Attending an ADHD support group can be a wonderful experience. You meet people who know what it’s like to live with ADHD without you needing to say a word. You feel understood and more comfortable with the members than even people in your family.
Unfortunately, not all ADHD support groups are like this, in fact some can be very depressing. People (usually one or two members dominate the meeting) talk about how awful there life is with ADHD. How they have no money, a bad job, a string of failed marriages etc, all because of ADHD. You’ll leave the meeting feeling unsettled and low.
However, it’s not just ADHD support groups that can be depressing, there are 1000’s of problems people encounter and a support group for every one of them. There seem to be 2 types of support groups, ones that provide a supportive healing environment and offer solutions to challenges. Then ones where people have a good moan, week after week, and enjoy being defined by their problems.
If you are reading this then you are almost certainly a proactive person and would enjoy the first option! Below are 6 tips to navigating ADHD support groups.
6 tips to navigate ADHD support groups:
1) Monitor how you are feeling during and after the meeting. If you are feeling sad or uneasy that is a sign the group doesn’t match your approach to life.
2) If you have a bad experience at one group, search for another one. Great groups do exist!
3) Don’t feel you have to attend every meeting. If the group meets every week, yet that feels too much for you make a personal commitment to attend once a month instead.
4) Attending a support group doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. If you have attended for a while, but are no longer getting value, it’s fine to stop going.
5) If you meet one or two special people at a group you can keep in touch with those people independently of the group. Having friends who understand you is always a good thing.
6) If you are craving a group of supportive ADHD people, but can’t find a group in your area..start your own. It’s not as hard as you might think.
This gives me hope to find a healthy/emotionally ADHD Support Group. I am beginning my search today.
In the most successful support group I was ever in, each time we met we had a routine. Our group had 6 people. Each week a different person would be the “facilitator” who would “chair” the session. (No we did not all have to take the same number of turns being facilitator!) We would start each session with a short “check-in” – whatever was on top of our minds in that moment in 2 minutes or less each. Then the “facilitator” would say something, like an inspiring quote or story or tip. Then we would take a few minutes to breathe deeply and clear our minds. Each person would then have a turn to speak whatever they were thinking about. Rather than give advice, the rest of us were to listen deeply and really understand what the person was saying. (If we had tips or suggestions for one another, that happened outside our support group sessions.) When we had all spoken, we would do a “check out” – each person would say, “This is my intention for the next week,” or “This is how I would like you to think about me in the next week.” Then we would agree on who would facilitate the next time, and close. Our rule was that we would never go longer than 90 minutes. I was amazed at how powerful it was to simply listen deeply to each other without comment. A lot of wonderful things happened for each of us, and we thought it was because we felt so supported by one another. We decided our silent attention was more powerful than advice!
your support group sounds incredible. Very respectful and helpful. Thanks for sharing, I think this concept will inspire lots of people!!
What great advice and a very good concept to listen deeply, Bonnie! I have a few deep friends with issues of depression and anxiety and I always read between the lines, ( I don’t have good hearing), to invite them to lunch or dinner and listen and support- mainly to facilitate our needs to deal with society and to make art without feeling overwhelmed.
Thank you for your suggestions!
You could also take a notebook with you and journal as you attend groups. This way you won’t have hindsight bias when thinking about the different groups.
Great idea Hailey!!