Dr. Umesh Jain
is now exclusively responsible
for TotallyADD.com
and its content
Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

8 Ways My ADHD is a Gift

Did you come here seeking a gift for an adult with ADHD?  If so we recommend visiting our best ADHD books and gifts page.

Now and then someone will tell me that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a gift.  A big, fat, wonderful gift, rather than a problem, disorder, constant challenge, or, on bad days, a curse.

Why are there such opposing views about ADHD?

  • ADHD and ADD are 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 three main types of ADHD:
    • Hyperactive-impulsivefidgety, driven, impatient, mercurial restlessness. 
    • Inattentive – 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 third type of ADHD known as the Combined Subtype.
  • It’s not always a deficit of attention as the name implies. Sometimes we can be laser focused or we can hyperfocus.  Try getting a kid who has ADHD to stop playing their favorite game. Or interrupt an adult who’s ‘in the zone.’ Hyperfixation in action.

I’ve written and performed in hundreds of television, and radio shows and on stage. I run an ADHD website full of videos, blogs, tools, and more. I speak to large audiences about ADHD and lead workshops. 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 with ADHD in our videos will tell you that their ADHD can be life-sucking, frustrating, and 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, 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 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…

8 Ways My ADHD is a Gift


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.


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.


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, work, 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.  

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, cafes, chocolate companies, and energy drink bottlers.  Baristas owe us a big thanks.  (Sorry for our rudeness in person.  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.)


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 freaking 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.


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 rates 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, 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 to name just a few.

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.)


Rick Green

ADHD Video


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  1. karenlewsader December 18, 2016 at 12:34 am

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

  2. ladygogo December 18, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    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.

  3. ronayotte December 18, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    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.

  4. SquattersInMyHead December 18, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    ‘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”.

    • waterproof February 11, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      hahahah! Can I come too? I’d LOVE to exchange mine!

  5. drewfus64au December 20, 2016 at 6:19 am

    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)

  6. olsonpb June 3, 2018 at 3:48 am

    It ten to one, in the morning, that is, and I’m reading this. I’m glad your writing and helping, it has helped me. Though it’s still an issue and currently a major struggle.
    The more I take on, in some ways, the more I just find myself doing less and less, but am still fighting to hang on, at the same time, while other people have decided, I’m not good enough to be good enough, and not bad enough to need help. I guess I just need to try harder to be someone else, to justify myself. I’ve managed all the right (supposedly) productive socially acceptable self medication techniques like Coke, Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew, running, hiking, candy, snickers, ice cream, giant chocolate shakes, working hard,, meeting others needs, exceeding others wants, not recognizing or accepting my wants, or needs for that matter, or maybe it’s that since I might have stopped believing I can meet my needs, maybe I’ll just believe they never existed. In the last 8 + years or so medication has helped, (mostly replacing the benefits of the activity level age is now restricting) but I still am struggling just to feel accepted, knowing in some ways I am, but not knowing what that’s actually like or how it feels, or should feel.
    Is feeling all by myself the way it’s supposed to feel. It seems slightly different than being alone. Maybe that’s good enough. I’ll try harder tomorrow, you’ll see.
    By the way, for me trying harder is a hope, maybe a dream, but in this era someone might suggest it’s a threat, hopefully I don’t start hearing “let’s ban people with ADHD, from this or that, even if it doesn’t really exist”. Did I choose my words wrong? Oh it’s 1:32 am now, I’ll use that as an excuse, if the above doesn’t make sense. “Everyone knows how ADHD people are, they always blame someone else” (even when they don’t?) A ranting off to bed I go. I hope I get some sleep.

    • kellyp June 3, 2018 at 7:03 am

      I think this is how many of us feel. Rant = Truth.

  7. taurafoxwalker June 3, 2018 at 10:22 am

    YES. Yes.
    Diagnosis + Research + Lifes Changes = Life is GOOD.

  8. danodea June 3, 2018 at 11:09 am

    I’ve been able to use it to my advantage in some situations. I can code quickly and efficiently, and I can follow multiple conversations at once.
    But it has its problems too, and you all know that. So if it’s a gift it’s something like the three-year-contract membership in an exclusive club you don’t want to be in and the giver tells you they paid for only the first year. “You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.”

  9. dwc035 November 17, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Yes, and yes again. It’s very difficult to explain to someone how ADHD can be major problem in your life, especially when the symptoms, on the surface, appear to be ‘simple things that everyone deals with.’ (eg. Someone once told me that the way to stop forgetting my house keys is simply to take them with me when I leave the house. Yikes – not helpful on several levels.)
    On the other hand, ADHD (and my current life situation) has left me struggling with depression, soooo I don’t want to oversimplify it as simply “a curse” – that leaves me with no way to react. ADHD is how my brain works, and contributes (sometimes too much) to who I’ve become. Would my life be simpler (and more productive) if I didn’t have this “gift?” Sure it would!
    But would I be as creative ? Be as interested in so many thing? Be as able to think outside the box and notice details that others seem to miss? Would I have gone skydiving, scuba diving with sharks, mountain climbing and white water canoeing? Would I react as well in an emergency? Well – I don’t really know. Perhaps, or not.
    But I wouldn’t be the person I am.
    So despite enjoying the rant, l can’t simply look at it as a curse. I need to improve my “self love” if I’m ever going to succeed at “self improvement”. And sometimes it is a gift when it helps me do something others struggle with.
    In the end, its just how my particular brain works, who I am. And knowing that helps me leverage “the gift” and mitigate “the curse”. (…well, someday it will. I hope!?)

  10. peterhjemdahl November 18, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Hi Rick, and thank’s for an insightful and fun blog post.
    However, you are missing facts / research on Adhd/Add and driving.
    Sweden has been in the forefront of research on driving and adhd/add and there are several studies published. The new guidelines now in place for all of the EU are largely based on the swedish research.
    Please update yourself and your readers! by reading the research I link to (not spam!)
    Study from the Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (original in Swedish) : https://www.vti.se/sv/Publikationer/Publikation/effects-of-adhd-on-driver-attention-and-speed-eval_1204498
    please also read this metastudy:
    Vaa T. ADHD and relative risk of accidents in road traffic: a metaanalysis. Accident; Analysis And Prevention. 2014; 62:415-25
    Kind regards,
    Peter Hjemdahl
    Freelance Writer with a focus on Adhd/Add for young adults

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