Living With ADHD: How To Navigate Your Diagnosis

Reviewed by Lauren Guilbeault

Published 01/07/2021

ADHD can complicate even the most simple tasks. Everything from paying your bills on time to responding to a friend’s text can feel overwhelming. Living with ADHD can be intimidating--especially if you have just been diagnosed.

Fortunately, though, ADHD is human. If you feel alone in your diagnosis, imagine this: just about 4% of American adults (that’s close to 9 million people across the country) live with ADHD.

ADHD is a condition that has a large, strong, and support network. If you’re looking to see if this diagnosis might fit you, think about trying this quiz.

Common Misconceptions

 

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If your ADHD diagnosis is new or fresh, it is important to take a minute to sort through what is actually true and what is simply a myth or urban legend.

  • A common misconception that is pretty prevalent, especially if your primary source is the internet, is that ADHD can only be treated effectively with medication. While it is true that there are several medications available that may be very helpful for some people living with ADHD, medication is by no means the only treatment method. Therapy has also been shown to be quite effective when it comes to a treatment method for ADHD. Some people don’t warm to the idea of taking medicine every day, and that’s okay! If this sounds like you, talk to your doctor about maybe giving therapy a try instead. For all guidance regarding medication, please consult a licensed medical professional.
  • ADHD can even sometimes be equated to having a lack of intelligence. This is NOT ADHD does not relate to how smart you are, but it signifies a disorder of certain brain functions. Many people living with ADHD actually end up finding very creative and intelligent ways to manage tasks that other people do in traditional, “by the book” ways.

What Is ADHD?

If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and you’re looking for ways to help navigate that diagnosis before you go any further, you should first take a look at what ADHD actually is, and not just how it’s represented in popular culture.

ADHD is an acronym that stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. What does Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder look like in practice? Symptoms are never going to be standard across the board and will vary from person to person.

Some symptoms might look like having a hard time paying attention, exhibiting movements that aren’t quite fitting of the situation (could be known as fidgeting), or even impulsive behavior, which is behavior that seems to have come without much or any prior thought. Likely, if you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, some or all of these behaviors are familiar to you.

Hopefully, understanding some of the ways that ADHD might manifest will help you better understand the disorder as a whole.

How To Live And Thrive With ADHD

You or a loved one being diagnosed with ADHD does not mean that your life options or chances at success are limited. People with ADHD can have fulfilling, successful, and inspiring lives. In fact, you may come to see your ADHD as a superpower because it sometimes allows you to hyperfocus, and in other circumstances, may allow you to think differently and problem-solve. For example, did you know that Michael Phelps first started swimming because he was a hyperactive child? Like Ty Pennington and Howie Mandel, other celebrities use their high energy levels to host popular TV shows and entertain others.

While keeping that in mind, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks that explain what it’s like to have ADHD and how to deal with ADHD both in your life and the lives of loved ones.

None of these tricks will be a cure-all, but they may make it easier to go about your day.

  • Keep Your Eye On The Clock

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If you’re living with ADHD, time management might be one of your biggest struggles. Deadlines might slip by, or you might find yourself “time-warping” what feels like more often than not.

An easy way to help cope with this is to be more conscious of time in your daily life. Wearing a wristwatch and training yourself to check it regularly can help you stay on track and on time throughout the day. If you are in your own home or workspace, try placing some wall clocks around to make it easier for you to stay on time.

Just having clocks around the house won’t necessarily solve all your ADHD woes, though. It’ll take some hard work and practice to train yourself to actually look at and acknowledge what is on these clocks.

Another great time management resource can be as simple as your phone. When you’re doing some work, try setting a timer on your phone. It doesn’t have to span for your entire work session, but even setting a timer to go off every twenty or thirty minutes can help you stay on track and refocus if you happen to get sidetracked.

Most phones nowadays also have some form of a reminder app. This can prove extremely helpful for you in your journey to not forget important dates, events, deadlines, etc. Most folks typically have their phones on or around them at all times throughout the day, so having it be your reminder can be exceedingly beneficial.

  • Make Time For Money Management

In addition to remembering when to pay the bills, more general money management is often a struggle for those living with ADHD.

Along the same lines as time management, your phone can be a great resource. Several useful budgeting apps can help you keep track of what you are spending money on, how much you’re spending, and where exactly you are spending it. These apps range all the way from free to rather pricey, so no matter what your budget is, there’s more than likely an app out there for you!

  • Meditate 

For some people with ADHD, meditation might seem nearly impossible. But like most things in life, meditation takes real practice. Even those without ADHD can spend large amounts of time practicing getting better at meditating.

The benefits of mediation as a treatment for ADHD can be profound. For one, it’s a treatment method that doesn’t involve medication. This can be really appealing to a lot of people.

Meditation can help you control your ability to focus, and that can be translated into other aspects of daily life that might be made more difficult for those living with ADHD.

  • Exercise

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Whether you yourself have ADHD or you live with someone who has ADHD, exercise can be a great way to expend all that extra energy that may otherwise lead to hyperactivity. Exercise also has plenty of benefits for anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

  • Keep Close Track Of Small Items

A common symptom of ADHD in adults is losing things. This is especially true for small, important things like keys, wallets, and phones.

Place a table next to your door with a small basket. Every time you enter the house, place those important items in the basket. Place this basket somewhere; it is visibly noticeable so that you don’t have to rely on your own memory to put things there- the sight of it will remind you.

  • Create A Menu At The Beginning Of Every Week

This doesn’t just apply to food- if you want to get distracted less and spend less time on tasks like cooking, plan things out in advance. Make a list of the recipes you want to make and the foods you want to cook each week. You will then have the ingredients ready, and you can simply follow the recipe instead of getting distracted, trying to come up with recipes based on what you have.

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Conclusion

The most important thing to remember when navigating your ADHD diagnosis is that it is normal. You are normal. While ADHD might cause you to do some things differently than others, it doesn’t make you any less personal. Actually, it is commendable that you recognized that you were struggling and went to a health professional to seek help. That’s not an easy thing to do by any means, and it deserves recognition.

And at the end of the day, your diagnosis does not define you. Rather than forming your identity, your ADHD is only a part of who you are, simply adding depth to your story.

These tips are effective; our hope is that they can be helpful for you, too. Every person’s treatment strategy will look different, and what works for you might not necessarily work for your friends with ADHD.

To find what works best for you, you should feel free to try things out. Don’t feel discouraged if you try something that doesn’t work. Instead, just move on to the next thing.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your treatment plan to navigate your ADHD diagnosis won’t be built in a day either. Keep your head up, try a smile on, and keep moving forward. Living with ADHD doesn’t have to be any less fulfilling than living without it; you just have to keep an open mind.