Q: What is the best way to deal with emotional dysregulation? It’s the one part of ADHD that I find the hardest to deal with.
Sometimes I think of emotional regulation and ADHD like driving in a snowstorm (I live in the northeast). You’re just driving down the road, going about your business and then it starts to flurry. At first it looks pretty, but as you admire it you notice it’s actually coming down pretty hard.
Suddenly you’re a little worried, so you deliberately slow down and ask yourself some questions:
- What caused me to get so scared all of a sudden?
- Should I continue down this road?
- What do I want to do right now?
If you find that you need to stop until the snow slows down, that’s always an option as well.
It helps to remember that emotions, no matter how strong they hit us, are much like storms. They come and go and generally don’t last forever. If you like ocean waves, that’s an excellent metaphor, too.
It’s more about learning to navigate the emotions. Feeling them, acknowledging them, but not getting lost in the storm.
If you take actions or use words that hurt someone, obviously it’s important to make it right.
The best thing you can do, aside from getting perspective around emotions, is to develop a set of tools for when you need them. Therapy, medications, and good personal care are the most obvious places to start.
There are several low cost and even free discussion groups offered through ADDA and other organizations.
If you like learning on your own, one of my favorite books is from James Ochoa, Focused Forward: Navigating the Storms of Adult ADHD. It’s a quick read, and a great place to start.
Hope this helps!