How many times have you heard someone say, “He could do it if he really wanted to?”
If that were the case, then there would be no need for medications, therapy or any other treatment for ADHD. The world would be a wonderful place.
The reality is that it isn’t that simple. “Wanting to” manage your ADHD (or that of your child) is important, but experience and research tell us that even strong determination isn’t always enough.
It takes DESIRE to manage ADHD:
- Individual Responsibility, and
The biggest step towards management is the first one. In other disorders, diagnosis is crucial for proper treatment. For the person who has ADHD, professional diagnosis is a significant part OF the treatment.
Who can diagnose ADHD? Doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals are trained to recognize the symptoms and make the diagnosis. You can read more about the role of each of these professionals in the article Who Can Diagnose ADHD?
The feeling of relief that comes from simply having a name to put on the literal disorder in your life is incredible. ADHD is probably the only condition that causes people to grin when they read the symptoms. People who don't grin just shake their head. The typical response is "It was like I was reading about me."
You want to run down the street yelling, "I'm not a nut! I'm not a nut!" Such a demonstration, of course, is extremely inappropriate behavior in itself and, in fact, may very well prove to those around you that you are, indeed, totally crazy and they'll wrap you up in a white jacket and cart you off for some much needed rest and relaxation. But - at least you'll be carried away with the satisfaction that comes from knowing that there is a name for the disorder which has caused you so much frustration and grief.
After diagnosis, most people do a lot of research about ADHD. In fact, people who have never been able to focus on anything will suddenly find themselves hyperfocused on learning about ADHD. This is good, but it's important that the material is accurate. There is a lot of misinformation about ADHD. On this site, the Just Diagnosed channel can provide basic information, including links to other credible resources. There are a number of books about ADHD. Driven to Distraction, by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey, is a classic of ADHD literature.
Lack of structure is a major problem for people who have ADHD. For most ADDers, there seems to be no internal system of organization. This lack of internal structure must be compensated for by creating external systems of organization. You may want to read the articles by Holly Uverity for some ideas. Those who are severely "organizationally challenged" may want to enlist the help of a professional organizer.
Structure means more than just having a way to remember where you put your shoes. A coach, like ADDitude's Coach on Call Sandy Maynard, can show you how to organize your time, set priorities, and reach goals.
Research shows that a structured environment is very beneficial for children and adults who have ADHD. So, whether you use a coach or simply try to do it on your own, it is important that you find some way to bring order to your chaotic universe.
Stop blaming everyone else and take a good hard look at yourself. Take responsibility.
Speaking frankly, as a person who has ADHD, I get tired of hearing people whine about how they are "disabled". The Attention Deficit Disorder is not nearly as debilitating as the ever steady whine of Attitude Deficit Disorder. Yes, you have a disorder. So do I. Deal with it.
Take some responsibility. Do your best to do what needs to be done. When you screw up, admit it, deal with it, and go on. Teaching a child that their ADHD excuses them from any consequences of their actions only handicaps the child.
Treatment for ADHD can help, but medication alone won't make you pay your bills on time. Being responsible means finding some way of meeting your obligations and commitments.
Above all, don't give up. Fight the good fight. (Perhaps that's not the best phrase to use with an ADDer!) Part of fighting the good fight includes knowing when to take a break. There will be bad days. Learn to recognize them for what they are - just bad days that happen from time to time. It's not the end of the world. Step back, regroup, and try again.
To summarize all of this:
- Diagnosis: You can't deal with a problem unless you know what it is.
- Education: "Know thy enemy". Learn all you can about your ADHD
- Structure: Develop some coping strategies for your life. Keep them simple.
- Individual Responsibility: Learn how your ADD affects you and stop blaming others.
- Energy: Don't give up.
Develop a DESIRE to manage your ADHD.