Levels of “getting it.”

I can’t remember if I’ve written about this here before and I’m too tired to check right now, but I wanted to talk about "levels of getting it." "It" being: how ADHD fits into one’s life, one’s identity; what ADHD is, how you’re going to deal with it, manage it, and in the end, what life looks like now that you have this diagnosis.

As some of you know, I’ve got a number of things to "get." This is pretty common for people with ADHD. The ADHD diagnosis was the first big layer of an onion, an’ we just keep peeling ’em back. I think that’s really how the understanding grows; it’s not like one day you figure everything out, no matter how much we’d like that to be.

So if you just start with ADHD (we can dig deeper into the onion at another time), you’ve got the disorder-slash-set-of-character-traits depending on how you want to describe it. Actually, describing it to yourself in various ways is part of what got me to understand its part in my life better and better. But once you’ve got that on board, there’s a lot more involved; it’s not just the ADHD as a discrete entity, but how it shaped your life and you understanding of your own character up until now. I think that understanding the entity ADHD in various ways sets the stage to start rewriting your own autobiographical narrative. And then that happens very slowly, as you put together the pieces of what ADHD is with what was going on.  You find it in the class you got yelled at for staring out the window; in where you went to college or didn’t; in what job you chose and why you thought you chose it; in whom you befriended,  though it/he/she drove you nuts; in whether you were introspective or outgoing. And on, and on.

Here’s a book that I remember touching on the deeper understanding of one’s ADHD in a helpful way:

Journeys Through ADDulthood by Sari Solden. Mind you, I didn’t pay so much attention to the workbook-like questions at the end of the chapter. Anyone else have comments on this book?

The reason I’m thinking about this right now is because I just got done participating as one of the experts in last week’s ADHD Awareness Marathon. It was an opportunity to talk to people in all stages of dealing with and understanding ADHD, and it reminded me how the questions change as you go through life post-diagnosis. In my coaching practice, I work with people who "get it" at the basic level; what ADHD is, how they might manage it with medication, and that sort of thing. They’re generally working on more complex issues; does my job/course of study/lifestyle mesh with who I am? How much of my ADHD makes up who I am? How do I want to revise what I’m doing to mesh better, rather than fighting it and attempting to will myself to success? Geez, how much does that willing myself just not work, anyway? But when I’m dealing with the general ADHD public, we start from all kinds of places and basics, and that serves as a good reminder.