This post is written by one of my ADHD coaching clients, Joshua. He has succinctly captured how and why ADHD Coaching can be helpful. Thank you Joshua. I wish you luck as you enter law school, and I am really impressed by your ability to illustrate how you have made small, subtle changes to work with your ADHD, instead of against it.

Sometimes, what is considered a weakness can turn out to be a great strength. I have lived my entire life with ADHD. For most of that time, I have viewed my ADHD as a major disadvantage, and I refused to take it seriously. I was content with procrastinating as long as possible, getting grades less than my potential, making impulsive and irresponsible purchases, and coming off as rude by not being able to keep focused in a conversation. Seeking to handle these issues in a healthy way had never even crossed my mind.

My brain needed intensity in order to successfully function, so pushing deadlines was my way of getting motivated to finish a project in college. That same desire for intensity made it difficult to give some work any attention at all. If I could not find the intensity for a class or assignment, I chose to do something that could provide that stimulation instead. If the idea of buying something that I did not need popped into my head, I would buy it just as quickly as I got the idea. If a conversation with my fiancée contained anything other than getting to the point, I would wander off to play guitar or piano without even thinking about it.

The negative stigmas of ADHD of always being disorganized, irresponsible, and rude had been reinforced my whole life by teachers and peers. It held me back academically, professionally, and personally. Fortunately, I was still able to do decently well in school, land an excellent job before graduating college, and still maintain relationships with understanding friends and family. Although I did not fully understand it, when I did get that intensity that I needed, I was unstoppable. However, without it, I struggled.

Soon after college, I started seeing that although I managed the struggling, I could definitely do better. An ADHD coach was recommended to me, and I decided that it was time to take control of my ADHD instead of letting it control me. It turned out to be the best decision of my life. I learned why I felt physically unable to do something unless it brought me a specific brain stimulation from intensity. I learned why I was so cold and calculated in my approach to solving problems, and I also learned why it sometimes gave people a negative impression of me. I learned why my neurological makeup made me the way I was, and I learned how to turn the disadvantages into advantages.

Through various mental and meditative exercises, my ADHD coaching helped me to be able to create the intensity that I need to accomplish the things that did not naturally provide that stimulation. My patience and attentiveness have increased greatly. While I once got distracted at work while waiting for the computer to load by going on my phone, now instead I will update my work calendar, respond to an email, or have other work accessible and ready. My self-awareness has greatly increased. While I once went from talking about wedding planning with my fiancée to playing guitar or piano without even noticing the transition, I now mentally observe my impulse to wander off and refocus myself back into the conversation. My impulsiveness is under better control each day because I have become more aware of my mental processes. When I once bought a computer as soon as the thought to do so came into my head, instead I am now quick to discuss the exciting prospect of buying a Play Station with close friends who, by talking to, help me to get a better grip on how unreasonable such a purchase would have been.

For me, ADHD has never been an excuse, but for so long it was a cumbersome hurdle. By taking the initiative to get coached on my brain’s functions, I have not only felt better and more confident in all aspects of my life, but I have the successes to show for it. The advantages that come with having control over my brain’s need for intensity have allowed me to succeed very rapidly in the workplace, and I plan to bring that knowledge to do the same with law school.

While I did not know this at the time, my ADHD coach was teaching me mindfulness, the ability to be present to each and every activity in my day. My Coach was kind of like Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. He taught how to be present and mindful in each and every moment, but he did not announce that. We talked about a variety of things and part of our conversation always revolved, effortlessly, around how our brains worked. Anyway, I feel fully ready to tackle the challenges of law school. WAX ON, WAX OFF!

ADHD Movie Review: Defiance

This post is written by a sophomore student who is part of my homeschool group. He watched the movie, Defiance, which details the struggles of a Jewish family who save others from the clutches of the Nazis and fight back. The young man who wrote this, DJ, told me, “This is a movie that every ADHDer should watch.” I then assigned him to make that case in writing. Please give him your feedback in the comments section.

Defiance is a movie about the Four Bielski Brothers, Tuvia, Zus, Asael, and Aron and how they do the seemingly impossible. The four Bielski Brothers are on the run and hiding in the deep forests of German-occupied Poland and Belorussia. While they are hiding they must learn and teach other Jews how to forage for food and weapons so they can survive as a group. The four brothers along with the large group of fleeing Jews make a small village in the woods and hide in small makeshift huts in the cold, unforgiving forest. Tuvia, the eldest brother, takes the roll of camp leader and assigns everyone job in the camp. One of the other brothers Zus, goes to fight against the Germans when he gets tired of Tuvia’s rules and orders. Zus later joins the Russian Resistance, that believes Jews don’t fight back. Tuvia welcomes any survivor into his camps while Zus and the Russian resistance work to sabotage enemy posts, trains, and caravans. Later in the movie when winter time comes around Tuvia becomes ill with some lung sickness and battles to keep control of the camp. The camp is slowly falling apart as they are running out of food and more and more people are starving and becoming sick. When spring finally arrives, after a wretched and harsh winter, a woman becomes pregnant and later gives birth to a baby against Tuvia’s commands. This event is symbolic of how life flourished in this desperate situation. Soon after this joyous event, however, one morning Tuvia spots planes flying overhead and moments later the planes return to bomb the camp. After the bombing ceases, the armed infantry moves in to finish the job. The Jews and the brothers are pushed up against a swamp and are forced the swim across. When they get to the other side they are greeted by more armed infantry and tanks. After a hard fought battle, and many casualties, they manage to destroy the tanks and survive. They go on to survive many more years by living off the land. The film highlights the fact that many Jewish people did take up arms against the Germans and bravely resisted.

I think that anyone with ADHD would enjoy watching the movie Defiance because it keeps you constantly engaged; there is never a dull moment throughout the entire movie. The movie incorporates heartache, joy, and some humor and always kept changing so it was easy for me to keep paying attention. The movie’s fast-paced action prevented me from getting bored quickly or losing focus. I enjoyed how this movie was not a documentary but yet it told a true story; I thought that it told the story in a dramatic and in-depth way without making it a dry documentary. The movie told the story in a fast paced yet deep and memorable way.

I think that this movie is great for anyone with ADHD to view because while this movie keeps you engaged with tons of action it is also teaching you about a historic event, and sometimes for people with ADHD it is hard to learn about history through reading or listening to a teacher talk. Watching this movie offers an easier way to learn about historical events. And it doesn’t hurt that the title of the movie is DEFIANCE, because people ADHD are often naturally defiant, and so something really deep within us feels connected to this film. Defiance, as this movie shows, can sometimes be a good thing!

Further, I think that the Bielski brothers had a lot of traits that ADHD people commonly have. First of all, all three brothers seem very at home and comfortable in the woods. They are outdoorsmen, and seem more in their element in the outdoors, which is where most of the movie takes place. Also, the brothers, like many people with ADHD, are not afraid to take risks or to try new things. This is made obvious when the brothers attack a police station to disable radio communications, and when they attack German supply and communication lines. The Bielskis also seem to know how to perform under pressure, which is also true for a lot of people with ADHD, which is why jobs like emergency room doctors and demolition experts are very interesting to people with ADHD. Both the way the film is structured and the traits of the main characters make Defiance a movie that no person with ADHD will want to miss.

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