This month, we feature, “My ADHD Journey: Living with ADHD in Pakistan.” The author, Haseeb Waqar, has mined his life for information about the many ways that ADHD has impacted his life and how he has changed his story from one of failure to one of increasing success. Long summer days give us the opportunity to relax, to just “be.” I suggest that it is also a good time to reflect on your own journey with ADHD.
Just a list would do, but recording your story, in the spoken or written word, has greater power to inform and transform your life.
This doesn’t have to be complicated.
Use your remembrances from childhood.
What do your parents remember about you?
How well did you do in school?
What challenges did you face?
How did you feel about yourself?
What tactics did your parents and teachers use to ease your struggles?
Recall your journey towards wholeness.
What have you learned about ADHD?
What are your struggles and how have you overcome them?
Who and/or what has guided your understanding of what you need to succeed?
What tools and skills have you developed to address your difficulties?
Claim the unique abilities and values that guide your vision of the future.
What “drives” you? Gives you purpose and direction?
What is your mission in life?
Have you developed supports that will help you along the way?
Coach Linda Taylor proposes that “At the heart of successfully managing ADHD is redefining or eliminating the measure of normal.” Use the power of story to define YOUR normal.
As Haseeb says, “We should all have the opportunity to know who our true self is, and to learn to focus on our strengths and gifts rather than our weaknesses…You have many great qualities that define you more than your diagnosis ever will.” Celebrate them. Use them to create the life you were meant to live.
Once again I’m getting out this month’s article just days before the month is over. I’m trying to let go of when I think it SHOULD come out and calling this my new normal. My coaching group just laughs and says that could be expected for a blog about ADHD. I hope you can find the humor as well.
I remember my support group laughing when a member from Japan told us that the title “Women with Messy Houses” was the Japanese translation for Sari Solden’s book, Women with ADHD. (Link works) It really WASN’T very funny though, since most of us had struggled mightily to keep our houses organized, our chores done and some semblance of order in our lives.
My own life has improved quite a bit since those early days learning about ADHD. Over time I learned that developing systems is the key to organization, housekeeping and good time management. In this comprehensive article, I have put together a few of my favorite resources to help you find the right tools to adapt to your life. Pick and choose your own strategies from
Take it slow and gradually build up to workable systems for you. Adapt them as needed. You’ll be surprised at how big an impact that even small changes can make. Try just one idea for a week and see for yourself.
It’s almost springtime. The earth and sun will warm soon and we’ll see a renewal of growth that can inspire our own growth.
We’re finally thawing out here in the Northwest. It’s amazing, the snow has barely melted, but we already have Snowdrops, my earliest spring bulbs popping up all over. With more light in the day, I can feel my mood lifting and am finally feeling more productive. Once again, my February newsletter is going out the final day of the month. (I thought I was a little bit ahead, but it turns out that February is a short month. Who remembers things like that?)
If you’re struggling too and could use a few new strategies, our latest article, “How to Make ADHD Work for you – Pills don’t teach skills:Manage Your ADHD with Behavior Strategies” offers a number of great ideas from basic health needs (like Eating, Moving and Sleeping) to a number of helpful ADHD hacks.
Tia found out she had ADHD in addition to anxiety at the ripe old age of 28 and went on a quest to figure out what that meant for her. What she discovered was life-changing and her blog was born. Little Miss Lionheart’s goal is to serve as every woman’s guide to ADHD and help you turn the challenges of ADHD into an advantage.
I love the comment one reader left.
“Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, many pointers, and understanding of ADHD! – It’s comforting to know I’m not alone and can gather support and acceptance with knowing I/we’re special and unique and able to embrace the way we are made and use it for our good, and too for those around us!” Wendi
Meanwhile, I talk to myself to help overcome my fear of writing, perfectionism, and procrastination. I used a few personalized mantras to keep me going this month “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify,” “Put a Box Around ( Also known as Increase structure and Limit the Variables,) “Go for Enough, Don’t worry about Perfect, ” “Just Touch it” and “One step at a time”.
Your job is to discover whatever works best for you, your child or other loved ones. It’s not easy to learn to live well with ADHD, but it’s worth it. Do the Work! You won’t be sorry.
Enjoy any sunshine and warmth that your weather brings this March. It would be great to be able to put the snowshoes and shovel away for another year.
Sorry to take so long to get back to you. It has something to do with avoiding New Years’ Resolutions because I fail at those every year, trying to decide about continuing the newsletter at all and attempting to write a few articles myself. I’m not too proud to admit that it was all a bit too much for me to handle. Feeling a number of negative emotions while trying to write about how to deal with emotional sensitivity made me feel like I’ve just been masquerading as someone with anything useful to say at all. After a number of false starts, I’m calling Enough! Therefore, you’ll get one very late newsletter now and the second about the first week of February.
My first article is Self-Regulation: Controlling your emotions with ADHD. It proposes that emotions are a major factor of ADHD that affects all aspects of life for those with ADHD. Unfortunately, Emotional dysregulation is often interpreted as a lack of self-control. Self-Regulation, however, is a non-judgmental and positive way to express the necessary steps to learning to control your emotions with ADHD.” The article includes a number of strategies from experts used to get control of your ADHD. You CAN take your life where you want rather than being swept along by unchecked feelings.
Also this month, please welcome Louise Bown, ADHD coach, advocate, and author as a new writer for us. Rollercoasters & Egg Shells: ADHD Parent and Child Relationships is a heartfelt portrait of the many ways that oversensitive emotions, the opinion of others & the need for constant reassurance affects both parent and child. Being diagnosed and accepting this “rollercoaster of emotions” as an important aspect of ADHD helps build personal coping strategies. Those very skills also help avoid “walking on eggshells” with their own children.
How ADHD Causes Emotional Dysregulation – ADHD amplifies emotions due to poor connections between the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and a delayed reward system. The prefrontal cortex would normally allow you to take a deep breath and process strong emotions before responding.
Recommended for your attention:
See Thomas Brown’s NEW Understandings of ADHD: The role of emotion for an in-depth explanation of this topic. These slides from the Burnet Seminar offer some Key Takeaways. Most of them are in a less technical language that these examples. Chemistry of motivation is modulated by complex processes resulting from amygdalar integration of idiosyncratic emotion-laden memories embedded in perceptions and various cognitive networks. Also, Working memory & focusing impairments characteristic of ADHD may impair motivation by causing emotional flooding or constricted focus.
I’m glad to finally put this newsletter away. I have technical work ahead but tomorrow is another day. I’ve got the time, interest, and I’ve moved on from a place where doing nothing feels safer than getting something done. That’s always worth celebrating!
Hope you are well this season. I especially hope that you have avoided the illnesses that have struck my own family this past month. I have been thrown off-balance for over six weeks. First I cared for my mother, then myself, my husband, and finally helped a friend. Yet I was judging myself and feeling ashamed of what I HAD NOT done when I found peace in a note about priorities that I spied in the Doctor’s office.
This month I am also inspired by two articles dealing with grief and acceptance of ADHD:
Today is my Birthday. It’s a lovely day outside and I want to sit in the backyard and read the novel I’m half-way through. But my newsletter is past due so I’m taking the day to finish it. Yes, I’m still late sometimes and do things at the last minute or use embarrassment and shame to motivate myself. But I am learning to get things done without as much stress as in the past. You can too.
Luckily I’ve already got my two articles from guest authors on getting things done posted online and I’ve written a rough draft during 2-hour body double sessions spread throughout the month that help me focus on difficult tasks even when I DON’T WANT TO.
This “Principle.”Is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, instead of waiting for the house to get really dirty, you just clean a little bit at a time, but Leo shares some of his favorite tips. Which is great because it also works for other areas of your life: finances, email, work tasks, even health and fitness routines
“How to hack your dopamine to boost your productivity,” he begins…
“Motivation happens when your dopamine spikes because you anticipate something important is about to happen… The brain can be trained to feed off of bursts of dopamine sparked by rewarding experiences. You create the dopamine environment, and the brain does the rest…”
“One way to achieve those rewarding experiences is by setting incremental goals. Dopamine will flow as a result of your brain’s positive reinforcement every time you complete a step and meet a challenge.”
I always like to include something for families or children, especially for “Twice-exceptional” families when both parent and child have ADHD because It’s not always fun to be a parent with ADHD. I hope you enjoy this excellent article by Jaclyn Paul of ADHD Homestead, Time Blindness, ADHD and those Days when Parenting just Sucks
“Parents with ADHD can struggle especially hard with the tough days. Our impulsivity sometimes makes it difficult to contain poor reactions to children’s goading. Emotional hyperfocus and time blindness keep us from seeing how our relationships with our children could ever improve. We feel trapped in that worst day, unable to see through to the past or the future…”
“Do yourself and your family a favor by learning about your ADHD and how it affects your behavior as a parent. Get your ADHD symptoms under control so you have a fighting chance of not flying off the handle when your kids try to get under your skin. And while you should let kids see you struggle to do your best, they shouldn’t see you lose your cool every time they frustrate you.”
What do 71% of alcoholics, a quarter of drug abusers and 45% of the prison population have in common? There are an estimated 9,000,000 American adults with ADHD, but only about 15% get diagnosed and treated. Alan Brown shares his personal trials of being one of the 85% who did not know that help is available. Now a successful entrepreneur and ADHD advocate, he calls on us to change the future of those not yet receiving the help they need.
To the Teachers of ADHD Students (8-minutes), Jessica McCabe of How to ADHD on YouTube offers an emotional appeal to teachers. She speaks from her own experience of feeling less than enough, with good potential but poor performance. “Be THAT teacher,” she says, that realizes that ADHD brains work differently and that’s OK. To know that students with ADHD need you to understand their challenges without judgment. Yes, they need help with their challenges, but more than that, your students NEED to know that they ARE enough and likable just as they are.
Hurrah! I just finished my body-double session and I’m halfway to the finish line. I still have to post it online though and get out the email. So — it’s time for a break, something to eat and a short walk to revive my tired brain. I’m challenging myself to get it all done by 5 pm so my husband can make me dinner and reassure me that I’m not just getting older, but better as well. (I got two Birthday phone calls, so I didn’t quite make my deadline. But it’s only 5:30 and I’m DONE for the day!)
Most people have only a vague understanding of what ADHD means. Current DSMV diagnosis standards assume that a lack of attention, distractibility, and hyperactivity are the basic symptoms of ADHD and assign impairment based primarily on those issues.
This avenue of diagnosing ADHD fails to recognize that ADHD is not a deficit of attention, but rather an inability to regulate that attention, an inability to self-regulate, to focus mind and body movement according to the importance of the task. According to William Dodson, M.D, for a child or adult with ADHD, movement toward a future goal is instead “turned on” by an interest-driven brain.
NO amount of remediation is enough to control all the negative effects of ADHD. Instead, we must each define and use our interests, values, and strengths to find that “zone” where we can do our best work. When we can define the “Why” in a project, we are inspired and empowered to meet our own goals. There’s been some speculation that the symptoms of ADHD, themselves, convey certain strengths. Although I am also inspired by such memes as Awesome Qualities of ADHD from Laurie Dupar, I’ve challenged this viewpoint before in Self-Advocacy for ADHD: Know Yourself.
“In 2015, the VIA Institute on Character, in conjunction with the ADD Coach Academy, conducted a research study to identify whether there are indeed specific strengths of people who have been diagnosed with ADHD. (1) Instead, but not surprisingly, the study found that most people with ADHD had shared difficulties in areas related to impulsivity and sustaining attention. Their weakest ”Strengths” were Prudence, Self-regulation [self-control] and Perseverance. Although the qualities of Creativity, Humor, Kindness, and Teamwork did rank slightly higher in people with ADHD, their highest “Character Strengths” were uniquely individual. (2)
What was a revelation, however, was that when individuals worked in accordance with their highest values, their weaknesses proved to be situational. That is, they were far less of a factor in getting things done when interest inspired action. As David Giwerc explains, “When you focus on what ignites your heart and your positive energy, you will always be able to self-regulate.”
We’re lucky to have two articles from LuAnn Pierce, LCSW that explain just a few of the intricacies of diagnosing and treating ADHD.
The first is Adult ADHD: Soft Signs and Related Issues. Don’t be surprised if you didn’t know about these additional signs to look for. Many clinicians lack the knowledge as well due to inadequate training in school or lack of interest in getting additional training later
Hypersensitivity/ Sensory Overload
Overwhelm or Over-stimulation
OCD-like Coping Skills
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria – Overwhelmed and emotionally devastated by any perceived or real criticism or rejection
LuAnn Pierce also covers a lot of territory in ADHD Success at College and Work. She is in good company when she writes that “ADHD is NOT just for Kids – at a minimum, 50-65% of us continue to have symptoms into adulthood. The symptoms may be to a lesser degree or change a bit, but they are ever-present…”
“Perhaps the most confusing thing about ADHD is that it occurs in some situations but not others.”
The key is creating an environment that allows you to do what you love best and accommodate for those areas where you struggle. There is no cure for ADHD, but there are ways to deal with the worst of its effects. Diet and exercise, creating habits and building routines as well as more specific ideas for college and workplace concerns can help you be to be effective, productive and successful at work:
Creating that space where you can recharge and help your symptoms fade away is the key to managing ADHD. Accepting your unique strengths and challenges is a work in progress for all of us, but there is a lot of good advice in LuAnn’s article. She finishes with these self-help basics:
Do not over-schedule – leave extra time between all tasks and leave 15 minutes early for work, etc.
Work with your symptoms – find a job that fits your skills and create a schedule that fits your sleep patterns.
Stop trying to be perfect – recognize limits and own your mistakes.
Make it okay to be different – celebrate your differences and help others understand your needs and strengths.
If the kids get bored this summer, the ADHD Kids Page has lots of things to do, watch and read.
Welcome to summer. I’m looking forward to enjoying 93 days of warmer weather and longer hours of daylight. Hope you have a chance to take a few day trips, invite friends over or take a relaxing vacation.
So sorry, but I need your help again with getting the Newsletter out to people that would actually like to receive it. I find it necessary to abandon my current email list and start anew. Please sign up for my new list when you click through to the Newsletter.
Through my work, I hope you will better understand ADHD, how and when it affects our lives and help you and your family get a handle on living a full and satisfying life.
Thanks go to ADHD advocate Kari Taylor Hogan and to ADHD coach Linda Walker for our feature articles about addressing your ADHD symptoms with self-compassion. Both offer effective strategies to improve your functioning in:
16 Steps to Better Self-Esteem with ADHD and 12 Great Strategies that Help ADHers Thrive.
We also have a video from Dr. Charles Parker explaining that ADHD is NOT 24-7 and when ADHD symptoms are most likely to interfere.
Parents may find the next two articles useful. They address what to expect if your child was just diagnosed with ADHD and how to deal with difficult transitions through a simple positive parenting technique: S.M.I.L.E. You can also enjoy two short Videos from the ADHD Mama.
According to ADHD pioneer, Ned Hallowell, M.D, education is the first step in identifying and treating ADHD. Unfortunately, we often start our education about ADHD having to overcome fear and stigma, myths, and partial, often negative information. Misunderstanding abounds. We are still learning, but reliable information is now available to help you get a good start on living well with ADHD. I share some of what I’ve learned on the last twenty years through my website and newsletter, as well as ADD freeSources’ Facebook and Pinterest pages.
It’s important to understand that ADHD is NOT 24/7! Indeed, ADHD symptoms most often interfere in specific situations when increased variables and decreased structure leads to an absence of focus. This meme outlines what Dr. Charles Parker, author of ADHD Medication Rules proposes in his 5-minute video Reality- ADHD in Context. (Sorry, the embed link doesn’t work)
We are often SO hard on ourselves that dealing with many problems stemming from ADHD is secondary to the emotional upheaval this self-deprecation brings. One thing that really really helps is to address your ADHD symptoms with self-compassion and learn new strategies to improve your functioning. Both of the following articles do a wonderful job providing great basic information and encouragement.
Your first step is STRUCTURE.
By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!
The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).
FOCUS on your good qualities. Look in the mirror and choose 5 things about yourself that you DO like about you! Write these 5 things down and tape it to the mirror (changing the 5 things each week). By choosing 5 things you do like about yourself, you’re creating hope and mindfulness that goes deep down to create an inner peace. Inner peace leads to a sense of power and in a matter of weeks, a more confident you!
Be your own cheerleader! No one else will do it for you. Your only concern should be you. If you have to, tell yourself, “I can do this”, “I am going to do great”, “I AM worthy”.
Learn to LIKE yourself. Meditation works wonders!! Sit in a quiet place for 10 minutes and just breathe in and exhale all of that negativity. Finish article here.
12 Great Strategies that Help ADHers Thrive by ADHD coach Linda Walker PCC, B. Admin. takes a slightly different but still valid approach.
Take advantage of your strengths. Identify what you’re strong in and find ways to do more of it. Keep a journal and note down when you’ve managed to learn something particularly well. You know, when you realize “you’re a natural” at something, this is almost always an indication that you are playing to your strengths.
Surround yourself with people who can embrace your differences and who accept you for who you are and for what you are not.
Determine what ADHD traits aren’t going so well for you and your loved ones and consider what could change. Even though you want others to accept you, you also want to live in harmony with others. This may mean you’ll need to modify some of your behavior to reduce the negative challenges of ADHD. See complete article.
Parents, with or without ADHD themselves, are often bewildered by their child’s behavior and feel helpless to help. Traditional ways to “discipline’ and “train up your child” use methods that just plain do not work with ADHD. They don’t address their child’s needs or the way their brain’s work. Attempts at strict parenting often backfire and cause pain and estrangement for the whole family. Understanding the ADHD mind, learning to parent with empathy without taking their behavior personally, and keeping communication open is a real challenge.
I like what Kristen Mae says about her family’s journey inIf Your Child Was Just Diagnosed with ADHD, Here’s What I Want You to Know “These days, ADHD is just another cog in the machinery of our lives. It’s a part of Lucas, a frustration, and an endearment at the same time. We are old pros at modifying our lives to accommodate ADHD, and we are not afraid…”
Bring understanding of ADHD into the light.
“So this is what I want to tell parents of a child with a new ADHD diagnosis: It gets better.”
The website won’t allow linking to their article. To read it in its entirety, copy and paste: https://www.babble.com/parenting/adhd-diagnosis-parent-message/
Yes, with help, you can learn to recognize those situations where ADHD symptoms are most likely to occur. Maybe even get your kids up, ready and out the door to school on time without yelling or crying. Transitions, or moving from one activity to another are often a challenge that leads to family upheaval, angry and upset parents and children.
To help with transitions, 5 simple positive parenting techniques using the anagram, S.M.I.L.E. are detailed inThe Power of Positive Transitions by Melissa Fahrney.
S-Smile and take deep, slow breaths.
M- Meet them where they are.
L-Let them lead-both in the moment and in planning the transition. Ask, don’t tell.
E-Energy. If you’re smiling and breathing, you’ve started tapping into your heart energy.
To read more, copy and paste: https://impactadhd.com/organize-your-life-and-family/the-power-of-positive-transitions-smile-switch/
For a more on children and great parenting tips, see these short videos form new Vlogger ADHD Mama, AKA, Laura Von Poirier II.
Brain Development in your ADHers 3-minutes What’s going on in there and better ways to react in disconcerting situations. Understand that many of their actions and reactions reflect a delay in Executive functions or Self-regulation skills more like those of a child 30% younger.
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is no one’s fault, But once you suspect that you or your child may have ADHD, you have a responsibility to understand and find help to deal with its challenges. Learn effective parenting techniques, find support and treatment, and develop unique strengths to compensate, find success, and thrive.