My Inner Child called ADHD
“…it’s very likely, from what you’ve told me, that you may have ADHD too.”
They hit me like a thunderclap, the world went white for a second and my ears rang. I’m not sure how…but I knew it was true the moment I heard it. Later, I sat in the car outside the doctors office, my mind still reeling and tears streaking my face. It was just then, without warning, I saw an image in my mind, so sharp and so ‘real’ it took my breath away for a second . I could ‘see’ a little girl, maybe five or six, with wild red hair just like mine, she was also crying and I swear I heard her say, “I’ve been waiting so long for you to see me, why could you never see me?” This was the beginning of my new relationship with myself and with the little girl in me, my ADHD.
Of course I had heard the old adages before, ‘getting in touch with your inner child’, ‘find you inner child‘, ‘love your inner child‘ but it’s not something I ever personally connected with. I mean, it SOUNDS like a great idea, as does ‘learning to love yourself‘ but seriously, how do you even do that?
Discovering I was ADHD, followed by that single moment in the car was my ‘Aha’ moment, an epiphany that really did change my life as hokey as that may sound. How? Well for one, I had suffered with chronic depression and a ever present choke-collar of anxiety most of my life — in the weeks that followed, my depression and anxiety both began to fade like ghosts that no longer had the will to haunt me anymore. I was later formally diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) predominantly Inattentive Type but the healing process had already begun by then, as I got to know more about this ‘little girl’ in me.
Thinking of my ADHD as a small child turned out to be the perfect analogy and it quickly helped me heal decades of pain and confusion. Being a woman with undiagnosed, untreated ADHD with bad coping mechanisms can be a devastating way to live. This little orphan in me, my ADHD, had lived abandoned and neglected for so many years. Deep down I knew ‘something’ was there but it frustrated me and I hated her/myself because I could never understand exactly what was ‘wrong’ with me. The more I blindly fought my ADHD, the more it fought back, just like a child throwing an ever-loving tantrum.
Now that I knew why I was this way, now that I was aware of this ‘child’ in me, it became much easier to consciously navigate the pitfalls of having ADHD, the same pitfalls I had always fallen into headfirst before.
So how do I work with my ADHD inner child? Firstly, I shower my ADHD with love, empathy and understanding because just like my own real-life son, she really responds to that. Our first instinct is always to ‘police’ ourselves and our kids, to lay down the law and take no nonsense. Maybe that’s worked for you but my son and my inner ADHD both chuckle hard at that and carry on regardless. That’s not to say they don’t need boundaries, just like any small kid, you need to draw the line or she would never do anything she’s supposed to, only what she WANTS to.
Not only do I love my inner ADHD, but I like her too, she is funny and creative and endlessly curious. She has a big heart but she also has terrible temper, it’s often my job to teach her what’s appropriate and what’s not. She is full of adventure and is easily bored, so I make sure I keep her entertained as best I can but I’m also trying to teach her the joy of sticking with things and seeing them through. My ADHD inner child is sensitive and certain things overwhelm her. I try my best to make a note of the things, places and events that prove too much and keep those to a minimum. Sometimes just listening is enough, I like to write it out sometimes on paper and ‘hear’ what my ADHD has to tell me.
It’s not always easy, sometimes you get tired of ‘parenting’ yourself. It can be thankless and exhausting, just like raising your own kids. But that’s when I remind myself that my ADHD is just a child, getting angry at her, shaming her, hating her, it’s not only ineffective, it’s plain wrong. She needs me, I’m all she’s got. It’s not her fault if she really sucks at money management or running my calendar — kids are not supposed to be good at these things. As the adult in me, that’s my job, I can’t blame her when things don’t work out. I’m in charge, I’m the grown-up, not her.
Truth be told, there are going to be bad days. There will be days when your ADHD slips the harness and runs riot all over your life, smearing poop everywhere. That’s a good time to go somewhere quiet, take a deep breath, stay calm and run through the self-care checklist. Lying down on the floor next to her and throwing a tantrum too just won’t help anything. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Like any parent will tell you, it’s hard but it’s WORTH IT. ADHD can be fun and fascinating and I would never give that part of me a way for anything. I wish I had known she was there sooner and I’m so sorry that I never had the tools to help my inner ADHD cope better from the start. This lack of knowledge and insight led to a lot of self-harm, to feelings of despair and self-hatred, all of which could have been avoided. But I’m here now and I love my inner ADHD, it’s not just something I say, I really love her.
My goal now is to help other woman who are struggling, alone in the dark and unaware. My hope would be that I could help them heal themselves by simply loving their inner child more, their inner child called ADHD.