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  • Writer's pictureCoach Elizabeth Brink

It's Not You, It's Your ADHD

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

It's not your personality; it’s your ADHD.

Not to say there are no unsavory parts of you, but I hear brilliant ADHD folks struggle to attribute their challenges to their neurobiology.⁠

I got my initial ADD diagnosis in the late 1980s when I was a kid, my mother felt I was too bright to get C’s in fourth grade.

School picture of early elementary school picture of Elizabeth wearing white turtleneck with hearts on it and a white bow in hair
Even with a childhood diagnosis, I received so many negative messages about my intellect that I truly didn’t believe I was very smart.

That changed through therapy and, eventually, doing well in college.

The messages of what good, right, and success looked like ravaged my early adulthood.

I struggled to keep up with my peers but regularly received praise for my “out of the box” problem solving and ideas.

Growing up with adults who needed to put a high value on box mixes meant a lot of negative academic and professional feedback.

What I didn’t realize was how traumatic those experiences were for this sensitive girl. My brain was labeled disordered and my ways unconventional, but I solved really hard problems with little effort.

⁠It’s hard to identify your ADHD if you don’t know much about how it presents in you. There are no two identical humans, so no samesie ADHDers.

That means not all the info you’re consuming applies to you, which is confusing.

One of my clients has no problems keeping her house ordered and deep cleaned, another can’t see the floor in several rooms. Another client is 10 minutes late for every single thing, no matter how early she starts her routine, another calls herself “chronically early.”

As you journey through the amazing ADHD community online, be sure to take breaks and reflect on who you are and what resonates.

Many people know zero about ADHD (even people who say they do!).

They spread the message that our brains aren’t functioning differently - we’re just making different (read: worse) choices and need to apply ourselves to self-improvement.

Ignore these messages. Unlearn them.

I’m all for self-improvement, but only if it includes you understanding your unique way of doing life. Yes, you can build new habits and stick to them — you really can — but there’s work to do to get there and an openness to iterating periodically.

Be sure to find people who will lift you and help you get to know YOU as you seek to improve your “personality.” Also, it’s not your personality!

Neurodiverse people are shaped by the world while shaping the world around them. It’s awfully hard work. Since my mother thought I was bright, and told me so, I believed it. Sometimes I take a long way or need extra help, but I mostly don’t question my intellect.

I’m smart about me. I know my strengths and my challenges. As the shaming self-talk quiets, I discover more strengths.

I wish this little girl was truly seen by all the grown-ups around her, but she wasn’t. They couldn’t. So now I’ll change the path for the next generations.

Supporting all of you in self-acceptance and growth is the best gift to this little girl (and to my daughter). Thank you for inviting me in!

How could believing in yourself impact your life right now?

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