It’s frustrating to live with undiagnosed ADHD. You might go through life not knowing what you’re doing wrong. You might not know exactly why, but you know that you’re not like regular people.
You may have grown up being told you’re unmotivated or that you aren’t reaching your full potential. Maybe you’ve been compared to your peers and told that you’re lacking in certain areas. If that’s the case, being diagnosed with ADHD can finally start to give you answers.
I didn’t start treatment for ADHD until I was 25, even though I had been diagnosed with the condition twice previously. I had no idea what ADHD was, what treating it could mean, or how I could change my life by recognizing the condition and treating it seriously.
Some of the first doctors I encountered seemed to be just as confused as I was. I didn’t know what I needed to do next, and even though I had medication, I knew that was only one part of managing my disorder.
To help you navigate this difficult time, I’ve put together seven steps you can follow if you’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD.
1. Find a therapist you can trust
By the time you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, you’ve likely already absorbed dozens of negative messages about yourself. You need to learn to let go of these negative beliefs.
Talking with a therapist can make all of the difference in how you process those past experiences. It can also help you learn strategies for the future.
2. Find an ADHD coach
Learning to navigate the world once you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD can be difficult. You’ll need to learn a new set of skills to help you manage your symptoms. An ADHD coach can help teach you those skills and make your journey with ADHD much easier to deal with. Look for an ADHD coach who’s certified by the Professional Association of ADHD Coaches and has formal training in ADHD coaching.
3. Locate a support group that fits you
Just as you’ll need to work with professionals, you can also benefit from hanging out with people who think the way you do.
There’s nothing better than hearing someone tell a story involving a bunch of the quirky things that you thought only happened to you. Nothing breaks through the fear or isolation following an ADHD diagnosis quite like that.
You’ll finally be able to relate to others and feel like you’re “normal,” which is a great feeling.
4. Be honest with your loved ones
The people who love you might not understand what you’re going through, even if they have ADHD themselves. ADHD comes with many symptoms, and everyone is affected differently. We all have some symptoms that don’t affect us at all, and some that affect us all of the time.
The challenge with being open to your loved ones is that they might downplay your symptoms as not serious, even if they mean well. It’s our responsibility to explain to our loved ones what ADHD symptoms we have and how they affect us.
5. Restore your faith in yourself
As you’re being treated for ADHD, you’re going to realize that you’re eliminating some of the issues from your life. Some of these are issues you may even be getting rid of permanently.
As you begin to see progress and success, start to believe in yourself again.
Learn to trust your capabilities. You will stop thinking of yourself in negative terms and begin to see yourself as a normal, fallible human.
6. Create a routine to keep you on track
Nobody knows what each day is going to bring. But to keep some stability in your life and stay on track, it’s important to set a schedule of daily tasks. These tasks can be as simple as grooming, exercise, or a steady work schedule. Making a routine will create a rhythm in your life that helps you stay focused.
7. Give it time
You didn’t find your way into an ADHD diagnosis overnight, and you aren’t going to learn how to manage it overnight either.
It takes trial and error to learn what works best for you. Some tips may be more helpful than others. Be patient and try a little bit of everything. Switch your routine up so you don’t get bored. You can do it.
Living well with ADHD may seem like it’s impossible, but I promise you it’s not. What you’re going to need is perseverance, dedication, and a sense of humor. Some days it’ll go well, and other days, it might not go very well at all. That is normal, and you’re going to make it through. Just hang in there!
For more information on how to manage ADHD, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
ADHD-US-NP-00036 NOVEMBER 2018