5 Warning Signs of Tipping Points in an ADHD Life
Recently, I’ve noticed a pattern in my clients that I call the “tipping point.” The tipping point is basically a time in people’s lives when, for various reasons, the strategies they have been using to compensate for their ADHD challenges no longer seem to be working. This tipping point often is experienced along with feelings of overwhelm and chaos.
Before reaching a tipping point, people often are able to balance known or unknown ADHD challenges with strategies they may not have even realized they were using. They had been able to adapt and cope well with their symptoms. Their symptoms may not have interfered with their functioning, so that they avoided an official ADHD diagnosis.
But for some reason a life change — a job promotion, relationship change, school change, or myriad other things — renders the current strategies ineffective. Over time there is a sense that things are no longer going well and in fact, life seems to be falling apart in a big way.
Here are some life situations that could be possible tipping points::
1. New problems at school.
Often, when higher elementary or middle school hits, students begin unraveling. They experience more responsibility in juggling multiple classrooms, more homework and larger classes. Suddenly it seems like nothing is working anymore. They can’t get things done that they want to get done, everything becomes chaotic, things start to come undone. Their schoolwork starts to suffer; they may have trouble concentrating in class, forget to hand in homework or start to experience difficulties with old friendships.
Often, no one recognizes these warning signs as being ADHD-related because the students previously had managed or were able to compensate for their challenges. Parents and educators start to feel helpless when a previously successful student seems to become unmotivated. Students are told they just need to try harder. Everyone is unsure how to get the child back on track and the students begin to feel stupid, lazy and incapable.
2. Inability to cope after significant life changes.
Some people with ADHD experience their first tipping point after a significant life change, even a positive one such as getting married or moving into a new home. These major life celebrations are anticipated with great joy, but often may be a change that tips the balance. Perhaps you’ve been able to balance your own life and your own schedule and where you put things up until now. But then you get married and now your spouse has a different way of doing things or expectations of the way things should be organized that differ from your views. That’s not to mention having to deal with the extra stuff in your space.
Slowly you notice that things are not working as well as they had before, and because this is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, you think there must be something wrong with you — right? Wrong! Significant life changes such as getting married, having another child or moving homes often can upset an unknown balance.