University isn’t easy. You’re expected to juggle newfound responsibilities, competing deadlines and extra-curricular activities. All whilst trying to figure yourself out, navigating the challenges of adulthood and maintaining a happening social life.
Adding mental disorders and struggles into the mix can make the juggling act seem impossible. I speak from experience, having been diagnosed with ADHD and depression in my second year after overwhelming myself with the pressures of study and student life. Whilst it was good having an explanation for my difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, and acting without regards to the consequences I realised I had to get on top of my condition to have any chance at completing my degree.
Trust Me, You Can Manage ADHD Successfully
Thanks to the support of friends, family, professionals and very understanding lecturers I managed to make it through. Whilst managing my condition is an ongoing process I’ve learnt that it doesn’t have to limit me or my ambitions. So to all my ADHD brothers and sisters here are my top tips for getting through the wilderness of University with good grades, a clear head and happy memories of your time as a student!
Get properly diagnosed and access good professional help
It goes without saying that you’ll need help from the experts. Getting diagnosed with ADHD is a long process, but it’s something I wish I’d done sooner. I always knew something was up – I constantly questioned why I had such trouble sleeping, took an eternity to write essays and was one of the most extra people around!
Luckily, my mother helped find one of the leading ADHD psychiatrists in Sydney to treat me. Getting a diagnosis was great, but being equipped with the skills and support to manage was even better. Plus, certification is essential for getting University support! It’s also really important to see psychologists who specialise in treating ADHD, as they can equip with the day to day strategies you’ll need to properly manage the condition.
Honestly, the best part about this process is accessing medication. It can be pretty magical to start treatment and find that you can complete tasks, manage deadlines and keep it 100 with just a bit of chemical assistance!
Let your University know and get support
This is a big one! Getting my condition registered with disability services was a life saver – I was able to access automatic extensions, exam provisions and the support I needed to cope with my course load.
It’s also important to be open with lecturers and tutors, so they understand that you learn differently. Plus, it helps for them to have an explanation for all the fidgeting and occasional interruptions in class!
Develop strategies and manage your time
When you have a condition that works against your ability to master the executive functioning skills required of successful students this can seem like an impossible mountain to climb. Trust me – it’s doable but it does take work.
First, develop the ability to delay gratification and focus on the bigger picture. Youtube is much more enjoyable when you don’t have that essay looming over you. Break tasks down into easily digestible chunks and you’ll make it. Learn to manage your time – be aware of deadlines, develop a calendar and take time each day to tackle a little of each task.
But make sure to have a balance! You need to have fun when your’re young, so make sure to do the things that you love. If you spend all your time agonising over how long it takes you to do something seemingly simple you’ll get down in the dumps pretty quickly. I was heavily involved in student activism, organising parties, running election campaigns and campus culture whilst I was studying – in fact my ADHD helped me because I wanted to do 1000 things at once! Just don’t go too far in either direction.
When the going gets tough, persevere!
Look, life with ADHD isn’t easy. So the most important bit of advice is to keep trying, don’t give up and push on through the tougher times. You can do it!