Micael Widell


/ psychology

So over the last couple of days I have stumbled upon two videos that have gotten me thinking if I might have ADD or ADHD. I have learned about these two diagnoses, and my eyes have opened to what they are. I wanted to tell you guys a little bit about it.

The first video I stumbled upon was Swedish (ex?) pro-skier Jon Olsson who spent a vlog talking about his ADHD. Before seeing this, I've always been thinking that ADD/ADHD is just about being hyperactive – the people who cannot sit still or concentrate. So I've never considered that I could possibly be diagnosed with it.

But when Jon starts to explain how he is, I was like "this is me!" Getting overly obsessed about things – check! I even have one of the same obsessions as Jon; camera lenses. In the past few months I've probably spent 100-200 hours just researching camera lenses so that I can put together the absolutely optimal lens bag that I can afford. He also talks about being caught in deep thought loops, and the tendency to talk excessively when in social situations such as a dinner. It's like your mouth acts as a vent to let some of all these obsessive thoughts out. I also become easily distracted, and I am very sensitive to disturbing sounds. So I was like, "do I also have ADHD?"

Then I went on Wikipedia to read about ADD and ADHD, and saw that even if I have some of the symptoms, I definitely lack most of them. I'm extremely detail oriented. I never ever had problems sitting still. More the other way around. I don't have trouble keeping or remembering appointments. So after reading that I dismissed the possibility of me of having ADD/ADHD.

Then this morning when I was going through my Pocket reading list, I found this excellent 31 minute lecture by Greg Baugues which I don't remember why I put there. He explains how it is to live not only with ADHD but with bipolar disorder. He also explains why many people with these diagnoses are drawn towards entrepreneurship and software development. He mentioned some common traits such as hyperfocus, in which you can focus extremely intensely on a task and become completely immersed for 12 hours or more. Hense my earlier use of the word obsession. He also mentions racing thoughts, pressured speech, social isolation, irregular sleep patterns and thoughts of grandiosity. All of these things I've encountered during my life, especially in my twenties. And I guess this is also why I've felt so at home in software development and entrepreneurship.

But I don't think I would qualify for a diagnose with ADD or ADHD. There are too many traits I do not have. I did a quick online test and it came out negative. What I think we must realize, first of all, is that ADD/ADHD are not really diseases. They are just a different pattern in which the brain works. You could say that earlier during evolution, the ADD/ADHD people were probably the ones who were hunters and explorers. They are very sensitive to sound, they are always on the search for novelty. They quickly get bored if having to stay in the same place for too long. And they tend to be extremely "lazy" and procrastinate a lot, but they perform flawlessly and in a focused manner under pressure. All of these are traits that too me sounds like the perfect hunter.

Second of all, we have to realize that traits such as the ones summarized in the diagnose of ADD or ADHD, are not a binary thing. Like so many other psychological diagnoses, each of us is somewhere on a spectrum. I think I am farther in on the ADD/ADHD spectrum than most people, but not far enough in to qualify for a the diagnose. I don't tick enough of the boxes.

Anyways, I wrote this because I think many people lack the complete picture of what ADD and ADHD actually is. Too many of us have only heard about the negative aspects. If you suspect that you might have it, watch the two videos mentioned in this blog post, the Jon one and the Greg one, and go from there. There are medications that both of these guys say help. I would also try regular physical exercise, which I think is a great overall mood improver and stabilizer of the psyche. I started running and working out regularly a couple of years ago and I think it is a major contributor to my current happiness and mental stability.

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