Hello and Happy 2017!
Rather than do the usual New Year’s Resolution thing, I decided that the first meeting of the year should be focused on trying to realize how far we have come and how to really know whether the things you have put in place to manage and treat your ADHD are working. Seeing as we ADDers are often stuck in the present – meaning we don’t have direct memory access to our pasts and we don’t do very well with planning for the future – it’s important to be able to look back and really review and see how we have progressed.
One of the best ways to see how we are doing is simply to ask those around us. Simple right? Family members, spouses, friends, people who spend time with us and know about our particular affectations are perhaps the best people to consult when we are asking these questions – provided, of course, that you trust their opinions and their ability to provide positive feedback.
Another great way is to look back on your paperwork from the previous weeks and months. If you are into journaling or writing a diary, this is perhaps the most insightful way of getting an answer. You would be able to tell based on the writings if the situation has improved, stayed the same or worsened (hopefully not!) If you don’t journal, then you might also find some information by looking over things like your agenda, your bank statements or other such things. These will usually trigger memories, for example you will look at an appointment and remember whether you forgot about it or were late for it; you can see your money situation and determine if you are paying your bills on time, and so forth.
You can also tell how you are doing by monitoring your ‘destructive habits’. If you are a smoker, drinker or often fall pray to addictive behaviours or risk-taking activities, just how much you have let the impulse take over can definitely give you a clue. By adulthood, every ADDer is self-medicating in some way, this we know, and your ability to recognize those impulses and choose other healthier ways of coping with your unique brain is an indicator that you are improving overall.
Similarly, areas on your life that you have considered to be challenging (such as managing money, emotional regulation or household organization) are good to monitor for effectiveness. If you find you are still struggling, you might want to examine how the skills or adaptations you have in place could be changed.
It is really very important to have a positive outlook on the process of managing your ADD and avoid getting down on yourself if you come to the realization that you aren’t improving at the rate you would like or discover something isn’t working. It is all a process and as long as you are actively working to examine, adapt and move forward, you will bounce back. There is a lot of acceptance involved in improving and that also means accepting that things may not be good.
It is a lot easier to accept things when you have the ability to look back and see exactly what may have gone wrong and when. So if you aren’t already keeping a journal, diary or some other method of keeping track of your thoughts and activities day by day, then I highly recommend that you start. This is especially important when you are taking medication or therapy for your ADD because you really want to know the details. If a medication is giving you adverse side effects you want to keep track of that because there may be health issues involved. Keeping a record is your best defense for negative thoughts about your ADD journey.