ADHD for Christmas (or “Taylor talks about that Gift issue, maybe …”)

14 12 2010

Imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re a child with a dream. That dream is to have the fastest coolest sled ever, maybe the new XK900 or whatever. You wake up and hit the floor running. The blankets are barely settling back down on your bed when you hit the bottom of the stairs. And there, under the tree, is the brightest, shiniest, most amazingly disappointing violin you’ve ever seen.


So what did you get for Christmas?

Many great minds have weighed in on the issue of whether or not ADHD is a gift. Some talk of creativity, some of lost employment, some of passion & hyperfocus, some of missed opportunities. Gift or not, is it something you would ask for?

Two of my online acquaintances have given opinions on this and I’ve mentioned it on other sites and in other posts, but I’ve never really given my opinion. And with good reason. Most days I just don’t have one, or rather I share both sides and can’t decide.


How do you define a gift?

Days of stress are days, as you all know, when distraction and time management issues can make our lives a living hell. We try to say “Take it easy on yourself, you know why this is happening. Stress makes ADHD seem a palpable barrier to success. And you’ve got it.” But just saying that reminds us of the reasons we hate this thing.


Other days, when hyperfocus creates a flow of productivity, are like jewels. They are days to be treasured. Of course if the point of our focus is not the priority issue of our day and we let that issue go unattended, we’re back to that “living hell” thing.


The gift of clutter

As to creativity, one popular belief is that we, the ADHDers, are constantly perceiving our world as being in disarray. We can’t bring order or priority to our perceptions any better than we can to our offices. The resultant tolerance for chaos is the comfort zone we thrive in when it comes to creating. Able to dwell in chaos with a cavalier attitude towards the mess allows us to study previously unconsidered connections between seemingly incompatible things.


ADHD Deluxe V1.0

This is a luxury that people who constantly “take care of business” don’t have. I’m not suggesting they can’t be creative here, but it’s not the same creativity that we … er, enjoy? They clean up before they can see or make potential connections. Seeing these connections and acting on them is the definition of ADHD creativity.


In his book “Driven To Distraction”, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, MD. Said “This tendency to get confused or to confuse things – so often regarded as a chief bedevilment of the ADD brain – can enhance creativity most advantageously.” I like that!


But, is this enough to give ADHD the gift designation? Lets think about it as an analogy. Lets consider ADHD to be a pickup truck (remember, I’m a country boy). It can get a lot done under the right conditions, but we need to learn to drive it first, and it still needs to be fuelled, maintained, even insured, repaired and licensed. Okay, not a great analogy, but the point is that no gift is without cost. Can we learn to drive this truck? to use this potential for good, our own good? Of course we can, but we have to put in the effort.


Keep on truckin’

Another similarity between ADHD and the pickup truck is that everyone wants to use your truck when they need to move something and they rarely offer to help out with gas money. When you’ve got ADHD everyone is always happy to give you challenges of creativity, but they rarely want to take out your garbage or do your taxes or anything else you might have missed doing while you did that creative thing they all admire.


So, if you got a violin when you wanted a sled, you know your life might someday be defined by your playing, but that sled would have been a whole lot more fun. The gift of an ADHD diagnosis may never be an instrument we play with any great skill, but we can always have a kitchen party and play for ourselves, right?




2 responses

14 12 2010

Hey, Kelly.
I think you described the life of an ADHDer beautifully in this post. I certainly related to a lot of it myself. While I no longer think of ADHD as a “gift,” (I’ve suffered too much, for too long, in every area of my life to ever again see it as a “gift” of any kind), I DO try to stay focused (I use that word loosely, obviously!) on the positive. Meaning, I appreciate and try to maximize whatever benefits might be inherent in having an ADHD-wired brain. For me, that means being spontaneous, energetic, and yes, very creative on a day-to-day basis. I like to think these qualities help to cheer up not only me, but those around me, and this I find very gratifying. It makes me feel valuable in some small way, whereas in most other areas I feel like a notorious under-achiever.

Thanks for the post!
Blogger, ADHD: from A to Zoë,

14 12 2010

Zoë, your focus on the positive has paid off for those of us who benefit daily from your blog and your attitude. Thanks for that. As to feeling like an under-achiever, I’d like to tell you what it looks like from the outside of your life … at least to me. It’s like watching you compete in a race with the rest of the world, but they all have a cinder track to run on. You have the same distance to go, but you’re travelling through bush and over rocky terrain, around mountains and bodies of water. Every mile you travel would be the equivalent of of ten … no twenty miles travelled by a norman. Keep the pedal to the metal, Zoë, we may never reach the finish line, but the race is like any other journey, if you don’t remember the trip when it’s over you only got half what you could have out of it.

Taylor McM. (Kelly)

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