Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz had it absolutely correct... there IS no place like home! (Dorothy probably had ADHD, but let's not digress!) And for me, "home" has become an adult ADHD support group in suburban Chicago.
Anyone who has ever heard me speak or read anything I've written about ADHD, whether to clinicians or consumers or about kids or adults, knows that one of my "take home" messages is always about finding support.
I'm not only a strong advocate of finding support for parents dealing with ADHD, I also strongly believe that we have to help children find support... whether it's through caring adults, supportive friends or formal or informal groups. But my personal experiences have convinced me that support groups for adults with ADHD are almost a necessary component to successful management of the disorder.
When we first began negotiating through all the issues related to managing my son's ADHD, I so clearly remember feeling alone, helpless and, quite frankly, lost. And then I found other parents, most feeling exactly the same way, and we came together to start a CHADD group here in Chicago - the very first of my ADHD support systems or "teams" as I've come to think of them.
But that was only the first of what has been many different kinds and configurations of support teams. And while I know the journey through managing my kids' ADHD would have been much more difficult without the support teams I had then... it wasn't until I began relying on others to help me through my OWN ADHD journey that I found "home".
And home is just what where I consider myself when I walk into the adult ADHD support group I attend. I found the group when they asked me to come speak... I stayed when I realized that the warm, funny, courageous and bright ADDults in that group have as much to teach me as I had to teach them. We're a spirited and interesting group... diverse in our backgrounds, experiences, and careers. (I wish I could say that we are also a culturally diverse group, but unfortunately, as with most organizations, groups, activities and events dealing with ADHD, that's not the case. But that's a whole different blog post that I'll write some other day.)
The group meets weekly - something different from most other support groups I know and probably the reason we've been so successful. I'd like to say I attend every week, but unfortunately the group meets in a suburb quite a distance from my home and work in the city and with current gas prices, I've been missing in action the last few months... and I can feel it. I'm not as complete, my decisions are not as solid and I'm not as "grounded" as I am when I have that special group of individuals to bounce ideas off of, and to share triumphs and tragedies with.
Luckily, I do have other support systems in place that help fill the void of that missing support group. I can talk to the friends I've made there individually, or rely on the people who've made up my support team even before the group became a part of my world. It's helpful... but truthfully it's not the same. I am so convinced that support groups can and should be an integral part of ADHD management for adults (and their partners) that I've made it my "mission" as part of my work with ADDA to help develop and support groups like this around the country.
I'm working on starting up a group with the doc who handles the medical management of my ADHD... but of course, since both of us also have ADHD, it's taking a bit longer than I anticipated to get going! But isn't that just part of our experiences as adults with ADHD... as is the persistence that I know will make it eventually happen. I'm not giving up on getting that group started and I encourage any of you out there interested in starting a group to do it!!
Starting and managing an adult ADHD support group - particularly if it's run by adults with ADHD - can be challenging, but as our group in Naperville, IL has proven, it's NOT impossible! At ADDA, we're working on providing a variety of ways to support groups and group leaders and there are a number of materials already available on our website (http://www.add.org/). And we hope to have some listservs for support group leaders where they can brainstorm issues and solve problems together as well as a "virtual" support group for folks who don't have access to "physical" support groups up and running very soon.
In the meantime, if YOU are interested in how you can get a group started, or just have questions about support groups and what they can provide you as an adult with ADHD, please contact me. I'd love to talk with you and we can even get a thread started here if you'd like. Whatever we can do - whatever I can do - to help EVERY adult with ADHD find that place where they are comfortable and secure and know that they will always be accepted. As a certain little girl in flashy red shoes once said... "There's no place like home"!!