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My Turbo Brain

As an adult blessed/cursed with ADHD, I feel this is an inspiring article to share, written by one of my favorite Brain Gangsters, Dr. Ned Hallowell. His advice? "You need to find someone, somewhere who gets such a kick out of you that they just can’t help but smile when you walk into the room, even if you have your pants on backwards and you’re an hour-and-a-half late."

"I have never stopped loving ADHD. I have the condition myself, and I treat hundreds of people who have it at my center in Sudbury, Massachusetts every year. And with my buddy, John Ratey, I have written several books about it.

You see, I have a love affair with ADHD.

Would you mind if I didn’t call ADHD ADHD in this piece? I really dislike the term. Please don’t tell the Thought Police that I have strayed from the DSM-IV. Just indulge this aging lover in his love and let him—me—call ADHD something else. How about Turbo?

I choose Turbo because having this condition is like having a turbo-charged brain (I do not see Turbo as a disorder, but rather as a condition, or a trait; I know there are important reasons to consider it as a disorder—mainly having to do with getting accommodations, research funding, and insurance reimbursement—but for my little love letter here, let me refer to my love as a trait, okay?).

The Turbo brain is so unpredictable. One minute it gets you into trouble, the next minute it gives you the smartest idea you’ve ever had.

The Turbo brain speaks out of turn, it speaks when it should hush up, it speaks when others wish it wouldn’t, it even speaks when it wishes it wouldn’t.

The Turbo brain forgets. Oh, does it ever forget. And it remembers just a minute or two too late. The Turbo brain often gets yelled at, or gets reprimanded, lectured, scorned, remediated, medicated, or even detonated, so that it explodes! When it explodes, of course, there is a mess. And then there is a mess to clean up. Sometimes the owner of the Turbo brain lives life from mess to mess.

The Turbo brain knows enthusiasm like few other brains ever do, but it also knows disappointment too well, too. The Turbo brain tries—oh, boy, does it ever try—but then it shows up at the wrong place on the wrong day with hat in hand, ready for another reprimand.

The Turbo brain cannot conform. It loves its own way too much. It loves to go where enchantment leads it, and once caught up in a mind-riff it can’t say no—because it forgets where it is and what the world is waiting for.

The reason I love the Turbo brain is the same reason I love anyone or anything that has to overcome great odds. The deck is stacked against the Turbo brain, especially in school. But I also love it because at times it can be so marvelous. It has to persist, and not believe all the nasty things that get said about it, if it is to do well over the long haul.

Can it do well? Oh, can it ever!

What do you need to do to give yourself the best chance of doing well if you have a Turbo brain, or if someone you love or like or teach or care for has such a blessed brain?

You need, above all else, in as many positive ways as you can, to CONNECT.

You need to connect up with a mentor who sees your hidden skills and talents and can help draw them out of you.

You need to find someone, somewhere who gets such a kick out of you that they just can’t help but smile when you walk into the room, even if you have your pants on backwards and you’re an hour-and-a-half late.

You need to find a pet who loves you and you love back, in spite of poops.

You need to have a hobby that you get lost in, like building engines; or a sport you’re awesome at, like wrestling; or a horn you like to blow.

You need to find a place where you can relax, a place where you connect to the vibes of whatever is true and good and fine in the life you live and the life you hope to live.

You need to connect to hope.

You need to be in Nature, at the sea or on a mountain or in the sky, and feel how much like Nature is your Turbo brain.

You need to connect to love and disconnect from all the nasties that nibble at you like gnats.

You need to give what’s best in you but you don’t know what it is a chance to grow. You do this by finding the right gardener. The right gardener is out there. He or she is not always easy to find, as right gardeners don’t turn up as often as one would hope. But when you find the right gardener—the one who sees you’re not a weed but a most unusual plant—then your hard work will turn you into the great tree you were meant to be.

Having a Turbo brain can be hard. Having a brain—period—can be hard.

But, I can tell you, as one who has a Turbo brain, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

After all, it has given me my world—my loves of many kinds—and even if it is not there when I need it, it takes me where, without it, I could never go." ~Dr. Ned Hallowell

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