I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 15 years old. ?That means I’ve had 20 or so years to receive my diagnosis, understand my diagnosis, accept my diagnosis, and to live my best, most productive life, despite my diagnosis. I’ve learned a lot of life changing strategies to help manage some of the symptoms associated with ADD/ADHD, and my goal in creating this website, is to assist other people in developing strategies that help them to manage some of the difficulties they may be facing as a result of their ADD. ?Over the years, I’ve developed countless tips and tricks (I call them hacks) that have helped keep me afloat amidst the challenges of being a homeowner, a student, an employee, a mother, and quite frankly, a functioning member of society.
While I plan on sharing each and every one of my simplifying strategies, they will be offered in divided doses, with the intention of taking a one step-at-a-time approach to self improvement. ?Change is a process, and forming new habits while breaking old ones will produce the best results when they are done one at a time. Habit forming is the single most important step to making behavioral changes and it takes some time, some patience, and some practice.
In my experience, the most important step in learning to manage my ADD, was letting go. In order for me to be my best self, I had to let a go of a lot of thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings that I had been living with my entire life. I had to let go of the guilt and the shame that comes from a lifetime of not living up to the expectations of myself and of others; a lifetime of feeling inadequate, unreliable, lazy….the list goes on. I had to let go of thinking about the way things?should?be. There was a lot to let go of. ?And I did. ?And that opened the doors to acceptance.
So how do we get there? Well, I can tell you what has worked for me. By taking the following steps, I have learned to heal myself of the guilt and shame that I was carrying around like heavy baggage. Throughout the healing process, it was as if I could actually feel the weight of all that baggage dissipating. The most refreshing feeling I have ever experienced was the freedom from all of that weight on my shoulders. Freedom from the feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, and helplessness.
Confront your feelings.
Oftentimes we will dismiss the feelings that make us feel icky. We push them back and try to distract ourselves so that we don’t have to?feel the bad feelings. This may work as a temporary solution, but we aren’t fixing these feelings, we are hiding from them. By hiding from our feelings we are giving them space inside of us to grow and distort themselves like a virus. In order to free ourselves from these feelings, we need to acknowledge them. To let ourselves?feel them. Draw them out from deep within ourselves and attack them head on. Yes this is uncomfortable. Yes it is painful. But by doing this we are preventing these feelings from hiding and growing and presenting themselves in the form of anxiety, or anger, or self-loathing. Once we draw these emotions to the surface, let them resonate. Sit with them. Feel them. Observe them without judgement. ?Try to find the source of these feelings. In the world of ADHD, feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness are often a result of our misunderstood behaviors. We grew up with falling short of the expectations that were set by society, our parents, teachers, and ourselves.
Accept your feelings.
Now that we have acknowledged these feelings and let them in to our consciousness, we must validate them. Telling ourselves that we are human and it is OKAY to have these feelings. It is natural to have these feelings. These feelings are not a sign of weakness, they are a part of being human.
We all make mistakes. We all have done or said things that we wish we hadn’t. We all feel disappointed in ourselves from time to time. These things may be amplified in an individual with ADHD. We need to leave these things in the past. We must realize that we can not change the past and we can only learn from our mistakes. Let go of these mistakes and open yourself up to the journey of moving forward. Becoming your best self. We can not move forward if we refuse to leave the past.
Recognize your strengths.
Once we stop focusing on what we can’t do, we may begin to realize what we can do. People with ADHD have so much to offer the world. Where we are lacking in structure we may make up for in creativity. What we lack in methodical thinking, we may make up for in intuition. When we allow ourselves to become our authentic selves, we begin to experience the benefits of our unique abilities and talents. When we experience the benefits of these abilities and talents, we begin to develop a sense of purpose.
There was a time in my life when I tried to fight the symptoms of my ADD, rather than learn how to manage them. ?I tried to emulate the person I felt I?should be. I tried to hide my true self and could not understand why I kept falling short of the impossible expectations for myself. ?Once I was able to restructure these expectations, accept and understand my feelings and emotions, and forgive myself for what I had interpreted as mistakes, I opened myself up to my unlimited potential to reach my goals. Goals that were realistic and in sync with my true self. ?I began to discover the me that I was meant to be. The me that I held prisoner for far too long. ?The me that is so happy and grateful to be free!