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Navigating Life Post ADHD Diagnosis

So you've gotten the diagnosis, but not sure what to do next? We've got your covered!


Being diagnosed with ADHD can give you feelings of confusion, relief, and an overwhelming sense of “what now?”. Diagnosis can be the start of a journey, not the end. You may feel like you have a million questions and not enough answers. But don't worry. You're not alone, and this post is here to guide you through.


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ADHD Support

An ADHD diagnosis is a new beginning. It's a path towards self-discovery, growth, and understanding. Embrace your journey, remember to be kind to yourself and, above all, remember that you are not alone. With the right knowledge and support, you can navigate life post-ADHD diagnosis confidently and successfully.



Some Quick Guidelines on Life post ADHD Diagnosis


Everything in this post is from my lived experience and perspective. Not everything will apply, what I have shared here is only to prompt awareness and reflection, and maybe create the opportunity to try out something different. I have split it into 5 sections, and you can click the links below to bring you to a specific section.



 

#1: Understand ADHD

'The improvement of understanding is for two ends; first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others' - John Locke


Being diagnosed with ADHD is not a bad thing. It can be a doorway to understanding why you might experience the world a little differently. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect your behaviour, attention span, and even mood. However, it's important to remember that this doesn't signify any kind of inferiority.


People with ADHD are often creative, intuitive, energetic, and think outside the box. These aren't disadvantages but unique advantages. ADHD is simply a different way of operating, and embracing these differences can be key to thriving with ADHD.


For children, understanding ADHD often involves conversations with parents, teachers, and doctors. Children may have many questions about what their diagnosis means. Answering these with age-appropriate explanations can help them understand their unique brain. Children’s books about ADHD can provide a friendly and accessible introduction to the topic.


For teens, understanding ADHD may involve more independent research. Encourage them to learn about ADHD through resources like CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADDitude Magazine's resources for teens. Encourage them to connect with peer support groups, both online and in person. Also, this is a great age to start developing organisational and coping strategies to help them in adulthood.


For adults, understanding ADHD can involve a mix of professional consultation and self-education. Many adults find it helpful to read about others' experiences with ADHD. We have a list of books that can offer great insights. Webinars, podcasts, and forums offered by ADHD organisations can also provide valuable knowledge and support.


#2: Explore Medication


In Ireland, without an official diagnosis from a psychiatrist, you cannot try out ADHD medication. Many have concerns and will choose to avoid the medication process, and everyone has the right to choose whats best for them. However, I would like to point out that medication has been widely recognised and reported as a successful form of managing ADHD.


The way I look at it is, if you had a broken leg, you put it in a cast, and if you got diagnosed with diabetes, you would take insulin.


The journey to finding the right ADHD medication for you can take some time, and may involve side effects, but with patience and the right support from a professional, you can find one that is right for you.


If you would like to take a deep dive on ADHD medication please visit this blog here.


Many of my clients do not go down the medication pathway and find other ways to manage & support their ADHD.


#3: Seek Support

'Your life does not get better by chance; it gets better by change' - John Locke


Asking for help is not a weakness. It can be reassuring to hear the stories of those who have walked a similar path and who understand the challenges, triumphs, and unique experiences that come with ADHD.


The professional support of therapists, coaches, and medical professionals can be integral to your journey. They can provide you with management strategies tailored to your symptoms and individual needs. This can involve talk therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques.


I recommend working with therapeutic professionals trained in ADHD, who have previous working experience or lived experience of ADHD. A new diagnosis can often come as quite a shock, and a late diagnosis in particular is often accompanied by grief. You may experience anger and sadness over the years you have lost, spent struggling and missed opportunities. Therapy is a great support to process this before beginning Coaching.


Remember, it's okay to ask for help. We all need a little assistance sometimes.


#4: Identify & Meet Your Needs


When you know yourself that bit better, you can start to live your life according to your ADHD brain. This is where you start to recreate rules, strategies and techniques that will enable you to function more effectively. You will be able to stop trying to live like a neurotypical, and this will require giving yourself permission to unmask.


ADHD can come with a unique set of strengths, and becoming aware of and learning to utilise them can be empowering. However, this is not just about embracing your skills; it's also about building self-esteem, an essential aspect of managing life with ADHD.


Creating an action plan which includes your needs, how you need to do things and when you need to them will act as a roadmap, helping you navigate your ADHD. You will be creating your own users manual.


#5: Food, Exercise & Sleep


Eating at regular intervals and keeping hydrated are extremely important. Creating a meal plan, and having quick and easy recipes to hand will reduce the overwhelm of cooking, the ADHD brain often feels overwhelmed by the amount of steps involved.


Increasing your movement throughout the day, prioritising daylight and fresh air. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which help with attention and clear thinking. The ADHD brain uses dopamine differently causing a dysregulation. Exercise has also been known to ease stress and reduce anxiety


Sleep deprivation has a detrimental effect on ADHDers and can have an impact on the effectiveness of stimulant medication. We need more sleep than most, but often find it hard getting to sleep and staying asleep. Developing a healthy sleep routine, getting adequate hours will enhance concentration & cognitive function, while helping you to regulate emotion and energy through out the day.


#6: Find Your Tribe

'Community is the essence of human connection and where we find out true purpose' - Unknown


There are thousands of people across the world with ADHD themselves, or supporting ADHDers. Local support groups can be a great way to meet others who understand your experiences and online forums are a great resource for advice & guidance. By reaching out or reading information shared by others, it provides support as you embark on your own journey.


Knowing you are not alone, and that there are others out there with similar experiences can create a sense of security and belonging, and even help manage expectations and understand what's ahead. You can join many of these communities anonymously. Below are some of my favourites:

ADHD Ireland also host support groups, for adults, children, parents and partners. I attended these myself when I first got diagnosed and it really opened my eyes on how prevalent ADHD was. If you join the Women's Group, you may see a familiar face facilitating!


To further your ADHD education, you might like to check out our Understanding Traits and Living Well with ADHD Categories!



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