I Didn't Think I Had ADHD Because I Get Good Grades

I thought I was a completely “normal,” A-plus college student — at least, until a psychiatrist diagnosed me with ADHD last September. Apparently, my mother didn’t even connect the dots, even though she and two of my brothers also have it.

All the signs were there: me losing my car keys, short-term memory lapses, restlessness during class, always on-the-go, hyperfocus, a messy desk, forgetting appointments, easily stressed, etc. However, I never actually thought I had ADHD because I earn such high grades, am responsible, listen well and have a fairly reserved disposition. Nobody would have labeled me inattentive nor hyperactive.

After receiving my diagnosis — combined presentation ADHD — I now realize this is why I struggled so much with math in high school. Math was the only subject I earned anything less than an A in. The homework always took a long time to complete, but I usually had the right answer. However, I always failed the test — and I still don’t perform well on tests in any subject. Looking back, I discovered I knew the correct steps, but I lost track of my work and made careless mistakes.

Furthermore, my parents would sometimes yell at me for forgetting things, doctors would call me to inform me about missed appointments, I missed deadlines for small homework assignments as a kid, and I could never sit through long classes.

Flash forward to college.

Throughout my job in food service, I became frustrated that my coworkers could focus on several orders or tasks at a time, yet I could only manage a couple without losing focus. In addition, I’d sometimes forget what my manager instructed me to do just moments after she told me. Furthermore, I can never sit through lengthy lectures without fidgeting in my seat or taking a stretch break.

Finding out about my ADHD has completely changed things.

I plug important doctors appointments, meetings and other events in my Google Calendar. I write lists down on sticky notes instead of relying completely on my memory. I don’t even worry about the fact that my desk is disorganized — it’s “messily organized” in my mind and I can find everything if it goes back in my place. My keys remain on a lanyard with tons of keychains so I never lose them. I doodle around the margins in my notebook during in class so I remain focused. I take breaks when working on homework instead of powering through for a few hours.

Having ADHD used to embarass me, but now I own it. Plus, I realized my strong work ethic is actually a form of hyperfocus. Healthline.com defines hyperfocus as “the experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD.” However, this drive only surfaces within areas I’m passionate about. When professors give me projects I thoroughly enjoy, I can tune out everything around me and pour all my creative energy into it.

I can’t change who I am, but in light of this new knowledge, I can adapt to my ADHD. I may have inattentive moments and can’t sit still at times, but I’ve developed strategies to combat those shortcomings. Doctors classify ADHD as an illness, but at times, it has become an advantage. It’s what makes me unique, and I’m proud of it.

This story originally appeared on Rising From Rubble.

Photo by Adithya Reza on Unsplash

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to ADHD/ADD

Bridesmaids preparing bride for wedding.

10 Tips for Brides-to-Be With ADHD

It’s March, which means wedding season is fast approaching! While I may not be getting married myself, I have been to several weddings in my time; not to mention, I moonlight as a wedding blogger (yes, seriously, this is a real job, and it is awesome). And I have ADHD. So for all you ADHD brides [...]
Washing dishes in sink.

The Game I Play to Do Household Chores With ADHD

When I was growing up most people thought of ADHD/ADD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) only as bouncy little boys who can’t sit still.  We’ve come a long way from that time, but for those of us with adult ADHD/ADD, there are still so many misconceptions we deal with every day.  One that often is a [...]

I Love My 9-Year-Old With ADHD and SPD

I love my 9-year-old son so much it hurts. I love my son so much I would do anything and everything for him. I love him so much it burns me to the core to see other people not understand him and his differences. I cannot count the number of times he has forgotten to [...]
Smartphone with paper list of reminders.

How My Smartphone Helps Me Thrive With ADHD

If you frequent social media, you will most likely have seen multiple posts and articles about the potential ills of smartphones and their negative impact upon the lives of their users. Though these articles often make valid points, I have some points of my own to add to this discussion. As a woman with the [...]