Category Archives: Acceptance

Healing ADHD: Love Who You Are

Radical Acceptance Meets Executive Functions

Welcome to March.

Somehow I missed the February newsletter altogether. I’ve been very busy – especially with worrying, researching, and watching the news about the Coronavirus, doing ANYTHING else “more important” or more interesting, and otherwise procrastinating. I’ve even started a few times but didn’t manage to pull my thoughts together.

Unfortunately, most of us with ADHD have to hijack the emotional part of the brain to get started. Just a few ways that we “motivate” ourselves are Anxiety, Avoidance, Procrastination, Anger, Shame, and Self-loathing. Tamara Rosier writes more about why these are so harmful in “5 Perfectly Awful Ways to Motivate the ADHD Brain“.

“Many of us with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) have less reliable access to our prefrontal cortex (PFC) than do neurotypical people,” she says.  “Life’s details are (typically) managed in the PFC. It is a calm, rational butler, directing behavior in a Siri-toned voice: “Sir, your keys are on the table.” Or, “Madam, you must leave now if you want to arrive on time.”

“Those of us with ADHD can’t rely on our PFC butler for planning, short-term memory, working memory, decision-making, and impulse management. (Also known as Executive function) So we go to our emotional centers, in the limbic system, to remember things, make decisions, and to motivate ourselves. We use our emotions to help us to think, remember, plan, and act.

I know. I’ve been doing it myself all my life. The problem is that this DOES work. Well, Sometimes. Eventually. Maybe. But just as often, it really does NOT work, not at all. And using our emotions to fuel action comes at a very high cost to our psychological well-being. This month, ruminating over NOT writing the newsletter was just one of many tasks that I gave myself a hard time about not getting done. Honestly, I’m so tired of beating myself up.

I also know that I not alone in feeling this shame and self-loathing. Psychotherapists Sari Solden, MS, and Dr. Michelle Dougher Frank. write about coming to terms with this negative image of self in  A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers. ($10.50 on Kindle, $16 in paperback)

Although their focus is on women, Solden and Frank’s ideas apply to everyone with ADHD or other neurological disorders – men, women, and children.  In an article for Psychology Today, Radical Acceptance Meets Executive Function, they advocate a shift in treating ADHD from a medical perspective to a person-centered point of view. (Link works)

They explain, that, “This approach measures the success of these woman’s lives not by the decrease in their symptoms (which is helpful) but instead by how they can continue to lead fulfilling authentic lives; the goal is not just getting over their struggles but developing a healthy relationship to them.”

Mind you, their advice to therapists includes using many coaching techniques for ADHD such as identifying individual strengths and interests as well as problem areas where their ability to cope falls apart. They recommend delegation, organizational tactics for the physical environment, as well as time management skills to address executive function difficulties. But the focus is on restoring the individual to wholeness through connection, meaningful purpose, and acceptance. As Solden and Frank remind us, “Disowning oneself is far more destructive than living with the chronic disorganization and executive functioning issues of ADHD.”

In other words, all the tricks and “hacks” for living with ADHD that we have put into place, no matter how successful we are in “getting things done,” mean little if you can’t be happy with who you are. Stop trying to “fix” yourself. That doesn’t mean stopping the strategies that are helping you, but that we need to separate, to untangle, our “brain-based challenges from our core sense of self.” This video helps explain. Helping Women (and Men)with ADHD Live Boldly

We can choose how we react to our challenges. Our guest author, Meagan from  Happy Hyper Shiny, offers us a few ideas in  ADHD Choices: Things I CAN do!

  •  “I CAN take one step at a time.  Moving forward and making the smallest step is progress towards success.
  • I can, I can, I can….
  • The point is that even though my brain doesn’t allow me to do normal things in a normal way, I can try and find a way to do them so I am successful.  My brain isn’t “normal”.  I can’t expect it to work that way.”

It’s an ongoing process. You need to separate your ADHD from yourself.  You are NOT the disorder. Your symptoms cause certain behaviors, like being late or missing deadlines, but they don’t define you. We don’t have to struggle so hard. Developing self-knowledge is the first step. Find tools for discovery in the collection of resources in Self-advocacy for ADHD: Know yourself.

Helping to define your “purpose” in life is a great way to inspire action. Partly due to our feelings of shame and inadequacy, we tend to believe that something that comes easily to us has little value. But the ADHD brain “lights up” when we are interested in something and many of our struggles fade away when positively engaged.

These 9 Questions to Ask Yourself to Help you Find Your Passion can be another starting point in learning to value your strengths rather than dwelling on areas where you struggle.

  1. “What is something that you are really good at doing? Something that comes naturally to you? Something that you do with hardly any effort or difficulty?
  2. What is one thing that when you do it, you forget about the time, about eating, about using the bathroom, or about any of your responsibilities? Meaning, you are so focused that you naturally forget about everything else.
  3. What is something that you can talk about for hours, and when you talk about it, it lights you up, gets you excited, and gives you energy?”

You can download the complete list at Follow your own rhythm.com

Taking good care of your body and mind is also vital. Although we tend to ignore (or overindulge) even minimal basics like food and sleep, we work best when our time is balanced and supported by good self-care. I am inspired by a meme by Liz and Mollie on Instagram that illustrates the importance of self-care. It’s composed of two Venn diagrams. The first is titled “What I thought would make me productive” with the entire circle devoted to “Hard Work“. The second diagram, “What actually does” is divided into numerous pie-shaped sections with Hard Work taking up about 1/3rd of the space while Exercise, Healthy Eating, Sleep, and Time Off fills up the rest.

Self-acceptance is a universal problem, but those of us with ADHD struggle with it again and again. With every slip-up and failure to produce, we hammer the message home. “You are NOT enough!”  Leo Babauta of Zen Habits urges us to consider ourselves as whole and wonderous beings (NO MATTER WHAT!) in You’re Not Doing Life Wrong.  

“ See how you are enough. Just as you are. Without any need for improvement. You are also a wonder, exactly enough.”

“You can go about your day, pausing every now and then to do a check: is this moment enough? Are you enough? And try answering, “Yes, absolutely and wonderfully.”

For now, I’ll try to take my own advice,

Start from enough. Better may or may not follow. Live with that for a while. Let that be enough too.”

Until next month,

Take care of yourself in this uncertain time of contagion. Don’t let fear and anxiety take over.

If your children will be home from school for any length of time, Our ADHD Kids page can help fill the time. It contains Things to read, Things to do, Things to Watch, More Reading, as well as a few Pinterest Boards for Kids. If your children get specialized accommodations, it’s important to try to maintain their routine. See “Grab that IEP! Preparing for School Closures”. To help you cope with spending so much time together, On ADHD: Parent to Parent offers down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources.net

 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Modified on Canva.com

 

ADHD Awareness – Understanding + Intention = Positive Change

October is ADHD Awareness month. As the official website attests, “Knowing is better.”  They cover basic information, provide personal stories,  and are sponsoring a video contest that’s sure to entertain. Try to find time for the ADHD Awareness Expo from October 2nd – 17th. Watch at least a one or two of Tara McGillicuddy’s interviews with top names in the field at this FREE online event. Sign up now.  Videos are pre-recorded and available for 24-hours after 12 noon each day.

Another online event is ADDA’S Daily TADD Talks! TADD recordings are like TEDTalks, but about various ADHD topics and only 9 minutes long . You’ll also be able to see many of these speakers in person at the International Conference on ADHD November 9 – 12 in Atlanta! Consider this an appetizer!

ADDitude Magazine offers advocacy and stigma-busting tips in their ADHD Awareness Month Toolkit (Link works) and by sharing 31 truths about the condition.

***My own ADHD Awareness board on Pinterest also offers a lot of good material.

I first became aware of ADHD when I read You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Crazy, or Stupid(Link works) by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo. I ended up crying through most of the book. I had always known that I was a bit “different,” but never knew there was an actual name that described my personal foibles and disappointing failures. Amazingly, I found a wonderful Adult ADHD support group with a library of books, audio and video tapes in my hometown. Thus began a life-long path of learning to understand and live with ADHD.

I’ve collected a number of resources to inform and support diagnosis, treatment and other necessary services for children and adults with ADHD. I would get numerous calls a day asking for help to find Treatment and Support. This section also includes a money concerns section with sources for more affordable medications and mental health care.

In ADHD Awareness: What’s Next?  Coach Jennie Friedman of See in ADHD describes the benefits of providing a new understanding of ADHD.  “The latest and greatest information will be available to everyone with Internet access.  Myths will bust, and more people will get over the stigma that surrounds the condition.  And more people will discover that they or someone they love has ADHD.”

“But, just knowing about ADHD isn’t enough.” Becoming aware is just the first step to getting effective treatment for ADHD, The benefits can be life-changing, but there are a number of practical and emotional issues involved in the process…. The way that ADHD affects each individual varies and the specific areas in which there’s struggle are unique to each person.” There are no hard and fast rules.”

Kristi Lazzar. writing for ADHD New Life Outlook, says, “It’s so important to get diagnosed…Everything about yourself that you, or others, never understood starts to make sense.” In Learning to Accept Myself After my ADHD Diagnosis, she wrote, “I could finally be myself and stop wondering why I couldn’t be like everyone else. I could stop the self-loathing. I now had a name for my behaviors, which gave me something to work with…  It’s okay if I have my quirks — it’s who I am. Getting a diagnosis gave me that, and I will be forever grateful.”

 

To explore further, see my Pinterest boards, ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment, Undiagnosed + Untreated ADHD = Unfortunate (Link works), and ADHD from the Trenches.

 

Another featured author this month, Mary Fowler, shares ADHD challenges and accommodation strategies in her mini-workshop for teachers. First, we must understand,” she explains, that most ADHD management is not a problem of knowing what to do. It’s a matter of doing what we know.” Mary describes in detail many specific tools to help children “do what they know” through simple support techniques in Increase On-Task Performance for Students with ADHD 

But, DO NOT expect that using these ideas just a couple of times will change their behavior in the near future. That’s like expecting a child in a wheelchair to get up and walk up the stairs because they’ve used a ramp for a while. People with ADHD need Point of Performance or P.O.P. interventions to “do what they know” It’s not a lack of knowledge, but an inability to perform mundane or confusing tasks at an assigned time that is affected by ADHD.

“What you need to know about Attention Deficit Disorder:

  • Accept that supports may be needed throughout the school day, month, year,
  • or even across the lifespan of a person with ADHD.
  • Interventions have to happen in the here and now on an as-needed basis.
  • Their use often requires coaxing and coaching from an external source (teachers, parents, peers, visual cues, and/or technology).
  • The strategies ONLY work when they are used.”

Although Mary’s advice is quite useful for the classroom, the same understanding of ADHD and principles for getting things done remain true for all ages. It is well worth reading for yourself as well as sharing with your child’s school

Advocacy and Homework

Guest author, Mary Fowler shares 8 Tips to Help you be your Child’s Advocate. If your child is struggling at school, she says, “most teachers appreciate your clearheaded understanding of your child’s problems and any possible interventions you can suggest.” Do the work. Be prepared to offer the help that your school will need.

For children and parents who dread homework, see Strategies to Make Homework Go More Smoothly. It provides routines and incentive systems to help kids complete AND turn in their work. Peg Dawson, EdD, of Child Mind claims ”This is the best guide to helping kids do homework successfully that we’ve seen.” For a printable version to share, download the ADHD: A Primer for Parents & Educators from The National Association of School Psychologists. 

 

VIDEOS

I really like The ADHD Manifesto, by Andrea Nordstrom of the Art of ADHD. Andrea is a professional ADHD Coach for adults wanting to turn their amazing ideas into reality.

The Art of ADD is not about being normal or fitting it. It’s about being ADD and using that medium to create a masterpiece out of your life. We don’t do life the normal way, we do it the ADD way! (3-minutes)

 

The ADHD Poem by slam poet IF – 4-minute spoken word poem by IF.  “My childhood tasted like chaos…At 8, I was diagnosed a disaster… a Hurricane… Having ADHD is like being an exclamation point in a world of commas. … But, isn’t being different the one thing we ALL have in common?”

 

You’ll find an animated version of the ADHD Poem on IF’s home page.

 

 

Until next month,

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources

       

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