Thoughts About ADHD/Day 19-28 – Thoughts about These Missing Posts (2019 ADHD Awareness Month)

October is ADHD Awareness Month and during that month, I’ll be doing daily posts to share some of what I’ve learned about ADHD. I’ll post some of my favorite books, articles and websites, as well as some of my own thoughts about living with ADHD.

My last post here was on Friday, October 18, which means that I missed my target of “doing daily posts through the month of October”.

Which means … what exactly?

One way to look at it is to say “yep, that’s typical ADHD behavior: it sounded really exciting at the end of September and less exciting on the 18th, so I just flaked out.”

Another way to think of it is just to smile and say “well, the odds of it happening were slim anyway and wow! I got through 18 days, so that’s really pretty good!”

Both of the above have some truth to them, but neither of them feel exactly right. What happened was a combination of things. Some new things came up, some things I wanted to do took longer than I had planned, and I spent a little time reconnecting with some old friends. I feel good about being able to rearrange my priorities to support those things, even if it meant giving up some others (like this).

I think that’s an important lesson for us ADDers. Sometimes it’s OK not to follow through on something. And, yes, I know how dangerous that is to say to someone with ADHD, but that commitment didn’t affect anyone but me, and I’m OK with the change.

Thoughts About ADHD/Day 18 – ADHD and Sleep (2019 ADHD Awareness Month)

October is ADHD Awareness Month and during that month, I’ll be doing daily posts to share some of what I’ve learned about ADHD. I’ll post some of my favorite books, articles and websites, as well as some of my own thoughts about living with ADHD.

Yawn… Stretch.. OK, ready to go!

It’s 2 a.m. One part of my brain is telling me to go to sleep. It told me that at 11:30, 11:45, then once more just a little after 1. I would expect it to give up, but no. It tried again just now.

It’s easy to ignore, especially since I don’t feel tired. I did back around 10:30 but that was too early to go to bed! And now that I have my second wind, I know I wouldn’t fall asleep anyway.

Sound familiar? For a lot of us ADDers, it is.

A lot has been written in the last few year about the relationship between ADHD and sleep. “Does sleep deprivation cause ADHD?” “Does ADHD cause sleep deprivation?” “Is one misdiagnosed as the other?” I haven’t read a lot about it, but what I’ve read tells me we have a way to go before we have a good answer.

One thing is clear though: for me (and a lot of others), these things are both part of me. It’s not all that important to me if I know which causes which. I need to work on both of them.

As you can see (it’s now 2:20 a.m.), I’m not there yet. But, I’m going to bed as soon as I finish this.

Really…well, one more thing. Here are a few links to get you started learning about this.

ADHD or Sleep Disorder: Are We Getting It Wrong?

The Relationship Between ADHD and Sleep

ADHD and Sleep Problems: Why You’re Always So Tired

Thoughts About ADHD/Day 16 – Video Clip Wednesday (2019 ADHD Awareness Month)

October is ADHD Awareness Month and during that month, I’ll be doing daily posts to share some of what I’ve learned about ADHD. I’ll post some of my favorite books, articles and websites, as well as some of my own thoughts about living with ADHD.

Wednesdays and Saturdays, I’m going to share with you some videos I’ve made over the last few years that are related – in one way or another – to ADHD.

Here’s a video my daughter Lisa and I made back in 2013 about my ADHD through her eyes.

A few small victories over ADHD

It’s 2:36 on Tuesday afternoon. I’m sitting calmly in a coffee shop in Ann Arbor, thinking back over the last hour or so. It wasn’t pretty, but I think it might be helpful for some of the folks in my ADHD tribe to read about it, so here goes.

It’s about the emotional reguation piece. It’s about small victories over anger, feelings of overwhelm, frustration, hopelessness, etc. – all of those un-cool side effects that come along with the creative, curious, and constantly surprising ADHD brain.

The week started off badly.

I shattered the screen on my iPad. I’m experimenting with some green screen video editing and I’d set my iPad up on a stool to take some test footage. As I stepped back, it decided to do a belly-flop onto the basement floor. (Notice how I blame the inanimate object for its own destruction? Can any of y’all relate? Yep, I see the heads nodding…)

I handled that fairly well. I do have footage of me picking it up and saying a lot of nasty things – mostly anger and recrimination toward myself about breaking things – but I stopped it as soon as I noticed it. Small Victory #1 – stop the negative self-talk. I did some research online and found some local repair shops to check out on Monday.

But, that started the cascade.

Sunday night is when I make my plans for the week. So I started slogging through the backlog again to see what I wanted to tackle this week.

Mine looks like this:

 

Mind map 2016 0223

(A mind map is a very cool and helpful way of organizing the things in your head. Mine has sections for everything from “songs I want to learn” to “things to fix around the house” “TED talks I want to listen to” to “guitar lessons” to this week’s To-Do list.)

I started into it, but when I saw that I’d put 20+ items into “This Week”, I realized something was wrong. I stopped, looked for items that “must be done Monday”, then closed down the program. Small Victory #2 – knowing when you need to step back.

I spent about half an hour just playing guitar. It cleared my mind a bit. Small Victory #3 – remembering to take time to play.

There was more but this is getting to be a long post, so no details. But, between Sunday night and an hour ago, I:

  • lost all of the tasks that were in the mindmap
  • found out that my backup program doesn’t backup the /appdata folder – which is where the mindmap data lives
  • learned about the mind map’s internal Trash bin – which also didn’t have my data
  • found that the last 2 digital rips from my VHS tapes didn’t copy the audio tracks
  • had the tasks mysteriously reappear in the software (which I was hoping might happen)

Things were not looking good. The week was not off to a good start.

So, what happened earlier that prompted this post?

I started the day with a firm resolve to recover from the weekend and get the week planned. I mean, it’s only Tuesday, I can still save it, right?! I packed up my things and got myself to the coffee shop. About five minutes after I’d settled in, I got a phone call. A really good friend of mine was in a tight spot and needed some help. (I’m leaving out the specifics so their feelings won’t get hurt.)

Have you noticed ADHD-folk don’t take interruptions well?

I exploded. Inside my head, I mean, but I lost it. As I packed – looking perfectly calm and collected to the outside world – I fantasized about getting in my car and driving to Chicago to hide out for a week. Or Canada. Or heading to a local restaurant and pigging out on fat, greasy burgers loaded with bacon and cheese (my menu of self-destructive behaviors is evidently pretty tame). So, so dramatic!

So, I ran the errand. And it was magical. As I was doing it – seeing the appreciation on my friend’s face, experiencing the feeling that I’d done something helpful – all of my anger just vanished.

I got back in my car and sat there for about six or seven minutes, wondering what was going on. I even tried to recapture the anger, but it was impossible. And it seemed pointless. It was just so much additional negativity that I didn’t need.

I started up the car and headed to a different coffee shop thinking about this: some of the typical ADHD strategies had worked – taking a pause, stepping back, doing something else for a while – but the best one turned out to be this: doing something for someone else.

Not a bad lesson to learn.

Peer Support Group for Couples is Near!

For the last few years, I’ve been involved with the Ambassador’s group inside ADDA (the Attention Deficit Disorder Association). Our mission is to foster communication among members of ADDA. We phone new members to welcome them to the group, host informal get-togethers at conferences, and have recently set up some weekly peer-support phone calls.

One of the areas in which I’m particularly interested is relationships: how does ADHD impact what’s going on between us and our partners?

CoupleFighting_crop

Over the last few years, I’ve gathered together information from dozens of sources, including those who specialize in relationships (like Melissa Orlov), those who write more generally about ADHD (Ned Hallowell and Russell Barkley), and even writers who look more at the social context and the way neurodiverse people are viewed and treated. I’ve interviewed several couples and had the great fortune to be part of a long-range couples group in Ann Arbor.

At this point, I’ve got an opportunity to share what I’ve learned (both from research and first hand) with the ADDA community. Starting this week (Thursday, Feb 4), I’ll be hosting a 3-session mini-workshop on ADHD and Relationships. The sessions will be done over the telephone with no visual (this time!) and will run from 8p.m.-9 p.m. EST.

Most everyone connected with ADDA should have received an email in the last few days inviting you to the sessions. If you haven’t, please contact us by emailing to ambassadors@add.org. Please send the names of both partners in the couple, your email address, and a telephone number.

Here’s a link to my webpage, I’ve got more to upload there, but it will give you the basics: Feb 2016 couples group

I’m really looking forward to this. I’m sure I’ll learn as much as I share!

ADHD Accountability Group

From about September through December last year, I signed up for Eric Tivers ADHD Coaching and Accountability Group. It was a great experience. Eric’s exactly the right kind of guy to be running a group like this. He knows a lot, he’s an experienced coach and therapist, and, significantly, he’s very, very clear that he’s on the journey too. He isn’t the expert handing down wisdom from on high, he’s the guide who’s a few clicks out in front of us, surveying the landscape, sifting and sorting through all the data (and apps!), and then living into and through it.

rewired

There were a dozen or us. We met between two and four times a week, depending on what was going on. Typically, we’d meet on Monday to set goals for the week and to get insight some aspect of goal setting and time management. Then, on Friday, we’d meet to see how we did and, always, talk about what worked. That’s one of the things I really liked – being pushed to review “what worked” – though I admit I sometimes found it hard to do. I had (and still have) difficulty believing I will take those successes and learnings and implement them in the long term. Reality argues against it – I’m continuing several of the things I learned – but the fear is still there.

One key learning for me was to really embrace the category: “things I’m not doing any time soon” and even “things I may never get to.” Over the last year (and probably longer), I’ve spent a lot of time culling my “to do” list. At one point, I was averaging at least an hour a day on this. It was insane but I was trapped in my model. (I was using a modified version of SCRUM [a software development methodolody] and did have the categories of “active work” and “backlog” [my terms, not theirs], but even at that, my “active work” list contained dozens and dozens of items.)

I hate walking away from any of my ideas. I feel like I’m abandoning them. I love the idea of “things I am not getting to soon”. It’s very helpful – I don’t feel like I’ve orphaned good ideas or like the ideas were bad. They are all good, I just can’t do them all. (Right now.)

Getting the backlog out of my head and on paper has side benefits: it both frees up bandwidth for you to think about other things, and it can transform what seems like an infinite swirl of ideas into a finite number.

The other thing Eric introduced was the mind map. (I use the desktop version of Simple Mind, though I’m not recommending it over others, I haven’t used many others. There is also a free app that does an excellent job.)

When Eric introduced the idea, I was reluctant. I already had everything dumped and organzied in Wunderlist (a tool I also love and recommend) and I didn’t want to go through a data transfer. By hand.

On the other hand, I wanted to really engage in the class, do the work, not resist. So I gritted my teeth and went for it. And it turned out I liked it. It’s a nice way to see everything at a glance, a lot better than my “pages of Post-it notes” approach.

The biggest benefit to me was having everyone visible at once – I’ve heard that from others too. A big side benefit was that I dropped a lot of the backlog, which reduced my workload by about 30%. I just printed out those lists. I wasn’t going to manually input things I may never get to.

I’m on-and-off about working with Star Charts. I understand the benefit and I’ve done it a few times (in fact, I’m doing it this week), but I don’t think it’ll last forever. I’m good with a checklist I have embedded in my day planning sheet. I’ll put up a post on that later, someone might find it helpful.

The other facet I wanted to mention was the people – the other folks enrolled in the group. There’s more I want to say, but this entry is getting long, so I’ll just say that it’s always a treat meeting people who are facing some simliar issues and all of us working through them together.

And, circling back to something I said earlier, I think this is one of the strongest things Eric brings to the experience: a very clear sense that we’re all going through this together.

That’s very important to me, knowing I am not alone.

Physical / Tactile / Nostalgic / Beneficial?

IMG_3240I’m still working my way through digitizing all of my old reel-to-reel tapes but I noticed something today. I’m going to miss the feeling of threading the tape through the transports and onto the take-up reel. I remembered how much I liked threading the 8mm film through the projector or even crawling under an old beater car to wire the muffler and tailpipe back to the frame to save a few dollars on repairs (my cars never lasted more than a few years anyway).

Naturally, that got thinking…

There’s been a lot written over the years about the value of engaging with the physical world. One of the earliest I remember is the book “Chop Wood, Carry Water” (the title comes from a Zen quote “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water”). I’ve seen articles about how kids are being affected by being distanced from nature, whether it’s urban/suburban living or the X-box (etc, etc). The topic is even subtext for movies like “The Matrix” or “Surrogates” (a truly creepy movie).

In ADHD world, I’ve seen it mentioned in a few places. For example, an article on kids and gardening in ADDitude Magazine or a study from University of Illinois about how walking can help with ADHD symptoms.

I think a lot of us have experienced this. And if not, why not give it a try?

If you  hit the wall on a problem, get up and take a walk around the office or around the house. If you feel some frustration coming on with the task you’re doing, stand up and take a few breaths or stretch.

Make sure you spend some time during the day doing something physical. Maybe not “build a playhouse in the backyard”, but sit down and doodle or color a few pages (all the rage these days). If you have kids, play a little catch or take a bike ride. (OK, I know I’m writing this in January, but you get my point.) If you have a pet, play with it.

If all else fails, you can try to use this as a positive motivation to go do the laundry.