Tag Archives: managing ADD

The Daily Choice

It took a long time for me to admit that I actually had ADHD. This is pretty common for most whom have been diagnosed as an adult. It’s a thing kids have, right?

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On one hand, when I learned and understood what the symptoms were a feeling of peace actually came over me. This explained everything! I’m not a nut-job!

I came to understand, but I didn’t really accept. There is a difference, and it is profound.

For a while I used it as an excuse to explain my abnormal behaviors.

“Jim, you forgot to pick up your daughter from school!”

Hand slapping forehead: “Damn that ADD!”

You can probably guess how far that route took me. Every other day some event would happen and I would spiral. It’s no fun for anyone involved.

After a particularly brutal spiral I made a decision to learn everything I could about ADHD. I read books, blogs and dissertations. I talked  to people who had dealt with it for many years, some who’d known about it for a short time, and several who said, “Oh yeah! I have ADD, too!” But weren’t doing anything about it.

I re-read a classic book on the condition and a couple of truths hit me between the eyes, like a horse kicking some sense into me.

First, ADHD is a disorder. It is a bonafide medical condition, neurobiopsychosocial disorder. And it wasn’t going away just because I wished it would do so.

Second, short of divine intervention, my disorder wasn’t going to be cured. Unlike a broken leg, which would mend with proper treatment, my disorder was permanent. Maybe it could improve over time, but it wouldn’t be cured. I was born this way.

Third, because I was born different, there were two very different actions I needed to take that I had not yet done: I needed to mourn the fact that I wasn’t born with normal brain function. There were certain executive functions that I would always find hard to do. I would struggle with organization, focus, distractability, and other behaviors.

In grieving, I would also do the other necessary step: I would accept and embrace my condition. I was born this way. Because this was so, I chose to believe that I was born this way for a reason.

While I would most definitely struggle with certain things, I would also excel in different areas, too. Being very creative, I think quickly about problems and solutions, often seeing downstream much farther than my “normie” friends and colleagues. I am visionary in certain ways. I can easily grasp the big picture. As a creative type, I routinely put hyper-focus to good use, especially when I write.

The other concept I came to accept was more difficult, because it requires discipline and constant awareness.

As one born with a disorder, I must make a daily choice to accept and manage its effects to the best of my ability. Does this mean I’ll be perfect in managing the nuances of this disorder? Hardly. It just means that I will do whatever is necessary to keep it in check as best as I can.

The fact is, as much as I might attempt to be perfect, it’ll never happen. No one – not even the most organized normies, are perfect. At best I can minimize my weaknesses and accentuate my strengths.  That’s all anyone can do – it’s all you can do.

So…accept. Make a choice today to do all you can. When you have moments where things don’t work out, have grace with yourself.

The ADD Death Spiral (Interrupted), Part Two

The ADD Death Spiral is a dark place for a blazing mind.

It’s a place that creeps up like a prowling jaguar, ready to pounce and devour. If you have ADD you understand what I’m saying here. No doubt you’ve experienced it. You understand that when you are there it can be really difficult to escape it’s cold embrace.

There is a way out, though. There is a way to avoid it altogether. It’s not easy (but, nothing is really easy with ADD – that’s why we have an extra gear), but you can free yourself from the Death Spiral.

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What follows is part of a blueprint. It’s not a magic prescription for wealth, fame and happiness. There’s no guarantee that you won’t feel frustration, even depression.  That’s normal. After all, chances are you will still make your share of mistakes, experience social flubs, and have difficulties doing certain things.  It will happen.

And that’s okay.

If you follow the blueprint you’ll be able to manage the tough stuff. Difficult situations will become easier. Not perfect, just easier.  It’s not a system or a program. It’s an attitude. A way of being.

And it works. How do I know? I use it. Imperfectly at times, but I have used every principle presented here (plus some). I know of others who have used these or similar tactics. They work. And, if you even implement just a few, your life will feel more comfortable. Promise.

Accept ADD. It’s kind of funny. There are many with the blessing who simply won’t accept it. At least not all of it. They think floating down a river in Egypt is okay. But, denial won’t make life better. It just prolongs the problems.

Accept All of it. Yes, that means accepting you simply can’t keep up with normies when it comes to managing stuff, organizing things, and making excuses when your internal editor decides to take a break.  Recognize those behaviors that are caused by ADD. Take responsibility. Own your stuff. This is the beginning of sanity.

Take your meds. Granted, not every person with ADD uses prescription medication. But, if you have ADD there is something you ingest that makes thinking a little better. For example, I need protein in the morning, so it’s not uncommon for me to eat meat before 10am. Whatever it is that works for you, don’t forget.

Meditate. I cannot underscore enough how powerful meditation can be in managing ADD. The act of relaxation and quieting the mind is transformative.  For me, the combination of guided meditation and simple mind relaxation work wonders. The guided meditation helps me focus my subconscious on specific things which creates stronger neuropathways. Quieting my mind during difficult times helps to relieve stress – which is a must in avoiding the Death Spiral.

Have concrete goals. Use the SMART goalsetting system. Have concrete, attainable goals. Having specific objectives you want to achieve will help you set your internal compass. When you begin to get lost, rabbit-trail, or otherwise become distracted, return to your goals and hit the re-set button. Thois will help get you back on track and avoid the spiral.

Make lists. Keep a list of all the stuff you need to get done. Your lists need to include everything from next-steps in attaining your goals, to picking up the dry cleaning, to remembering to take your vitamins. Take nothing for granted. Write it down. And, as you accomplish things, cross them off your list! In fact, do a couple of easy things first every day so you can cross something off as early in the day as possible. This way you will see that you have accomplished something and will motivate you to do more.

Keep the list in a place that you can easily see. So important. Most people with ADD are visual. We need to see things. Use color coding if need be, but make sure you can see your list at all times. With someone with ADD, out of sight is absolutely out of mind – so keep the list in clear sight.

Exercise. You need to do something – take a walk or run 10 miles – everyday. If you have a somewhat sedentary life, take time a couple of times per day to leave your seat and just walk. You need to get blood moving through your brain. You’ll feel better, and your mind will have more sharpness.

Trust your support person. First of all, you need to have a support person. Could be your spouse, business partner, friend, or an assistant. Whoever that person is, make sure you have clear and consistent communication with them everyday. That person can help keep you on track, stay accountable, and take on those tasks that you aren’t suited to take on.

Laugh. Let’s face it, you’re going to do some boneheaded stuff. We all do. Learn to laugh about it. Share your experience with others. Now, it may take them a while to join your laughter, but if you demonstrate a good attitude, own your stuff, and take honest responsibility, they will learn to laugh with you.

Demonstrate gratitude.  Make sure you communicate how grateful you are to your support person. Never, ever take them for granted. They are performing an absolutely necessary role in your life. Also speak gratitude for those things that are in your life. Basics like food and clothing; having people who you love and love you back; for the skills, knowledge and talents you possess; for having opportunities to display and use these talents. If you haven’t yet been able to use your talents fully, give thanks that you are working toward that goal. Simply give thanks for being alive. If you are breathing, then there is a plan for your life. Your life is meaningful, and you have the opportunity to be of benefit to others.

So, these are the basics for avoiding the Death Spiral. Obviously there is a lot more we could add to this list in managing the nuances of  how ADD shows up in our lives. We’ll get to those at some point. But, for now, practice these things and you’ll avoid the devastating effects of the Spiral.