Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Are You Sure You Have ADHD? Revisited.

Most people who see me and are generally around me on a regular day, usually have no idea that I have ADHD (ADD). Or, for that matter, realize I am dealing with anything out of the ordinary. That is, unless they have read about me online, someone told them or read my book, I told them – stuff like that.

It hasn’t always been that way.

A few days ago I was in town and met up with a friend who I had not seen in quite a few years. We used to compete together on the same team, in a pool league, and he was someone I often talked to about my frustrations. He always had kind words and helpful advice. He’s what I would like to call an ‘every-person pick ‘em up when they are down’ kind of guy, which is to say he naturally likes everyone and looks for the best in all of us. Have you ever noticed that some people will criticize, or berate you and then try to give you supposedly helpful advice? He’s not that kind of guy – helpful, sage advice, anytime! Criticism? Not at all.

Anyway, as I was saying, I had not seen him in years, since long before I was diagnosed with ADHD. So we are talking about things, what’s new and how the pool scene as changed etc. Then I tell him about my diagnosis, therapy, book and websites – all of the details. It’s amazing how I can tell him everything without him ever once asking a question. How does he do that? Never mind that, what took me by surprise is what he said following my oration. “I know.” He said. No hint of a smile, frown or judgment whatsoever came from him, just “I know”. Honestly, if I didn’t know him as I do, he may have given me goose bumps. So naturally I start thinking someone told him or he Googled me or something… Nope.

He went on to explain that although he could not pinpoint what my conditions were exactly, he always knew there was something different about me, in the way I acted, presented myself and my general state of (erratic) behavior. Interestingly, he also told me he could sometimes sense a lack of confidence about me and when I did put-on to be confident, it came across as unnatural and distant.  It wasn’t critique, purely his observation with no good or bad attached. Although, he did laugh, and admitted that he kind of enjoyed it (my ‘put-on’) when we played league opponents, because they would become uptight and nervous, considering that I usually didn’t make too many mistakes while competing in that state of mind (I was actually hyper-focused).

As we talked more about things, he clarified that now that I have told him my situation with ADHD, therapy etc; it clearly explains things about me and the way I behaved back in the day. He told me that the confidence I have, standing (I was actually sitting) before him didn’t seem unnatural in the least, just someone secure with whom he is and what he is about. Nice! (Did he want me to pay for the drinks? There goes those non-verbal communication skills, acting up again!)

Nowadays, when someone discovers that I have ADHD and ask me “Are you sure you have ADHD?” I smile inwardly and maybe congratulate myself, just a little. Of course, I know I went through over a decade of therapy, divorce and struggled countless years with who I was and why I just couldn’t ‘get it’. And for those reasons, amongst other reasons, I do feel a sense of pride that I have come so far and it is being noticed. Even so, I also understand that most people, unless faced with ADHD in their life directly or indirectly, usually do not know what Adult ADHD looks like.

There continues to be far too many misperceptions about ADHD, especially Adult ADHD, but it is getting better. A friend of mine often points out accurately, that ADDers come in all shapes and sizes! For example, many who are not familiar with ADHD do not realize that overachieving can be a part of Adult ADHD; it is not always the other way around. That’s just an example of how some get by without being discovered, especially if their more obvious traits come across as a benefit and mask anything which is undesirable.

Like so many of us, I still have a long way to go, but if I can get here, I can get anywhere! I also believe that if I can do it, anyone can. It’s work though, let me tell you (that’s the part most people don’t see. You and I know, getting better isn’t magic, it is work, often hard and frustrating work).

Let’s hang in there!

 ~Bryan

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