ADDvice for ADDults

ADD/ADHD: A Developmental Process of Self-Discovery and Self-Acceptance

As a professional psychologist and counsellor who is no stranger to the worries induced by ADD, I would like to present a mixture of personal and professional reflections. As the title of this brief article suggests, self-discovery and self-acceptance is a dual process that is life-long. Those who face symptoms of ADD/ADHD are particularly challenged. Unfocussed attention, lack of completion, overactivity and nervousness, impulsivity and "accident-proneness" have a wide range of negative effects on our relationships as well as on the development of a secure and integrated identity. Low self-esteem, poor self-confidence and loneliness ("not fitting in") are but a few of the reactions we develop. We spend a great deal of energy apologising and compensating for our "dysfunctional" behaviours, and hiding our "disorderly" lives. In the process, we risk losing respect for who we are, and may take on different public facades which prevent others from knowing our true selves. This set of occurrences provides a perfect breeding ground for loneliness, depression, and anxious feelings . The first step out of this situation is awareness.

I remember well, a few years ago, when I discovered a book on ADD. I was relieved and inspired. At last, I could understand some of my own behaviours, and I knew that others could, too. My first steps were to EDUCATE myself further, and to reveal my discovery to family and friends once I felt more confident in my knowledge. I met with various reactions ranging from support and acceptance to denial of the existence of this "currently fashionable" disorder. I am better able to identify true sources of support for what I now know and believe, and to surround myself with those who understand and can help. The ADD/ADHD Support Group is a major resource in this respect. Putting a name on my ADD experiences and contact with like-minded people may be only the first step, but it is a giant step. It can be hugely satisfying and continues to bring joy and pleasure with each new conversation and discovery.

There is now a great deal of information about the causes and management of ADD/ADHD in children and adults. You will discover a variety of approaches, including time and behaviour structuring, counselling and psychotherapy, relaxation and stress management, cognitive-behavioural techniques, and medication. Most important, begin to imagine that your symptoms are flexible, and that your energy can be channelled through the power of your thoughts, expectations, and surroundings. You have choices about all of these things which can improve the quality of your life.

Finally, here are some TIPS to remember as you pursue your journey:

Take your journey seriously and find at least one person you love who can do the same.

-Also, find the humour and learn to laugh at yourself, respectfully and compassionately.

-Read the literature, some of which is available through the Support Group.

-Talk about your experiences of ADD/ADHD with those who can support you.

-Seek professionals (counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists, GP s, psychiatrists) who are open-minded, compassionate, and willing to listen to your concerns, and who can provide you with treatment and management strategies.

-Know that discoveries about ADD/ADHD are being made all the time, and that there is no consensus about the causes and treatment. This actually allows a great deal of flexibility in the development of treatment programs.

-There are a variety of interventions that do work. A predominant one is medication, which may be a stimulant, an anti-depressant, or and anti-anxiety drug. Usually, a collection of strategies work best, such as medication and counselling.

-Your strategies are personal and ought to be tailored to your own needs. If one set of strategies do not seem to work, make small shifts and check the results.

-With appropriate professional support, you can experiment with different management strategies safely and successfully.

-Ask others for their honest assessment of any changes you might be making in yourself. We often are the last to see the positive changes, and need others to affirm the changes.

-Let go of some of your efforts to control too much. People with ADD tend to think that they should always be in control. This is an impossible expectation, and you will make mistakes.

-Remember, sometimes life is just plain unmanageable. Don't always blame your self.

You may have ADD/ADHD symptoms, but you are much more than this. You do not have to let these symptoms run your life. Some you can reduce; some you can eliminate; some you can channel more positively; and some you can learn better ways to live with. The resources have arrived!

- Dr. Scott E. Borrelli,

Many thanks to Dr. Borrelli for providing this item.


APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 4). ADDvice for ADDults, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Last Updated: May 6, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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