It’s no secret that folks with ADHD often have other issues too. These are other conditions, challenges, the stuff professionals call “co-morbidities.”
One of the most important things a newly-diagnosed ADHDer needs to do is begin developing a picture of your own ADHD. I call this my ADHD profile, but that may be a weird term. (Your comments are welcome.)
Defining Your ADHD Profile
My own ADHD has to share the stage with other conditions – like alcoholism (been sober since 1987).
Another one is a real doozy and it took me a long time to find a useful lens for it. Turns out I have what’s called a high ACE score. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experience. This comes from a huge study done by Kaiser and the Centers for Disease Control, which correlated a set of events that occur during one’s formative years to a whole range of pretty negative developments in critical areas of life.
The great thing about this study is that you can take a simple, free assessment and get your ACE score in about 10 minutes. Here’s an article about it with a link to the assessment.
What does this have to do with ADHD?
Many of the symptoms of ADHD are related to the PTSD-like profile of someone with a high ACE score.
For instance, lots of ADHDers can struggle to maintain focus while performing a work or school task. Why? What is it that causes your mind to veer off course, especially when you’re trying to get it to focus on something important?
The first reason is that ADHDers have brains that are missing certain capabilities, and that neurological mechanisms set the stage for thoughts that jump from place to place, for a body that cannot sit still.
The second reason has to do with a term I just learned: Emotional Dysregulation. Unlike the neurological factors, this describes a thought process that veers off course because of runaway emotions.
And THIS is an experience shared by lots of folks who have a high ACE score.
What can I do today to steady my emotions?
One word: Solitude.
Figure out a way to spend 45 minutes by yourself every day doing something you like, something healthful, something that stimulates your brain and inspires you.
Long walks, yoga, running, meditating, reading, journaling, making art, playing an instrument, doing puzzles, these are all good examples of activities you can build into your daily life that will help you cultivate a practice of productive solitude.
I have been doing an exercise every morning for about 6 months I call The Three Tuitions. If you like, try it for a few weeks and let me know how it goes.