Author Archives: joanjager@live.com

ADHD Life: September 2017 Newsletter

September 2017

Hello again,

Summer is almost over and school is in session again. But, none of us really stops learning. When you’re dealing with ADHD, your need to know more AND to apply that knowledge in your family or work life never ends.

What are YOU doing to increase your understanding of ADHD? Is there room for improvement in your response to your children or how you react in daily life? You can continue to struggle or choose to learn more to help yourself and your children. Everyone deserves to thrive with ADHD and find success, but it takes work. Are you learning new skills to help you design your life to fit your needs?

We have a number of resources this month from ADHD Parent coaches. Yafa Luria Crane expands on a textbook understanding of ADHD and reveals what’s REALLY going on beneath the surface. Diane Dempster from Impact ADHD shares parenting strategies you may have thought of yet. Cindy Goldrich has organization tips for kids.

I wish that I would have read these years ago when I watched my nephews every summer. Instead, I judged their actions and my own lack of control over their behavior as moral and personal failings. In my ignorance, I even called them the “nephews from hell.” With understanding and practice, you don’t have to repeat that mistake with your own children.

Nor do you need to bear the burden of condemnation that I piled on myself for so long. I didn’t know why I struggled or what to do about my chronic disorganization, lack of follow through and emotional distress brought on by worry and frustration.  The good news is that once you know what’s causing the problems and get some ideas on how to handle them, you can learn to “live well” with ADHD. Our guest blogger this month talks about the role of making good choices in managing ADHD symptoms. We CAN learn to change our mindset and environment to successfully navigate through our ADHD life at home and work.

Check out of videos this month as well. One’s just for fun, but I found a great collection for parents in need of answers as well.

Continue reading Newsletter here >>>>

 

As always, see our Pinterest boards and Facebook page to further your understanding of ADHD and learning new ways to take care of yourself and your family.

Enjoy the last gasp of summer. Be well,

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources

 

(Photo courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com

 

Continue reading Newsletter here >>>>

ADHD Life: Beyond a Textbook Understanding

Never stop learning and adapting. September 2017

 

None of us really stops learning. And, when you’re dealing with ADHD, your need to know more AND to apply that knowledge in your family or work life never ends.

Our feature article this month, “Think you Understand ADHD? Don’t leave out the best parts!” by ADHD Parent coach and educator, Yafa Luria Crane, MA, MS, MEd, helps clear up some common misconceptions about ADHD.

Talking about ADHD as a deficit is not the only, nor the most helpful, way to think about ADHD. The best understanding is comprehensive – it is a biological, mental, and emotional difference.”

“We don’t need a “cure” for ADHD – ADHD is our genius. We need support… But every human, including the coolest, most successful people in the world, needs support.”

Parents need support too! On Facebook, the Honestly ADHD Parent Support group and Impact ADHD Parent community are both quite good. For other online and in-person to meet your needs see: Find Support for ADHD.

Diane Dempster, another Parent coach and co-founder of Impact ADHD,  shares 5 Tips to Make Life Easier as an ADHD Parent.

For more specific strategies for your children for school or at home, see Organization for Children: Supporting Executive Functions by Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M, ACAC.

 

Yes, having ADHD can be challenging but you CAN develop tools that help. We can choose to ignore our symptoms and roll with the punches or we can identify our problem areas and find ways to cope more effectively.  Happy (aka Meagan) of Happy Hyper Shiny outlines a few ways she finds calm, keeps track of her thoughts and belongings and makes sure that things get done in ADHD CHOICES: Things I CAN do! She says:

“I don’t have to subject my family to my crazy.” 

“I am still a work in progress. We all are.”  

“But my thought process has changed.”

“There is a lot more I CAN do than I give myself credit for.”

 

Are you learning new skills to help you design your life to work for your needs?

If you’re thinking of starting a side-gig or other project outside of a traditional workplace, check out these tips for Working from Home with ADHD by Sara Jane Keyser – It’s all about balance, organization, and planning, so these strategies are always good advice.

 

 

FREE Resources

This summer I realized that I needed more structure to my days and started using a weekly planner with good results. Having a written schedule allows me to plan and execute projects more effectively. I have even keep on top of Important but Boring tasks by breaking them down into doable steps. Together, these small actions add up and have helped me get things done that I had put off for months and even years.

Emily Ley sells a good planner, but she also offers a collection of Printables that I like. (Basic, Simple to use and FREE) Another Printable, How to Eat an Elephant, can help you outline and plan large projects. It’s from Sidsel Dorph Jensen. Remember, with ADHD, it’s SO important to WRITE things down. Don’t depend on your memory. Keeping a to-do list or a done-list is a start, but there are many more tools to help you be more effective.

For other ideas, from the simple to the more complex, see my latest Pinterest Board, Planners, Journals, and Notebooks.

 

Videos:

Have some fun with this ADHD song, music and lyrics by Josh Anderson. He writes, “I thought that I would put it up here for everyone to see. I hope that you like it! This is pretty much how my brain works every day!

 

For more great videos, from informative to inspiring, see our ADHD in Video section.

 

I found a great Resource for Parents from our guest author, Yafa Crane Luria, MA, MS, MEd,  ADHD Parent coach, and educator. Her ADHD Question and Answer Video Collection  offers over 100 short videos about parenting children with ADHD.  For more information and freebies, see her blog, Blocked to Brilliant: Parenting your Awesome ADHD Child.

The number one thing that children object to is yelling. It’s perfectly understandable that a parent’s frustration with a child’s behavior spills over and out, but it’s scary and generally ineffective with children with ADHD at inspiring the behavior you’d like to see.

How do I stop yelling? (3-minututes)

Another all too common parenting response may be spanking. But, is it effective? Or does it only cause harm?  “Is it ever Okay to spank your ADHD child?”  (1 ¼ -minute)

Yafa also offers a full-length parent training video on YouTube (1 ½-hours)

Easiest Ways to Motivate your ADHD Child or Teen

 

See our Pinterest boards or Facebook page for more resources to add to your understanding of ADHD and to learn new coping skills for yourself and your family.

Thank you for your time,

Joan Jager

 

(Title Photo courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com

(Parenting Photo courtesy of Photostock/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com.

(Working Photo courtesy of Vlado/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com

6 Tips for Working at Home with ADHD

Enthusiasm + Strategies for organization = Success

By Sarah Jane Keyser

Enthusiasm + Strategies for organization = Success

 You have a great idea! Making jewelry, children’s games, or the best widgets ever, and you want to do it from home.

I worked at home for years. I dropped the kids at nursery school, drove to the office, ran my programs on the computer, grabbed my listings, collected the kids and studied my results at home for the next day. My work as a computer programmer was ideal for telecommuting.

Today with the internet, creating your own business right from home is a real possibility. It means less time wasted in commuting hassles (saves gas too), and precious time used more efficiently, but it is a lot of work.

What does it take to start your own business? First, of course, you need an idea, but it takes more than an idea to create a business. Successful entrepreneurs have strong internal motivation. They are able to set goals, schedule time, meet deadlines and communicate regularly with partners about problems and progress.

What happens if you have ADHD? Organizing, planning, deciding, and managing time, are usually very difficult for people with ADHD.

Hey! ADHD is where you get all those ideas, enthusiasm, energy, the very ingredients you need for success. Yes, you still need good strategies for organization and time management just like everybody else.

Here are some tips to keep ADHD from turning dreams into nightmares:

  1. Set boundaries. The whole family must respect your work time. Children have difficulty accepting that Mom is home but not there; get a baby sitter if you must. Keep a clear division between home and work papers including bills and financial documents and material such as telephone and computer usage. Your accountant will love you.
  2. Get started. Do you waste a lot of time messing about? That nasty commute you want to avoid is actually a useful transition from home to work. I plan fidget time; it helps me to get started in the morning or to switch from one task to another.
  3. Curb perfectionism. Know when to stop. When in doubt, ask a partner or a colleague to do a reality check on what more you need to do.
  4. Stay on task. Do you wander from one task to another and find at the end of the day that you haven’t done half of what you planned? Set a timer to go off every hour. When it rings, check that you are doing the task planned and review the agenda for what’s next, or try a vibrating watch to refocus your attention. With practice, you will learn to control your attention without the fireworks.
  5. Delegate. One big problem for many entrepreneurs is trying to do it all. Everything is in your head and it’s difficult to trust others to do it the way you want it done. With ADHD, it’s important to recognize your weaknesses and find someone who is good at doing what you can not like accounting.
  6. Regulate your energy level.Accept that you aren’t always going to be in racing form. We all have good moments and less good moments. I have to take time to recharge my batteries with a cup of tea or by walking the dog. These are the moments when I get my best ideas. Schedule time to eat, exercise, sleep and relax. You’ll still have time to succeed.

Now you are all set. On your mark, Go.

In a nut shell :

  1. Set boundaries: keep work and home separate
  2. Getting started: allow time to warm up
  3. Curb perfectionism: know when to stop
  4. Stay on task: do what works to stay focused
  5. Delegate: Let others do things you are not good at
  6. Regulate energy: respect your natural rhythm

 

About the author: ADD coach Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Once ADD was identified and the great need that coaching filled, she added ADD Coach training in preparation for a new career. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. The Newfield Network’s “Mastery in Coaching” and “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. Sarah Jane coaches in French and English by telephone. (Re-published with permission)

Source: http://www.coachingkeytoadd.com/stories/workfromhome.html

Learn more about ADHD and contact Sarah Jane at Coaching Key to ADD

(Photo courtesy of Vlado/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com

 

5 Tips to Make Life Easier for Yourself as an ADHD Parent

Parents deserve help and support. The whole family will thrive.Guest post by Diane Dempster (All links return to Impact ADHD)

 

Some tasks, like driving, become automatic when we master them. When you’re 16, every turn of the wheel requires conscious thought (or should!). Once you learn, you go on autopilot unless something jars you – a car in the wrong lane, a dog running into the road, a police cruiser in your rearview mirror when you’re going 60mph in a 50mph zone.

Well, parenting is not an automatic task! We can’t go on autopilot, especially when our kids have ADHD. Something is always jarring us – a meltdown, a bad report card, a 10-minute worksheet that turns into an evening-long struggle. We always have to be “on,” and it’s exhausting. How can we give ourselves a break?
ADHD is a neurobiological condition – and it’s highly heritable. Many parents struggle with a double whammy: raising an ADHD kid and having ADHD. Parenting calls heavily on our executive functions, a set of cognitive skills and processes that are impaired in ADHD brains. When you’re dealing with executive function deficits and then trying to act as the executive function for your child – well, that creates some difficult family dynamics!

On the other hand, you may not have ADHD. You don’t understand why it’s hard to do a quick homework assignment or how your child can misplace her shoes every single day. Why does she need a checklist at age 14 to remember to brush her teeth? It’s frustrating! But that’s her life.

Whether your kid’s brain doesn’t work the same way yours does, or whether your kid’s brain works exactly the same way yours does, parenting is work! Some days you feel like Sisyphus, struggling with the weight of the rock – knowing you’re going to have to get up and do it all over again in the morning.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We rolled our share of boulders up steep mountains, but when you learn how to support your kid,  when you seek support for yourself, the load gets lighter. Some days, you don’t need to struggle. Some days, you don’t need to work quite so hard. And some days you do – but you’re better able to handle them. To make things easier for yourself:

  • Tackle one challenge at a time. Sure, you need systems for getting out of the house on time in the morning, for getting the homework done, for ensuring your child does his chores, brushes his teeth, gets his exercise, eats his veggies…I’m overwhelmed already. Choose one. Do it. Master it. Then move on to the next one!
  • Know what works for your child and what does not. The ADHD brain needs motivation to do anything. What is your kid’s motivation to do his chores? Is it an allowance? Time on electronics? Is it a house rule with consequences if he doesn’t do it? What is going to drive him to do what he needs to do? Understand his disposition and motivators, and you have a powerful key.
  • Set clear expectations. Your child needs to understand what you expect, and you need to be consistent. Base your expectations on where your child is, keeping the challenge at her level. If it’s too hard, she will give up and feel like a failure. Expect great things from your kids – but start where they are and build them up.
  • Keep it simple. If, for instance, your child is upset, teach him that it is ok to go to his room and get his favorite book. Let him know that this is a simple structure that will help him calm down and reset. You don’t need complex systems. The easier, the better.
  • Take care of yourself. Parents who are happy and healthy can give their kids a much better shot at success at home, at school, and in life. Take the time to be kind to yourself and find the support you need to manage life with an ADHD kid.

Parents play a tremendous role in their kids’ lives. You are the difference between a lifetime of struggle and a happy future. Without your love and support, ADHD kids tend to falter and fall. With your support, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish.

No one is as critical in their lives, and because you’re so important, you deserve some help and support yourself. The whole family will thrive as a result.

 

By Parent coach Diane Dempster. Article originally appeared on ImpactADHD.com and is reproduced with the permission of ImpactADHD™- Impact ADHD provides quality information, Parent coaching programs as well as individual coaching. Check out their Parents’ Community Facebook page

Source: http://impactadhd.com/organize-your-life-and-family/5-tips-to-make-life-easier-for-yourself-as-an-adhd-parent/

 

(Photo courtesy of Photostock/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com.

 

ADHD Choices: Things I CAN do!

Change I can’t into I CAN!Guest post by Happy (aka Megan)

I have been having discussions with a friend about choices.  She knows I have ADHD and she knows I can’t get rid of it.  However, she doesn’t let me off the hook when I use my ADHD as a reason why I can’t do something.

“I can’t always control my emotions.”

“I call bull shit.  You can, you just choose not to.”

 

Is that true? I know that my impulse control (or lack thereof) makes it very difficult for me to ignore my gut reactions even when they are completely wrong.  And I know that my emotions can escalate wildly out of control in a heartbeat.  I also know that my lack of emotional control affects my family greatly and often in negative ways.

How can I make a choice over something I don’t have control over? Maybe I have to think about what I “can’t” do differently.  When I have a gut reaction or start to escalate what CAN I do?

WHAT CAN I DO?

In a situation like this, I remove myself if my emotions start to escalate.  Blue Eyes and I have a rule that if my emotions are over a 3 in a scale of 1-10 (yes, a 3) I need to remove myself from the conversation until I can collect myself and analyze the situation and my emotions.  I try and look at the situation from every angle. What am I really upset about?  What exactly was said that triggered me?  And I don’t come back to the conversation until I am under control.

Do I always succeed? No.  When it comes to my emotions do I often spiral out of control and it takes me hours to come out of it? Yes.  Sometimes I think I probably should remove myself until I can sleep it off.  That’s a little harder since life still has to go on.  What I know for sure is that I don’t have to subject my family to my crazy.  I am still a work in progress.  We all are.  But my thought process has changed.  There is a lot more I CAN do than I give myself credit for.  And if I don’t think I can, I know someone that will call me on my bullshit.

 

Other things I CAN do:

I can’t find my keys…. I CAN put a GPS tracking device on my keychain (or wallet or cat).

I can’t remember to take my meds…. I CAN make sure I have meds in the bathroom, my work bag, and my desk at work to make sure when I do remember the meds are available.  Also, a reminder on my phone telling me to take my meds!

I can’t keep a to-do list… I CAN have a notebook/phone/computer/Bullet Journal to help me with a list of to do’s.

I can’t find my notebook… I CAN always keep it in the same place so I always know where it is.  I CAN set alarms on my phone to remind me to look at my to-do list.

I can’t remember to sign my child’s permission slips… I CAN put reminders in my calendar, my spouse’s calendar, and phone to check my child’s backpack every single night to make sure there is nothing I need to look at. While I’m in there I might as well check on homework too.

I can’t pay my bills on time… I CAN set up automatic bill pay so that money is taken out of my account at the right time every month and I don’t have to think about it.

I can’t remember or bring myself to do any of these things… I CAN take one step at a time.  Moving forward and making the smallest step is progress towards success.

I can, I can, I can….

The point is that even though my brain doesn’t allow me to do normal things in a normal way, I can try and find a way to do them so I am successful.  My brain isn’t “normal”.  I can’t expect it to work that way.

 

I usually end my posts by telling you what’s distracting me and asking you to do the same.  I’d like to change it up a little and ask you to tell me how you have changed I can’t into I CAN.  Leave some ideas in the comments so we can all learn from each other.

XOXOXO

Happy

 

About the author: Happy of Happy Hyper Shiny is a woman, mom, friend, and human with ADHD just trying to figure things out.

“I was diagnosed at 16 but only really started understanding ADHD about two years ago, around age 37.
I have two little girls, 9 and 4.
I work full time in Boston and commute about 3 hours a day.
The blog is currently anonymous due to the nature of my job. It’s not
something I like to tell people I work with.  But my real name is Megan.
🙂
I’m also married and have a large dog and fat cat.
I seriously love Harry Potter.

Originally published as ADHD: I CAN’T…. OR CAN I? I HAVE A CHOICE. http://www.happyhypershiny.com/adhd-i-cant-or-can-i/

 

(Photo courtesy of ddpavumba/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva

 

Think you Understand ADHD? Don’t Leave Out the Best Parts!

10 MUST KNOW premises about ADHD. Misunderstanding hurts us all.by YAFA CRANE LURIA

Here’s the deal:

When we don’t understand certain things about ADHD, we really don’t understand ADHD.

Or at least we have a cursory understanding, a textbook understanding. We’ve left out the best parts!

I’ve been working with ADHD kids and their parents since 1984, as a teacher, a school counselor, and an ADHD coach. I am also a step-parent with an ADHD adult step-son, and I have many family members with ADHD, including my father and one of my exes.

I’ve watched the misunderstanding of ADHD take its toll on kids, on parents, on adults with ADHD, and even on professionals who don’t really understand ADHD and are made miserable by trying to make this misinformation work.

You’ve seen it too: the teachers that are quite confident that they understand ADHD when you can see that they don’t. Or the doctors that miss co-occurring diagnoses because they aren’t as well versed in mental health issues

It’s 2017.

Don’t you think it’s time to set the record straight once and for all?

Here are 10 premises that, minimally, people MUST understand about ADHD:

*1. Talking about ADHD as a deficit is not the only, nor the most helpful, way to think about ADHD. The best understanding is comprehensive – it is a biological, mental, and emotional difference. All that being said, I’m grateful for the legal rights that the word “Deficit” provide.

*2. Every time we reach for a “cure” or a way to control or stop someone’s ADHD, we make the choice to see ADHD as a problem. We don’t need a “cure” for ADHD – ADHD is our genius. Do we need support? Absolutely. But every human, including the coolest, most successful people in the world, needs support.

*3. When we focus on what your child can’t do, your child has to fit our mold to be “good.” When we focus on what your child can do, he/she is “good” most of the time!

Think about it…

*4. The ADHD brain doesn’t work the way a neurotypical brain works. Trying to find conventional solutions for an unconventional mind is pointless. This is often apparent when people confuse executive function challenges with ADHD. Most people with ADHD have executive function challenges. Many people with executive function challenges do not have ADHD. (Whether they’ve been diagnosed or not!)

*5. If on our own, we can’t think of any other solutions to support an ADHD child, we need to get help for ourselves and for the child. This goes for parents, teachers, coaches, doctors, therapists, and anyone else. We can’t settle for “I don’t know what else to do.”

*6. ADHD kids are not trying to make your life miserable. They’re trying to figure out who they are and where they belong, beyond being a member of your family. Until they know that, they’re a bit miserable themselves.

ADHD kids need adults to model adult behavior and to get help when we need help.

*7. Thinking you’re in a power struggle with your ADHD child or teen is completely unhelpful and misguided, no matter what it looks like. Kids don’t know how to effectively access their power. They’re fumbling around not competing with you. You can both have power when you understand that power does not have to be overpowering. The right use of power empowers everyone.

*8. The worst way to reach us is to yell, nag, and lecture. It’s important that, as adults, we communicate more concisely with our ADHD children/clients/students/patients.

*9. People with ADHD are motivated by freedom, fun, interesting ideas, acceptance, and appreciation. Yes, you can get a child to complete a task by threatening or intimidating him or her, but you do a good deal of damage to that child at the same time.

*10. People with ADHD need more than medication. We need a safety net, of which medication may be one of the ropes. (That’s a family decision and every family is different). Other ropes might be: an accountability partner, coaching, exercise, Omega-3s, eliminating certain foods, massage, essential oils, or other alternative modalities. The more ropes, the safer I am.

What are some misunderstandings about ADHD that you think are crucial to making sure your child gets the help he or she needs?

Just scroll down to the comments section and share your experience with us.

xo, Yafa

 

Copyright 2017. Yafa Crane Luria. All Rights Reserved. Originally published as “If We Don’t Understand This, We Don’t Understand ADHD” on Blocked to Brilliant.

(Link works) http://blockedtobrilliant.com/understand-adhd/?utm_source=ReviveOldPost&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ReviveOldPost

About the author: Yafa Crane Luria is a 30-year veteran teacher and school counselor, a Positive Discipline Trainer, and the author of the Mom’s Choice Award®-Winning book: How To Train Your Parents in 6 ½ Days and the Amazon Kindle Best Seller: Getting Schooled: 102 Practical Tips for Parents, Teachers, Counselors, and Students about Living and Learning with ADHD.

She was diagnosed with ADHD (then called “Minimal Brain Dysfunction”) in 1980, one of the first to be diagnosed as an adult. Yafa specializes in helping ADHD families who have tried everything and are still frustrated by their child’s or teen’s Blocked but Brilliant brain. She can be reached at her website: BlockedtoBrilliant.com Fun fact: Yafa’s nickname as a child was “Mountain Goat” because she climbed on EVERYTHING!

 

Photo Credits

Title photo – (Photo courtesy of satva/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com

Brains with a question (Photo courtesy of Graphics Mouse/FreeDigitalPhoto.net)

Helping hands (Photo courtesy of Graphics Mouse/FreeDigitalPhoto.net)

 

 

 

 

Accepting Life with ADHD: August 2017 Newsletter

Hello there,

August already! Hope you are enjoying the best food and entertainment the season has to offer.  We have a few good resources to enjoy for your summer reading.  Both parents and adults with ADHD should find something of value. This month I’m focusing on how it feels to have ADHD and how self- acceptance and finding new ways to meet the challenges of ADHD can help.

I struggle with feeling worthy, like I am ENOUGH, just as I am. (That I’m doing pretty well. …considering everything…most of the time.)  I suspect that I am not alone in feeling this way.

But, I AM getting better and feeling more comfortable in my own skin.  I’ve been blessed by many people who reassure me, who see and nurture my gifts with love. Support groups, coaches, and group coaching members have been a great help as well.  

As you enjoy the final days of summer, consider this FREE 12-week self-coaching program that ADHD coach Linda Walker is leading again this year.  Short videos introduce each segment with a simple assignment for the week. These help you develop small habits to build routines for accomplishing both daily tasks and larger projects. I had great results following the steps last year. Try it out!

Finish reading newsletter online >>>> How to Meet ADHD Challenges with Acceptance and Connection

 

Thanks for your attention,

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources.net 

Past ADHD Life newsletters 

 

Meet ADHD Challenges with Acceptance and Connection

Accepting Life with ADHD: August 2017 Newsletter

 

Thrive with ADHD through self-acceptance.We are lucky to have two posts this month from guest author Elizabeth Lewis, founder of  A Dose of Healthy Distraction. We’ll expand on her work with a  focus the on how it feels to have ADHD and the power of self- acceptance in finding new ways to meet the challenges of ADHD.

I struggle with feeling worthy, like I am ENOUGH, just as I am. (That I’m doing pretty well. …considering everything…most of the time.)  I suspect that I am not alone in feeling this way.

But, I AM getting better and feeling more comfortable in my own skin.  I’ve been blessed by many people who reassure me, who see and nurture my gifts with love. Support groups, coaches, and group coaching members have been a great help as well.  

As you enjoy the final days of summer, consider this FREE 12-week self-coaching program that ADHD coach Linda Walker is leading again this year.  Short videos introduce each segment with a simple assignment for the week. These help you develop small habits to build routines for accomplishing both daily tasks and larger projects. I had great results following the steps last year. Try it out!

How does it feel to have ADHD?

And what can we do about it?

 

Elizabeth Lewis delves into the emotions many people with ADHD deal with in Against the Wind: How it Feels to be a Woman with ADHD.  Liz writes, “It seems like we are forgetful or careless. Sometimes we come off as self-centered or even lazy. But you are not lazy or unmotivated. And you are not self-centered.”

“ADHD is frustrating and infuriating. A lifetime of criticism, from our self and others, really takes its toll.” Woman and girls have traditionally been under diagnosed and feel overwhelmed by combined roles of working, homemaking and caretaking.  But, man, woman or child all report the frustration, racing thoughts, mental exhaustion, and irritability that Liz describes. These feelings reflect problems with managing well at home, school, in the workplace and socially. Because of these feelings of failure, individuals with ADHD often judge themselves unfavorably.

Shame and Acceptance

 

All too often children and adult with ADHD “view themselves as fundamentally different and flawed.” William Dodson, M.D. writes on this encompassing feeling and how to overcome its hold on us for ADDitude Magazine in When the Shame of Living with a Disorder Is Worse Than the Disorder Itself.” He points out thatFeeling shame is different from feeling guilt. Guilt focuses on what is done. Shame focuses on who one is.

But, “What if you loved yourself, laziness and all? What if you loved yourself, all that is ugly and incompetent and mean, along with the beauty and brilliance and kindness?” In Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits talks about this radical change. Acceptance does not mean you cannot make improvements in your life, Leo says, “Acceptance isn’t stagnation — you will change no matter what. You can’t avoid changing. The question is whether that change comes from a place of acceptance and love, or a place of self-dislike and dissatisfaction.”

For good examples of how this acceptance leads to successful change and self-advocacy, see  “Know your Brain” (Link works) by Psych Central’s  “ADHD Millennial” blogger Neil Peterson. He explains, “The key to making progress on managing my ADHD was the shift from trying to change internal things that I can’t control to changing external things that I can control… In other words,  shifting from trying to change my brain to accepting my brain and trying to change my environment.”

Dr. William Dodson in Secrets of the ADHD Brain explains that with the ADHD brain, interest, a challenge, novelty, urgency or a strong sense of purpose help spur action We can develop routines for most mundane tasks but, we usually need an extra boost for projects. Medication helps with many symptoms, but you will need additional supports to manage your life well. Rather than focus on remedying areas where you struggle, you need to use your specific tools that get you “in the zone” and help you start each morning feeling motivated and capable.

What do you need to do to turn your brain on? How can you put your knowledge to work for you to adapt your life and environment?

 

See our Pinterest Boards for many more ideas on coming to accept your brain and how it works at its best: What’s Getting in Your Way,   Lead with your Strengths,  and Self-advocacy. If you’re not on Pinterest, you can access the boards through ADD freeSources on Facebook.  Look for the Pinterest section on the menu.

 

Acceptance for Parents

Acceptance of their child’s diagnosis and meeting their needs is vital for parents as well.

In How to Accept your Child’s Diagnosis: Even When it Hurts, Elizabeth Lewis reveals her ongoing process.  First and foremost, remember to enjoy your child. Love them, and seek to understand their differences – both their talents and challenges. You’ll also need to take personal time, grieve, and modify your vision for the future. Be ready to support and advocate for your child and teach them to ask for help to meet their own needs.

Liz admits that “I am scared and I am sad. But I know I am not alone.  A diagnosis gives you the chance to learn and grow and provide the resources your child needs.”

 

The Awesomeness of Accepting our Children’s Diagnosis (Link works) by Penny Williams, blogger and parenting coach of Parenting ADHD and Autism, expands on this concept. Penny shares her insight learned through years of struggle. “I was allowing ADHD to be a barrier to success and joy by fixating on making it better.”

But, “There is no “fixing” ADHD. There’s no cure. Nothing will erase its symptoms. When I realized that I couldn’t’ make ADHD better, but I could make life with ADHD better, things took a drastic, positive turn forward. Our job is to make life better, not to make the disability better.”

Podcast and Videos

 

One person who found a way to thrive with ADHD through self-acceptance is ADHD advocate and educator Jessica McCabe, founder of the popular YouTube Channel How to ADHD.  ADHD pioneer Ned Hallowell interviews Jessica about how working with a coach helped her define her strengths and driving purpose. Listen to the Distraction Podcast: Jessica McCabe tells us How to ADHD. Link works. (20-minutes)  Together with her fiancée/producer Edward, Jessica has developed a unique service that now has over 100,000 subscribers.  Her friendly, “Hello brains!” invites viewers to enjoy her informative videos. You might also enjoy Jessica’s interviews with Hallowell.

 

Always remember that you are not alone. You need validation and connection. FIND your TRIBE!.

To provide a realistic yet positive community for women with ADHD, this month’s guest author Liz Lewis founded A Dose of Healthy Distraction, a website and a private Facebook group.

The Find Support for ADHD section lists a number of in online and in-person ADHD support groups to meet a wide variety of needs.

 

Understanding ADHD from a personal perspective will be the focus next month. You’ll find strategies for parenting with empathy, and tips for organizing and managing your life more effectively.

Until then,

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources.net

(Photo courtesy of Vlado/ FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com

How to Accept your Child’s Diagnosis: Even When it Hurts

By Elizabeth Lewis

 

What is normal, anyway?

Based on conversations I have had with other moms, we all have moments where we wonder if we have done something wrong. Have the Gods cursed us? Are we bad mothers?

When my son screams at me in public or verbally threatens his kindergarten teacher I want to sink into the floor. I envy the moms whose children come out of school beaming, holding up their prizes for an entire day of good behavior.

Not that my son never gets a prize, he does, but every single day I am sweating, waiting for the phone call.

I write all the time about how abnormal I am. I have no explanation for why I want my son to be something I am not. But I am starting to think my feelings are not uncommon.

My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. Life in my house can be a little…..errrr challenging.

It is totally normal and acceptable to have mixed feelings about your child’s diagnosis.

 

HOW TO ACCEPT YOUR CHILD’S DIAGNOSIS

ENJOY YOUR CHILD

 

In the past, my son has had some emotional regulation issues. I have run around town to play therapists and occupational therapists and one cognitive behavioral therapist. Each time we went through a bad spell, we came out of it and I thought that I had it under control.

In my own way, I was arrogant for believing that having lived through ADHD I could handle it in my own son. As it turns out he does have ADHD. But he also has Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of high functioning autism that does not affect speech.

E likes the same things all 6 year-olds like. But he cannot transition at all. Not from one activity to another, and not from one environment to another. And if his daily schedule is altered in any way he is highly likely to have a meltdown.

When I say meltdown,  that means anything from crying and covering his ears, to telling his teacher that he will, “Hulk smash the building.”  He is that unpredictable.

E is also incredibly funny. Within the last week I have discussed all of the following:

  • Where “meat” comes from = dead animals
  • Black holes in space
  • The fact that my son swears he is never moving out of my house
  • Meditation, mindfulness….and, “why does that lady keep talking?”

 

Here is a link to more information on Asperger’s.

When you get a diagnosis for your child you will go through a process. Here are some ideas to get you through the tough times.

TAKE PERSONAL TIME

 

I have not been alone in 6 years. Literally.  My son was attached to me like an appendage for most of his life.

If there is one piece of advice I can give it is to take time for yourself.

This year we didn’t have a dog-sitter for Easter so I stayed by myself in my house over the holiday weekend. It was glorious. No interruptions. Just quiet time.

And I was fine. I can exist separate from my child with Asperger’s Syndrome and my husband.

My life is so consumed with taking care of others that I often forget how to take care of myself. Now I know that I can. I can be alone with my thoughts and it is ok.

GRIEVE

 

For at least 2 years I suspected my son has some kind of sensory processing or pragmatic disorder. Nobody really believed me, but I always knew. A mom just knows.

To date, I have yet to cry over my son’s diagnosis. Maybe because I spent so much time crying before?

Having an answer is somewhat comforting. With the diagnosis, I can make plans. I can enroll him in social skills classes, and schedule occupational therapy.

There is a forward motion to what I am doing.

But there is sadness. Will he ever be the boy I KNOW he could be? Will he make friends?

Let yourself cry if that is what you need. Hopefully, I will get there. Right now I feel like I don’t even have time to feel sorry for myself.

I have cried enough for all of us.

VISION FOR THE FUTURE

 

Like every other parent, I want the very best for my child. I want him to achieve… everything.

I have this vision of a handsome young man traveling abroad his junior year of high school. The same young man goes off to college and leaves me. I can literally feel the potential in my son.

I can feel it, but my son is too young to see the world through my crystal ball.

We have had issues at every single child care provider we have tried. Daycare directors have told me my child is “unmanageable.” There have been countless notes home from preschool teachers.

I have cried for days. I have cried rivers over my son. Every meltdown, every incident report chips away at my “vision” of who my son is.

But this is the thing – I know that he is more than his behavior.

It is my expectations that are being shot down. My hopes and dreams.

It is ok to grieve the death of your own expectations. Always keep the end goal in mind.

MAKE THE TOUGH DECISIONS

 

I live in one of the best public school districts in the country. I have shared with them my son’s recent diagnosis. We are working on a 504 plan.

It’s complicated because my son has an above-average IQ, but marked social skills deficits.

I am fearful of the labels that are often assigned in public schools. The labels, though necessary, tend to be life-long. I do not want to go to IEP meetings for my son. I do not want to get phone calls and emails from the school.

But as the mom, it is my job to make the tough decisions. Talking to teachers and administrators is part of my job. I got this. So do you.

THE FEAR IS REAL

 

I worked for a time with older students in a special education setting, I loved my time there but what I saw was not encouraging. I witnessed bright kids who were going through a tough time being thrown together with emotionally disturbed kids.

My students believed they could not and would not achieve. They had given up on school and even worse, on themselves.

In order for my son to be successful in any school he is going to need support. Private schools are sometimes unable to offer the types of supports that a kid like mine needs. I would like to think that I can provide enough support outside of school that he can live up to his potential.

I am scared and I am sad. But I know I am not alone.

To all of the moms out there dealing with an Autism diagnosis; I hear you. I feel you.

It is totally normal to question everything. It is also ok to just sit and cry. Sometimes this feels like a life sentence.

Every single expectation and hope goes down the toilet when you hear the words, “autism spectrum.”

But it’s ok. Your mixed feelings are ok. A diagnosis gives you the chance to learn and grow and provide the resources your child needs.

I feel you, I hear you. And I am right there with you.

Now I want to know: How do you accept your child’s diagnosis?

 

 

About the author:  Elizabeth Lewis is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and self-appointed CEO of her home. Liz founded A Dose of Healthy Distraction, a website and a private Facebook group to provide a realistic yet positive face to living with ADHD.  She also runs the ADHD Coaching Corner, a low-cost online support and coaching group.

Contact Liz at HealthyADHD@gmail.com or liz@adoseofhealthydistraction.com

 

This article was originally published as How to Accept your Child’s Diagnosis http://adoseofhealthydistraction.com/how-to-accept-your-childs-diagnosis/

Reprinted and edited with permission from the author.

Link on Asperger’s goes to Autism Speaks.org: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/asperger-syndrome

 

“Photo courtesy of Vlado/ FreeDigitalPhoto.net”  Modified on Canva.com

 

 

 

 

 

Against the Wind – How it Feels to be a Woman with ADHD

You are not lazy, unmotivated, or self-centered.By Elizabeth Lewis

 

For most neurotypical people,  ADHD is hard to understand. (1) It seems like we are forgetful or careless. Sometimes we come off as self-centered or even lazy. Believe me, I totally understand why other people perceive us this way.

But you are not lazy or unmotivated. And you are not self-centered. I have spent hours thinking about and talking to other women with ADHD. After a while, some patterns emerged.

Like anything else, ADHD is individual. We all experience varying degrees and types of symptoms. If you have ADHD over the course of your lifetime, which most of us do, the symptoms actually change with your age and your circumstances.

What all women with ADHD need to remember is that they are not alone.

 

WANT TO KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO HAVE ADHD?

 

FRUSTRATING

 

Everyone has felt frustrated with themselves at some point. But for us, the frustration is aimed at ourselves. This is an insidious type of frustration that makes you doubt yourself at every turn.

We spend a lot of time with negative thoughts running on replay through our heads. Unfortunately, we also have trouble stopping these thoughts and managing them. Long term this causes all types of psychological symptoms ranging from anxiety to major depression.

Imagine being mad at yourself all the time. We are our own toughest critic.

 

RACING THOUGHTS

 

Having ADHD means your thoughts go so fast that you barely have time to acknowledge them before you are on to the next thing.

In the course of 60 seconds, I think about this website, my son, my dog, the work in front of me and the noise coming from my neighbor’s garage. None of these thoughts actually reach fruition… they just flit through my brain before I get to completely process them. Usually, I cannot even remember what I was trying to think about.

You know how sometimes you will walk into a room and forget why you are there? It’s like that – but with everything.

Often, I cannot remember what I sat down to write about. Sometimes I forget that I already started writing about a certain topic. I end up with 3 different word documents all started on different days about the same subject. It is infuriating.

But I can only concentrate on being furious for a few seconds until my brain moves on to the next thing.  At least I don’t hold grudges?

 

MENTAL EXHAUSTION 

 

Every so often I have a meltdown. Usually, this is a result of total and complete mental exhaustion brought on by parenting, work…life. Apparently, I am not alone in this.

So many women with ADHD report feeling chronically mentally fatigued. Initially, I thought this might be due to the fast-paced activity that is happening in our brains. (See racing thoughts above.)

But then I started to think about how many of us seek comfort through food or other behaviors. Since ADHD involves brain chemicals, it makes sense that we might feel a bit fatigued since we lack the normal amount of dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical most often associated with pleasure or rewards, but it is not the only neurotransmitter implicated in ADHD.  (2)

The best remedy to control the how our brains use dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine in our brains is to take our meds as prescribed.  (2)  Add exercise and eat a healthy, nutrient dense diet. Oh and get plenty of sleep and relaxation time. Coaching or therapy can also help you develop self-awareness and to develop other coping strategies. Organization and time management skills should be implemented gradually, addressing the areas that cause you the most difficulty first. It will take effort, but over time, you will feel more in control of your life.

Other than those options, I have no good advice. I am struggling with cognitive fatigue as I write this.

 

IRRITABILITY

 

Along with a tendency to feel tired, many women with ADHD also report feeling a bit cranky.

Imagine spending all day feeling frustrated with yourself, unable to concentrate, racing thoughts and fatigue…and then you come home and your family says, “What’s for dinner?”

Yeah, that is a recipe for trouble. (Or at least a lot of slamming cupboard doors and swearing under your breath.)

Irritability tends to be a symptom of anxiety and/or depression for many of us. It’s tough to live like this and hold it together.  I once referred to having ADHD as, “trying to hold about 100 corks under water all at the same time.”

In order to feel less irritable, you probably have to address the chemical issues in your brain. So think about getting diagnosed and medicated. ADHD meds may not be enough, so you will need to try some other coping mechanisms. Think mindfulnessjournaling or maybe cognitive behavioral therapy.  (Links go to Liz’s articles)

ADHD is frustrating and infuriating. A lifetime of criticism, from our self and others, really takes its toll.  Some of us cannot even share our diagnosis with the people in our lives for fear of denial, disbelief, and stigma.

ADHD symptoms are individual so it is tough to describe all of them. The feelings mentioned here are ones that are commonly reported in my Private Coaching Group and my public Facebook Group. Hopefully, with enough awareness and community support, we can support as many women and mothers living with ADHD as possible.

Finally, always remember you are not alone!

 

 

Note from the author: I hope that this writing was enlightening for anyone trying to understand what it feels like to be a woman with ADHD. If I wanted to go on I could, but that would be overkill.

 

About the author:  Elizabeth Lewis is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and self-appointed CEO of her home. Liz founded A Dose of Healthy Distraction, a website and a private Facebook group to provide a realistic yet positive face to living with ADHD.  She also runs the ADHD Coaching Corner, a low-cost online support and coaching group.

Contact Liz at HealthyADHD@gmail.com or liz@adoseofhealthydistraction.com

 

This article was originally published as Want to Know How it Feels to have ADHD? Reprinted and edited with permission from the author. http://adoseofhealthydistraction.com/want-know-feels-like-have-adhd/

  1. Neurotypical – Definition from The Urban Dictionary – Neurotypical is a word used to describe a person who has a typical brain. This not only includes non-autistic people but also people without mental illnesses, intellectual disabilities or any other neurological illness or disorder such as ADHD, epilepsy or brain tumors. It is the opposite of neurodivergent.  – Harvested 7/14/2017 urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Neurotypical
  2. What Does Dopamine Actually Do? By Steven Fleming, Ph.D. – Harvested 7/14/2017https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-hidden-mind/201212/what-does-dopamine-actually-do
  3. Neurochemicals Involved in ADHD by Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch – Harvested 7/14/2017 https://psychcentral.com/lib/neurotransmitters-involved-in-adhd/ Link works

 

“Image courtesy of Vlado/ FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva.com

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhoto.net”