As I have matured and learned about myself, I believe the most comforting thing to know about my ADHD is that “I am not alone.” This is important to realize especially when caught in the throes of comparing myself to the neuro-typical people around me. I remember when I received my diagnosis and was told that ADHD is genetic. But nobody explained to me that ADHD may present itself differently to each person.
In high school, I was always late, and my family was always on time. I wouldn’t complete my homework (or attempt it at all), but my brother would be finished on time with his homework. I struggled with working memory, and I still have difficulty, so I write things down now. However, my family was always there to remind me how many times they told me the same thing repeatedly. I really felt alone.
It is a real pleasure serving the community as an ADHD coach. One of the most reassuring things to learn is that my struggles in the past are not unique, and neither is the shame of not measuring up to the neuro-typical expectations. I have learned that lots of ADHD people have trouble brushing their teeth on a regular schedule or upkeeping their hygiene in general.
They have trouble keeping their house in order and their desk clear of clutter. Lots of people have difficulty adhering to a schedule, calling people back as they had promised, or managing their mail to not incur late penalties for forgotten bills.
If you deal with any of these problems or others, you are not alone. There are ways to overcome these obstacles and in this article, I will reveal a few strategies.
Strategy 1: Tell your secret
If you have an embarrassing quirk about having an untamed jungle you call your closet, be open about it, and tell your coach. Let your coach know if you have a problem with keeping the food fresh in your fridge. If you are beating yourself up for making the same mistake over and over, it’s time to share it with your coach. A coach can only work with the information you provide. Coaches hear a lot of quirky behavior from their clients. There is no judgment coming from a good coach because they know that your quirks are almost as curious as their own.
Strategy 2: Stop “shoulding” on yourself
“I should be able to handle this.” “I should have known better.” “I should have been more prepared.” “I shouldn’t have this much trouble with something that everyone else does naturally.”
The “should” statements are really detrimental to your self-esteem. Our “should” statements are ladened with guilt, judgment, and shame. Ease up on yourself and find more constructive ways to address your quirky behavior. I feel better asking myself a healthy and constructive question rather than a stinging “should” statement. Instead of “I should have known better,” please replace it with “What do I need to know for the next time?” Instead of “I should have been more prepared,” consider replacing that with “How can I be more prepared in the future?” Instead of “I should be working on XYZ,” consider replacing that with “What obstacle (real or illogical) is standing in my way?”
Strategy 3: Do not minimize your struggles. You are not the only one
Please know that if something is important to you, it is definitely important to your coach. A coach’s job is to prioritize your needs, no matter how trivial you would like to think your needs are. Chances are that some of your needs might be very familiar to your coach.
Remember, “You are not alone.”
Nate Hooper, CALC
ADHD & Executive Functions Coach