About 5 years ago I was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) – I was 45 at the time. I had starting see new psychiatrist, you know how it is, and after a few sessions, he leaned in and asked, “Have you ever been tested for ADHD?” No mental health professional had ever asked me that and I’ve seen quite a few. I took the test out of curiosity more than anything, and it turned out that I tested quite high on the ADHD spectrum. “What does that mean?”. I asked apprehensively. “Well,” he said, “one way to look at it is that an ADHD is a fast brain; you can process a lot of complex information from multiple sources at pace.” Well, that’s a good party trick, I thought.
He went on to explain, “The flipside is that not everyone processes like you do and you may lose people when you’re talking because you jump around and speak to quickly – it can be very confusing for people listening to you if you’re not clear when you communicate.” I leaned in to clarify, “Are you saying that I sound speedy, manic and a bit hard to follow?” He explained that he wouldn’t have chosen those words exactly but, in a nutshell, yes. That is if and only when I’m not communicating with focus, presence and intent, which are three key anchors for me now that I know what to do to stay connected in conversation with ADHD.
Being diagnosed with ADHD has been helpful in many ways but I don’t get hung up on the label. “It doesn’t matter what you call, it, Alice,” one of my favourite therapists once said, “it’s about learning to regulate, live with and love Alice in all dimensions at the end of the day.” Which was a lovely way of putting it.
I felt more empowered when I educated myself on the symptoms, triggers and strategies for living with and optimising an ADHD brain. It was also fascinating to learn that it is statistically highly likely that my undiagnosed ADHD exasperated and/or was intrinsically linked to my history with eating disorders, exercise and food and drug addictions. I was self-medicating to manage the anxiety and energy levels that I found difficult to manage or channel.
Now that I know my options, I can tap into my support network, treatments, tools and techniques which allow me to live a healthy, happy and balanced life with ADHD and the party pack of other addictions I’ve learned about on the road in recovery.
Here are my 5 top tips to help if you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD
- Know your options:
First, remember that you’re not alone. There are coaches, trainers, therapists, professionals and communities of us who appreciate how ADHD can impact your life, relationships and, in my case, finances, so know that there’s help and support available to you.
It’s also important to remember that you have options; lots of options. There are apps, tools, techniques, treatments, practices and strategies, along with professional help, all of which can help you to live a very happy, healthy and balanced life with ADHD.
- Seek support
It’s important to find the right professional with whom you have high trust. There are medicated and non-medicated options, treatment plans, psychotherapy, coaching or mindfulness meditation and hypnotherapy. Getting the right professional support and treatment is essential. If you’re not sure where to start, you can reach out to your GP or check out the links after this article.
- Build your toolkit
I treat having an ADHD brain as an experiment now and it’s a lot more fun. Staying open to new ‘experiments’, tools, practices and perspectives if very helpful. If I stay curious, I’m more flexible about shifting to something else if something doesn’t work. It’s OK. It’s all a practice. It’s all a day at a time practice. Moment at a time. As you explore, you’ll find the right people, support networks and tools for you. Play with new techniques. My non-negotiables every morning are integrated meditations, which help activate heart mind coherence and connection for greater focus, flow and frequency throughout the day. TOOLKIT
PLEASE NOTE: Multitasking is one of our modern obsessions and it’s a myth. It’s popular and compulsive way to procrastinate and delude yourself that you’re being productive. When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I had to learn not to multitask. It requires practice, a lot of practice. It’s never perfect and I’m never done, but my practice every day is staying with one thing at a time with focus, presence and intent.
- Stay connected
Stay connected to whatever energy source restores your energy and spirit. Find those practices, activities, people, conversations and communities that help you feel loved, connected and fulfilled. Build on those things, people and experiences which help you expand your self-esteem and feelings of gratitude. That may be service, volunteer work or being emotionally available for loved ones. Stay connected to your favourite people, activities and relationships which boost your energy and sense of self.
- Practice self-compassion
One of the most powerful and transformation practices in my experience has been that of self-forgiveness and compassion. It’s not only those of us with ADHD who give ourselves a hard time. Most of us do it. All of us? To consciously and deliberately extend forgiveness to ourselves and all others is one of the most ancient healing practices on the planet. Huna healing was passed down the generations throughout Hawaii and Tahiti, including daily meditations which focus on unconditional love and compassion for self and all others to keep our mind, body and spirit clear. When we are clear, we can focus, and when we can focus on what we want, we bring more of that into our reality. Now, that’s worth focusing on.