Podcast Episode #135: ADHD is Not Your Superpower

Welp…this episode is either going to make you feel super validated and pumped-up orrrrrrrr super triggered. What we’re chatting about today is my OPINION, and I acknowledge that not everyone thinks the same way that I do. I encourage you to listen and see what YOU think: Is ADHD a superpower? A gift? Or, “awesome”? Hear me explain why I think this way of speaking about ADHD has the potential to do more harm than good. I promise we end on a really happy, loving, and validating note, so listen to the end, my friends! Hang out with me on Instagram @i.have.adhd.podcast

Kristen Carder

Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B.

Hey, what’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast episode number 135. I am medicated I am caffeinated and I am ready to roll.

Oh, my goodness, it was hard for me to get started on this podcast today. I did some epic procrastinating you are epic even filled out an online survey? Yeah, was that bad? If I could just borrow a tiny bit of dopamine once in a while, so that I can just get rolling on the things that are difficult, but I actually want to do I would so love that. All right, you’re either gonna love this episode or hate it. Not really sure. I hope that you love it. I hope that it resonates with you. I hope that you are like cheering. Like yes, yes, yes. The whole time you listen. Today we’re talking about how ADHD is not a superpower. Um, yeah, we’re gonna go there, we’re gonna go to the place where we really consider whether or not ADHD is a gift or a superpower. It’s coming in hot. I’ve been very, let’s say, activated lately by people who throw out the terminology that makes ADHD seem Awesome.

Now I understand why they do it. But I just don’t think that it’s actually helpful to the ADHD community, to you, my listener, and it’s not helpful to my clients isn’t helpful to me. So I’d love to give you a context for the way that I’m thinking about this help you to have kind of a framework for thinking through this topic and deciding whether or not you want to consider your ADHD as a gift or superpower you get to do whatever you want to do. You totally get to do whatever you want. I just want to give my opinion, since that’s kind of my job on this podcast, right? But before we get rolling, are going to take just a second to promote one of our sponsors focused. See how I did that. Like you don’t actually have sponsors, even though people reach out to me all the dang time. But I thought it would be funny to say that

Okay, moving on. The only thing that I want to promote on this podcast is a group that I’ve seen change almost 1000 ADHD lives in the last two years. That’s my coaching program. So today’s ad contains a true anecdote of something that happened just yesterday. You ready? Here we go. Yesterday, I locked my office door, laid down on the floor and took a nap in the middle of the workday, like a weirdo at 2pm. I had already had three meetings, I was feeling totally depleted. There were still a few hours of work left that I had to do. I had to finish writing up this podcast, I had some emails to edit, my brain was just foggy and fuzzy. And I really wanted to shut down. But instead, I allowed myself to rest. I turned on my white noise machine. I grabbed my puffy winter coat I laid it on the floor of my teeny tiny office. I snuggled down on top of it, which is so weird, I know. And I took a gosh darn nap in the middle of the day. And by nap let’s be clear, I mean I close my eyes and rested. We both know that no hyperactive ADHD or can take a proper nap.

When my timer beeped after 25 minutes, I bundled up and I took a short walk outside without my phone. And when I got back to my office, I was clear headed. And I was able to put in two additional hours of work and I finished writing my podcast and I finished editing my emails I would have never been able to produce if I hadn’t let myself rest first. Rest doesn’t come naturally to us. Especially those of us who have hyperactive ADHD Our minds are constantly telling us to go go go and say yes to everything and it leaves us feeling hungover and depleted. We have so much guilt and shame wrapped up into allowing ourselves to rest. But here’s what I know to be true.

Learning to rest can make you feel completely different, like a whole different human. It can change the entire trajectory of your day, like it did for me yesterday. So it’s going to take some work. And I want to let you know that starting tomorrow, I’m going to help you with this live inside have focused throughout the whole month of December. Okay? I haven’t taught a live course in a year. But I’ve been so convicted about sharing on this topic that I really wanted to teach it live in person. So I completed the PDF workbook. actually finish that up this morning. It is good to go and we’re going to start tomorrow. So make sure that you go to I have adhd.com/focused to join. Okay, so like I said, today’s episode is either going to totally validate you, or totally trigger you.

So let’s get ready. Are you ready? So here’s my opinion. ADHD is not a superpower. It’s not a gift, and it’s not awesome. There. There it is. I said it. Okay. I saw something recently from an expert in the industry where they labeled ADHD as a superpower and I almost fell off my chair. Y’all at Sears no superpower. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can be absolutely debilitating, especially if left untreated. ADHD has ruined marriages, caused car accidents, caused debt and job loss and even shortens life expectancy. This is not a superpower. This is not even like the shadow side of a superpower. This is the outworking of symptoms of a mental health disorder that has the potential to ruin lives if left undiagnosed and untreated. There is so much research and information out there in the world to indicate how severely ADHD can harm our lives if we do not treat it properly. And I’m not going to go into that here. That’s not the point of this episode. I’ve actually already done an entire episode on this topic. It’s called the dangers of ADHD. It’s episode 103. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommend that you check it out again. It’s 103 it’s my podcast. It’s called the dangers of ADHD. I cite a bunch of scholarly research articles which are also linked in the Episode Notes. It’s a really important episode but like I said, That’s not the point of this episode.

Okay. In this episode, I’m concerned about how we label ADHD. And I’m concerned that labeling ADHD as a superpower, or as a gift or as quote unquote, awesome, is doing more harm than good in the ADHD community. One of the reasons why I believe this is true is because labeling ADHD as a superpower actually invalidates people who are struggling. Think about it. If this is a gift or a superpower, then why am I struggling so much? Why can’t I get my life together? Why can’t I hold a job, I must be doing something wrong. Now, my suspicion and in my experience, some of you parents have ADHD kiddos are often tempted to help your child see ADHD through the lens of being a gift or a superpower or awesome because you don’t want your child to feel badly. And I totally get that. I’m a parent of two ADHD kids myself. I never want my child to feel badly or to struggle. But the truth is that life is full of feeling badly. And life is full of struggling, especially if you have ADHD. And I’d rather my child understand the challenges of ADHD, and wish they didn’t have it, then view it as a superpower. And either not take it seriously. Or think that there’s something wrong with them because they don’t feel very superhero ish.

Now I’m totally not a model parent. And that’s also not what this podcast is about. But I do feel like it’s relevant. Because most of the people touting the superhero slash gift ideology are ADHD, parents of ADHD, kiddos who don’t want their child to be stigmatized by a mental health diagnosis. Totally understandable. totally valid. I get it. But navigating stigma is something that you can learn, and you can model for your kid while they’re under your roof. When my kids are struggling, or when they complain about their ADHD, I usually say something like, you’re right. This is really hard. It’s totally unfair. I’m so sorry that you’re struggling. I’m sorry that you have to deal with this. What do you need? How can I say for you.

This validates their struggle and gives them the space to ask for help. And what if we said the same thing to ourselves? What if, when you are struggling, you said to yourself, your right self, this is really hard. This isn’t fair. I’m so sorry that you’re struggling. I’m so sorry that you’re having to deal with this. What do you need? How can I support you? Doesn’t that feel way better? than to say, Oh, come on. Yeah, ADHD is hard. But it’s also a gift. Let’s look on the bright side. Which brings me to my next point, in my opinion, saying ADHD is a superpower or gift or awesome, is borderline or maybe it’s overt, honestly cannot decide. But in any case, it seems to me that it’s a form of toxic positivity. A mental health diagnosis that has a myriad of negative symptoms, and even more negative outcomes is not a gift. It’s it’s just not a gift. And in my opinion, saying that it is a gift is not okay.

When I say that I’m struggling. And someone tells me look on the bright side, ADHD is a gift. It feels like you’re gaslighting me. It’s positivity in a place where it’s just inappropriate. I’m going to say something a little harsh here, which, you know, this whole episode is a little harsh if we’re being honest, but I’m going to even go a step further. Don’t get wrapped the crap. Okay, let just let the crap be crap. It doesn’t need to be wrapped up with shiny paper, and a little bow to make it pretty. Just let it be what it is. ADHD is hard. That’s okay. We can learn to accept that. It doesn’t do us any favors to gift wrap it in a pretty package, and gaslight ourselves into thinking that we should actually be thankful for it. So it’s a perfect segue into my next point. Believing that ADHD is a superpower or a gift or awesome, makes seeking treatment and support seem much less necessary. Why would I medically treat a gift? Why would I spend money to get support for a superpower? Why would I work so hard to obtain a diagnosis? If I’m just going to find out that something is awesome, right? It’s not necessary to put the steps in place to take care of something that I should be super happy about or thankful for or viewing as a gift? Does that make sense? Like, I honestly think it’s borderline dangerous to say things like ADHD is awesome. Because if it’s awesome, then there’s really no need for me to take it seriously, and treat it with care. Like, let’s think of the other things that we label as awesome. Sunsets are awesome. Sex is awesome. My work that I do in the world is awesome. Sushi. Sushi is awesome. It is she’s not awesome.

Okay. Gosh, ADHD makes everything harder, even when I get a burst of hyperfocus. And I’ve heard this from a lot of people. Even when we have that like amazing hyper focus, you know, couple hours where we’re just totally down the rabbit hole on the right thing. It’s usually only after things have been so hard, like procrastinating for days or weeks or months. And then the anxiety kicks in. And after we go through the hyperfocus rabbit hole, then there’s the emotional and physical hangover after hyper focusing, which can be debilitating, hyper focus, in my opinion, it’s not even a gift. You know what a gift would be a gift would be the ability to organize my thoughts clearly. prioritize them set a goal and methodically carry out that goal little by little without burning myself out, and then finishing on time. That would be a gift. That would be awesome. That would be a superpower. That would be a perfect brain and a perfect brain would be a superpower. A perfect brain would be a gift. ADHD makes that almost impossible. And it’s not a gift. I do whisper it. I don’t know why I feel like it needs to be more gentle. whispering it now. I had a riveting conversation with my Instagram followers about this topic. I ended up sharing a bunch of responses to my Instagram story like keeping posts anonymous, and I’m going to share a lot of them with you today.

Also anonymously since I wasn’t And, like, I didn’t ask permission to share any of these, but it’s all going to be anonymous. But I think if you have ADHD, you’ll find these to be very validating and very relatable. And if you don’t have a team, I think that hearing from so many people, besides myself, will help you to understand why I don’t recommend labeling ADHD as a gift or a superpower. So the question was like, How do you feel when someone tells you that ADHD is a gift or a superpower? You like see it? In the media? So there’s somebody famous, who makes videos and says, ADHD is awesome. Like, how do you feel when that happens? So I’m going to read maybe like, 10 ish to you. They’re, they’re short. So here’s the first one saying ADHD is a superpower. When I’m still struggling to find a way to cope through it feels like adding another failure to my list. Great. Now I’m also feeling at having ADHD, and experiencing any positive sides. Here’s another one, us as individuals may or may never find moments where ADHD is helpful, which is an individual interpretation.

But for those few moments, there are eight days worth of brain in chaos. And when it isn’t NKs it’s because of the conscious choices that we make, like extra effort, extra time and thought to have the brain that appears to function, quote, unquote, typically. Here’s another perspective. I think talking about it as a superpower also totally takes talking about the challenges to plan for them in a real way off the table. I think this is where the toxic positivity part comes in. It minimizes it and decreases the value and real need for treatment and support. It makes medication seem bougie. Right? If it’s a gift, if it’s a superpower, if it’s awesome, then why bother? Spend your time, effort, energy, money on medication, it’s just a luxury you don’t need it. All right. Here’s another one. The absolute panic of not being able to find my keys again. And being late again, is not a superpower. It’s life sucking. Nothing is super about being chaotic, and not being able to do the things that come seemingly easy to others. This one says mom of three here, ADHD is not a superpower. It’s a liability. I have to do the freaking work to be present, and a safe mother because of it.

I love this one says some of our friends might love us because we’re loud and weird and interrupt but that doesn’t mean our anxiety impulsivity. And time blindness is a superpower. This one says reading the superpower thing makes me feel shame because ADHD doesn’t give me powers. Personally, I think some of the coolest people have ADHD. But that doesn’t mean that their life has been easy. We’ll end with this one. They say I think there’s a fine line. Some people are trying to reframe it from the constant, My life sucks narrative. And that might look like ADHD can be a superpower. But keeping the balance of respecting the disability and embracing it can be hard. And I totally agree with that. There’s a balance, of course, we’re going to respect the fact that it’s a disability and we can embrace it as far as like I fully accept these limitations that I have. But it can be hard to find the balance between that. Now, here’s what I have to say to you, my dear listener. And if you’ve been super triggered and activated. While listening to all of this, I just want to give you some space to feel all of that in your body. Take some deep breaths. Give yourself some time to think this through and interact with the ideas. And remember that you are an autonomous adult who gets to decide what you think and feel about this concept. So you do not have to agree with me. I am not the authority on whether or not ADHD is a gift. I am simply presenting my opinions. But here’s what I do believe about you.

Ready? Here’s what I do believe about ADHD and you ADHD is not a gift. You are you’re the gift, your personality, your energy, your compassion, your pain, your laugh, your ingenuity, your love, your generosity, your empathy, your flaws, your sense of humor, your quirks, your understanding your anger, your humor. manatee, your creativity, your willingness to help, your spontaneity, your sense of justice, your curiosity, and everything else that makes you you. You are a gift to this world. You are awesome. When you truly understand what a gift you are, you don’t need ADHD to be a gift. When you can identify your unique, awesome strengths. You don’t have to call ADHD awesome. You can simply own what you do really well and know with full certainty that you are amazing, not because of ADHD, but because of who you are at your core. I’m sending you so much love today. Have a great day you’re being treated for your ADHD but you still don’t feel like you’re reaching your potential you’ve got to join focused. It’s my monthly coaching membership where I teach you how to tame your wild thoughts and create the life that you’ve always wanted. No matter what season of life you’re in or where you are in the world. Focus is for you. All materials and call recordings are stored in the site for you to access at your convenience. Go to Ihaveadhd.com/focused for all the info

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