As I send my two oldest daughters off to college my fear of them sitting alone at lunch or hiding by the gym lockers have moved to fear of them locking themselves up in their dorm rooms isolated and lonely.
I think my own social anxiety is triggering these fears. In my heart, I know my girls will push through the “uncomfortable” that always accompanies new experiences. I’m also a realist and know anxiety is a heavy load to carry.
For some students, be it 6th graders, high schoolers or college students, another year of school is another year of anxiety filled moments. Academic stress, athletic competition, social pressures and personal insecurity makes the start of school overwhelming and intimidating.
So much focus is put on academics and we forget the highest anxiety moments are the social ones. Since when is lunch the highest stress point of a student’s day? Sadly, it is the reality for more students than you’d think.
For students who live with ADHD, anxiety and depression, the “back-to-school” period is especially troubling. For many the fear of the unknown – like a new teacher, new school, or new schedule – can cause or exacerbate feelings of social anxiety. For students with ADHD these fears are magnified as their over-active minds play out one potential social catastrophe after another.
Who is this older gentleman feverishly taking notes, wearing a business suit at the CHADD Conference? I assumed him a physician or school administrator. WRONG! He raises his hand and asks, “How can I be there for my granddaughter to support all her interests. She has so many. I want her to know I care but it’s hard when her interests change daily.” Wow. What a lucky girl his granddaughter is to call this gentleman Grandpa.
In another session, for women with ADHD, many women stood up and shared their struggles with ADHD and what they’ve learned to do to live with more ease. Their honesty, vulnerability, and sense of humor moved me beyond words. Talking about it with each other gives us community, support and understanding. Ladies, we are all stronger when we lean on each other. I urge you to find support in your community or start your own group!
For some at the conference, they would come out of a session and say, “I thought the speaker was talking about me! He described me, my habits, my fears, my goofs, my oops, my need for speed. He even knew of my desires to do more, to do it better, to do it without reminders, to not let others down, to not let myself down. I came here for someone else I care about with ADHD and discovered my own ADHD.”
That first self-diagnosis can leave many unsettled. Not knowing how to tell others. Not wanting judgment. Not knowing what to do next.
I’m grateful for the ADHD community of professionals who work tirelessly to reach others who could really start rocking and rolling in their lives with just a little support.
Mostly, I’m grateful for those who are already stepping up and supporting someone they love living with ADHD.
What can you do when someone shares they suspect or know they’re living with ADHD?
Parents speak out on “what things are keeping them up at night about ADHD for their family.
“Will my daughter find people who can support her while she works on her social skills? Friends that can understand she can be inappropriate or come off as thoughtless. She just doesn’t have that awareness yet.
“Can my son learn skills he needs to take care of himself?
“I worry about my daughter socially more than ever. She gets bored with things…..and people very quickly.”
“The biggest concern I now have with my son is how to help him deal with anxiety.”
“I worry a lot about how my son would fit in, in the real world as an adult.”
“Will my daughter be able to manage on her own, get a job, hold a job, get bills paid?
Can you relate? Worrying about how our kids will manage as adults is natural. We spend so much time worrying about algebra test scores we miss what is “missing”. Do we know our kids social intelligence score? Our kids need social muscle to achieve independence.
Those with ADHD frequently struggle with friendships. They’re often isolated and withdrawn. Some choose not to socialize. If they do, they may be rejected.
Worse, isolation and rejection may lead to other problems like depression and anxiety.