, not one person has ever told me that ADHD is something I could potentially benefit from.
Some of the most successful scientists, athletes and entertainers suffer from ADHD – including Michael Phelps, Justin Timberlake and Albert Einstein, just to name a few.
I’ve never taken a step back to notice that the million random thoughts constantly running through my head could open me up to so many more possibilities than someone without ADHD. Now, I’m starting to realize what aspects of my life can benefit from my ADHD and the parts that really challenge me to hone in on thing at a time. It’s really difficult trying to find the balance between my sporadic mind and complete tunnel vision.
Even though living with ADHD is a constant battle with my head, I would never want to relinquish any aspect of my creativity (or insane spastic impulsivity) for anything.
Photo courtesy of the spiritscience.net