ADHD, Personal Stories

The Secret Beauty of ADHD

I would like to let you into a little secret... I love my ADHD. I haven’t always loved it. Before diagnosis I found it hard to live with and could never understand why I felt so different to everyone else. But once I understood it, I completely fell in love.

Apparently, one of the biggest challenges of ADHD is that it gives us wandering minds. To me this is not a challenge. To me this is one of the most magical parts of ADHD. While most people will realise that their mind is wandering and reign it back in, my mind is off exploring. While your mind is concentrating, my mind is skipping, curiously looking through letterboxes, climbing trees and looking for new ways of seeing the world. My mind is looking up to the sky and seeing patterns which are projected into incredible future possibilities. While your mind is looking for logic, my mind is looking for the illogical, for ambiguity, for things that don’t make sense, and then feels the joy of trying to make sense of it. And while all of the colours, patterns, shapes, spare parts, broken pieces, music, words, numbers, noises and faces are washing through my mind, it is always creating, connecting, building, shaping and inventing. And when the idea appears it is a crescendo, a moment of pure unadulterated joy. In my mind, there are always surprises, new things and different endings. Who wouldn’t want to be in a mind like that?

Granted, my mind can be mischievous and, for me, keeping tabs on where my phone/purse/bag/keys/car/children are probably uses the same amount of brain energy as rocket science. It can be difficult, but have you ever had the joy of looking for something and then finding something new or something you forgot about or lost a long time ago? You really don’t know what you're missing. And this mischief can sometimes be your own personal comedy. A mind that tells you randomly that you should do things... like post your phone into a letterbox, kick your shoe into a river, tell a joke when you really shouldn’t or push your husband into a muddy puddle. The urge is strong but mischief never wins (okay, perhaps occasionally the husband is given a nudge...) Nevertheless, when these thoughts occur, me and my mind are left giggling away, silently, like a pair of naughty children.

As with anyone we love, there are things we dislike but learn to live with. My mind can catastrophise on an epic scale. Particularly when it is already overloaded. Missed more than one call from someone? They are definitely calling you to say somebody is dead. Car makes a funny noise while you are driving? It is going to blow up! Run for your life kids! Save yourselves! Your placid old dog sniffs gently at your newborn? Call Battersea Dog's Home! The dog is going to eat the baby!

And then there is the pain. The deep, crushing, searing, physical pain that arrives with sadness or anger or fear or empathy. Empathy is the worst. Seeing another person suffer or sad is like a blow to the body, a pain that rises from the stomach then crushes my chest before rising into my throat like a sob. I have had this all my life and I never knew that not everyone felt like this. But it is a pain that forces me to act, to help, to do what I can and not stand by to watch the suffering. And I’m ok with that. I will take the pain if this is what it does. As we all know - love hurts.

ADHD retains the curiosity of childhood, the perpetual joy of the new and the extremes of emotions that you feel the first time you fall in love. I’ll take the highs and the lows because without ADHD, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t have the career success I have had, be the mum, wife, daughter and friend that I am, have created so many of the things that have brought me so much joy. And if you think that ADHD means I can’t focus, you are so wrong. When I am interested in something my mind lights up, stays perfectly still, stops climbing trees and feels an insuppressible, vibrant energy that drives me to achieve things that only I can.

With ADHD, my mind will not allow itself to be bored by anyone or anything.

And I like that.

So if you think I am not focusing, before you feel sorry for me because it must be such a huge challenge, consider that perhaps it is simply because (sorry) ... you are boring me?


We are always looking for people to share their experiences or thoughts on topics related to Neurodiversity. Please get in touch if you are interested.

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About Helen May

Helen is MD of Leadership for Extraordinary Futures, runs a Community Interest Company Diverse Futures, was diagnosed with ADHD in her 40s.
  • UK