August 4, 2010

ADHD Related Choices and an Existential Thought Experiment

I am a huge fan of Dr. Irvin D. Yalom's writings - both fiction and clinical non-fiction works. Stumbling across his book Existential Psychotherapy in the musty library stacks one lonely night in first year university singularly inspired me to specialize in psychology at the University of Toronto.

He poses the following thought experiment to a number of his patients - one which I think is very powerful.

Suppose you were told that after your death, you were destined to relive your entire life exactly as it is, with all the same choices and all the same consequences.
  1. Would that be a reward or a punishment?
  2. What can you do now in your life so that one year or five years from now, you won't look back and feel dismayed about the new regrets you've accumulated?
  3. Even if you are subject to forces which seem beyond your control, at least 10% of your life is within your power. How can you find that 10%, and exercise it, so that you're doing whatever is in your power not to create new regrets in the rest of your life?
He even took it a step farther in his novel "When Nietzsche Wept", where the therapist protagonist poses the question to the ailing philosopher Nietzsche by asking him if he were destined to relive his entire life exactly as it has played out over and over into infinity, what changes would he make... that really puts an edge on the question!

Some would respond by saying that they have no regrets, or that whatever they encountered 'made them who they are'. Sure it made them who they are, but that is beside the point, in my opinion. Is this who they wish to be? I take issue with those who say that they have no regrets, because personally I know that if I could go back in time with what I know now, I would make some different choices. Whoever says that they no regrets is either a liar or a saint. Or so says I...

But I think the important lesson of the thought experiment is that it makes you ask yourself about the here-and-now. What choices are you making at this very moment in your life which you would make differently in light of this thought experiment?

Enough wandering. Focus: How the heck does this relate to ADHD? Well, I get that I use medication to help me control my ADHD symptoms and that the neurobiology and genetic factors are out of my control. But I also understand that exercise, pattern planning, self-coaching, and other activities can help me improve my ADHD symptoms, and that these are all choices I can make.

I have been reading "The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Time, Tasks, and Talents" by Nancy A. Ratey. She stresses the importance and capabilities of people with ADHD to perform self-coaching. At the same time, she recognizes that ADHD never 'goes away', and that self-coaching won't replace therapy and medication. But that self-coaching and persistent efforts towards carefully chosen behavioural goals using a structured self-coaching model can make a tremendous difference to an ADHDer like me.

This book has been very eye-opening for me. It discusses symptoms and how they relate to real-life situations. It details a structure and very rational self-coaching model which we ADHDers can employ.

So getting to the point: I am choosing to commit to engage in self-coaching over the next several weeks on an area of development (which I have yet to decide upon...). I'll work on this topic over the next few days and post about my choice, my commitment to the self-coaching and the outcomes. I think it should be a very interesting project.
"Ratey has produced a valuable resource for people addressing the daily challenges caused by the neurobiological condition of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Symptoms of ADHD include difficulty with organization, focus, and time management. Ratey, a professional ADHD coach who was diagnosed with the disorder herself while in graduate school, provides a set of concrete tools that ADHD adults can use to help themselves traverse both personal and professional situations, though the author emphasizes that her book is not a substitute for diagnosis and treatment. Short sections explaining the biological reasons for the disorder's more exasperating symptoms are contributed by Ratey's husband John, a psychiatrist specializing in treatment of ADHD and co-author of Driven to Distraction, a seminal ADHD book. With a nod to her audience, Ratey divides her book into sections that can be absorbed in small increments, including her own struggles with the disorder, her six-step "A.N.S.W.E.R" system, case studies and tips from spouses and employers. For ADHD sufferers, Ratey's book might not be a one-stop remedy but it's an extremely helpful starting place. "

"For the millions of adults diagnosed with ADHD The Disorganized Mind will provide expert guidance on what they can do to make the most of their lives. The inattention, time-mismanagement, procrastination, impulsivity, distractibility, and difficulty with transitions that often go hand-in-hand with ADHD can be overcome with the unique approach that Nancy Ratey brings to turning these behaviors around.

The Disorganized Mind addresses the common issues confronted by the ADHD adult:
“Where did the time go?”
“I’ll do it later, I always work better under pressure anyway.”
“I’ll just check my e-mail one more time before the meeting…”
“I’ll pay the bills tomorrow – that will give me time to find them.”

Professional ADHD coach and expert Nancy Ratey helps readers better understand why their ADHD is getting in their way and what they can do about it. Nancy Ratey understands the challenges faced by adults with ADHD from both a personal and professional perspective and is able to help anyone move forward to achieve greater success. Many individuals with ADHD live in turmoil. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make choices and imagine how things can change – this book will teach you how. By using ADHD strategies that have worked for others and will work for you, as well as learning how to organize, plan, and prioritize, you’ll clear the hurdles of daily living with a confidence and success you may never before have dreamed possible."
Hope you enjoyed this post and found it interesting. I really enjoy reading your feedback and comments - if there is anything in particular you would like me to write about, please leave a comment below...

Cheers,

Mungo

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July 31, 2010

Things Fall Apart with Adult ADHD

It's been about two months now since I've been on medication for Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It's working for me, it's working for me slowly, but I'm getting there. And I guess it's been three months now, maybe four months since I've been on this journey of learning about Adult ADHD and learning I've been afflicted with ADHD all my life.

I engaged in a flurry of activity at the beginning researching on the Internet: watching videos, reading books, reading articles, looking at old school records and putting this blog together - in order to make sense of it all. That initial flurry of activity of meaning-making has slowed - the tempo has reduced, but the activity has not diminished in depth. Like a jigsaw puzzle, I began to piece together questions and fragments of my life that I always wondered about - e.g. "Why did I feel that way? Why did I fail? Why does that memory stick out to me? Why did I feel ashamed then? How did I screw that relationship up?"

Since then I have had so many ah-ha moments, it began to seem like a game show. With my reading and thinking, I'm beginning to tie the neuroscience and the biochemistry together with the psychodynamics, the interpersonal and developmental psychological factors that intimately formed the substrate within which I grew and within which I suffered.

An old estranged friend of mine told me once in a moment of despair that "life is hard". I was initially puzzled - he was 17 and in my mind too young to realize that then but then I remember agreeing with him because I had only just recognized that fact deeply just a short time prior to him telling me.

Life is hard. Life is hard when you're engaged in relationships and engaged in work and family and lost in our physical bodies and lost in this materialistic culture, bombarded by television, bombarded by advertisements - each telling us what is right and what is wrong, how to behave in order to fit in, and where to spend your money - your only worth. There are a myriad of self-help books, of business books telling you how to succeed and make friends, boiling down life into a viscous jelly of aphorisms, of historical quotes, of cherry-picked folk psychological utterances. And yet life is more the unknown than the known.

Now I know I grew up in a safe country, in a life of privilege, so I'm not complaining too much - but I'm trying to see things from a relative point of view. Life was hard and full of suffering for me.

In high school I read the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe's 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart", the title taken from William Butler Yeats's poem "The Second Coming". I think all my life up to now I've been in the strangest Newtonian state of flux whereby my life was always falling apart but not so much that I couldn't keep my head above water at least most of the time. Sure I failed here and I failed there - kicked out of university for a year, broken relationships, lost jobs, lost friends, lost lovers, lost trust, lost self, drugs, booze, risky behavior - how do you know how to fix something if all you see is broken around you?

Well I know now. While I still have old habits and I still fall apart in places, I think that's okay. Because now I can confidently say that things fall apart now out of habit and not out of undiscovered and impenetrable compulsions, or that things fall apart because I haven't learned a new way. I know I can learn new ways - and am learning new ways. I know I can reinforce new habits, extinguish old habits, and wear new ruts into the clay soil of my pathways into a new living.

Cheers,

Mungo

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July 30, 2010

Time Sense, Time Management - Tools for Success with ADHD

At work I use a BlackBerry to communicate with colleagues - I work in a fast-paced IT environment and need to be aware of alerts, issues, and be quickly available to any number of people in our large organization. I love my BlackBerry.

With my recent diagnosis of Adult ADHD, I wanted to find a number of methods and tools to help me with my time management. I have fairly poor time management skills because I let time pass me by. I don't have an especially proficient internal clock, and I also fall prey easily to the "just one last thing" syndrome.

For example, I know I have a meeting to go to, or it is time for lunch or to go home. And for some reason or another (and maybe more than one), I somehow dread the transition of leaving and having some time to be in my head, so I busy myself with enough so that I'll end up having to rush and hurry to my next appointment. This gives me a good squirt of dopamine in my ADHD frontal lobes and all is well again. At least to my cute little ADHD brain.

The first thing I do is I use the 'New Alarm' option in Calendar to set a recurring alarm for when I need to get hustling to get to work on time (otherwise I get lost in my newsreader on my computer - 'just one last article'!) and also I set one for a quarter to five in the afternoon to remind me to begin packing up, and wrapping up my day. This method is extremely useful to me. It is a type of 'pattern planning' that goes a long way to bolster some of my habitual and ADHD-caused deficiencies.

Some folks recommend having clocks put up on walls all over the place, but I also came across a cool application that loads quietly in the background of my BlackBerry. It is a free download called 'EveryHour' by BerryBlow and it sounds an unobtrusive tone every hour or half-an-hour (depending on how you configure it) during your waking hours (you set the start and end of your day). This 'dingggg' is quiet, but alerts me to the passing of time. You can also custom set a sound of your own, but I find the supplies sounds are adequate, and in fact quite effective but do not interrupt meetings or conversations.

It is so useful to me. Hopefully it is helping to train me to develop my internal time sense, and help me get out of the rut, or the habit of doing "just one last thing" before an important appointment.

  • Which will result on me being on time more and more.
  • Which will result in positive feedback from peers and family. Which will result in greater self-esteem.
  • Which will result in a better impression left amongst others.
  • Which will improve my ADHD riddled life.
  • Which will please your friends and colleagues as you won't be late for their appointments.

Try it out if you have a BlackBerry. Not sure what is available for iPhones, but I'm sure there is something out there for you too. Even a digital watch can be programmed with alerts.

Anything you can use externally to reinforce and remind yourself of the passing of time should be useful if you are an ADHDer.

Bonnie Mincu is an ADHD coach. She writes the following about time sense deficits in ADHDers:

"The first challenge most ADDers have is not having a "time sense." You're late because you really have no idea how long things take. That affects getting places, finishing projects... just about everything in life! I developed a paper-and-pencil tool, the Time Sense Exercise, especially for my ADD coaching clients. It's deceptively simple, and can make an enormous difference in your life. So you won't be embarrassed by dramatically under-estimating how long things take you. "
A Time Sense, Time Management article (PDF document) is available here for download, and a shorter Time Sense Exercise Tool (PDF document) is available here for download. I highly recommend that you print these out and learn them as part of your continuing education in ADHD matters.

Cheers,

Mungo

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July 29, 2010

Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

Here is a roundup of my most recent Twitter posts from @MungosADHD:
Cheers,

Mungo

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July 27, 2010

Titrated up to 30 mg Daily: Bug-Eyed & Poopy

So last Friday I met with my family doctor after having been on 20 mg daily of Strattera for a month. We chatted and he asked me how I was doing. I told him that I was beginning to notice positive effects which I assume are a result of the medication. I related how I am hardly ever finding myself in a room asking myself "Now, what the heck did I come here for? What was it I was trying to do?". I also reported that I am finding that my concentration is improving dramatically.

For example, I was able to pay attention to virtually all of the sessions in the management course I attended last week. I guess I find it strange that this is a big surprise - but when I think back on my life, I don't really ever remember being able to concentrate fully for very long. But like the goldfish in the bowl that doesn't know it is surrounded by water - because it has always been surrounded by water - I guess it never occurred to me that not being able to pay attention for more than a few minutes was a problem per se. It was just how things were.

At the end of the appointment he wrote me a prescription to titrate my dose to 30 mg daily.
"If you are beginning a trial of a stimulant medication (or an NRI in the case of Strattera), the doctor will likely start with an initial low dose and carefully adjust the dose upwards to adequate levels. This process is called titration. Titration helps the body adapt to the medication and often reduces common side effects that can occur when one begins the medication. Titration also helps you and your doctor find the optimal dose to improve daily functioning. Your doctor will increase the dose slowly to the highest tolerable dose. If you begin to see no more improvement in symptoms as the dosage increases, the doctor will lower the dose to the previous one. Also, if you find that a higher dose produces too many side effects, the dosage will be lowered."
It has been 5 days now on the increased dose, and - yes, you've reached that part in my post when I am about to describe some awkward physical symptoms so you may now switch to another page if you are at all squeamish.
"One day you were walking down the street and it was raining a little bit. You were just strolling along and came across a sewage grate that was blocked with some little sticks and leaves and such. A pool of rainwater had built up behind this dam. Being a curious and exploring type of person, you decided to shove the debris and detritus aside with your shoe. All of a sudden the dam broke and a torrent of liquid and debris was released into the grate."
Anyway, hope you get the drift. Diarrhea. Diarrhea. Diarrhea.

And the other thing is that I have noticed that I am doing things rapidly - like typing this post, responding to e-mails, talking, and getting things done. Not manically. I don't have thoughts racing around, in fact, I feel very focused and calm. But there is a slight 'electricity' to it all, I almost feel like I ought to have some buzzing in my ears, and that my eyes should be bugging out a little. I take both of these as side-effects, and imagine that in a few days they will resolve themselves (not the 'getting things done' part!).



Hope you are having a great day,

Cheers,

Mungo

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July 23, 2010

Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

Here is a roundup of my most recent Twitter posts from @MungosADHD:
Cheers,

Mungo

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July 19, 2010

Attention Improving, Anxious & Fidgety Still, Sleep Deprivation & an Annoyingly Slow Sandwich Maker

I feel a bit guilty not posting every single day to this blog. Perhaps I need to revise my expectations.

I've had an interesting last few days. Our little boy - 18 months old - had his regular vaccinations, but instead of a day of grumpiness and crying, he experienced 3 days of fever, a little bit of a rash, and a little bit of sleep, interspersed with a great deal of fussing. I haven't had a lot of sleep, and intend to go to bed early tonight. My wife and I are both in a bit of a funk - a combination of sleep deprivation and work stress, I think. Our little boy has recovered mostly - he's still rather fussy and quick to cry, and his appetite has not returned fully, but he does like to play. I've learned that if I dangle him by his ankles, he makes ridiculously cute giggling sounds.

This week I am on a management training course. Today was the first day, and I enjoyed it. I did note my impulsivity when trying to answer questions in the classroom. My concentration was pretty darned full on though, I didn't catch myself drifting off or daydreaming once. This is a major success for me - this concentration has crept up on me over the past few weeks, such that I kind of forget how inattentive I could be. But I know I have improved greatly and credit the Strattera for this. I credit my education about ADHD for other coping mechanisms, but my improved concentration I believe is due to the medication.

At lunch time, I was really irritated by the almost slow motion way that people lined up at lunch for the buffet, and at one point wanted to make a rude comment towards the woman who was one-by-one curling little slices of roast beef onto her sandwich bread (I wouldn't have, but really wanted to!), while 30 people shuffled & stalled behind her in line just watching her like sheep. I told myself to relax, and that I should breathe slowly and later on when she was not expecting it, to swiftly steal and eat her sandwich right in front of her.

I only ate my sandwich though. I took a 'time out' and sat in a remote area of the office building and read a novel that I had brought with me. Learning about ADHD is extraordinarily important - learning tendencies and coping mechanisms and reading about what other folks do. But boy, I get so irritated with people - it is like they are completely not situationally aware - maybe because I am especially watchful of other people, I pick up quickly on body language and looks, and expect everyone else to be as receptive.

In 4 days I am going back to my family physician to review my Strattera dosage. I am at 20 mg daily now. I have read that it is supposed to provide 24 hour coverage, and yet I feel toward the end of the afternoon impulsive and very fidgety and hyperactive. My leg shakes a lot, I tense my jaw muscles, I find myself staring intensely at whatever I'm doing. Intense is probably the best way to put it. Intense as in don't get in my way. Intense as in 'don't piss on my leg and tell me it is raining'. Not a terrible thing, and maybe in a way this intensity is a way of me reclaiming my agency which was so eroded by low self-esteem and uncertainty over the past decades. Sometimes anger can be very clarifying. I know it isn't the best interpersonal feeling, but sometimes feeling vastly pissed off can help me get stuff done. I'm very (overly) trusting and let people walk all over me sometimes, and this leads to me feeling resentful and taken advantage of. I think my anger comes from residue of this, and I don't think it is entirely unhealthy. At times - in fact, probably a fair percentage of times in my life, I need to replace my agreeable nature and submissive tendencies with assertiveness. Stealing a sandwich probably isn't ideal, but you know what I mean. Hopefully.

It may not be that my blood levels of Strattera have decreased significantly, but maybe that I'm simply tired or that some other environmental cue is affecting me. But I really want to go higher with my dosage. I hope he'll throw me onto 40 mg daily. I can take it, man. Just gimme the drugs, man.

Please bear with my rambling - I'm almost done.

At the same time, I am taking the anxiolytic Clonazepam less and less. I am becoming increasingly aware of how much it muddies my thinking. While I am on the lowest dosage available, it still makes me woozy. It works well to stop my hands shaking when I get really anxious - but perhaps I'll ask my doctor if I should cut the tablets in half - or if I have another option. Not a big deal, but worthwhile noting. Since I stopped drinking any alcohol over 9 months ago, I have relished my clarity of thought, and really get peeved when I'm not clear.

Hope everyone is having a great week, I'm off to bed with a book for now.

Cheers,

Mungo

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July 15, 2010

Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

Here is a roundup of my most recent Twitter posts from @MungosADHD:
  • I'm Not Hyper « Another Fine Mess ow.ly/2aomX
  • ADD/ADHD and Work Reputation: Correct Common Mistakes Made on the Job | Attention Deficit Disorder Information ow.ly/2aq1D
  • He Said / She Said: Examining the ADHD Life – The "Education" of an ADHDer (Part I) | Jeff's A.D.D. Mind ow.ly/2awKi
  • Mark your calendar - webinar coming up! #ADHD in the family, genetics, symptoms, parenting 6/28 htly/2axN4
  • Millions swear by fish oil pills - experts say they're a waste of money - so who's right?: bit.ly/bR2YQe
  • Reading: "Discovery Health "How ADHD Works""( twitthis.com/pbixmn )
  • One couple solves "the problem with no name" -- undiagnosed ADHD: tinyurl.com/22mm8s8
  • How is the Adult ADHD diagnosis made? tinyurl.com/2au9nox
  • Adults have #ADHD too. Read this from CHADD! bit.ly/33YCo
  • Yay! Dr. Charles Parker's new book on ADHD meds RULES! tinyurl.com/24mu7yq
  • Join "Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?" on Facebook: tinyurl.com/28wugl7
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Myths and Realities huff.to/dzuqVQ
  • Clinical Psychology Students: Check out Time2Track. An amazing way of tracking your clinical hours. ow.ly/2bww0
  • TotallyADD.com: community members ask: How did you find the #adhd help you needed? Join the conversation here: htly/2bwWu
  • TotallyADD.com: A complete guide to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adulthood ow.ly/2bF04
Cheers, Mungo Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, perhaps you'd like to subscribe to the RSS feed. You can also follow my tweets at Twitter.com/MungosADHD

July 13, 2010

Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

Here is a roundup of my most recent Twitter posts from @MungosADHD:

  • Virtual AD/HD Conference ow.ly/29Xxt
  • A Splintered Mind: A Wild Night ow.ly/29Xy0
  • ADHD Medication in the Summer? By Dr. Kenny Handelman ow.ly/29Xyl
  • 18 Channels - my ADHD colored life...: A small favor... ow.ly/29XyJ
  • ADHD Roller Coaster: "Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?" · The Adult ADHD Diagnosis: How Is It Made? ow.ly/29XyT
  • Six Dangerous Myths About Anger and ADHD | ADHD and Marriage ow.ly/29XFO
  • ADD'ing it all up: The next stage of progression ow.ly/29doL
  • Phys Ed: Your Brain on Exercise - Well Blog - NYTimes.com ow.ly/28B9i
  • Basics - Nut? What Nut? The Squirrel Outwits to Survive - NYTimes.com ow.ly/28Bc5
  • Restless ADHD: 5? 4 Tips to Fight It! | ADDaboy! - HealthyPlace ow.ly/28KCo
  • Extinction Burst http://ow.ly/2aiNI
  • ADHD Roller Coaster: "Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?" · Dr. Parker's New Book on "ADHD Rx Rules"! ow.ly/28SOP
  • NOTE: Video starts up immediately - adjust speakers. TotallyADD.com:Video - Your Personal Strengths - Dr. Umesh Jain ow.ly/28Tlx
  • NOTE: Video starts up immediately - adjust speakers. TotallyADD.com: Video - ADHD in adulthood Impulsivity vs Compulsivity ow.ly/28Tt2
  • ADD'ing it all up: Use caution when entering ow.ly/28Uri
  • TotallyADD.com: ADHD strategies, cause and effect, and exploding houses ADD ow.ly/290Q1
  • The Normal Experiment « Addled ow.ly/28q2Y
  • Being a teacher ow.ly/28q4c
  • How to Stop Compulsive Nail Biting ow.ly/28q4u
  • ADD'ing it all up: What I have to offer ow.ly/28q5v
  • Pinball Cognition: Little Blue Jars pt. 1 ow.ly/28q7M
  • Have You Chosen the Right People for Your Life? | ADHD In Focus ow.ly/28qbB

Cheers,

Mungo

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July 12, 2010

Sharing My Diagnosis with my Boss

I knew it had to come - the time when I'd be sharing my diagnosis with people outside of my immediate circle of family and friends.

On the weekend I mentioned it briefly to a friend of my brother at his wedding, it just seemed reasonable to mention it given the flow of the conversation, plus I was interested to know how someone I did not know would react. I also wanted to see how I would react afterward. The person looked at me a bit knowingly, then seemed at a loss for words, but luckily a distraction arose - a speech at the wedding. They seemed to make an effort to say something nice afterward so I take it I was not deemed completely insane. Plus they may have had some experience or knew about a friend with it - but I don't know.

And then today at my job, I had the first of several meetings that comprise my annual performance evaluation with my boss. In the discussion, I brought up my recent diagnosis during a specific conversation about some goals I had been trying to achieve last year (to which this performance evaluation would be directed). My boss nodded and said they knew all too well - they'd in fact been diagnosed themselves.

I had prepared well for the meeting, and described what efforts I will be making to further advance certain areas of my professional development. In thinking this out, and putting it to paper, I think I have a good road map (in development) of how I will improve my ability to deliver effectively at work in a consistent and timely way over the next few months.

I felt pretty calm about it during the rest of the meeting, and now I think this will help me in my job performance in the future. But now - an hour later - I am a large canvas sack full of varying emotions and flowing thoughts. I guess I feel mostly okay and optimistic about it, but wow. Whoa. This was a defining point in my post ADHD diagnosis life.

Damn, this stuff is HARD. But I'm getting through it, opportunity by opportunity, road block by road block, challenge by challenge and success by success.

I would be interested to hear in your comments what experiences you have had (or imagine that you will have) in telling or in not telling your boss or colleagues about your ADHD.

Cheers,

Mungo

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July 8, 2010

Tracking Progress on Strattera - Literature from Strattera.com

I received a pamphlet about Strattera when I got my diagnosis - it is literature provided from Strattera.com. It is a quick introduction to the medication, and is a worksheet so that one can track one's progress and symptom improvements / side-effects. Well, they focus more on symptom improvement.
"After you get to your target dose of Strattera, it's time to watch for gradual progress.

Here's what you can expect:
  • Some people notice small changes in as few as 2 weeks
  • By 4 to 6 weeks, you should see marked improvement in your ADHD symptoms. However, individual results may vary
Here are some of the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptom improvements you might notice:
  • Becoming more focused and paying attention
  • Being less distracted when trying to concentrate
  • Listening more easily to what others are saying
  • Being better able to organize tasks and activities
  • Starting tasks or projects and completing them
  • Being less forgetful in daily activities
Ask for help

It's a good idea to ask 1 or 2 other people to help you notice improvements in your ADHD symptoms. They may notice changes that you are not even aware of."
The two big challenges I have now are being better able to organize tasks and activities, and starting tasks or projects and completing them.

Damned ADHD.

Cheers,

Mungo

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Daily Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

Here is a roundup of my most recent Twitter posts from Twitter.com/MungosADHD:

Cheers,

Mungo

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July 7, 2010

Fever and 40 Years with Me and my ADHD

Today was a write-off. I woke up, fed the little fella breakfast and played with toys until he went to daycare. Then I felt hot and began to perspire. I wrote an e-mail to tell work colleagues that I would be off sick. I lay down thinking I'd be up in an hour at most. I slept until 3:20 PM.

It is 8:00 PM and I'm still hot. I'm going to take an ibuprofen and drink lots of water. Unless my limbs catch fire, I will make it into work tomorrow. I have lots to do and recently I haven't been able to find enough hours in the day to do it all.

My Strattera is no longer causing me traffic jams in the nether regions, if you know what I mean. I've noticed my appetite is diminished, which doesn't worry me at all. I'm remembering things better and better these days, but clutter continues to follow me. My desk at work is clutter free, but at home, piles of stuff taunt me still. But I'm not too worried about it at the moment, because I have a strange subtle feeling that this too will pass - I get the sense I am going to start tidying a lot more. Strange but true.

I remain awfully fidgety. I shake my legs - shaking as I'm typing this. But my inner thoughts are calmer. I can complete articles and read books from beginning to end. Normally I lived with more than five and fewer than ten books going at once. Now it is down to 2 at most.

For meetings and social engagements I'm on time, in fact, I'm ahead of time 9 times out of 10. Planning is improving. My executive functions appear to be improving. Go, frontal lobes, go! While I still lose objects, this is happening less and less. I'm remembering where I placed things, which is pretty cool.

Inconsistency is a hallmark of ADHD, I think. Inconsistent attention: I can attend to things really well, and become an expert in a realm. But I can't always stay with a conversation. I can have a tidy office at work, and a messy room at home. I can be super optimistic and be encouraging with friends and family. But I can feel hopeless and discouraged about my own circumstances in private.

But knowing this, and learning where to spot the inconsistencies is part of the repair work that can be done. I'm 40 now, and have spent decades learning how to live with me and my ADHD. It will take time to learn new ways, but I think I'm well on my way.

Yours thoughtfully,

Mungo

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July 5, 2010

Symptom Relief is Beginning to Take Hold

A few things to report regarding my experience with Strattera. When someone asks me 'how is the Strattera working for you?', I'm a bit at a loss of how to respond. Any improvements that I perceive seem to be very subtle. That is, I don't really feel any sense of dramatic relief of symptoms of ADHD. By my reckoning and analysis, a complex mix of impulsivity and inconsistent attention seems to comprise my own manifestation of ADHD. But I am noticing myself doing a few things differently, and thinking somewhat differently - and the more I think about it, I guess things are beginning to happen:
  • I am more productive than I have been in a very long time. I am finding myself 'wanting' to do things, and as such my To Do list is getting shorter and shorter. When I find myself having a spare moment, I will wonder what I can do that would 'get things done'. I still have a LONG way to go, but this is progress for me. It might be a combination of the effects of Strattera, along with knowing about my diagnosis, and subsequently being more aware of my tendencies... but no matter. I am noticing changes.
  • I am noticing when I am Productive WithOut Priority (PWOP) more quickly when I am engaged in some time-wasting or low-priority task when I am supposed to be engaged in a higher priority task. I put the emphasis on the word 'when' because I want to clarify that it is okay to engage in low-priority tasks, but not when higher-priority tasks need to be done at that point in time. For me anyway, because of my strong tendencies to get lost in low priority minutea - call it inappropriate perseveration, call it what you will.
  • I seem to be becoming aware 'left of boom' of impulsive feelings. That is, I become aware of something I am about to say or do in a social situation, and note quickly to myself that it is an impulsive, and probably inappropriate thing to do or say - and stop myself before doing it. I can only imagine how many times I've not been aware of my ADHD behaviours being impulsive throughout my adult life (not to mention my childhood). To become aware of the impulse before acting upon it is an amazing feeling. Try it. You'll love it. I notice it when I'm driving and want to honk at another car for not signaling or for cutting me off or for driving too slowly for my taste. I notice it when I am somewhere and I want to stare at someone because they're doing something that I feel is 'wrong'. I notice it when I want to add to a conversation or in a meeting that doesn't fit with the program.
  • I am drifting or zoning-out less and less in meetings and during social interactions.
  • Finally, I can't stand to take the Ativan I had originally been prescribed for anxiety, as it makes me now feel spacey and out to lunch. I want to be 'sober' and aware of my surroundings, and this stuff - even if I take 1mg a day - prevents me from being anchored in my reality. I have Clonazapam, which is a much more subtle, and gentle anxiolitic. I'm going days when I don't even take a single 0.5 mg tablet of that. I understand that Strattera can help manage anxiety. I don't know how it does that. Perhaps by regulating the norepinephrine pathways better or even by relieving the symptoms that in themselves are anxiety producing, such as forgetting things, spacing out, or dealing with the shame and embarrassment of the consequences and feelings of impulsivity and more. I feel calmer and more focused than I have a long while. Less prone to panic and anxiety attacks.

Cheers,

Mungo

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