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ADHD Adults

Once Upon A Time We Were Valued

Once upon a time we lived in caves and had tribes.. large groups of people lived together and worked together to survive.
We hunted food and used our skills to fulfil the essentials we call the Triangle of life.. Food Shelter and Water.
The key here is that we worked together as a team.. no one had to do everything and we all had a job to do to ensure our tribes survival.

Us Adders were most valued as the huntsmen.. the ones that didn’t give up till we succeeded in catching our prey, we risked our lives and kept our tribes multiplying by sourcing the food, we used our skills and thought outside the box to outsmart and take down buffalo.. We “hyperfocused” till we succeeded in our role.
We also had no other responsibilities. The other tribesmen cooked, built shelters and organised the young. There was no confusion. We were happy in a raw undomesticated kind of way.

With evolution we have lost sight of who we were and somehow we now are expected to do it all, we live in small families rather than tribes and we work mostly alone to achieve it all.. With this comes the ADHD state of confusion and overwhelm.. We no longer just have one job and one or two roles to play, we are bombarded by the white picket fences and strive for what is now seen as a perfect life.

Just like you can domesticate a horse but you can never get rid of its instincts (fight or flight).. we too have been domesticated but our raw instincts remain. It is who we are.

So the next time you feel like beating yourselves up about your ADHD just remember where you came from and remember that we were once the most highly regarded members of our clans and tribes.

Our ADHD is a part of us it is not a disorder.. Domestication and evolution has just made it more difficult for us to operate under the “normal umbrella” in this upbeat crazy world.

Lower your expectations of yourself, live simply without all the “stuff” to clutter your brain and enjoy who you are.
You are highly valued


I agree completely with this point of view.  I am tired of seeing so many threads about ADD being a curse or a death sentence because we are not able to adapt to this modern society’s expectations.  Most people are only focusing on the resulting symptoms that come from a lifetime of chronic frustration, because we are trying to be something we are not.

I am so glad you are speaking the truth about our personality (not disorder!).  In fact, at this point in my life, I am trying to live simply as you stated.  To be honest, it is difficult to make a decent living being ourselves, but it is not impossible.

Thank you again for voicing this opinion, we really need to hear this truth from time to time.

Posted by mmori on Jul 13, 2014 at 1:36am

This is excellent & very well said. I watched a video not to long ago that touched on how kids are expected to fit in a ‘One size fits all’ box in school. Kids that are artistic and get distracted easily or even just need to be challenged are more often than not, either labeled, not rewarded for their creativity or supressed in expressing it.
We are who we are, we need to listen to our instincts and yes absolutely live simply. We’ve only been given one life and it’s to short to not ‘smell the roses’ from time to time.
Thank you so much for writing this!

Posted by dparamo12 on Jul 13, 2014 at 4:09am

Good topic and I agree in part.
Since this is a spectrum of traits with degree of traits—using this term instead of symptom, the benefits and burdens of hyperfocus and distractibility vary greatly from one to another.
OCD, Bipolar, autism, also can have traits that are beneficial in the right degree and circumstances. The relatives of full blown bipolars often have a lesser degree of mania that is channeled into high drive Type A traits valuable in some jobs. A bit of OCD in an accountant can be a good thing. High functioning autistics may have some of the savant abilities but lack the ‘idiot’ aspect commonly listed with it. And there is a statistically relevant association with autism and relatives who are in fields like engineering. My late husband was an engineer, they can be a bit weird. Social skills are often not a strong suit and be sure to check their attire before letting them leave the house. Socks may not match and plaids and stripes may be selected as oh, I like that shirt and those pants but the stage of considering them together is missed.
I bred Dobermans for 25 years for family companions and protectors. And that led me to learning quite a bit about genetics and behavior. Most traits are clumps of genes that interact. If some needed genes are missing or are present but not active say due to exposure to tobacco smoke during gestation, the whole package that is optimal won’t be available.
Be patient, I am getting to AD/HD, not just going into hyperfocus!
My take is that all these, the AD/HD,  OCD, Bipolar, Autism spectrum, are groups of traits that are valuable but the mix is wrong, some parts are too strong and other parts too weak.
I think with AD/HD, that many of the traits are valuable as the OP described but that we are either missing some of the traits that would give us better control or we have too much of something with the same net effect.
My sweetheart is someone I would say has the hyperfocus of ADD, and also the freewheeling new ideas, out of the box thinking many have but without my limitations of disorganization, procrastination and such. He has the benefits of ADD but he also has control over it. He is a retired tv newsroom director/journalist. The hyperfocus for following details was a boon to his job as was the noticing of obscure details others might miss and the ability to connect them.
Yes, in our hunter/gatherer evolution, our mix of traits would have been both more valuable and less burdensome. Plus, the lack of exposure to nicotine and other toxins, over stimulation with lights, sounds, noise, not as much exercise, junk food, all the stuff we know that can make AD/HD worse, wasn’t there.
There is a ‘sweet spot’ where the right mix of these traits and the right circumstances are of great benefit. And outside that optimal spot a lot of mixes and circumstances that may be pretty good to really terrible.
I would not be a good reporter for covering political rallies or any sort of speech as unless the subject interests me, I zone out into something that is interesting. My sweetheart can pay attention even if he doesn’t find the speaker interesting and track any important info.
Population genetics vs Mendelian genetics makes this easier to understand. Within most social mammals, about 20% are more reactive than the rest. Not always anxious or fearful, but the ones who first notice the sight, sound or scent of an approaching predator and wake up the others, or who notice the first ripe berry, where the water is, and such.
Within that 20%, there are some who will be more nervous and prone to panic, more easily stressed. Their Mendelian individual genome may not be optimal for them having a long, healthy, happy life but their ability to hear the things that go bump in the night may be prosurvival for the population as a whole. Their individual stress is the price paid for the group survival.
ADD, OCD, and the rest are similar. Individually we may pay a price but our traits may help the group.
Basically the same thing the OP stated but with some of the reasons added in. smile

Posted by Gadfly on Jul 13, 2014 at 3:45pm

This sounds just like Thom Hartman’s perspective on ADHD—he talks a lot about hunter-gatherers.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:05pm

Thank you for directing me to the Thom Hartman article, Penny.  I have not read any of his books, but from the introduction, I can certainly relate to his point of view about ADD/ADHD.

Posted by mmori on Jul 15, 2014 at 3:56pm

I love this theory/perspective on ADHDers, and I would love to read more about it if anyone has further material on it.

I would also like to know if anyone has any ideas/opinions on what kind of employment situations are ideal for people with these traits. 


Posted by Grierwego on Jul 15, 2014 at 4:17pm

Thanks Penny I never even knew about his books! I am Definitely going to be looking into purchasing!

My belief is that we are normal people living in a mixed up crazy world.. and what is normal anyway? Normal to me is about conforming and fitting with a majority, just because we don’t do it so well in this day and age doesn’t make us abnormal.

Terry there is a thread on here somewhere about job choices for ADHD and what works well.. My idea is we are best off doing work that is a bit out of the box.. I know for a fact that sitting behind a desk is not for me.. I cant look after my own paperwork let alone manage paperwork for a company haha.. I have done a lot of Occupational Health and Safety in dangerous industries and I loved it. There was a lot of different job sites and lots of different tasks. I’m a bit green now though so logging mining and drilling don’t sit so well on my conscience.
Good luck!


Posted by Jerrythekoala on Jul 15, 2014 at 6:01pm

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