I Have ADHD, Help Me!

ADHD Coach Linda Walker

You have ADHD and you’ve hit a wall. Your job is on the line, your spouse is screaming divorce, your finances are shamble and you’ve just made another huge ADHD mistake that might just be the last straw. You just can’t keep up with your life anymore, and you’re on the verge of a burnout. Whatever your wall is, you’ve already hit it, or you can see it looming as you approach at 100 miles an hour, and it’s all because of your ADHD.

I’m sure you recognize this moment. This is when the typical adult with ADHD seeks help, and they want it now. I know this moment well. I can tell exactly when someone has reached this point, because they write me an email or post on my Facebook page, “Help me!” Sometimes, that’s all they write! They’re so overwhelmed they can’t even explain the problem. Or they write their life story (usually in one continuous sentence!) and finish with, “So what should I do to fix this?”

You can imagine how difficult it is for me to answer such a cry for help. It’s not that I don’t want to help, but how can I? I suppose I could send off a list of “tips and tricks” saying “Do this” or “Don’t do that”, but that would trivialize ADHD and the person’s situation. When you have ADHD, you’re never tackling a single problem. No, ADHD is so much more insidious than that.

Each Situation is Unique

Even if we could narrow the focus to one thing, such as “chronic procrastination” or “disorganization”, each of these problems is so much more complex than we first imagine. Overcoming procrastination means more than applying any quick-fix, solves-all solution. Each ADHDer has a different set of circumstances, different strengths and different tasks they procrastinate. There’s no solution that works for every case. The same is true of disorganization. You may be disorganized, but only at the office. Or maybe your home looks like a tornado went through it, while your cubicle looks like nobody works there. You may be able to organize your space, but you struggle to organize your thoughts. Perhaps you have great ideas but can’t put them in order to write them down. Maybe you know how to do many things, but you can never organize them into a series of steps to manage a project. It’s easy to see why there’s no Band-Aid solution.

I’m Stumped!

Despite a great desire to help people (and I do want to help as many people as I can) when I see an email or Facebook message that’s a cry for help, I don’t know what to do. It’s not a lack of skills or training; no professional, doctor, coach or therapist would be able to solve that problem.

So, that’s why I’ve created this series of article explaining how you can figure out exactly what you’re facing, and how to break it down into identifiable, definable, solvable(!) problems. Then you’ll be able to ask for help in a meaningful way that will allow an expert to give you meaningful, useful advice. If you’d like to start overcoming your ADHD, this will deliver far better results than yelling for help.

Decide What You’ll Work on First

Deciding which ADHD problem to tackle first is essential. You can’t work on them all at once. However, this will not be easy for any adult with ADHD. ADHD permeates every area of your life, with both negative and positive effects. Write down an inventory of your ADHD issues. I have a form that I use with my clients to help them create an inventory of the things they’d like to work on. It may be helpful for you to identify what ails you. Download it here.

You may find it easier to track challenges as you go along than to just sit and write the list. For example, as you go through your day, every time you see a symptom, write it down. If you waste an hour surfing the Web when you sat down with the intention of quickly answering an email; write it down. If you have a blowout with your spouse over the mess you left in the kitchen (again); write it down. If you realize you don’t have enough money to pay your rent because your finances are a shamble; write it down. Keep a notebook with you, or use your phone – there’s a free app designed to help you track your ADHD symptoms, called the ADDA Storylines App.

As soon as you have a reasonably good list (it doesn’t have to be complete – you may have challenges you don’t even know are caused by your ADHD), decide which ONE you want to work on first. Yes, it will be difficult to choose, because making decisions is also a struggle for adults with ADHD, so let’s look at that first.

But Decisions Are Hard for ADHDers

The best way for you to make this difficult decision will depend on the type of person you are (just one example of why there’s not one-size-fits-all solution). I’ve built my business by always considering each individuals unique situation, strengths and personality. I do this when working with clients one on one, and I’ve even incorporated it into my online training programs. Here are three options for how to choose what to work on first. Pick the one that fits your personality best.

Option 1: If you’re someone who struggles with ADHD AND with low self-esteem – you’ve tried so many things that haven’t worked, your belief in your ability to change is almost non-existent – or you really need to take things slow to avoid having anxiety attacks, find the low hanging fruit. That means, choose the problem that is easiest to fix but would make a significant (it doesn’t have to be huge) difference. Why? Because the biggest problem may not be something you believe you can tackle right now. Studies show that when you don’t believe you can succeed at something, you are right.

Option 2: If you’re someone who believes you are a creative genius and you feel confident you can change your life – you know it won’t be easy, but you’ll make – or you’re someone who needs to see big change to stay motivated, choose the problem that is the most present in your life. If you’re always late; choose that. If you’re not very productive at work, choose that. If you’re constantly saying things that get you in trouble, choose that.

Option 3: If you’re still not sure, choose option 1.

Your Mission on Your Way to Finding a Solution to Your ADHD

So this week,

  1. Make a list of what ails you. I invite you to share some of the doozies in the comments box below.
  2. Choose one challenge to work on.
  3. Do something nice for yourself to celebrate.

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      • kat
      • October 4, 2017
      Reply

      honestly just reading the comments is helpful. its so easy to feel like im a lazy dumb dumb and why cant i just get to work? im a chronic list maker… and a chronic list ignorer. im also a damn tornado person. i leave a wake of socks, dishes, books, and cups in my wake wherever i go! ill lay out everything across the known universe on a piece of paper and decide it all needs to get done today, which sparks an internal panic attack and then i decide i should rest a bit before i start this herculean list. and then the guilt. why havent you started yet? well, theres not enough time now so dont bother even starting. maybe try again tomorrow. oh wait tomorrows no good, maybe thursday. i bounce between thinking ‘im a super hero and can leap a months worth of tasks in a single bound’ to ‘you pathetic loser, you seriously couldnt even mail that letter? the mailbox is half a block away!’. one task. one task. one task. ok i can try that

      • Erik
      • December 15, 2016
      Reply

      I have known that I have ADD for a long time but have not known how to get the right kind of help. At 49 I still feel that I do not have my life together. I am very resistant to taking medication and it frustrates me when well meaning family members tell me to just take medication and all my problems will go away. I am also a High School teacher which is a very difficult job for someone with ADD. Meetings with parents of students with ADD are interesting!
      I always try to work on everything at once and never finish anything and always end up disappointing everyone. So this idea of working on one problem at a time makes sense. I feel like I have solutions for many of these problems but each solution takes time to create the “system” or routine that will solve or manage it, and so I never have enough time to finish developing and implementing the solution.. So I just keep chipping away at all of them and continue suffering the negative consequences of each ADD rooted problem.
      So I will choose one and completely develop it and let the others ride.

      • Sherri
      • September 12, 2016
      Reply

      So many to choose from, I’m not even sure where to start.
      1. Allowing anxiety to give me a reason to take a “mental health” day….or three…off from work. I get so overwhelmed with not knowing what to do when I struggle with the suffocating feeling that I cannot do this anymore (go into work and the gazillion other things that have to get done), that I will get stuck and do nothing. Except yard work, it always helps. I now realize this is impulsive behavior, at least that’s a start.

      • Pammy
      • March 13, 2016
      Reply

      Hello, this is the first time I’ve actually read this site and it says I need to help myself by sharing what ails me?

      Well as a Dr.-diagnosed fellow ADHD-er, what I am most bothered by is my losing of items. I swear this house is haunted and someone comes in late at night and steals my glasses, my cell phone and one of the pair of shoes I need to wear! This wouldnt be so bad if I could just manage to keep the lids on my make-up, sunscreen and all the other stuff that takes a lid. WHY MAKE A LID that’s UNATTACHED ANYWAY?!

      At age 54, I was diagnosed with adult ADHD. I was sent to a psychologist because rumor had it in the cancer center that I was emotionally “not right.” Yes, I have had cancer, stage 4 bone cancer . So… I am very intersted in getting the show on the road to fix relationships, especially with my chicldren and husband, Kirk.

      So, yes, I really would love some help. Please.

      • Tara
      • March 12, 2016
      Reply

      I’ve found I cannot execute on goals (“dreams with deadlines”) or thinking in ordinate terms (first, second, next, last). These thoughts literally paralyze me. If I just do something – anything -no matter what, at least I’ll either have a clean cereal bowl or laundered socks. Though not usually both!

      • Kim Benton
      • March 9, 2016
      Reply

      I have suffered with ADHD all my life. I was diagnosed about three years ago and was put on vyvanse. It has helped but it doesnt cure it . Then diabetes comes along. not only is it a terrible disease but it requires daily regimens in order to try to control it. Not a good thing for some one with adhd. As if that wasnt enough, I have also developed cirrhosis of the liver. At this point, Im like really? How am I going to juggle these three health problems along with being a caretaker for my 88 yr old mother, raise two teenage girls, one of which has ADHD by myself and work fulltime? I feel as if God must have me mixed up with someone else.. Im not the best candidate for this job! Reading articles like this has helped me so much to try to cope with all this.

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