ADD and ADHD
I discovered that I, myself, had many of the symptoms of ADD later in my life. This recognition has had such a profound impact on my life, answered so many questions (and false hypotheses) and led to tremendous positive change and growth. Because of my own experience and compassion for those so challenged, I work extensively as a coach therapist for ADD and ADHD.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are neurological disorders charactized by high distractibility, often impulsivity, difficulty focusing on some things while at the same time often a sense of “hyper-focus” on other things, and oftentimes a inherent sense of restlessness and craving for high-stimulation or high-intensity activities — often including what appear to and can indeed be addictive or compulsive behaviors. It can be viewed as an excess of energy, a sense of too many thoughts all competing for ones attention at the same time, and all seeking their expression verbally and/or behaviorally.
Although I typically dislike diagnostic labels (at best), they have their place — and can be incredibly liberating — especially when you identify one that has defined and colored your whole life experience without your even knowing it, including many of your life’s challenges — in work and career, intimate relationships, friendships, home, marriage, children, family, and peace of mind.
Because ADD and ADHD (ADHD includes a hyperactivity component that is not generally associated with ADD) shares so so many symptoms, signs and characteristics with a myriad of other “disorders” as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM IV), millions of Americans have gone for most and many for for all of their lives with incorrect psychiatric diagnoses — or sometimes with partially correct but incomplete diagnoses. Anxiety disorders including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or mood disorders (including Depression and Bipolar conditions), Conduct Disorders (in children and adolescents) and oppositional behavioral patterns in adults, substance abuse and other addictions and compulsions, often are partially if not wholly the result of this neurological condition that is so often missed and undiagnosed.
Some of the very many challenges which are often experienced by individuals who have ADD or ADHD can include (and note that this list varies from individual to individual so you may recognize some but not all of these traits): distractibility, intensity, hyperactivity, lack of focus, inattention to details, inability to maintain sustained focus when another is speaking, impatience, anger or rage, mood lability or changes, challenges with creating and sustained structure in ones life, procrastination, a feeling that ones life keeps getting “sidetracked” or “derailed”, difficulties with organization and time management, dificulties reading (or reading slowly and/or not comprehending or retaining information read), underachievement, difficulty folllowing-through on projects at home and/or work, frequent preoccupation for searches for high stimulation, memory problems or forgetfulness, multiple divorces or failed relationships, frustration, insecurity, restlessness, a tendency towards addictive behaviors, problems with self-esteem, inaccurate self-observation vis-a-vis ones interactions with others, a constant need to be “moving” or “doing things”, a chronic sense of feeling “bored”, hoarding or difficulty throwing out unneeded things (such as papers, mail, etc.), difficulties getting started on projects, excessive worrying or obsessing, a sense of chaos, accident-prone behaviors, exposive temper, “Type A personality”, thrill-seeking behaviors… and the list goes on.
At the same time, many very positive traits and characteristics mark so many individuals with ADD or ADHD including: high degrees of creativity, intuition, imagination, empathy, high IQs, very high intelligence, charm, spunk, resilience, emotional intensity, particular creative talents, etc. The problem, of course, is that, left unharnessed, these wonderful traits and energy flow into too many directions all at once day in and day out, resulting in a lack of movement forward in ones life and in an often overwhelming sense of defeat, failure and underachievement in all aspects of life, including home, family, relationships, career, goal achievement, and personal pride and satisfaction. The paradox is that the ADD or ADHD person so often has SO many wonderful gifts, talents, and energy, but doesn’t know how to channel it properly.
A person with ADD or ADHD can greatly benefit from a variety of interventions including medication for some but not all individuals, and by having a “coach”: someone who can help the ADD/ADHD person identify the typical patterns of challenging traits or behaviors, create an “action plan” to overcome them, and keep the person “structured, focused, and on-track” to maximimize his or her potential. This type of structured encouragement or “cheerleading” can make the difference of night and day for the person with ADD or ADHD.
If you are, indeed, struggling with some of the symptoms of ADD or ADHD, working with an ADD/ADHD coach can literally change the course of your life for the better.