Adult ADHD/ADD

Many adults have been living with ADHD/ADD all their lives without being fully aware of it.

Different – and different in good ways:

However, they might well have noticed that they feel, and seem, “different” to non-ADHD/ADD people in some ways. For example, they might have noticed that it takes them longer to complete certain kinds of tasks than others such as filling out forms and applications, attending to paperwork, doing their taxes, and responding to email. Completing various other kinds of desk work or studying or tasks involving steps and processes just seems to take longer than it should.

They might have noticed that it takes them longer to start tasks at work and longer to complete the task than others.  Then they might have difficulties transitioning between tasks. They might have noticed that they bring a far greater attention to detail to the task than others.  Often, people with ADHD see that they do a much better job than others although it takes them three or four times as long – time which often they do not have at their disposal – which can then lead to stress, frustration and possible conflict.

Diagnosis or no diagnosis – it’s what you identify with:

Some of the ADHD/ADD clients who meet with me have been formally diagnosed, and some do not have a formal diagnosis. Some were diagnosed when they were children, or as teenagers, while only a few may have been diagnosed as adults.

For those without a formal diagnosis, some are wondering if they might be living with some form of ADHD based on feedback or comments from others. Some have read about it and feel that ADHD describes them quite accurately, and some just know they are living with it and identify themselves as ADHD or ADD.

ADHD/ADD in families:

Since ADHD/ADD can be inherited through genetics, some clients can see expressions of it in various family members, and now see those traits and behaviours in themselves. Further, some clients have children who have been formally diagnosed with ADHD / ADD, and then realize that they, as a parent, are actually living with it as well, and have been their whole lives.

Exploring ADHD/ADD communication styles:

Clients might want to explore how they tend to communicate with others within various kinds of relationships across varieties of situations. Communication, they realize, involves listening, and with ADHD/ADD, they may have noticed how challenging it can be to sustain attention when others are talking. They wish to find ways to stay with conversations, to listen more effectively, and be able to respond more adequately to the matters at hand.

Exploring distraction and attention styles and tendencies:

They might want to identify how they are distracted and create strategies for sustaining attention, enabling them to complete tasks more efficiently, improve on performance and be more productive at work.

There is often no attention “deficit” anyhow:

Perhaps it would be better if ADHD/ADD were simply called “AHD” – “Attention Hyperactivity Disorder” or “AD” – “Attention Disorder” – as opposed to including the “Deficit” idea – because for many people, there may or may not be a “deficit” of attention at all, depending on what they are doing.  If interested, they can focus for hours on end to the point of obsession, but if not interested, sustaining attention for even a few minutes can be a challenge.

Winning the Procrastination Battle:

Some people with ADHD/ADD are tripped up by their tendency to procrastinate, and wish to find ways to better deal with this.  Developing strategies from core strengths can be a very effective and powerful way to improve overall quality of life for people with ADHD/ADD, and can help with other issues besides procrastination, such as forgetfulness, the tendency to lose things, disorganization, and difficulties making plans.

Some expressions of ADHD/ADD that clients are interested in exploring include:

Being easily distracted
Forgetfulness
Disorganization
Hyper-organization
Perfectionism
Losing things
Living with a sense of being restless
As an adult, might feel the urge to move often – between apartments, cities, countries
Love rearranging the furniture
Starting new things and not following through or seeing them to completion
Talking too much, interrupting others
Not listening enough, difficulties sustaining attention while listening
Feeling “driven”, multitasking, working too hard and too much even to burnout
Overdoing everything
Scattered due to having “too many interests”
Not being able to develop any specific interest to full fruition despite often above-average expertise
Having not much to show for hugely incredible amounts of work and effort
Recognition that what they do “doesn’t amount to anything”
Some feel that they get bored very easily
Impulsivity
Difficulties transitioning between tasks
Paying too much attention to detail: overfocused, obsessive
Not paying enough attention to detail, trouble paying attention

You may notice that some of these expressions of ADHD/ADD seem contradictory, and indeed they can be.  There are many different expressions – it is very specific to each individual.

Other expressions of ADHD/ADD might overlap with autism, and they can include:

A love of devising to-do lists or checklists, sometimes to the point of obsession
Feeling the compulsion to document everything
Composing epic documents related to various projects and interests
Inconsistent: sometimes totally on, sometimes totally off…
Sometimes raring to go, sometimes can hardly get out of the pyjamas
Hard-to-predict behaviour
Eccentricities – with the ADHD/ADD person often loving the way they are and enjoying how they live, albeit with struggles and frustrations
Feeling “at odds” with “most people” – which as times is a good thing and at times leads to distress
Feeling like an outsider
Emotionality – with “small things” often carrying heavy emotional clout
Moods that are very changeable, from highs to lows and back up again
Experiencing conversations and interactions with others through a negative emotional filter
Feeling “spaced out”, excessive daydreaming
Anxiety and worry
Stuck thoughts and stuck emotions
Difficulty “switching off” in order to get to sleep
Living with a sense of low-grade, background anxiety
Poor handwriting, difficulties controlling fine motor movements
Feeling like a clutz, knocking into things, dropping things
Poor time management, showing up too early or too late or missing appointments entirely
Difficulty getting going – may take a long time to get organized to leave the house
Really set on routines, to the point of being quite thrown if forced into a change of routine
Perfectionism
Rigid thinking, rigid living, set in one’s ways, opinionated
Irritation that might build into explosion, or quick temper
Very sensitive to sounds, noise, light, flashing lights, vibrations

My approach to working with adults with ADHD/ADD:

I steer clear of working with ADHD/ADD individuals from an agenda of changing or fixing the ADHD/ADD “in order to live a more effective life”.  I do not therapeutically treat ADHD or any related conditions at all.  Instead, I offer support, guidance and skills development.

Here are some of the many things we can work with:

Managing distractions
Goal setting and achievement
Listening and communication skills
Emotion management and regulation
Anxiety, stress and irritability
Thoughts going round and round and attention shifting
Perfectionism
Procrastination
Coping skills
Time management
Organization of living spaces and work environments
Exploring eating and exercise patterns and preferences that support quality of life
Developing sound and consistent sleep routines that support optimal functioning

Discovering your strengths and getting your strengths working for you:

Many of the clients I work with enjoy discovering how they can leverage their strengths to do the things they want to do with less hassle, less frustration, less mishap, and with greater confidence, effectiveness and sense of personal agency.

The empowered adult with ADHD/ADD:

It is an empowering and heartening feeling to achieve the sense that you can be both the master and curator of your own life. Counselling provides opportunities for you to learn more about your ADHD/ADD. People tell me how they love deepening the process of understanding themselves in new ways – and that with the self-understanding comes a feeling of relief.

The bottom line:

Did you scroll straight to the bottom?  If you’re living with ADHD/ADD, you might have got frustrated with all the detail above – I get it!  If you’d like some support with your ADHD and want to try a free intro chat, just email to set up a time.  I look forward to hearing from you.