I just finished reading The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child, by Thom Hartmann.
Oh man was it eye-opening.
As Hartmann ticked off the behaviors of a “hunter” child, I felt like he was describing me. It really resonated. Always sensing the environment, given to periods of hyper-focus and intensity, individualistic, motivated by fear/fight-or-flight, prone to addictive behaviors, not very competitive, not willing to follow the script…that was me.
My interpretation of Hartmann’s basic premise — most of the behaviors that get labeled as ADHD are consistent with a genetic profile (the hunter) that was extremely valuable thousands of years ago. He argues that ADHD is not necessarily a disorder of the individual who has it, but rather a disconnect between the individual’s strengths and the environment in which they are in. Furthermore, the people with this sort of “hunter profile” (like Thomas Edison) are often the best innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs.
Then I started thinking about my past experience through this new lens — and a lot of previously confusing things started to make sense. Why in the world was I never able to succeed working at two big, bureaucratic companies? Why did I migrate away from road racing into trail/mountain? Why was I so motivated for my first Pikes Peak when I wasn’t for my second? Why am I able to run for hours without needing to listen to music as a form of “distraction?” Why do I treat my kids as if they are my equals? This offered a bit of an explanation.
For the past few years, I’ve been in a pretty deep funk. I thought I was really messed up…and at least one doctor had me believing I was suffering from depression. Medication, psychologists, the whole nine yards.
Through this new lens I think that was wrong. Sure I felt like crap but in my case it wasn’t some sort of disorder. It was just my way of dealing with the world — I was hyper-focused on the negative stuff.
I’ve come to believe that I have this sort of “hunter” genetic profile….and even more important … that’s not a bad thing. It’s not a disorder, and I’m not messed up. There are just times when who I am conflicts with the environment I’m in.
As I started thinking about this, I felt this huge weight just start dropping off my shoulders. I’ve got a whole new outlook on things, and my major goal over the next few years is to get rid of all these disconnects between me and the environment I’m in. That means changing the environment, as I’ve spent enough time trying to fit in.
From a running / fitness perspective, I’m starting to explore the spiritual aspects of running and riding.
NOTE: I realize that mine is an over-simplified version of ADHD and even depression. I’m understand that there are people at the extreme ends of the ADHD spectrum and people who have severe forms of depression, for which this logic might not apply. Here I’m just talking about my own experience. Please don’t read this as any sort of expert opinion on ADHD or depression; it’s only one guys opinion on his situation.