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But I'm Not Hyper...

Many recently diagnosed ADHDers I’ve met this past year are women who've expressed confusion or disbelief that they have ADHD.

Most of these women had been diagnosed with anxiety or depression for decades, never feeling that it truly ‘fit’ how they consistently felt. But, ADHD didn’t sound like an option either because they weren’t HYPER - in the classic stereotype of a young boy who can’t seem to sit down and stay still.

Image credit to: ADHD ALIEN

An ah-ha often comes with this “Hyperactive Bingo” from ADHD ALIEN. For me, hyperactivity can show-up in several of these ways, but recognizing them as a need to be in movement allows me to choose to do something else.

Most of all, my MIND is hyperactive, juggling countless ideas, to do lists, scenarios, plans, creative designs, schedules, regrets, sensory intakes... all at once.

My idea of REST is to be in movement with a task that doesn’t require much mental effort. The rest I need is MENTAL rest. Sitting still and doing nothing (or something that doesn’t interest me) can cause anxiety. I feel like I SHOULD be DOING something.

I actually have a “Restful To Do List” with items that make me feel as chilled as a non-ADHD person might feel when sitting still on a beach chair with their eyes closed. Things like - weeding a patch of the garden, folding a load of laundry, wiping the counters, walking the dogs, tidying my desktop, taking photos, watering the garden, etc. Now that I see these “mindless movement” tasks as REST, I have a very different relationship to my to do list. Many daily tasks are now a source of my well-being vs a source of my anxiety.

I can easily soothe my busy mind with ACTIVITIES that DON'T SERVE my well-being. With awareness, I'm able to seek alternatives and make better choices. Did you know that it’s estimated that at least 30% of people in jail have ADHD? ADHDers who aren’t surrounded by positive examples, mentors, teachers and healthy relationships can try to calm their mind and body in unhealthy ways - because that’s all they know or have access to, and their mind is begging for calm. Being offered alternative approaches to learning that don’t include constant compliance and sitting still, channeling the need for movement into physical activities they enjoy, replacing drugs/alcohol with endorphins from subjects and activities that cause delightful hyper focus, time in nature to wander, and not being labelled as bad, disruptive or poorly-parented - all support a thriving, healthy life. Our brains are different, not bad. We wouldn’t have many of the innovations, art and comforts that we enjoy in our daily life if ADHD brains didn’t exist!

At least 80% of these "Hyperactive Bingo" examples are part of me too. None of them ever led me to think I had ADHD - because they felt part of me and what I thought was my “personality.” I didn’t always like these parts of my “personality” and I found ways to somewhat mask or control them - but that takes a lot of mental effort. It's especially exhausting when they’re layered with the invisible heaviness of shame.

There is tremendous freedom in knowing you have ADHD, knowing how it may show-up in your daily life and consciously acknowledging the behaviours that do/don't contribute to your fulfilment and well-being. The bottom line is, many of us ADHDers need to rest our minds by moving our bodies in some way - and there are lots of healthy ways to do this. This Bingo list helps us notice unconscious ways of moving that may lead to better choices in some cases - and that can contribute to a VERY good life.

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