I have a friend who knows I write about learning differences and ADD/ADHD and she asked my opinion on a matter. How could she encourage her friend who struggles mightily with ADD? (“She suffers with ADD,” is how she put it.)
A successful person to one looking on the outside, this is a grown woman with a professional career and a family. But my friend was privy to the bouts of depression and lack of motivation that overwhelm her at times. I never really thought of ADD as an affliction one suffers but yes indeed….it can be. And it can affect the whole family.
Now, since my area of expertise lies only in having my own opinion that is all I can offer. But here’s what I told my friend.
If you ask the medical people and read, you’ll find the general consensus is that yes, depression can be a component of ADD/ADHD. And some of the challenges can be incapacitating…disorganization, lack of ability to follow through on things, etc.
Being married to an ADD spouse and having a son with ADHD, I am well-acquainted with the challenges.
So I mentioned the usual advice:
Education. A supportive spouse. Practical tools that are helpful. (I knew one family that used a white board to keep hubby on track. The man was a brilliant electrician but would forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on.)
Maintaining good health. We all know exercise releases those feel good endorphins, right?
Support groups…cognitive therapy….medication if needed.
So blah, blah, blah…you’ve read all that stuff before right? I have some other thoughts.
ADD/ADHD is not a mental illness. It’s not a disability. It’s a brain wiring issue that presents special challenges….and special abilities. And yeah, meds can be helpful but I think they are far, far over utilized. And I think if a person needs counseling for ADD/ADHD….there’s probably something else going.
I observed a long time ago that the kids I met with ADD/ADHD were among the brightest kids I’d ever met. But their low self esteem was by far their biggest “handicap.” These are square peg kids being told to fit into the round hole all throughout their school years.
The conformity based educational models we have is SO damaging to kids with ADD/ADHD.
So what do these kids end up doing? They end up growing into adults…who, despite years of round hole training…..are still square pegs. And they’re still trying to fit in.
I’d be depressed too.
It’s important for anyone to know what makes them tick.
What are my passions? Likes and dislikes? What makes me come alive? How is my brain wired? Do I like details or am I a bottom line person who shoots first and asks questions later? What sort of environment do I work well in? Do I get bored easily and need variety in my work?
Plato packaged it up quite nicely: Know thyself.
For the person with ADD/ADHD I think those questions are more imperative.
I wouldn’t plant a palm tree in Montana and nor would I expect a hardly Russian Olive tree from Montana to flourish in the Caribbean. The environment just isn’t right.
It’s no different for an individual. Finding the right environment where one can flourish is everything. How much more important is this for the adult with ADD/ADHD?
I love reading biographies of explorers, great thinkers, movers and shakers. One thing almost all of them have in common is the tendency to get bored easily and the need to shake things up regularly. (I usually have such people diagnosed by the time I finish the first chapter of these books.)
Frank Hurley, photographer for the Endurance expedition, 1914. Can you picture someone like this sitting at a desk job?
What distinguishes these people versus the one suffering with ADD/ADHD?
I believe the difference is….these people are connected with who they are….and they embrace their uniqueness. ADD/ADHD and all.
I don’t know that these thoughts will help my friend encourage her friend. And I don’t mean to oversimplify or understate this woman’s pain.
We humans are a wondrous lot….full of amazing qualities with generous doses of dysfunction thrown in to keep life interesting.
But I am convinced that many of the difficulties we encounter in life is because we don’t take the time to understand how we were made and the sort of environment it takes for us to thrive. And most importantly, how loved we are.
I hope this lady can find the hope and encouragement to embrace who she is…ADD and the special gifts it brings…and flourish in doing so.
Filed under: ADD/ADHD, Individuality, Personal development | Tagged: ADD/ADHD, depression, learning differences | 2 Comments »