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Welcome to the TotallyADD Blog.
Being a woman with ADHD, I trusted her opinion.
Zoë first told us about Tim three or four years ago. A couple of years back, I finally met Dr. Bilkey as we were waiting at the airport, each heading home after an ADHD conference.
Dr. Bilkey and coauthor Dr. Craig Surman cleverly subtitled their book, How to Thrive If You Have ADHD (Or Think You Might) because what works for those of us who have the disorder will certainly benefit people who may struggle with some of the issues. What the doctors call ‘sub-clinical.’
And what are those issues? Well, F A S T M I N D S is an acronym, and it’s a condensed, concise catalog of the key issues we face:
- Achieving below potential
- Stuck in a rut
- Time challenged
- Motivationally challenged
- Novelty seeking
Enjoy! – Rick Green
Excerpt from FAST MINDS: How to Thrive if You Have ADHD (Or Think You Might), by Dr. Tim Bilkey and Dr. Craig Surman
Chapter 8: Feel Well; Function Well
ADHD colors every minute of her life when she’s awake, and even possibly when she’s asleep. Some people bound out of bed in the morning restored and full of energy. Not Rachel. She struggles to get to work by 9, despite three cups of coffee. The sinking feeling in her stomach that comes with realizing she slept through her second alarm clock – again – is all too familiar for her. The realization that she forgot to bring her lunch in with her is all too familiar also, as are the selections at the vending machine downstairs.
On a good day, she gets home in time to watch a show at 7 p.m. On a bad day, she doesn’t eat her microwave dinner until 9. She eventually gravitates from the TV to the computer – and somehow, she ends up going to bed too late again. The next morning, bleary-eyed, she has to drag herself through the first two hours of her day, until the third cup of coffee kicks in.
There is an unhealthy rhythm to the life of many people with FAST MINDS traits – a pattern where the needs of the person themselves are neglected. We see so many people managing to hold together one domain of their life, often work or school, and lacking dedicated time or energy for much else.
Additional information regarding Dr. Bilkey:
FAST MINDS: How to Thrive if you Have ADHD (Or Think You Might), by Dr. Tim Bilkey and Dr. Craig Surman, Harvard Health Publications, 2013
Her FAST MIND: An In Depth Look at ADHD as it Affects Women (DVD) 2012
ADHD Across the Lifespan (DVD) 2005
(DVDs available through Caversham Booksellers, Toronto, Canada)
Facebook: Bilkey ADHD Clinics
YouTube: DrBilkey’s Channel
By Elaine Taylor-Klaus (Parenting Coach, Co-Founder, ImpactADHD)
As parents, we tend to rely on the support of our “village” to help us raise our kids. We appreciate the give and take of a local support network. “Can I drop that off for you on my way home?” “Can you pick up this child for me?” It’s a kind of a dance. We learn to ask for help, and depend on each other.
But sometimes – all too often – your village doesn’t quite know what to do with your ADHD child, or with you. You find yourself bouncing from village to village, or sitting on the outside, looking for a way to fit in. Looking for a place for your child to feel understood, empowered or cherished. Sound familiar?
I WAS A VILLAGE HOPPER
For the first 10 years of my life as a parent, I tried one support network after another. I wanted other parents and schools to understand my children and their ADHD; but, truth be told, I didn’t really understand them that well, myself.
I mean, sure, I thought I did. But I didn’t fully grasp what I really needed to do, as a parent, to effectively support my children. It turns out, setting them up for a lifetime of success with ADHD requires a very different set of skills than just “regular-old-parenting.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I was doing my best to “treat” my children’s challenges with therapies and special programs. I was trying everything I could think of to help them. But I just didn’t know HOW to help them learn to MANAGE their ADHD.
And then, frankly, I lucked out. I accidentally learned the greatest secret of effective parenting for ADHD: THE CHANGES MY KIDS NEEDED MOST, STARTED WITH ME!
IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM. AT FIRST, ANYWAY.
When I started to learn the skills that would really help me manage MY fascinating, interesting and most-definitely ADHD children, a monumental change happened for my family. I learned to really understand the challenges my children were facing, and get strategies for coping and communicating more effectively – with everyone!
The results were pretty immediate. Less than a year into my journey, my then-9 year old child, with Dyslexia, anxiety & ADHD, actually said: “Thank you, mommy. Things are so much better around here.” I kid you not! I had become a much better parent to my ADHD children. And, truth be told, it wasn’t rocket science. I shifted my parenting to a coach-approach, including a solid diet of education & communication, and it made a world of difference!
I wish I could tell you that my husband immediately saw the wisdom of all that I was bringing to the family, and jumped right on the back of my band-wagon. Not so much – not right away. He eventually began to see what a difference the coach-approach was making in our kids’ lives, but he had been quite comfortable denying that ADHD (including his own) was largely responsible for the challenges we were facing, so he wasn’t in a hurry.
During that time, I learned another valuable lesson in family life with ADHD: all it takes is one parent to begin to turn the ship! Sure, it’s much easier when you’re both on board the same ship – or even in the same harbor. But it’s actually not critical. One parent can change the life of a child with ADHD. One parent can turn the tides.
THE GOOD NEWS? TAG, YOU’RE IT!
That one parent who makes the difference can be you.
But you will probably need support in order to do it.
In other words, you can be the one, but you’re not alone. Steven Jobs was the one. He didn’t do it alone.
Whatever else you believe about your “reality” right now – you might think it’s too late, or you need your spouse on board, or there’s just not enough money, or you’re not sure what to do or try – you can make a difference in how ADHD is managed in your family.
The choice is up to you!
You are part of a unique system of support here at TotallyADD.com. It’s like a “cyber-village” to get the education you need. So you’ve already taken the first step. But I want to encourage you to take the next step, to get training, along with coaching or therapy, to help you make real change for your family! Things will improve, dramatically, when you invest in yourself for the good of your child.
THAT’S WHAT I LEARNED. NOW IT’S WHAT I DO.
After searching for villages, I decided to create one. But like parenting, I couldn’t do it alone. With Diane Dempster, we created ImpactADHD.com, a parenting cyber-village, specifically for parents like ourselves, who want our kids with ADHD to thrive.
We support each other, and show parents how to take a coach-approach with their kids. We teach you strategies to help you manage in any challenging situation, and we encourage you to focus on the things that matter most of all, for you and your children. We help you really focus in on what you need to know to help your kids learn to master their ADHD. As Rick Green has said before, there’s lots you could learn about ADHD, the question is, what do you NEED to know?
Your child’s future is a wondrous world of opportunity. What village do you need – does your child need for you to have – to set her up for success? There is no need for you to wander, lost and alone. USE the village that understands and will support you and your family. And take advantage of that incredible give-and-take that happens when we parents lean on each other.
By Rick Green
There’s not a lot of good news in the media when it comes to ADHD.
But then, well, there’s not a lot of good news in the media period. Because, when things are working well, it’s not news. In my Balanced News rant, I talk about the reason why the news is always negative, and why increasingly, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ And that’s not going to change soon, I suspect.
Lisa Ling, the host of Our America, was diagnosed as having ADD.
Lisa has done some amazing and dangerous stories in her career, like fighting to have her sister rescued from North Korea, and covering the drug war in Columbia. But going public about her ADD, well, to me that takes courage.
She’s not the first reporter to be diagnosed with ADHD/ADD. In fact, when we were making ADD & Loving It?!, and more recently our video on The Perfect Career for ADHD, journalism is one of the fields that experts mentioned works for some ADD adults.
The difference is that Lisa Ling did a news report about it. She told the world. “This is me.”
Welcome to the Tribe, Lisa!
Bravo for having the courage to step forward. And bravo to the producers and OWN for running the story.
What’s so great is that every few weeks it seems another celebrity is talking about their ADHD. A month ago I read that Zooey Deschanel is quite open about using medication to manage her ADHD. Sports figures, columnists, comedians, business people… it’s terrific. Some are disclosing it, some mention it casually, a few go big. “This is me!”
As more and more public figures ‘come out’ and are loud and proud, it will be harder for people to dismiss this as a nonsense diagnosis. And that’s good for all of us. But it’s especially good for ADHD adults. Why?
Because when you know what’s going on, you have a chance to deal with it.
You have a better understanding of why you: don’t listen well, keep changing jobs, never stick with things, and can’t stand certain fabrics or tags on your clothes.
Knowing makes all the difference. And Lisa Ling’s courageous act of saying, “I have this,” will impact many other people. Especially, I suspect, women with ADHD. This will save lives. Careers. Marriages. If I hadn’t found out what was going on I’m pretty clear my second marriage would have gone the way of my first. Not good.
Knowing matters. It’s why Ava and I have made it our mission to spread the word. Education cuts through the tornado of mythology and ignorance around ADHD, and demolishes the stigma.
Telling Is Risky
But there are millions of people who can’t announce it to the world for fear of recourse. Who do you tell? Friends? Family? Coworkers? Your boss? Your employees? Your customers?
It’s tricky. Risky. Not because there’s something to be ashamed of, but simply because the vast majority of people still have no idea what ADHD is. And to be fair, the scientific community is still struggling to understand what it is.
So publicly acknowledging this diagnosis means you are not just dealing with your ADHD, you’re also dealing with everyone’s ignorance about ADHD. It can have serious repercussions and it’s why we don’t recommend it – not everyone around you may be supportive around you, especially at work for some folks.
Letting the cat out of the bag is easy. Trying to get the cat back in the bag? Not so much.
Here’s the thing to remember. You don’t have to disclose that you have ADHD. But you can certainly speak up when people say stuff that you know is wrong or ignorant. You can tell your boss, “I’m great at dealing with customers, but I need help with paperwork. In fact, if I can give my invoicing to someone who’s good at it, I can focus on sales and make you a lot of money.”
By the way, at an ADHD conference someone was telling me about a woman who had kids with ADHD and she only hired sales people who had ADHD, because she knew they would be great at it. She created systems to handle the stuff they didn’t do well, and they got to focus on where they excel.
Win-Win. In fact, Win-Win-Win-Win.
And Lisa Ling going public with her ADD diagnosis? Win – multiplied by the number of people who see her story.
RE-STRUCTURING Your Life At Home And Work*
RE-NEGOTIATING Your Relationships*
RE-DEFINING Your Self Image*
For a woman with ADD, the healing starts in her brain and continues in her heart.
In order for women with the executive function struggles of ADHD to maximize their strengths and increase their feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment, it is usually necessary to re-structure the way they set up their lives both at home and at work.
This means that first, they must come to a deep understanding and acceptance of how they function best, how their brains work, and become willing to ask for support for their challenges. This may sound simple, but it is far from easy.
Many people often assume the way to help women who face these challenges is to start with suggesting simple solutions and common sense strategies. This idea is actually a common reason for the failure of women with ADHD in achieving their goals and fulfilling their hopes and dreams. Even more damaging, this approach, or mind-set, can result in increased shame for a woman who is left with the feeling that, once again, she has disappointed herself – and let others down who are important to her.
The truth is that after the chemicals in her brain are addressed, the focus must then shift to the concepts in her mind and the pain in her heart, which include her sense of failure, her toxic comparisons, and her distorted view of herself. She doesn’t see the incredible whole human being she is. On the contrary, women with ADHD often maintain a relentless, oppressive, and narrow focus on their deficits due to internalized and idealized views of what women are like, and should be able to do.
So while Re-structuring is the goal, barriers that keep her from setting up her life in a way that works for her necessitate focusing on Re-negotiating her relationships and Re-defining her self-image.
In order for her to feel entitled to set limits, boundaries, state what she needs, and get support, a woman with these challenges will need to redefine her idea of what it means to a successful, mature, valuable women even when and if her challenges persist! Only when those difficulties and differences no longer define who she is, when she can see herself as a whole human being, will she be able to renegotiate her relationships to get what she needs by setting limits and not allowing toxic criticism or disrespect to derail her.
So the process by which a woman with ADHD is able to eventually be successful at restructuring her life, starts from the inside and works its way slowly and surely outward.
*3 R’s are from Women with ADD
Copyright Sari Solden 2014
To watch the recording of the live webinar with Rick Green and Sari Solden go to http://totallyadd.com/webinars/
By Stacey Turis
Emotions get a bad rap. Emotions are associated with weakness, vulnerability and sensitivity; all of the traits we’re told are unsavory, yet the traits that make us most human. What kind of nonsense is that? It makes me crazy when I hear that people consider stuffing their emotions as a sign of strength. I’m sorry…huh? I call that sticking your head in the sand. Have you ever seen what that looks like from behind? Not exactly like a mighty warrior. Unless you ate dairy earlier. In that case, you have a genuine weapon… my sense of smell is supernatural and I have what my dentist calls a “terrific gag reflex”. Let’s just say the combination is lethal when simultaneously triggered.
Our ADHD Tribe has certain traits, and sensitivities are one. They come to us in all shapes and sizes and affect us differently. Sensory issues, like my supernatural smell and hearing; depression, anxiety, moodiness, anger, PMS, and empathic tendencies to name a few that I can recall right this second.
Living with that amplified perception of our environment can make us feel like we’re in a constant state of turbulence. Our reactions mimic the pattern of the turbulence, thus we come across as moody. Some in our Tribe are even misdiagnosed as bi-polar because of it (raises hand). I’m not saying some of us aren’t bi-polar, I’m just saying that in our Tribe, moodiness comes with the territory of constantly regulating your surroundings.
With the internal turbulence sometimes comes a sense of dread. Maybe you get into a funk. Maybe you even reach the lowest low where you get a feeling…not that you want to die, but that you’re just too damn exhausted to live. We fight to stay away from that place, but I always say, mental strength is not the ability to stay out of the darkness; but the ability to sit present in the darkness, knowing the light will shine again. Where we are at any given moment is where we think we’ll be forever. A lot of us are familiar with depression and even thoughts of suicide, and it’s hard to step back from that feeling of someone having their thumb on you pinning you to the ground, but being present in the dark requires us to acknowledge where we are – to say “this is temporary” and believe it.