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Is ADHD a Super Power or Super Problem?

One of the biggest debates about ADHD is, “Is it a gift?”. There are those who say, “It makes me so creative and enthusiastic and empathic that I wouldn’t change it for the world!” There are others who insist, “It’s a curse! I can’t keep a job; I’m on my third divorce, my fifth bankruptcy; I’m an alcoholic, and my kids hate me.”

So, is ADHD a gift or a curse?

I say, “Yes.” You see, ADHD is a paradox of incredible strengths in some situations, and monumental weaknesses in others. I love to play with words, and I discovered something very interesting:  The word “gift” is also a paradox. In English, a “gift” is something wonderful.  It’s a present, a surprise, a talent, a bonus.  Something that makes life better.  And, in some situations, that’s what ADHD is. In an emergency, we’re usually the ones with the laser-focus to spot what’s wrong, and the quicksilver  brain to almost instinctively know exactly what to do and the impulsivity to spring into action without hesitation. In the world of entertainment, having ADHD is almost a pre-requisite.  There’s an electricity in the air when we’re around. In those situations, ADHD is absolutely a wonderful “gift”. But…

In German, “gift” means “poison”, a destroyer of life.

And “poison” is exactly what ADHD will do to your life in the wrong situation. You’re stuck, anxious, miserable; you can’t think straight (or worse, your mind is running madly off in all directions, while you’re trying to do something important but deadly dull, like your taxes). You keep screwing up, and others keep telling you you’re lazy or stupid or impossible to work with, and even when (by some miracle) you actually manage to do something well, you’re convinced that it was just a fluke, and any minute, someone will figure that out and expose you for the fraud you know you are. Adults with ADHD have higher rates of obesity, Type-2 diabetes, dental problems, alcoholism, addiction, divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, sleep disorders, convictions, and even premature death (whether by illness, accident, or suicide). You’re damn right that ADHD can be a “poison”! Or, in German, a “gift”. Same word, but two completely opposite meanings.  It all depends on the situation. Just like ADHD. So, yes, I’d say that ADHD is a “gift” . But whether I’m saying that word in German or English, depends on when I say it. Patte About Patte: Guest blogger, Patte Rosebank was diagnosed with ADD 9 years ago.  She has done many things throughout her career including singing, public speaking on many topics, and of course, writing. ADHD Community

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  1. drofnas August 19, 2018 at 10:04 am

    A present or a poison?
    For almost 70 years it has been a part of my life that I recently discovered.
    Does it justify my struggles? It isn’t an excuse for the failed marriages, the job instability, or the bankruptcies. But, it puts things in perspective. And, I am not guilt-ridden for surviving this adventure. I cannot imagine it otherwise.
    I have not understood the “normal” (NT) people who live contented, stable existences and now I know why.
    I am learning to use the benefits of this condition and control (as best as possible) the downsides.
    Gift or curse? No, just a part of life and its path through the world.

  2. eashline92 September 11, 2018 at 5:05 am

    I feel like it is more like a gift. I’ve always been exceptionally intelligent and that is beside not sitting still in the classroom, talking to whoever sits next to me, watching the clock or looking out the window as I am daydreaming. If you give me a word to spell, I can spell it without any source of help. It pops up in my head as if my brain is a visual dictionary. Plus the good qualities outweigh the bad

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