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ADHD Hyperactivity In Adults is Different

As a child, I couldn't sit still. One of my teachers thought it was a good idea to make me stand in the hallway during class if I was wiggling around or fidgeting with my pencils and erasers. What she didn't know was that it was a great opportunity for me to practice gymnastics and dance routines. There was no one in the hallway of my small school while classes were in session. When I say a small school, I mean it only had one hallway.

It wasn't a punishment for me and I certainly wasn't learning what everyone else was learning, but I was use to being lost in school. I was often late or day dreaming. I got use to asking others or doing what I thought needed to be done, and it usually turned out ok. I loved to learn and was quick to catch on.

Academically, I did great. Socially and behaviourally, I was considered difficult. In Northern Ontario, in the 1970s, no one was talking about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. All I heard was be still and shut up. You see, hyperactivity isn't just when your body moves a lot, it can also be when your mouth is always going. I had that problem. I cut people off, would finish their sentences, would talk over others, and the more comfortable I was with someone the louder I got. I know now that this also means I am a verbal processor. I need to hear myself speak out loud to process my thoughts.

The best way I expressed my hyperactivity growing up was to be creative. I took dance classes from the age of 5 and practicing daily was my salvation. I needed to move. I often tapped my fingers, talked too much and at inappropriate times, explored my curiosity to climb, swing, jump, ride a bike, and anything that was somewhat daring to give me a rush. I didn't know then that I was seeking to elevate my dopamine. ADHD is an issue of dopamine not getting to some of the executive functions which causes them to malfunction. This is why there is a high rate of people with ADHD who struggle with addictions and who are incarcerated. They are looking for a dopamine boost. Drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, weed, excessive exercising, criminal activity, are all ways to temporarily boost dopamine.

In my early teens, my risky behaviour/hyperactive activity, was stealing. After I was 16, it was sex. I was curious to know more about it. I was neutral to it, but those I was with seemed to really enjoy it. It made me feel wanted and loved. It was a classic case of looking for love in all the wrong places. I was pregnant by the time I was 18.

Fast forward to my 20s and 30s, hyperactivity played out while driving. I had way too many speeding tickets. I loved speed and I wasn't afraid of dying. I felt invincible. Many of us ADHDers are unrealistic about our abilities/capabilities, which feeds our risky behaviours. They can show up as impulse shopping, gambling, excessive masturbation, and more.

As a mom, I still moved all of the time. I was always rocking my kids, dancing with them, doing crafts, cleaning house, cooking, planning for guests, holidays, birthdays, and more. I couldn't sit still. I didn't know I had ADHD yet. I knew I wasn't like other moms. I had so much energy. I missed out on listening to my kids as they grew up. It impacted our relationships.

I found out me and my kids, and their dad had ADHD when I was near 40. I found limited help in books and they were long and too detailed. They often discussed the issues which I already knew. We were living them. I needed solutions and shorter books that were more straight forward.

It wasn't until Google came out in 2012 that I found the first online ADHD conference. It changed my life. It was the first time I learned that I did have the power to manage my mouth, my energy, my thoughts, and feelings. I could learn management skills for my great brain and be the person I wanted to be. I had never thought of who I wanted to be.

Over a decade later, do I still have hyperactivity? YES I say with a smile. I still have to move my body, and hyperactivity shows up in having to move places frequently as well. Since birth, I have moved 39 times. I need change and new adventures constantly. Moving gives me that. I don't want to be still and stagnant. I get too bored. I want to continuously learn and grow.

I get asked if I would ever like to be stable. I have found stability and peace within myself and that is more important.

Hyperactivity also showed up in changing careers often. If I got bored in one career, I would research and try another that seemed exciting. I have been an Elementary School Teacher, I worked for the Federal Government, I owned a Children's Entertainment Business, and more. I often worked two careers at once.

Since the conference in 2012, I have learned management skills to be still, to be more patient, to listen, to teach, to know myself, to enjoy the pleasures of life.

I am passionate about hearing people's stories. Humans amaze me! People with ADHD impress me beyond words. The resilience and ability to overcome challenges seems to be a staple among most neurodiverse people.

I am grateful that at this time in my life, I am using all of my life experiences, education, and capabilities to empower people to learn what they need to learn to enjoy being themselves.

As for hyperactivity, it is always in our brain and can come out in different formats.

When I am sitting, I am usually swaying side to side or rocking. If I am public speaking I will put movement in my presentation. Several times a day I take dance and stretch breaks.

It is important to note that every human with ADHD is different because we don't necessarily have the same executive functions malfunctioning to the same degree. Remember that ADHD is neurological and not behavioural.

ADHD is real even though you can't see the brain malfunctioning. Telling someone to be still or to be quiet is not helpful. They are not doing it on purpose. They are not in control of what is going on. Rather allow them constant breaks to move, jump, run, or dance.

Be kind and be patient with us. If you need help managing your incredible Super Brain, find someone who can tell you what executive functions are and how they impact your life in all areas.

Coach Diane D

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