Open Letter to Teenagers With ADD/ADHD

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maybe you have a teenager who is close to you who has ADD/ADHD? And maybe you want to help them...perhaps impart some of your wisdom gleaned from years of dealing with it yourself? It could be that your significant other has it too, and you've seen doctors and read books and researched articles and, I don't know, learned some things?

It could be my imagination, but maybe you've tried to talk to said teenager about steps they could take to make their life easier? But it sort of seems like they aren't listening to you...when they roll their eyes and look at their phone and loll their head back like listening to you is killing them slowly?

I mean, it could be just me. And if it is, I want to get something off my chest. It's just three things. Three things that if said indeterminate teenager did, their lives would surely be better. Obviously these are not all the things. I am not covering medication, for example, on account of I never finished med school. Or started it for that matter.

So I'm writing a letter and sending it out there into the universe and if you want to share it with the teenager in your life you have my blessing and well wishes.

Dear Teenager with ADD/ADHD,

You probably already know some of the things you should do to make your life dealing with ADD/ADHD better. But maybe the books, and lectures, and tips seem overwhelming. I mean, if you knew how to manage a calendar and organize all your assignments you wouldn't have ADD/ADHD, right?

So I'm not saying you shouldn't pay attention to all those things, but if you feel overwhelmed with where or how to start, here is a list of the three things that in my vast but not medical experience can be REALLY helpful. It's just three. You can do this.

1. Accept that having ADD/ADHD is not an excuse for anything. Sure, some things are genuinely harder for you because of your ADD/ADHD, but everyone has something that makes their life hard. Remember there are worse things, losing loved ones, being homeless, living in a war zone, not having enough to eat, etc. You know there are worse stories than yours. Also, even though you sometimes get down on yourself, deep down you have to recognize how awesome you are. The other side of ADD/ADHD is often creativity, empathy, intelligence, and innovation. Own that incredible part of yourself too! No pity parties.

2. You gots to take care of yourself. Exercising everyday helps increase attention and improve mood. It's imperative for people with ADD/ADHD. You also need to eat breakfast. And not just any breakfast, a breakfast with more protein than carbs. So choose eggs, or a protein bar or shake, or oatmeal, or cottage cheese, or toast with peanut butter. Add some fruit and you are good to go.

3. There are all kinds of techniques for improving your focus and task organization. I'm just going to give you one golden nugget here that really will make your life better. At the beginning of the day think for a minute about the things you're supposed to do today. Now jot them down. Good. Now the scary part. Look into your heart and ask yourself which ONE of those things you hate the most. That's the thing that is number one on your list. It might be the only thing. Do not pass go nor collect $200 until that thing is done! Every time you find yourself starting to wander off to check on something else you think you should do remind yourself that Numero Uno has to be done before you can move on. If you do this for a few days, or even better, a few weeks, you'll find your days getting happier and happier. Promise.

And that is it my friend. I know you are going to have an amazing  life. You're going to figure out the best ways to channel your unique strengths and cope with your challenges. Be kind and talk nice to yourself on the playground that is your brain. And try those three things. Really. It'll help.

May the Force be with You,

2 Responses to “Open Letter to Teenagers With ADD/ADHD”

  1. I can't come even close to claiming teenager-hood, and I've never suffered ADD/ADHD ... but I think these three nuggets are great advice for EVERYONE. I've done all three (except the peanut butter) for years and years. Maybe that's why I've been so incredibly happy, healthy, and successful in my endeavors. Your advice is spot on. One might think you'd been to med school.

  2. These are now my Shelly words of wisdom and will be recited daily thanks!


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