Focus

What You Should Do For ADHD Awareness Month

October is the month for International ADHD Awareness. As you know, I’m a big advocate for promoting awareness of ADHD. I talk a lot about ADD. Because, well… this is an ADD blog.

So what are you doing to promote the cause during this international month of awareness?

In honour of this important time, I have written a best-selling book that will change everything we know about ADD, based on my years of intensive research. I have also produced and starred in a documentary exposing the ups and downs of ADD and the insufficiencies of standard treatment. And then just last week, I invented a new drug that is currently being reviewed for FDA approval. It helps you focus without making you irritable or tweaky. I called it Xursize.

Haven’t I done well this month?! Top that Ned Hallowell. Move over Russell Barkley. Eat my dust Rick Green.

So I might be exaggerating a bit. Exaggerating, in that I didn’t actually do any of those things.

(I may have been a bit insolent too. Those three guys are my heroes.)

In real life (the one in which my body exists, not just my head), I did something much more impressive than those insolent exaggerations (lies).

The Really Impressive Thing I Did

I woke up every day after just two snooze-button pushes. I got my kids to school 2 minutes before the bell rang. I arrived to work on time. I paid attention when my husband asked me to find something. I watched 14 performances of Call Me Maybe in my living room. Note: I didn’t troll through my smart phone, I WATCHED my kids sing my (now) least favourite song in the world.

And to top it off, I called my mom on her birthday. (Well, actually, the day before, but I wasn’t late!)

In essence, I managed my ADD – to the best of my ability anyway. Indubitably (say it 3 times), amongst those huge ADD successes there were a lot of failures too, but that’s not the point. We (people) fail every day. Nothing epic about that.

The point is, I didn’t bow down to ADD and let it reign over me. I didn’t let it control me. I saw it, and I told it:

“Hey ADD, I see you. And I’m going to kick your ass”.

And I did.

Although… it kicked my ass on several occasions too. Then it laughed at me.

I responded:

“Oh ADD, you’re such a stinker”. (Yes, sometimes I talk like Harriet Nelson, especially after I’ve sworn twice in a post and am feeling dubious about it).

ADD and I are about 50-50. We’ve tied when it comes to the ultimate management of my life. Though I dare say, lately I seem to be winning more often than it does. Ha-ha, whose laughing now, punk?!

How did I manage my ADD?

I know you want a simple answer. So I’m going to give you one because guess what? The answer actually IS simple.

It’s all down to awareness.

I’m not talking about public awareness. I’m talking about self-awareness.

The Simple Answer

The more aware I am of my ADD, the more control I have over it. The more I am able to sit back and watch how it operates in my life, the more able I am to govern over it. When I pause and take notice, I can see ADD coming a mile away. And I say to it:

“Oh no, you don’t…”

And when it does, I say “Awe shucks (still feeling guilty about swearing), I’ll get you next time. I will see you from even farther away… next time”. (Cue the evil Dr. Claw laugh.)

So becoming aware of your ADD challenges and when they present… that’s a huge part of managing it well. It’s the first step in personally transforming your life and, in my opinion, the undeniably most important one.

Other things to be aware of…

  • Your strengths and how you can use them.
  • Your intentions – and whether or not you are doing what you intend to be doing.
  • Your values – and whether or not your intentions and actions are aligned with them.

Before I leave you, I want to demonstrate an example of why self-awareness is pretty awesome. I apologize in advance for referencing The Matrix again. 1999 was the best year of my life and so it seems I maybe be maturational-ly stuck there. (Generation X’ers can I get a whoop whoop?!)

Here’s The Matrix Comparison:

When Neo “awoke” in the matrix, he struggled with the preternatural challenges that faced him. He had no choice but to recode his outdated perceptions. When he finally became aware of the true nature of the matrix, he became more powerful than he ever realized he could be. So powerful, in fact, that he was able to dodge bullets and later… walk right through them.

Self-awareness helps you dodge bullets and walk right through them. (Metaphorically speaking, please don’t fling yourself into the middle of a skirmish).

So if you do anything to promote our cause this October, ADHD Awareness Month, do this:

Sponsor your own self-awareness: of ADD, how it shows up, what strengths you can leverage, and what your true intentions, values and ideals are. A fulfilled and confident ADDer is the best resource and mentor for those who are struggling. We need more positive mentors.

Growth

7 Steps to Becoming an Artist of ADD

When it comes to managing the challenges of ADD, you could look at it one of two ways.

You could try to “overcome” it, to become as normal as possible. Good luck with that one, my friend.

Or you could try to be better at it. Yes, you could be better at ADD. Medication or not, your ADD does not disappear entirely and furthermore, it will always be with you. So why not get better at living with it?

How can you be better at ADD?

In order to get better or proficient at anything, there is usually a process you go through. That process is not formulaic but learning almost any skills requires that you follow some version of the following steps.

1. You start

Well done, you’ve already completed step one. From what I gather, most painters start painting long before they have any formal tuition. You’re already living ADD, so you’ve got some experience already.

2. Learn new tips and tricks

Read about ADD, talk to other ADDers, visit ADD websites (or blogs!). Talk to your therapist, psychiatrist or coach. Learn what other people have tried, tested and found to be true in managing their challenges. At some point, most artists will learn techniques from other artists. Some ideas will resonate and others won’t, but learning (not perfection) is the point at this step.

3. Experiment with what does and doesn’t work

Take what you’ve learned and try it out. You are in experimenter mode here, so its critically important not to judge the tactic (or your ability in relation to it) too harshly. Adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Post-it notes work for some people but they certainly don’t for me. If someone invented an over-sized electronic post-it with blinking lights and alarm bells – well, that might just work for me. Experiment and see what works for you.

In the Art of ADD, this step does not apply only to experimental techniques for managing symptoms. In looking at the bigger picture, you experiment with life itself. If a normal 9-5 office job is clearly not fitting with your hunger for variety and mobility, then it might be time for a grander experiment.

4. Get to know, intimately, the ins and outs of your craft (ADD)

Matisse, Renoir and Monet were all impressionists but employed different methods in creating their art. They saw different things and expressed their inspiration uniquely.

Your ADD is different from another person’s ADD. Pause and watch yourself, almost as if an outsider looking in. Where does ADD show up in your life? Where do you struggle most? Which areas of life do you excel in? What makes you come alive? You may think you can answer this right now, but I can guarantee that unless you carefully observe your life, you don’t fully know your ADD. You may recognize yourself as being impatient, but when you really analyze it, you see that while there are situations that frustrate you, there are others you feel completely calm in.

5. Practice

Try out the techniques you have selected, remembering that proficiency does not come with one, two or even twenty tries. Artists are never happy with every single stroke of the brush, but eventually the painting comes together. Leonardo Da Vinci attempted his masterpieces several times before he got to the point where he could allow them to be finished. Your life is your art, it will take a lot of practice to get things just the way you want them to be, and even then it is unlikely you will ever deem your art perfect. They say that art is never complete, only deemed “good enough”.

6. Learn from masters, mentors, and muses

Da Vinci apprenticed for Andrea del Verrocchio. Michealangelo studied under Domenico Ghirlandaio and Bertoldo di Giovanni. You can learn a lot from the people in your life who inspire you. They may be famous or unknown to the rest of the world. They may have ADD or not. They simply need to be people who you admire, for whatever reason, or people who live life the way you would like to. Watching truly confident people in action may not unlock your own confidence but it will certainly inspire you to find your own path towards it.

7. Find your unique style…

and embrace it as your own, knowing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the true Art of ADD lies in creating your own masterpiece. Living life in your own artful way is your legacy to the world. It doesn’t matter if its unconventional – its your life, so live it beautifully. Impressionism was scorned in the day for its radical departure from conventional methods. Today, one of Monet’s Water Lilies is worth over 40 million BRITISH POUNDS!

 

Who is anyone but you to say what your art is worth?