ADHD and all its complexities is something I ponder on quite a bit. Through my work with Adult ADHD NI, as well as trying to manage my own symptoms, I have access to a well of information that I can draw from when thinking about ADHD. I often wonder what it is like to be “normal” and spend a lot of time comparing those without ADHD to myself and others with ADHD. My wish is to share my thoughts through this blog with the aim of supporting the community of people affected by ADHD to better understand their condition and help readers to find coping strategies to manage their lives in a society that at present, fails to recognise and support them with their condition.
Recently I have been working with parents of children with ADHD as well as some adults and a common theme that is arising is Social Anxiety. Social Anxiety disorder is “A persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” (Socialanxietyinstituteorg, 2016) People with Social Anxiety are often extremely self-conscious, have fear of public humiliation when participating in social activates, with the result of feeling unable to communicate properly and often experience symptoms of panic or paranoia. Untreated Social Anxiety disorder can also lead to comorbid conditions such as depression, panic attacks and low self-esteem.
The parents I have spoken too report that their kids come home from school crying their eyes out because of how difficult they are finding the environment, as well as crying in the mornings begging their mums not to force them to go to school, which can be very traumatic for both the child and the parents. ADHD kids struggle academically, often get in trouble due to behavioural problems and are usually very disorganised, easily distracted, forgetful and fall behind in work. ADHD children become socially isolated, have difficulty maintaining friendships and are usually the kids who are not invited to birthday parties. At a very early age these kids recognise that they are different but don’t really understand why and begin to negatively over analysis social situations. One mother I spoke to just the other day said “my son worries about everything” .
For many children with ADHD the constant state of anxiety and worry continues into adulthood and is reinforced due to poor academic achievement, difficulties maintaining employment, constantly being late for meetings, failing to meet expectations, procrastinating, always losing things and poor social skills which makes the core symptoms of ADHD (inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity) much worse, creating a demoralizing and vicious cycle. To cope with the constant state of anxiety many people with ADHD turn to drugs, alchohol, self-harm or complete social isolation to cope with how they feel.
I have been recently studying Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and the good news is that evidence shows that CBT for adults with ADHD is highly effective for alleviating the frustrations caused by deficits in core executive function and working memory as well as helping to reduce symptoms of Social Anxiety. The CBT model recognises the importance of a personalized treatment plans for the best chance of successful outcomes and can help the person identify and implement, behavioural coping strategies, relieving some of the negative effects of ADHD such as poor time management and lack of organizational skills. CBT can also help the person reduce worry, identify and challenge negative beliefs and assumptions and help the person gain a more balanced view of themselves and their situation.
Other treatments that help with ADHD and Anxiety are ADHD support groups, having access to a good psychiatrist, relaxation therapies and as well as developing healthy habits such as exercise, good nutrition and meditation.
As I have said before many times, ADHD is not a problem for those with the condition, it is a problem of society and how we recognise and support differences. I personally am very hopeful for the future and I see changes in attitude taking place. Last week I was in Liverpool for a The ADHD Foundations annual conference. Which was a two-day event exploring new ideas, approaches and best practice in Health, Social Care and Education for children, young people and adults with ADHD, ASC and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Over 800 people attended that event and I found inspiration from Dr Tony Lloyd and his dedicated team and look forward to working together in partnership in the future to help those who are #BornToBeADHD.
Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype. If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com
Since I last wrote a blog I have become a Daddy to my lovely little daughter Amelia Greene. I am probably still traumatised from the birth experience which is why it has taken me so long to write a blog. (well that is my excuse anyway) On hindsight I probably should have researched the process a bit better instead of almost passing out during the birth. There is a photograph of me holding Amelia not long after the birth and I am a pale green colour but still managing to look very very proud. Overall it has been an amazing experience which has completely changed me as a person and it has only been three months. My partner Emma and I have been waiting for Amelia to come into our lives for quite a while and neither of us can believe she is finally here. We are loving every moment. I am learning new skills like changing nappies, walking around the house like a ninja so as to not wake the baby and surviving without sleep. Amelia is teaching me to live in the moment and appreciate life like I have never done before and as she grows I look forward to teaching her to develops skills to cope with life.
Before she was born I always had anxiety about becoming a dad. I never thought it would happen for a start and I worried that if I did become one, would my child be like me? I am an adult with ADHD who has had great difficulty looking after myself never mind being responsible for a child of my own. However, as I have gotten older and learned more about my ADHD and myself I have found that life has become a lot more manageable, I no longer see myself and my ADHD from a negative perspective and instead I have a more balanced view of myself and of other people. Over the years through therapy, study and trying to improve myself I have learned that regardless of having ADHD, just like everybody else in the world I have good days and bad days and it is just part of the human condition. Growing up with ADHD I received a lot of negative verbal and nonverbal messages that I was a bad egg and one to avoid and it has taken a long-time to uncover, discover and discard that mess and a process that I am happy to work on for the rest of my life if need be.
I still sometimes fear that my ADHD might impact Amelia in a negative way, however I think that is a healthy fear and one that should not be ignored. We all have strengths and weaknesses and by identifying and using our strengths to their full potential and working to improve our areas of weaknesses or find support in these areas if needed there is no reason to be afraid.
Important parenting skills such as time management, organizing tasks, implementing routine and managing emotions happen to be areas in which adults with ADHD have deficits and failing to recognise, or not working to improve on these deficits can only lead to increased stress and a sense failure or inadequacy in parenting.
An area of ADHD that I have found myself concerned about is distractibility. Distractibility alongside poor memory is the reason I walk away from restaurants leaving my wallet or mobile phone on the table. Holy feck!! What if I forget Amelia? Although I can’t imagine it ever really happening, it is something that has crossed my mind and if anything it has made me much more mindful and vigilant when we are out. However, distractibility can be a real issue that causes me difficulties and if I were to just ignore it I am sure that it would have a negative impact on my relationship with Amelia in the future. So it is very important for me to remember what is important and for me that is being a Dad and a partner that is present, loving and available. Perhaps the key is maintaining a healthy amount of distractibility that allows the person to be themselves with their ADHD without compromising relationships with family, easier said than done I suppose.
Having ADHD is a very frustrating thing . You constantly forget appointments, tend to be extremely disorganised, often you will have problems completing household tasks; keeping track of finances and most of all people with ADHD feel misunderstood by everyone. But having ADHD is not an excuse to be an asshole and to think that it is ok to take frustrations out on your family or your loved ones. So for me the number one thing for a parent with ADHD is to find help to manage difficult emotions so that you are not hurting the people you love and creating a negative atmosphere within the home. I always promote counselling and psychotherapy and I truly believe that all adults with ADHD should have weekly sessions with a good therapist to help regulate emotions, untangle distorted thinking, get to know yourself better as well as improving relationships with the people closest to you. Other areas can help regulate emotions such as meditation, mindfulness, sports, but I have learned that the first few months of being a parent can make most of this very difficult, so perhaps only one or two of the above.
I am sure that as time goes on there will be other issues that will present about being a Daddy with ADHD and I will share when the time comes, but for the moment I am still in doting daddy mode, hyper-focusing on this new little life that is teaching me so much, including my capacity to learn new things and how much I enjoy being a parent. I have found that my hyperactivity and boundless energy has found a new release valve in my life through being Amelia’s light entertainment throughout the day . I knew all those years in pantomime were preparing me for something BIG – singing endless silly songs and creating much laughter and giggles.. Apologies if this post is a little over the place, I have been out of practice this last few months but hope to get back in the swing of things and thank you for reading. This post is dedicated to my lovely partner Emma who has done the hard work and to my lovely little daughter Amelia.
Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype. If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com
Many people with ADHD have problems fitting in. I often hear the people we support through Adult ADHD NI describe themselves as being the square peg in the round hole. Due to a life time of ADHD and experiencing life from a somewhat foggy perspective it can be extremely difficult to navigate social situations appropriately. Kids growing up having the excessive traits of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness because of their ADHD are less likely to fit in with their peers at school and due to a combination of these ADHD traits as well as having less opportunities to develop in social groups due to rejection by their peers, these children often grow up with underdeveloped social skills and issues such as low self-esteem.
Since I was diagnosed with ADHD I have become more aware of how socially clumsy I am due to my ADHD, such as interrupting people when they are speaking, abruptly ending conversations by changing the subject impulsively or walking away because I have gotten distracted by something else. My ADHD diagnosis allowed me to recognise the problematic traits I was up against and identify how much my ADHD was affecting my ability to communicate appropriately in social situations.
Having ADHD myself I recognise that people with ADHD can be quite intense and draining for those without ADHD, who are often left struggling to keep up with the constant changes of topics, the jumping back and forth on subjects or the blurting out of seemingly random or inappropriate things during conversations. I say “seemingly random things” because the ADHD mind often makes connections that may not always seem obvious or in relation to the conversation to an non-ADHDer, but for the person with ADHD because their mind work very fast it can be hard and overwhelming trying to keep up with the connections or the patterns of thinking. The blurting out or the quick changes in subject for me, is due to the short term memory problems associated with ADHD and the need to say what you have to say otherwise it will be forgotten and lost forever.
Hypersensitivity is another aspect of ADHD that affects communication with people and causes them to appear rude or cause offence. I have spoken to many Adults with ADHD that have heightened senses which cause distraction during conversation. For instance I have heightened sense of smell and find it very difficult to hold conversation if there is a strong smell that I can’t identify the source. So imagine trying to have a conversation with me when every few minutes I keep saying “what is that smell?”.
When you have ADHD you also tend not to mince your words and people on the receiving end are often hit with the uncut and unedited thoughts of the ADHD individual. Without realising, a person with ADHD often offends people accidentally by speaking inappropriately or saying whatever pops into their head and it’s only on hindsight that the person with ADHD recognises the social mistakes. For many people with ADHD every social interaction is over analysed to ensure no social mistakes were made and this can be extremely draining and cause the individual to seclude themselves rather than make social blunders.
Another thing that I have identified within myself is that if a subject arises that I am passionate about I can’t seem to shut up even when I am aware that I am talking way too much and the non-verbal cues I am receiving are not positive. It’s almost like I get overly excited and shift from a dialogue into a monologue and prevent other people from getting a word in edge ways. I often find myself asking those close to me when I am out “Am I talking too much?” because I find it really hard to gauge what is an appropriate level of dialogue.
These little observations and recognitions of my own difficulties have been extremely important for me in developing new ways of communicating and overall helping me to maintain better relationships with people. However it is also very important for me to be able to express myself freely and I am lucky enough to be able to do so through my close friendships and relationships with people who understand and accept my way of being. In an ideal world people in general would be more understanding and accepting of the personalities of those with ADHD and hopefully that will happen through time, with education and willingness for people to try and understand differences. More and more people are recognising ADHD as a real and complex condition that affects the lives of both children and adults. Learning about my own ADHD over the years has helped me to come to accept that I am a bit of a square peg in a round hole and I’ve been lucky enough to meet many other fantastic square pegs along the way. I’ll probably always continue to find myself saying, OH OH, my mouth has got me in trouble, AGAIN!! But you can’t please everyone.
Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype. If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com
First of all I would like to wish everybody a Happy New year and start the blog with a thank you to all of my readers and everybody that has supported the blog as well as Adult ADHD NI in 2015. Over the last year I can see a positive shift in attitudes towards ADHD and a growing willingness to understand the condition and recognise the difficulties that those affected experience.
Ideally I would like to start 2016 by writing a positive post but its freezing outside, I have had the dreaded manflu for the past 3 weeks (it will not go away) and I’m not feeling in a positive mood. So what better way to start 2016 than writing about ADHD and money.
The bottom line is, if you have ADHD there is a very high chance that you are crap with money and here are some of the reasons why.
- You impulsively spend your money, often buying things you don’t need and leaving yourself without enough to survive until your next pay cheque.
- Without realizing you spend more than you can afford or than what you actually have causing you to bounce cheques, have poor credit or not have enough to pay your bills.
- You try to keep track “in your head” of how much money you can spend and convince yourself that you are doing a really good job, when you are not.
- You have difficulty saving for the future.
- Being so disorganized causes you to forget when the mortgage or car payment is due.
- You often spend more than you earn
- Due to poor impulse control and the tendency towards seeking a high you may have difficulty diligently saving your money or accumulating wealth gradually over time.
- You seem to be unable to consider the consequences of being left with no money until it’s too late as well as failing to learn from your mistakes and repeating the actions over and over again to the distress of the person and their family members.
- When you are out socializing you act like a millionaire, when you not. (Unless you are, in that case, fair enough.)
- If you have ADHD you are more likely to have an addiction. So your money is compulsively spent on your addiction of choice Alcohol, drugs, gambling, cigarettes, shopping etc.
- You don’t organise your finances or work to a budget.
When I was in my teens and early 20s none of it seemed to matter, I worked hard and spent my money foolishly and thankfully I had no responsibilities. But as I got older it became extremely frustrating and depressing. I would work all week and would plan in my mind to save money and with all the best intentions in the world I would spend 90% of my money within the first 48 hours of getting payed, on crap I didn’t need and then spend the rest of the week with no money, in further debt and having to borrow of people to survive and genuinely forgetting that I had borrowed the money in the first place. All of which caused extreme stain on my relationships with people.
Part of the problem for me is that I don’t really understand money, I don’t process it the same as other people and although I have gotten better at controlling impulsive spending, I believe that due to my ADHD I am still underdeveloped for my age when it comes to managing finances and my spending still often seems to happen spontaneously and without warning.
However it is January and we are all encouraged to revaluate areas of our lives that we would like to improve so I’ve put together somethings that we could all do that would help us manage our finances better.
- Plan our shopping in advance, write a list of essentials and stick to it rigorously.
- Identify areas of weakness, in my case Amazon, and take preventative measures eg. close Amazon account.
- Avoid credit cards.
- Start making a record of all purchases.
- The key to management is to plan for all expenses every month. Before you get payed make a list of all out goings and ensure to prioritise the most important things on the list.
- If possible seek advice or support from financial professionals such as an accountant or a certified financial planner.
- Create financial goals for the short term and long term and use visual aids such as wall charts so that you can see your goals every day.
- Don’t over complicate your budget. Keep it simple, what are my “needs” and what are my “wants”
- Alternatively download a money management app on to your smart phone and don’t forget to use it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help managing your finances. Mismanagement of finances is extremely common in people with ADHD and part of managing your ADHD is recognising your difficulties and having the courage to ask for help when necessary.
I’ve came across lists like the one above before and my immediate thought is negative. “Yeah that’s all well and good in theory but when you try to put it into action it’s another story.” But at least we can try. It doesn’t matter who we are, there is always room for improvement.
Writing this post has certainly cheered me up and it has gave me a more positive and focused outlook on 2016.
It’s December! 2015 Is Almost up & It’s Time to Focus On Ourselves In 2016
Howdy folks! I want to start off by giving all of you great big hello and introducing myself as Niall’s friend and guest-blogger, Mauro Bagnariol from across the pond. I currently reside in Miami, Florida and am a graduate from Florida International University, having majored in International Relations and Political Science. Also, I am the founder of Tribal Dynamic, a blog/forum where people in our ADHD family can go for help, questions, resource information, and just meet other people and share their experiences having lived with ADHD. Please feel free to go through present and past musings of mine at blog.tribaladd.com and let me know what you think! So this is who I am, and I am very pleased to be able to write and communicate my blurbs to you all!
As Niall has pointed out in his past post, people with ADHD can have persistent and frustrating problems with memory, attention, confusing things, forgetfulness, misplacing objects (guilty of that multiple times), as well as a number of other things which can make life seem burdensome and an ordeal. As Niall further points out, it can have a real effect in our day-to-day interactions with friends, colleagues, as well as during social interactions, where it is imperative that we focus on what others are saying in order to stay in the flow of the conversation and on topic. All of these are legitimate reasons to feel down and as if we’re stuck in a rut, but I also am keen to point out that these are just a part of what makes us unique in the ADHD Tribe and family, and that we possess MANY other traits and gifts which more than make up for those things that can hinder us.
I’ve written on my blog on how we, as an ADHD family tend to develop a self-defeatist attitude and are oftentimes way too hard on ourselves when it’s ok to stop for a second, breathe, and realize that we are human, and as such, we will make mistakes. It’s human nature! It’s what makes us who we are and that’s perfectly ok. There is no reason to beat ourselves up for something we forgot, tardiness, misplacing an item, etc. In my view, I like to see ADHD as a gift; raw, unharnessed energy and talent that when channeled the right way and in the right direction, we can accomplish practically ANYTHING. I treat stories of the “cons” of ADHD with levity to remind my fellow ADHD Tribe members that it’s ok to fall off the wagon sometimes and to instead use it as a learning experience and to better oneself. As Niall mentioned in his previous post about Memory Problems, developing a “system” or “method” to keep you on track is crucial. His mention of using electronic devices to set reminders, appointments, etc is EXACTLY what I do. iPhones, tablets and the like are a mainstay in this era, so why not use them!? My personal “system” is using the Notes app on my iPhone to jot down important things, as well as using the Calendar app to write down EVERY appointment, no matter how big or small and set it to remind me. That, and Siri to remind me if I need to buy milk at the supermarket that day or whatever other task is at hand, lol. These sound simple and inane maybe, but they REALLY help and my world would be in disarray without this “system” I’ve developed. I’ve other “systems” I’ve developed to help me be on time, have my clothes ready for a gathering later that evening or for the next day, things I have to do at work or with friends, etc. It doesn’t need to be an act replica of what Niall or I do, but find a “method”, “system” that works for YOU and implement it on a daily basis and you’ll see improvements and results almost immediately. I tell you from experience.
Now, to focus on 2016! As stated above, we sometimes tend to be self-defeating and don’t focus on those traits of ours that make us GREAT. The ability to hyperfocus in ADHD that allows us to expand our creative minds and really follow through on a task we enjoy and see it to full completion. Our brains are wired to think in a non-linear way, therefore, we have the ability to solve problems in unique and eccentric ways that our non-ADHD brothers and sisters cannot. This is a gift, a unique ability we embody. Use it! How many times haven’t I come up with the solution to a given problem at work or in a personal situation by thinking in this manner and coming up with the solution, oftentimes eliciting a “I NEVER would have thought of it that way!” from others. Whatever your line of work, or whatever the task it at hand, always remember to focus on the “pros” that come with our gifts and our unique talents as part of the ADHD family. Carry this into 2016 and start the year off focusing on how much better this new year will be because of how you’ll tackle any project or task thrown at you head on and with gusto. Also, our ADHD family is imbued with endless generosity, empathy and kindness towards others. We are often the life of the party or the ones friends and loved ones come to in order to share a worry with, vent, and to get advice. We are an incredible asset to the people around us, and they know it, and again, this is why I say that ADHD is a gift with a multitude of talents that sets us apart from the general populace.
It has been an absolute pleasure to communicate with you all! I close by leaving you with this video from our good friends over at BuzzFeed about what it’s like to live a regular day with ADHD. Again, the theme is to take it all in stride, not take yourself too seriously, and above all, don’t beat yourselves up over things!
Owner/Founder of Tribal Dynamic
Follow me on Twitter @TribalDynamic
I’ve been meaning to write about ADHD and memory problems for some time now but I kept forgetting Boom Boom. Silly joke out of the way, I would like you to think about the list below and try and imagine what life would be like for someone living with the following difficulties.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Confusion with time or place.
For me the list above sums up exactly what ADHD is like, this is what children with ADHD experience and for many people with ADHD these problems never go away. The surprising thing about the above list is that I took from an Alzheimer’s website describing Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s. http://www.alz.org
Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
Many people with ADHD struggle with memory problems, and just as it is for those with early onset of Alzheimer’s, people with ADHD constantly forget information that they recently learned. Every day is a battle to remember important dates or events and you will find someone with ADHD asking for the same information over and over due to the inability to save the information in their mind. People with ADHD are also encouraged to use memory aids such as electronic devices and reminder notes and often rely heavily on family members to help keep them on track throughout the day. For me I experience waking up every day with a blank slate almost like switching off your computer without saving your work. No matter how hard you try to retrieve the information you can’t seem to find it. This loss of information also happens throughout the day and causes the person to feel extremely frustrated and angry at self.
Challenges in planning or solving problems.
Due to impaired processing in the prefrontal cortex, people with ADHD often have severe difficulty planning, solving problems, keeping track of monthly bills, completing tasks and due to problems in concentrating, those with ADHD often take much longer to do things than other people.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
As I said previously people with ADHD find it hard to complete daily tasks and this is mainly due to short term memory problems and presents itself as unfinished household chores, incomplete and inconsistent patterns of work performance and letting friends down by forgetting to turn up at arranged times. These examples can cause strain on relationships with family members, work colleagues and friends.
Problems with words in speaking or writing.
People with ADHD often have trouble following or engaging in conversations. They may stop in the middle of a sentence because they have completely forgot what they were saying, which can be extremely embarrassing because it’s so unusual. They often interrupt when others are speaking mainly because if you don’t jump in you will forget your point and this can come across as being rude to the other person. Partly due to memory difficulties in childhood people with ADHD may have issues remembering how to spell words or may have missed out on vital aspects of learning at school due to distractibility and forgetfulness.
Withdrawal from work or social activities.
Due to the stress of everyday life with ADHD the person often removes themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. It is widely known that people with ADHD are at higher risk of comorbidities such as depression, anxiety, substance misuse and social isolation.
Changes in mood and personality.
Again due to a life time of ADHD related stress the person can become depressed, anxious, confused, suspicious and many people with ADHD are diagnosed in adulthood with bipolar disorder due to extreme highs and lows in their mood. Without adequate support, understanding and acceptance of the condition a person with ADHD can frequently be upset at home, at work, or with friends especially when a routine is disrupted.
Decreased or poor judgment.
People with ADHD often repeat negative patterns of behaviour, are more at risk of getting in trouble due to poor judgment, decision-making and processing risk. Young people with ADHD especially, are much more vulnerable to being taken advantage of by people pretending to befriend the person for their own gain.
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
Just like it is in the early signs of Alzheimer’s people with ADHD constantly lose things like keys, mobile phones, homework books etc. and due to memory problems the person is often unable to go back over their steps to find the missing items. The person with ADHD may accuse others of stealing due to the confusion and frustration which again causes fractures in relationships with others.
Confusion with time or place.
People with ADHD constantly lose track of dates and time. Due to the impulsivity and forgetfulness the person with ADHD will do what is immediately in front of them and because of this miss important meetings and schedules.
Some may find it a shocking that I’ve compared ADHD to the early onset of Alzheimer’s but I’m pretty sure anybody that is affected by severe ADHD will agree with the comparison. The major differences with Alzheimer’s is that the person with Alzheimer’s will often go from normal functioning to the above list which I can only imagine is terribly frustrating for a person who had normal functioning previously. As well as the fact that the person with Alzheimer’s gets progressively worse over time until it completely takes away a person’s identity and ability to connect with others as well as their ability to think, eat, talk and walk until they eventually pass away. However, many people with ADHD live their whole lives never knowing what it is like to function ‘normally’, whatever that means. Instead the person with ADHD has a life of frustration due to a combination of problems that society continues to dismiss as non-existent.
There is an aspect of ADHD that many people over look which it is extremely common in both children and Adults with ADHD and severely detrimental to the person’s wellbeing and that is a deep sense of shame.
Parents, school teacher, sports coaches and even employers use shame as a method of behaviour modification to try and assert control and discipline. Whether the shaming is obvious or subtle it can be extremely demoralizing for the individual receiving the shame, placing them with a negative self-image as well as feelings of inadequacy, despair and powerlessness. This often leads the shamed person to behave with increased destructive actions or attitudes and in regards to ADHD increases compulsive, impulsive, irresponsible and even addictive behaviours which the individual believes to be alleviating the feeling of shame.
Its common knowledge that parents and teachers find a large majority of children with ADHD harder to manage and due to this the children with ADHD are more likely to be on the receiving end of shaming. “Bad girl!”, “Act your age” “how many times do you have to be told to be quiet”, “tell the class what I have just said, you don’t know, that is because you were not listening”, “Why do you have to act so stupid.”, “if I have to tell you one more time, you will be sorry”. Back in the day physical shaming was commonly used, I remember on many occasions a teacher lifting me clean off my school chair by both ears and feeling so ashamed and embarrassed. There is also the non-verbal shaming such as angry looks or ignoring the individual. These are all examples of techniques authority figures such as teachers, parents and many others use without fully understanding the impact that the shaming may be having on the individual.
I write in a previous blog about the connection between Oppositional Defiance Disorder and ADHD, or as I called it “Piss Off You Won’t Tell Me What To Do Syndrome”and perhaps shaming is one of the primary causes of defiance. If you constantly publicly shame someone through an abuse of authority you will often see the person on the receiving end acting out in defiance of the mistreatment. If the child grows up experiancing those in charge criticizing and shaming than there will be a feeling of anger, and mistrust of all those in positions of authority. Many people affected by ADHD will understand exactly what I mean.
A life time of constant shaming because of the ADHD or should I say lack of understanding from others about ADHD often results in the individual experiencing extreme mood swings, low self-esteem, higher rates of self-harm, destructive behaviours and eventually the person will withdraw from society and experience deep depressive episodes. Studys have shown that people with ADHD are at higher risk of suicide and due to the stigma and lack of understanding regarding ADHD I personally can see why this is happening. In my experience only in desperation do we find the courage to share our deep feelings of shame. Shame is a debilitating emotion however it can be alleviated by talking through your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust or a professional therapist.
I will reiterate what I have said in previous blog posts. Society needs to recognise that both children and adults with ADHD have greater difficulty focusing, regulating their emotions and actions, filtering out or ignoring distractions, delaying gratification as well as organizing and prioritizing their work, to the frustration of many parents, teachers, employers etc. This is due to an Imbalance of chemical messengers in the brain These individuals need open minded support, positive reinforcement and not to be shamed or humiliated as a means to assert control. There are fantastic ADHD support services in many areas willing to support parents, educational providers and employers to help them understand ADHD and as a result this will help the individual thrive, to feel valued within their community and reach their full potential.
I want to end this Blog with a special thank you to Rory O Donnell from my own County Fermanagh who is going to run the Dublin Marathon on behalf of Adult ADHD NI a support service here in Ireland that my partner Emma and I founded. Thank you and good Luck Rory!!
If you wish to sponsor Rory a few quid please follow the link below.
ADHD is extremely stressful, not only for the person with the condition but also partners and family members. Many people effected by ADHD often report feelings of anxiety, depression and extreme frustration on a regular basis. In this blog I’ve put together some of the things that I have found that help with my ADHD, and I hope others may find useful as a way of coping with their difficulties.
Over the years I’ve resorted to many methods to try and reduce the stress I have experienced due to my ADHD. Before I was diagnosed my approach to stress was simple as soon as I had money, I would just black myself out with a concoction of drugs and alcohol and I can assure any readers that approach is ill-advised and makes any difficulties much worse. However since I was diagnosed there have been many other stress reduction tools that I found to be of great benefit for me.
Participating in hobbies and social activities is extremely important for my ADHD. I love Drama, not the Jeremy Kyle type drama, but doing plays, pantomimes and musicals. Not only is it one of the things that that I enjoy but it gets me out and about meeting new people and allows me to participate in my community in a positive way. I feel it’s very important for me to be a part of rather than apart from.
I also like having a laugh and not taking myself too seriously. Growing up one of my defences was playing the class clown and I suppose it as became part of who I am. Accepting this side of my personality rather than supressing it is a much easier approach to life for me. Although the disorganised mind, forgetfulness and impulsive behaviours can still be stressful I don’t go hard on myself as I once did. Being part of a support group has greatly helped with this. When I hear other people going through the same difficulties due to ADHD it’s much easier to identify which of my own problems are due to the condition and which of the difficulties can or cannot be changed.
I would also encourage the practice of yoga, mindfulness meditation or even just doing a bit of training in the gym as an effective way to reduce symptoms and even help bring clarity to a mind that is often extremely cluttered. I find meditation to be a great preventative measure for stress and found it beneficial in developing better self-awareness as well as greatly reduce some of the more chaotic symptoms of ADHD giving me increased ability to prioritise what needs to be done more easily.
Many Adults with ADHD have extreme difficulties prioritizing tasks so I’d suggest taking 10 minutes before you go to bed and writing a list of things you need to do. Then rewrite the list in order of what is the most urgent. I would also recommend colour coding the tasks and setting deadlines and reminders on your phone to help maintain structure through-out the day. This may sound ridiculous to some but when I am busy I even have to set reminders to eat otherwise I would completely forget.
I would also recommend not taking on too much. I have often found myself saying yes to things that I realistically haven’t time to do, causing me to stretch myself too thin, make mistakes and let people down. I have blogged before about sticking to one goal at a time and for me without that simple approach I would get nothing done. Prioritising the ONE goal is the key.
Lastly I would encourage finding some regular peer support and a safe place to talk about your thoughts feelings and any stress that you are experiencing. There are also ADHD support groups becoming more prevalent and are a great place to access information and support to help you understand and deal with the stress due to the condition. The groups can help you understand the condition, change unhealthy habits, challenge negative beliefs about yourself, help develop and improve social skills as well as repair and bring better understanding to relationships.
Many people with mental health conditions report the stigma and discrimination they experience from their families, friends, employers and society as a whole. As with other Mental health conditions there is the same stigma associated to ADHD and like other mental health conditions just because you can’t see ADHD it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The more negative aspects of ADHD frequently present as behavioural problems and as like people with specific types of mental health conditions people with ADHD often have difficulty controlling how they think, feel and behave yet there seems to be less tolerance for those with ADHD. They SHOULD just know better, and are often labelled lazy and told their ADHD is just an excuse for bad behaviour.
People in our society generally don’t understand ADHD and when we generally don’t understand something, we tend to fear it. That is why in the old days here in the UK and Ireland if you had a mental health condition you were branded a lunatic and locked away. Looking back it was society that was insane treating the vulnerable so poorly. Look at our prison systems today, or perhaps they should be called our modern day lunatic asylums, 40% of young offenders present with ADHD. Again fear and lack of understanding and our refusal to look at ourselves as part of the problem. I’ve personally spoken to young people that find life easier locked up because of difficulites they have living in our society due of their condition.
Even when ADHD is treated it can be extremely stressful and lonely. Especially if you have no one else to talk to about what you are experiencing. Not only do we have our condition to deal with the traits of ADHD, having ADHD means you are also six times more likely to have other conditions such as depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, social exclusion as well as finding it extremely hard to maintain daily structure, manage relationships with people or hold down jobs.
Let me make this clear WE DON’T GROW OUT OF IT. Like other mental health conditions some of us manage it better than others, depending on our circumstances, or the severity of the ADHD. I recognise that it can be very difficult for people prone to prejudice and judgmental thinking to accept that some of us find life more difficult but that is the reality of mental health conditions such as ADHD.
There is a major difference that I have identified between other mental health conditions and ADHD. If a person with depression for example felt that they were being stigmatised by family, friends, employers and society there is usually a reasonably adequate mental health system that understands the condition and willing to help the person experiencing the depression reduce symptoms. In regards to ADHD this is simply not the case. Healthcare professionals throughout Ireland and the UK are simply not trained adequately to help people with ADHD. There is a lack of willingness to try and understand and treat the condition and this mistreatment can have devastating effects on people’s lives. Many psychiatrists don’t realise that Antipsychotics are not recommended for the treatment of ADHD in adults. Here in Northern Ireland adults have been misdiagnosed and given Antipsychotic medication simply due to untrained psychiatrists refusing to recognise ADHD as a real condition.