I often have a very difficult time doing crucially important things: mailing out a bill that is going to be late or calling a client who is expecting to hear from me. Some days I can do everything pretty well, but other days I just seem paralyzed. I find countless distractions and kick myself even as I’m doing them. It’s like I don’t have any control over what I’m doing. There is a separation between the will and the intellect. A disconnect between actions and consequences. Even if the action is simple and the consequence is dire, the connection just doesn’t get made. It’s extremely frustrating!
I’ve made dealing with my ADHD traits a life mission. In some areas I feel tremendous progress, in others, none. Perhaps pruning the non-ADHD friendly elements from my life and making new ADHD-friendly connections with people is most important from an emotional health perspective. Perhaps managing to do my work so I can pay my bills is most important from a practical perspective.
I believe there are core ADHD traits such as lack of impulse control, poor sustained focus, the need to seek intensity, etc. You know the list.
But, then there are a whole host of secondary issues that arise out of a life-long attempt to fit into a non-ADHD friendly world. These are the insidious soul crushing issues of an undiagnosed life. The insecurity that comes from being punished for simply being who you are, year after year. The self-doubt that comes from failures that don’t make sense. The self-hatred that comes from internalizing the character assassinating judgments encountered at virtually every childhood turn.
What I’ve learned is this: Our childhood instincts to rebel against authority were in essence correct and possibly vital for the survival of the core self. As a late diagnosed ADHD adult, I’ve found that peeling back the layers of debris is crucial. It’s a liberating feeling to peer beneath and find myself largely still intact. That’s the wonderful feeling of relief that many of us feel upon proper diagnosis … an explanation that rings true. Working through the layers of debris, though, that’s another matter. Grief finds it way to the surface bringing vivid memories of shame, traumatic turning points and failed dreams. The shadows of self that remain seem pathetic and unworthy. Later, quite a bit later, a sense of acceptance begins to fill in the resultant gaping fissures in our psyches and a healing begins to take effect. Forgiveness comes. Self talk becomes kinder. Hope pushes back darkness.
Through it all, we must find the emotional strength to deal with relentless core traits which have always influenced our lives and will for life.
I believe it is self-awareness and connections with people that give us the direction and strength to make substantive change.
Richard Webster, the author of this article, is the CEO of Rena-Fi, Inc., a financial literacy platform. ADDA has partnered with Rena-Fi to bring the benefits of financial education to its membership. Rena-Fi empowers and inspires students to develop a better financial future. Learn more at Rena-Fi.com and check out our other articles about managing your finances here.