Last week, I wrote a blog about my personal experience using Adderall to help combat my symptoms of ADHD. I wrote about my personal journey HERE if you’ve not yet read that.
As promised, I now plan to offer some natural strategies that I have found to be very helpful for me. I’d love to hear comments about how some of these strategies may also be helping you or your loved one!
First, I wanted to note that I said my Adderall was used to treat my symptoms of ADHD (rather than saying my mental illness or condition of ADHD) because it is simply that—a list of symptoms. There is no objective test or way to know for sure unless you want brain surgery done! The way a professional diagnoses ADHD is by seeing if you meet certain criteria on a list, related to focusing, hyperactivity, or both.
If then, it’s a list of symptoms, I like to say that I am CURED of ADHD! My symptoms have been eliminated, so I have also removed the label I once gave myself. Labels can serve good purposes. They can also be crippling. So my first piece of advice is to drop the label if it is hurting your self of self-confidence or sense of worth.
First, I’m going to talk about some things I did to help myself BEFORE I met my husband, David, and was introduced into natural health.
I stopped taking Adderall in February of 2013, after having taken it almost my entire adulthood up to that point. I knew nothing about natural health strategies. But I did learn some tools that helped me both while I was taking Adderall and after I stopped taking it.
1. Create Lists
Organizing my thoughts on paper (or in a phone/tablet) was HUGE in helping me overcome my symptoms of ADHD. While taking Adderall, I learned the value of using notes and a calendar system. Once I stopped taking Adderall, I continued to apply this, and it’s helped me tremendously.
Many with symptoms of ADHD have a lot of thoughts crowding their heads at one time. They don’t lack intelligence; oftentimes they lack cognitive organization. So my first piece of advice is to create a predictable system that works for you, whether you’re a student, a mom, or a working professional, etc. Here is my example:
-I keep all close friends and family birthdays and anniversaries in a yellow color in my calendar and have an annual recurrence.
-I place appointments or activities that involve others who are relying upon me in blue in my calendar.
-I place priorities I personally want to achieve in my calendar in pink.
-I use reminders on a daily basis in my iPhone app. After I complete a task, I check it off.
-Appointments that do not directly affect me, but where I need to be home (for example, if someone is coming to work on my home), I color code in green.
This could be applied for students or children. For example:
Create a calendar you and your child can reference on a daily basis. Write down daily homework in blue. Write down long-term projects in pink, and ensure they devote a certain amount of time to the tasks per day. Write down tests in green, and ensure they also devote a certain amount of time to study per day. Go over this daily with them.
Centralizing tasks makes things so much more simple. Have everything for every responsibility in one place and inside of one system when it’s possible. People with ADHD do well when they can see how things relate to other things. Simplicity and breaking things down is very helpful.
Another very helpful tool for me has been using my iPhone Reminders app to jot down random thoughts as they go through my mind. I used to use a piece of paper for this, which is just as effective. While working on a task, I oftentimes get ideas of other things I need to do. Rather than bounce around from task to task and feel like nothing is left completed, it’s been very powerful for me to jot down my thought and get it out of my head, and then resume back to my responsibility at hand. I do this as a mom all the time. That way I know I won’t forget what needs to get done, but I stay focused on what I’m doing in the moment.
2. Create Physical Order and Structure
I used to be a slob! Eek! But while taking Adderall, I became obsessed with being organized and clean! I’m no longer obsessed, but I have learned to value how having a physical space that is decluttered helps declutter my brain in a huge way. My motto is: If I don’t know what it’s there for or where to find it in a home, there is no reason to have the item. Having predictable places where one can find items truly declutters one’s brain.
If you have a child diagnosed with ADHD, I’d strongly encourage you to have a very tidy house where the child can grow to learn exactly where everything goes. Even with our toys, I have certain toys that go downstairs, certain learning toys that go on certain shelves in our schoolroom, etc. If you struggle with organization yourself, I know a professional organizer who’d love to help. I can connect you if you’d like. It’d be an investment. But maintaining organization is much easier than creating it.
Structure and having a level of predictability can also help with one who suffers the symptoms of ADHD. Knowing when you’ll wake up, exercise, eat, work, study, play, etc. can really help one’s brain keep organized. Routine and structure can be very helpful tools.
3. Journal and Pray
If you’re an adult or teenager with ADHD, journaling may be helpful for you. My mind used to race and hop a lot. For me, getting my thoughts out of my head and onto paper (or a computer screen), helped me make sense of it all. I also tracked my emotions this way when struggling to find emotional stability. Prayer was also a very powerful tool for me to stay centered and focused.
4. Doodle or Take Notes
Some kids with ADHD may just get bored. In a typical lecture style classroom, students who aren’t being engaged may have a difficult time paying attention. When I was in school, I found that taking notes sometimes helped me to stay focused. I also have found that doodling can help keep one’s mind from wandering while listening to someone speaking. (This can be true in meetings or phone calls, too.)
A note on taking notes: simplicity is key. Outlines and bullet-points can seem much less overwhelming that detailed paragraphs when you are leaving instructions for someone with ADHD symptoms.
5. Get Emotional Healing
Sometimes ADHD symptoms seem worse when one has not yet worked through his/her emotional wounds. Again, lots of thoughts jumbled around in one’s brain can seem overwhelming to the point that it’s easier to just get stressed out and avoid things than to tackle them one-at-a-time. So the more one can create a mental environment that is less complicated, the better. I would ensure that there aren’t underlying emotional issues that are impairing one’s processing or focusing abilities. Professional counseling proved to be very helpful for me as I worked through some false beliefs I’d picked up that affected the way I saw myself and the world. Working through my negative emotions helped free up a ton of “mind space” for me!
Once again, haha, my kids are waking up from their naps…right as I am ready to dive into the “good stuff.” So, I will make this into a 3 part blog post! Next week, I plan to write more about effective strategies for combating symptoms of ADHD from a more of a perspective of natural health, including nutrition and supplementation and healthy lifestyle strategies!
It’s my honor to hopefully help some of you as you navigate through decisions for what’s best for you (or your child).
PS: While you’re waiting on my third blog post, check out my husband’s this week. HERE is his article on 12 ways to beat ADHD naturally. The benefit of my articles, is I speak from personal experience, and I also have a different style of writing. But he is a GENIUS and passionate about helping others!
I love your transparency, but it literally kills me inside when so many people write anti-prescription pieces about mental health. My omyojnger step-daughter, who is is 16, was neglected in so many ways but mostly emotionally, and it wasn’t until she moved in with us and after lots of trial and error, got on an ADHD medication that soother her both academically but also socially that she really became herself again. I feel that so many adults are putting this spotlight in ADD prescriptions like they are a cop out or unnecessary. My Lili literally would cry u controllably on the floor during a normal conversation, and now she is the sweetest girl. While I can appreciate your story, I hope you understand that it’s judge mental parts do a disservice to many people that actually need mood stabilizing drugs. Your sorry actually sounds like you didn’t need them i the first place and they more just acted like steroids for your brain. The people that actually need these drugs don’t have that kind of reaction. It actually allows them to focus and work as a normal person would. I’m sorry to say that I think you were misdiagnosed and enjoyed the side effects of a drug you didn’t need for ma g years. No judgement, and I love following your beautiful family, but I Hope want you to understand the implications of posts like these to people who really have mental health issues.
Thank you for sharing from your heart. I was wondering if you read my first article on this topic also? I believe there is a time and a place for medication. I’m not here to bring judgement-just my story. I believe ADHD is highly over-diagnosed, and oftentimes the causes of the symptoms are stemming from issues in the gut, as opposed to the brain. There is a cool psychiatrist out there, Dr. Kelly Brogan, who writes a lot on this topic if you’re interested. https://kellybroganmd.com/?s=adhd
“The people that actually need these drugs don’t have that kind of reaction. It actually allows them to focus and work as a normal person would. ” I talked a ton with my doctor about that. He’d always tell me this whenever I was concerned about the medication. But I, too, really had the symptoms badly when I first started taking ADHD medications.
I am sorry you have felt judged. Every parent has to always make tough choices for what is best for their child, and there is always gray and not just black and white answers. But I really wanted to write about my experience, from my heart, as I am very concerned about the long-term effects of these medications, and a lot of people have been asking for me to share about my personal experience.