Right from the beginning the experts I’ve had the privilege to interview for our videos have been clear about one thing.
The only ‘solution’ to ADHD has to be a ‘holistic approach.’
In other words…
To succeed in life when you have ADHD demands a multi-modal approach.
Or still other words…
You can’t just pop a pill and expect it to magically make you organized, productive, balanced, able to relax, emotionally stable and a good listener who has everything in hand.
I know this because when I first tried medication and was suddenly able to sit and focus on and actually finish stuff I found boring, routine, or overwhelming…I thought, “Yay! Saved!”
It Helped Me to Focus…But Focus on What?
Medication allowed me to finish my taxes on time. (If you’re late filing yours this year, yet again, know you are not alone.)
But medication didn’t tell me I needed to set up a system for my income and expenditures… It didn’t tell me to schedule a regular time every month or two to gather and sort receipts… It didn’t help me find a bookkeeper who could sort through all my papers and add everything up so my accountant was able to quickly file my taxes. A key message in our comprehensive Medication series is that even the best medication has its limits.
Leveling the Playing Field
In my one-man show, I explain that medication leveled the playing field for me. But that was it. All I had was a level playing field. I still had to go out on the playing field and play the game. And know the rules. And be clear about the goals. And develop the playing skills. And of course, play the game to win.
The only difference was now I had a way better chance of succeeding because for the first time I was playing on a level field, the one everyone else took for granted. (By everyone else I mean people who don’t have ADHD/ADD. You know those people, right? There’s a lot of ‘em out there.)
Playing to Win
It did for me. The side effects were…actually, I never noticed any. Not that I’m particularly aware at the best of times. (Or maybe I did have side effects, but that was 15 years ago and my memory is spotty at best. I think. Someone said it was. Or did they?)
The only side effect was a headache for a day or two when I stopped taking the pills. It was almost as severe as the headaches I’d get whenever I’d cut caffeine out of my diet.
But even if medication works, it’s often not enough.
ADHD impacted my ability to plan, follow through, stay on task, do the drudge work, check details, pause and evaluate and make better decisions, and much more. It impacted my ability to manage my finances, workload, parenting, relationships, promises and commitments, and, well, every area of life to some degree.
Just being a poor listener with a poor working memory is bound to affect everything you do or want to do. Or forget that thing you promised your spouse you’d do before they got home… (Sigh)
Holistic Sounds ‘Flakey’
I must admit it was strange at first to hear psychiatrists, psychologists, and brain researchers being so emphatic on the value of a ‘holistic approach.’
I thought ‘holistic’ meant ‘New-Age Alternative Organic Gluten-Free Pseudo-Science-Based Witchcraft’ (no offense to my Wiccan friends).
Finally someone explained that ‘holistic’ meant treating the whole person, their mind and body. And I thought, “That’s flakey. The problem isn’t in my body. It’s a problem with some neurotransmitters in my mind… Or rather a lack of them…”
Which is why I mistakenly assumed medication was all I needed to be Mr. Super Achiever with the perfect life and spare time to…spare.
Only to realize that this brand new ‘level playing field’ was just lying there, waiting. Expectantly. And I had work to do.
A Holistic Solution Means…
…having an adaptable, ever-changing arsenal of weapons to manage the different areas of life and the different ways ADHD messes with your good intentions. (If an arsenal sounds a bit ‘life and death’, then you could think of it as a collection of tools. ADHD-friendly tools.)
Other adults with ADHD swear by particular apps, ADHD support groups, online forums, and more. There’s a whole list of options in our video The Holistic Solution to ADHD. And when one tool no longer works, for whatever reason, I’m okay with replacing it with something else.
It’s reassuring to know I have a selection of reliable tools that work for me and my version of ADHD.
I have to say, ‘holistic’ no longer sounds flakey. It feels sensible. Logical. Because I’ve come to see that for me, ADHD is a holistic’ problem, affecting my mind, body, emotions, and every aspect of life.
By the same token, getting my ADHD handled, which is always ongoing, improves my mind, body, emotions, and every aspect of life.