The Upside of Being High Maintenance

Mar. 27th, 2017

I once offhandedly told someone “Yeah, I'm pretty high maintenance.” Their response was a quelling “No you're not!” Clearly concerned that this was a self deprecating comment.

In fact I felt I was speaking the truth. I really am high maintenance. My 1-2 hour long morning and evening routines are evidence of this. As are the list of items I need to have on me at all times, such as lip balm, Advil, handkerchief, Purell, sunglasses and so forth. I don't view this as either good or bad, except in how it impacts me and others.

I have a suspicion that a lot of people with ADHD are higher maintenance than those of a more typical brain structure. Things that, to others, would seem like a perk are genuine needs for us. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a common comorbidity with ADHD, is one of the reasons for this. It may seem super picky to have to have the exact right socks, underwear, clothing, and shoes, but if a person with SPD has the wrong socks, it can cause them physical pain and ruin their day. They won't be able to pay attention in school, get any work done, or possibly even keep themselves from crying because the sensory input from those awful socks is just too overwhelming.

There is a positive side to all this, I swear. When I was a baby, and my mom was feeding me, the spoon would have barely cleared my mouth and hadn't yet picked up new food before I exclaimed “EH!” demanding to know where my blasted food was, mother. This urgency has not diminished in the intervening 25 years. As a result I learned to cook for myself at the earliest possible opportunity. Given ingredients I like (of which there is a great variety) and a kitchen, I am self sufficient.

One of the reasons ADHD is so confused in the general population is that people, particularly teens and adults, naturally develop coping mechanisms that mask their symptoms. They do this to be able to cope with a world that was not designed for them. I mean us.

And as I've mentioned before, people with ADHD are often super creative. These two traits combine to allow us to overcome a ton of problems. Things that might stymie someone else is simple to us.

So there you have it: my tendency to be high maintenance is directly related to my ability to solve problems! Are you high or low maintenance?