A Daydream Café
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A Daydream Café

Where does ADHD end and I begin?

Unwrapping the identity of ADHD

What’s tricky with being diagnosed as an adult with ADHD is that it explains so much about who you are, almost too much.

The diagnosis can be an epiphany that suddenly crystallizes your own life, particularly when finding other adult women with ADHD and their story is so similar to your own that it’s like you are made from the same cloth (and you almost never find anyone in real life who gets you).

  • Tomboy/difficulty keeping up and fitting in with other women? Check.
  • Continuously finding and trying new ways to keep a schedule? Check.
  • Being super inspired to find and try new habits and this time surely it will stick? Check.
  • Really good at art/acting/writing/design/seeing connections between random things? Check.
  • Wanting to be a morning person but always a night owl? Check.
  • Wanting to be an explorer, a director, an ice skater, a traveler, but none of these things? Check.
  • “Learning how to balance” is your continual life lesson? Check.

This epiphany happened to me. My life of circles and loops and dreams came into sharp focus with “Oh, there might be a reason for this”. And it’s a wonderful feeling to be understood, and yet at the same time confusing. Because so many pieces about who I am and what I believe about myself, particularly around my struggles but also around the things I like, can be placed in the category of ADHD.

If you swim into the internet communities of ADHD, particularly on reddit, it can be truly lovely. Stories that sound so much like you that you can’t click enough of them fast enough, people imperfectly-perfectly brave who share their struggles and excitement and frustration.

There’s also some very strong voices out there, for good reason, who hold fast to ADHD as a disorder, not a gift or a personality. They are very sick of people and memes telling them it is a gift after having spent a lifetime struggling. And they raise the fair point that the more folks who push against ADHD being a disorder, the less likely others can get medication and feel validated, particularly if “everyone zones out from time to time.”

With that being said, I struggle from time to time with ADHD being placed into the box of disorder, because that places most of me into the box of disorder. And if nearly every super creative person I meet could be placed into this box (do you know of any daydreamy person who isn’t a night owl and disorganized?), couldn’t it just be nature spitting out a different sort of person? It’s just that in this particular society we are struggling.

There are other times I go back on this and believe it truly is a disorder, like the days I feel like I’m beneath water and doing the smallest of things is like swimming to the surface. On those days I’m reminded of all the other times I let something slip through, I forgot something, of how I feel so behind.

I look back at my childhood of sitting in the snow daydreaming, sitting in strawberry fields daydreaming, taking hours-long showers daydreaming — with a mixture of stubbornness and understanding. I’d rather not myself defined by something I had no control of. But I also understand that maybe there was something wrong, off. And it wasn’t my upbringing or my parents or my culture that made me turn out the way I did, but rather my brain. It’s an odd feeling.

Some things to dream about until the next time.



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