I was diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit disorder, about five years ago,
There are 9 or 10 symptoms that typically categorize ADHD, and at least six must apply. You can find tons of different variations of lists of these symptoms online, but this is what webmd has:
1. Trouble getting organized.
2. Reckless driving and traffic accidents.
3. Marital trouble.
4. Extremely distractable.
5. Poor listening skills.
6. Restlessness, trouble relaxing.
7. Trouble starting a task.
9. Angry outbursts.
10. Prioritizing issues.
I clearly remember sitting in the doctor's office as he read these symptoms out, and immediately thinking:
(Thomas Robinson in The Switch)
Basically the only ones I don't have are the angry outbursts and lateness. I'm both calm and punctual (at least 90% of the time), and I pride myself on those qualities. Otherwise, the disorganization, reckless driving, easily distracted, restlessness... me to a T. By the time I was 25 (around the time I got diagnosed) I had had more accidents than I could count. I always have to be doing multiple things at once (watching TV while coloring or playing on the tablet). I am a very organized person in certain situations but I have trouble prioritizing my tasks (hence my hundred to-do lists). I am a HUGE procrastinator. I've switched jobs nearly every year. I am extremely restless - one of the things my fiancé constantly gets on me about. So when my doctor officially diagnosed me, it all made sense.
My mother is a nurse, and she's known me all my life (obviously), yet when I told her what my doctor had said she immediately went on the defensive, asking who my doctor was, where she had gone to school (basically checking her credentials) - the works. I didn't understand why she was so against this idea that I had ADHD, especially when it made perfect sense to me. She must just like thinking that her daughter is perfectly normal... even when all the signs were there. I know there used to be a stigma surrounding ADHD (anybody remember that episode of The Sopranos when they diagnosed AJ with ADHD, and Carmela and Tony freaked out?), but nowadays it's not nearly as big of a deal. Everybody and their mother who can't sit still for more than 5 minutes has ADHD.
Perhaps what my mom was most concerned about was the double diagnosis of ADHD and bipolar disorder. As you may or may not know, these two illnesses tend to have some cross-pollination, and can be difficult to tell apart. I have Bipolar II, which is similar to Bipolar I, characterized by moods ranging from high to low. The only difference is that in Bipolar II, the "up" periods never reach full-blown mania, as in bipolar I (in bipolar II these are called hypomanic episodes). Again, when I learned of this diagnosis, it made so much sense, particularly the hypomania. The exaggerated self-confidence, increased energy (and therefore decreased need for sleep), rapidly switching from one idea to the next - all things I was guilty of doing or having.
Webmd also says that hypomania can lead to "erratic and unhealthy behavior", particularly spending money excessively, engaging in sexual acts with people they normally wouldn't, and participating in other "impulsive or risky behaviors with the potential for dangerous consequences." Um, hello? I used to be a compulsive shopaholic who was also a borderline nymphomaniac. As Buffy once said, "Add it up and it all spells duh."
Obviously, I've not let any of this hold me back. Yes, I still occasionally go through periods where I can't stop moving, or spending money, and then I'll just want to crawl into my bed and stay there for days. (Granted, I attribute a lot of those to my job, as it is VERY stressful, but the bipolar probably doesn't help.) But I still come to work every day, kick ass at my job, and live my life to the fullest, with my fiancé and our "fur-children" by my side. In the end, our little illnesses and quirks are what make us, well, US, right?