Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

ADHD friends with Gifts and Benefits!

Yeah, I wrote that title. Yeah, I said it! What are you going to do about it? I will tell you what you might do about it. I said might, because, it is up to you and this exercise is about choice. Exercise? …

But first… I was reading a very nice posting by Anna on our ADDer World ADHD Social Network today and she got me thinking about something. She asked: “Is there a happy ending for people with ADD/HD?” She continued and wrote:

“I thought that having a medicine and reading and learning would mean there was a cure and if I followed the yellow brick road I’d arrive where everyone else in the world already is, the city called “Normal”. I thought it meant I’d be “normal”, like everyone else and that I’d fit right in and be considered a citizen and at long last I would belong.”

I am pretty sure you have arrived, Anna! Well written and I am sure, like me, so many can and do relate. We walk together, you and me… all of us, whether we realize it or not.

The thing about it is that Anna is right. There is no cure for ADHD and it does indeed sometimes seem like we are following the yellow brick road. Medications can help, but not always, and learning specific, personal techniques to cope with our symptoms can help too and yet, we get tripped up by other things which at first might not seem obvious to you or me.

There are times that I think we get too caught up in certain terms like: Cure, Neurotransmitters, Neurobiological, Disorder, Syndrome, Nuance, Dopamine, Serotonin and Adrenalin and yes, even ADHD and more. What do all those things mean? It can be so confusing and the more I read such complex, ambiguous words, the more confused I get. I don’t really want to know about any transmitters or a dopamine level (How often have I written about them? Exactly), that’s for my doctor(s) to understand, because, no matter how much I hear about them and read about them, they still don’t mean that much to me. How much do they mean to you?

How can reading about those complex terms and their various meanings help me get from point A to point B, much less feel better about myself? So far, they haven’t. Yes, they may make up the individual bricks on the yellow brick road, but, how many times do we stop while walking and define each brick we walk on? Maybe we could dissect each brick, but, would that help us get to our destination? It will take longer to get there, I can tell you that much, at least for me.

Another thing we tend to do, and I am way too guilty of this one myself, without realizing it we too frequently hyper-focus on our challenges and the things we are doing wrong. Let me be the one to tell you, there is nothing more complex than our personal challenges and our mistakes. We should learn from them, yes, but, for heaven’s sake, we need to learn limits! You know it is true. Let me be completely honest with you, I have found myself so focused on a problem, and how disappointed I am with myself for not figuring it out, that I hardly realize when I have solved it – the hyper-focus can become so addictive that I do not understand, at the time, that I am holding onto some problems on purpose! What?! Why? So I can continue to focus on it and all the while I do not recognize how damaging it is, and that another problem is being created. It would be just one thing if the damage would be limited to ourselves, but this over focusing on problems and other negatives hurts our families, our friends and keeps us living in bygones.

Get over it and move on… sure sounds easy enough, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought. No, it is not so easy. And then again, maybe it is easier than we want to admit… I have learned…
 
Okay, now I come to the exercise I talked about at the beginning of this post. Let’s take a moment each and every day to put our challenges, problems and difficulties to the side. I know, I know, we are not going to abandon them… didn’t mean to startle you. No, what we are going to do is simply put those issues to the side temporarily. Challenges, problems and difficulties are a part of life, you have them, I have them, we all have them (even the so-called ‘normal’s’) and they are not going anywhere any time soon. What we need to do though, is lessen their impact and begin to replace some of them with something else. What some of us do not realize, as I pointed out, is how addictive those issues can become. We don’t need medical terms to help explain this process, you and I know, in plain English, the reality is that we get ‘jacked up’ on the issues.  There is no cure for being ‘jacked up’ from time to time. However, there is a process that can help us refocus and what’s awesome about it, is that it is simple. This process is easy to do, but, like any process which is easy to do, it is also just as easy not to do.

Everyday take ten minutes to half an hour and write things about yourself that you like. Write about things you have done well and things you have a positive feeling about. Start a journal. It can be an online blog or a notebook you carry around with you, or, it can be a bit of both. Set time aside each day to write in your journal. This journal should only be for positives with no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. You can write a few sentences or a few paragraphs or a few pages. That’s the exercise. It’s simple to do. It is also simple not to do. Yeah, I like to repeat myself. You know what I mean. Also, don’t use any medical terms in your journal. Well, that’s your choice; I am having a case of reading medical jargon overload – that may just be me.

Too many of us fail to realize the things we are doing well, the things we enjoy and the things that make us glow with joy. The negatives too often take precedence. Setting aside a little time each day to recognize the other side gives us a fresh perspective and reminds us that not everything we do and say is necessarily bad or wrong. Heck, we are humans too. Everyone, normal or not so normal, average, special or amazing trips from time to time, but they keep walking…. Keep walking and every now and then, stop to smell the roses, and/or, enjoy a delicious cup of coffee or tea.

Friends and neighbors, I know this post is long already, but, I am not done

ADHD friends with gifts and benefits. Remember, that’s the title of this post. The next part of this exercise is to find people who relate and are sharing their experiences in positive, beneficial ways. Those are the friends with gifts and benefits I am talking about. Communicate with those people, share your positive stories on how you are coping, making it and improving day to day. Try to stay away from naysayers and the condemners. You know the people I am talking about, the ones that will bring you down, the ones that are disrespectful of others thoughts, beliefs and feelings. Disrespect and tactlessness is not helpful and only makes the ADHD community, you and me, look bad. Try to avoid people like that. Be a role model of decency and respect and become an ADHD friend with gifts and benefits to yourself, others and our community as a whole. Respectfully challenging current dogma is okay and yet, there are those out there who are tarnishing our reputation because they believe being crass and mean is the only way. Shame on them, we, you and me, we are better than that. So are they, if they take a moment to figure that out, instead of beating others down. ’nuff said!

Bryan out!

(Special thanks to Anna for allowing me to use her wonderful analogy in this post. This post is not necessarily about Anna, like most all of my posts this is about me and if you relate, maybe it’s a little about you too, but only you can know that.)

Rory June 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Bryan -

Excellent post. Thank you for sharing this with us all.

I think you hit the nail on the head with several key issues that so many people can get up on…even the so called “normals.” Love that comment.

It’s important to know how we are different – no matter what our struggle – and realize that everyone has struggles.

Keep up the great work!

Rory

Anna June 4, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Bravo Bryan! Another great piece that really gave me pause to consider it’s application to me and my situation. As always, I selfishly enjoy your reminder that it’s not just me muddeling thru this but that, thankfully, there’s a whole community of people with a wealth of experience to draw upon. I think I need to join a group and meet others w/ADD so I CAN have positive influence in my life. My environment is pretty toxic and I see I do OD on it a lot; will try to do better. Thanks for the perspective. Just as timely as ever.
Anna

Ben June 4, 2009 at 5:40 pm

It perplexes me to no end why anybody would ever want to be normal. Being normal means being bland, stupid, and boring. It means being average. Wouldn’t you rather be fascinating and extraordinary?

Bryan June 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Thanks for the comments!

Yep, Rory, we may be different, but, indeed, everyone has their struggles and challenges.

Anna, positive influences make a remarkable difference in one’s life. It’s also good to have mentors which encourage, support and display optimism even when they are thinking ‘what the heck are you doing?’ lol :)

Actually Ben, I think everyone has a definition of what normal is and, like you, I define normal as average, not necessarily boring or bland; however, normal could also mean free of chaos and disappointment. In reality though, I don’t believe in ‘normal’ as a true definition of anyone.

Bryan

Deb June 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Good analogy, Bryan!

We may as well be on “the yellow brick road” if we believe when the “norms” in the field of education tell us we can do anything we set our sights on. Truth is, the witch is just waiting in her coven to sprinkle us with sleepy dust when we choose our path. Every brick on that path is laid askew for us. We need to excavate it, lay it right with the understanding of that tedious science-each and every one. All this while those nasty monkeys are pecking at us. I have struggled with the journey, as we all do, but now that I know others that are also in search of their rightful destinies-the journey is less tedious and somehow feels safer. Let us lock arms and travel that difficult path “they” have laid for us together to reach the happy ending we know is there for us. Let those ugly monkeys carry their destructive judgments right back to their sender!

By the way – I never saw ruby slippers like those in the pic. Have I missed something or does that have something to do with the benefits!

Judy June 5, 2009 at 5:19 am

Bryan, I always look forward to your posts. This one really got my attention. Of course we know there isn’t a true normal – a “norm” possibly – but I think the norm evolves over time. Did you read Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind? As right-brain-ers, we’d better sharpen up our creative ADHD gifts because he predicts we’ll be “in demand” in the near future. The irony of that, for me, is that I don’t really want to be “in demand” or fit the norm. Despite the angst (thanks to Kierkegaard for that wonderful word!) that I’ve experienced along that yellow brick road, even before I KNEW to examine the bricks, I’ve done things, been places, met people, and experienced life in so many ways that I would’ve missed had I been “normal.” The rough patches eventually led me to that late-in-life diagnosis, a discovery that’s going to keep me fired up , sharp, interested and involved with life, and busy, hopefully, ’til my dying day – at the end of the yellow brick road. I’m SO glad to have friends all over the world who are traveling with me! Anna, you’re a winner! Just look how your metaphor has caught on!! I love it!

Bryan June 5, 2009 at 6:46 am

Deb, that is so very true! When we realize we are not alone, the journey can be less tedious and feel safer… about those ruby slippers; they are just really shiny and while searching for photos for this post… ‘ohhh so shiny’ got me! lol

Thank you for the complement Judy! Actually, yes, I have read Daniel’s book and wrote about it. Ah, your comment is invigorating! ‘Fired up, sharp, interested and involved with life’ that’s a great way to look at things on the yellow brick road!

Oh, and, the second picture in the post was to show how we can travel down the yellow brick road together. Nobody needs or must walk it alone!

Bryan

Ariane Benefit June 5, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Hey Bryan! Great post!

Just a thought to add….I don’t think in terms of “normal” people vs. ADDers. I think of it as being “uncommon” vs. “common” or “extraordinary” vs. “ordinary or average”

When you think of that way, you realize that average people often don’t know how to deal with the “uncommon” amongst them. : )

As you said, we do have uncommon gifts and benefits… and like Sari Solden says in ADD Journeys, we also have unique and uncommon challenges to go with them. We, as the minority, are tasked with learning to protect ourselves by learning to embrace our gifts, let go of trying to please everyone, and manage the expectations of others who “expect” or wish we were more like them. We are tasked with finding the strength and support to choose uncommon paths to make a living in this left-brain dominated culture where we don’t have to conform to being “average.”

Thanks so much for all you do to promote awareness of ADHD and a place for ADDers to connect with people who “get” them and find support to dare to be different and PROUD of it! You are aweseome!

Charlotte June 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Loved your very simple idea of journaling the positive. I live in such a mad rush with two teenage ADHDers, a handicapped husband and my own ADHD. that I rarely even have time to get on ADDer World, journal, or do anything other than take care of people! I’m the hardest on myself and so often only see the negative. I’m swamped in a world with my kids’ school difficulties and emotional issues, my husband’s needs and my own struggles to keep it all together. So most of what I see are my failures, especially reflected back at me from my kids! (If I had handled this or that differently, they would have responded differently, passed their class, had a better attitude, etc.) I tend to blame myself for everything because I stay focused on my negatives! I’m really going to try to take a few minutes a day to redirect my focus to the positive. My family is intact, everyone is fed and clothed, they get their meds on time, they have friends, etc. . . so surely I can find something good to think about? I’m going to try, anyway. Thanks so much for your post.

Anna June 6, 2009 at 3:32 am

Wow! What a great response to your post, Bryan! It really opened up a great dialogue and I enjoy reading each entry. I seemed to have struck a cord in using the word “normal” in questioning if there’s a happy ending for people w/ADD/HD and want to say sorry if it has seriously bothered anyone. I want to use this as a point to illustrate why I used the word “normal”. I have the uncanny ability to walk into a room of strangers and within moments unintentionally aggreviate or alienate everyone of them by inadvertantly stumbling across the wrong word or action. In this case, while pouring my heart out into a post about living w/ADD/HD I managed to use the one word that bothered an entire group of people. Naturally, I have trouble making friends and tend to stand out while trying to fit in. I had hoped medicine and books would help me eliminate this curse and thereby render me “normal”, like everyone else. Normal may mean “ordinary” and “average”, but for someone like me that suffers being unusual, to the point of outcast, “normal” would be ideal. So I continue easing on down the road trying to avoid life’s potholes and hoping to lock arms with a friend or two along the way while I search for what lies beyond the rainbow. Afterall, if bluebirds can, then why, o why, can’t I? :)
Anna

Bryan June 6, 2009 at 8:01 am

Hi Ariane,

Thanks for stopping by! You are so right. It should never be us against them, or anyone. In the perfect world, we all should get along and help each other. We are different, each of us and like you mentioned, our challenges are unique and rather uncommon, but that doesn’t mean anyone else’s are less so, even if they appear normal. Appearances can be deceiving… don’t you think? It’s interesting that you mention the left brained culture, as that is indeed what we are currently finding ourselves in; however, especially with the economy the way it is, that is changing… I don’t think we are going to go all the way to the right brain side, but, I do think we are going to meet more in the middle-ish area :-) We keep going as things have always been, they won’t get better and sometimes nature just has to take its course. It’s just too bad that so much suffering becomes part of the process… collateral damage, if you will…. Thanks for all you do too!! You are such a benefit to us all :) Your website: http://www.arianebenefit.com

Hi Charlotte,

I think anyone would feel swamped in your situation. Two teenagers is already a handful and with ADHD? Oh my! You must be an incredible mother! You come on ADDer World whenever you have time, we are ADDers after all, and sometimes we tend to just show up at differing times, with no schedule, random, but always welcome! Yes, please start the journal, even if just a couple minutes for you each day. There is so much you do each and every day to be proud of and is positive not only for your family, but yourself as well. Sometimes the one we tend to neglect and forget about is right there in the mirror.

Anna,

I know what you mean. “Outcast” is such a strong word, with a painful meaning. In each person’s perspective ‘normal’ is different and, of course, anything but normal. However, I can totally relate with the wanting to fit in, get along and collaborate. Even so, I think you have found a place for yourself already. As you can see, by the responses here and on your other post, you are not alone and perhaps, just perhaps, not such an outcast after all. Keep on painting your rainbows with your words and phrases; we will keep on reading and enjoying them. We are not alone, no, never alone and that’s really The Brilliant Reality of ADHD and humanity, if you will. There’s a group for each type and sometimes it takes a while to find the group which we can call ‘ours’, but once we do…. :)

~Bryan

Riri June 9, 2009 at 6:46 am

Bryan,

About the journalling, I began to notice that I only write when I’m in bad mood or when there’s something that disturbs me. When things are going fine, I rarely write it on. Maybe I should change this habit, giving more attention to the positives in my life. After all, it’s now their turn to take lead.

About your writing
“Keep walking and every now and then, stop to smell the roses…” it reminded me when I was in Haarderwijk, a small city in the Netherlands for holiday. I passed a rose bush while riding my bicycle. The sweet smell of the roses caught my nose, so delightful until I didn’t pay attention to the road. Next thing I knew there was a bicycle coming on my way. It’s good that I reacted quickly so I could avoid a possible embarrassing accident. Lesson learned: it’s good to smell the roses, but don’t forget to stop, as you suggested :)

Bryan June 9, 2009 at 9:54 am

Riri,

I think a lot of us tend to wait until the last minute or those ‘bad’ times to actually take a moment to write or give due consideration. I find it is best to set aside time each day, if even only five minutes, to write a few optimistic things about my day or situation.

Yes… it’s important to stop! Crashing is what we usually do though :)

Bryan

Gina Pera June 10, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Hey B,
I like your recent choices in shoe illustrations. :-)
g

Bryan June 12, 2009 at 11:23 am

Ha ha Gina! You will have to talk to Joan about the shoes!! lol Do you have any idea how much shoe shopping she does??? OMG! Sometimes I wake up in the middle of night when she can’t or isn’t sleeping and she will be on the internet shoe searching…. okay, I hope she doesn’t read this comment :)

Clarissa June 14, 2009 at 12:21 am

(Hope this doesn’t add twice)
This is great to read, it has been on my mind A LOT, this issue of being flawed, being abnormal, or possible that I just don’t have the brain type that gels with the way society has set things up (and that’s NOT my fault!).

I really recommend keeping a Gratitude Journal. It has helped me through the good and tough times. I forget sometimes, but it always focuses me when I practice gratitude. I just list 3 things off each night before bed. Today I am Grateful for: The fabulous Farmer’s Market near our home, for getting along with my husband today, and for our funny, affectionate cat, Stella. I can’t focus on those negative “If I only had a brain” notions, I’ll leave that to the Scarecrow.

I recently reconnected with a group of women that I love, they are an hour’s drive from my house, but worth the effort and gas money! Instead of licking my wounds (like the lion) because I don’t have any local friends , I am remembering that I do have people who care about me, and I must seek them out.

Oh, and I agree with Bryan, I also believe that our “Add-style” strengths are going to be important in the next wave of society’s growth. For instance, with jobs the way they are, people need to really start to think outside of the box. I am pretty darn good at that (when I can focus those thoughts). I have a really good intuition, too, and I am working on growing that strength right now. (See my latest blog for that story. :)
My strengths just really need some “oiling up,” they have been pretty rusty for awhile (yes, Tin Man analogy here).

Finally, I look at those Ruby Slippers and I think of what Glinda told Dorothy: that she had the power to go home all along. The power and strength we need is always within ourselves, and will come when we can finally accept this thing called ADD , and I am starting to do just that. No one else can accept us until we can do it for ourselves.
♥♥♥♥♥♥

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