Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A gift

In 2016, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD brains have abnormally low levels of dopamine activating the frontal cortex (Flippin, n.d.) According to the NIH (n.d.), this involves

  • inattention where I would find doing persistent tasks rather difficult
  • hyperactivity where I would find it rather difficult to stop and tend to wear people out
  • impulsive where I conduct content switching multiple time per hour

However, ADHD shouldn’t be seen as a lack of attention, but having a deregulation of the attention system (Flippin, n.d.). ADHD occurs across a spectrum and I have a high functioning form of it, such that as long as a task or job description is interesting enough for me, I will be a high performer, but at this side of the spectrum and my analytical mind, it also comes with the drawback of over analysis.

So, sharing this in this post isn’t easy, but the key part of why I mention it is because of the line “… as long as a task or job description is interesting enough from me, I will be a high performer…” This is an ability under ADHD called hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is the other side of the coin of ADHD, where the person with ADHD finds something really interesting that the person will intently focus on that one item without interruption (Flippin, n.d.).  Over the past year, I have been identifying job roles and statements of works where I can be at a state of hyperfocus. So, one method to encourage self-reflection with me is having a someone to ask me focused questions to engage my thoughts.

Due to hyperfocus, I have been using to do my dissertation, and this is why Colorado Technical University (CTU) was the best choice of school for me. Hyperfocus can be channeled into productive work like focusing on a dissertation where the topic is of utmost interest to me (Flippin, n.d.). This ability has allowed me to have completed my dissertation at a record pace because hours seemed like minutes to me when I am in this headspace. At other universities, you have to do research for your dissertation under a supervisor who has grant funding under a particular area, so you don’t control all the variables in picking your topic. This is where I thrived at CTU; I was able to pick anything of interest that fell under Computer Science and data analytics, which were my other passions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy like meditation and mindfulness were two other techniques my therapist has advised me to use to lessen the symptoms of ADHD, and the NIH (n.d.) agrees. It allows me to make incremental improvements in focus, but it also gives me the second method to encourage self-reflection. During meditation, I focus on breath control, let my thoughts come in, observe them pass by, and refocus on my breath. I have been doing this for 10 minutes every day since June 2015, with about an 80% consistency rate. With all new habits, if you don’t do it 100% of the time, just dust yourself off and say, ok, I missed 1-5 days, but I will start it up again.

Meditation, mindfulness, and therapist focused questions have been effective methods to encourage self-reflection for me in the present.