ADHD, alone, and scared

Shattered, scattered and scared …that’s how I felt when I was first diagnosed. With no local support groups around, and my one ADHD friend at large, I also felt alone.

Support groups for ADHD – doomed to fail?

But let’s face it: support groups for ADHDers wouldn’t work. Think about it – most of us would forget the meeting date. Many of us would get lost on the way to the meeting, and the rest of us would be late! If we managed to get there, we’d be so distracted we wouldn’t be able to focus on what’s going on, or we’d be so impulsive, we’d just keep interrupting each other.

And smoke break – which we’d all need, ‘cause we’re self-medicating with tobacco (a stimulant) – I can just see it. We’re all standing outside in a circle, puffing away and having a lovely conversation about a zillion things (at once), and we’d forget to go back into the meeting!

OK, I’ll pry my tongue out of my cheek now. There. That’s better.

Why support groups for ADD?

In the past, I’ve found support groups extremely helpful.When it comes to ADD, studies have shown that a combination of approaches is the most effective treatment. For example, medication, a therapist, coaching and a support group will work way better than just one or two of these.

My own fantasy multi-modal treatment includes: daily massage (for stress reduction; a free gym pass (to sweat out excess hyperactivity); and weekly visits to my local watering hole (where I could release my creativity through music jams, do talk therapy with the bartender, and indulge in some unhealthy stimulants – talk about “multi” modal!). OK, OK, I did say fantasy. And I DO know better. Cut me some slack here!  It takes a lot of energy to fight unhealthy tendencies, trust me…even WITH medication…but that’s just me…

So, back to the idea of a support group. An ADD support group would at least put structure into my week. It would also let me help others, by giving them some positive encouragement based on my own successes. I’d learn coping strategies from others, and feel less lonely about it all.

Sharing ADHD stories online

But unless I’m willing to start one myself, a support group just isn’t available at the moment.

Lucky for me, I searched online and found Angie’s story. Angie, whoever you are – thank you!

Angie’s ADD Story

Angie’s story helped me to feel supported, helped me to know I wasn’t the only one. I couldn’t believe how many parallels there were with my own life experiences. Some of these were: late diagnosis of ADHD following a lifetime of broken friendships, multiple job losses, social ostracism, a variety of counselors and therapists but NO ADHD diagnosis, then sudden awakening (diagnosis) reinforced by personal epiphanies while reading Driven to Distraction.

Much of her eloquent description struck me, like a couple of her friends saying that,  dealing with her “…was like walking on broken glass.” Wow. I’ve heard very similar comments from my friends.

Missed ADHD diagnosis

I, too, felt betrayed and angry that although I sought help for my difficulties, seeing first a psychiatrist, then a psychologist, social workers, even a Jungian Analyst – you name it – nobody identified ADHD as a contributing factor to my struggles.

It was an ADD friend who pointed me in the right direction, and I haven’t looked back.

Since most of us don’t have access to support groups, and there are very few (if any) books available strictly with stories from adult ADHDers’, I’d like to encourage you to check out the stories of other ADHDers online. Like support groups, these can help in normalizing your experiences and in making you feel less alone with your challenges and struggles. I’ve listed some resources below to get you started. Who knows? Maybe there IS a support group near you.

Links to Support and Support Groups

Living with ADD Website
Angie’s Story (could be Zoë’s story, except for the OCD husband!)

Living with ADD Website – Story Index

Support Groups

ADHD Coach Pete Quily’s Comprehensive, International Support Group List (including articles on How to Start a Support Group) – Thanks, Pete!

– includes American, Canadian and International resources listings

Centre for ADD/ADHD Advocacy, Canada (CADDAC)

– another Canadian listing

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