When I first started to figure out my ADHD (and this wasn’t easy, but that’s another story) I thought I had solved the problem for my ADHD daughter as well. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with ADHD before I was – in fact, as is often the case, I only discovered my own ADHD through my wife’s and my efforts to understand what her diagnosis meant. With each new strategy or approach I tried that worked, I’d excitedly tell my daughter that, “From now on, you do it THIS way.”
Together, somewhat painfully, we discovered that each person’s ADHD is unique. I was upset when my new discovery didn’t work for my daughter. Maybe she wasn’t doing it properly. Maybe she wasn’t trying hard enough? I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took before I realized I was acting just like all those people who’d insisted I do thing their way (the RIGHT way, they’d insist!) and worse, judging my daughter as lacking if my strategy didn’t work for her.
It wasn’t until someone observing our relationship from the outside pointed out that I was assuming, as everyone had always done to me, that there was a right way and a wrong way of doing things. When it comes to ADHD, there are strategies that translate or adapt well from person to person, but there’s no easy solution. You need to discover what works for you on your own, by trying things.
The good news is that there’s no wrong answer. The right answer is always whatever works for you. If one approach doesn’t work for you, even if it was suggested by the most successful ADHDer you know or the expert with the most letters after his or her name, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just that it’s not the right approach for you.
My daughter, now grown, living on her own, holding down a job, succeeding on her own terms, is doing just fine going her own way. I’m very proud of her. What works for her may not work for me, but it’s obviously working for her. I’d like to take some credit for her success, and I guess I will, even if the biggest contribution I made was learning to get out of her way and letting her figure out what works for her on her own.
As an adult with ADHD, you too must find your own way. Go to a support group (or attend a virtual support group). Consult a professional. Talk to other people living with ADHD. Take in all their ideas, but don’t assume they’re right. Try things, accept what works for you and leave the things that don’t. And never, NEVER, think that because something doesn’t work for you that there’s anything wrong with you.