Frames of reference

Chalkboard illustration of a person with squiggly arrows coming out of their head

I might have ADHD. I might not. But as I recently started looking back at my life through an ADHD frame of reference, a whole lot of things finally made sense.

I am close to 30 years old and I have never seriously entertained the thought before now. I don’t really feel guilty about this, as in some ways our societal understanding of all areas of neurodivergence seems to be currently maturing. I think I had people close to me joke about it once or twice over my life, but my “traits” have never been severe enough to demand immediate intervention. That, I suppose, is fortunate. However, from the first moment the switch went off in my head and started really considering it, the next week was a series of “oh wow” moments as I realised how many parts of my personal and professional life a potential ADHD had been affecting.

For me the big game-changer was this new frame of reference that my brain might not be producing dopamine as consistently as it does in a “neurotypical” brain. Where I had previously assumed I was just being dramatic when I said that “things get quickly boring for me” and that “boredom was physically painful,” through this new ADHD frame of reference, these feelings not only made sense, but helped to explain life-long-running issues I had with sleep, relationships, project work and a host of other areas I had always struggled with.

Now, I am not a psychologist, so my understanding is quite shallow. I know I should be careful not to blame everything on a potential ADHD, but my point here is about how new frames of reference can be a game changer for our self understanding. If you have been wrestling with specific issues over years, it might be worth considering it is not simply “lack of willpower” or “laziness.” There might actually be a new, more helpful frame of reference for you to explore.

Tagged in neurodivergent, metacognition, self-awareness, What messes with your head