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I Think I Have ADHD - Part II

Margaret V. Austin, Ph.D., edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.

2. Be patient with yourself

upset teen girlTeens with ADHD report feeling severely stressed when sitting in class, or even just being at school. They often feel tired; have frequent arguments with close friends; experience feelings of being different from other classmates; have low self-esteem; and, often feel as if their caregivers don't understand them. If you feel this way, remember, you are not alone. You can feel better. Take a step out of this trap. Talk with a parent, another trusted adult, or health professional about how you feel. Participate in activities you enjoy to remind yourself about the good things in life. Recognize that everyone has their own blend of strengths and weaknesses.

Sometimes you will feel conspicuous. You may feel different from your friends, which is uncomfortable. You may want to believe that your symptoms have lessened, or even disappeared entirely. It's normal to wish you didn't have this disorder, or to hope it will just disappear. Wishing is okay. But don't let wishing replace the realty that you do have a disorder that requires your participation to achieve wellness.

After accepting you have a disorder, the next step is to answer to this question: What are you going to do about it? It is important for you to realize that you are not responsible for having ADHD. Having ADHD is not due to any mistake you made. It's not a punishment. ADHD is a medical condition that you did not choose, nor control. However, you do control what you will do about it. What steps are you willing to take to improve the quality of your life. How can you find greater ease and comfort?

Many teens are concerned about telling their friends about ADHD. Some feel ashamed of their disorder. Remember, you can choose to tell some friends, but not others. You also get to choose how much you want to share. Explaining ADHD to your trusted friends may surprise you. They may be a great source of support, or even have ADHD themselves!

Many teens with ADHD begin to recognize that the school environment does not really suit their personality, nor does it utilize their skills. Nonetheless, it is important to find a place where you belong. Find some activity where you can just be yourself and enjoy every moment. This is a process of identifying your strengths. What sports, music, games, or other activities bring you joy or contentment? Like everyone, you have strengths. These are things you do well and enjoy. Be sure to make time to enjoy these things.

3. Be open to feedback from other people (including mom & dad)

It is difficult for teens to work so closely with their parents or other caregivers. Nonetheless, it's usually necessary for your caregivers to remain quite involved in your life. Expect that their involvement is going to be more than your friends' parents' involvement in their lives (i.e., friends without ADHD).

When caregivers serve as ADHD coaches, they are assuming a role beyond family caregiver. Coaches are hired professionals that help people work through challenging life tasks. They help people learn, practice, and master effective solutions to these challenges. In general, caregivers function in the same supportive role a sports coach. Both coach and caregiver are working to support the athlete, but in different ways.

4. Make consistent efforts

Like many chronic, health-related conditions, ADHD requires daily effort. Putting forth so much effort gets tiring over time. It's hard to remain cheerful, with a can-do attitude, while continuing to strive for improvement. Nonetheless, this is the degree of effort you need to limit the negative impact on your daily life.

Be sure to notice even small gains and improvements. Small, but consistent steps march you towards your goals, enjoying success along the way. When you have a set-back, don't let it undo you by becoming a landslide. Remember, research indicates that as many as two-thirds of teens with ADHD go on to have ADHD symptoms into adulthood. Therefore, it behooves you to develop these skills since you will likely need them for the rest of your life.