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"

The Gift of Positivity even With ADHD

There’s a lot to say about ADHD

We know the devastations and the ramifications of untreated ADHD and oftentimes treatments don’t always work all that well and we spend years, upon years looking for the magic potion. Yet, sooner or later, we come to a point when we realize that one doesn’t exist. Or, does it? No, probably not, but something else does exist and it can come pretty darn close.

Have you ever been beat down, physically punished to the point that the pain is so horrible you can’t even see straight, much less think straight? I have, more times than I care to remember. I’ve been through horrendous, painful things that have been brought on by my untreated, undiagnosed ADHD and a lot of it before I ever reached my teens.

You might think I would grow to be an extremely resentful, angry and hurt person. You would be right. I was, for a very long time. Indeed, sadly, I was. I could have remained that way, it was natural, and no one would blame me, because it was understandable. It was a very depressing feeling like there was no hope for the future. Not only was I affected, but those nearest to me as well, because my despair and hopelessness wasn’t containable no matter how well I tried to hide under a smile or the appearance of stalwart compliance. It was like a disease that consumed me from within and spread to those around me, which is an unavoidable consequence.

Starting at the age of 12 I worked behind a bar serving drinks.

You might think that I started drinking early and that I enjoy a few too many. (Read One Boy’s Struggle!) However, the more I served drinks the more I grew to detest the smell of anything with alcohol in it, and I still cannot stand the taste. From that perspective I can say it was a gift to start working at the age of 12 behind a bar. However, for a long time I resented it and let the feelings that I had lost my childhood create bitterness within me. Who could blame me? Would you? But, the thing is, bitterness doesn’t help and it certainly doesn’t make me feel any better. Many years later in therapy I learned about keywords, which are to be used to interrupt and stop destructive thoughts. My primary keyword has become ‘gift’ as it is an extremely positive and inspiring word with powerful meaning to me.

When I sought the help of a therapist in 1998 it eventually changed my life dramatically. At the time I was sickly, angry and had thoughts of rage blinding me from living a fruitful life. I got mad at, snapped at and reject anyone who told me I could live a positive, fulfilling life if I would just reexamine and reframe my thoughts. How dare they? How dare they suggest that it was possible and furthermore, if they walked in my shoes, just for a day, only one day mind you, they would see their suggestions were folly? Life isn’t made of sunshine and roses, didn’t they realize that?  I believed that life is cruel and unforgiving and that people who think positively about life are just fooling themselves. Well, someone wasn’t thinking straight about life and it wasn’t them. Justified or not, I was wrong. I was living a defeatist life and was getting upset with others because they didn’t see things the way I did, and thank goodness they didn’t.

Yes, I lived a pretty sad existence for a long while. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always obvious to others. I had a kind disposition about me that was always there, it didn’t allow me to be cruel or put anyone else down. Although therapists have told me I am lucky because there is a risk for people to develop a hostile nature and to unwittingly bully or inflict their pain on others. But I internalized my negative feelings and did enough of it to myself. It was extremely damaging for a very long time and it, along with the symptoms of my yet to be diagnosed ADD, held me back emotionally and educationally.

Having met so many people with ADD

I tend to believe the majority of them share similar experiences, internalizing any pain and shame, yet for the most part keeping it hidden. Unfortunately, over time the pain and resentment builds up inside when it goes untreated. Those few who do lash out may do so very destructively and aggressively toward themselves or others. That’s why I firmly believe it is so important that educators and parents are aware of ADD / ADHD and other disorders and the availability of assistance and professional counseling. Also, far too many people have been subjected to ridicule and abuse because they learn or behave differently because of ADD / ADHD and that has to stop.

For many years I would wake up in cold sweats from nightmares. I would awaken suddenly because I thought I heard my name yelled for me to come to the living room or dining room, because yet again, I had done something wrong and, as usual, I didn’t know what I had done wrong. And worse, that was when I lived alone.  It was terrifying and it wasn’t a delusion. I was informed later by my therapist that I was experiencing PTSD.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very wicked and dangerous disorder which develops in people who have lived through terrifying and horrific experiences. If you know someone with PTSD, please take it very seriously as triggers can be devastating. If you have it, then I can tell you from my experience that PTSD is treatable, but it takes time. I still have PTSD; I awoke from a nightmare this morning. Now however, I can better manage my reaction to my nightmares. They do not have the chilling, fearful, lingering effects that they once did, because my perspective has changed. I have learned to strive for mindfulness, to be aware that it’s just a nightmare and that I am safe. If you had told me that I could learn to cope with my fears and nightmares pre-therapy, I would have said you were out of your mind, but then I would have been wrong about that as well.

My point today, in this post

Is that life isn’t always easy, it can feel downright unbearable at times, but overall life is a positive experience. I am happy and thankful for the life I have. I have learned over the years, thanks to therapy and good positive influences, that life can be something wonderful and that everything, no matter how harsh and devastating can be cast in a positive light. I strive for positivity every day in everything I do. For me, I call it the gift of positivity. I share my experiences with others so that they too may hopefully discover something great and inspiring about themselves, whatever that might be for them.

I’ve learned that life is too darn short to live it negatively and with resentment. Not everything is sunshine and roses, but sunshine and roses do exist, I can see the sunshine and smell the roses now. There is no magic potion to treat ADHD, PTSD or any other disorder for that matter. At least, not that I am aware of, but within all of us is a human spirit, that special feeling inside that can be far more beneficial than any negative perception may have us believe. But the thing is, when I was there, in the darkness, I couldn’t see that and I rejected that standpoint out right. So what I am trying to say, to anyone that might be there, where I was, there is hope, and there is joy to be had in the world, but sometimes we need help to find it and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Others may have pushed you down, others may try to keep you there, or even put you back in their little box, and, if anyone is like I was, you probably chastise yourself even more so than anyone could ever hope to, but within all of us is that human spirit of resilience. We can rise, we can be better, we can improve and we can start to see the gifts in our lives and we can create things into gifts in any way, form or however we want to, to help us better cope. Because, really, that’s what it is about. When you wake up one day, as I did from a nightmare this morning, you may find yourself doing what I did. I got up and walked to the window to enjoy the beautiful view of a world outside, full of wonders and possibilities that I still want to enjoy and discover! Today is a good day and I am thankful to be here to enjoy it. I hope you are too.

Happy New Year! I believe this will be our best year ever! 2011 is a gift, and my new year’s wish is that each us find our own ways to enjoy it and live to our potential.