“Do the crap first,” she told me. “As soon as you sit down in the morning, tell yourself, ‘I have to do the crap first.’ Then do the crap.”
It was, perhaps, one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’d ever received, yet it was so simple. I struggled with paying the bills, reading important emails, making necessary phone calls, etc. But during my very first meeting with my ADHD coach, she got me on track. From that moment on, I knew I’d made the right decision.
I’ve known about my ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) for many years. I was formally diagnosed toward the end of elementary school. But when I was young, it was essentially explained to me in a boiled-down way—that I had trouble focusing—and I never treated it. My parents never sought to explore medication or therapy for me at the time, nor was I provided with any sort of classroom aid or any special instruction on how to manage my symptoms. The only intervention, if you can call it that, I received was from my mother, who required me to do my homework at the kitchen table so she could refocus me when I became distracted. I barely gave my ADHD much thought growing up, and after college, I felt like I had forgotten about it completely.
But about a year ago, as I was exploring interventions for my own children who have ADHD, I began to research the condition in regards to adults, like myself. At 38, I finally felt like I was really beginning to understand how this disorder impacted my work and personal life, and I knew I could benefit from real interventions in my adult age.
First, I did my research and found a psychiatrist who worked with patients with ADHD. He confirmed my diagnosis again (it had been many years since my childhood assessment) and we discussed medication. He initially prescribed a low-dose medication and slowly increased the dosage until we settled on a prescription that felt helpful and like a good fit for me.
But, medication alone doesn’t “fix” ADHD; it only helps me manage my symptoms temporarily. It cannot change the actual lifestyle habits and behaviors I had already developed as a result of my diagnosis.
“ADHD medications only act for as long as you have the chemical substance in your body, giving you several hours during which you can pick up skills, knowledge, and buildability,” Oksana Hagerty, Ph.D., an educational and developmental psychologist at Beacon College in Florida (a university designed around supporting people with learning disabilities, such as ADHD, dyslexia, and others), tells SELF. It can be beneficial to combine medication with other interventions, like therapy and coaching, to instill habits that help you manage your ADHD…Read More.