So, here we are with the last instalment of Katy Rollin’s answers to our questions.
It’s going to seem quiet around here when she leaves. I’ll try to keep things lively, you know I always try.
And if you haven’t had enough of the unsinkable Katy, don’t forget you can find her at her blog, 18channels, where she writes as an embedded reporter from the front lines of an ADHD family.
But enough of the future, here’s the present, according to Katy.
What changes have you made in your activities and/or your approach to life that have helped?
Medication and therapy are both really great for me. I didn’t even know what focus, or mental calmness felt like until I tried medication. I didn’t know that it was possible to not feel constant friction with my environment. Meds turn down the volume on my surroundings so that I feel less overwhelmed by them. I was not able to experience a feeling of inner peace until I tried medication. Seriously.
Therapy gave me a sounding board for validating positive coping skills and weeding out less effective ones.
I also have been working to shape my life around my strengths. I’ve chosen employment that is a better fit for me (self-employment, as it turns out).
I have a bag that I use to organize my life and my work projects. It has a place for everything.
It’s taken time but I’ve worked on even little things…like every time I see my therapist I clean out my wallet. Random association but my wallet gets cleaned.
Chose a husband that likes me the way I am and who doesn’t think my coping tools (like visual cues) are weird.
Just acquiring a diagnosis gave me a better context for appreciating myself.
What have you tried that you would advise against?
Overcompensating with perfectionism. I sought treatment when I had a 4.0 in grad school, because what it took for me to maintain that was really not healthy. Extreme measures of organization, compulsive overchecking, impatience at having to work with other people (even if I was only exploding at home, not at them directly), obsessive cleaning, obsessive email and message checking (because I was afraid of missing something important)…it was awful. And I knew it simply shouldn’t take 12 hours to read a single 20 page article (my reading ability is way above average). I was killing myself to achieve things that I knew were well within my academic abilities. Perfectionism wasn’t the way to go.
Along with that – don’t struggle alone. When I finally spoke up, I found that not only was my academic advisor very understanding, but other people I was working with in school had their own mental health struggles. There are people that will help you if you speak up, and keep speaking up. Sometimes it just takes a while to find a good fit.
If you could say one thing to the parents of a child with ADHD, what would that one thing be?
Give your child room to fail. You can’t live their life for them and you can teach them skills but eventually they have to learn to apply them on their own. They also need to understand and explore their own limitations.
What is the one thing you want the world to know about you or our tribe with regards to ADHD?
It’s better for everyone involved if you focus on our strengths. But be clear with us about what isn’t working. If you don’t tell us, we can’t address the issue. And some of us don’t pick up on subtlety well.
So there you have it, a glimpse into the life of a very articulate and insightful woman who happens to share a carton of symptoms with us.
It’s always a breath of fresh air for me to hear Katy’s views, and I’m honored that she agreed to let me share them with you. I hope you enjoyed reading these posts as much as I enjoyed bringing them to you.
Dawn photo available from Shutterstock