Working on our book on strategies for harnessing ADHD can be overwhelming. Janice Hall Heck, my collaborator on this book, is a toastmaster for detail, but I love it.
I’ve felt overwhelmed in school and life many times in my life. I sometimes feel that way now, even though retired from being a paramedic, firefighter, and pastor.
Yesterday a friend called and asked me to talk to a young man in college who has ADHD. I called and we talked for almost an hour. I listened intently as he shared his angry frustrations with his learning situation. He’s actually a bright young man, but he can’t sit still in class, and he’s easily distracted by people and things around him. He has asked for accommodations, but so far, that has not been forthcoming.
I took mental notes as I listened. I had to hyper focus on his words to get his story in my head.
As he talked, I flashed back to all the distractions, interruptions, and feelings of helplessness and inadequacy that I experienced going through school, the military, and even the working world. I connected with his feelings. I’ve been there.
“I’ve given up my chances of becoming a pilot,” he said.
“Why can’t you be a pilot?” I asked.
“I just cannot concentrate.”
I told him that I became a small aircraft pilot. It was a struggle, but I pushed through because I was determined to prove to myself that I could do it.
He got really excited when he heard this. I explained how I had to memorize charts, weight and balance, weather conditions, and wind directions. There’s coordination, skills and many safety rules to learn. These are tough things to learn, but as a pilot, your life depends on it.
“If I can do it, you can, too,” I told him. “Harness your interests, make your choice, determine what you need to do, develop a plan, and work your way through it. One step at a time.”
I’ll talk with this young man again soon. I’ll try to explain the memory and learning techniques that carried me throughout my academic years. Others scoffed at some of my techniques, but they worked for me, and that kept me going.
It’s brutal when an ADHD person tries to look to another ADHD person for advice, but that may be the gift that ADHD has given me: that I can turn around an offer comfort and advice to someone else who struggles with its entangling negative attributes.
God bless your day my friends as we learn together everyday. Bob Ossler Chaplain
Bob Ossler is coauthor of Triumph Over Terror, a multi-award-winning book about Chaplain Bob Ossler’s interactions with suffering people in New York City’s Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. His stories will touch your heart and fill you with compassion for those emergency services workers, search and rescue workers, recovery workers, construction crews, and volunteers who served there in impossible conditions. #NeverForget this time in US History. Read the message of hope in this book.