Dear Barb—Attention Please!

Dear Barb:

I am a guy in my thirties, and I have recently been diagnosed with ADHD.  I always knew there was something wrong.  I have never been able to focus on anything for more than a few minutes.  Even in school, my teachers called my parents because they couldn’t manage me.  My parents were told to put me on medication, but they chose not to after reading up on the long-term effects.  Therefore, I struggled but managed to get almost through high school.  The ADHD has been manageable at times, although as I’m getting older I find it more difficult to manage.  I have been given medication, which helps for most of the day, but as soon as it wears off I am pretty frazzled and at times explosive.  I am finding it difficult to maintain relationships as well.  What advice would you give to someone in my situation? Thanks, Greg. 

Hi Greg:

You are bringing up a very important topic.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ADHD is defined as “one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood.  It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood.  Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.”

Adults with ADHD (Adult Attention-Deficient/Hyperactivity Disorder) present challenges in all aspects of adult life, from relationships, work, finances, time management, and more.  I am not going to focus on the causes and symptoms of ADHD, but rather include some strategies that will help to manage the condition.

Since you are already on medication that’s a start, but you also must learn additional coping skills.  For individuals with ADHD, the greatest challenge is maintaining focus.  Initially when attending a meeting or lecture you are able to focus, but if the topic becomes boring, your mind loses interest and you become restless and find it hard to stay focused.  Taking notes while at these meetings will help to keep your attention on what the speaker is saying.  This will be a way to bring your mind back to the task rather than going off somewhere.  If you are given instructions, repeat them back to the person, that will help you to make sure you clearly understand.

Also, when attending long meetings, feel free to move around, when given the opportunity.  A stress ball will help to relieve some of the restlessness and will not bother those around you.  Eating well, getting enough exercise, and having adequate sleep patterns will also help you manage your symptoms.  Following a regular routine in your daily life will also enable you to focus on what you need to do.  I don’t know if you have tried meditation, but try short periods of meditation, to begin with, and lengthen the periods as you feel ready.  Try some meditation apps on your smartphone.  Implementing these changes will not magically make your ADHD disappear, but over time it will help you manage your symptoms and feel better about yourself and your life.  Best of luck Greg, I hope this information has been helpful.  There is a plenitude of information online about managing ADHD.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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