What does ADHD stand for?

by CJ McDaniel // September 14  


Clinically speaking, ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  It was originally just ADD for attention deficit disorder, but it was changed when hyperactivity was seen to be an important part of the disorder. Up until a few years ago the correct way of presenting both of these was ADD/ADHD, as an individual either had one or the other.  However, now it seems they are not really sure, and so it is being presented as AD/HD.

So, what does ADHD stand for?

Those that have been labeled and suffer greatly would say that it stands for:  a lifetime of disorganization, forgetting things, a multi-tasking curse, a headache, a reason to take medication, and I am sure much more.

To others it may stand for a weakness, or maybe a gift.  It could be a reason to be different or a lifetime of trying to fit in.  It could stand for the cause of their endless creativity or many sleepless nights.

That four letter word stands for 5% of the world’s population; a demographic of individuals told that they are not the same.  It stands for a chemical imbalance, a brain function difference, and a lack of this or that.  It is a four letter word that stands for someone’s identity after being told who they are all their life.

So, what does ADHD stand for?

Does it stand for children who are too creative or live outside the box?  Does it stand for adults who feel like failures because they can’t file paper work?  Does it stand for the individuals that are no longer with us, because they felt alone, misunderstood, and unloved?

So, what does ADHD stand for?

Something?  Nothing?  An experience?  A name?  Is it made up?  Is it real?

It’s just a four letter word.  It was created to describe an experience, but it is not the experience.

The map is not the territory.

ADHD could be anything. All Day Happy Dreams.  All Day Happy Days.

I was labeled the other kind of ADHD, but I overcame it being 22 years symptom and medication free!  Want to know something?

If you look at some of the most creative and brilliant people of our day you will find that most of them have been given this label too!  “What’s going on?” you may say.

Well, those that think, those that dream, and those that see things differently have difficulty in a system not designed for the imagination.  Ideas and dreams lead to more ideas and dreams, can become overwhelming, and lead to all the headaches we talked about.

However, what happens when someone trains themselves to master it? Human greatness.

Humans that seem to do things that mystify us: Pianists that play like their entire life was created to play that one piece, artists that paint with so much emotion that you feel the colors moving, and comedians that shake up societal limitations and help people liberate themselves from dogma.

We read about innovators and inventors that come up with new ways of getting energy, and new ways to develop medicines to cure the sick.  We see the impact of social entrepreneurs that create businesses that generate millions while changing lives.  And we live as a part of the evolution that social media guru’s have developed as they change the way we communicate and interact with each other.

These people accelerate technological advancement by hundreds of years, and push the human race forward.  These thinkers, philosophers, and mystics reveal to us ideas that we were too afraid to entertain, but one day became real.

These are people that we read about, and so I say what does ADHD stand for?

I would say it depends on a lot of factors, as there is much darker side to this that very few are willing to see.  It is sad, but statistically ADHD also stands for the following:

  • 2-3x more likely to suffer from addiction
  • 2-3x more likely to have teen pregnancy
  • 2-3x more likely to be raped for woman with ADHD
  • 2-3x more likely to be arrested for men with ADHD
  • 10x more likely to be incarcerated for men with ADHD
  • 10x more likely to commit suicide
  • 2-3x more likely to die young of unnatural causes

40% of Individuals in Prison have ADHD, and 50% of individuals with ADHD have Addiction Issues.  

I know these statistics maybe very depressing, and sad, but it reveals a deeper truth that we rarely think about.  ADHD can be a gift, but without mastering it can be one of the most destructive forces in some one’s life.  Due to the high rates of addiction, prison, and early death with ADHD, then we have to realize the sad truth that a lot of people with ADHD do not make it.

ADHD can unfortunately stand for tremendous life long suffering and death.

Since the rates of all these horrible things are rising, then we have to come to realize that things will not get better on their own.  Things get better or worse, and never stay the same.  One of the biggest challenges with ADHD is that what appears to not be much of a problem early on in life tends to cascade as we get older.

There are many reasons for this, but just a few of them include increased responsibilities, complexity, and the effects of compounded trauma.  Let me address each of these separately in hopes to show how what ADHD stands for can not only mean different things to different people, but can also mean different things to the same person at different times in their life.

1.) Increased Responsibility

We all know that life gets more difficult as we age, and with our growth comes more responsibilities.  I think all of us wish we could rewind the clock to when our only responsibilities were putting our snacks and mats away after snack and naptime.  The increase of responsibility is natural, and is also our growth as human beings.  The problem comes for the ADHD person in that what used to work in the past no longer works in the future.  The reason for this is not only more responsibility, but also the complexity of life in general.

2.) Increased Complexity

We all have certain coping mechanisms that help us deal with the challenges of our lives.  However, life becomes increasingly more complex as we get older.  The same coping mechanisms that used to work no longer do as there are just too many things going on at once to juggle.  Life gets increasingly more difficult to control.

3.) Compounded Trauma

All of us have trauma in some form or another, and as we continue to live we experience more things which leave us traumatized.  Individuals with ADHD are often very sensitive, and more likely to experience trauma.  Most people use coping mechanisms to help them deal with life’s traumas.  This becomes increasingly less effective due to not just increased responsibility and complexity, but also because of how trauma tends to compound itself as the sum becomes greater than the parts.

It is for all these reasons, and for many more, that nothing stays the same.  We often fool ourselves into thinking that things will not getting any worse than they are, but the truth is that unless we take action to improve our lives, then things are going to get worse.

The biggest advice I have to anyone struggling with ADHD, and trying to find meaning in it is that what it needs to stand for is a life of constant growth.  People are always trying to understand how it is that I have been able to be 22 years symptom and meds free, but the answer is obvious one – constant relentless growth.

We have to learn to be honest with ourselves about where we are at, and the dangers that lie before us if we do nothing to improve our circumstances.  We have to be willing to face our pain and struggles, and work at the core issues causing us so much difficulty.  If we do not do this, then we will constantly be losing ground in what will feel like the losing battle of our lives.

The secret to my success and to other’s success is not sexy, but it is simple.  Radical Personal Growth.

I have been studying mindfulness and reading personal help books every since I was 5-6 years old.  I never let up from that journey, and I continued to push ahead even when it seemed like I was doing pretty well.  We must seek to be relentless and never let up.

The moment we let up is the moment we start falling back into old patterns.

ADHD is whatever you make it to be.  To me, I see it as Advanced Dimensions of Human Development.

I see it as that part of us that is always evolving.   And don’t worry, we are all a part of it.  Creativity is something we all have, but it requires that you believe.

Believe in what?

Believe in yourself!

That is what is missing.  Yes, it is true that it is very important to get grounded and to learn to have mastery over your emotions.   However, you must begin by being on your side.  Start by believing in who you are, and in the power that lives within you to do amazing things.

So, what does ADHD stand for?

It’s up to you.  What is it that you want your life stand for?  Create an acronym, and you live it out.  If we need labels, then why not give yourself one that is positive.

You find yourself using it often, like your name, so use it as tool to get you to where you want to go.

What you want is there right under you, but you have to stand for it.  You must embody it.

When you do you will understand, and in time you will live.

Create the acronym and post a video of it here.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!