(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Why Having ADHD is a Blessing from God
ADHD has a horrible reputation: it’s considered an undesirable flaw. Those who have it are often called unintelligent, distracted, lazy, overly sensitive, or too enthusiastic.
For the longest time, I didn’t even know I had ADHD. Since I was a star student (well, except in math), nobody considered the idea that I had a learning disability. However, looking back, I realized math was extremely hard for me––specifically algebra. Math homework always took at least an hour, if not two, each day in high school. I recall knowing the steps for each problem, yet getting a wrong answer simply because I skipped a step or mixed the numbers around. Theoretically, I knew everything my teacher taught, yet my mind couldn’t keep things straight.
I only received my diagnosis during my last semester of undergrad at Biola in fall 2017––when I was 21 years old. That’s actually fairly common for most women with ADHD, according to ADDitude Magazine. After that, everything became so clear: I finally knew why I always lost things, why I sometimes forgot what my manager asked me to do at work, why I had trouble paying attention to long lectures, why I always feel like I need to do something, why I always leave my ID card on my desk and get locked out of my building.
However, receiving my diagnosis also brought shame. Suddenly, I was damaged. I had something wrong with me that I couldn’t fix. And, as a perfectionist, that bothered me; knowing my diagnosis helped me realize I can never become perfect because I will always make some mistake.
Now, I’ve discovered management strategies that can help me avoid mistakes. However, I have accepted the fact that mistakes will still happen, even when I’m trying my hardest to avoid them, due to the nature of the condition. Others may call me lazy or careless, but I know trying my best is all that matters because I can’t make everyone understand life from my perspective.
Since my diagnosis, I have drifted back-and-forth between appreciating and abhorring ADHD because it often reaps destruction that we don’t intentionally bring upon ourselves or others. I’ve worked with angry bosses who don’t understand that I often remember parts of something, but not the whole. For instance, I’ll remember how to do a chore, but I won’t fully complete it because I forgot how much of something I was supposed to clean, or how often I was supposed to do something. Asking about it doesn’t even cross my mind because, in my mind, I am confident that I’m doing the right thing.
Second, people with ADHD have what’s called rejection sensitive dysphoria, meaning we are highly sensitive persons that take things very personally. Even a simple “I’m disappointed in you,” or someone giving us too much criticism at once is devastating. After that, we’ll often avoid those people, or we’ll completely shut down and hole up. Third, we’re inattentive at times. We can read five chapters of a book and not remember a single thing if it’s too technical, so we have to take extremely detailed notes. Fourth, we constantly lose or misplace things. I can’t count the number of times I’ve lost my debit card.
All these negative things have wrecked my self-esteem since I was a high schooler, but over the last year, I started seeing the beauty in my whacked mind. I can focus intensely on work for classes I love, and I even wrote my first book, God’s Grace Through Gastritis, GERD and Grit, in only three months. My inattentive mind also helps me succeed in detail work and bounce back-and-forth between orders at the café I work at. My emotional hypersensitivity has helped me dig deeper in relationships, empathize with my friends who are hurting, and become a great pastoral counselor. Lastly, my spacey mind has made me a free spirit who loves adventuring and noticing random things while I’m talking with friends: ”Did you see the puppy over there?! Oh, I promise I’m paying attention. I just saw a dog.”
I’m grateful God blessed me with this condition, as much of a problem it becomes at times, because it has made me who I am––honestly, I don’t think I’d be the same person without it. Having ADHD has taught me how to troubleshoot, endure suffering, process emotions, empathize with others, pursue excellence, and persevere when life gets tough. Other people who don’t understand place labels on me––and it’s hard to forget those words I’ve internalized––but I’m trying to see the positives that manifest in my personality.