What does it really mean … to thrive?
It’s probably pretty fair to say that when we think of thriving with ADHD, we think of prospering, flourishing, blossoming, and in general succeeding to the level of our neurotypical counterparts, right? Well, yeah … of course! But also, I think thriving is more than “just” success or achieving a level playing field with our neurotypical peers. You may be trying the tough stuff, performing well, gaining satisfaction, have a sense of accomplishment, and even be able to consider yourself “successful” … but if you also feel perpetually stressed out, overwhelmed, and/or exhausted too … that’s NOT thriving with ADHD!
Thriving involves resilience and overcoming. It involves development — evolution of the self. And I’d dare to say it’s laden with joy — not stress. You know, … kicking butt and taking names, like Chuck Norris, as you float across the floor dismantling those obstacles that would dare to hold you down … with a mischievous smile fully intact and a “Booyakasha!” That’s thriving!
Six Months In …
It’s been a solid six months since I’ve gotten the confirmation nod that ADHD and me are joined at the hip. When I first started scanning the world to figure out where to go from there … I was seeing several cases of “thriving after 6 months of being diagnosed.” For the most part, that seemed far off — like I had time to get my sh*t together. I thought, quite hopefully, that just maybe, in a quick six months, life would finally be so much better and less … painful. Yeah, I think you know how we ADHDers have issues with accurately understanding how much will or won’t fit into a certain amount of time, too (insert obligatory eye roll here)!
Well, I’m not “there yet.” That doesn’t mean I haven’t made great strides. It doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished anything. I have … I really have. And that should be acknowledged, celebrated, and appreciated. But, I still struggle … a lot more than I care to. I’m not feeling anywhere near my Chuck Norris “kickin’ it” self, yet. And maybe the notion that the struggle will ever “go away” is unrealistic. In fact, I know it is. Okay, fine. God (the universe, a greater power — however you see it) promises there will be trouble for everyone … it’s a part of life as we know it and the human condition. Without a challenge though, what’s the point in playing a game? If everything were perfect and everything was easy … there’ d be no point … in anything. Think about it. And, seriously, we ADHDers love games; we love challenges; we’re the dreamers; the way-makers; aren’t we?!
So, Challenge On. Let’s Do This!
As you may already know — if you’ve been following along with my blog, or if you’ve seen my About page or my Aloha post — I’m on an intimate mission for dramatic personal life change with this blog. I want to convert a lifetime of struggle into a life where I’m thriving with ADHD. Who’s with me?
I really think each of us needs our own special collection of modalities, approaches, or techniques which we can tap into for symptom management and self-care if we aim to thrive. It’s like gathering the ingredients for a recipe … the quality of what goes in affects the star quality of the final dish. I’m specifically talking about ADHD here, but honestly the same thing goes for any other condition or challenging life circumstance. At the very least, we all have emotional baggage and daily stresses we’re carrying around that can weigh us down and hold us back — and keep us from thriving. So we should all cultivate an ingredient list of modalities, a playlist of greatest hits for personal best-ness, you know, … for butt-kicking and whatnot.
Sharing My Recipe
So, today I want to share with you my recipe … my plan, my playlist of modalities that I’ve been implementing so far toward my goal of thriving with ADHD (in no particular order). Though I’m not there yet, something here might help you or a loved one, plus it’ll help keep me accountable on my mission by putting all this out there! I’m a work in progress, for sure … and that’s okay!
My Treatment Plan:
I want: 1) to feel more content, joyful and emotionally stable, 2) to succeed at mastering my ADHD challenges that affect my daily life, including decluttering and control over my time and schedule, and 3) to make a difference in the lives of others.
For as long as I need it, I want to continue to seek out therapeutic support to help understand underlying issues to help me make better decisions toward healing, growth and positive change.
I take my pills because, I want to finally give my brain a fair fighting chance at better handling of executive function and emotional regulation.
I’ve chosen to blog as a form of self-discovery, self-awareness, self-expression and personal translucence. It’s a platform or a scaffold I can climb onto to gain perspective through the ADHD lens, to learn, to grow, to build, to share and to give.
Mindfulness, Meditation & Prayer
Though it’s extremely challenging, I’m trying to cultivate better mindfulness and a consistent habit of meditation and connection to God for stress reduction, improved attention, better memory, increased creativity, feelings of compassion and that priceless “buffer time” that would allow me to respond rather than react from a more grounded yet higher, lighter place.
I need people in my corner who really “get it.” We all do. We need an ADHD support team that understands ADHD is not a malfunction or a set of character flaws, but simply a neurobiological difference. We need people on our side who accept that this is just the way we are wired and who embrace us just the same. We’re stronger together.
My tool of choice to begin tackling to clutter of my mind, my life, and my schedule is bullet journaling. Using my BuJo has become a grounding, reassuring and entirely adaptable force of good in my life. It allows me structure and flexibility — all at once. It’s a brilliant life hack that allows me to capture, store and keep up with everything I need to do, give attention to and remember.
My husband and I have started losing weight by way of better diet choices and signing up for DietBet games. And it’s working. My medication also helps suppress the cravings my brain would normally cause me to have from being starved for dopamine. It makes it so much easier to eat less and eat better!
In addition to walking our sweet rescue pup more, I super-duper want to incorporate Yoga into my lifestyle. I haven’t done that successfully yet, but I’m not going to stop trying until I do. I know that aspects of yoga (physical exertion, breathing and meditation) are effective at calming and centering the nervous system from experiencing the practice 20 years ago. Increased oxygen and blood flow, improved self-esteem, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved self-esteem are waiting for me.
Emotional Support Animal
Our year-old rescue pup brings oodles of joy, support, laughter and warm fuzzies into our home. He is the silliest goose. I can hardly believe he’s real sometimes. He’s like a giant living teddy bear. He serves as a body doubler for me when I’m working from home, and he does amazing things for lifting my spirits with a couch cuddle or sweet glance.
Before I Can Thrive
Despite all the modalities, tools and strategies in the world, before I can truly be thriving with ADHD, I have to learn to work with my ADHD — to stop fighting it, stop denying it, and stop hiding it. I have to learn how to overcome the inherent challenges and how to lean into the gifts and strengths.
A Word to the Wise
Even though I would be tickled pink if something I share here helps or inspires you, I want to encourage you to just be curious and open to finding your own personal set of modalities, your own recipe, your own toolbox on your path to wellness and thriving. Listen to your heart, listen to what works for you. There’s no “one size fits all” plan. There’s a special set of ingredients for each of us as we find our float!