TotallyADD Blog / Guest Blogs Archives - TotallyADD.com | Adult ADD | ADHD in Adults
Welcome to the TotallyADD Blog.
by Laurie Dupar, PMHNP, RN, PCC, Certified ADHD Coach and Nurse Practitioner
Recently, I’ve noticed a pattern in my clients that I call the “tipping point”. The “tipping point” is basically a time in people’s lives when, for various reasons, the strategies they have been using to compensate for their ADHD challenges no longer seem to be working.
This “tipping point” is often experienced along with feelings of overwhelm and chaos.
Up until a “tipping point,” people have been able to balance known or unknown challenges with ADHD with strategies they may not have even realized they were using.
Up until the “tipping point”, they had been able to adapt and cope well with their symptoms, even going as far as being under the radar for an official diagnosis of ADHD (in other words their symptoms were not interfering with their functioning).
But for some reason a life change – it could be a job promotion, relationship change, a school change, or any myriad of different things – renders the current strategies ineffective and over time there is a sense that things are no longer “going well” and in fact, life seems to be falling apart in a big way.
Here are some life situations that could be possible “tipping points”:
Warning Sign #1: New Problems at School. Often, when higher elementary or middle school hits, students begin unraveling as they experience more responsibility in juggling multiple classrooms, more homework and larger classrooms. Suddenly it seems like nothing is working anymore. They can’t get things done that they want to get done, everything sort of goes into chaos, things start to come undone. Their schoolwork starts to suffer; they may have trouble concentrating in class, forget to hand in homework or start to experience difficulties with old friendships. Often, no one recognizes these warning signs as being ADHD-related because the students previously had managed or were able to compensate for their challenges. Parents and educators start to feel helpless when a previously successful student seems to become unmotivated. Students are told they just need to try harder. Everyone is unsure how to get the child back on track and the students begin to feel stupid, lazy and incapable.
Warning Sign #2: Inability to Cope After Significant Life Changes. Some people with ADHD experience their first “tipping point” after a significant life change…even a positive life change such as getting married or moving into a new home. These major life celebrations are anticipated with great joy, but may often be a change that “tips” the balance. Perhaps you’ve been able to balance your own life and your own schedule and where you put things up until now, but then you get married and now your spouse has a different way of doing things or expectations of the way things should be organized that differ from your views, not to mention having to deal with the extra stuff in your space. Slowly you notice that things are not working as well as they had before, and because this is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, you think there must be something wrong with you…right? Wrong! Significant life changes such as getting married, having another child or moving homes can often upset an unknown balance.
Warning Sign #3: Unable to Transition Successfully Into A New Role at Work. Up until your “tipping point” you have been performing really well in your job. So well, in fact, that you are promoted. Slowly you may start to notice that you are not doing this new job as well as everyone expected, and you begin to isolate yourself, dread going to work and may eventually get fired. What happened? You reached your “tipping point”. Not because you didn’t deserve the job, but because changes in work often come with changes of staff, support, work space, etc. that throw you off.
Warning Sign #4: Change in Family Dynamics. If you find yourself with new responsibilities and changes in your family, such as taking in an elderly parent, adding members to your family, or getting a new roommate, the additional responsibilities, change in routine and stress can gradually sink in and leave you overwhelmed and unable to cope as you have previously. It is so easy to begin to think you are a terrible mom, unfit for the responsibilities of a family or may be destined to living alone. It’s not YOU, you were thrown off-balance, and your ability to compensate for your ADHD with your old routine, structures or systems is no longer working. But instead of seeing the truth, that it isn’t anything you’ve done wrong, or know that you can fix this, you’re filled with undeserved guilt and shame.
Warning Sign #5: Physical Injury. People often experience their “tipping point” when an ADHD-management strategy such as exercise decreases or activity level changes. Unbeknownst to many people with ADHD, participation in sports and/or daily exercise provides some additional Dopamine to our brain and helps to create structure and routine in our lives that help to better manage ADHD symptoms. “Tipping points” are common for high school athletes who have earned success not only in their sports but academically, only to go off to college and experience failure for the first time. Without the rigorous physical training and structure of high school, they begin to slowly fall apart. Another common “tipping point” for people with ADHD is when they have experienced an injury and have to decrease their activity or exercise level. This change in routine and absence of daily Dopamine boosts can challenge previous steadiness, energy levels and ability to focus and life begins to wobble.
As you can see, there are many reasons, often beyond your control, that might lead you to your “tipping point.” Watch for the next issue of my e-zine, which will share ways you can keep yourself from tipping over the edge. But, in the meantime if you recognize yourself in these “tipping point” warning signs and are ready to get help, schedule a “Succeed With ADHD” Strategy Session. Because remember, a “tipping point” means that you are at a crossroads and you have a choice which way you will react- you can continue down that path to chaos and overwhelm, or you can get restructured and relearn ways to to cope and get back on track! More information can be found at http://www.coachingforadhd.com.
Laurie Dupar is a trained Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and 12 year veteran ADHD coach. Her company, Coaching for ADHD, focuses on mentoring and training emerging ADHD coaches who want to work with clients to help them minimize their ADHD challenges and get things done! She is a trainer, professionally certified coach and sought after speaker on coaching and ADHD at conferences worldwide. Laurie is the co-author and editor of the #1 best-selling Amazon series, The ADHD Awareness Book Project, including Inspirational ways to Succeed with ADHD, and author of the popular book Brain Surfing and 31 Other Awesome Qualities of ADHD. In addition to her private coaching, Laurie is a fierce advocate for persons with ADHD, sitting on several ADHD organization boards. Find out more at www.coachingforadhd.com.
by Edward M. Hallowell, MD
1. Do The Impossible. People focus most intently when they take on a challenge, when they are working in an area where they are skilled, but where they are also stretched. Often, amazingly enough, what seemed impossible becomes possible.
2. Trust Your Way. Perhaps the single most clichéd song lyric ever, “I did it my way,” became so clichéd because its message is so powerful. We focus best, we do our best, when we do it our way. We all have our routines, our own individualized process, or way, for producing our best work. Trust yours. When you don’t know where you’re headed, your process, your way, will allow your unconscious to enter in. It will guide you and often surprise you with your most valuable discoveries and unexpected solutions. Don’t work against your grain, but with it.
3. Take A Break. When you start to glaze over or feel frantic, stop what you are doing. Stand up, walk around, get a glass of water, and stretch. Just 60 seconds can do the trick.
4. T.I.O. Turn It Off. Turn off your electronic devices during periods of your day when you want uninterrupted, focused time.
5. Ask For Help. Don’t feel it is sign of weakness to ask for help when you hit a snag. Just the opposite. It is a sign of strength and can get you out of a confused place and back on track.
6. Take Your Time. It’s one of truest rules of modern life is: If you don’t take your time, someone or something else will take it from you. Guard your time jealously. It is your most prized possession at work. Do not give it away easily or let someone regulate it for you, unless you have absolutely to do so.
7. Close Your Eyes. When you are losing focus or feeling confused, the simple act of sitting back in your chair and closing your eyes can, oddly enough, allow you to see clearly. It can restore focus and provide a new direction.
8. Draw A Picture. Visuals clarify thinking. Draw a diagram, construct a table, cover a page with zig-zags like a child finger painting, cover a page with phrases and arrows, use colored pencils or markers, do it on poster paper on an easel or on the floor, just get past words and blow up the frame to accommodate visuals of any and all kinds. You may soon see the bigger picture you’d been looking for coming into focus.
9. Talk To Yourself. Talking out loud to yourself can lead you out of confusion. Assuming you are in a setting that allows for this, simply talk, out loud, about the issue you are grappling with. Talking out loud engages a different part of the brain than thinking in silence. It can clear out the fog.
10. Do What Works. Don’t worry about convention, or what’s supposed to work. Some people focus better with music playing or in a noisy room. Some people focus better when walking or even running. Some people focus best in early morning, others late at night; some in cold rooms, others in a sauna; some while fasting, others while eating. There is no right way, only the best way for you. Experiment, and discover what works for you.
Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive. Copyright 2014 Dr. Edward M. Hallowell. All rights reserved.
By Candace Taylor, B.Sc. B.Ed. ACG www.addmirablewoman.com
“Why does our house look like this?” That was the question tossed at me one day by my then eight year old son, upon returning from a play date at a friend’s immaculate and organized home. He walked into the kitchen, looked around as if he smelled something funny (which may have been the truth), fixed me with a suspicious and accusatory glare, and asked the same question I had been asking myself for years.
Why indeed did my house look like this? “This”, being precarious piles on every flat surface, calendars from 5 years earlier still on the walls, and endless projects of every description with no end in sight. Cleaning house was an archeological dig. and my desk had become the Bermuda Triangle of important papers – the more important the paper, the quicker it sank from sight, never to be found again. The best response I could come up with was, “Honey, I honestly don’t know.”
I was tormented by other burning questions that also seemed to have no obvious answers. Why did it take me three times longer than everyone else to do something? Why were things that seemed so easy for others, so hard for me? Why was it almost impossible for me to follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant? Why could I never remember where I parked the car, hid the Christmas presents, or even what I went upstairs for? And of course the grandmother of them all, the question that roared through my head several times a day,
“What is wrong with me!?”
A near death brush with Red Measles at age five left me with significant hearing loss in some frequency ranges. This seemed sufficient explanation for why I couldn’t follow a teacher unless I was sitting in the front row, or why I needed verbal instructions repeated despite a reading level 5 grades ahead. It also seemed an adequate explanation for why I would pass out cold during a boring history class, why I hit an academic wall in grade 10, and perhaps even for why my grades continued to slide downward from that point on. Talk about a red herring. This one even had spots!
But it didn’t explain why a bright, academically committed student needed to do 6 hours of homework every night to maintain a solid C average. I secretly suspected I was a brilliant but misunderstood genius, probably from a far more advanced planet. I prayed the mothership would come soon and explain me to the rest of the world. In the end it did come, but not for many years, and many tears, later.
Fast forward through two hard won degrees that took forever to complete, a stimulating and rewarding career as a high school Math and Physics teacher that nearly brought me to my knees, and three gorgeous baby boys in 4 years. As time rolled on, the unanswered questions piled up with the laundry and clutter. The day my son asked me that question I felt deeply shamed. The gig was up, it was time for some answers.
I enlisted the help of a wonderful counselor who told me about another client she had with similar “symptoms” to mine. This client had just finished reading a book that “explained everything” and changed her life. Sounded good to me. The book, written by Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey, was called Driven To Distraction, Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder, whatever that was.
Within days I had bought and read, no, make that devoured, the book. Next came Sari Solden’s, Women With Attention Deficit Disorder. Every page sprung an “aha” moment of self recognition. That was ME they were talking about! The ship had come, I had found my people.
About this time I re-entered the classroom as a grade one/two teacher. It was easy to notice the 7 year old boys doing cartwheels across their school desks. I could even feel a grudging admiration for the sheer energy and athletic agility it took to go from one end of the room to the other without touching the floor. But it was another type of student that really caught my attention – the little girl staring out the window, not causing any trouble, not being disruptive – and not getting anything done. With a clutch to the heart, I realized I was looking at myself 40 years earlier. So this is where it all began.
My determination to help girls, and the women they grew up to be, with ADD gave me a glimpse of my next career.
Three years later I left the classroom as a teacher and re-entered it as a student, studying first to be a life coach at the ICF (International Coaching Federation) accredited Adler School Of Professional Coaching, then ADDCA (ADD Coach Training Academy), also ICF accredited, and graduated as a trained ADD coach.
According to the World Health Organization, over 5 million women in North America alone have ADD, but only a small percentage of them have any form of diagnosis, treatment, or support. As an ADD coach to women, I am working hard to change that – and loving every minute of it!
Epilogue: Mother: (to college student son who unexpectedly brought friends home)
“Sorry the house looks like this.”
Son: (look of genuine confusion on his face):
“What do you mean? The house looks awesome.”
And so it did!
By Brian Mowery (Guest Blogger)
For three years now, I have been facilitating a peer support group for adults with ADHD. I created this group as a result of not having found one already in place.
And I wanted one.
Diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 40, I went through all of the initial shock, denial and then the cascading ‘ah ha!’ moments, so many of us experience.
Then I felt the need to find help. I discovered that while there were loads of resources for children with ADHD, and their parents, there was precious little for adults with ADD. And being the sort of person that I am, seeing an apparent need in the community, I was highly motivated to try and fill the gap somehow.
Once I had done all of the preliminary planning and research, booked the location, and spread the word, I waited until the day of the first meeting. Sitting in the room I’d prepared, I was convinced that no one was going to show up. What was I thinking? How could I, an adult with ADHD, hope to effectively create and plan a support group for others with ADHD? I couldn’t even find my wallet most of the time. And I was certainly no expert on the subject— not a doctor, nor a therapist, just a guy and overall relatively new to ADHD myself. But before my self-doubt and panic reached a peak, people started arriving. I had seven attendees at my first meeting, and two of those were from out of town. Apparently my city wasn’t the only one that needed a support group!
Since that first meeting, I have been amazed at the response, and the gratitude that the group has earned. The reason I think the group has been successful stems from the idea that, among the group, no one person or interest should be placed before anyone else. We have no personal agenda, we aren’t affiliated with a clinic, a therapist or a pharmaceutical company.
And don’t get me wrong — those things are valuable, and often necessary as a means to manage one’s ADHD. But there is something to be said for mingling with your peers, people who have similar experiences, similar problems and similar insights. It’s all about that invaluable moment when you hear someone say something about their life, and you think, “Wow! I thought I was the only one!” And if you are really lucky, you will hear how that person dealt with that situation, and be able to learn from it.
I’m a big believer in a holistic approach to managing ADHD. There are many options available, but any one path of treatment taken in isolation has a great chance of failing when it comes to improving your situation or outlook. For example, the phrase, ‘pills do not teach skills’, means you can’t simply pop a stimulant once a day and expect your ADHD will just be gone. They are taken as a means to reach an equilibrium that will allow you to learn new ways of behaving, with an eye toward reducing or removing the need for medication at all. That is why experts always recommend some kind of therapy go hand in hand with the prescription to achieve real growth.
So, it’s because of my holistic outlook that I feel a peer support group is yet another ingredient to a balanced treatment plan. To put it another way, I have at times been ‘the guy in the chair’ telling a therapist all my troubles, and receiving professional treatment as well as prescriptions. For me, that was helpful and necessary. But I always felt somehow inferior in that setting. The person sitting across from me doesn’t really know me, and has all these credentials which allow him to analyze me, and break me down into component parts so he knows how to treat me.
This has just been my personal experience, so, not knocking therapists. But I will make a comparison.
I can tell you that after having been a part of my ADHD peer support group for a few years, it is a completely different dynamic than anything else. We aren’t just random people who come together twice a month and then depart. We have actually become friends. We socialize outside of the group. When we meet, we may not always follow the agenda, maybe we just vent about what’s bothering us. We curse and make inappropriate commentary when we need to. We even joke about our own ADHD because we’ve helped each other come to terms with it over time. Basically, we feel comfortable enough with each other that we can speak and behave in ways that we might not think appropriate for a therapist’s office. Sometimes it seems more like a party than a support group!
For me, this has been the most surprising benefit of running the group: this realization that a shared ‘kinship’ in ADHD, if you will, has a power that perhaps therapy doesn’t. And that is the power to relate to other people in your situation and share experiences from the same perspective.
We have had numerous newcomers to our group, and more often than not, they come into the room looking anything from despondent to downright scared. They have either just found out through a diagnosis or perhaps they have known for a while and have just reached a really low point with it.
They all come with their own misgivings and personal issues, much as we all did at the beginning. But within minutes of the meeting being underway, you can see them relaxing. By the end of the meeting, all apprehension is gone and they are asking me when the next one is so they can come back — because they have found something they haven’t found elsewhere.
I’m certainly not saying any of this to toot my own horn. I am proud that I have been able to provide this to my local people with ADD, of course. But I consider myself to be a member more than the creator of the thing. I need it as much as anyone else, and at the end of the day, the group belongs to all of us and we all maintain it.
My point with this writing is simply to say that peer support is another level to managing your ADHD. That is why groups like mine, and sites like TotallyADD are very much needed. The shared experience is so necessary to expedite your healing process or growth initiative.
The knowledge that you are not alone and that you don’t have to be alone is very liberating. So if you are lucky enough to have an ADHD group in your area, I strenuously urge you to check it out.
And if you don’t, you might consider starting one!
A note from Rick Green:
I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to be a guest at many support group meetings. It’s so great! That’s how I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Mowery. Thank you Brian, for writing and letting us know how you started your group, and the difference it makes for so many.
Brian and 18 others from support groups took part in our soon to be released video, ADHD Medication: Straight Answers to Big Questions. He hits the nail on the head. Having support is key when you’re learning about ADHD, and especially when starting any treatment plan. Please take up Brian’s suggestion and join or start a group. I also invite you to join us in the TotallyADD Forums. It’s the best online ADHD community there is!
By Tara McGillicuddy
There are just so many distractions in our world today. These distractions make it challenging for the average person to stay focused and be productive. When you have Adult ADD / ADHD these distractions intensify these challenges for us. Eliminating or reducing some of the distractions in our life can really help those of us with Adult ADD/ ADHD be more focused, productive, and less stressed.
I recently eliminated a huge distraction in my own life. I cancelled my cable television and very rarely even watch television. I honestly never thought I would be one of those people who didn’t watch TV. I grew up watching Sesame Street and am part of the MTV generation. TV was such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Recently I was beginning to notice that TV was not only taking up a lot of my time but it was also draining my energy. The cable bill was also frustrating me and stressing me out.
I’m not one of those people who is going to preach and suggest that everybody follows me and stops watching TV. What I do want to do is challenge you to look at your own life. What (or who) are the things in your life that are distracting you? What would your life look like if you were able to reduce or even eliminate some of those distractions? What is one distraction (small or big) that you can reduce or eliminate immediately?
Tara McGillicuddy is an internationally recognized Adult ADD / ADHD Expert. Since 1997 Tara has been providing virtual support and Education to people affected by ADD / ADHD. Tara has a passion for helping people affected by ADD/ ADHD lead happy and productive lives. Through the use of online technology Tara has spent the last 2 decades connecting people affected by ADD /ADHD with Education and Support resources. Tara is the founder and director of ADDClasses.comthe leading resource for virtual ADD / ADHD Support and Education. She is also the host of ADHD Support Talk Radio the #1 ADHD podcast on iTunes and top Self-help show on Blog Talk Radio. In addition to her online ADD /ADHD resources Tara also provides ADHD Coaching to Adults with ADD /ADHD.