For as long as I can remember, I've been told, "you're just lazy," "you're scatterbrained," or "get your act together." These types of negative messages have had a deep impact on me after all these years. Now that there's so much awareness around ADHD, I've been wondering if it's time to find out if there are some underlying causes for my problems that have been overlooked. Where do I start?
First things first, you made the right decision to seek answers, and you've come to the right starting place! Labels like lazy, scattered, unmotivated, or rude are often applied to people with ADHD. However, what those who harshly administer these labels don't realize is that there can be an ample amount of skill-based challenges underlying these surface-level symptoms. Those skill deficits are in the broader category of executive functioning, or self-management abilities.
When someone experiences executive function challenges due to ADHD, the people around them tend to only see the behaviors that are problematic. Take a look at the illustration below to help flesh this out a bit. The top area lists some of those problem behaviors we mentioned. That's the top of the iceberg. Now take a look at what's submerged under the water. You can see that when you take the time to dig deeper, there are specific reasons why those undesirable behaviors may be manifesting, from challenges with planning to difficulties maintaining systems to stay organized - and more.
Above all else, remember that ADHD is a condition that is likely to impact many or all of these skill areas, making it more difficult to manage everyday demands.
For your next steps, it's in your best interests to get an ADHD evaluation with a reputable practitioner. Untreated ADHD can weigh heavily on not only your self-esteem but also your ability to maintain relationships and even reach your career goals. You deserve an opportunity to live your best life and an evaluation is your first step to making that a reality.
In the meantime, if you're recognizing some of those skill deficits in the iceberg illustration above, consider working with an executive function coach. You do not have to be diagnosed with ADHD to have executive function challenges or to gain benefit from coaching. While acknowledging these challenges is the first step, once you get to work on implementing tools and strategies to strengthen these skills areas, you're bound to see improvements in your life!