How memes can help you understand your ADHD
Sam, a communications worker, was diagnosed with ADHD at 30. He speaks about how he uses ADHD memes to express himself.
Every now and again, you come across the perfect metaphor for life with ADHD. And it’s usually accidental.
Exhibit A is the Sports Car Fail Video, as I call it.
Seeing yourself in a meme
It’s simple enough and all over the internet. It’s usually a dashcam video. In it, a supercar driver on a city street floors it when the traffic light turns green but finds his car going sideways instead of forwards. Give a car that powerful too much gas, and it’ll spin.
No one is hurt. But the driver is probably in hot water. Fellow motorists laugh or exclaim in disgust, usually a mixture of both.
So do I, of course. And I heave a sigh of relief that it wasn’t worse. But lately, I also find myself thinking, “wait, this is life with ADHD in a nutshell.”
Owning my diagnosis
I feel oddly sympathetic to the driver and the car itself – they’re both entirely mismatched for their environments. The driver should be playing a computer game, and the car should be on a track. There’s a lot of potential there, in the car and (hopefully) the driver. Still, it needs an attentive approach to make the most of it – to go forwards and not sideways.
I’m surprised more ADHD’ers haven’t picked up on it for meme videos – a caption like ‘me trying to follow a schedule’, ‘me with impulse control’, or simply ‘#ADHDLife’.
ADHD and neurodiversity meme pages are an absolutely brilliant way to understand your condition. They’re a place where people can blow off steam and joke about the slightly wild ride (no pun intended) that living with these conditions can be. I see them as part of my management – they’re easily as important to my journey as my diagnosis. Honesty and laughter do a great deal for owning your identity.
I see them as part of my management – they’re easily as important to my journey as my diagnosis. Honesty and laughter do a great deal for owning your identity.
I need to keep track
So, yes, on a bad day, I am very much a Sports Car Fail. Let me explain. As someone with ADHD, I often have to work hard to direct my energy and control my focus, which often feels like it acts on a hair-trigger – it’s ‘100%’ or ‘off’. It’s not a lack of ability so much as difficulty matching your capabilities to modern life’s demands. I have to keep track of how I respond to stimuli, what I do and how I focus on different tasks effectively.
If I don’t, I risk ending up like the car. Take the start of a large project: I’m rearing to go, and I’m given the go-ahead, and launch into it at full speed. I work feverishly, become absorbed, and work astonishingly quickly. But if I’m not careful, I go off on a tangent – at full speed. This is how an otherwise competent project manager can spend hours deciding on a font size or picture rather than actually writing a plan and setting up meetings.
Time and practice
It takes time, careful practice, and self-reflection to leverage the strengths that ADHD brings while not going Sports Car Fail. When doing this well, I can focus intensely, stay unusually calm in a crisis, and use my divergent thinking to provide unique solutions to problems.
Sometimes, the best insights can come from jokes, and memes are just the digital age equivalent.
This is a small selection of helpful pages and accounts I’ve come across since being diagnosed at age 30 – mostly ones that I find helpful but also lighthearted and funny.
Websites with memes and other useful resources
The Original ADHD meme therapy (also on Instagram @ADHDmemetherapy)