Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quick Tips For ADHD #1: Don't Make Excuses

I can't help the mess! I'm ADHD!


One of the biggest problems with having an identifiable disorder is that it can tempt you to make excuses for your bad behavior. Missed an appointment or lost a paper? It's just ADHD. Threw a tantrum when you had low blood sugar? Well, ADHD really hurts your impulse control. Interrupted the Best Man's speech at your sister's wedding? Gotta love that quirky ADHD!

Using ADHD as an excuse for your mistakes is a 100% fool-proof way to ensure that ADHD ruins your life. ADHD may predispose us to certain behaviors, but everyone has some sort of urge or temptation that they fight on a daily basis. The key is to keep fighting, and to apologize when you screw up.

The key to improving is practice and supports.  My office used to look like the one above. It's still a mess, but I've used David Allen's book Getting Things Done to help me get the clutter down to more manageable and socially acceptable levels.  I have a problem remembering deadlines and appointments, so I let my iPod warn me multiple times about upcoming events. I know that low blood sugar can make me cranky, so I incorporate regular, high protein snacks into my day. And, I stop from doing impulsive things that hurt others by keeping up an internal monologue to reinforce good behavior.  A key element of that monologue is: It's NOT about ME. 

When, in spite of your coping mechanisms, you make a mistake, apologize. Don't bring ADHD into your apology. Keep it simple. "I'm sorry I did X. What can I do to make it better for you?" When you decide upon a course of reparation, do it immediately so that you don't forget.

ADHD doesn't have to ruin you life and your relationships, but using ADHD as an excuse will destroy everything you care about.

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