WAILW?!?! participant questions June 2014

During the “Who Am I Living With?!?!” sessions, I ask participants to anonymously submit written questions for us to talk about. Seeing and hearing each other’s questions is a good way to let us know we are not alone – knowing that I am not the only one dealing with a particular problem can be a big relief. It can give you a different perspective on the problem knowing that others are facing it too.

– I have read that those with ADHD tend to marry another with ADHD. If this is true, why might it be so?

– As a non-ADHD partner, how do I learn to relate and understand my ADHD partner’s experience/struggle?

– How do I handle the random energy? And to share a tip; a whiteboard worked for us.

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WAILW?!?! participant questions – July 2014-Set 2

During “Who Am I Living With?!?!” at the 2014 ADDA Conference, I asked participants to anonymously submit written questions for us to talk about.Seeing and hearing each other’s questions is a good way to let us know we are not alone – knowing that I am not the only one dealing with a particular problem can be a big relief. It can give you a different perspective on the problem knowing that others are facing it too.

– What’s the best way to support my partner’s ADD adventure without losing my patience?

– At times, we are unable to communicate with each other due to lack of patience. What can I do to clear my mind and open our channel of sharing and understanding?

– The ADDer always wants forgiveness, patience, understanding etc. How do they ever understand the feelings and ANGER of this rollercoaster cycle & what it does to the non-ADHD partner & how many times we HAVE forgiven and been patient?

– How can we EVER communciate properly when frequently they:

a. deny what they said

b. forgets what they said

c. comes back with “what I meant was…”!!

WAILW?!?! participant questions – July 2014-Set 1

During “Who Am I Living With?!?!” at the 2014 ADDA Conference, I asked participants to anonymously submit written questions for us to talk about.

Seeing and hearing each other’s questions is a good way to let us know we are not alone – knowing that I am not the only one dealing with a particular problem can be a big relief. It can give you a different perspective on the problem knowing that others are facing it too.

– How do I get my husband out of the T.V. (I mean, he’s addicted – every night, every minute he’s home) to help around the house, like even picking up after himself, putting dishes in the dishwasher, putting away his clothes, tools, etc.?

– How can we have conversations without defenses? to problem solve, short answers, acknowledging that he’s listening to me, hearing my emotions?

– I don’t have ADHD. Why does my partner who has ADHD leave stuff all over the house causing clutter?

– How can I encourage my partner to realize that when you set a meeting time and place, in general no two people show up at exactly the same time, so one needs to wait (hopefully a short time) for the other? It’s not fair that it’s always other people waiting for them (If they arrive before the other, they will routinely take a  walk somewhere else)

– Does intellectual recognition of a problem make a difference?

ADDA 2014 – Opening Keynote by Rick Green / my comparison of ADHD language to religious language

Rick’s Keynote address was titled “Friendly Fire – How ADHD Advocates Undermine Each Other, The Need to Find Common Cause Amongst Our Many Voices”. I was very interested in this because I am formulating exactly how I understand ADHD. Is it a disability? Is it a gift? Is it a cognitive style?

(I’ve even been playing with the concept that we have it backwards. The real disability is NOT having ADHD. Being trapped in a life that is all about repetition, predictability, and organization. Where security is King, where curiosity is a problem and creativity is a waste of time. Where spending an extra 8 hours at the office is a virtue but clocking out right at 5 so you can go play guitar with your friends is “self-indulgent”.

I’m not suggesting that’s the answer, just giving you a peek into my head.)

Rick made reference to a long-anticipated “summit” some years back at a CHADD conference. Russell Barkley and Ned Hallowell would be sitting opposite each other to talk about their view of ADHD. Now, if you don’t know these names, I’ll give you a quick (and much too broad) introduction: Russell talks about ADHD as a problem, Ned talks about it as a gift.

The audience was expecting a knock-down, drag-out fight between opposing viewpoints. But they didn’t get it. What they got instead was a well-considered discussion between two men who knew that they were talking about the same thing from different points of view.

Rick went on to talk about how the problem of Knowing complicates discussion and can impede progress when dealing with complicated subjects. Taking hard-line positions and defending them to the death leads to competition, belittling and insulting of the other, and keeps us from exploring new areas and possibilities. (OK, that’s my spin on what he said, but I think it’s pretty close.)

This all made sense to me because it’s the same way I’ve learned to understand religions and philosophical systems. If we want to be honest about it, we are trying to describe the unknown and unknowable in language that is finite, that is culturally and historically proscribed and that is limited by human intellect.

Making the religious analogy also helped me understand why neither the “disability ” nor the “gift” model works for me, but the “cognitive style” language does. Now, I do know that both Barkley and Hallowell understand the limits of their language – it’s not just a disability or just a gift – but I find it helpful to use the language that works best for me. So, just as I think of religious systems as being “more or less spiritual” or “more or less ritualistic”, I think of mental styles as “more or less concerned with details” and “more or less concerned with the big picture”. 

There are a lot of other things tied in with these categories and they don’t nearly do justice to the pain and frustration ADHD can cause – or the the excitement and creativity often connected with ADHD – but that’s not my point. My point is to recognize that these categories are approximations and that they exist on a spectrum.

My spectrum is pretty broad, but then I’m working in broad strokes. I want people’s relationships to move in the direction of “better”, I’m not convinced I can get them to “good”, but I can help them move in the right direction. And I don’t care what words we use to talk about that. I’m not going to get tied up in “Knowing” and “Competing” and “Taking Positions”. I don’t think they’re helpful. And neither does Rick Green.

So, I guess I’m in the right place.

ADDA 2014 – First Session “But That’s Not What I Meant”

Great first day for the 25th Annual Conference. 

The first item of the day was Linda and Victor Roggli’s “But That’s Not What I Meant!” session on couples communication. They are a treat to watch work together. They are very honest about the bumps they’ve had along the way in their relationship, what they had to work to conquer, and what they are still working on.

They opened with a short performance – Linda put a glass on the podium and Victor moved it. They started arguing about “I need it there” answered with “Well, I need it put away”. The argument escalates, they pull up past problems, and some of the other tricks couples use to “win” an argument.

They kept the audience involved with exercises and questions, regularly coming out to offer the mic to someone to ask a question or make a comment.

One big take-way for me was the special four-words they’ve learned work for them when asking for things. They begin the request with “would you be willing…?” It’s important in a few ways. For one, it shows respect and partnership. Also, it opens up space for the other person to say “no”.

Another was the suggestion that we say “ouch” early and often. When something in the conversation has hurt you, tell the other person. And make sure the focus is on how it made you feel, not that they did something they should not have done.

One of the slides recommended that we “have a beginner’s mind” as we deal with each other’s conversations. I recognized that as a Zen concept then, on reflection, started seeing helpful Buddhist concepts elsewhere. The whole idea of dealing with the relationship – with what is being said – as it actually is, not comparing it to what we think should have been said or how the relationship should be going. Staying grounded in reality – dealing with what you or your partner is actually saying or doing – is key to good communication.

And through it all, Linda made clear that the focus of her work with individuals and couples is not to get to some predetermined definition of “a good relationship” or even “a good life” but to help us be Real, to be Authentic, to be the best “me” we can be,

ADHD T-Shirts for Orlando

Late last year, I had an idea for an ADD-related T shirt. I had a few of the made and wore one to my “Who Am I Living With?!?!” performance in Taylor, Mich. I decided I would make a few of them to bring to the conference.

I like the shirt and the slogan “ADD/ADHD: because life isn’t complicated enough already”. It can be read a few different ways and I like that. Yes, it’s difficult having ADD/ADHD, but another way to read it is “do we have to have 2 different names for the same thing? Isn’t it hard enough just having it?”

(And, again, yes I KNOW that the DSM has retired the term “ADD”, but I [along with some therapists whose sites I visited] don’t like the new term “ADHD, primarily inattentive type”. – how is adding 24 letters to an acronym for people with attention problems an improvement?)

I was in contact with Linda Roggli about the upcoming ADHD Conference in Orlando. Linda has a great line of shirts, hats and other items, so I asked her if I could bring some of the T-shirts. She graciously said “yes”, so I had a batch printed up.

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I also decided they needed a tag, on the chance that someone might want to buy another one for themselves or a friend. So, I printed up a batch of tags and am attaching them to the shirts tonight, in time for the conference to start tomorrow.

I hope I’m not the only one who gets the joke!

Final Prep for Orlando ADDA Conference 2014

Phew! (Do we say that more than neurotypical people?)

This is my last day to prepare for the trip to Orlando. My mom and I are driving down, leaving tomorrow (Sunday) morning. We’re going to visit with her cousin, then I’ll drive back up to Orlando for the conference.

I’m looking forward to the conference in a big way. I get to work with Kirsten from playDHD (I attended her session last year and immediately loved her style!), I’m bringing some printed t-shirts to sell (my first foray into free-market capitalism), and I am going to try to get the group singing along with a tune I wrote just for the conference. Lots to do.

So, this week was prep week. Except that it wasn’t. It got away from me.

We added computer shopping, printer shopping, software installation, swapping 2 old bass guitars for a new one (my “heavy metal” Ibanez and a little-played Yamaha fretless for a burgundy-red Fender Precision bass), some help at Art Fair, and a passel of other tasks to the list.

I have my day mapped out and – if I can accomplish each of the tasks in the allotted time – I will be ready to go before 10p.m. tonight.

That is…IF I can resist the urge to spent 4 hours wandering around at Art Fair…