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8 Ways My ADHD is a Gift

By Rick Green

Now and then someone will tell me that Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a gift. A big, fat, wonderful, exciting gift.

Rather than a problem, disorder, constant challenge, or, on bad days, a curse.

Why such opposing views?

One reason is that ADHD is very ‘individual.’ Each of us has our own combination of challenges, and to varying degrees. Plus, we have a unique life situation. My ADHD is awesome when I’m doing comedy on stage. It is a big problem when I’m forced to sit quietly, and pay attention during a long meeting.

Add to all of this the fact that there are two main types of ADHD. Some folks don’t have the Hyperactivity—that impulsive, fidgety, driven, impatient, mercurial restlessness. Instead, many women and some men are quiet day-dreamers, often lost in thought. My grandmother would have said, “A dough head.” No, Nana, it’s the Predominantly Inattentive Subtype of ADHD. Me, I have the Combined Subtype.


It’s not a deficit of attention. Not always.

Sometimes we can be laser focused. Try getting a kid who has ADHD to stop playing with their X-Box. Or interrupt an adult who’s ‘in the zone.’

I’ve written and performed in over 700 episodes of television, and radio comedy, from The Red Green Show, to The Frantics, to History Bites. I run an ADHD website full of videos, blogs, tools, and more. Clearly, I can pay attention. In fact, like many folks with ADHD, I can hyperfocus. Just not always when I want to, or on what I should be paying attention to. You should see our basement, garage, and spare bedroom… A million things started and not finished.


No wonder there’s confusion about whether ADHD is a burden or a gift.

Almost every adult in our videos will tell you that their ADHD can be a life-sucking, frustrating, confusing. Yes, many are learning to manage it, often quite successfully, but they don’t love it.

They are VERY relieved they finally know what’s going on. Every person will tell you that getting a diagnosis is life-changing.


Other people, often well-meaning and loving parents, declare that ADHD is a gift.


“Here’s a wonderful gift that will cost you years of your life, countless opportunities, friendships, relationships, money… I didn’t have time to wrap it.”

At first I thought, “What nonsense.”

Some people actually envied me! (You can envy things I’ve done. Don’t envy this life-sucking saboteur!)

Now, after 15 years of hearing this disorder is in fact some kind of blessing, I give up.

Fine! Yes! You’re right! It’s a big honking gift!

I’ll go further if you want. ADHD is a hugely profitable gift, that keeps paying off, but NOT for me, or the millions of people who actually have it. It’s the gift that keeps on giving…to everyone else.

My ADHD is a gift for other people. Allow me to point out who they are…


When you have problems with focus, attention, distraction, and overwhelm, as numerous studies have confirmed people with ADHD do, you have more car accidents. One study found that adults with untreated ADHD means they are 7 times more likely to be at fault for multiple car accidents. Seven times the rate! That’s 600% higher than ‘regular’ folks. (As in non-ADHD.)

How is this a gift? Actually, the question is, who benefits? Well, who profits?

If you are an auto mechanic, truck driver, insurance adjuster, traffic cop, ambulance driver, E.R. doctor, or auto recycler, then you will have steady work thanks to those who have untreated ADHD.

Friday Funny


When your mind is flitting like a butterfly, you tend to be a poor listener. Plus, a poor working memory means we forget appointments, anniversaries, promises, and everything from taking out the garbage to saving money for retirement.

It is so easy for our loved ones to conclude that we don’t care. And it’s no fun for them to always have to be ‘the responsible one.’

Many of us also have trouble managing frustration. Sudden outbursts of anger, that quickly pass, but leave everyone else shaken, are common. This is different from ‘Anger Management.’ Arguing, drama, and conflict can wake up our brain and make us feel better. But leave everyone around us exhausted.

So, if you’re a divorce lawyer, a family law-specialist, a marriage counselor, judge, a baliff, or accountant, we’re sending a lot of billable hours your way.

Depending on which study you read, we’re 2 to 4 times more likely to divorce.


Ever thought about having children? We can help.

One of the key traits of adult ADHD is Impulsivity. We tend to blurt things out. Things like, “Do you want to have sex?” And sometimes the other person does.

Being impulsive, we’re not always good at long-term planning…resulting in unplanned pregnancies. Which we’re not prepared to handle. Parenting is a commitment. It requires routines. Structure. Stability. Not our forte.

So, if you work at, or seek help from an adoption agency, you may end up with one of our offspring. (ADHD is highly inheritable. It’s strongly genetic. So while only about 4 to 5% of adults have ADHD, each of our kids has a 30 to 40% chance of having it. So that’s why the kid you adopt may be a handful.)

Try and remember what a gift their ADHD is when that child asks you why they never get invited to birthday parties.

Friday Funny


If 4 to 5% of adults qualify as having ADHD, then you’d assume that at any large gathering, about 1 in 25 people would have this. And yet, one of the earliest studies on the subject found that about 1 in 3 people at an Alcoholics Anonymous gathering showed the symptoms of ADHD. That’s about seven times what you’d expect.

So, if you own a tavern, a brewery, a winery, a distillery, a store that sells spirits, an alcohol addiction program, or a liver-transplant clinic, you are going to be able to afford that winter vacation thanks to the extra sales from us.

It’s our gift! A reward! Our contribution!

In fact, if you counsel people who are Shop-a-holics, Sex Addicts, or have substance abuse problems, we make up a disproportionately large slice of your clients. Why? People with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD find ways to wake up their brain. It’s called Self-Medicating. For me it used to be caffeine and adrenaline.

The point is, it’s a gift!


ADHD seems to result from low levels of certain neurotransmitters, the chemicals required to carry messages around your brain. One way to increase the level of these messengers is to stimulate the brain… with a stimulant.

You’re thinking, “Ritalin?!” I was thinking caffeine and nicotine.

If someone you know drinks 8 coffees, teas, or as I did, cans of cola, every day, and then fills in the gaps with chocolate and energy drinks, send them to our online ADHD quiz. Or refer them to our 5 part series on ADHD Medications – video 3 looks at self-medicating.

The point is that human being always find a way to get the brain chemicals they need to feel good, even if it’s destructive to the rest of their body.

Which is fabulous news for you coffee companies, coffee shops, chocolate companies, and energy drink bottlers. Baristas owe us a big thanks. (Sorry for our rudeness. We’re often impatient, hate line-ups, and want our coffee now! Plus, one study found we make between $8,000 to $14,000 less in annual income compared to our non-ADHD peers, and struggle with finances and paperwork, so we may not tip. Which kind of lessens the impact of the gift of our ADHD, I know. Please forgive us.)

Friday Funny


Are you a police officer? Penitentiary guard? Parole officer? Courtroom official? Bail supervisor? Judge? Crime reporter?

Again, the numbers are in debate, but studies suggest that between 25 and to 35% of the prison population has undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. (BTW, before you panic and assume ADHD automatically dooms your child to incarceration, the prison population usually has other challenges, like Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, or an inability to run faster than a police officer.)

The point is that you’d expect the rate in prison to be the same as in the general population, which is 4 to 5% of adults. So, people suffering from untreated ADHD are doing their bit to keep the justice system economically viable.

You’re welcome! It’s our gift to you! With a big friggin’ bow on it.


I mentioned Alcoholics Anonymous…Then there’s Gambler’s Anonymous. We love risk!

When you’re short of certain neurotransmitters, in this case Dopamine and Norepinephrine, you find ways to wake up your brain. With adrenaline.

So it’s not just compulsive drinking, drugs, or cannabis… There’s gambling!

Good news for anyone working in Vegas, but especially casino employees, card dealers, and eventually, pawn-shop owners, bill collectors, repo companies, and divorce lawyers. That was gift number 2 – the divorce lawyers were also benefiting from our ADHD in Gift Number 2.

Friday Funny


It’s never easy to get into the best colleges or universities.

People with ADHD can also suffer far higher rates of learning disorders, (ADHD is a difficulty managing information) adding to the challenge.

Plus, we’re easily distracted, and have a poor working memory. So we tend to be woefully underachieving in school, unless we’re lucky enough to have a teacher who recognizes what’s going on. (In that case, there’s a ton of great accommodations that can level the playing field.)

Otherwise, we are far more likely to be expelled, repeat a grade, or drop out. If we make it to college we really struggle to manage coursework, or simply get to early morning classes. (Getting good sleep is an almost universal hurdle with ADHD.)

The result of all this? We’re more likely to never finish our degree. (More teacher time for you Non-ADHD students.)

We’re more likely to settle for a degree that’s beneath our true abilities. (As I did.)

And then there’s our higher rate of substance abuse… Cannabis actually doesn’t improve memory, despite what millions claim. It may make you feel calmer, and yes, people swear they can focus better, but… I’m not going to get into that debate again.

The point is, our failure rate at institutions of higher learning means there’s a lot more spaces for other students to get into college. Lucky them!


It turns out ADHD is surprisingly treatable. Which is good for those of us who have it, and bad news for everyone who doesn’t.

With a holistic, or multi-modal approach, the turnaround can be incredible. One study said the core symptoms can be reduced by 75%! There are more and more tools, strategies, apps, and medication options. Hundreds of studies are proving the effectiveness of mindfulness, exercise, coaching and life-style changes.

Many famous and successful people have ADHD. More and more of them are, as one doctor put it, ‘coming out of the ADHD closet,’ Kudos to reporter Lisa Ling, actress Zooey Deschanel, and Adam Levine of Maroon 5.

I have to tell you, just getting diagnosed, knowing what’s going on, getting solid information from reliable sources, makes all the difference in the world. Plus it leads to you interesting, ADHD-Friendly strategies to help master this quirky, funky mindset.

Simply knowing what’s going on changes everything. That’s bad news for addiction counselors, divorce lawyers, and ambulance drivers. (So sorry!)

And it’s good news for those of us who have this ‘gift.’ And, of course, for our loved ones who are supporting us.

(Apologies if I got a little ‘dark.’ But if you have ADHD, I think you’ll understand.)

Friday Funny


December 14, 2016 Rick

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7 Responses to “8 Ways My ADHD is a Gift”

  1. latebloomer54 says:

    I can only say, this gift (ADD) in which I was diagnosed back in 2000 was a real shock. It took me a long time to understand myself and the effects on relationships. This didn’t help when your parents were teenagers themselves…I was low in maturity in relationships. I needed someone who knew way more than me.
    The diagnosis did provide an explanation which answered much for me. I remember struggling to study in High School and managing only “C” grades while most of my friends had B’s and A’s. Somehow, later I graduated college after spending a few years in the military which I believe helped in some aspects of ADD. The Army phrase of “hurry and wait” was a real drag for me and I usually found other things to do to keep busy. As I was growing up as a child, this wasn’t said, you could be labeled as “lazy” if not doing your homework but no medicine so you trudged along and try to outlast it. Not a good way to deal with ADD.
    Another gift to talk about is the relationships I was involved in, I am divorced and more than likely a second time. I was lucky in the first marriage because she was an RN and saw my symptoms daily and I was a classic example. That’s how I was first tested, in fact, I was tested a second time as a result of my doing. The Doctor administered the tests and a week later he read me the results, I was the fastest he has ever tested on the computer, my badge of honor. I was the highest score too! But my excitement was short-lived, I was prescribed Focalin XR 10 MG and it has worked as a charm for the past 10 years. The real work begun, relearning my routine and trying to improve relationships, especially with my sons. To fast forward (no pun) I changed, no longer short on patience and my two sons who spoke to me noticed and admit I am much easier to talk to than their mother. As a result of the gift, I have one son whom I haven’t spoken to in over seven years.
    Look, I take responsibility for my challenges in life and the decisions I made, I have the love and support of my two sons and my significant other. I am fortunate than most. I have not nor ever plan to use ADD as an excuse but as a footnote in life, that I did much to overcome it and not let something such as ADD control my life. I guess it is a gift, I am a changed and better man. Thank you.

  2. halliexxxx says:

    When I was in junior high school I was more of the quiet dreamer type, I always did well in school because I would be reading the textbook instead of listening to the teacher so even though I wasn’t paying attention to the teacher I would still excel. Also my high IQ of 135 made school so easy I hardly had to pay attention. I also wasn’t very social then so these social relationships weren’t there to distracted me. Half way through high school I started getting the hyper activity, which really sucks because it’s harder to go on reading tangents because I have to get up and walk around. When I was a kid I would day dream and focus possibly on the wrong task but at least I could focus on something somedays I’d read an entire book in one sitting. But now my mind is going like a hundred miles an hour I lose my keys, my phone, my husband gets mad at me sometimes because I move from one task to another with out finishing anything.

  3. drewfus64au says:

    I can so relate to all of this! I’ve just been recently diagnosed at the age of 52 y.o. and long last can stop looking for what I believe was missing in my life. Starting on my medication and finding a different, focused and excitable me. I then lost my medication script ( a trait I suppose of ADD!) and WOW what a decline I went into. I’ve just registered with this website and look forward to discovering more about myself! (Hopefully not getting to self indulgent)

  4. SquattersInMyHead says:

    ‘GIFT’! Then I’m going to have a White Elephant Gift exchange party with all the people I know who are missing out on this “GIFT”.

  5. ronayotte says:

    Growing up, and as an adult, my ADD distracted me, but got me interested in so many different subjects.As soon as I figured out a subject, but not necessarily proficient, I lost interest. After Army training and many different schools, I became an engineer. Sort of a jack-of-all trades, master of none. My diversity is pretty much in demand, and my recent diagnosis has enabled me to be able to focus on my job (finally). Varying interests has been a great benefit of ADD.

  6. ladygogo says:

    So good. So true! I dind’t know about how bad it was or could be, but I know most of the time for me it’s not a gift. I like myself more and more but often it’s because of how I’ve managed my ADD.

  7. karenlewsader says:

    Ty, for this!!! How in the WORLD can a disorder freakn be a “gift” for the person suffering from it???

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