Wednesday, February 6, 2008

We can be "Heroes"...

(note: if you've not yet seen season one of "Heroes" and want to avoid any potential minor spoilers, please skip this post!)

I recently started watching season one of "Heroes" and immediately became hooked. Thus far, I've watched about half a dozen episodes, so I'm still at the point where the heroes are realizing that they possess special powers. Discovering their powers bewilders the heroes. Furthermore, the heroes who share their knowledge with others fail to find understanding among the "normal" folk. So, even though the heroes can do cool stuff such as fly or regenerate parts of their own bodies or travel into the future, they feel abnormal. They only begin to appreciate their amazing abilities when they meet the other heroes.

Therein lies the reason why I love this show. This show has made me think a lot lately of my ADD "assets" as superpowers. Because my ADD wasn't diagnosed until adulthood, I can relate to feeling different than other people and not knowing why I can't be just like them and be able to pay attention, not blurt out what's on my mind, or space out at inappropriate times. True, ADD doesn't give me the ability to see tomorrow's newspaper for the lottery numbers and allow me to retire before I'm 40. However, ADD's given me the ability to think on my feet, which is a huge asset in my career. ADD helps me realize my true talents and abilities by letting me hyperfocus on them. And ADD plants creative ideas in my head like dandelions in a roadside field.

It's not been an easy road for me to view the positives with ADD. In some cases, it's been a lonely one, just as it's been for the heroes. I've felt misunderstood for a good portion of my life for not being a neatnik like the rest of the family. It's delayed promotions at work, caused sleep deficits, and even ended a friendship (though in retrospect, that may have been for the best). It wasn't until I finally started getting support - from close friends, my old therapist, my coach, and my drug doc - did I realize that I could view ADD as a positive.

New research actually proves the importance of support. Last week, the New York Times' health blog discussed a journal article on the perspectives of children with ADD. Not surprisingly, the article's titled "I Have Always Felt Different," and is based on interviews with college students who were diagnosed with ADD as children. One line in the conclusion certainly rang true for me: "A strong theme throughout these interviews was the value of being understood and supported."

I still have a lot more episodes of "Heroes" to enjoy, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the show unfolds. In the meantime, we folks with ADD should try to embrace the positives that the disorder provides. I certainly have a hard time doing this myself. But with the right support, our gifts can benefit the world, just like the heroes' gifts.

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