Are you one of those people that have embraced your ADHD self and find the many things that make you “different” a blessing instead of a curse? Or are you one of those who are still feeling rather like you’re fumbling around in the dark most of the time not sure just how to overcome the hurdles that being ADHD bring?
Both A and I definitely have our issues with being ADD/ADHD. She is extremely messy. She doesn’t mean to be messy, it just is. The problem is that it’s a two person household and I’m messy too. I think that is our biggest obstacle: keeping the house clean and organized. It is the one thing that brings me the most shame. Okay, maybe shame is a strong word, but to be a tiny thing, it really, really gets to me. In my head, I can come up with concrete action plans. I can make cleaning schedules. I can fall into the time trap that is Pinterest and Pin TONS of organizational ideas. I have the best intentions. It just never seems to totally get done. Or stay that way. I get overwhelmed by my lack of being able to keep things clean and neat. I get really frustrated with A because I can JUST leave a room spotless, turn around ten minutes later and it looks like a disaster area. Maybe I’ve babied her too much, but at nearly 13 years old, there has to be SOME amount of being more responsible about picking up after herself. Then I feel guilty because while I might not immediately wreck a clean room, over a period of time, stuff starts piling up. Maybe the difference is she just leaves a trail behind her, while part of my chaos lies in the never ending ADD PILES. You know the ones. Piles for everything. Where does this stuff even go?? Where do NORMAL people put the things that we ADD’rs put into piles?? That is seriously a great mystery to me.
Don’t get me wrong, A is great. She’s a fantastic kid. And she doesn’t MEAN to be messy. She just…can’t…help…it. I don’t believe in punishing her per se for things that are beyond her control, but I do like to try to find ways to teach her to handle the things that do not come natural to her, I’ve just as yet not found something that truly sticks. I seriously am afraid for the time when she gets out on her own. I fear that her kitchen sink is going to grow some seriously mean monsters. They might take over the world. Don’t even get me started about how much I fear for her finances. That would be a whole post unto itself. ADHD AND dyscalculic. Oh my. I hope she gets a good job and can afford a money manager. Seriously. It’s not going to be pretty.
There are a lot of things we can find to beat ourselves up about. Sometimes we are late. (Okay, we are late a lot). Sometimes we interrupt people. Sometimes we zone out when you are telling us something important. We are easily distracted. We have too much on our minds. What “other” people don’t realize is that we CANNOT filter the information coming into our heads. What happens when you fill a glass too full? It overflows. Some of the liquid gets lost. That is our brain. It’s full of every single thing that is happening around us until there is no room inside for new things, even things that we are supposed to be paying attention to, and it overflows. We lose precious information. You think we do this on purpose? Hardly. We can be chaotic, messy, and disorganized. We live in a world that wants us to conform. As children we go to school were we are expected to behave a certain way, and to learn things in a certain way and to do things in an order that someone ELSE says is logical and simple. Our brains aren’t wired that way. What is simple for others is not simple for us. We can’t prioritize the way “normal” people can. Often this is when we start feeling pretty worthless, or feel that something is wrong with us because we can’t do simple tasks, or can’t keep up in school and are called lazy. We even believe it. We are told we are smart if we only would apply ourselves. We believe it. I know how much A struggles with this. The grades on paper don’t match how intelligent she is, so she doesn’t believe herself to be intelligent. One day she is going to learn that it is all about perspective and how ahead of the game she is by thinking outside the box. I am trying to help her find ways to embrace her creativity and vast potential while harnessing the symptoms so she can function in the world. Not an easy task, that’s for sure.
But guess what? For all the things we can beat ourselves up about, there are things we can embrace about our ADHD brains. I am learning to love my ADD brain. I love its creativity. I love seeing things in color. I love feeling and seeing everything. I like the hyperfocus that can come into play when I’m doing something I love. I like being a big picture kind of person. I like seeing the world the way I do. When we stop believing all the crap we’ve been handed for so long about being lazy or stupid, or unable to live up to our potential, we can do ANYTHING. I do believe being ADD/ADHD is a gift. Sometimes it just takes a while to see that.
A is off her medicine. I know lots of folks have strong opinions about ADHD meds, and that is fine. Personally, I look at them as one of the many tools to assist you in controlling symptoms. They are not a cure all. They are not for everyone. They only work if the person actually needs them (you know, is actually ADHD and not misdiagnosed), and whether or not you use them is a matter of choice. A was seriously struggling. With everything. She was not in a place to be able to embrace her ADHD and see ANY good in it at all. Her chaos was destroying her. The thing is, her medicine just jumped in price again. I quite frankly just cannot afford it. She had tried other medicines in the beginning, and heck, they were all outrageously expensive, but then we found one that worked. She felt so much better. She stopped beating herself up so much. She could focus and actually complete tasks. I hate that she can’t have it because of money, but that is just the way it is. We are trying some essential oils and she does believe them to be helpful. I see the difference though. So much more chaos. Messes, forgetfulness, not finishing tasks….we will find a way to overcome though. I want her to know she CAN love and appreciate her ADHD brain while still learning to function in the real world. It CAN be done. Might not be easy, but is possible.
I think being ADD/ADHD means that things are always a work in progress. There are always ways to evolve. There are always new ways to manage symptoms. Sometimes something might not work for us the first time we try it, and sometimes things work when we make them a habit. Most of the struggle is internal. We have to learn to love ourselves and our brains for what we are. We have to know that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH US and that we should feel NO shame. There is no embarrassment, no merit to the idea that we aren’t as good as others. When we do that, when we can truly begin to love our own differences, and embrace what makes us unique, then handling the symptoms is easier.
First step to managing ADD/ADHD? Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Look at your “shortcomings” in the light of what they really are — not faults, but your uniqueness. Embrace what makes you different. You are a vital, creative, intelligent, curious soul. You have depth of personality and spirit that you should never wish to trade for being “normal.”