Adults living with ADHD have a different neurology that affects them pervasively and deeply. Medications can help but there is no cure. Hopefully as you come to appreciate the positive in ADHD as well the negative traits, you may not want a cure. By practically addressing ADHD problems, it is quite possible to live a fulfilled, successful and happy life. I recommend you learn to understand, accept and embrace your ADHD.
Live your ADHD life aligned with who you really are.
Understanding your ADHD
If you wish to gain control of your ADHD, you have to first understand it as much as possible. So read books, web sites, magazines; observe yourself and others at support groups, listen to and debate with the professionals – your psychiatrists (be gentle with them they are quite sensitive!) and coaches, figure out how ADHD affects you. Everyone with ADHD has different challenges and strengths, so become an expert in your own ADHD.
Understanding means mending low self esteem after years of criticism, understanding means gaining new insights into what may finally work for you and most importantly understanding means new hope.
Accepting your ADHD
There seem to me two sensible decisions to make about our ADHD challenges and issues. We can:
- Accept that we have a problem and find an ADHD-friendly approach or strategy to overcome or manage it
- Accept we struggle with something and decide to live with it and stop worrying/beating ourselves over it
The option of struggling with an issue, doing nothing about it and constantly feeling frustrated and unhappy with yourself – doesn’t make much sense. It leads to lower self-esteem, depression and even self-loathing.
I am ADHD, I work on acceptance of my challenges. I now have an explanation for being late, bored and emotional – it’s due to my genes and dopamine. Explanation is not excuse, so I devise strategies to overcome my challenges and accept my limitations.
Focus on how to make things more interesting, how to develop and exploit existing habits, how to avoid overwhelm, how to reward yourself, how to find easier ways to start tasks and activate yourself, and then create the routines and habits to keep doing them.
Embracing your ADHD
The business of medicine is to identify and define illness and to provide symptom management with medications and therapy. ADHD traits can make living in today’s world difficult, with the growing love of order, routine and process. ADHD brings “co-morbidities” like depression, anxiety and addictions. Problems can occur at work, at home, with friends and family. It’s great that doctors are involved in helping people with ADHD to provide medical level support, but this doesn’t make them expert in living a happy ADHD life.
ADHD is a genetic difference, nearly as inherited as height. As tall people are at the end of the height spectrum, so ADHD minds are at one end of an attention spectrum. Being very tall can bring problems: bad backs and bumped foreheads on low door frames but height brings benefits too like seeing over people’s heads at concerts and being good at basketball. If height was invisible, the medical profession and research would only focus on forehead injuries, not basketball skills. Just as it is with ADHD, where all the focus is on negative traits and none on our creativity or humour. When you switch on the TV and see the celebrities, the entrepreneurs, the comedians, the successful people so evidently ADHD, it’s clear that to exclusively focus on the negative traits of ADHD is absurd.
The cave people who explored the next valley were bored, big-picture seeing and risk taking ADHD ones
The maverick, passionate women who broke convention and became suffragettes to gain women the vote were more ADHD in nature
The scientists who defied convention, made connections and created solutions have ADHD traits
The vast majority of entrepreneurs who start businesses from original ideas and avoidance of authority – ADHD
If you are ADHD, you are different. Some of that difference sucks, but not all. Focus on where your differences are strengths and where you interests lie.
Change the context of your life to better fit you and how you operate before you try to change yourself to fit your context. If the job is awful and boring, explore changing your job before you consider medication. Sure medication can help but if the job is dull and soulless, meds won’t fix that.
Figure out your interests and strengths, and focus your efforts there. Embrace your ADHD, enjoy being the more emotional, forgetful, natural, funny, intuitive, inspirational, procrastinating, unplanned, passionate ADHD you. Avoid a life in which you try not to be ADHD, rather find one in which you can be ADHD, be yourself, do what comes naturally, do what you are passionate about and engaged by. Embrace your ADHD.