“We couldn’t finish the entire set. It was impossible.”

This week we heard from a woman who purchased our 5-video set, ADHD Medication: Straight Answers to Big Questions. She was very upset because the three people in her household who are struggling with ADHD couldn’t sit through all  4 ½ hours of video.

ADHD MedicationNo kidding! I couldn’t either. I doubt anyone could.

If someone actually managed to white-knuckle their way through all five videos, I doubt they’d remember anything. Including their own name.

Our other epic video The Holistic Solution to ADHD, can be watched from start to finish without turning your brain to goo.  But it’s less than 1/3 as long, and dances through a lot of topics. And ADHD tools and strategies are not as ‘controversial’ as medication.

But four and a half hours? “Well, Lord of the Rings was about that long.”

Well, binge watching entertainment—Game of Thrones, Star Trek TNG, or Harry Potter—puts your brain is in a very different state that when you are learning information. Your brain is far less active. Learning means you’re forming all kinds of new connections and having to pay attention. And for me, when I’m learning anything new about ADHD part of my brain is chattering away, “Do I do that? I do! Oh, that’s a good idea! I didn’t know that! I should try that! No wonder I never…”

The Medication videos feature at least 30 ADHD experts, plus 18 regular adults sharing their personal stories about medication. There are 99 Chapters. And at least 800 separate quotes.

How could you possibly take it all in at once, even if you don’t have ADHD yourself?

The human brain simply cannot process that much information.

MY BRAIN IS STUFFED FULL. IT NEEDS TO DIGEST.

Research has shown the most effective way for students to study is in 15 to 20 minutes chunks. Broken up with 15 to 20 minute breaks. Get up, stretch, go for a walk, start a load of laundry, ride around the block, whatever. Then do another 15 to 20 minutes of studying.

For those of us with ADHD, it’s probably closer to 5 minutes of learning, then a 10 minute break. That’s why almost all of the 99 chapters are under 5 minutes long.

In fact at one point I was going to call the collection, 99 Short Films About ADHD Medication. But a friend who does not have ADHD thought it sounded overwhelming. Later, a friend who does have ADHD said, “Oh, I’d buy that! That sounds way less overwhelming.” Go figure.

So I don’t expect anyone will sit down and watch the 5 videos in order. Even if I viewed one video each evening, at the end of five evenings I’d be reeling.

SENSIBLE BITE-SIZED PORTIONS

In our documentary, ADD & Mastering It!, one of the 36 strategies we recommend is to Bend The World To You. That means doing things in a way that works for you. Whether it’s clearing snow from the driveway, making dinner, or watching a video about ADHD. Do what works for you.

No one can sit through 4.5 hours absorbing new ideas and information. But if sitting through one 50 minute video is too much for you, then don’t! Watch two or three chapters. Watch them in any order. Skip to the ones that grab your attention.

What matters to you? What worries you? What are your concerns, fears, or questions? What’s holding you back?

Some people are so worried about being ‘Zombied‘, they will watch the 4th video, Safety and Side Effects, first. Someone who is ready to try medication may skip the first video. Later if they encounter problems and need to remind themselves why they tried medication, they watch the first video. Or just parts of it.

THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO LEARN

Would you read a 300 page book about ADHD from cover to cover, in one go? I never have.

Like most folks with ADHD, I browse books, skimming, dipping in to the sections that matter to me now. I’ve got dozens of books that have helped me. But I’ve never read any of them all the way through.

At first I thought, “What a waste to buy a 300 page and only read 50 pages,” but if those 50 pages give me 5 good ideas to be calm, happier and more productive, it’s a bargain! And cheaper than an hour with my ADHD specialist.

In fact, reading books and videos between doctor appointments meant that I was always moving forward, so that when I arrived for my next visit, I was able to ask better questions.

When I read something I didn’t understand, that’s what I’d talk about with my doctor. But I didn’t want to sit there while he provided general information. During appointments we talked about what no book or video could address—my experience, my goals, my emotions, my situation.

BUT WHERE TO BEGIN?

Start with what matters to you. If you’re struggling or stalled, watch those chapters first. Several times if you need to. Watch alone. Or with someone else. Make notes. If something strikes a nerve, repeat it aloud. Several times.

It’s your life. And it’s your video. Use it however it works for you.

I keep having to remind myself of this. Trying to do things the way everyone else does, which ensures it will be more of a struggle. When I shovel the driveway I start gong back and forth, but after 30 seconds I’m going diagonally, criss-cross, pushing two shovels at once… The Jackson Pollock method of snow removal.

Whereas when my wife Ava shovels the driveway, she does it logically, alternating swaths, back and forth, like a tractor plowing a field. She grew up on a farm. She was driving tractors at the age of 8, hauling a load of irrigation pipes. Every fifty feet her father would yell, “Stop!” and she’d scooch down in the tractor seat, disappearing from view, to press the clutch and brake. She’d wait patiently while her brothers unloaded the next set of pipes. When they shouted, “Go!” she’d yank herself up by the steering wheel, releasing the brake and clutch, and the tractor would trundle slowly forward.

If I’d been on that tractor I’d have been bored, started day-dreaming, and the results would have been hilarious. Or tragic. As was much of my life before I was diagnosed.

SEEING THE BIG PICTURE

I created the Medication videos to give you the kind of confident, solid foundation that I never had. I asked the experts every question I could think of, and scores more that other people had asked of me, ones I would never have thought of myself.

Medication, or any ADHD strategy, is your experiment.

The first of the five videos lays out this key message: Medication is just another tool. Just like Sticky Notes, a Coach, or noise-cancelling earphones. Whether a tool or strategy works for you is impossible to predict. That’s what you’ll find out as you go forward. But you want to start with as much knowledge as you can. Because sometimes one little tweak can make all the difference.

The point is to enjoy all the benefits, with minimal problems. That takes time.

And if a book, video, or webinar saves even one trip to the doctor they’ll have paid for themselves.

HERE’S WHAT WORKS FOR ME…

So, read books, blogs, articles, and watch videos in whatever way that works for you.

And understand that any discussion of ADHD medication is bound to be a long one, because there’s a ton to learn, and a ton of stigma and misinformation to ‘un-learn.’ It will take time. That’s fine.

Remember, you have particular challenges, your situation is unique. Each time you move forward things will change. You will have new concerns, new questions. Understanding ADHD, or even just medication, doesn’t happen in a day. Even if you’re a Doctor!

In fact, don’t be surprised if you end up teaching your family doctor about ADHD. I love it when someone writes to tell us they’re now explaining the latest research to their family doctor, and the doctor wants to learn!

If you find a physician who is as open to learning as you obviously are, they’re a keeper!

Best,

Rick

4 Replies to ““We couldn’t finish the entire set. It was impossible.””

  1. This woman was acting like a university professor. I remember some professors having two hour long lecture on what students have to know and then they assign a book that has to be read in a week. Plus your other professors maybe also be assigning a lot of readings in the same week.
    Maybe our university professors need to learn more about how the brain works and about ADHD. This would make these professors keepers too!
    All students are our future.
    Wayne (university was hard) McFarlane

  2. We are about to show your movie “ADD and Loving It” to a group of parents of ADHD kids in our community. This will be the fourth or fifth time we’ve shown it to community groups, and my husband and I have happily sat through all 57 minutes each time, learning something new every time through.

    The first time we showed it, we invited the attendees (at a library) to stand and stretch before we had a 30-minute discussion. To our surprise, nobody budged! But they did engage, every one of them, in the discussion afterwards. One person said afterwards that seeing that movie was the second most important event of his life (after the birth of his daughter)! Thank you for all you do to educate folks about ADHD!

    I’m looking forward to seeing you in Reston at the ACO conference this week!

  3. So happy you wrote this! Back in my school days, whenever I allowed myself to hop through textbooks and homework, then switch to something “distracting” in amazingly short periods of time, I was a lot happier. When I do house chores it works out great, though it may confuse and anger other people who don’t see the finished product. That skipping around and taking in short chunks of work or study always made me feel like I was cheating, resulting in tons of guilt and the pervasive anxiety that I’d never learn anything complex.

    I’d call these small bites of info trivia(l) pursuits and discount them as my scatter-brained attempt at productivity. Yet many of my trivial pursuits had a much more lasting impact than the long stretches of study or 20-plus page research papers required in college. Wish I’d known this 25 years ago…

    But thanks to you, Rick, I’m off to take another trivial dive into the topic of human physiology, a subject I always loved and could never endure for more than 15 minutes at a time!

  4. Pallist, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got from the author of an ADHD book, and I can’t remember who, was, “Read the book any way you want. Back to front. Random order. Only the chapter that matters to you. Or the chapter that deals with what you’re dealing with right now. Write in it. Draw. Doodle. It’s yours now.”

    When I came up with the idea of doing a book that listed the many ways that ADHD shows up in daily life, I knew that each page would have to stand alone. And it would need illustrations. And be as brief and to the point as possible. Almost like bullet points. It’s the only way I can read books that are so jam packed with information.
    http://totallyaddshop.com/products/book-add-stole-my-car-keys#.V08XoteSMRo

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