Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Standing In Victory With ADHD: 6 Tips

"I can't find a hair elastic! I've searched everywhere!" I exclaimed. 

Standing in the middle of my living room exasperated, I had already searched my bathroom drawer, my vanity, the dresser top, the kitchen counter, my purse... all the places I could think of where I might have misplaced a hair elastic. 

My mother stood there looking at me with a smile starting to form at her lips... 

"It's right there... you have one... on your wrist!" 

I looked down and sheepishly replied "Oh... yeah, you're right." and we both laughed. 


For girls ADHD is commonly missed and not diagnosed until adulthood... the effects of their struggles in school being long lasting and the ramifications being potentially even dangerous to their emotional and physical health. 

Girls are commonly not being diagnosed for ADHD because educators, doctors and parents often erroneously believe it only (or mostly) affects boys. But the truth is boys and girls are both at risk of having ADHD... they just exhibit their symptoms differently. 

Girls may tend to exhibit more in-attention, forgetfulness and are often perhaps the quiet ones, the shy ones who blend into the background and don't create any waves in the classroom so they may never reach a teachers radar that there is indeed an issue. These girls slip through the cracks in school and through the system, possibly just barely scraping by with grades in the seventies... not because they can't achieve nineties... as they are capable... but because they can't stay focused long enough to do their work. 

The biggest problem is these girls go through school thinking their low or failing grades is a reflection of some deficit in their educational abilities or intelligence when in fact it's just an issue with keeping their attention on task and not on the bird flying by the window, the traffic outside, the sound of the air conditioning turning on, etc. 

Combined with difficulties in time management and misplacing all the needed materials... (how many times will a teacher believe that someone truly forgot their homework?) it all comes down to an impeding of their potential. In turn these girls suffer from low self esteem and not really understanding why they feel different and can't seem to "get it together" unlike their peers. This leads to difficulties socially.... because they feel differently... despite the fact they have zero reason to feel bad about themselves yet often they unfortunately do. As girls grow older and enter high school estrogen rises... kick-starting a surge in ADHD symptoms. Because her ADHD worsens in the teen years she may have less impulse control, more restlessness and more anxiety or depression. 

Girls with ADHD are at a higher risk
 for suicide than girls without it. 

Girls with ADHD are also at a higher risk for eating disorders and self harm. It's incredibly important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of ADHD in girls so they don't fall through the cracks and become entwined with the harmful consequences... cutting class, leaving home, dropping out of school, self-mutilation, depression, drinking, drugs, promiscuity, suicide, etc. 

It's incredibly important for girls to get the help they need so they can not only have a sucessful life but have a healthy perspective of ADHD... knowing that they are not less than because of their diagnosis. In fact, with a diagnosis girls can find freedom and relief in finally discovering exactly what has been so undefinable thus far that has plagued them. That they are not defined by ADHD. Yes, it can be frustrating at times to live with but also just knowing it's genetic, that nothing you did caused this is incredibly affirming. 

Coping with ADHD it's imperative having a sense of humor. In the midst of your iPhone chronically dinging to remind you of yet another reminder it ensures that you sail through your day with as few glitches as possible... there are reminders of appointments, bills to pay, picking up the kids from school and the grocery list kept in the phone because it would be gone like the wind the second you blinked. You begin to think you need a necklace around your neck that holds your keys, phone and debit card because the second you set them down in some random locale... like the fridge as you reach in for a yogurt on the go... you can kiss them goodbye as they will be MIA the next time you need them. 

Luckily there are medications to help manage ADHD if that's the route someone chooses. If not or along with medication there are ways to help manage symptoms to help make life a bit easier. 

6 Tips For Managing ADHD Symptoms: 

1. Find a place to keep your purse and keys. It needs to be the same place every time you come and go. Otherwise you may find yourself on an erratic scavenger hunt for necessary items each morning. 

2. Have a back up alarm. Set your alarm on your iPhone for multiple times to get up... 6 am, 6:15, 6:25, etc. Being on time for anything is often like pulling nails for those with ADHD and time management may escape you. Being on time is a challenge but worth it rather than attempting death defying feats on the freeway to buy time and arrive in one piece... only to be a rattled mess of walking chaos once you arrive. I lived this way for years and eventually you have to say "This is craziness. Enough." and make necessary adjustments to have peace and calm. 

3. Make lists... lots of lists. You may lose the list so it might be wise to keep one in the notes section of your phone. (if you are good about keeping your phone with you). Another trick is keeping a spiral notebook in the car that you jot down things on as you think of them... errands, gifts to buy, grocery essentials, etc... it can stay in the car and you can take a photo of it with your phone before you enter the store or if you're daring enough take the notebook in with you. It's up to each person in what works best for them. 

4. Set your alarm specifically to take your ADHD medication. Back when I was taking Vyvanse I couldn't ever remember if I'd taken it or not. Over-taking a stimulant is not something anyone wants to risk so by about noon as I'd sift  through piles of papers trying to locate a specific one, or searching for my sunglasses or sports water bottle in a frenzied pace to get out the door, I'd stop and think with a laugh "Well, I obviously did not take it today!" 

5. Don't beat yourself up. There will be successful days where you did really well and there will be days when everything falls apart.... but you don't have to! Remember that each day is a chance to start fresh and beating yourself up does zero good. Reward yourself when you do a great job and on the bad days just shrug and tell yourself "tomorrow is another day." 

6. When one medication won't work there are others. Some people don't want to take stimulants or can't. Some do perfectly fine with them and don't consider it an issue. Some individuals prefer no medication, taking something natural or taking a non-stimulant. Non-stimulants such as Strattera are another option. Your doctor can talk with you regarding the pros and cons of any medication you choose to take. 

God sees our struggles in life and that includes those with ADHD. He knows our story just like the palm of our hand. He knows the frustration, the hurry, the distraction. But when we are having a tough day and feel we have stumbled backward... who are we leaning on to get back up? God is right there to listen to our cries and guide us. 

When we lean on Him, get up and stand tall we are standing in victory! 

Unlike our keys that's something we won't forget! 

© ~ 2013

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