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ADHD: Look! A Squirrel!

I’ve always liked squirrels. As a kid, I would lay in bed looking out the window reading (pay close attention to those last few words there for a hint about this article) and would be fascinated by how quickly they could jump from limb-to-limb and soar through the air from tree-to-tree. And then I would go back to reading the same sentence I began reading before the next squirrel drew my attention away and so on and so forth. Rinse Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

A quick note: As I understand it, and I am not a doctor, ADD and ADHD share similar symptoms but the ‘H’, which separates them, is the hyperactivity component found in ADHD. Inattention is a common thread between the two mental health challenges. However, impulsivity and unregulated energy are key signs of ADHD.

There is a book called, “You Mean I am Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy” by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo and it is the classic self-help book on adults with ADD. This book title was always a sad one to see at the book store. To think someone would have to ask this question about themselves is awful but millions do. And many, many, many peers do as well.

I used to make fun of ADD/ADHD quite honestly. I thought it was some made-up disorder to sell pills. Actually, I also thought it was an excuse for people who couldn’t do well in school.

Then I was dignosed with it. Cue: ‘Uninvited Humility’.

Somehow, I went from kindergarten to graduating with a Master’s degree with undiagnosed ADHD. I had no idea. My mind raced a 1,000x a second in 1,000 different directions. I was always the kid the teacher liked except that I talked too much and was punished for it…I lived in detention in high school collecting a whopping 23 demerits and setting fire to the school was not involved. That was just talking in class with a few other minor offences.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Here I am writing an article about dealing with ADHD as a peer recovery specialist. I never thought I would be writing such an article. But life always seems to throw curveballs, now doesn’t it?

Two things to consider when working with peers who disclose their struggle with ADHD to you. First, believe them. It sounds simple and it is but it is powerful. Believing someone is a powerful tool of affirmation that works wonders in the healing journey of another peer.  Second, do so with unconditional positive regard. And if you struggle with the same issue, and are comfortable with it, feel free to share your story. You never know who much it can help another peer. There is power in mutual identification of experience. That is what makes peer work so powerful and impactful.

You don’t have to have ADHD to support those who do. Squirrel. Be right back. 

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Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network
Mental Health America of Virginia

The Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network is a program of Mental Health America of Virginia.

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