ADHD: Acceptance and feeling worthy. Own your story.

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Be aware of how ADHD affects you. Know that you are worthy to seek help and get the best treatment available.April 2108 Newsletter Greeting

 

“How well have you accepted your ADHD or that your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder? Do you doubt the diagnosis or feel helpless in the face of the many challenges in your personal or family life?

ADHD is NO ONE’S fault, but once you know about it, it is your RESPONSIBILITY. You and/or your child deserve to handle everyday life without undue stress and strain. Why? Because you are WORTH it.

None of us are NORMAL. It doesn’t exist. All of us are somehow DIFFERENT. An article reporting on a Yale University study claims that all traits exist somewhere along a spectrum, “…Nobody is Normal. This complicates matters for medical professionals, but a moderate to high degree of impairment determines whether the criteria for a diagnosis is met. Since an evaluation for ADHD requires that impairment be present in two or more settings, some type of intervention is indicated and could be of great value. Choosing to medicate and/or develop an ADHD friendly environment and a “bag of strategies and tricks” helps to “level the playing field.”  Get to know your strengths, the ways that ADHD impacts your life, and develop a few ways to DO something about it!

I began to think about the power of self-acceptance and feeling worthy after watching “Take your Pills” on NetFlix. Once again, the ADHD community has come under attack by the popular media. The latest volley is in the guise of a documentary.

Jessica McCabe of the How to ADD YouTube channel reviews this attack and expresses her feelings well. “Controversy sells, and the media knows it. So a lot of what we see, read, and hear about ADHD and ADHD treatment either misrepresents the facts or is flat-out meant to scare us.” Jessica offers a more balanced perspective with science-backed information on ADHD, the value of medication and other strategies proven effective for treating ADHD. You’ll find her video near the end of the newsletter.

I was confused and disturbed by comments made by a few people interviewed for the program. Although most were diagnosed with ADHD, many didn’t really “own” their ADHD or take it seriously.  Even while indicating a positive response to medication, some seemed to feel like they were somehow cheating by using it, and further, resented needing any intervention at all. Like too many of us with the disorder, they also questioned the necessity of dealing with their ADHD, believing that they SHOULD be able to do it all on their own by “just focusing” and “powering through.”

So many of us just don’t know enough to name the unique ways our own ADHD is expressed. We also don’t realize or track the benefits of medication or other strategies to create better coping skills. For help with this, see Response to Treatment Rating Scales on this site. 

WHY do we have such denial? We struggle to accept help and develop twisted stories about ourselves.  I feel this re-written history lies in not accepting ourselves, misunderstanding what ADHD is and is not, and not feeling that we are “worthy” of asking for help or support.

Happily, some people in the documentary accept their ADHD and appreciated the benefits of being appropriately medicated. Like those of us actively addressing their symptoms, they also talk about using proven treatments like basic self-care, coaching, therapy, and other ways to bolster executive functions and control their emotions. Realizing what “turned on” their interest-driven nervous system, they felt better able to cope with their weakness and harness the power of their strengths and values. You’ll find a number of tools to help with this in Self Advocacy for ADHD: Know yourself.

But, “so many of us feel unworthy. We feel that we’re not good enough, we don’t fit in, and we don’t matter. We’re overly self-critical, fixating on our flaws and failures. We think we need to be perfect and successful in order to have value.” ~ Sharon Martin, LCSW. This feeling is not specific to ADHD by any means. It is a universal plague on most of humankind. Martin writes about dealing with these destructive feelings in 5 Ways We Compromise Our Self-Worth and How to Rebuild It.  

When you believe in your own worth and are willing to seek outside intervention to improve your life, ADHD need not be a barrier to success. You CAN find greater happiness in your life through knowledge, true acceptance of the disorder, and practicing empathy in how we speak and behave towards your child or self and seeking help. Don’t try to do it all alone!

ADHD Living has a wonderful article on the importance of outside support.  “If ADHD is your challenge, support is a must. ADHD is a major mental health concern that can greatly impact your life and the lives of others around you. It deserves a certain level of time and attention paid to it.” According to Dr. Ned Hallowell, M.D., connection with others reinforces our feelings of worth and reassures us that we are NOT alone. People who care about our well-being can provide invaluable advice. I was lucky enough to have an ADHD support group in my own town, but you can find lots of ideas for finding support here. Other means of support are ADHD coaches and Coaching groups.

Feelings of unworthiness and non-acceptance of yourself confuse the issue of treatment and compound the problems inherent in ADHD’s impact on our lives. I found four new articles this month that expand on this theme. They offer valuable help for anyone interested in looking at ADHD in a new light and in learning about adjustments they can take to improve their mental health.  My thanks to these three writers who have so graciously shared their work.

I started to be real about my ADHD. I needed help.Liz Lewis of A Dose of Healthy Distraction provided 5 Lies I Tell Myself about Having ADHD. I’m sure you’ll recognize many of these rationalizations from your own story.

Ann Doyle has just begun to write about ADHD in Small Town Wife.  You’ll find some great tips in her Parenting ADHD: 7 Steps for the Newly Diagnosed.

Freya Cheffers of Never a Dull Moment – Life and ADHD on Facebook shares two articles this month. Both offer a refreshing view of ADHD, outlining many positives of people with ADHD without ignoring their very real challenges in a neurotypical world. According to the author of the aforementioned study from Yale on no one REALLY being “normal,”  “There’s a level of variability in every one of our behaviors,” and “no behavior is solely negative or solely positive. There are potential benefits for both, depending on the context you’re placed in.”

You CAN reassure your kids that they have a bright future. “ Just because you don’t do school that well does not mean you’re going to have a bad time for the rest of your life.”Freya lists a number of positives about ADHD in 10 Things I Love about People with ADHD. See if you agree with her opinion.

When Cheya’s son asked her about what kind of future he could expect, she shared her own story. She attributed her own experiences and accomplishments DIRECTLY to thinking and acting in ways that suited her NATURAL ways of learning and being.  See Mum, Do You Think I have a Bleak Future?  to listen in on this reassuring conversation.

 

Videos

We have one short video this month on validation and Jessica’s review of “Take your Pills” mentioned earlier. I link to another 1-minute video from ADDitudeMag and also include a 2 ½-minute classic just for fun.

Finding Happiness in Neurodiversity with Shawn Smith, Me.D., CCC, founder and consultant of Don’t dis-my-ability. (One-minute preview.)

“We often feel that validation comes from people liking us. But that’s not true…It comes from within. You’re not going to gain acceptance from other people because that means you’re trying to be something that you are not.” * For the complete interview and transcription, the podcast is on Different Brains.com.

Why I’m Upset at Netflix’s New Documentary “Take Your Pills   (9 ½ minutes) with Jessica McCabe of the YouTube channel How to ADHD

Your Unique ADHD Brain Chemistry – Produced by ADDitudeMag, this is a 1-minute video on the ADHD interest driven nervous system, as proposed by Dr. William Dodson.

Sh*t  no one with ADHD says 2 ½-minutes) from TotallyADD
This tongue-in-cheek video was unfairly flagged for bad language, so take the time watch it to help keep it on YouTube. (Editor’s note: After 20 years of working on my foibles, these situations no longer apply to me – at least not very often.)

I’ll close with a mantra from Sharon Stone to help rebuild your feelings of self-worth.
 
“My self-worth doesn’t depend on being liked or being perfect. I can choose to accept myself and live knowing I’m just as worthy as everyone else. We’re all different, of course, but there doesn’t have to be any judgment or comparison.
Today I will rebuild my self-worth by… “

 
Thanks for your attention. If you find help or reassurance here, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
 
 
Joan Jager

(Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com