The ADD Resilience Factor

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Attention Deficit Disorder presents different challenges to different people. Some of us have the most trouble focusing and concentrating, while some of us have great difficulty regulating emotion. Whatever your greatest challenge is, there is one sure-fire way to be successful in spite of it: the ability to be resilient.

Miriam-Webster online defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Applying this to adults with ADD, we might adjust the definition to “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune, change, setbacks, challenges, and failure.”

In order to be successful adults with ADD, we have to accept the undeniable fact that we will have challenges, we will have failures, and we will have disappointments. But we cannot let these setbacks stop us.

Let’s take a practical look at resilience by comparing two adults with ADD, “Jane” and “Lilly.”

Jane is an amazingly smart woman, but she doesn’t think so. She works in a high-pressure office where people are frenzied. She is a general assistant to several VIPs. One of her bosses frequently blames his own mistakes on her, and another boss often calls Jane stupid.

Jane spends her evenings worn down and upset. She feels defeated. Once a very confident and happy woman, she has let the messages of a few jerks bring her down. She wants to find a new job, but she doesn’t think anyone else will hire her. In the very first week of her job, Jane knew it wasn’t a good fit for her and she should quit, but she didn’t trust her intuition and therefore stayed put.

Lilly is also an amazingly smart woman with ADD. Lilly had a hard time in school. She didn’t have very good grades, and was often told she was lazy, but she persisted. She graduated high school and, even though her parents discouraged her from going to college, she went anyway! She started off in a community college, where she discovered that when she could choose her course of study, she actually did quite well. From there she transferred to a very good state school.

Lilly decided that she wanted to teach high school. She wanted to be “one of those teachers who makes a difference.” Her college advisor told her she was crazy. She said “A woman of small stature and quiet voice, like you, can’t teach high school. You won’t be able to discipline the kids. They’ll eat you alive.”

Lilly was crushed for two days. But in her heart, she knew better. She made a conscious choice not to listen to her advisor. In fact, she petitioned the school for a new advisor who would be more supportive, and she got one.

Lilly has now been teaching high school history for 7 years, and was even voted “favorite teacher” in the yearbook superlatives!

Jane has lost her resilience in this situation. She lets the words of others shape her thoughts about herself, and she no longer trusts herself.

Lilly, on the other hand, has amazing resilience. She trusts herself, and she does not let others negative messages bring her down. She allows herself to be disappointed, but not for too long. She gets right back on track. And she has great successes to show for it.

Resilience in adults with ADD is all about moving forward. If we want to be successful adults with ADD, we simply can’t let disappointments hold us back.

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