Did you know that you can do something with your ADHD that most people can't?
“Your husband has ADHD. That means that you as his wife have been asked to arrange your life in such a way that he can function better. He cannot do that himself. He needs you.” I remember looking at the very young therapist and thinking, 'Did she get ripped off the potty? How can she pile more hay on my already full to-do list?' She probably saw that I wasn't happy and clenched her teeth. Then she repeated it again, only more slowly.
I looked at my husband. He had his hands on his lap and looked at the tips of his shoes. When he felt my gaze on him, he looked at me. And the link in me flipped. All resistance fell away. “Okay,” I said, “how are we going to handle this?”.
There's a good chance you're neurotypical. That means you can function neurologically in a way that makes it easy for you to determine what's important. If you have multiple tasks, you can determine which of them are the most important and you can also complete them in order of importance. Also, you will usually be able to do those tasks that you don't really feel like doing. You also do things because you understand that someone else thinks it is important (parents, teacher, boss, partner). Simply because you can get over it, that you are not exactly motivated for it, but that it has to be done now. “After all, someone has to do it”, right?!
It is then quite difficult to work together with a colleague who cannot do that. Or to live with a partner who “always forgets everything”. Or having a child who never wants to do homework or learn or go to school on his own.
One is therefore – and with you many other “neurotypical” people – very quick to judge those “lazy” people with their “confused” people and therefore likes to assume a negative intention behind their behavior. Because you simply cannot understand how it is possible that someone after repeated reminders still does not finish something.
Is it any wonder, then, that people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or also a form of neurodiversity) usually have a poor self-image and often suffer from depressive feelings and fear of failure? You can blame "the system" for that, or "society" in which we live and where things have to be finished in a certain way and often in the long run. But that's not the main culprit for the misery of people who are neurodiverse. The culprits are unfortunately the majority of people in our society, the neurotypicals, with all (pre)judgments and expectations. People, who put their yardstick to people, who function neurologically in a completely different way than most do. This is often because we do not know enough about ADHD.
Someone with an ADHD nervous system is unable to use the idea of importance or rewards to begin and successfully complete a task. The inability to use importance and rewards to get motivated has a lifelong impact on the lives of people with ADHD:
- People with ADHD do not fit into the standard school system, which is built on repeating what another person finds important and relevant.
- People with ADHD don't thrive in the standard job that pays people to work on what someone else (namely the boss) cares about.
- People with ADHD are disorganized because just about every organizational system out there is built on two things – prioritizing and time management – that people with ADHD are not good at.
- People with ADHD have a hard time choosing between alternatives because everything is of equal importance. To them, all alternatives look the same.
Therapy for people with ADHD tries to level the neurological playing field with drugs, so that the ADHD person has the attention span, impulse control and the ability to be calm inside. However, ADHD medication is often not sufficient. A person can take the right drugs in the right dose, but nothing will change if he still approaches tasks with neurotypical strategies.
The ADHD nervous system regulates attention and emotions in a unique and special way that is very different from the nervous system of people without neurodiversity. That also has many positive sides. So we are not talking about a damaged or defective nervous system. The word “disorder” is therefore completely inappropriate here. The ADHD nervous system works perfectly, with its own set of rules.
Did you know that people with ADHD often experience problems at school on the one hand, but are usually people with a higher IQ than average? They also use that higher IQ in different ways than neurotypical people. They are able to tackle problems that others struggle with by coming up with solutions that no one else has seen. I have since learned that people with ADHD are born with a kind of “superpower”. And I would like to shine a light on that too!
If neurotypical people have an attention range of 0-10, you could say that someone with ADHD has one of 0-5 and one of 12-20! They fail big time in the area of 5-10, but at 12, that's where they go wild! The “normalos” will never be able to get there.
People with ADHD do not lack attention. However, they pay too much attention to everything. They have four or five things on their minds at once, causing them to give inconsistent attention. Add in the inability to choose which challenge deserves priority and voila! This creates a problem.
From no focus to super focus
Anyone with ADHD knows that they can get “in the zone” several times a day. Then they are hyper-focused on what has their attention! When they are in the zone, they have no limitations, and the executive function deficits they may have had before entering the zone disappear. They often even function at a remarkable level! People with ADHD know they are smart and intelligent, but they can never be sure that their abilities will show up when they need them. The fact that symptoms and impairments come and go throughout the day is the hallmark of ADHD. That's pretty frustrating.
People with ADHD mainly enter the zone by being interested in, or intrigued by, what they are doing. You can also say that they have an interest-based nervous system. So this can come across as unreliable or selfish. The ADHD nervous system wants to do the things it likes. This is why procrastination is an almost universal disability in people with ADHD. They want to get their work done, but they can't begin until the task becomes interesting, challenging, or urgent. Most people with an ADHD nervous system can engage in a task if the task is urgent — a do-or-die deadline, for example.
ADHDers also get into the zone when challenged or thrown into a competitive environment. Sometimes a new or interesting task catches their attention. However, novelty is short-lived and everything gets old after a while.
If you have ADHD, taking a positive approach to your challenge is the best thing you can do for yourself. Instead of focusing on where you fall short, consider how you get into the zone. Begin to write down how you get into the zone. Have a notepad with you or use your smartphone to do it in the moment. After a while, you'll have collected several techniques that you know work for you.
- How come I'm in the zone now?
- Under what circumstances do I succeed?
- When will I have successes in my current life?
- Am I in the zone because I'm intrigued? If so, what, specifically in this task or situation, intrigues me?
- Is it because I feel challenged? If so, what in the situation brings out my sense of competition?
- You can also do this together as a parent for or with your child. Ask your child questions if you see that he or she is completely engrossed in a game or activity. In this way, your child can get to know his nervous system better and thus also see his strengths better. And this will also help you as a parent, to see your child in a better light and thus provide better support.
You can't turn someone with ADHD into a neurotypical person. They are NEVER going to function like the rest of the world. The sooner you make peace with this, the better.
I would be crazy if I were to say here that we can heal people with ADHD by letting them smell essential oil. That's really not true! But we can use essential oils usefully to guide someone with ADHD.
How can essential oils support people with ADHD?
Aromas connect quickly and strongly with your nervous system and your emotions. By smelling a certain aroma you can influence your emotions! This way you can also connect certain aromas to a situation and your feeling during that situation.
This is what we do when, for example, we recommend a 'going to bed' ritual for small children.
Turn on the diffuser in their room 30 min before bedtime. Every time with the same aroma. Soon the nervous system makes the connection that after perceiving this aroma comes rest. This same aroma can help you to switch off better in the evening or to relax in a stressful situation during the day.
You can of course also do this in other situations and use it very conveniently for yourself: suppose you find that a certain activity (drawing, listening to music, walking) can easily get you into the zone. Then combine this activity with a particular oil you like in your diffuser, or give 1-2 drops in your hand or use the oil in a roll-on on your skin and inhale and do this every time you do that activity.
That way you can get into the zone more easily and maybe even make an unpleasant task more enjoyable. It is also an idea to switch to other aromas more often, to stimulate the feeling of "new", which can motivate you.
Agitation and emotional outbursts in ADHD
There are many ADHD characteristics that make it difficult to manage anger. Perhaps the strongest is decreased executive function and decreased inhibition, leading to hasty reactions to frustration and impatience. People with ADHD also feel emotions more intensely than neurotypical people, causing them to overreact to situations or experiences that most people would reasonably react to. When you combine poor working memory skills, typical of people with ADHD, with emotional impulsivity, a person may not say the right things or take the right actions when frustrated or angry. Add poor self-esteem and insufficient sleep to the mix and you can understand why people with ADHD have a harder time regulating their emotions or “hang on” in a certain emotion for longer.
Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that plays a role in the regulation of cognition, memory, motivation, mood, attention and learning. Dopamine levels can affect a person's mood, attention, motivation and exercise. Dopamine also regulates the brain's reward system, with its levels increasing in the brain when a person experiences something pleasurable. People with ADHD may have a higher concentration of dopamine transporters in the brain. These transporters remove dopamine from brain cells. If there are more transporters in an area of the brain, they do so too quickly, leaving dopamine less time to act. This can cause dopamine levels to plummet.
Symptoms of low dopamine levels include loss of pleasure in things you once found enjoyable, lack of motivation and apathy, difficulty making decisions, and sleep regulation.
Due to the lack of dopamine, people with ADHD are more sensitive to eating sweet and salty snacks because they create the feeling of "satisfaction".
You could argue that people with ADHD are "chemically programmed" to look for "more." Eating carbohydrates, for example, triggers a boost of dopamine in the brain. The urge to feel “satiety” can lead to binge eating.
As a result, people with ADHD may be more prone to being overweight.
The 3 most important tips to prevent obesity in people with ADHD:
- Eat several mini-meals throughout the day (grazing), to provide a source of continuous stimulation, which can reduce feelings of restlessness in people with ADHD.
- Prevent impulsive eating by creating an “eating environment” that promotes healthy eating. That means ridding your home of chips, chocolate, and other snacks that promote binge eating, while stocking up on nutritious meals and snacks that require little preparation. Semi-skimmed mozzarella sticks, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, protein bars, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, apples, and oranges are all great choices.
- With regular exercise, ADHD adults can increase basal levels of dopamine and norepinephrine by spurring the growth of new receptors in certain brain regions, further regulating attention and reducing the temptation to boost dopamine through food.
The most important micronutrients for people with ADHD
The use of dietary supplements is a game changer. Getting more nutrients is important for everyone, whether neurotypical or not. Many different studies can be found and almost everywhere you read the conclusion that conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of supplementation can be seen. However, that's exactly what I would expect. Why? Because no two bodies are the same!
Two people with ADHD symptoms may have different nutritional deficiencies. They may also respond differently to supplementation due to differences in their genetics and digestive systems. They may have been given a different form of the same supplement. In fact, they will react differently to supplements depending on the amount of stress they experienced when they took them.
This makes it difficult to treat ADHD with nutrients if you're looking for a common protocol that works for everyone.
So this shows why, if they don't have the time or expertise for an individualized approach, doctors usually don't advise on nutrients as a tool for treatment. But that doesn't mean it can't be done.
People with ADHD, like neurotypical people, can benefit from natural nutrients, which support emotional balance.
Perhaps it is even more important for people with ADHD to opt for natural support, because deficits on top of neurological (dys)function can cause even more irritability.
There are many different micronutrients that have been studied in studies.
Vitamin B12 en folic acid are necessary for the production of noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. Norepinephrine and serotonin are neurotransmitters in the brain that influence mental behavior patterns and moods.
Also iron, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6 can help increase dopamine levels.
The food supplements omega-3 fatty acids, inositol, and N-acetylcysteine have all shown improvements in emotional dysregulation symptoms.
Probiotics, Ginkgo Biloba, Turmeric, Oregano oil, Magnesium, Vitamin D all have a positive effect on the dopamine metabolism. Also Ginseng may increase dopamine levels in humans, especially those with ADHD, but more research is needed.
Do you have to buy all those fabrics separately? No, that can be much easier! doTERRA's Lifelong Vitality Pack is a comprehensive daily nutritional supplement that gives our bodies an extra boost for a lifetime of health.
The composition of each of the three parts of the Lifelong Vitality package caters to specific aspects of our nutritional needs.
MicroPlex VMz is a balanced formula of 22 essential vitamins and minerals. So this is a multivitamin that provides just the right balance without overdosing. It also has a well-balanced combination of minerals such as zinc, iron and selenium.
The xEOmega offers, among other things, omega-3 fatty acids, these are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for cell construction in the body.
Alpha CRS+ is doTERRA's proprietary blend of cellular supportive botanicals. Simply put, this is a powerhouse of adaptogens, antioxidants and plant polyphenols, which protect the body and support key cell systems.
My tip is to combine the LLV with doTERRA's TerraZyme; these are enzymes that help you get more out of your food and supplements. It is therefore a smart idea to take a Terrazyme capsule with every meal, to get even more nutrients from your food.
Nutrient deficiency is an invisible stressor on your body and nervous system. If you can eliminate this, then you are already a big step further towards a calmer self, towards being more in balance with yourself.
The composition of your microbiome can also influence many processes in your body and certainly also influence your mood and your ability to deal with stress. PB Assist+ is a proprietary formula with prebiotic fiber and six strands of probiotic microorganisms in a unique bilayer, plant-based capsule.
You can make solid progress by examining the main pillars of body function and adding nutrients, eliminating irritating foods and improving gut health to support them.
Nutrients can help with ADHD.