I HAVE ADHD
AND THAT MEANS...
"I've had so much trauma in my life. It's no wonder I have ADHD. It was wired into me."
"I am suffering so much from ADHD. It really ruins my life."
"It isn't curable. I've tried so many times..."
OK, will you listen and keep an open mind for a few minutes here?
In the first place, unless it is truly genetic and the gene can't be muted or turned off, ADHD (or ADD) is virtually never something permanent or a part of you, like an arm or a leg. It is a set of habits that we have adopted and practiced over and over and over (for a reason).
However, it is often used as an excuse or held as a permanent handicap, instead of a treatable, reversible habit pattern.
Unless you meet the technical definition of attention deficit being from a genetic abnormality or where the brain never could process things right in this regard, you are actually suffering from "self caused attention deficit" (or SCAD). 95%, at least, of the cases of "attention deficit" are not from a brain deficit disorder but from training, in a sense, that caused one to learn the habit of "attention deficit" and disorderly thinking.
You have been the "victim" simply of habits and outside stimuli that created situations that caused attention being dispersed and/or attracted in a chaotic manner.
The important thing here is for you to realize that if it was caused by habits and chaoses in life , it can be cured by your developing new habits and ways of doing things. It will take some time to unravel what has accumulated in our neuronal pathways over time, but it is very doable - a step at a time.
And the reward will be immense - changing the very quality of life itself to a dramatically higher level!
HOW DO WE TREAT IT?
As with any problem behavior, the antidote is to "do the opposite". (And also to stop talking about "having ADHD and how it holds you back", as that grooves the idea of being a victim of it further and further into the habit patterns of the lower brain. I can hear the protests now "I AM NOT a victim. This is a serious condition. Don't minimize it, you noncompassionate idiot!" Well, maybe not that bad, but there is often an objection here, instead of allowing the conversation to continue unimpeded.)
LET'S IDENTIFY WHAT IS GOING ON (DESCRIBE IT IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND AND CLARIFY IT)
Here, we need to ask ourselves "what is going on here?" and "what do I need to know to properly address this and solve it?"
In this "condition", we get distracted, which means something takes our attention away from focusing on something else.
Is it a behavioral pattern or a wired in, unchangeable trait? (A basic initial brain defect has never been proven to be the cause, though there might be a minuscule number of exceptions.)
Yes, it does "feel bad", no doubt. We are not doubting the symptom or being noncompassionate or critical here - we are doubting the cause being a fixed (unchangeable) thing. We are treating it from the viewpoint of "No Fault" and no blame.
It is something with several components which can be changed to correct the problem, largely by retraining the pieces and by using our brain to correct our cognitions to that which is actually true.
BUT..., YOU SAY...
Note that those who are "having" this condition are often looking for excuses, trying to avoid taking responsibility (because he/she could be criticized or held accountable - note that people with ADHD or ADD tend to resist letting themselves be accountable).
People who "have" ADHD will adamantly defend their condition being something they are at the effect of (the victim of) They will feel offended that you are questioning the permanency of the condition. "You just don't understand. I've studied this alot and I know more about it. Don't invalidate me." [Note that "me" is not actually being invalidated, just the premise is.]
Like depression one can "control the symptoms" (directly and/or indirectly) so that one can get enough stability to solve the cause of the problem and to do the reprogramming - but the drugs are not the best permanent long term cure (since the cause is not solved.) "What do you mean my cause is not solved. I can't hold my attention and my brain is out of whack so it is the cause of the problem."
Well, not exactly... Part of your analysis is correct, but overall it is not.
It seems that there is always a causal chain for every result. I repeat: "for every result."
So, we must ask, for each link in the chain "Well, is there a cause to that particular cause in the chain or is it the initiating cause?"
(We need to apply critical thinking in solving this problem, one which is itself created by the lack of critical thinking. You'll find that those who have ADHD very seldom use critical thinking and when they do it is only minimally. Critical thinking (aka "effective thinking") is simply, absolutely, undeniably needed for one to be effective in life. It MUST be learned well, if one is to have a happy life and to solve ADHD fully.)
Unless there is a proven brain defect that cannot be corrected [which nobody has been able to prove yet!], it is something we can do something about.
There is also no genie in the machine or some mysterious forces at work here. The brain is strictly mechanical and therefore it is subject to mechanical (physical) rules, one of which is the law of cause and effect always being true. (For every effect there is a cause.)
THE CAUSAL CHAIN LOOKS LIKE THIS
The causal chain looks more like this:
Person takes on a particular behavior (thinking he/she will survive better by doing so).
Two things occur (kind of like a branching):
Part of the brain (like the control center) is not used, so it shrinks a bit and becomes
less functional (or "more dysfunctional").
Another part of the brain (say, the reactive alarm part) is activated, and therefore
strengthened. The brain is more developed to follow that pattern as it is grooved
in more and more - and that part of the brain can grow. (Cab drivers who have to
find their way around town have a much larger area in the brain that records and
uses such data.)
The less well functioning brain has us unable to focus on one thing, as it is spending attention units on the distractions of reactive signals, often frantic in nature as the amygdala is desperately trying to solve the problem (the upsets).
We keep on operating that way and the training gets to be even greater and lowers our ability to do the desirable function.
FOR A TRUE CURE, INTERRUPT THE CAUSAL CHAIN AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE!!!!
Interrupt the chain as early in the process as possible. [This is a basic physical law.] You can't cure a problem by curing the symptoms. So, drugs introduced later in the chain do not go back all the way to cure the problem.
See the effect of training in the opposite behaviors, which is often categorized under Attentional Training, but which can include anything that is interruptive of the symptoms. This means that a change in diet that creates the body being more stable and calm can make a difference, just as more sleep and exercise make a difference. [See and practice the principles and strategies in The Care Of The Frontal Lobes.] And meditation practice has been proven to have an effect also. (See the video ADHD Kids Before And After (3:28) - Effect of doing TM.)
We can also ask the question "Is there anything else that affects 'x' part of this process?"
In this case, we might ask "Is there anything that would lower the degree of alarm that is using up the attention units?" Yes, definitely. This is "fear" training. Now, fear is a symptom, so we have to go to the cause of the fear, which is a perceived threat. Well, most of us perceive threats where there are none and/or exaggerate the effects of the results of a threat actually happening. Therefore, to cure ADHD it is helpful to have training in "threat cognition", the correct perception and interpretation of threats. See The Fear Management Program to do the training.
RESISTANCE, DENIAL, OBJECTIONS - REASONS WHY NOT AND/OR TO NOT DEAL WITH IT
"I already know this stuff. I've read Hallowell..." (Well, the "know it all" does not know it all if the problem has not been solved. And this problem is definitely solvable!)
Victims have an arsenal of "why nots", to defend their having not solved this, to relieve themselves of responsibility in the matter, and on and on.
The non-victim simply proceeds directly to say, "I'm responsible for doing what I can in life" "I've got a problem. Now what can I do to improve this, if anything?"
I can hear the "victim stance" people wildly objecting, perhaps even saying "you're crazy", "you're stupid", "you're insensitivte", etc. the common tools of victimhood where we have to manipulate and control people to not confront us or disagree with us.
You can spot a victim, because they will spend most of their efforts on defending that they have a problem, whereas the non-victim will spend his/her time only on defining the problem and then engaging in the problem solving process, including bringing it to completion (instead of quitting part way).
ADDRESS THIS AS EARLY AND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
This is a destructive cycle that may worsen over time but which surely takes away from the rest of one's life. We must intervene in the vicious circle. [Part of the problem is the ADHD gets in the way of learning and, indeed, in the way of reading this piece. Nevertheless, we have no better choice than to push through as well as we can, because part of the cure comes from learning the basics so that ADHD does not keep on keeping us from learning as fast as we can. The faster learning helps us to be able to create a much better life.]
We cannot afford to waste our life repeating this behavioral habit/pattern.
We must start working on the pieces. [And, yes, it does take alot of time to reverse patterns that are grooved in. I suggest you do not stop until you have obtained the new result you want (i.e. the curing of it)!!!]
Just like a commercial product, like a thigamajig, it is constructed from several components that make it up. Each component must be rejiggered (correctly done) and then the components must be put together in such a way as to be a workable product to deliver a workable benefit. In this case we are going for a "product" of "effective direction of attention", which will give us a benefit of being able to manage life much, much better by learning more quickly and more in-depth.
What are the components and how should we deal with them?
1. The lack of being able to direct our attention is having us not able to focus sufficiently.
- Do direct attentional training, such as meditation (see the video on ADHD kids).
- Study for longer periods of time, bringing attention back repeatedly, failing over and over, but gradually getting better and better at the new skill.
- Do things that require attention or concentration, such as crossword puzzles, chess, sudoku, etc.
2. The brain and/or body are "in upset" or "inreactive mode to numerous threats".
- Cure the misperception of threats, correct the beliefs that cause us to imagine and believe in non-existent threats (and also learn how to "proper size" the threats to see what is no big deal).
- Do fewer of the things that throw us out of balance. (Body trying to respond to sugar imbalances and other things that cause it to go of the the high functioning "homeostatic range.")
- Stop the negative external conversations that pattern in the fear messages.
Watch your languaging, how you talk about things, victim conversations. stop telling your "stories" (as you'll just groove them in more)
- Stop/reduce any internal negative conversation.
- Eliminate the erroneous beliefs that initiate the fear response
- Stop and do not allow anger blowups, as they not only are upsetting but cause the
behavior to get worse.
The plain truth is that THERE IS A WAY OUT. You can have absolute confidence in that.
OF POSSIBLE BENEFIT...
THE POSSIBLE CONVERSATION...
"I am the author of my ADHD. There are various reasons for my ADHD condition. I do not choose to be 'at the effect of it.' Yes, it causes certain symptoms, but I need not allow the cause of the symptoms to be the victor in this case. I choose to be responsible for being at cause in the matter and for creating what good I can."
This is the "healthy" conversation.
DOES ADHD AND ADD HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON WITH PANIC ATTACKS?
Those people who have panic attacks (which are, indeed, an awful experience!) will often claim that they cannot control them and consequently that they are the victim of them.
But if we look at the causal chain for panic attacks we will find at least some of the same links - and basically the same cause.
We "trained" ourselves into the habitual pattern by repeatedly doing the fear response. We have multiple fears going on at once and high anxiety (which is more of a vague fear often without specific indepth identification of the causes) that constantly occupies our minds, so that we are desperately seeking relief - such as with distractions. (See Why We Do What We Do.)
We can interrupt the chain earlier on. We must acknowledge that once the ball is rolling it is more difficult to stop. For instance, we have more difficulty stopping the automatic reaction that happens instantaneously (i.e. we cannot possibly step in between the instant emotional reaction that is caused by a fear thought, so we must therefore learn to eliminate or lessen the fear before it gets to the point of no return).
The condition of the body and the increased sensitivity of causing too many fluctuations in the body's functioning exacerbates the potential for panic and the problem.
Hmmm. This sounds familiar. Gee, maybe it's a kissing cousin of ADHD and ADD.
"Well, hummph!" And the response to protect against the accountability of the victim is similar:
"My past was so traumatic. Now it's locked into my body. I just can't look forward to the misery of living a life like this. I'm trapped." Etc. and etc., often with more inventive reasons why and why not.
No, it is not a valid statement to say that one is trapped. This, just like ADHD and ADD, is a behavioral pattern that is locked in so completely and repeated so often that there is the illusion that it is permanent - which it is not. Part of what maintains that illusion is that it takes so much time to correct all the components that people stop short of the cure, often blaming it on never being able to find a competent counselor - and then they become a victim of it "not being curable".
SO, WHAT CONVERSATION SHOULD BE USED HEREAFTER?
Definitely, other than when we are in problem solving mode (and not mistaking this for faux problem solving that is actually complaining), we should never, ever bring it up in our conversations. We would better spend our time in identifying the components that need to be fixed and working on them - so that the problem is cured rather than having it as a perpetual victimizing machine!