Dear ADD, ADHD and HSP people
I am Jochem, the founder and lead writer of ADDcharacteristics.net. During my lifetime, I was diagnosed with ADD. After that, the labels HSP (High Sensitive Person) and HSS (High Sensation Seeker) also came to me. In 2011, I started this website to offer a more positive sound for people with labels like ADD, ADHD and HSP. What I often noticed is the huge dose of negativity around AD(H)D and HSP. ADDcharacteristics.net highlights precisely those bright sides too.
Besides the necessary positivity, you will find plenty of tips and advice here, as well as inspiring and informative articles. Sometimes written by me and sometimes by one of the fantastic guest bloggers. Many of the guest bloggers have been diagnosed with AD(H)D or are Highly Sensitive themselves. As a result, the articles are often a breath of fresh air of recognition. What is also much loved are the recognisable submitted life stories of fellow AD(H)D'ers and HSP'ers.
Over the years, I have learned an incredible amount and have not only become an expert in the field of ADD, ADHD and HSP, but also in subjects such as self-healing, nutrition and NLP. Through this website, I try to help you on your way to a better life in which you are empowered and can live fully from your true self. Below you can read more about my life story and my journey to balance. You can also read about all the struggles I encountered along the way and why I started this website.
Do you recognise this?
Your head keeps thinking. You feel restless, cannot concentrate on anything, get bored easily and are easily overstimulated. In addition, you seem to possess an intuitive wisdom that others do not. A kind of feeling as if your consciousness is operating on a different frequency. You can't explain everything when asked 'why', you just feel it.
A personal aspect I have also always carried with me is that I try to fix everything that is wrong in the world. All the lies, misery, power games. I can take it very badly when I see injustice. I want to fix it all. As if it is my mission to help the whole world where I always make too little time for myself. On the one hand, maybe a nice trait but on the other hand, a pitfall because it takes a lot of energy. Especially in a world as it is being shaped today.
The past few years have been a long journey of awareness for me. I have been very involved in self-healing through nutrition, alternative medicine, epigenetics, natural supplements, NLP and mindfulness. In the process, I have learned all kinds of things and seen a variety of therapists, alternative healers, coaches, doctors and psychologists, and I have spoken to many fellow ADDs, ADHDs and HSPs. I also read a number of inspiring and helpful books (not my strong suit, haha).
The biggest reason for this long search was that in (June 2009), suddenly overnight, I was diagnosed with CFS/ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome. This was a major turning point in my life that ensured I really had to start working on myself from now on. How I was living until then was obviously not the right way. I had been living all those years in a way of always going on and not complaining. Suppressing and hiding my symptoms and surviving on adrenaline.
It soon became clear that merely taking rest was not going to make me better. My life was slowly being taken over by this severe fatigue with all the accompanying symptoms. For me, it felt like I literally had to 'reset' in order to recover.
Early years at school and the development of complaints
In retrospect, the CFS/ME I just mentioned was a process that had already started in my adolescence. I think the underlying reason for my CFS/ME was the increasing imbalance in my body and mind due to ADD and high sensitivity, which I found difficult to deal with. Always tiptoeing around me, being easily overstimulated, little motivation and a brain that doesn't stop thinking.
Somehow, I just couldn't find my niche at school either. You know the sayings. You can do it but you don't want to. In primary school, I got through it and that was actually a really fun time too. High school became a bigger problem. I really wondered why everyone was so good at listening to that 'brainwash'. At least that's how I saw it. I was just looking for action, interesting stimuli and learning which enlarged my soul. In retrospect, that was really my AD(H)D side. I was not looking for knowledge that stores itself in a lobe of the brain and that decays when you die.
From the age of 14, I started developing symptoms like depersonalisation, tinnitus, fatigue, dizziness, brooding, depression, social anxiety and so on. I don't remember exactly what started it first but probably because of one thing came another. Perhaps it also had to do with the fact that I felt little 'real' connection with other children. This while as a child I was always very cheerful and adventurous and always full of energy. Climbing trees, on rooftops, bicycle racing and so on. In childhood, I was really more of an ADHD'er, haha. Things could never be crazy enough for me. Yes, an adrenaline junky I was. That kept me going even in my adolescence. My biggest outlet back then was freestyle snowboarding. The adrenaline kept me on my toes and relatively happy at that time.
Apart from this, I did various jobs from catering to tuk-tuk driver to on-call stuntman for a stunt team. Everything to keep feeling the adrenaline that calmed me down. This allowed me to feel no symptoms such as overstimulation, the constantly running thoughts, restlessness, insecurity, etc.
Broken upper leg and trip through Australia/Asia
To make matters worse, when I was 21, I broke my upper leg in a snowboarding accident. Just a few months before I was supposed to go to Australia for a year. Fortunately, that did go ahead, despite the fact that I was in a lot of pain for the first few months there and had to leave a lot behind. Halfway through, I flew over to New Zealand for a few more weeks and at the end of the year I went to work in the snow in Australia's snowy mountains. I worked there in a hostel and as a dishwasher in a restaurant. In addition, I could be found snowboarding on the mountain every day.
After this year, I flew via Hong-Kong where I stayed for a week to Bangkok and spent another three months backpacking through South-East Asia in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. I really liked that free feeling of going wherever you want and not having to take anything or anyone into account. If I liked it somewhere I stayed, if not I left again. The most free feeling I had was when I rented a motorbike in Thailand and went on an adventure. Always taking every road I didn't know, which brought me to the most beautiful places and beaches.
During my backpacking trip, for the first time in my life, I met really inspiring and fun people with whom I was really in tune. Like in terms of depth, humour, creativity, etc. I would safely say that most of the backpackers you meet in those countries could almost all carry labels like ADD, ADHD and high sensitivity, for example. Anyway, it was a very special time!
The beginning of CFS/ME and many operations
After returning from my trip, severe fatigue began to set in within a year. It was not yet CFS/ME, as I could still work as usual. I remember exactly how, after several months, CFS/ME kicked in overnight. As if something had 'changed' in my system so that I no longer rested from sleep and had to recover for days from every little exertion. Maybe I had also contracted something like lyme or some parasite. I don't know. Extensive blood tests were never allowed to show anything, only that I had antibodies for Pheiffer, but that could have been from years ago. However, a therapist from live blood tests did tell me that I would have candida in my blood. At the time, apart from a short diet, I never really did anything with that.
Unfortunately, it could all be worse because even though I could barely walk due to the fatigue caused by CFS/ME, my concentration had now really dropped to a 0-point as far as it could get worse and I felt like my brain had become a grey mass that only left my organs to work so as not to drop dead, I was from then on given an operation to repair my leg length difference. This leg length difference had occurred due to the fracture. In addition, the screws had broken in Australia, causing an additional more than half a cm of shortening. Something my doctors, by the way, had sworn what could not happen. No matter how hard I would jump or do, the screws would never break! Well, they don't know me yet, you might think. If there is anyone who always pushes the limit and preferably crosses it, it is me. Anyway, this became the beginning of 3 years of drama in which I had to undergo a total of 8 major operations. You get the picture, the extreme fatigue that had already taken over my life now became even worse.
I am not one to sit back and relax. So despite everything, I wanted to keep moving and started studying SPH (social pedagogical assistance). How I did it, I don't know, because there was no real human existence left, as I was literally a dried-up zombie manoeuvring through school on crutches all those months. Still, I got good grades and wrote good theses and reports. Sometimes it seems like a kind of 'primal drive' is released in me when I am struggling. As if that's when it really becomes a challenge. That may be my AD(H)D side, which I think is actually a very nice characteristic.
Unfortunately, I was forced to stop this study after 3/4 years. Well, when you fall down and shake on the floor and feel like you could die at any moment of the day, you wonder whether you should continue like this.
In retrospect, I now also understand why my leg did not want to recover right away from the 1st leg extension surgery. A body with CFS/ME is in a continuous chronic stress state. That means the sympathetic nervous system is activated 24/7. In that state, your body does not heal and you only produce adrenaline. You are ready to fight or flee but this of course completely burns up all the reserves you have in you. When your system calms down and your parasympathetic nervous system is activated, your body can heal itself. Well, unfortunately these are all things I found out later and they don't care about in the hospital. I had asked them so many times, "Doctor, is it wise to do this leg lengthening now since I feel so extremely tired every day?" The answer every time was that it could not be a problem.
A journey to awareness, healing and recovery
Fortunately, I am now recovering very well from all the symptoms and my energy level is now almost normal (June 2015 time of writing). This also resulted in my thigh bone finally starting to grow together. By now, my thigh bone has been growing really well for a year and I am able to longboard regularly. Snowboarding I also did again once. As long as I don't exert too much effort, I don't fall back into fatigue and my leg pulls through just fine.
As you now understand, this healing could also only happen because I brought my body back to rest about which you will read more below. In terms of my CFS/ME, things are going very well now provided I don't fall back into old patterns. I need regular time for myself and just shouldn't try to live like others do at all costs. I'm just not like that and I actually like that. If I stay with myself and my diet persists, it goes well! By the way, the same goes for other complaints I always had due to my ADD and HSP such as overstimulation, unclearness, fog in the head, concentration problems and restlessness. People often really have no idea what food does to you. I also benefited greatly for a while from the natural supplement LTO3. Meanwhile, more and more people with ADD and ADHD are taking it. I prefer to do it without taking anything, so I focus mainly on meditation exercises, NLP and nutrition. LTO3 is also quite pricey, but if you can afford it, I definitely recommend giving it a try. Here I wrote a full page of information about it.
To recover, I did have to learn a lot about myself. That is why I went to every therapist, coach and alternative healer you can think of. And yes, this has cost me loads of money! I think I could have bought a very nice car by now.
From the alternative healers, a lot of them were unfortunately quackery and frankly just bagging, which didn't help me at all. But yes, I wanted to get rid of the CFS/ME at all costs and felt desperate. There were days when I could only go up and down the stairs once after which I had to recover for the rest of the day, or several days. Seeing a friend for 5 minutes also resulted in 3 days of rest in bed. But thanks to continuing to look for the right help and not focusing on all the negative reports, I became increasingly aware and gained a lot of valuable knowledge. These gave me very good new insights which ensured that I continued to recover from the CFS/ME. The symptoms of ADD and HSP also got better and better. The subjects I dealt with and still deal with are nutrition, meditation, alternative medicine, epigenetics, natural supplements, NLP, mindfulness, etc. Now I actually see my ADD and HSP more as a strength and can live with it much better. I also wonder if these labels are disorders in intent.
ADD and ADHD a disorder?
In my opinion, the negative side of ADD and ADHD is overemphasised. We are too concerned with seeing ADD and ADHD as a disorder. In my view, this actually applies to almost all labels people are given these days. In some ways, I understand this. Of course, this is because it seems like a burden rather than a strength in our current society. Because yes, I too suffered a lot and even developed CFS/ME because of it. In fact, it has been found that 70% of people diagnosed with it in adulthood have since developed other problems as well. Many well-known external psychological disorders in ADD and ADHD are depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCS), anxiety disorders, personality disorders, burnout and so on. By the way, this is also common in HSP.
But don't forget this. Scientists still argue about whether things like ADD and ADHD can really be named as disorders. Sure, the pharma companies do this, but then again, they make billions. But remember that there is nothing to measure. No blood test, no X-ray, nothing. Yes there is sometimes evidence of other brain activity. But this also appears to occur in people who experience no symptoms at all. I was told this when I underwent 10 neurofeedback treatments. Therefore, this cannot be a deciding factor and, in the end, it comes down to the fact that all these labels can only be determined on the basis of certain characteristics someone experiences. But you can also ask why this behaviour is expressed. A variety of external factors often come into play here. Factors that disturb the balance between the human body and mind. Incidentally, I had little benefit from neurofeedback at the time.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to trivialise anything at all. I have personally experienced how tough life can be and how you are confronted with your symptoms day in and day out. Half my life consisted of 'surviving' and, in fact, I still do. I was also desperate and looking for that one magic pill that could make all my symptoms disappear. But it just doesn't work like that. I even tried Ritalin and Concerta for a while but this was a no go for me! Losing weight, heart palpitations, anxiety and so on. No, for me it was clear that medication was not the way for me.
The 'robot mode'
That it is very difficult these days to participate in society in a somewhat normal and pleasant way is obvious. I think we can all agree on that. We see this in the large number of growing patients in mental health care. This is running at a red-hot temperature and how much medication is being swallowed? In the Netherlands alone, 1 million people are on antidepressants and hundreds of thousands on stimulants such as Ritalin and Concerta. In America, the ratio is many times higher. It really has become alarmingly high! But why? Well, the world has become damn fast. Money, greed and power play the biggest role. Can you imagine there are people living on a different consciousness who are completely stuck in this society? At the same time, no one is asking questions about the madness we live in today. It seems like everyone has gone into a kind of robot mode and no one knows what life is really about anymore. Is now really the only thing that matters working, working, working, busy, busy, busy, money, money, money, money and buying the latest stuff?
The beginning of ADDcharacteristics.net
On the internet, I come across a lot of information about ADD and ADHD. Unfortunately, I find that it is often very negative. I myself have gained a huge amount of new information by reading books and learning from other therapists as I have described. One such book that really opened my eyes is 'The Davinci Method' by John Loporto. Yes, believe me, I used to hate reading but Loporto approaches our traits in such a beautiful way that I finished the book in one sitting. This really is a eye-opener for all people diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and adjacent diagnoses that you simply should have read. Besides my own views, which I have always held on ADD, ADHD and HSP, this book was one of the biggest inspirations for me to start the website ADDcharacteristics.net in late 2011.
More about Loporto's inspiring book 'The Davinci Method' can be found here. You can also see his super inspiring video there in which he shares his message as an introduction to his book.
ADD and ADHD looked at from a positive side
Unfortunately, if you enter 'ADD' or 'ADHD' in Google, or any contemporary label, you will almost exclusively find websites that assume disorders. Entire websites are full of them and forums are filled with people who just talk each other into the doldrums and try to find support through complaining, which of course is counterproductive in the end. All looking for that one all-encompassing super pill that is going to make life perfect. All time you could have spent on yourself.
So that is not my intention of this website. I don't approach all these labels as a disorder. I see it as a body getting out of balance and that starts in childhood. Also food often plays a role in this. I like to focus on anything that helps us get back into balance so that you experience fewer symptoms and can live life with joy and happiness. I also prefer to look at the possibilities and positive qualities that are often hidden behind the negative aspects of these labels.
Think of beautiful, powerful qualities we possess such as your high awareness, your strong intuition, your drive for challenge and thrills, your days performing for 300%, your hyperfocus, your creativity, your insane ability to come up with solutions to problems, your adventurousness, your humour, your passion and so on. Strong qualities we possess in abundance, mind you! Otherwise, take a look at these 10 wonderful benefits of ADD and ADHD.
Did you know that a large proportion of all celebrities such as, movie stars, rock stars, artists, inventors, dancers, artists, entrepreneurs and great leaders have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD or can very much identify with the characteristics? Check out this interesting videos about celebrities with ADD and ADHD. That does indicate the extent to which these people have a certain higher consciousness and how much can be achieved with this. These people need a passion in which they can express their energy, creativity and other special powers. Only then can they really live from who they really are and that is what you see in them!
Living from your passion and true 'I'
When you regain balance, are confident and feel that spirit within yourself and can express your passion and creativity, you can be a person who is very inspiring to 'normal' people. A person with a close engagement with life, a rich emotional life, high awareness, full of creativity, a broad thinking mind, a social being, reliable, humorous and with very good intuition. The roles of feeling different will then turn. The 'sheeple' as they are often called will then see you as a strength they are only too happy to learn from. But if you keep getting stuck and often think negatively about yourself, you will become more and more negatively laden and tired and the above beautiful qualities will mostly remain in the background. In the long run, this often results in secondary psychological complaints, later even burnout or even CVs/me as was the case with me.
There are several ways to get closer to yourself again and learn to cope better with ADD, ADHD and HSP in everyday life. For example, take a look at the link below:
The purpose of ADDcharacteristics.net
For many people, ADD, ADHD and HSP unfortunately result in a life full of problems, setbacks, getting stuck, over-stimulated, burn-out, anxiety, depression and so on. Through all the information, tips and advice I give you tools to be stronger with your ADD, ADHD and HSP and to live from your true 'I'. I share with you all the knowledge I have. The knowledge that can give your life a positive spin as an ADD, ADHD and HSP sufferer. I share all the information I have learned from coaches, therapists, alternative healers and from books and documentaries, my own intuition and experiences and what I have done myself in my journey towards healing and understanding. I also try to inspire you and others to look especially at the beautiful and strong sides of ADD, ADHD and high sensitivity watch.
If you would like to receive a nice positive e-mail regularly with useful tips for your life with ADD, ADHD and HSP, you can sign up with your e-mail address and first name for free for the ADD, ADHD, HSP - Stand in your power newsletter. After you sign up, you will immediately receive 2 goodies that can already help you a little bit to get in balance (in terms of meditation and nutrition). It is a start.
I would say, come back to the website regularly for much-needed positive energy, inspiring videos, recognisable life stories of 'fellow sufferers and the many tips and advice to stand strong with your ADD, ADHD and HSP.
Don't forget the Facebook fanpage like. Among other things, this will keep you up to date with the latest added articles and developments on the website!
Lots of reading and recognition fun at ADD features.net
More on my identity... You might be wondering who Jochem is then. I totally get that! There are a number of reasons why I do not reveal my full identity which I will explain below.
You might be wondering who Jochem is then. I totally get that! There are a number of reasons why I do not reveal my full identity which I will explain below.