Why adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder should consider writing therapy as an ADHD treatment.
Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) don’t dwell on why things go wrong in our lives. We are too busy moving on to the next shiny thing. ADHD medication helps us slow down our racing thoughts, so we can ask, “Is this the best thing for me to be doing?” or “Is this the right thing to say?” Writing about our ADHD lets us take things to a higher level. We can analyze our behaviors — and misbehaviors — and pinpoint how ADHD symptoms contribute to the problems in our lives.
I used to come home from work, in my dress clothes and high heels, and head straight to my rock garden to weed. After an hour, my dress was soiled, my stockings ripped, and my shoes trashed. Writing about this impulsive habit allowed me to see my behavior objectively. It made me realize I should change my clothes before working in the yard. Of course, making that discovery didn’t make clothes-changing a habit. I had to train my brain to get into my gardening garb.
The more I write about my ADHD challenges, the more I learn about why things — at work, in relationships — don’t go well. Writing makes me examine something I used to accept as another bad day, instead of just replaying the day in my mind and chastising myself for poor performance. Over time, writing has reduced the burdens of falling short of my own, or other people’s, expectations by giving me the perspective to make changes.
Write About the Big ADD Issues
I am not talking about keeping a journal — writing down any thought that pops into your head. My writing is targeted. I write when an ADHD-related behavior makes me fail or an event catches me off-guard. For example, a few years ago I visited my son and daughter-in-law in Florida. She and I are opposites in many ways. She is smart and has a sharp memory, while I struggle to remember the smallest things. As they drove me to the airport to return home, I realized I had forgotten my purse, with my travel IDs in it. They graciously drove back — an hour, round-trip — and retrieved my purse in time for me to catch my flight.
I was mortified. Writing about the episode gave me perspective. I realized that everyone has challenges, and we all choose ways to cope with them. I know that I will always have ADHD, but I am much more than the symptoms of that condition. I learned to roll with the punches when my ADHD rears its ugly head.
Tools for Writing about ADD
I write on a computer. Writing by hand has always been laborious for me. I spent many long evenings as a high-school student trying to write essays or research papers. I couldn’t get the first paragraph right, so I would start over — again and again. After I became skilled at typing, writing became a joy. My fingers keep up with my racing thoughts, and I don’t care whether words are misspelled. If I need to, I will revisit the writing later, and make changes.
ADHD Required — Not Professional Experience
I can hear you thinking that. I didn’t start out as a writer, either. The more you jot down your thoughts, the better you’ll become at it. Write for yourself, and don’t censor your words as you go. If you are so inclined, share your writing with others on a blog or in a support group. Putting yourself out there, and finding others who accept you for who you are, builds confidence and self-esteem. What’s more, feedback from fellow people with ADHD can give you new ways to see yourself and your situation.
Updated on June 19, 2020