A Different Perspective

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.

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      • McFarland Teresa
      • July 13, 2019
      Reply

      What you have said rings true, “Our childhood instincts to rebel against authority were in essence correct and possibly vital for the survival of the core self”. I survived as a rebel, and I have succeeded as a rebel as well; although I’ve learned to be more pleasant and cooperative in my resistance.
      My father taught me, “Never take ‘No’ for a negative answer!” With a twinkle in his eye, he continued, “It just means that they need more information to come around to your way of thinking”.
      Rebellion isn’t all bad after all.

        • rWebster1
        • July 15, 2019
        Reply

        I soooo agree! Rebellion is often the first step in charting our own course. Living a life of our own design is not only fantastic … but it’s the only viable option for many of us. Good luck!

        Frankly, I consider this one of the gifts of ADHD. We’re forced to find our own way rather than blindly following someone else’s.

      • Kristine
      • July 12, 2019
      Reply

      Reading this article was such a blessing this morning as my week has been filled with self-doubt, frustration and guilt. I never could explain why the sudden outbursts to my family and friends. It’s hard to explain that in my mind something just arises and I feel some kind of trigger in my head that prevents me from holding myself back. It’s as if I see myself holding me with the inability for restraint. This just brought me comfort.

        • rWebster1
        • July 15, 2019
        Reply

        Anger is usually a secondary symptomatic expression of deeper frustrations. Anger management is often part of the ADHD journey. I’ve found that support groups populated by people with similar issues … common threads … can be soooooo comforting, eye opening, and healing.

      • Dykstra, Anne
      • July 12, 2019
      Reply

      I also love these words. I was diagnosed in my mid thirties though because of lack of knowledge and raising my kids I wasn’t able to focus on myself as I needed to at that point. I’ve also got Dyslexia, which only complicates matters.
      My husband and I have raised our 4 children and one step child (we each came into the marriage with one child and had 3 additional children together). Our children now range in age from 34-22, 3 boys and our youngest two are twin girls. Our kids have been raised with empathy and compassion and a willingness to stop and listen to an individuals story before making a judgment about who they are. Unfortunately, my own siblings don’t have that same compassion and understanding about me. They feel slighted for the attention I received growing up (attending tutoring, therapy etc). This of course was time taken away from them and I don’t have a relationship with any of my siblings which breaks my heart.
      I’m going to print these beautiful words and share it with them when the time is right (weather it’s tomorrow, next month or next year). This gives such insight into our complex world within ourselve and the battles /demons we fight all the time. Thank You.
      PS. My biggest fear…is that if my husband passes away before me, I’m going to mess everything up and not be able to manage financially.

        • rWebster1
        • July 15, 2019
        Reply

        Congrats on raising compassionate and empathetic kids. You got the most important thing right! My four girls are in the same age range. Two have ADHD. Sounds like you’ve given your kids what I would call “the gift of kindness.” IMO, kindness is about the most important philosophy in life. It will serve them very well. No one ever regrets being kind.

        Your siblings are adults. Meet them on whatever common ground you share. Sometimes negative aspects of our relationships will fade from neglect! Focus on what’s good.

        Finances: Well, since that what we teach at Rena-Fi, I’ll just say this. Start learning now. Start preparing now. ADHD often comes with an unhealthy dose of procrastination. Becoming aware is the first step in overcoming it.

      • Zofia
      • July 12, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you ADDA for including Richard’s words here & thank you so much Richard for your sharing, writing your thoughts and feelings as an ADDER. I appreciated & needed to read your writing because just a couple of hours ago, I experienced a sudden, unexpected flat tire on the way to an important meeting with friends and then, as if the flattened tire wasn’t enough at the moment, my cell phone was ready to go dead and then I experienced a local police officer w/a nasty attitude arrive. Got the tire changed quickly on the site by a friend since AAA wasn’t going to be able to respond for some time. This all turned out better than could be expected but for the bully police officer attitude upon arriving to the site and where my car was off / on the side of the road, was a downer and a reminder of need to get better with challenges that ADHD present. Thanks again Richard & ADDA.

        • rWebster1
        • July 15, 2019
        Reply

        Yes, the ADHD “domino cascade.” You know?, when it rains, it pours. Usually, we’ve played a part. Leaving late, unprepared and with multiple risk factors. ADHD catastrophes are usually set in motion way back upstream. Glad it all ended well. That’s the positive flip side of ADHD. Many of us are great “crisis managers!” Take comfort in that. If something awful is happening in my environment, I hope I’m surrounded by ADHD people .. because they calm down and perform great in a crisis.

        As for the cop … well, let’s face it. There are many crabs in the sea of life!

    1. Reply

      Thank you for sharing it actually helped me today. I was already punished for being “me” this am as my typical routine for leaving the house most always results in a mad dash to water the plants’ their going to die if I don’t… fix the dog pens .. might get out while I’m gone.. oh and that book I’ve been wanting to read … hmm I can read if someone else is driving.. just in case … and so on.
      It’s really tough when the people around you , are always making comments about my actions when I’m trying.
      I feel very alone and then I just want people to leave me alone and don’t bother me if they can’t understand .
      Thanks again

        • rWebster1
        • July 15, 2019
        Reply

        I sooooo identify with your feeling … of being “very alone.” Strikes an emotional chord with me. I’ve felt alone most all my life, even with so called friends around. But, I realized, with the help of a couple very caring people, that I could prune the ADHD unfriendly elements from my social tree and re-populate it with ADHD friendly people. That has made all the difference. I finally heard what my grandma told me so long ago … “choose your friends carefully.” You will never get clueless people to understand. Don’t waste your life’s energy trying. Go find the people who already understand. I wish you success … and I feel your pain.

      • Susan Milner
      • July 11, 2019
      Reply

      This is a perfect summary of what many of us experience. It is a beautifully crafted piece that accurately balances the paradox and the nuances we experience as adults diagnosed later in life ( I was 55).

      Thanks for taking time to write it, finish it and submit it!

        • rWebster1
        • July 15, 2019
        Reply

        Thanks for the comment! Thanks for noticing the three necessary steps. I’ve written a LOT, finished less … and submitted FAR less! Both funny and disheartening. Thanks for validating the struggle.

      • Mari-Ange
      • July 11, 2019
      Reply

      I felt this article in my soul! My experience is pretty identical… Thank you for writing this.

        • rWebster1
        • July 15, 2019
        Reply

        You’re most welcome. Managing ADHD is far more complex than buying better day-timer. More than any of the mechanical solutions offered. It’s about emotional healing and growth … that’s my opinion. The healing takes place deep within … deep in our soul. Thank you for your comment.

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