Jessica McCabe was dignosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in middle-school, when being a “smart kid” wasn’t enough to get good grades. Despite navigating school successfully before that, she recalls, “I was also struggling. I didn’t have many, any, friends outside of books. I was easily overwhelmed. I spaced out in class. I lost things constantly. And trying to get my brain to focus on anything I wasn’t excited about was like trying to nail jello to the wall. But I was smart, so nobody was worried.”
In this Ted Talk, she talks about living with ADHD. She describes the learning disorder as having three primary characteristics — inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. “Some people with ADHD have more of the inattentive presentation. Those are the daydreamers, the space cadets. Some have more of the hyperactive-impulsive presentation. Those are the kids that usually get diagnosed early. But the most common presentation is a combination of both.”
Stimulant medication, she shares, helped her cope and focus, till one day, it didn’t. “By 21, I dropped out of college and moved back home. Over the next ten years, I started and quit, or was fired from, 15 jobs. I ruined my credit. I got married, and was divorced within a year. At this point, I was 32, and I had no idea what I was doing with my life.”
McCabe realised, “Looking at my behavior, I knew: even with medication, even as an adult, my ADHD was still interfering with my life, and what I needed to know was how and why, and, more importantly, what could I do about it.” This also led her to start a YouTube channel How to ADHD.
She comments, “First of all, it’s real. It’s not bad parenting or lack of discipline. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It’s currently the most well-researched mental condition, and there are actually measurable differences in the brain. These differences are larger in children, but, for most people, they never go away.”