How I tame my ADHD (without medication)

How I tame my ADHD (without medication)

After having seizures in 2016, my neurologist prescribed me epilepsy medication. I'm not epileptic, but they give you the medication if you have severe seizures of any kind. Mine were stress related.

I told him with all due respect that I had no intentions of taking it and would seek natural ways of dealing with my new issues. His reply stunned me. He said "you don't need to take it. But I have to prescribe them to you and the vast majority of people just want the medication without even considering the alternatives".

At my six month checkup I returned the doctor after using meditation, hydrotherapy showers and doing more exercise to recover fully. He called me a model patient.

This experience influenced my decision a year later to avoid ADHD medication after getting diagnosed. I'd heard bad things about it. I knew it often performed worse than a placebo and it has some nasty long term side effects. But mostly I was deterred due my success with fending off any additional seizures using only natural means.

Taming ADHD using no medication (chemical or natural)

I won't tell you not to take medication. Nor do I have the right. But I do think that we look at the reason for medicating ADHD in COMPLETELY the wrong way.

Nassim Taleb is one of the only people who seems to understand this.

He points out that schoolchildren diagnosed with ADHD probably aren't meant to be sitting inside of dull classrooms all day long. But because we must make them conform to our deeply flawed rules, we label them ADHD, consider them hyperactive, slap them with a learning disability which needs to be corrected by tinkering with their brain chemistry.

The pharmaceutical companies win. The teachers (sort of) win. But the kids lose.

This is a classic procrustean bed. Read more about that here.

How I do it

Firstly, I acknowledge the procrustean bed. There are some things my brain is capable of doing and other things I am entirely incapable of doing.

I can't sit in a classroom. I don't learn by lecture. I can't do the same task all day long and once I lose focus on a task, that's it, there's no coming back.

But I can laser focus on the tasks I enjoy. That often includes writing (what I want), reading (what I want), creating strategies for the company, making videos to explain how other members of the team can do the repetitive tasks that I hate and learning skills that intensely interest me.

Secondly, I follow a daily routine that looks like this.

  1. Wake up without an alarm, eight hours after I fall asleep.
  2. Brush my teeth
  3. Do three rounds of the Wim Hof breathing technique (this is magical for ADHD)
  4. Take a 2.5 minute cold shower (also magical)
  5. Eat breakfast.
  6. Write in my daily stoic journal (by hand, still no screens)
  7. Start work.

I use a Trello board to track my tasks. Which I fill out the previous day to make sure I'm not making any decisions in the morning. Otherwise procrastination will hit my hard and the rest of the day will be fucked.

I usually work until midday. Then eat some lunch. Very healthy food. Often soup, salad or something leftover from the night before.

I get back to work until 2pm and then go for a run.

By 2pm I'm hitting the barrier. There's little point continuing and I need to burn off some energy and get out into the fresh air. Which is freezing cold right now and perfect for getting me ready for a couple more hours of work later.

It's important now to add that I love the work I do. I have a lot of autonomy, no boss and I work with a fantastic team building something that matters. If I was working in a typical 9 to 5 without this freedom I wouldn't be able to follow this routine and I'd be crying for a way out.

The most important part of this routine is putting my body under good stressors, like breathing techniques, cold showers and running in the cold, so that I burn off energy and feel calm during times where I do need to sit down in front of my laptop and get shit done.

On the days where I miss the routine I can sit around for hours without getting anything done. A whole day of my life often pissed away because I wasn't disciplined enough to stick to what I know works for me.

Me writing this is only meant as a guide. I hate the prescriptive advice often given out online. The best favour you can do for yourself is take a little bit of what everyone else is doing and use that, alongside testing, to find out what routine works best for you.

As you can see my routine is born out of my own personal experiences and the rock solid decision to avoid medication at all costs.

Good luck! And let me know how you get on.

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