Posted by fxckfeelings on October 12, 2017Share This Post
If you’re dealing with ADHD, as the son of our earlier reader is, sitting down and poring over what having ADHD means and your options for dealing with it—or really, sitting down and poring over anything for more than five minutes—can seem totally daunting if not downright impossible. Here are five steps you can take to figure out how and what to do with an ADHD diagnosis, and while they do include some research and consultation with experts, the main expert they direct you to consult about your symptoms and needs isn’t found through lots of painstaking research, but in the mirror.
1) Assess Whether Your Improved Attention Is Worth It
While there may be a loud chorus of voices—including your parents, teachers, doctors, friends, fellow drivers screaming at you to pay attention before calling you an asshole—telling you that your ability to focus needs work, you need to ignore the urge to do something to shut those voices up and do your own needs assessment instead. Based on your experience so far, ask whether you need to be more focused or attentive in order to survive, i.e., to make a living or accomplish a task that’s important to you. Of course, you should look for ways of learning and making a living that exploit your natural spontaneity and don’t require too much reading or sitting, and certainly not in large doses. In the end, however, if what you want in life requires a kind of attention that doesn’t come naturally to you, prepare to work harder than others to achieve the same results and to draw on motivation that must come from your own sense of priorities, not from the urging of those around you.
2) Take Stock of Tricks To Use As Tools
Don’t let your shame of current classroom performance or intimidation of learning in general prevent you from looking for and studying other ways of absorbing information. Researching such techniques may be daunting, but some teachers are gifted at helping you find your own style and the learning techniques that would be work for you. Neuropsychologists, who measure the methods your brain uses to acquire and process information, can also steer you in the right direction (and are often even partially covered by health insurance).Yes, learning and applying tricks to help you focus will take some effort and push your abilities to focus, but they’ll save you a lot of work and misery in the long run.
3) Consider Meds if You Must
If and only if you can’t find any successful learning tricks, focusing exercises, witchcraft, or any other non-medical methods to help with the kind and amount of learning you’ve decided is necessary, then it’s time to look at the risks of trying stimulant medication like methylphenidate and amphetamines. It turns out that the risk of trying a stimulant is very, very low (although there are a few people who find it enticingly addictive) and, because it can take less than an hour to see results, the entire trial period, like your own attention span, is unusually short. Yes, there may be additional risks if you take the medication regularly for years, but there’s no point in examining those risks until you know what the medication has to offer, and you won’t know unless you take the low-risk chance.
4) Evaluate End
In order to run an effective trial, take a stimulant 30 minutes or so before trying an intellectual task that you believe is necessary but difficult. You may need to repeat the experiment several times to evaluate the effect of three or four different doses or their impact on different kinds of learning, but you’ll know pretty quickly if there’s any potential benefit. You can measure your results, not by whether your test scores and/or the impression you make on teachers improves, but whether you feel a stimulant makes learning substantially easier. Then weigh that benefit against what you know about the trouble of obtaining the medication (e.g., cost, MD visits, the various that come with filling a prescription for a controlled substance) as well as whatever information you can gather about its possible longterm risks. Remember, you’re the ultimate judge of whether the benefits to your ability to learn outweigh the hassle and low risk of addiction, then taking these meds makes sense.
5) Shake the Stigma
Some people—Tom Cruise, for example—may always look down on you for taking ADHD meds, but doing your due diligence comes with the added bonus of not having to give a shit about what anyone else thinks. You’ve done the work, you’ve made smart assessments, and you’re confident that medication gives you an intellectual boost that you really need and can’t get in other ways. You’re the one who bears the burden and risk because you’re committed to learning something difficult. Yes, you’re different and, of course, your difference sometimes gives you advantages, but when it doesn’t, be proud of the way you manage it and confident, no matter what Xenu says, that you’re doing the right thing.
More advice from Dr. Lastname