ADULT ADHD – A Therapist’s Story
For those ADHDers at home, this is a 6 minute read, 2 minutes depending on the hyper focus and 45 minutes depending on the procrastination
I was inspired to write this blog as I am currently reading (at a snail’s pace) Scattered Minds by Gabor Mate, a book all about ADHD and it really has opened up my eyes and deepened my understanding of my own Adult ADHD from the perspective of a therapist’s story.
It has taken me a long time to be able to read a book cover to cover.
The first book was probably captain underpants when I was 10 but I don’t remember actually finishing it and I think it had a lot of pictures. Then there was a long break, like longggggg break.
I think I read my first book fully when I was 20, I was in Brazil, after a 3-month bender through South America with my best friends after just ending a 5-year relationship. “Como cambio el mundo” translates to how the world changes, an incredibly powerful phrase that shaped that trip and continues to be a cornerstone of my growth and gratitude.
Now, there are two things that are most important in reiterating the story of the first actual book I finished at 20. Firstly, I was in South America for 3 months and I liked to party, little did I know at the time that a white stimulant not too dissimilar to the ADHD medication I’m on now, was a definite alternative self-medication that may have sped up the process of my book reading brain power. Brazil was the last week of the trip, we had run out of money so a whole lot less go go go forced me into reading to pass the time.
Secondly, the book itself was the first book of the Game of Thrones series, a season of a show that I had seen many times. I could picture the faces, and familiarise myself with the names, places and things, the show did half the work for me. Both of these factors definitely helped the reading availability. I didn’t think that was ever going to happen I thought reading was done for me with captain underpants. I settled with the thought that this was a good place to retire. Previously the little dots on the page would jump out at me looking like Brail, the full stops and the top of the i’s!
So why am I writing any of this at all, I was diagnosed with Adult ADHD as at age 25, and I knew I had it but how the system works you gotta wait in line and get the official diagnosis and treatment plan which takes its sweet time in Australia! I had done a lot of work on myself at this point, life was good, I was running a community drug and alcohol service go figure, so getting on top of things and looking within was a big part of recovery for me. It wasn’t until 25 that I could pick up a book and actually read it front to back.
It definitely takes me a long time to read a book and do countless other things. Believe it or not, the medication for ADHD doesn’t cure anything just assists, kind of like a chaos cleanse, or as I call it, organised chaos, instead of the riot disco that happens in my head and body.
Adult ADHD for me is not just about the medication trying to support my brain it’s about all the other things I need to do to ensure I can work optimally. Essentially I have an underdeveloped brain which is what the books tell me but the way I see it is that some of the limitations may exist but there are strengths too that when harnessed correctly feels like a superpower.
I don’t like that it’s called a deficit or a disorder because when I zone in on my creativity it can unleash a hell of a lot. I’ve come up with crazy ideas and implemented a lot of them that have created amazing results for me personally and supported a lot of the community in different ways. Now of course when I hyper focus as it is often referred to, it comes with some intensity but boy can it create momentum and radical change. I have to be mindful of the hyper focussing topics for example writing this post as opposed to researching goats. It comes in ebbs and flows depending on the focus.
The other key thing I need to watch out for is the distractibility and sensitivity. I naturally get bored and if it doesn’t have strong value to me, it’s hard to get it done. The sensitive part comes up in my emotion where I may become reactive or impulsive leading to certain behaviours like control and irritations like anger.
What I always come back to is as long as I can keep my feet on the ground and have a strong awareness of where I am in my body at different moments then I am fully able to enhance and optimise what I desire or intend to do. I get back to my body and ground down through meditation, a process that took me a long time to grasp, but the revelation was that I am uncomfortable with stillness and my life is filled with effort. So meditation allows me to be more comfortable with the uncomfortable and allows me to accept more effortlessness in my life. Check out my meditation on reducing stress and anxiety.
Meditation is definitely up there, being my number one but that doesn’t have to be zen city, full-on meditation. I get that through my yoga, gym, cooking, listening to music and cold water immersions. Gotta find what works mindfully for you. Just be present in the moment.
We all have an attention deficit in one way or another through our experiences and will act accordingly to meet that need, however, if we can zone in on that and ask where that comes from, along with how to meet our own needs, then everything can simplify fall more into place. Creating flow.
I believe ADHD can interrupt our ability to think that we are good enough or that we are acceptable or other core beliefs of self-doubt and shame just like that. When we can start to know better we can do better. So when we find a connection between how we show up in the world and how that correlates with how we love ourselves then we can keep filling in the gaps.
Loving you for who you are in all your imperfections is imperative to life and a healthy mind. No matter what we show up with, whether it be ADHD or anxiety etc. When we can look deeper and see the link to shame then we can start to unlock our full potential and live a more true and authentic version of ourselves.
Focus on what is on the surface and package that up into a nice and healthy way of functioning through as many resources as you can learn, but then go beneath that and work on the core drivers and limiting beliefs that hijack some of that surface-level concern. When we can accept we are worthy just for showing up, just for breathing and just for being then we can start to thrive from within and create ripples in our life’s journey.
If you want to learn more about Adult ADHD and self-worth please reach out or connect with me for more resources and strategies to support you being you.