Last week this came to my inbox as a notification to a post in a forum that I subscribe to. I deleted that email but woke up thinking about it this morning, and an answer popped into my head as if the angels demanded that I answer. I decided to reply to the question on the forum and also share it here. This is the full version, which I had to cut down to post to the forum (links and images added):
I wasn’t going to reply to this one, but when I woke up this morning, I remembered seeing it last week, and an answer popped into my head.
First: Are you using it as a crutch? Be honest with yourself. You might be, even if you don’t realize it. ADHD is challenging, no doubt, but I’ve used the label as a crutch in the past, and I’ve seen others do it. We (humans) often hold ourselves back due to our limiting beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves.
Secondly: We are what we believe we are. Our subconscious, which seeks to be right, controls 95% of what we do in our daily life. We are what we think we are.
Going back to using ADHD as a crutch without realizing it: You can be doing everything “right” in terms of tools and productivity and not even be aware of the garbage in your subconscious.
Of course, ADHD affects our brain function and thus our actions, but ADHD isn’t 100% who we are, and we can help mitigate its effects.
Thirdly: The fact that you’re upset that your friends suggested it to you might or might not be an indication that you are using it as a crutch – not because she’s making a correct observation, but because on some level, you’re uncomfortable with being called on it. No one likes to be called out. Again, I’m not telling what your reality is; I’m giving you possibilities to consider.
Fourthly: No one can “make” you feel anything. What people’s words and actions do are trigger feelings within us that come from our own stories, biases and insecurities. Their words and actions are the results of their narratives, experiences, biases and insecurities. You can’t do anything about her thoughts, only yours.
5. Why do you care what she says? You can decide not to give a fuck. Don’t give your friend that power. You get to choose how you feel and whether you remain in those feelings.
Her urging you to keep all your things in one spot or “just start making to-do lists” are not helpful. They’re simplistic and show a lack of understanding and compassion. However, that’s her shit, not yours. Her words are an expression of what she projects onto you. Your feelings project right back. Don’t take the bait. Don’t be the projection screen. Shield yourself.
Imagine yourself like Wonder Woman with cuffs that deflect her words.
Again, decide not to give a fuck. Take that power back. Trust me; life is so much better when you decide not to. (Also, I recommend two books with “f*ck” in the title: Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life by Gary John Bishop and “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” by Sarah Knight.)
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6. I believe that the stress of caring what others think can make our ADHD symptoms worse.
I suspect that you feel your ADHD more intensely when you’re stressed or panicked. The fight you had with your friend, the remaining stories in your head, reading this entire forum conversation, etc., could make it worse for you because of the part of the brain that stress stimulates. The hypothalamus plays a role in regulating emotional response. It produces hormones that influence the body’s response to both physical and emotional stress. This is going to affect your depression and anxiety!! The good news is that you can control this part. People with ADHD tend to obsess over the negative stories. We function better when we’re relaxed instead of stressed.
Your problems with ADD, depression, and anxiety are NOT your fault, but your brain and mind are fighting against you. Saying “I’m just not coping well.” could be another story that you’re telling yourself, which perpetuates itself. What happens when you change the narrative? What happens when you lean into the feelings rather than fight them?
7. Choose love over hate towards yourself and your friend. Decide that you ARE coping. One of my favourite mantras: “I choose love instead of this.”
(More book recommendations: Gabrielle Bernstein has lots of good books teaching to see love instead of fear and forgiving one’s self.)
As someone above said,
it can be your reason, but I challenge you not to use it as an excuse. It is empowering to have a label for the reasoning behind your executive function issues. Your choices are still your own, what is holding you back from implementing these things that you have researched?
We can’t control other people’s behaviour but we can control how we react and who we spend time with.
I hope this helps. I empathize.