Adult Mental WellnessStress Coping Strategies

Could You Have Adult ADD or ADHD?

Good question.

Before you jump and say, “No, I couldn’t have ADD/ADHD because I am not hyperactive,” bear in mind that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder often manifests in adults differently than in children. (I’ll refer to ADHD and ADD as “ADHD,” for simplicity’s sake.)

While there is sometimes a hyperactive component to ADHD in children and adolescents, it is often mild to absent in adults. If you’re not “wired,” don’t necessarily let it fool you into thinking you might not benefit from finding out whether you could use some helpful strategies to manage symptoms of ADHD.

Are you known for arriving late at your destinations?

Those with ADHD generally lack a “big-picture” perspective when it comes to what they can and cannot accomplish in any given period of time. Their focus is on the task immediately before them, and shifts rapidly to whatever else pops into their field of vision, preventing them from standing back on a regular basis and assessing what is before them and the time required to complete each task.

Jennifer’s friend asks her to come on over, and, being almost finished the dishes, she replies that she should be able to show up in about half an hour (her friend lives only a short drive away). The trouble is that Jennifer is still in her jammies as she finishes up the breakfast dishes, the bed is not yet made, her face is not washed, hair not combed, and teeth not brushed (all things she plans to accomplish prior to leaving).

By the time Jennifer completes these routine things, 45 minutes has lapsed. She locates her purse, but her keys are not in it. Rats! Where did she put them this time? Ah, there they are, under the magazine on the table. Now to grab shoes and a jacket. Oh, better check the dog’s water bowl….needs to be refilled. Realizing she may be gone for several hours and doesn’t want the dog to get too hungry, she decides to quickly give the dog a treat. Oh dear! Treat jar is almost empty. Better re-fill it quickly….throw empty treat bag in the garbage….better grab the garbage, too, and take it to the bin on the way out. Oops! Sunglasses are on the table. Better take them along!

An hour has passed, and Jennifer is now finally leaving the house. By the time she gets in her car and drives to her friend’s house, she arrives there 45 minutes later than she’d said.

Turns out, though, her friend is not terribly surprised. It’s like Jennifer to be late.

Misplacing Things Frequently

Keys? Sunglasses? Purse or briefcase? Cell phone? Bills? Mail? Important papers?

Those with ADHD are really good at going on “auto-pilot.” When coming in the door from shopping or working, they likely have many things in their hands, and their attention is immediately turned to what is happening inside the house: kids, pets needing to be fed, messages, etc. Where the keys, sunglasses, reading glasses and other items get placed is not necessarily done with intention, so knowing exactly where to find them each and every time is not always an easy task.

Is Multi-Tasking a General Habit?

Not only are those with ADHD excellent multi-taskers in general, they often cease to function well if not multi-tasking.

Jan is working on her Masters degree in Education. She is at the research stage, and cannot “lock on” to the task unless she is spinning several plates at once. Her greatest times of productivity are often when she is writing an email, while looking up something on the internet, while referring back to something in a book, and simultaneously writing bits and pieces of her thesis.

Numerous projects are often on-the-go concurrently, versus consecutively. Several books are often being read at the same time, not completed. Plans are made on-the-fly, with not a lot of planning, and new tasks are taken on without a whole lot of consideration given to how they can be accomplished without creating undue pressure, confusion, or upheaval. Messes are often left here and there, because the various projects are works-in-progress, requiring that they remain out in clear sight, even when there is limited space for them.

Frequent Procrastination

A person with ADHD often, by nature, has difficulty breaking down a project into smaller, more manageable “chunks.” So an assignment or a task can seem daunting, resulting in an aversion to facing the task. Bill paying may be put off because the person is not quite sure where they put the most recent bills. On the counter? On the desk somewhere? In a briefcase or purse? In one of the “piles” that got tidied up off the kitchen table? Ugh! To go searching for them….that will take so long, and require so much concentration. The thought of it is exhausting!

Hence, it is not uncommon for some people with ADHD to have unpaid bills, receive threatening “cut-off” notices, pay interest penalties for overdue payments, and so on. This can happen well into their adulthood, often with crippling consequences to their credit ratings and relationships.

Impulsive Spending

Being able to pay bills is a matter of simple math. Money comes in, and money goes out. While it is not rocket science requiring a high skill level, holding to a budget is a matter of focusing in on the math. If your spontaneous spending is greater than your budget can afford, you will be in a deficit situation at the end of the month, perhaps unable to pay some important creditors.

A quick meal out seems sensible when the hunger pains come, since you are not the kind of person to plan or prepare meals ahead of time.

New technology, ever evolving and flirting with the unsuspecting, becomes irresistible, even when the math says that you will have to go in debt either to purchase it, or to pay the bills that remain outstanding because the money was spent on the unnecessary.

Or, if you happen to be among the few who have tons of dough coming in each month, you may still become gobsmacked by the amount of money you apparently went through like water, due to lack of intentional focus. Your partner may become frustrated with your lack of awareness of your impulsive spending habits.

Relationship and Life Problems

Not everyone with ADHD shares all these various qualities. But I think you get the picture here. Focus is difficult to regulate, and consequences of one’s actions are often outside their field of vision. Emotion and behaviour can also be difficult to regulate. Eventually it can disrupt relationships and life in general.

Often those with ADHD wind up perceiving themselves as having failed in many areas of life, and their self-esteem becomes diminished. They have spent a lifetime being corrected and redirected by others who often misjudge their motives. “If he cared, he’d have paid the bill on time.” “If she respected me, she would stop being late.” However, it is often the case that those with ADHD experience overwhelm and a sense of chaos that can feel very discouraging to overcome.

Help is Available

The good news is that counselling offers not only strategies for overcoming many of the pitfalls inherent in ADHD, but it also helps the individual rebuild their sense of Self and self-confidence.

To book a free, 15-minute consultation to see if I might be a good fit for you to help you manage symptoms of ADHD, please reach out to me.

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