A Journey Within and Beyond ADHD

The term Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a controversial way of conceptualizing a group of behaviors and neurobiological patterns in some children and some adults who struggle with behaving (doing as the authorities tell them in their lives) and focusing (directing their attention to tasks that the authorities in their lives would like them to focus on). As the name implies, ADHD has been predominantly stigmatized and treated as a disease and has been treated with medication (prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall).

Although prescription stimulants have been effective, to a point, in getting wily children to focus and behave, it had also resulted in a generation of children who were set up for addiction problems later on in life, amongst other impairments in neurobiology introduced by using stimulants before the brain had completed its development. The diagnosis has gained traction since it first started being widely used in the late 90s.

Earlier names for the diagnostic grouping of behaviors existed as early as the turn of the 19th century, where the phenomenon was already given a moralistic slant, applied to children considered “morally challenged,” where the morality in question was demonstrated by their willingness and ability to submit to the authority of their educators. Today the number of children reportedly manifesting the so-called “symptoms” of ADHD is on the rise. Luckily, the discussion is being had whether these children are really disordered or merely inconvenient to our existing social order and its main aims.

We have all suffered from social training to reject or subjugate to the authority of reason, our inner authentic, original, childlike, and impulsive self. The part inside who says, “Who says?” and “Who cares?” and asks, “Why do I have to do this?” There is a natural, wild genius part within even the most socialized of us who longs to break free from all the rules, who want to recover from being forced to learn ways of thinking that feel oppressive to our inner, more natural being. Interestingly, studies of ADHD brains indicate an “impairment” in what is called executive functioning.

The executive functioning part of the brain is the one that, like an executive of a company, or the executive of our nation, commands and guides the rest of you. Executive functioning is the part inside you that gets you to behave and do what you are told. To think ahead and not do things that will get you into trouble, to obey authorities. Our society loves executive functioning – direct, targeted, ordered action that kills off anything too wild– almost as much as it loves corporate executives.

There is far less value placed, monetarily and otherwise, on those elements of our world that are more intuitive, natural, creative, spontaneous, nurturing, and connective – all the typically “feminine principle” properties of our world. In that sense, people with ADHD represent the return of that which has been socially repressed since the industrial revolution, and probably long before that: the spontaneous, the self-pleasing, the authentic, the untamed.

Although many ADHD children are treated as though they have developmental delays or retardation, there has been no correlation between IQ and ADHD. Ironically, in fact, ADHD is correlated with high intelligence and qualities desired in many creative workplaces. Innovation, adaptability, intuition, and general brightness are qualities that the HR departments of many of our most desirable workplaces increasingly look for due to the rise in need for creative thinking in the tech world and other expanding industries.

Increasingly, those among us do not need orders to follow, who are skilled at listening to their inner source of guidance without stopping to apply overly tedious tests of reason, who will inherit the earth. It’s understandable that parents trying to get their kids out the door and in bed on time, and teachers attempting to get large classrooms under control so that they can make them perform to standard at the next state test, pray for children who will be quiet and listen.

Our families and our teachers need love and support. However, the fact that our schools and families are under-supported and isolated, placed under great pressure and criticism without having any resources, kindness, or celebration of their role, is not an argument for stigmatizing the children who do not fit well in it. Our caregivers’ structures are charged with imposing on children are not sustainable and go against the grain of soul. Children with ADHD have been punished for being different than what our society has needed us to be until now.

They have been punished with medication and with stigma. The education system was developed to instill early values and behavior that were beneficial to the industry’s needs. Industry at the time depended on people doing mundane, repetitive tasks and obeying a centralized authority. Many of these values are still taught – listening to authorities, listening to the wisdom of others who have gone before instead of your own intelligence, overriding your natural impulses of body, mind, and soul to sit quietly and receive instructions.

Even though these qualities are becoming less crucial, as our collective evolution leads to balancing out our brains and behaviors with more right-brained, now-moment abilities, where ADHD people thrive, many of the children of the ADHD era who are now adults need holistic treatment for ADHD and/or related support to undo the ill effects of being raised in a context which opposed who they are. Adults diagnosed with ADHD as a child usually suffer impairments in their self-esteem due to having been labeled, marginalized, and treated as being disordered rather than embraced and loved for their differences.

Also, people with ADHD may suffer other challenges because our society currently works well for people whose brains are differently programmed, programmed in ways that people with ADHD literally cannot do without undue strain. Our society turns on the assumption that we will work within arbitrary constructs of time, at a high level of productivity on essentially uncreative tasks, which require attention to detail, the ability to sustain focus on something inherently boring.

People with ADHD whose brains literally do not work that way can suffer enormously in a world that rewards and works best with those gifted in executive functioning. This world is a punishing, difficult, non-cooperative place for individuals who are not good at planning, focusing on boring things, and overriding our natural impulses, as nearly everything about our modern life depends on it. People with ADHD have usually been trained to reject themselves and their specialness, as well, instead of seeing their brains as just the way nature intended them to be.

Integrative, Holistic Treatment for ADHD in Women

If you seek holistic treatment for ADHD, please know that you will be warmly welcomed and celebrated as you are within the walls of Villa Kali Ma. We are not interested in adapting you to the demands of a sick society – as J. Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Rather, we would like to see you succeed and help change our society to better fit who you are – that would be good for all of us. We all want to be a bit freer of the inner, tyrannical authority that bosses us around, telling us how to behave and forcing us to think specific thoughts that do not feel good.

If you, like many other women, have found yourself in an addiction scenario and seeking holistic treatment for ADHD, please understand that the underlying low self-esteem likely instilled in you, whether conscious or unconscious, alongside the impact of stimulants on your neurology if you have been using or abusing prescription drugs to help you “focus,” has especially predisposed you to develop an addiction pattern.

All is not lost, however! By the same path that all people have the right to free themselves from addiction, you can also connect to our loving community within our program’s holistic treatment for ADHD and to your loving inner source, who will help you find a place in this world that adequately celebrates your special contribution, rather than rejecting you. We would love to help you on this journey!


What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the name of a mental health diagnosis given by the medical, psychiatric, and psychological professions to a collection of behaviors and experiences affecting a significant swath of the population at this time.  

Unlike many mental health disorders, ADHD does not require reaching adulthood, and is diagnosed already in childhood, though it is also possible to receive a diagnosis in adulthood.  ADHD is one of the most medicated mental health disorders, using stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin and some non-stimulant medications as well. 

ADHD is characterized by a person demonstrating exceptional levels of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. ADHD-diagnosed people are perceived as overactive, distractible, and excessively energetic, compared to population norms. 

People given the diagnosis of ADHD usually struggle more than the average person to focus on a single topic, zero in on a task, and sit still for long periods of times. The ability to stay in place and follow given instructions is impaired.

ADHD’s mental and emotional challenges impact most tasks considered to be critical for success in our traditional school and work environments. As ADHD people, therefore, we can feel like the proverbial square pegs in round holes, unable to conform to the requirements of the industrial-informational age. In a context which venerates linear, materialistic measures of productivity and progression through pre-existing goal posts given to us by an external authority, our unique skill sets may be unseen or undervalued.  

Diagnosis of a condition such as ADHD can help a person see themselves and their struggles more clearly, and to reduce unfair comparison. For example, a person with ADHD’s work, school, and life performance could be evaluated while also taking into account what barriers have been overcome to be able to complete the work. 

Extra support may be given to bolster strengths and gifts, build resilience and help a child not feel that they are only a problem simply because they do not fit will into work and school structures. An ADHD person may learn to give themselves more credit and appreciate their differences and gifts, when deeper understanding of the diagnosis sinks in. 

The danger, as with any diagnosis, is to imply value differences among the population, rather than accurately supporting an individual through shedding light on diversity.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

There are three types of ADHD used to diagnose children, adolescents and adults at this time. The types are predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and a combination of the two.

ADHD, Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type

People meeting criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD of the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type primarily present with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. For example, they may be fidgety, visibly unable to sit still, noticeably impatient, and may struggle to wait their turn or to refrain from interrupting another person while they’re talking. People with this type of ADHD may have less of a problem with focusing their attention, nevertheless they often do struggle to complete work put in front of them. 

ADHD, Predominantly inattentive type

People meeting criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD, predominantly inattentive, present with unusual difficulty focusing their attention, even if they are not noticeably hyperactive or energized. For these reasons, they also typically struggle with following instructions, completing given tasks and assignments, listening and reading.

ADHD, Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type

The most commonly diagnosed type of ADHD combines the hyperactive-impulsive type with the inattentive type. People with this variation of ADHD display both hyperactive and inattentive symptoms. People receiving a diagnosis of this type of ADHD show symptoms of being unable to pay attention, having unusual levels of energy and activity, and struggles regulating impulsive behavior.

Across all the types, the signature energy of ADHD includes many of the following signs:

  • Easily distracted by small things going on around them
  • Trouble concentrating on tasks
  • Forgetfulness about assignments
  • Unable to complete tasks or track own work, trouble organizing work
  • Mistakes and missed details in work
  • Losing items often
  • Unable to stay quiet while working on tasks
  • Struggling to sit still, unable to stay seated, for example in class
  • Excessive talking, rapid talking
  • Interrupting others before they’re done talking
  • Impatience and difficulty waiting one’s turn

How to get diagnosed with ADHD

ADHD diagnosis and testing relies on a thorough evaluation by a medical professional, and is not determined with one test alone. 

ADHD diagnosis should not be undertaken lightly or as a self-test. Many people identify with the above list of behaviors, and can recognize symptoms to be at play in their child because they are very common and somewhat universal, so will be resonant for many of us. 

Diagnoses of ADHD should be given only with a high level of discernment for accuracy, with thorough testing and retesting, especially because of the likelihood of stimulants being prescribed for the disorder. Stimulants have many long-lasting impacts on neurology and mental health which are not completely known at this time and are still under study, so there is a risk in giving them to children. One risk is the possibility of developing addiction patterning, as stimulants are recognized to be highly addictive substances. 

When diagnosing for ADHD a clinician will evaluate symptoms your child has experienced over a period of six months. A good clinician will not form an official opinion without consulting family members, teachers, school counselors and other relevant people, making sure to understand the context for the appearance of symptoms. It’s important also to rule out other diagnoses which can produce similar-looking behaviors in a person. 

If the individual undergoing testing for ADHD is an adult, similar types of information may be requested, relating to performance at work and educational history. 

For a diagnosis of ADHD to be appropriate, there must be significant disruption to ability to function and perform daily tasks of life. It is not enough to have the symptoms and to struggle with them, but also to have them to such a degree that regular life demands are very difficult to meet.

You may be referred to an ADHD specialist for further differential diagnosis or testing. It is not uncommon to be sent to neurologist or psychiatrist as well.

Treatment options for women with ADHD

Treatment for ADHD involves behavioral therapies that assist people to learn how to meet requirements through changes in how they approach tasks. Monitoring and managing one’s own behavior, one can learn how to get along in the world we live in even though many of the activities, requirements, and expectations can feel counterintuitive to people with this diagnosis. 

Talk therapy is also important assist in supporting a child or adult to stay differentiated from any stigma or negative self-concept associated with the condition. With support, the ADHD-diagnosed woman can find a way to honor and value herself, in the face of possible societal judgment about fitting in less well. 

Natural remedies for ADHD have been offered in some corners, as adjunct or replacements for the more traditional route of using pharmaceuticals to address the condition. Lifestyle interventions have shown promise in supporting children and adults to manage ADHD symptoms. 

Lifestyle improvements for ADHD include making sure you/your child get enough sleep, severely restricting screen time, at least one hour of vigorous physical activity/play outdoors every day, and eating a balanced, nutrient dense diet of healthy, fresh, organic foods. 

Mindfulness meditation and yoga are both recommended to be taught to oneself or children for improving focus, calm, and mind-body connection.  

ADHD is also often treated with medication, in the form of stimulants. These medications are meant to change ADHD at the neurochemical level, to produce a more manageable behavioral result. A note of warning here from the holistic angle is that much is unknown in the use of this approach for treating ADHD, and one should apply careful discernment and do one’s own research before deciding. It is the opinion of Villa Kali Ma that alternative paths to healing are safer and are effective enough. However, each person needs to make their own choice on this matter and no judgment is applied to any choice.

Tips on how to manage your day-to-day life with ADHD

Those with diagnoses of ADHD benefit from gentle, repeatable structure that is firm and fair. Providing repeatable daily rituals and rhythms for children is generally advised where possible, which helps with stabilization and the reduction of new stimuli to contend with. These structures are ideally flexible and reasonable, and should be treated like good daily habits and reliable good formulas rather than rigidly interpreted as rules per se. 

For task management and organization, people with ADHD may benefit greatly from self-tracking and work-visualization tools, as might be used in organizations or in planning-based work. Lists, calendars, using reminder-setting software and task tracking apps can be a great assist. 

For children and adults alike, it can be beneficial to practice writing down assignments or to-dos and keeping items in specific places (always in the same spot). Overall many tools that help people stay organized are especially helpful for those with this diagnosis, so that they do not go into feelings of overwhelm and stress related to projects, parameters, expectations, and deadlines. 

Educating yourself and your child about the nature of the ADHD experience and learning from others with the same disorder can be very helpful, as can connecting with a community of other people with the same experience. 

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