ADD and Therapy: It's Not so Scary

ADD and Therapy: It's Not so Scary

I'm all about embracing my faults, but I haven't always felt that way. Since I was diagnosed with AD/HD, I've learned that people with the disorder can be prone to developing other "issues" as well. I'm no different. Luckily, I'm at the point where I realize that sharing these stories can be therapeutic. Therapy is a personal journey, and whether or not to seek professional help is a difficult decision. I've been in and out of many therapists' offices since being diagnosed. Not all have been helpful. I was lucky to find someone who helped me immensely, and I still talk to him from time-to-time. His name is Dave Bauer and he's a certified personal trainer and licensed therapist. He's been gracious enough to lend me his support in the past, and will now be helping me share some awesome tips through my blog. Something else that's awesome about Dave? He has AD/HD, too. Plus, he's a "solutions" guy.

It was a cold, gray day in February when I sat outside of Dave Bauer's studio, Integrated Fitness. My mom had recently cut an article out of the paper for me and offered to purchase me a package of sessions. The article stated that he'd coached people with varying disorders, including AD/HD. It was her way of saying, "Here's help," but sheilding it under the guise of, "Hey, do you want some personal training sessions?" She knew I was in a bad way. I was reluctant, but eventually I called to set up a consultation.

This time asking for help was harder. My stomach was in knots as I sat in my car, paralyzed by fear. I don't have to go in. I can leave right now. Going in meant having to share my deepest, darkest secrets. And I was as attached to my secrets as I was attached to the pink blankie I had worn large holes in as a little girl.  I put up the biggest fight of my life the day my mom told me it was time to get rid of my blankie. I felt the same panic and emotions in the parking lot. I desparately didn't want to change, but I knew I couldn't stay on my current path of self-destruction. I didn't know how I'd gotten to this place, but it was lonely. And Bleak.

If you go in and you don't feel comfortable, you don't have to say anything. You can just leave.

I went in. Dave was not quite what I expected. He was spirited and welcoming. He led me through his studio and into his office. It was slightly cluttered with papers, guitars,  some candy, protein powders, and several books on different schools of philosophy and therapy. I liked it. It wasn't stuffy at all; I felt comfortable.

"Tell me what you're looking for, Megan. Training? Therapy sessions? Both?"

I started to speak and somehow it all came pouring out. For better or worse, one thing my ADD gives me at times is verbal diarrhea. I told him how I was diagnosed with ADD at 15 and I was having a hard time finishing my college courses. I went on to tell him that I'd become bulimic, though I didn't actually use that word. I think I said I had fits where I'd wait til I was starving to eat and then throw up my food. I told him I thought I was developing anxiety from the eating disorder and that sometimes I'd get to school and I couldn't get out of my car. On bad days I'd go home and binge and purge until my knuckles were raw from rubbing against my teeth.

As I went through my shpiel he asked me more specific questions. When I was finished I waited for his conclusion. "Well," he said, "nothing you've told me is strange or uncommon. A lot of your issues are probably related."

Really? I was stunned. But it's gross and disgusting and abnormal! I am gross and disgusting and abnormal! But something about his matter-of-fact tone was convincing. I wonder if the shame and secretive nature that is innate to many disorders is the most destructive thing about them. I'd never said the things I'd just shared out loud.

Dave showed me a book. It was about cognitive behavioral therapy. He explained the logic behind it. "If you really want to change your behavior, you can. You just need to be persistent."

I read the book cover to cover and dog-eared several pages. I started to see Dave regularly. He had me working out during sessions, because he feels strongly that exercise is the perfect combination with therapy. He was right. He gave me tips and exercises to push myself mentally while physically challenging me with sprints, weights, and other creative work-outs. I always left feeling great. It took some time and a couple of relapses, but over the months I grew stronger, mentally and physically. I realized the value of meditation and exercise when it comes to managing AD/HD. (Which reminds me, I need to start working out again...)

I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't gone into his studio that cold day several years ago. I think about the person I was before I went in and the person I am today. I'm not perfect, but I've learned to love myself and be good to myself no matter what. It sounds oh-so-cheesy, but it's oh-so-true.

It makes me sad, yet hopeful to think other people may be in the same place I once was. With time and persistence change is possible. The negative voices that perpetuated my negative state of mind before have been quieted. If I have a bad day today it looks and feels nothing like it once did. I know how to take a step back and put things into perspective. It's a wonder what a healthy dose of support can give you. It's humbling to think about how incredible the power of thought is.

I don't want to make light of conditions like eating disorders or anxiety. My condition wasn't serious enough to require hospitalization or more serious treatment. If you need help, or you think you know someone who needs help, make sure to contact a qualified professional and let them help determine your treatment needs. Sometimes the hardest part is taking that first step.

Anyway, that's enough after school specialness for today. Where's Mike Seaver when you need a hero? Oh yeah, he's busy hunting crocoducks and disproving evolution...

Here is Dave's info if you'd like to contact him:
Dave Bauer
Integrated Fitness
40W201 Wasco Road, Unit 2A
St. Charles, IL

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