by Tina

Last week several things had my attention rather than what was actually planned on my calendar for the week including posting to my blog.  Of course, I spent time beating myself up, figuratively speaking, over not getting things done that actually needed to be completed.  People with ADD/ADHD are typically their worst critics, and we are so very hard on ourselves often not acknowledging any successes if all aren’t accomplished.  Over time this can take a toll on us resulting in depression and anxiety beyond belief.

The things from last week weren’t just everyday distractions that we with ADD/ADHD constantly battle.  They were extraordinary circumstances that actually deserved some of my attention; however, “some” is the key word here.  They deserved some of my attention but not quite all of it. 

In the midst of these struggles in my mind, I thought, “OK, what can I learn from this?  What is actually a symptom of ADD/ADHD, and how can that be addressed?  Could I have possibly handled this week more productively?”  No, I haven’t always thought this way; it’s come about since I’ve been coaching others. 

Just for your information, two huge items that had my attention this week included: First and foremost, a friend I’ve had since first grade was in a horrible accident at the first of the week, and I’ve been keeping up with and letting others know of his progress throughout the week.  Thankfully, he is doing well so far.  The other item that had much of my attention was that my computer “caught” a virus mid-week.  It was something I was able to take care of myself after some searching on the Internet; however, most of my hard drive was erased in the process in spite of the statement that kept popping up, “None of your files were affected in this process.”  Thus, my next task was to try to restore those files. 

Three things I noted in my thinking about what ADD/ADHD-related challenges I’d encountered this week were: sensitivity, self-care, and hyperfocus.  I call these “challenges” simply because that is how they presented themselves to me during this time.  They can also be seen as assets as you will see in my addressing each one over the weeks to come.

To highlight the difficulties I encountered with each challenge mentioned, I’ll begin with sensitivity.  The extent of sensitivity those with ADD/ADHD can experience can be so much greater than one can fathom.  We can be so very sensitive to others’ pains and troubles as well as their joys and successes.  This sensitivity can truly become such a part of us that it’s difficult to distinguish between what is attributed to our actual situations versus the circumstances of those we care for deeply.

Self-care comes in many forms.  When those of us with ADD/ADHD get absorbed in something, we easily forget about ourselves.  In fact I’ve always thought of “self-care” as a selfish thing when it is actually one of the most self-LESS things we can do in life.  When we don’t take care of ourselves, we are not able to help or be there for others; moreover, we can even cause others to have to care for us if we neglect ourselves for too long.  As you can see, this can result in the opposite effect of we had in mind.

When we become so engrossed in something that everything, and I do mean every single thing, takes a back seat to that particular item, we are hyperfocused on whatever has our attention.  This can be good if we use it in a productive manner to get a project done.  However, it can work against us in mighty ways when we simply can’t let go of something until it is complete or to a certain point before we move forward on anything else. 

So my answer to the initial question of whether we can learn from life’s experiences is, “Yes, if we are teachable.”  We must remain open to the lessons hidden in the experiences of life, which can be especially difficult when we find that we may need to make some changes to better deal with future circumstances that could be similar.

My next post will address the topic of sensitivity in those of us with ADD/ADHD in more detail.  Please let me know if you have any questions or aspects of sensitivity you’d like to see addressed.

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