Hello, Brains! Here is a riddle for you … If I’m supposed to study for a test but I can’t get started because i’m hyperfocused on playing a video game… …and then I fail the test…Who’s fault is it? Mine or my ADHD? The answer? It’s complicated. … and like any chronic medical condition it comes with symptoms that create impairments that can’t always be perfectly managed. One of those symptoms is difficulty regulating attention, transitioning from one task to the next, especially one that’s less stimulating, and then actually being able to focus on that task. Even when we want to and know it’s really important. Which, in this situation, created the impairment of not being able to study and doing terribly on the test. Does that mean I get to fail every test and it’s fine because my ADHD made me? No. …to find ways to work with my brain. Tools and strategies that will help it be able to do what I want it to do, so that I can have the kind of life I want to have. But here’s the problem: if we don’t know why our brains are having a hard time focusing and everyone else seems to be able to do it if they just put in the effort … At first that might look like guilt. “Aww man, I should have started studying earlier.” “I should work harder at this.” So we try to, but the 50th time it happens we might start to feel like our behavior isn’t actually the problem. We are. And it doesn’t help when our parents, teachers and classmates agree. These are the labels a lot of us with ADHD pick up before our actual diagnosis. And even with the diagnosis, these labels are hard for us to shake. By then, many of us have internalized them. And there are still those who will say to our face, or our Facebook feeds, that our ADHD doesn’t even exist And all of the stigma and misunderstanding results in an incredible amount of shame. And while guilt can be productive — — because guilt is about our actions, and our actions we can change — On the way to his diagnosis, my husband looked at me in the car and said, Luckily I was driving, so we kept going. But I hear from so many people who are afraid to seek a diagnosis. Because what if it’s just them? What if they don’t have ADHD? What if it’s just their fault? Because if we feel like we should be able to study without checking in with an accountability buddy, we’re less likely to do it. Instead of motivating us to change, shame can contribute to anxiety, depression, even addiction. So what’s a brain to do? First, educate yourself, … and if possible, the people around you, on how your brain works. A lot of research has been done on ADHD, so there’s a lot of good information out there. Articles, books, YouTube videos, podcasts … … not all of it is reliable … … but there are plenty of trustworthy sources for ADHD information … … that can help you learn how your brain works and what can help with the impairments. Second, connect with others with ADHD. Because while experts can be an important part of our mental health journey … they can’t necessarily take away our shame. When a doctor prescribes us ADHD medication, we might feel ashamed if we believe we shouldn’t need it. Even going to a therapist can feel embarrassing. Like, there’s something wrong with us. Like we need to be fixed. Connecting with others with ADHD can help us let go of that shame, by normalizing what we’re going through. Because it is normal when you have ADHD. It’s normal for treatment to include therapy and medication and for that to still not be enough. It’s normal to struggle with things as simple as doing the laundry, or the dishes, or sitting still in a chair. And when you don’t have to explain why those things are hard for you, when you can talk openly about your struggles and be met with empathy and understanding and humor, instead of skepticism and judgment, and pity … it’s healing. Knowing you’re not alone is healing. And that’s what’s magical about this community. Those of you in this community who have opened up about your struggles and strategies and STRENGTHS … … have changed my life — and each other’s lives — for the better. We’ve celebrated each other’s accomplishments. We’ve traded ADHD-friendly life hacks that come from hard-earned experience. And we’ve helped each other let go of a lot of shame. This kind of support, it turns out, has a name. It’s called peer support, and research shows that it can benefit people in a lot of ways. And I think we need more of it. So, in between videos, we’re creating more opportunities for ADHD peer support in three ways. If you want to live chat with other ADHD brains, you can do that privately, any time, pretty much day or night, on Discord, through donating on Patreon. There are also free public forums for the tribe at … Created by this brain, the impressive Scot Melville, and moderated by this brain, the incredible Harley. Head over and visit if you want a bear waving hi at you. There are some secret projects … … I can’t tell you about just yet, but I will announce them for ADHD Awareness Month, and they’re going to be awesome. There’s only so much connecting you can do through a computer. Meeting up with other ADHDers live and in person is really fun. The first time I experienced this was in 2016 at CHADD’s International ADHD Conference. That year I was kind of shy. I had just started the channel, and I wasn’t sure I was going to be welcome among the “real” experts and ADHD veterans. But Eric Tivers showed me around and introduced me to everyone, and everyone was fidgeting and spacing out and talking all at the same time, and nobody cared, and it was so much fun, and I’m pretty sure I cried a few times. I’m going back this year, and this year it’s going to be even bigger. CHADD, ADDA, and the ACO are all putting it on, and, this year, I was invited back to be the closing keynote speaker. So if you can make it, highly recommended. And if you let me know you’re coming, I can host a Meetup there as well. You could even meet our resident research consultant, Patrick. He’s the winner of this year’s Young Scientist Award for his research on exercise and the ADHD brain. If you can’t make it because you live in … New Zealand… If you can’t make it for other reasons, no worries, I’m sure there’ll be more opportunities to meet up, and I will keep you posted. That’s it for this week. To our Brain advocates, and all our Patreon Brains, what would I do without you? So much of what we do on this channel has been influenced and improved by our conversations with our Patreon Brains. For that, and your support every month that allows us to keep doing what we do, thank you. And I just realized how much extra stuff I’ve put on my plate over the next couple of months, and I have no idea if or how I’m going to pull any of this off, but I know it’ll be okay. Because … … you get it. I’ll … try to see you next week. Bye, Brains.