The Two Faces of ADD/ADHD and What You Need to Know

Woman overloaded with stuff at work





For years, health professionals, teachers and others have been treating ADD/ADHD as something that needs to be corrected, when many of the effects are positive characteristics, one might even say “gifts.” This is especially
true in adults with ADD and ADHD.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I have treated many adults with Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders—many who never before realized that was why they did things in a slightly different manner.

For example, you may have always prided yourself on being able to function in “organized chaos,” multitask, being carefree or having more energy than you know what to do with. While your spouse, boss and friends may view these same traits as being disorganized, not being able to complete a task, an inability to stick to a schedule, and being fidgety or on edge.  Your ADD or ADHD may be a problem for your co-workers who don’t work in the same manner you do.

ADD/ADHD: Why You Act the Way You Do

How do you know if you have ADD/ADHD? Most mental health professionals can diagnose it and can help you figure out if anything else is going on. If you do have ADD or ADHD, you likely fall into one of three categories: inattentiveness (the tag usually applied to ADD), hyperactivity and impulsivity or a combination of these traits.

ADD/ADHD can affect how your brain deals with executive functions such as the ability to process, manage and categorize information in a structured manner. While sticking to a schedule or being able to focus seems easy for everyone else, you find them unnecessary annoyances.

What ADD/ADHD Gifts to Keep an Eye Out For

There is no exact science for determining ADD or ADHD, but there is a checklist that a mental health professional uses to determine the likelihood of this diagnosis. If you have any of the following signs, you may want to get tested.

  • You are creative. This gives you the opportunity to think out of the box and come up with innovative ideas. Others may view your wandering mind as daydreaming and a waste of time.
  • You can’t sit still. Like the “Energizer Bunny,” you have an enormous amount of energy. You love it because you use your drive to pursue artistic, physical and professional pursuits, although at times you wish you could just relax. However, others may find it dizzying that you are continually on the move.
  • You are hyper-focused, blocking all outside interference. Being hyper-focused is a trait possessed by many scientists, physicians, computer technicians, writers and artists. It helps you give all your concentration toward a project. However, others may see it as being rude or ignoring them.
  • You can’t stick to a schedule. You believe this allows you to be flexible, while others may view your inability to be on time as a personality flaw.
  • You interrupt others. You can’t wait to say what’s on your mind, even if someone else is speaking. Those around you find this utterly annoying and rude. You may need to learn a bit more patience to overcome this one.

The ADD/ADHD Road to Compromise

If you think you may have ADD/ADHD and it is either creating a disturbance at work or in your relationships, you may want to talk to someone and be assessed by a professional.

In the meantime, here are four tips that will help ignite the creation of new habits:

  • Start a journal. Jot down the interactions you have during the day so you can begin to see where problems may lie. It will also help you track your accomplishments.
  • Create a daily schedule. Include all your appointments, work meetings, when you are expected home for dinner or when you need to pick the kids up from school.
  • Explain what’s going on. Tell your boss, friends and spouse that if you don’t answer them, it’s not because you’re being rude, but are deep in thought or are focusing on solving a problem. People will likely be patient with you if they understand why you do it.
  • Meditate. Take a few minutes out of your morning or evening and focus on your breathing, transport yourself to a quiet, serene place and enjoy the moment.

Whether you receive an ADD/ADHD diagnosis or not, remember that you are perfectly fine as you are. It’s okay to be different. No one is a carbon of copy of anyone else and it is your personality quirks that make you the magnificent person you are. For more information on adult ADD or ADHD, contact me at (818) 998-3205 or

Entering counseling may be one of the most important and scariest decisions you make. Talking about yourself and your feelings is brave and a huge step in making your life better.

As a non-judgmental, empathetic, experienced licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I have knowledge and insight about challenges like yours. My goal is not to fix you but rather to assist you in your journey.