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One of the hardest, most rewarding lessons I’ve learned living with ADHD was how to advocate for my mental health.
The reason I struggled with this and also why many people diagnosed with ADHD find this difficult is the way people think about ADHD. Incorrect beliefs and stigma cause us to feel like we’re weak or a burden for needing additional focus for things related to having ADHD–for example, seeing a doctor–making it harder to understand our thoughts and feelings and actively seek support for our ADHD.
That being said, it is possible to overcome this stigma by empowering ourselves by keeping the following things in mind:
Write down any questions you have about ADHD before seeing your doctor/therapist.
It can be hard to remember things in the moment. Write down things such as medication concerns so you don’t forget them.
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Asking questions about our ADHD isn’t easy. It’s one of my biggest challenges. Doing this, however, has led me to play a more active role in treating my ADHD. I now have a folder on my phone’s notepad app where I write questions about anything related to ADHD.
Support groups like TotallyADD have bi-weekly zooms with the world’s leading experts on ADHD.
As a writer and longtime TotallyADD follower, I can honestly say they’re incredibly helpful, empowering and inspiring.
Support groups also help you see you’re not alone in your struggles and diagnosis. This in itself is incredibly therapeutic at times. It’s good to get recommendations on support groups in your area from your doctor or therapist.
Related: ADHD and the Importance of Routines
Educate yourself on the difference between ADHD facts and fiction.
There’s a lot of stuff out there, especially online, that is more harmful than helpful to a person with ADHD.
Also, make notes about your own beliefs about ADHD, especially regarding various medications. This isn’t to make you feel not smart but to help you take an even healthier approach. No one is perfect and in today’s world, it’s even harder to recognize our erroneous beliefs.
Don’t feel you need to explain yourself.
Advocating for your ADHD doesn’t mean you have to explain yourself to people who don’t support you and your mental health. It’s about figuring out what works best for you with the help of your doctor/therapist.
It’s also about focusing on the things that build you up and not the things that tear you down.
Try your best not to compare your progress.
Comparing your progress to others is a no-win battle because we’re all different; as long as you make progress you’re on the right path.
A part of making progress is being honest with yourself and with your doctor/therapist. With any issue that arises, including with things like medication, ask your doctor/therapist for guidance.
It might feel awkward or stressful, but the more you talk about your ADHD, the easier it gets to be honest about.
A lot of people seem to think ADHD is simply taking a pill and then it’s gone. Yes, taking medication is therapeutic, but there are so many more factors involved in living a balanced life when you have ADHD.
One of those factors is the role you play in your own treatment. When we learn to focus on the aforementioned points, our lives won’t become problem-free, but we’ll feel less powerless, leading us from the mindset of letting stigma and our diagnosis dictate how we relate to ADHD to empowering ourselves to choose how we define our diagnosis.
References and additional resources
- Coping with pill shaming
- Why advocating for yourself is important to your mental health
- Things to keep in mind when you have ADHD
- If you feel overwhelmed or burned out here are a few tips
- An amazing video by HowToADHD on why medication is helpful
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