What is it like to live with ADHD?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Sally Spigner MBACP Dip Couns; Adult/Couple/Teens Therapy BR1
4th September, 20170 Comments
What is it like to live with ADHD?
Imagine spending your school years being told off for being lazy, not paying attention, being stupid and generally wasting time. Would you have enjoyed the school experience or carried on to further education? What about as an adult, entering the world of work, if you were lucky enough to have been offered a job; wrestling with timekeeping, personal organisation, struggling to meet deadlines and seemingly unable to prioritise your workload. Combine this with missing appointments despite reminders in your diary, on your calendar and in your mobile phone. Just a general feeling of constantly being on the back foot.
ADHD is caused by low levels of brain neurotransmitter, yet even within medical society there are many who question its existence. That child ‘just needs some discipline’ – and 'what about the French, they don’t have ADHD!'. Yet for the individual it means that they have little or no impulse control, cannot judge risk, might know the answer to the question yet cannot sit still for long enough to write it down, will shout out the answer or correct the teacher if they know they are wrong and have a very acute sense of fairness. Children and adults with ADHD can struggle with friendships, making friends easily but lacking the ability to maintain the relationships. They can spend their lives on the edge of friendship groups, not getting party invitations, feeling excluded. And sleep, what is that?
It is hardly surprising then that many clients present themselves in counselling due to either living with the condition themselves and the despair it brings, or existing in a household where another family member is challenged in this way. Many parental relationships are tested to the limit trying to co-exist with teenagers with these added hurdles. Sometimes one parent accepts the diagnosis and another doesn’t. The hereditary element also means that many adults only get diagnosed as a result of answering the endless questionnaires for their child’s diagnosis, realising that they could just as easily be answering the questions about themselves.
Luckily living with ADHD can have plus sides too:
- Fantastic ability to ‘think outside the box’
- Creativity and sensitivity
- Unlimited energy.
Some highly achieving individuals co-exist with ADHD – Justin Timberlake, Richard Branson, Michael Phelps, Jim Carrey and Jamie Oliver to name but a few. Our job as counsellors is to help our ADHD clients recognise what is working for them and see how they can move forwards with this. I saw a lovely motto on a children’s t-shirt which just about sums it up; it read:
‘ADHD – I have more ideas before breakfast than you have in the entire day’
Sally Spigner MBACP (Dip Couns)
Carer, and going through the process of adult ADHD diagnosis herself…
About the author
I came to counselling after working with children for over ten years. I am a carer for my own son with ADHD and am going through the adult diagnostic process myself. I have a special interest in helping the parents of children with SEN and physical disabilities. Whilst there can be a lot of provision for the children, adults are in shreds.
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