Are you like the millions of other adults who have a full schedule and are regularly challenged by symptoms of ADHD? If so, then constant distraction, procrastination, and poor time management are among the obstacles you face daily.
While one area of your life might be managed very well (by using all of your energy to stay focused), other areas are drastically affected and suffer. Everyday social relationships can become so painful that you find yourself with no hope, desperate and aching to do something, anything, different.
Diagnosis of ADHD
For starters, don’t try to diagnose yourself. “ADHD is a misunderstood diagnosis even in the modern age,” says Dr. Anthony Rostain, MD.
Not only can ADHD symptoms mimic other disorders, ADHD can also co-exist with those same other disorders. Only by sorting through these sneaky partnerships can you choose the best, most effective, treatment for you.
Rostain, “There are a lot of myths and skepticism that want to cast doubts on the validity of the diagnosis”. CHADD, the leading national organization for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, maintains a website that both validates ADHD is a real disorder and provides evidence that it can be treated effectively. It will help you dispel the myths and silence the skeptics.
A clear diagnosis will pinpoint the troublesome symptoms that are unique to you.
Many of these symptoms are centered in an area of our thoughts labeled as “Executive Functions.” Executive Functions (EF, for short) form the governing body of the average human mind. EF involves your brain’s ability to absorb, process, and interpret incoming facts and then make a decision on how best to proceed.
Symptoms of ADHD
When you promise your partner you’ll stop by the grocery and pick up milk on your way home, what’s the worst that could happen? To someone with ADHD, it’s an all-too-familiar argument because, once again, you will have arrived with several bags of stuff – none of which is milk. As usual, your partner hits the ceiling. You say, “No big deal, I’ll just go back to the store.” Your partner storms out of the house, yelling, “Never mind! I’ll do it – AGAIN!” Another dinner ruined or delayed; another crack in the foundation of your most important relationship. This is not about the milk.
It’s about your partner wanting to count on you. Your partner wants you to remember and follow through without having to be reminded.
When things aren’t running smoothly, when you struggle to stay organized or complete everyday tasks, you might have to accept that you are a repeat offender when it comes to poor planning, poor prioritizing, or maybe even poor listening. Or you may be so impulsive that poor financial decisions have already hampered your chance at a successful, stress-free life.
Understanding which EF are your weakest areas is an important part of the therapeutic process. Knowing which EF are your strengths is equally important. Once you have come to terms with these two very different parts of your personality, you are ready to learn and embrace strategies that are tailored for your specific needs.
Strategies for ADHD
What kinds of strategies could you end up pursuing? Let me share a few tools that will lessen the grip ADHD has on you:
This is a way of raising awareness, uncovering a client’s core values, and using that person’s strengths to focus on working solutions to get them through the day. An ADHD coach is just that – a coach. The person who will partner with you to uncover your gifts and identify techniques that will sharpen and enhance your performance. Your coach keeps you accountable for clearly defined results, and daily check-ins for self-reflection and moral support.
This can help a person with ADHD get a handle on everyday life and may be the very bedrock of a person’s treatment. Stimulants are commonly used to “Activate the brain circuits that support attention and focused behavior” (NIMH). Medications are also used to decrease hyperactivity, impulsivity, and improve focus and attention span. There’s no one size-fits-all approach when it comes to medications. What works for one person might not have the same results for another. Your medical provider is the best person to answer all your questions about any recommended drugs.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This is suggested when individuals with ADHD absolutely need to change negative beliefs and behaviors that are the root cause of the roadblocks in their lives. They are encouraged to identify these behaviors with the twin goals of changing the negative thinking to a more hopeful view and learning how to stay focused on practical issues.
Above all, you are striving to become a person who can trust him or herself. You may have no experience with that feeling, but start by simply trusting that you will come to find it is one of life’s true and lasting pleasures.