I HAVE ADHD PODCAST - Episode #239
November 28, 2023
A Beginner’s Guide to ADHD, Part 3: Thriving With ADHD
Over the past three episodes, we’ve been talking about the basics of ADHD and how you can live your best life with this neurodivergent condition. It’s a great beginner ADHD series for anyone who needs a refresher or is curious to learn more.
My stance is that ADHD is NOT a superpower, despite what you may have seen on social media or heard from well-respected people in the industry. On the contrary, it’s a massive privilege to thrive with ADHD.
I believe people with ADHD are incredible and can lead wonderful lives. But to do this, they have to choose to live in the reality of what it means to have ADHD and have lots of access to treatment, coping strategies, and support.
In this episode, I’m sharing the five steps you should take if you want to finally gain control of your life as an adult ADHDer. These steps include getting an accurate diagnosis and educating yourself about ADHD.
I get it – not everyone is privileged to get the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Not everyone can have the supportive relationships needed to help tackle adult ADHD. To those friends, I say, continue listening to my podcast for tips and tricks.
I promise to share everything I can to help you feel confident in the beautiful life you’re creating. Remember: We all start somewhere. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed by ADHD, but with the right tools, you can make big improvements in your life.
I also encourage you to check out my group coaching program FOCUSED which has helped thousands of people live the life they want, and it can help you too.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE
PRINTABLE ADHD SYMPTOM LIST
This totally free printable includes a psychologist-approved list of symptoms that adults with ADHD commonly experience. This could give you the answers you’ve been begging for your entire life.
Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B.
What’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast. I am medicated. I’m caffeinated. I am regulated and I am ready to roll.
It’s a gorgeous November day. Hello, hello. How are you? If you are in America, Happy Thanksgiving. Not sure when this episode will come out as far as Thanksgiving is concerned, but like it is the start of the holiday season. And I’m not mad about it at all. Not mad at all. I looked through my Instagram the other day. And you know how sometimes you just go through your personal Instagram just to see pictures of your kids and kind of take stock of your life and be like What have I actually done in the last couple years. And so I was thumbing through. First of all my kids are adorable. I love watching videos of them and looking at old pictures of them. But one thing that I noticed is that three, November’s in a row, I was sick in bed. Like that is scary. So I immediately called my functional medical practitioner and was like, oh my need to set up like a preventative appointment. Because I’m scared. I do not want this to be the fourth November in a row where I get sick. Last year was my entire family that was sick, and we had to cancel Thanksgiving, I was going to host instead my turkey just went bad in the fridge and we never got to eat turkey I know is a very sad life. It’s a very, very sad story. But this year is going to be redemption, Turkey redemption, I will be cooking, I will be hosting, it will be fun, we’re also going to go see a movie, because a lot of things in our lives have changed over the last couple of years. And so we kind of needed new holiday traditions. And so we’re gonna go see a movie, it’s gonna be really well, I think I think it’s gonna be really fun, it’s gonna be great. What you’re listening to right now is one in a series of podcasts on back to the basics of adult ADHD.
Now, I’ll probably mention it throughout this whole series that I’ve been podcasting about adult ADHD for almost five years. And I feel like this podcast has really evolved over that time. And I thought it would be really good to kind of swing around back to the basics of adult ADHD for anyone who is new, or for anyone who needs a refresher. As someone with ADHD, your working memory is probably going to be deficient. That is one of our executive functions that is very deficient. And so being reminded about what it means to have ADHD, what it means to thrive with ADHD, that’s going to be important, in my opinion. And so today we’re talking about how to have the most amazing, incredible life, even with ADHD, how to thrive with ADHD, I’m gonna give you five steps. They’re not easy steps, which is why I just want to reiterate like ADHD is not a superpower. It is actually a privilege to be able to thrive with ADHD, it is a privilege to have access to all of the things that I’m going to talk about today. Which is why it’s really, in my opinion, not so great when we try to paint ADHD in a good light because people who do not have access and who are not people of privilege will have a very hard time thriving, but we’re gonna get to how do we thrive even with ADHD? What does it look like? What can I do to make my life amazing, even though I have ADHD?
Before we do that, though, I want to let you know that in January, I’m going to be teaching a brand new course on how to build self trust in my group coaching program focused. If you don’t know about focus, you should definitely check it out. It is an ADHD adult group coaching program is incredible. It has helped 1000s of people with ADHD. It is a monthly membership style. And so you can kind of come and go as you please. It’s $199 a month. It’s an incredible value you get for courses available to you right away so that PDF workbooks and classes that I’ve taught, then you also get three to five live calls every week. And I’m in there at least two of those calls Each week, so Kristen Carter teaches or coaches at least twice a week in the focused membership. We also have a really amazing community that offers support and encouragement for people all over the world. And we have, I mean, it’s just like, it’s the kind of thing where it’s going to be way too much than you’ll ever use. And so you can just grab the pieces that work for you. Some people love our body doubling sessions, where you can co work with other ADHD ears. Some people love our community on Slack, where you can ask questions and get and give encouragement. Some people love to attend live calls. But I will say that most members don’t attend the calls live, most members listen to the calls on the go in the exclusive private podcast feed or watch the videos in the membership portal.
Anyway, here’s my point. I’m teaching a brand new course starting in January, how to build self trust, because what I have noticed from working with adults with ADHD for the last four years, is that we struggle so much to trust ourselves, we have a huge body of evidence of why we don’t do things the right way, and why we can’t trust ourselves. And that makes it very difficult for us to make decisions and move forward in our lives. So this entire course is going to be brand new content on how to build self trust, I would love for you to join us if you are interested go to I have adhd.com/focused. And I also want to let you know that we do run a holiday sale every year. And so if that is interesting to you, if you’re like wanting to join with a promo code, you need to join my email list. And I think the best way to do that right now is go to the symptoms page on my website and just like opt in to that symptoms download.
So I have adhd.com and then click on the symptoms tab and you can just opt into that download, it’ll pop you onto our email list. And then you will be notified about the sale. But if you want to get a head start, come into the community, get to know people and be ready to roll by the time that this how to build self trust course happens. Just join now. It’s an amazing program. I have adhd.com/focused for more. Okay, I can’t wait to talk about this topic today. Because sometimes people misunderstand me when I say that ADHD is not a superpower. So last week’s episode was all about how ADHD so power. However, I don’t want you to misunderstand. People with ADHD can live amazing, incredible lives. And we all know people with ADHD who are very famous who’ve done incredible things with their lives. Please do not misunderstand that I am trying to communicate to you that you’re doomed. If you have ADHD that is not at all what I’m trying to say. Did I already tell you that I hopped on Tik Tok? I think I did. I think I told you that last week. So I hopped on Tik Tok, I recorded tic tock my very first one, of course, or No, I think it was my second was like ADHD is not your superpower, triggered a whole bunch of people. And so I’m sorry, not sorry about that. But what I’m realizing is that people are truly misunderstanding the heart behind what I’m trying to say.
I believe people with ADHD are incredible, and should be optimistic about their futures, as long as they are living in reality of what it means to have ADHD. As long as you’re living in reality of what it means to have ADHD and how you need to treat it and care for it, then your life can be incredible. But what we know is that if we don’t take it seriously, if we’re not medicating or treating it in the way that works best for you, if we’re not really prioritizing the different aspects of our care as it pertains to ADHD, then yeah, the research shows us and like, anecdotally speaking, we can look around and say like, the outlook is kind of Bleak if we don’t take it seriously. And in my opinion, calling it a superpower is not taking it seriously.
And so that’s not the point of this episode. The point of this episode is how can we thrive with ADHD? It is possible and so that is the point that I’m trying to make here is like, I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I do know that you can thrive with ADHD. I know that you you personally you listening, I know that you can thrive with ADHD, but you’re not going to thrive unless you take it seriously and follow at least a couple of these five steps and so we’re going to talk about them today. Okay, I’m gonna pull my notes up here. I can’t wait to talk about this. I’m also seeing my DoorDash order. I also cannot wait to Who eat Chinese food, it is going to be so delicious. And that is my reward for completing this podcast, it’s going to be so, so good. Okay, how to have an incredible life? Even with ADHD?
Yes, it is possible. But you must take it seriously. And so here are five things you can do to live an incredible life with ADHD. The first thing is you need to understand what you’re dealing with having an accurate diagnosis, that in itself is a huge privilege. You need to understand what you’re dealing with, you need to have an accurate diagnosis. And once you do, you need to understand what it means to have ADHD. Now I’ve so many free episodes on this podcast about what it means to have ADHD. So that’s not the point here. But once you have that diagnosis, which is the huge privilege, the next step is, what does this actually mean for me? How is this going to affect my life? What do I need to know about this diagnosis? What is this telling me? What does it actually mean to have ADHD? And so the first step is getting that accurate diagnosis, and then educating yourself on ADHD, it’s so important that we can separate out what are my symptoms? And what is my personality? What are my symptoms? And what are my character flaws? We all have character flaws, right? Like every single one of us. But I need to know the difference between Am I late because I’m a bad person? Or am I late because I have a brain that works in a way that prevents me from showing up on time, which is I need to be able to suss out the difference of that.
So when we are diagnosed, and we have that accurate diagnosis, so many of you have been denied a diagnosis or you’ve been misdiagnosed or you just don’t have access to health care or like a place that can diagnose you. And so this is almost ADHD is not your superpower. Part two, I get it. Okay, because I’m going to refer to that a lot. Because it is not a superpower, when you don’t have the privilege or access to diagnosis. That’s not That’s not a superpower. That’s unfair. Right? That’s, that is unfair. And so the first thing, the first step to thriving with ADHD is having the privilege of a diagnosis, and then educating yourself on what does it mean for me, ADHD will affect every single aspect of your life, from the boardroom to the bedroom.
And so understanding all of the nitty gritty details about how it shows up for you, in the different areas of your life, that’s going to be so, so helpful. Step two, to thriving with ADHD is, you’re going to need to find a treatment plan that works for you. Now, for most people, medication is the best treatment option. There are different types of medication, there are stimulants, and non stimulants, they do different things in different areas of the brain. And so you’re going to want to have a chat with your doctor. And you’re going to want to kind of experiment. And I know that’s an annoying word because you are not a lab rat, however, you are going to need to experiment with a medication, dosage, maybe changing up the medication, maybe changing up the dosage to find out what medication works best for your body. I’ve been on a stimulant medication. And when I started taking that medication, they started me out at a very, very low dose, I didn’t notice any change.
This was a long time ago, this was 20 years ago, then I got bumped up a little bit still didn’t notice the change got bumped up again. And that’s where I started to notice a huge difference in my life. I was on that stimulant medication for quite some time until I started having my babies. And I’ve said this many times. But now there’s research to show that you don’t necessarily have to go off medication, if you are pregnant or nursing, but at the time, that was the recommended practice. And so I did when I went back on medication. The stimulant medication that I was previously on did not feel good in my body. It’s what my doctor prescribed to me because it was what was working really well for me, you know, years prior, but when I tried it again, it didn’t feel good. I was more anxious, I was irritable, I wasn’t sleeping well. And it didn’t give me the focus that I was looking for. So I had to go back to the drawing board and experiment with something else. That is annoying. It is frustrating. And for somebody with ADHD, I know that’s going to be difficult, but I was able to go on a non stimulant medication again, privilege, privilege privilege.
We worked up to a dosage where I started to notice a difference and I’ve been on that ever since. Again, we need to just recognize that finding that curve wracked treatment plan is an incredible gift. And not everyone has access to that. But if you do, this is a top way to begin thriving with ADHD is being properly treated for it. Medication should make you feel better, not worse. You should have a net positive, not a net negative. Many people describe it as putting on a pair of glasses and seeing things clearly for the first time, or having the volume turned down on all of the noise in their life. Many people describe it as just a life changing experience. And the research tells us And anecdotally speaking, I can tell you that medication and a proper treatment plan are right up there, like on the foundation of how to thrive with ADHD.
The next step to thriving with ADHD is adding in as much support as possible. Not everyone is able to do this. But if you are, I’m telling you, it’s a game changer. So first, you need an accurate diagnosis. And you need to educate yourself about what it means to have ADHD, then you need to get on a proper treatment plan that works really well for your body and your brain. And then once that is done, adding in additional support is going to be a game changer. It’s going to be a game changer. Finding a trauma informed therapist can be life changing for you. The reason why I say trauma informed or trauma trained is because many people with ADHD have suffered a lot of trauma. And even if it’s just the trauma of being no divergent in a neurotypical world never really fitting into the box that has affected me that probably has affected you as well. And so finding a therapist who can really help you to work through that will be life changing. hiring a coach can change your life.
And I highly highly, highly recommend that you go looking for a coach that you respect that you love that is willing to offer you enough free content that they’re changing your life for free. That’s a really good filter for finding and hiring a coach is do they have enough content out there that is helping you and changing your life for free, that it will make you comfortable giving them your money, okay, another huge privilege based support would be like hiring someone to help you. So hiring an assistant, hiring someone to help you clean your house, hiring someone to help you manage your food, again, circling back to ADHD is not your superpower. But if you happen to be so privileged that you’re able to get a diagnosis that you’re able to have access to a great treatment plan. And if you are privileged enough to be able to afford help, yeah, you can really thrive. Absolutely. Some of the things that I have done in the last five years since I’ve been able to afford it to help me manage my ADHD. I do a clothing rental, I subscribe to a clothing rental, it’s called newly and you you ly and every month I get a shipment from this clothing rental, I get to pick up the clothes, I get to keep six items, it is so helpful to me because I am on camera all the time. And the videos are saved in the membership portal like forever and ever. And so I don’t want to be wearing the same things over and over again, but I don’t really enjoy shopping. And so this monthly clothing rental is just one of the ways that I support my ADHD.
So I just get to choose. They come in the mail I get to then just it’s the best I’m actually wearing a shirt today that’s a newly you can keep it like you can purchase the clothes that you rent if you want to highly recommend anyway, this is just like an easy helpful way that I support my ADHD but I never would have been able to afford it 10 years ago, I never would have been able to afford it. Same AG1 I really supporting my health by drinking ag one is huge for me. So this is just a way that I have made my life easier is by knowing that I’m getting my foundational nutritional support right away at the beginning of the day. And then of course I tried to be healthy throughout the day ish but I am door dashing Chinese food So full disclosure, not always healthy, totally fine. If you’re able to hire a house cleaner that can change your life if you’re able to, I don’t know hire a personal chef, who’s the person that’s going to like grocery shop and meal prep and tell you what to cook every night. I don’t necessarily need somebody cooking for me, but I need someone to like make the plan and grocery shop and put it all in the kitchen seniors and then like, just kind of have the step by step, whatever that is, that’s what I want. Okay?
The point here is that there are many ways that you can add in additional support. And if you are able to do that you will have a higher chance of being able to thrive with this disorder, it is just a fact that if we can offload some of these things that take up so much of our brain space, that take up so much of our emotional capacity if we can offload some of those, and we don’t even have to think so I don’t even have to think about going and shopping and my outfits and like making sure that I’m not wearing the same thing this month that I like on the same, you know, same thing last month, like so that people are not seeing the same stuff for me over and over and over. That takes a lot of mental load off of my plate.
And so now I have more capacity for the things that actually matter. So we’ve got, understand what you’re dealing with, like diagnosis and education, find a treatment plan that works for you. Add in as much additional support as possible. And then step four is surround yourself with healthy and safe people. I cannot express to you enough how much of a game changer this is as it pertains to thriving with ADHD. Because if you’ll remember, people with ADHD have a highly reactive brain. And if you have somebody in your life who is causing drama, who’s toxic, who’s crossing boundaries, who’s requiring you to be someone that you are not, who is unkind, who is critical. That is going to take a lot of your brain space. And I would venture to say, this is just my opinion, I would venture to say that is going to take more of your mental emotional spiritual energy than it might from a neurotypical person, because you are wired to be reactive.
And so if you have someone in your life who is capitalizing on that, who’s exploiting that, who is taking advantage of your people, pleasing tendencies, this will be detrimental to you. And if you are looking at your life, and you’re like, Okay, I’m doing step one, I have a diagnosis, I’m doing step two, I have a treatment plan that works for me, I have the privilege of doing step three, I have a therapist or coach, and I’m implementing help, and that’s great. Okay, but I’m still looking around my life. And I’m saying, I don’t feel like I’m thriving, I want you to take a look at your relationships. And I want you to notice how your body feels around each person that you’re interacting with in your life. Do you feel calm around the people that you are surrounding yourself with? Do you feel safe? And by safe? I mean, is your body at ease? Or do you feel like you have to be on guard? Do you feel like you’re having to people please in order to be loved and accepted?
This is not an easy fix. And this also goes into the privilege bin, in my opinion, because some people out there are privileged to be surrounded by safe and healthy and kind families and people. And some people are not. And we don’t get to decide what family we’re born into. But as adults, we do get to choose who we surround ourselves with. And so I want to communicate very clearly that one of the steps to thriving with ADHD is making sure that you are spending most of your time with healthy, kind, accepting safe people. If you don’t, your ADHD symptoms will likely persist. Because the ADHD brain is highly reactive and distracted by drama. And if you have people in your life causing drama, your brain will constantly be drawn to that. Hmm. We could have several podcasts on this topic, but I’m going to move on to Step Five to thriving with ADHD.
Step one, understand what you’re dealing with, get a diagnosis and education.
Step two, find a treatment plan that really works well for you.
Step three, add in as much additional support as possible.
Step four, surround yourself with Safe and Healthy People.
And step five, to thriving with ADHD is set up your life to play to your strengths.
If you are able to do this, your ADHD might look like a superpower. If you are able to set up your life in a way where you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do. And you only have to focus on the things that you You care about your ADHD might look like a superpower. It really might. But the majority of the world is not able to do this. Okay? All right. But if you are even just slowly, over time, able to set up your life to play to your strengths, you will thrive. So what is this look like? It looks like not doing anything that you don’t want to do. Essentially, that’s what it is.
It sounds crazy. It might sound crazy, but I’m not joking. If you can just think through your life and say, What if I didn’t have to do anything that I didn’t want to do? What if I have a five year plan to cutting out everything in my life that I don’t want to do? You will thrive, you will. Now again, I’ve said the word privilege 100 times, you should do a drinking game with the word privilege on this podcast, because I know I’ve said it 100 times, but the point must be made, the majority of the world is not going to be able to do this, we don’t get like most humans don’t get to just be like, Well, I’m not going to do anything that I don’t want to do. That’s not real life for most people.
However, if you are able to think through your life and ruthlessly eliminate things, that you’re just like, I hate that I don’t want to do it, I hate that I don’t want to do it, I hate that I don’t want to do it, you will cut down on so much resistance, procrastination, and drama from yourself, you will be able to thrive so much more readily. Because there will be so much less resistance to the things that you’re doing, you will wake up and you will go to a job that you love. And you will only perform the tasks that you love. And you will do the things that you find interesting, but not the things that you find boring or slow or annoying. I mean, imagine that life and I don’t know what your life looks like. But I am curious, are there things that you’re able to eliminate that you don’t want to do? Are there tasks? Are there people are there? I don’t know chores? Are there things that you could just be like, Yeah, I’m not going to do that anymore. Because if you start to go through your life and set it up to play to your strengths, and to the things that you like, you will thrive, you will thrive. This requires you saying no to most things, this requires you saying no to most people.
Okay. But if, if that’s something that you’re able to do, if that’s something that you’re willing to do, you will for sure thrive. And this is why we see so many people with ADHD thriving, I believe is because they found the thing that they love that they’re obsessed with that they can hyper focus on. They have an interest based nervous system. And so they’re going for it with the things that they care about. But this is also why we see so many people with ADHD. Not thriving, is because so many of you are stuck in a life that you don’t really like. And so your brain and your body are saying, No, I don’t want to do that. And you’re trying to get yourself to do the things that you don’t want to do. And so that can be seemingly impossible when you have ADHD, especially if you have a co occurring disorder called oppositional defiant disorder, which I’ve never been diagnosed for. But I am hella oppositional. I don’t even want to listen to me and the rules that I set for myself, let alone listen to somebody else. And so if you feel like there’s so much in your life that you don’t want to do, and you can’t get yourself to do, perhaps you can begin to eliminate the things that you don’t like. And this will probably make people in your life upset. And then the question is, Who do you want to prioritize other people in your life or yourself? And that’s a very difficult question to answer. This is not what this podcast is about.
But that’s what you’re like circling back to the support that you can add into your life. That’s what your therapist or your coach is for. If you want my help with that. I would love to help you because I’m extremely passionate about this topic. I think you can probably hear the fire in my voice right now. I could scream it from the rooftops. I’m extremely passionate about this topic. So come join me and focus if you want my specific help with this. All right, how to thrive with ADHD. circling back around last week’s episode was about ADHD not being your superpower and I stand on that. However, if you have should I say the word again? Are you going to drink if I say the word? If you have the privilege of being able to implement these five steps, you will absolutely thrive. with ADHD your life will be explosive. You will be shocked at what you’ll be able to accomplish.
Here are the five steps number one, have an accurate diagnosis and educate yourself about what it means to have ADHD.
Number two, find a treatment plan that works really well for your brain and your body.
Number three, add in as much extra support as possible. And when your brain says I should be able to do this myself, I shouldn’t have to hire someone, say to your brain, No, you shouldn’t be able to do this yourself, you have ADHD, you should not be able to do this yourself. Go hire someone.
Number four, surround yourself with healthy and safe people who make you feel calm and secure, who are loving and generous and accepting of who you are, as you are.
And step five, set up your life to play to your strengths.
Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. If only it were just as easy as me saying it and you listening and being like cool, great. Sounds awesome. I won’t do anything that I don’t want to do. But maybe make a long term goal. And ask yourself with every decision that comes up, is it something that I want to do? Is it something that future me wants to do? If this event were tomorrow? Would I want to do it and just really set yourself up to say yes to the things that light you up and say no to the things that are boring and dull. And that you know, you will have to work so hard to get your body to do. All right. This has been a fun one. Thanks for being here with me.
I can’t wait to see you next time. Please make sure to like, subscribe. If you’re in love, leave a review I would just it would make my heart so happy. I appreciate it so much. I can’t wait to talk to you next week. Hey ADHD, or I see you I know exactly what it’s like to feel lost, confused, frustrated and like no one out there really understand the way that your brain works. That’s why I created focus. Focused is my monthly coaching program where I lead you through a step by step process of understanding yourself feeling better and creating the life that you know you’re meant for. You’ll study be coached grow and make amazing changes alongside of other educated professional adults with ADHD from all over the world. Visit Ihaveadhd.com/focused to learn more.