October is ADHD Awareness Month and there is a lot of information floating around online about the challenging aspects of ADHD. While it’s vital to consider the entire picture of what it means to be neurodivergent, it can also increase anxiety and stress to focus on the more troublesome aspects of ADHD.
If you’re on the discovery path, check out our other blogs that highlight various ADHD challenges and steps you can take to set yourself up for success, including coaching and therapy.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the onslaught of information and overlook the positive traits of being wired differently, but they are worth exploring. Bolstering your mental health toolkit with some affirmative ideas can support you on your path to flourishing.
While some practitioners and well-known researchers like to call ADHD a superpower, the reality is much more subtle.
Read on to learn more about the upsides of ADHD.
Courage and Resilience
During a recent presentation at the CADDRA conference, Dora Wynchank, a renowned psychiatrist from the Netherlands gave an excellent overview of the strengths that ADHD’ers possess. She was quick to point out that even though people with ADHD, especially women, struggle with intimacy and relationships, they are also known for deep empathy and creativity.
Other highlights from her talk include the high levels of courage that people with ADHD develop in order to survive in a world not designed for uniqueness. People with ADHD need to exert much more effort than their peers to complete basic tasks so they develop an ability to step into daunting situations and live most of their time far outside their comfort zone.
Dr. Wynchank also spoke about resilience; getting negative feedback throughout life can lead to diminished self-esteem, but ADHD’ers are often tenacious and creative in solutions seeking. For every negative piece of feedback or career setback, ADHD’ers have dozens of stories of getting back in the game after disappointments.
Cognitive dynamism is a term that refers to a way of thinking that is fluid and rapid. ADHD’ers often speak about their brains as being on fire, or constantly thinking. Viewing the world through a dynamic perspective and living with a more limber and curious brain can be a source of innovation and immense creativity.
Originality and adventure
Non-conformist ADHD’ers don’t find the status quo appealing and this energy is exactly what the world needs to find solutions to social issues. Some of the thorniest challenges throughout history were solved by folks that functioned outside the norm.
ADHD’ers are adventurous: Always up for travelling or seeing the world, it’s an excellent quality to possess and can lead to exhilarating experiences. Even a trip to the market can take on a special quality in the company of an adventurous person with ADHD. Exploring aisle 7 on a quest for puréed pumpkin? Let’s go for it!
Creative: Outside the box thinking. Or put another way: what box? People with ADHD flourish when their creativity is recognized and celebrated. Dr. Wynchank wisely advised anyone working with ADHD folks to applaud all forward progress. Creativity needs nurturing and encouragement to thrive. If you haven’t yet, consider starting a journal with some of your juiciest ideas and let your mind wander in possibility.
Empathy: being neurodivergent means having the capacity to understand the suffering of others and with the rise of social isolation in the last few years, being someone that can relate to the pain and joy of others is an excellent quality to nurture.
The path of ADHD discovery can be intense and filled with grief and confusion. But that doesn’t need to be the whole story. If you’re early in the process, reflecting on your assets and finding community that shares your challenges and triumphs will support you in flourishing on your terms.
If you’re curious about getting assessed for ADHD, visit our private assessments page.
Robbie McDonald was diagnosed with ADHD in mid-life and writes about mental health from her home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.