The secret to overcoming ADHD is that there is no secret that always helps ADHD, but there are a thousand that might.
First, let me apologize for using the phrase “overcoming ADHD”. It’s commonly used, but pretty misleading. It makes life with ADHD sound like a wrestling match with a foe that is outside ourselves that a) could actually be vanquished and then b) would totally disappear once vanquished.
I like to think that ADHD is an internal challenge that can be met with increasing success, but it is unwise to think that the challenge ever ends. It’s not a single mountain that can be conquered, but more like a lifelong journey along a mountainous trail like the Appalachian or the Pacific Crest. Veteran trekkers all know that there is no absolute secret to success in the day ahead. Better shoes and lighter backpacks may be great, but they don’t eliminate lousy weather, trail washouts, insects, predators, slips, falls or simple bad luck.
I’m one of the lucky people that gets to spend all day, every day with
many people who have ADHD. Some, not all, have inspiring breakthroughs in their paths to improvement. Some have profound improvements from medication while others have modest benefit. A few have been transformed by routines of prayer or meditation while others find small benefit. The average person gets noticeable benefit from exercise, but some see outstanding improvements.
To be fair, there are some interventions that help more often or to a greater degree than others. Carefully selected, dosed, monitored medications are first on that list, but proper sleep, regular exercising and coaching or counseling are too important to neglect. Omega-3 supplements, meditation and mindfulness all have evidence of effectiveness, although the effects are not usually as clear or robust.
There are also some failure-prone methods to be avoided. “Just try harder” comes to mind. Evidence for cognitive strengthening exercises is looking pretty bad. Maybe we need different, better exercises, but the current crop is not looking good. Vitamins and supplements are expensive and do little if anything. Not getting fleeced is a good way to start the year.
The best New Year’s resolutions that I can think of are perseverance and honest self-appraisal. If we are relentless in our pursuit of better ways to live and painstakingly honest about what is working and what isn’t, success tends to accumulate. Every now and then, it even breaks through.
Happy New Year! May success surprise you in 2015.