What follows is a guest blog by Bobby Crowther. He is an ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder), sufferer. I have mentored him for the last two years with great success. He is now equipped, ready and keen to share his strategies to help others in individual or group coaching. This is mentioned in the April 2016 newsletter. What follows is a few of his experiences.
Before diagnosis and effective treatment, my mind did not filter or focus; It felt as if I was consistently barraged with sound and information. I responded to whatever came through the loudest, not what was the most important. I lacked an inability to filter and prioritize.
I also became flooded with emotions such as frustration, disappointment and resentment. These emotions were mostly directed at myself. Frustration because I lost my keys yet again, disappointment because I procrastinated or expressed a lack of focus. Resentment towards myself because I let myself and other people down again. Self-resentment leads to a diminished self-worth and low self-esteem. It is a downward spiral to depression.
I wish that, as a kid, someone came to me and said: ”You are OK, you are just wired differently”. It was bad enough feeling like a failure, it was even worse feeling that I let other people down. When I was a child, I was labeled the dreamer, absent-minded, the energetic one. I was considered disruptive or even naughty: I simply did not fit the mould.
I am ADHD. It is not an excuse, just a statement of fact. As Scott-Peck said, now that you can acknowledge the fact, you can transcend it. The first step is thus to acknowledge the condition with the assistance of a professional like a psychologist.
Over time things became better. Now as an adult, the condition persists, but much more controlled. So why did it become better? I could write a book on the subject, but let me try and summarise the most important aspects.
First of all, I realised the importance of systems. As my brain would “fail” me in remembering or focussing, I created systems to help me. There are too many to mention, so I will only mention a few. My keys and wallet are always left in the same place in the house. There is no other place and no exceptions to this.
Also, if I need to remember something, I would use object placement or notes. A sticky note on top of my wallet, to remind me to do something. If I need to remember to take a cake to work, the cake is left in front of the door I would exit.
Secondly, routine is important. The brain is a fascinating organ and neglect of general health is magnified with those with ADHD. This could be summarised to sleep, diet, rest and exercise.
Enough sleep is important as my brain never shuts down as in racing. This is true for most with ADHD. I need eight hours of sleep. When I experience lack of sleep, it magnifies the symptoms of ADHD and it is particularly evident in my emotive state, which shows in my inability to finish or focus on a task.
Vigorous daily exercise helps me to literally “dump” leftover energy and sharpen my brain. I found that exercise, that requires undivided attention to master a specific movement, is the best. Swimming works for me. However, to keep my interest, I set yearly goals and swim competitively.
As far as diet is concerned, I attend carefully to what I drink and eat, and getting enough of the “right” stuff. I need to eat my three main meals with two snacks in between. I thus have six small meals per day. I have to plan the meals, because if I don’t, I just forget to eat! Not to get too technical, but I found that too much starch makes me sluggish in thought as well. Processed and fast food have the same effect. A dietician helped me design an eating plan that suits my lifestyle and preferences.The effect of incorrect eating is not evident right away, but does show after a week or two.
I mentioned rest, separate to sleep. You could call it meditation. This is probably the hardest for me, but the benefits are immense. This could prove very hard for an extrovert but it is of crucial importance. In the period of rest, I focus myself to introspection. How do I feel? Why do I feel this way? What can I do about it? This is time that I spend alone and just write it all down. I also bring myself to gratitude, realising how blessed I am. In this time I allow myself to dream and devise plans to reach that dream.
This leads to the last aspect namely psychological health. Cognitively I am aware that I am clever enough, skilled enough and experienced enough to deal with life very successfully. However, years of hearing the contrary such as comments like “You are lazy, naughty, or not good enough,” does bring doubt especially during times of pressure. I am prone to “paralysis through analysis” and overanalyses of an issue leaves me immobilised to act and results in feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.
This immobilising panic is a warning sign. Also, extended periods of undealt pressure leads to depression. Understanding the triggers, circumstances and self-knowledge is important. This where my mentor, Dr. Sonia Joubert came in. Working with her has changed my world entirely to make miracles happen. She taught me the anonymous quote “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”
This quote resonates with me and if I could find author, I would thank her or him with much aplomb! To conclude, I don’t see ADHD as being debilitating, in the same way that I don’t see left-handedness being so. However, the world is designed for right handed people, which could make it difficult for a left handed child to operate at first but using a left-handed scissor solves the problem! Watch this space for further blog entries on dealing with ADD/ADHD successfully.
Another very important tip concerns medication. Very few people outgrow ADHD. Adult ADHD is only less noticeable because of a myriad of systems, processes and double checks built into the lives of sufferers. This doesn’t take away the fact that medication is not necessary as it requires lot a energy to manage the condition without it. Consider ADHD medication and talk to your psychologist and GP. ADHD does not go away when on medication, but coping, focus and find creative solutions are much easier and leads to much more successful progress in all life areas.
A last, but non the less crucial tip is to refrain from being hard on yourself. Your positive disposition and hope that ADD/ADHD can be managed successfully will greatly enhance your tenacity. Enjoy the journey. Make it fun. Never lose your sense of humour. Do you have more tips? Please share it with us on my facebook page or twitter.