ADHD is a life-long condition. That might seem like bad news if you are struggling right now.
However! take heart, because there are people who are treating and managing their ADHD so well, they think it must have disappeared.
In fact, I regularly get emails from confused blog readers asking if ADHD ever goes away.
Each of these emails has a detailed explanation of what their ADHD and life used to be like and what it’s like now. The common theme is these people created a life that works to their advantage.
For some people this happened by a happy accident, while others worked hard to design their life to suit them.
Here are some tips so that you can do this too!
Spend time with people who think you are awesome just the way you are now.
Avoid or minimize time with people who are critical of you or put you down. When you are trying to avoid criticism by being on your best behaviour, your ADHD gets worse.
In contrast, when you are relaxed and happy, ADHD symptoms seem to improve.
Rather than spending time with people who grumble about how much energy you have, spend time with people that are impressed by it or have even more energy than you do.
If you love to talk, find people who enjoy that about you. Some people are shy and quiet and find making conversation hard work. Their favourite type of person is someone who loves to talk.
Some people get upset by ADHD behaviour because it triggers an emotional wound in them. For example, if they are sensitive about being rejected, they will be deeply hurt if you don’t phone them as much as they phone you, or if you forget a birthday or arrive late. It’s not that they are bad people, it’s just that their style doesn’t jive with yours.
Fill your life with things that help ADHD naturally.
The trick to doing these things every day is either make them so fun you can’t wait to do them, or get them to be part of your routine where they happen automatically, like brushing your teeth.
How do you make exercise fun? It can be helpful to reframe it.
For example, the people who found their ADHD ‘disappeared’ often had been exercising from a young age. In fact, they were so young, they didn’t even call it exercise. They would be on the swim team at school or love running, etc. They knew they felt better when they did these activities without knowing why, or even that they had ADHD. Because of this, they never felt that exercise was something that they ‘should’ do, it was just a fun activity that they continued to do into adulthood.
Systems and Structure
Develop systems, habits and structure that support you.
Having systems sounds grand, but they are simply things that help you feel organized. For example, if like many ADHDers you have trouble remembering things, you can develop systems to support your memory.
One of the Untapped Brilliance blog readers described a system she created to help her remember important belongings before leaving her house.
I have a little card with a list of essentials. I clip the card to my bag’s handle when I’m home. That card reminds me, just before I leave, to check that everything is back in the bag where it belongs.
ADHDers resist structure because they think it reduces their creativity. However, the exact opposite is true. You can be much more creative within a structured framework.
Sometimes the people in your life can help provide a structured framework. For example, you and your spouse always go to bed at 11 p.m. or your friends always have brunch together on a Sunday. Other times you create your own structure, perhaps time to read or meditate.
Find a job you love and that really suits you.
Your work environment is an important area of your life because you spend a lot of your time there. If you can match your work environment with your unique strengths, personality and how ADHD shows up for you, then your ADHD can seem to disappear.
If at school you were hyperactive and got into trouble for not being able to sit still or for talking to your friends, a job where you can move around a lot would be perfect – perhaps a sales job where you travel around and visit clients in their offices and no two days are the same. In contrast, working in an office and sitting at a desk for eight hours would be torture.
If you have inattentive ADHD, you might find it takes you slightly longer than others to perform a task. Rather than having a job where speed is required, work where your pace is seen as an asset. Instead of criticism, you would hear, “Wow, you are so conscientious and patient; you have all the time in the world for your clients.”
Many people with ADHD struggle to wake up in the morning. Instead of working someplace where they start at 7:30 a.m. and being reprimanded for being late, work at jobs where there is flex time, or where the work culture starts later and finishes later than the traditional 8-4 or 9-5.
When you are comfortable with yourself and your ADHD, it’s easier to handle curve balls. You deal with them matter-of-factly. If you lose your wallet, you phone the bank and cancel your cards. If you forget where you parked your car, you look for it.
You don’t get mad about it, or talk so meanly to yourself that it takes weeks to recover. You manage your ADHD, learn strategies and tricks to help you. Then, when something happens, you can trust yourself to handle it and you don’t see it as a personal failing.