Blog Post | We Will Always Be “Solving” It


We Will Always Be “Solving” It


I’ve been on a kick recently of strengthening my awareness of my own ADHD. As someone diagnosed with ADHD 20 years ago, and a former special education teacher and current ADHD coach, you’d think I’d have a pretty decent handle on the whole ADHD awareness thing. I can list off Dawson and Guare’s Executive Functions impacted by ADHD in my sleep and I can fill a book with ADHD tips and strategies that I’ve used throughout my life (with varying degrees of success). I soak in the learning at the Annual International Conference on ADHD and love to geek out over ADHD podcasts in my downtime for crying out loud! What more is there to be aware of?

Cameron Gott and Shelly Collins’ podcast “Translating ADHD” is responsible for sparking this recent fixation of mine, where they discussed the idea of becoming a “student of your ADHD,” a metaphor that I can’t seem to get out of my head. Being a student of your ADHD, they shared, isn’t something that you get your degree in and you’re done. Some folks come into coaching with the false belief that if I can just solve this ADHD thing, then I can be successful. I’ve got news for you — we’ll always be “solving” it. ADHD is a complex and dynamic disorder, and so is life. Mix the two and you’re bound to experience a good share of unpredictability. We best learn to be good students so we can be aware of the times when life shifts gears and the old tricks and habits may no longer apply. 

Life sure changed gears on me recently. While navigating pandemic living and changing my career, I went ahead and got pregnant with our third child. I’m about to do a lot of complaining, so let me make this statement first — we’re overjoyed! And … we’re also overwhelmed. For me, pregnancy meant saying goodbye to my ADHD medication for a good long while. I shudder now to think of my pre-pregnant self boldly telling my husband, “I know so much more about ADHD now than with the first two! Daily exercise and a brain-healthy diet will really help. I’m sure it will be easier this time around.” HA! Tell that to my first-trimester nausea and fatigue, and my sudden relentless urge to pull over at every fast food drive-through. It’s a good thing my strength is self-regulation — wait … no, I’m terrible at that Executive Function skill, and I no longer have the meds to help me put up a fight. 

Navigating pregnancy with ADHD is tough — for me (it should be noted that due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, some women find their ADHD symptoms nearly disappear, bless their hearts!). Pregnancy and ADHD is an important and, I believe, under-represented topic that deserves its own post. I bring it up here because I’m trying to be open and curious to learn how my ADHD is manifesting in this new chapter in my life. 

We will always be learning to manage the downsides and harness the upsides of living with our neurodivergent brains. I suspect that how successfully we navigate all this depends on what type of “student” we are showing up as. For me, being a student of my ADHD has not only been helpful but also kind of fun. I like getting to know my brain on a deeper level and highly recommend it!


Abby Riley
ADHD Coach | Center For Living Well with ADHD, LLC

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