I Have ADHD. Here’s What A Week In My Life Is Like.

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Classic textbook ADHD is seeking stimulation because the brain doesn’t generate enough dopamine, and the brain needs dopamine to stay focused and engaged. And so you do things to get dopamine, whether those are high-risk behaviors or exercising a ton or flying from thing to thing to stay stimulated.

So I’m an adrenaline junky, which is common for people with ADHD. I struggle with over-commitment, and I tend to create almost my own nightmare with too many deadlines. I also wait until the last minute to get something done, because the fear that I won’t finish creates adrenaline and that allows me to focus. 

ADHD medication helps. But you also develop these systems or methods that allow you to get things done. I developed a lot of them when I was younger.  I call them my whacky ways to learn. I get on a treadmill and I listen to 80s music like the Rocky theme, and I run to flood the brain with dopamine. That gets me pumped up, and then I can go write the article I need to write or whatever. It’s like I have to manufacture focus. There was a study at UPenn recently that showed ADHD people wait to be in the perfect mood to do something. And when you’re in that perfect mood, you can get a lot done. I try to manufacture that mood. 

MORE: Ask Dr. Gupta: Can You Develop ADHD After 50?

When I have a bad week, the biggest thing for me is having a hard time managing the bombardment of life. I have a hard time being even and calm about things. That week I didn’t have my medication, I couldn’t sleep well. I was getting up at quarter of five every day, just because I was anxious about getting things done. My attention was always split. I was always aware of other things in the background. I could feel emails or texts coming in, and I was trying to do something else. And I can’t shift from texts to going back to writing. I have to focus on one thing or I get overwhelmed and I just shut…

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