I remember, not long ago, sitting in the dark, the TV off, no music playing, alone with my thoughts and my tears. Why, I asked? Why? I never said the right things, I never got along with anyone. When I thought things were going well, the rug was pulled from under my feet. I landed on my back -- hard. It hurt, and I just wanted to lie there. No matter how I tried, my life didn’t change. The mistakes kept coming, and the sad song played over again. I couldn’t turn it off, and I couldn’t turn it down. Nothing worked. That’s how I lived with undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). It isn’t easy to make your way when you don’t know what to do about your symptoms, or whether there is anything you can do. Now I know all about ADD/ADHD, and I want everyone else to know, too. There is hope, and there are caring people out there for you. Above all, you aren’t alone.
Schooled in Pain
When I was very young, I was hopeful. The world was fresh, and seemed to revolve around me. But all of that hope was washed away -- and a life of misery followed -- when I started school. I went from being doted on to being complained about and punished almost every day. I wanted to do things, I wanted to believe in myself, and I wanted to be a good kid, but I just couldn’t. And nothing pained me more than the punishment I put myself through.
That Special Feeling Inside
To be beat down, criticized, punished, to live with regret and guilt all our days? No. There is another way. Discover that Special Feeling inside. It goes by many names -- love, hope, desire, sympathy, optimism. It is a feeling that you are meant for more. Do you ever feel that you are meant to do more or be more? That’s the Special Feeling inside. Look, listen, and acknowledge it.
Rule to Live by
A million people might be against us, might belittle and chastise us, but that doesn’t mean we should join their ranks.
Courage to Dream
I was like a car driving around with the handbrake on. I held myself back whenever a whisper of desire or hope entered my thoughts. One day a friend handed me The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale. A quote from it stuck in my mind, and I started to repeat it: “Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself succeeding….Never permit it to fade. Never doubt the reality of the mental image. That is most dangerous, for the mind always tries to complete what it pictures.” With these inspirational words in mind, I started moving forward -- wanting, dreaming, hoping -- but I sabotaged myself when I came up short. I told myself, “Here I go again.” It wasn’t until a doctor diagnosed me with ADD—and I figured out how my brain works—that a new world opened up for me.
Losing the Shame Game
Those of us with ADD/ADHD often win the Shame Game. I used to play it a lot. All you need to win is to engage in negative thinking, have a pessimistic attitude, express everything that is wrong with you—and hang out with others who do the same every day. Few play the Shame Game better than ADDers do. Well, stop being so good at it. The thoughts we live with day in and day out are not created by ADHD, but by us. I want you to do your absolute best to lose the Shame Game.
Just Do It
Sometimes -- most times, actually -- we have so many things going on that we don’t ever single out one thing and focus on it. What can you concentrate on right now that will make a difference for you? What will make you smile and laugh? What will make you soar? Do it.
The relationship starts out great, but then, when the fireworks subside, we ADDers get bored. We say that the other person didn’t help us, didn’t motivate us, didn’t validate us, and didn’t excite us anymore. But a relationship is about two people. There is more involved than one person pleasing the other. The next time you complain about your partner, ask yourself, “What have I done for her lately?”
Obey, conform, comply -- I hate those words. We ADDers are rebels -- we are against the system from the minute we are born. But if we want to get along in the world, and become successful, we must do all three. I’ll bet that you have a list of things you are rebelling against right now. I certainly did. Take that list, write down the top three things, and decide not to rebel against them anymore. And watch the benefits come your way. If you are afraid of giving in to “the man,” reflect on how all your rebellion has affected the people you love.
For every Michael Phelps, Terry Bradshaw, and Paris Hilton, there are countless others with ADD/ADHD who are unnoticed and alone in their struggles -- lonely spirits searching for hope and happiness. ADHD doesn’t make for an easy life. But maybe it can be more rose gardens and rainbows? Who is to say we can’t make something of ourselves?
ADD/ADHD is the most researched mental disorder today, yet the general public questions its validity. Many blame the disorder on pharmaceutical companies. Others blame children and parents. No one is to blame. We can point our finger at the school system, society, or a deserted farm up north, but studies tell us that genetics plays a big role. Blame is futile.
When to Cut Ties
Is there someone who is always giving you advice, pointing out your faults, and telling you how terrible things are? Hear this: That person needs you more than you need him. Start showing self-confidence and manage your symptoms, and you may find this person bringing up your old negative self-image. I encourage you to reassess his motives. If he is not happy to see you making progress, it might be time to leave him out of your life.
Do you ever think your main mission in life is to win the approval of others? Yet no matter how hard you try, few notice your efforts. ADDers often forget that the most important approval comes from ourselves. It is a simple rule: Love thyself.
Excerpted from The Brilliant Reality of ADHD (infinitypublishing.com). Copyright 2009 by Bryan Hutchinson.