Hello Brains! And probably people sent here by Brains.
I get it.
It can be hard to understand ADHD, and even harder to explain it to others.
Most ADHD behaviors are things everyone struggles with once in a while.
Losing your keys, spacing out during a conversation, forgetting to turn in an assignment.
Sound familiar? Yeah, and when someone with ADHD does these things a lot, it's easy to assume that it means the same thing as if someone without ADHD does them.
Once in a while is understandable, but if it happens a lot, they must not care or not be trying hard enough or not be very good at stuff.
But before we judge their behavior or write them off as a bad.
It's important to remember behavior is affected by the brain and ADHD brains develop and function much differently from average or neurotypical brains.
Those differences can be valuable, which is why as someone with ADHD, I wouldn't trade my brain for the world.
But without the right support, they can also be incredibly impairing.
The struggle is real.
It's also invisible, which can make it very hard to see.
So, to help you understand what it's like inside the brain of your ADHD person, we reached out to our community of ADHD brains as well as the community at understood.
org to ask how they explain it.
For example, fun fact: despite the name, we don't actually have a deficit of attention.
When we forget to change the laundry or have trouble focusing in class, it's because our brains have trouble regulating or effectively shifting our attention.
So sometimes our brains jump from one thing to the next and other times our brains actually zero in or hyperfocus on one thing and it can be hard for us to pull ourselves away.
As Eric Peterson puts it, neurotypical brains have a 1 through 10 dial they use to regulate their attention.
With ADHD brains our dials have two options.
Random and 15, and this applies to all aspects of our lives.
The ability to regulate attention is part of something called the executive function system.
It's kind of like our brain's self management system.
What allows us to plan, prioritize, and sustain effort toward a goal, say making dinner without getting sidetracked.
It's what allows us to inhibit or not act on our impulses and ignore distractions so we can stay on task and switch when it's time to switch.
In the ADHD brain, executive functions develop much more slowly than in neurotypical brains, and we have a deficit in the brain chemicals that help them function.
So we usually know what to do and have the best intentions, but our executive function system isn't always developed or functioning well enough to effectively help us do it.
And it's just as frustrating for us as it is for anyone else.
Hailey Melville explains it like this.
Your brain is like a secretary, and you're the CEO in a meeting doing a task.
In a neurotypical brain, their secretary greets guests, potential distractions, lets them know that the CEO is in a meeting, and either encourages them to make an appointment or shows them the door.
My secretary either lets everyone into the meeting, or lets no one in.
Even if it's something important.
Another executive function is working memory.
That's our ability to temporarily hold information in our heads so we can work with it.
Like look at a recipe and then remember the steps while we cook.
It's our brain's version of RAM.
Everyone has a limited capacity of working memory, but it's often more limited in those with ADHD.
Which is one reason we might blurt out an answer before we forget it or we ask you to repeat what you just said.
Timothy Warnky says it's like my brain is a whiteboard and I have to write down everything that's happening right away, but I write kind of big.
So pretty soon, I have to erase a bunch of stuff to make more room.
By the way, that's also why we tend to have trouble following multi-step directions.
It's also why post-it notes are helpful.
Another fun fact about ADHD: not everyone with ADHD is hyperactive, at least not on the outside.
ADHD has three different presentations and they can change over time.
So even if someone doesn't look like they have ADHD, they still might; even if they're not bouncing around the room, their brain might be.
It's often referred to as internal restlessness, and it's exhausting.
Diana Debater-Murray explains her mind like being on a hamster wheel you can't ever get off of.
Debra Credible says it's like a pinball machine with the ball constantly hitting and bouncing between all the bumpers.
All this energy can be great when we can direct it well.
It often shows up as creativity, generosity, curiosity.
We tend to think outside the box, and we're three times more likely to start own business.
But for us to take advantage of our brain strengths, it's important that we learn to manage our ADHD.
Which often means using a combination of medication and other strategies.
ADHD expert Dr.
Ned Halliwell explains it like this.
Having ADHD is like having a race car engine for a brain: it's very powerful and it can propel you to win races.
There's just one problem: you have bicycle brakes.
But! With the help of a brake specialist, you learn to strengthen your brakes and control that powerful engine.
Then, your race car stops spinning out on turns and starts winning races.
Because we do tend to crash a lot while we're building up those brakes, those of us with ADHD tend to get corrected or teased more often than our peers and unfortunately another aspect of ADHD can make that extra painful for us.
Our brains don't just have trouble regulating our attention, they have trouble regulating our emotions, too.
Jennifer Petersen explains, when it comes to emotional dysregulation it's like I have a really bad sunburn; even a playful slap on the back hurts so bad.
If you didn't know some of these things about ADHD, don't worry.
I didn't either until a couple of years ago, and I actually have it! I thought I was just too sensitive or a space cadet or weird because that's what I was always told and I'm not alone.
That's why ADHD brains made this video and why we hope you'll share it.
When our ADHD symptoms are seen as personality defects it can be hurtful and worse: we believe it.
It takes a huge toll on our self-esteem and can lead to other conditions like anxiety and depression and honestly it's really confusing.
As Comiendo Piscocho puts it: it's like being the smartest, stupidest, most motivated and laziest person in the room, all at the same time.
But if we, and others, understand what our challenges are, we can accept them, find strategies to help us work through them, and more importantly stop beating ourselves up about them so we can focus on more important things, like what we're good at and we can stop writing off ourselves or others for being different and start appreciating what that difference can bring to the world.
Thanks for watching.
There's a lot more to learn if you're curious, so check out some of our other videos (links in the description) and head over to understood.
org to experience what it's like to have ADHD and other conditions with their tool through your child's eyes.
Remember though ADHD looks different for everybody and those with ADHD often have other conditions as well.
So the best way to understand somebody's brain is to ask them about it.
Thank you to our brain board and all our Patreon brains for supporting us through the process of making this video.
Check out our daily vlogs on Patreon to see how we did it and to our community and the community at understood.
org for submitting such great metaphors.
I've highlighted a few more that we loved in the pinned comment below and thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about ADHD.
Because you are, you're making the world a better shinier place for those whose brains work differently.
If you want to shine that light a little further, please share this video.