ADHD: Getting Started

Despite working constantly, we often feel like we’re not making sufficient progress. We’re stressed and overwhelmed by emotions, which leads to missed opportunities, troubled relationships, and negative feelings like self-loathing and regret. Disappointments and negative feelings become familiar. 

People with attention-related conditions feel wound up all the time and struggle with certain skills. You might even start to feel like struggling with these “basic” skills is just part of your identity. 

  • Organizing and activating for tasks
  • Sustaining and shifting focus
  • Consciously regulating self-control
  • Managing emotional responses
  • Encoding and accessing learned information
  • Monitoring and guiding your actions
  • Managing time
  • Attending to details
  • Remembering things you were told

Because you’ve experienced difficulty with these skills throughout your life, you might start to believe that you’re just not capable of handling them. While that probably won’t change completely, it can be drastically improved with treatment. More importantly, you can escape the guilt and shame of struggling.

The Solution

Deep inside, you already know what to do. You have a problem, but you are not the problem. The problem is a handful of maladaptive behaviors. You simply need to adapt your behaviors to fit the symptoms of your condition. You have not failed. You are not a failure.

Pause, breathe, and accept.

Think about where you are going and why. Visualize your destination and connect with it on an emotional level. 

Now, think about the bare minimum you could do to point yourself in that direction. What’s the smallest step you could take? Smaller. What’s half of that? Half of the smallest possible step. If you want to read a book, don’t sit down to read a whole chapter or even an entire page. Commit to reading just one word. Just thinking of taking that step is a step. You’re already doing it. Celebrate small victories.

We are each heading toward different destinations, but we all use the same tools and techniques of navigation to get there. Every sailor uses a compass, a map, and the stars. Know your destination and learn the tools. What are you chasing? What do you know about the terrain ahead?

My condition

Every boat leaks somewhere. Each leak is a symptom of the boat’s overall condition. Your condition is largely defined by neurological symptoms. Experts have labeled a portion of those symptoms as “ADHD” (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) symptoms. These symptoms last a lifetime and are on a spectrum of varying intensity. Fortunately, they are treatable and can even be beneficial in certain situations. You can’t change yourself, but you can improve your condition and your outcomes. 

I use the word “condition” rather than “disorder” because it is more compassionate and accurate. Your condition is not limited to just ADHD, but everything that regularly influences your mental state; your emotions, thoughts, and actions. Recognize not only the ADHD but also the other features that characterize your condition. What else is going on? Most people with ADHD deal with at least one other serious condition. These so-called “comorbidities” might include things like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Each must be treated separately.

No matter what the unique details of your condition are, this course will help you build resiliency, avoid setbacks, and move toward a life of greater personal fulfillment.