August 25, 2010

That Which I Accomplished This Fine Day In Spite of my ADHD Addled Brain

This week I have been on vacation, and I although I've been burning the candle at both ends (going to bed late, knowing that our little boy would wake up early as he has been feeling poorly), I took a nap yesterday for 2 hours and felt like that fixed me up for a day or two. I really need to get more sleep. I am working on that, my dear ADHD-addled brain. Oh yes, I'm talking to you.

On the weekend, we went to Chapters books. I bought "ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life", by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. This is quite possibly the awesomest (yes, I just wrote that) book I have read on ADHD self-help so far. I will get more into it in a few days, but I have spent two hours or so reading it, and picked up on a few great tips. It is a classic decluttering organization book, but written to an ADHD audience - noting tendencies and explaining how these disorganized habits relate to the ADHD brain. Oh yes, I'm working on you, dear brain.

I am actually really excited about this book - can't wait to read more of it tonight. While reading it, I have my notebook to take notes in, as the book seems to inevitably spark reminders in my head.

Prioritization of efforts is key to organizing a life wracked with ADHD (awesomest verb of the day). For example, you want to do First Things First, as opposed to doing thing based on a strategy of doing whatever occurs at the moment, etc... I've been doing that most of my life, or so it would seem.

I had a vacation day today, so was able to get quite a few things done at home. Here is my list as of 3:30 PM today:

  • Fed the little boy in his highchair, played with him, and then changed his diaper and dressed him, and then my wife drove him off to daycare.
  • Read some of my daily allotment of news in my Google Reader, and on my free HootSuite Twitter site.
  • Scheduled a reoccurring weekday/daily reminder in my Google Calendar to stop browsing the internet by 7:45 am and shower, shave, prepare lunch and leave for work (a tip from my book).
  • Decluttered boxes containing camping equipment. I am a bit of a pack-rat, and have decided that I store about 2 or 3 times more gear than I realistically will ever use. Great to think I can use a giant tin can for a cooking container over a fire, but I already have proper cooking equipment (etcetera, etcetera). Ideas are good but don't have to translate into physical clutter.
  • Practiced on the guitar, and recorded it onto video to see how it sounded. Sounds better than I think it does while actually playing. Great use of time, huh (given that I had a bunch of priorities and this was NOT one of them)? I guess I'm allowed a bit of distraction - after all, it is my vacation.
  • Sanded 2 rooms worth of walls that I PollyFilla-ed yesterday, and painted them.
  • I disassembled my wife's office desk, after clearing all the materials out of it and placing it on the sofa, and put it in the garage, for eventual pickup by a charity truck. We're changing some things around in the house.
  • Carried two large armchairs up from the basement, moved 2 side tables and a coffee table from the shed and moved them into the garage, for eventual pickup by a charity truck. Having done this, I got my workout for the day.
  • I picked up my prescription of Strattera from the local pharmacist.
  • While waiting to pick up my prescription, I thought over my earlier plan to go to the hardware store to buy some bark mulch for the garden, along with some bleach (for the house), but reconsidered because I recognized that this was not the best use of my time. Felt good I had prioritized, even though going to Home Depot is very stimulating and exciting - great for my ADHD brain. I'll go tomorrow instead - don't worry, brain.
  • I washed my car, and the front section of the house, after locating the hose nozzle which I had been looking for a couple of months. It was in the garden, obscured by soil. Don't know how it got there! This was something not on my priority list. But it sure was fun.
  • Put out the recycling into the garage.
  • Showered and shaved.
  • Vacuumed the room of the dust created by sanding.
  • Vacuumed out the computer I removed from my wife's office, not on my priority list, but oh how easy it is for my brain to lead me astray./li>
  • Answered the phone to realize I had missed a dentist appointment scheduled today for 1:30 pm. I had written down the scheduled time in Notepad on Windows, but literally a minute later we had a power blip (yesterday) which shut down my computer and erased the note. I ended up writing the wrong time down: 3:00 pm (I knew it had a 3 in it somewhere). I had scheduled my day madly today to get ready to leave in time for a 3:00 pm appointment. Lesson: Use paper or Google Calendar, and ensure that the appointment is saved. I then wrote down the new time (tomorrow at 8:00 am) again in Notepad on my computer - whoops. But I remembered about 10 minutes later and put it into Google Calendar. Phew. I guess I could have phoned the dentist this morning to confirm the time, but I was 90% certain the time I'd remembered after the power blip was correct. Shoulda trusted my instincts... :-)
  • Installed Picasa 3.8 on my computer and spent some off-task time watching the face recognition software do its thing on several thousand images. I knew I was off task, but found it hard to pull myself way. Eventually did (shiny things, and all that).
  • Ate a late lunch.
  • Put cement caulking in the back step brick gaps, and then filled all the remaining gaps with sand to stop the interlock bricks from wobbling.
  • Stopped to check e-mail.
  • Wrote this post.

That's it for now - more on my new book soon. Buy it here if you'd like... I highly recommend it!

Cheers,

Mungo

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August 24, 2010

The Trials & Tribulations of Titration

On Friday I went to my family physician for a scheduled appointment - 4 weeks after he titrated me from 20 mg to 30 mg daily of Strattera.

I have been noticing that my impulsivity - both verbal and 'action' stuff - has improved drastically with the medication. I am more calm, taking conversations in and digesting them before speaking. My weight continues to remain down, and I had a thought yesterday that this too was likely due to improved impulse control with my diet - I wait out the temptations and have a glass of water instead of a chocolate bar and have a light meal instead of something heavy.

Side effects are minimal - some dry mouth, but that's about it.

When my doctor entered the exam room he asked me 'How are you doing?' I reviewed my experience with him for a minute or two. He then began to tell me how it is important it is to balance the side effects with the clinical effects of the drug. I sort of watched him speaking, wondering what he was getting at. Then he explained how I will need to take 'drug holidays', and that I 'can't be on this forever'. So then I began to wonder if he thought Strattera was a stimulant medication. I have close to zero faith in my family doctor's knowledge about ADHD.

I told him that I had read 'drug holidays' are no longer recommended to patients who take stimulant medications. And I said either way, it didn't apply to me as Strattera is a non-stimulant medication. I didn't even bring up his 'forever' comment - I was thinking instead about what my new doctor will be like, the one I intend to switch to from this idiot.

He then abruptly told me that I should come back in a month and continue to monitor my progress. Given that he hadn't actually asked me any specific questions about my progress, other than 'How are you doing?', I doubted his judgment, and immediately responded to him.

I brought up that I understood from the Canadian ADHD Practice Guidelines that the dose of Strattera can be brought up to 60 to 80 and generally not more than 100 mg, and that my understanding generally from reading a great deal about Adult ADHD, that it is not at all unreasonable to increase the rate of titration given the relatively low side effects that I am experiencing. He began to talk about how the medication can keep me awake, and I quickly reminded him that Strattera is not classified amongst the psychostimulants, and therefore would generally not have an effect on my sleep. And that indeed Strattera has been demonstrated to be an effective anxiolytic in the case of co-morbid anxiety disorder, as I am led to believe my diagnosis contained. I told him that it was my expectation, and that "respectfully, I have to disagree with your opinion on this", that I was going to get an increase in medication.

He paused, and then casually suggested that we go up to 40 mg of Strattera, and that we meet again in a month. I politely agreed. He wrote the prescription and I said 'thanks' without wishing him a good day.

So my intention is to change doctors - to one who has experience with Adult ADHD, and one who is in Toronto (where I live).

A quick question for readers - I asked my doctor a couple of visits ago if I could see the diagnostic notes that the clinic had delivered to him for my records, and he told me that 'these things are generally confidential'. I didn't pursue it, but it kinda seems that they are my patient records, and that I should be allowed to view them. Plus I would really like to read the diagnosis and notes, because I believe it will help me more fully understand my diagnosis, towards the goal of self-coaching and understanding my treatment more. Am I being unreasonable?

Cheers,

Mungo

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August 20, 2010

Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

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

Mungo

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August 18, 2010

Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

Here is a roundup of my most recent Twitter posts from @MungosADHD:
  • Are We There Yet?.....No?..... Damn.: writing...writing...and more writing.... http://ow.ly/2qNgV
  • Efficacy of Meta-Cognitive Therapy for Adult ADHD -- Solanto et al. 167 (8): 958 -- Am J Psychiatry http://ow.ly/2qNeK
  • ADD'ing it all up: The triggers for my son http://ow.ly/2qNcY
  • Coach Nancy: Eight Strategies to Help You Get Moving http://ow.ly/2qNaK
  • Adult ADHD Relationships: How Does Love Survive ADHD? | ADDaboy! - HealthyPlace http://ow.ly/2qN9X
  • ADHD Roller Coaster: "Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?" · ADHD Cyber Command On The Watch! http://ow.ly/2qMXB
  • (Part 1 of 2) Is It You, Me, or Adult non-ADHD? 10 Tips for Living with a non-ADDer | ADHD from A to Zoë http://ow.ly/2qMWm
  • (Part 2 of 2) Is It You, Me, or Adult non-ADHD? 10 Tips for Living with a non-ADDer | ADHD from A to Zoë http://ow.ly/2qMVu
  • Your Way | ADHD and Marriage http://ow.ly/2qMUD
  • ADHD and Intensity - 6 Tips for Damage Control | ADDaboy! - HealthyPlace http://ow.ly/2qMSl
  • ADD'ing it all up: Great ideas out the window. http://ow.ly/2qMQl
Cheers,

Mungo

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August 17, 2010

50 Incredibly Useful Tips For Managing Adult ADHD

Here are 50 incredibly useful tips for managing Adult ADHD, written by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D., along with an opening introduction. These are the authors of Driven from Distraction, which you can purchase in my online Adult ADHD store.

The treatment of adult ADHD begins with hope. Most people who discover they have ADHD, whether they be children or adults, have suffered a great deal of pain. The emotional experience of ADHD is filled with embarrassment, humiliation, and self-castigation. By the time the diagnosis is made, many adults with ADHD have lost confidence in themselves. Many have consulted with numerous specialists, only to find no real help. As a result, many have lost hope.

The most important step at the beginning of treatment is to instill hope once again. Individuals with ADHD may have forgotten what is good about themselves. They may have lost, long ago, any sense of the possibility of things working out. They are often locked in a kind of tenacious holding pattern, bringing all theory, considerable resiliency, and ingenuity just to keeping their heads above water. It is a tragic loss, the giving up on life too soon. But many adults with ADHD have seen no other way than repeated failures. To hope, for them, is only to risk getting knocked down once more.

And yet, their capacity to hope and to dream is immense. More than most people, adults with ADHD have visionary imaginations. They think big thoughts and dream big dreams. They can take the smallest opportunity and imagine turning it into a major break. They can take a chance encounter and turn it into a grand evening out. They thrive on dreams, and they need organizing methods to make sense of things and keep them on track.

But like most dreamers, they go limp when the dream collapses. Usually, by the time the diagnosis of ADHD has been made, this collapse has happened often enough to leave them wary of hoping again. The little child would rather stay silent than risk being taunted once again. The adult would rather keep his mouth shut than risk flubbing things up once more. The treatment, then, must begin with hope.

We break down the treatment of adult ADHD into five basic areas:

Diagnosis; Education Structure, support, and coaching; Various forms of psychotherapy; and Medication

In this pamphlet we will outline some general principles that apply both to children and adults concerning the non- medication aspects of the treatment of ADHD. One way to organize the non-medication treatment of ADHD is through practical suggestions or "tips" on management. Fifty such tips are presented below:

Insight and Education
  1. Be sure of the diagnosis. Make sure you're working with a professional who really understands ADHD and has excluded related or similar conditions such as anxiety states, agitated depression, hyperthyroidism, manic- depressive illness, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  2. Educate yourself. Perhaps the single most powerful treatment for ADHD is understanding ADHD in the first place. Read books. Talk with professionals. Talk with other adults who have ADHD. You'll be able to design your own treatment to fit your own version of ADHD.

  3. Coaching. It is useful for you to have a coach, for some person near you to keep after you, but always with humor. Your coach can help you get organized, stay on task, give you encouragement or remind you to get back to work. Friend, colleague, or therapist (it is possible, but risky for your coach to be your spouse), a coach is someone to stay on you to get things done, exhort you as coaches do, keep tabs on you, and in general be in your corner. A coach can be tremendously helpful in treating ADHD.

  4. Encouragement. ADHD adults need lots of encouragement. This is in part due to their having many self-doubts that have accumulated over the years. But it goes beyond that. More than the average person, the ADHD adult withers without encouragement and positively lights up like a Christmas tree when given it. They will often work for another person in a way they won't work for themselves. This is not "bad", it just is. It should be recognized and taken advantage of.

  5. Realize what it is NOT, i.e., conflict with mother, etc.

  6. Educate and involve others. Just as it is key for you to understand ADHD, it equally if not more important for those around you to understand it--family, job, school, friends. Once they get the concept they will be able to understand you much better and to help you as well.

  7. Give up guilt over high-stimulus-seeking behavior. Understand that you are drawn to high stimuli. Try to choose them wisely, rather than brooding over the "bad" ones.

  8. Listen to feedback from trusted others. Adults (and children, too) with ADHD are notoriously poor self-observers. They use a lot of what can appear to be denial.

  9. Consider joining or starting a support group. Much of the most useful information about ADHD has not yet found its way into books but remains stored in the minds of the people who have ADHD. In groups this information can come out. Plus, groups are really helpful in giving the kind of support that is so badly needed.

  10. Try to get rid of the negativity that may have infested your system if you have lived for years without knowing what you had was ADHD. A good psychotherapist may help in this regard.

  11. Don't feel chained to conventional careers or conventional ways of coping. Give yourself permission to be yourself. Give up trying to be the person you always thought you should be--the model student or the organized executive, for example--and let yourself be who you are.

  12. Remember that what you have is a neuropsychiatric condition. It is genetically transmitted. It is caused by biology, by how your brain is wired. It is NOT a disease of the will, nor a moral failing. It is NOT caused by a weakness in character, nor by a failure to mature. It's cure is not to be found in the power of the will, nor in punishment, nor in sacrifice, nor in pain. ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS. Try as they might, many people with ADHD have great trouble accepting the syndrome as being rooted in biology rather than weakness of character.

  13. Try to help others with ADHD. You'll learn a lot about the condition in the process, as well as feel good to boot.
Performance Management
  1. External structure. Structure is the hallmark of the non-pharmacological treatment of the ADHD child. It can be equally useful with adults. Tedious to set up, once in place structure works like the walls of the bobsled slide, keeping the speedball sled from careening off the track.

  2. Make frequent use of:

    1. lists
    2. color-coding
    3. reminders
    4. notes to self
    5. rituals
    6. files

  3. Color coding. Mentioned above, color-coding deserves emphasis. Many people with ADHD are visually oriented. Take advantage of this by making things memorable with color: files, memoranda, texts, schedules, etc. Virtually anything in the black and white of type can be made more memorable, arresting, and therefore attention-getting with color.

  4. Use pizzazz. In keeping with #15, try to make your environment as peppy as you want it to be without letting it boil over.

  5. Set up your environment to reward rather than deflate. To understand what a deflating environment is, all most adult ADHD'ers need do is think back to school. Now that you have the freedom of adulthood, try to set things up so that you will not constantly be reminded of your limitations.

  6. Acknowledge and anticipate the inevitable collapse of X% of projects undertaken, relationships entered into, obligations incurred.

  7. Embrace challenges. ADHD people thrive with many challenges. As long as you know they won't all pan out, as long as you don't get too perfectionistic and fussy, you'll get a lot done and stay out of trouble.

  8. Make deadlines.

  9. Break down large tasks into small ones. Attach deadlines to the small parts. Then, like magic, the large task will get done. This is one of the simplest and most powerful of all structuring devices. Often a large task will feel overwhelming to the person with ADHD. The mere thought of trying to perform the task makes one turn away. On the other hand, if the large task is broken down into small parts, each component may feel quite manageable.

  10. Prioritize. Avoid procrastination. When things get busy, the adult ADHD person loses perspective: paying an unpaid parking ticket can feel as pressing as putting out the fire that just got started in the wastebasket. Prioritize. Take a deep breath. Put first things first. Procrastination is one of the hallmarks of adult ADHD. You have to really discipline yourself to watch out for it and avoid it.

  11. Accept fear of things going well. Accept edginess when things are too easy, when there's no conflict. Don't gum things up just to make them more stimulating.

  12. Notice how and where you work best: in a noisy room, on the train, wrapped in three blankets, listening to music, whatever. Children and adults with ADHD can do their best under rather odd conditions. Let yourself work under whatever conditions are best for you.

  13. Know that it is O.K. to do two things at once: carry on a conversation and knit, or take a shower and do your best thinking, or jog and plan a business meeting. Often people with ADHD need to be doing several things at once in order to get anything done at all.

  14. Do what you're good at. Again, if it seems easy, that is O.K. There is no rule that says you can only do what you're bad at.

  15. Leave time between engagements to gather your thoughts. Transitions are difficult for ADHDers, and mini-breaks can help ease the transition.

  16. Keep a notepad in your car, by your bed, and in your pocketbook or jacket. You never know when a good idea will hit you, or you'll want to remember something else.

  17. Read with a pen in hand, not only for marginal notes or underlining, but for the inevitable cascade of "other" thoughts that will occur to you.
Mood Management
  1. Have structured "blow-out" time. Set aside some time in every week for just letting go. Whatever you like to do-- blasting yourself with loud music, taking a trip to the race track, having a feast--pick some kind of activity from time to time where you can let loose in a safe way.

  2. Recharge your batteries. Related to #30, most adults with ADHD need, on a daily basis, some time to waste without feeling guilty about it. One guilt-free way to conceptualize it is to call it time to recharge your batteries. Take a nap, watch T.V., meditate. Something calm, restful, at ease.

  3. Choose "good", helpful addictions such as exercise. Many adults with ADHD have an addictive or compulsive personality such that they are always hooked on something. Try to make this something positive.

  4. Understand mood changes and ways to manage these. Know that your moods will change willy-nilly, independent of what's going on in the external world. Don't waste your time ferreting out the reason why or looking for someone to blame. Focus rather on learning to tolerate a bad mood, knowing that it will pass, and learning strategies to make it pass sooner. Changing sets, i.e., getting involved with some new activity (preferably interactive) such as a conversation with a friend or a tennis game or reading a book will often help.

  5. Recognize the following cycle which is very common among adults with ADHD: Something "startles" your psychological system, a change or transition, a disappointment or even a success. The precipitant may be quite trivial. This "startle" is followed by a mini-panic with a sudden loss of perspective, the world being set topsy-turvy. You try to deal with this panic by falling into a mode of obsessing and ruminating over one or another aspect of the situation. This can last for hours, days, even months.

  6. Plan scenarios to deal with the inevitable blahs. Have a list of friends to call. Have a few videos that always engross you and get your mind off things. Have ready access to exercise. Have a punching bag or pillow handy if there's extra angry energy. Rehearse a few pep talks you can give yourself, like, "You've been here before. These are the ADHD blues. They will soon pass. You are O.K."

  7. Expect depression after success. People with ADHD commonly complain of feeling depressed, paradoxically, after a big success. This is because the high stimulus of the chase or the challenge or the preparation is over. The deed is done. Win or lose, the adult with ADHD misses the conflict, the high stimulus, and feels depressed.

  8. Learn symbols, slogans, sayings as shorthand ways of labeling and quickly putting into perspectives slip-ups, mistakes, or mood swings. When you turn left instead of right and take your family on a 20-minute detour, it is better to be able to say, "There goes my ADHD again," than to have a 6-hour fight over your unconscious desire to sabotage the whole trip. These are not excuses. You still have to take responsibility for your actions. It is just good to know where your actions are coming from and where they're not.

  9. Use "time-outs" as with children. When you are upset or overstimulated, take a time-out. Go away. Calm down.

  10. Learn how to advocate for yourself. Adults with ADHD are so used to being criticized, they are often unnecessarily defensive in putting their own case forward. Learn to get off the defensive.

  11. Avoid premature closure of a project, a conflict, a deal, or a conversation. Don't "cut to the chase" too soon, even though you're itching to.

  12. Try to let the successful moment last and be remembered, become sustaining over time. You'll have to consciously and deliberately train yourself to do this because you'll just as soon forget.

  13. Remember that ADHD usually includes a tendency to overfocus or hyperfocus at times. This hyperfocusing can be used constructively or destructively. Be aware of its destructive use: a tendency to obsess or ruminate over some imagined problem without being able to let it go.

  14. Exercise vigorously and regularly. You should schedule this into your life and stick with it. Exercise is positively one of the best treatments for ADHD. It helps work off excess energy and aggression in a positive way, it allows for noise-reduction within the mind, it stimulates the hormonal and neurochemical system in a most therapeutic way, and it soothes and calms the body. When you add all that to the well-known health benefits of exercise, you can see how important exercise is. Make it something fun so you can stick with it over the long haul, i.e., the rest of your life.

  15. Make a good choice in a significant other. Obviously this is good advice for anyone. But it is striking how the adult with ADHD can thrive or flounder depending on the choice of mate.

  16. Learn to joke with yourself and others about your various symptoms, from forgetfulness, to getting lost all the time, to being tactless or impulsive, whatever. If you can be relaxed about it all to have a sense of humor, others will forgive you much more.

  17. Schedule activities with friends. Adhere to these schedules faithfully. It is crucial for you to keep connected to other people.

  18. Find and join groups where you are liked, appreciated, understood, enjoyed. Conversely, don't stay too long where you aren't understood or appreciated.

  19. Pay compliments. Notice other people. In general, get social training, as from your coach.

  20. Set social deadlines.
Cheers,

Mungo

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August 15, 2010

First Things First - A Time Management Matrix to Help You Prioritize and Plan Your Life Better - A Self-Coaching Opportunity!

Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Adult ADHD) have a difficult time prioritizing tasks, and getting the right things done on time. First Things First is a self-help book written by Stephen Covey, A. Roger and Rebecca R. Merrill. It offers a time management approach that, if established as a habit, is intended to help a person achieve "effectiveness" by aligning him - or herself to "First Things". The approach is a further development of the approach popularized in Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and other titles.

The diagram below is the Time Management Matrix - Activities Section (download and print out the PDF version):



What is important to understand is that all of our efforts comprise in part all four of these types of activities, but that you need to ensure that an effective balance is struck between them all.

There are consequences of attending disproportionately to the types is described above.
  1. If you attend disproportionately to Quadrant I items, the Urgent & Important items, the results will be that you experience stress & burn-out, are able to manage crises, but will always be putting out fires. The hope is that in your everyday life, Quadrant I items are few and far between. Now for ADHDers, we enjoy the rush of dopamine that results from focuses crisis management. But keep doing that, day after day, and you will begin to suffer. Manage this area carefully.

  2. If you attend disproportionately to Quadrant II items, the Not Urgent & Important items, the results will be that you experience vision, perspective, balance, discipline, control and few crises in your overall life. I cannot overestimate enough - ADHDers need to spend much more time attending to Quadrant II activities - i.e. prevention and capability improvement, relationship building, exploration and recognition of new opportunities in all arenas of your life, planning and indeed recreation opportunities. This is good. Focus on this area carefully.

  3. If you attend disproportionately to Quadrant III items, the Urgent & Not Important items, the results will be that you experience short term focus, a reputation amongst family, friends and colleagues of having a chameleon character, you will see goals and plans as worthless, likely feel victimized, out of control, and experience shallow or broken relationships. This is bad. Avoid an excessive amount of activities in this area.

  4. If you attend disproportionately to Quadrant IV items, the Urgent & Important items, the results will be that you experience total irresponsibility, being dismissed from jobs, and end up dependent on others or institutions for basics needs. This is bad. Avoid an excessive amount of activities in this area.
Think about where you spend your time, and look at what real-life consequences may result based on the points I have just described.

Now, think about how you can use tools & techniques like pattern-planning, calendars, electronic organizers, paper reminders, buddy systems, timers and alarm clocks to get you to attend more to Quadrant II activities.

I guarantee that if you can spend 4 hours a day, 3 times a week, on Quadrant II activities, in a consistent and stable manner, your ADHD symptoms, your home life, your work life, your self-esteem, your general attitudes and mood will improve. Increase that time and you will get better and better results!

Use the third page of the PDF document as a planning document to list out your activities (you'll likely need to replicate this onto a much larger sheet - or sheets of paper) to help you with your analysis.

Hey. Maybe this is the self-coaching focus I need to choose, as I mentioned in an earlier posting about self-coaching. Yes. This sounds excellent!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post and if you decide to do any self-coaching based on this concept.

Cheers,

Mungo

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August 14, 2010

Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

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

Mungo

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August 13, 2010

David Allen's Getting Things Done - Incomplete Item Collection Process & Tool

The book Getting Things Done by David Allen is a terrific personal and productivity instruction manual, and ideal for those of us with Adult ADHD. While the whole process appears rather daunting to me, the first stage of his five-stage method for managing your personal and professional life (or 'workflow' as he calls it) is very useful for me. This is called the collection process - gathering all of the 'incompletes' of our lives into a centralized collection list of some sort.

Below I quote David Allen describing a brief summary of his overall system, plus a more detailed explanation of the collection process. I also have included an extremely useful tool (here is a link to the PDF file) which will methodically lead you through a collection process covering many aspects of your entire life. I found this tool created by Kathy Paauw, a professional organizer and certified business & personal coach on her website http://www.orgcoach.net. This tool will help you to develop a big list of items written down - and therefore (as David Allen's theory goes) a big list of items no longer floating around in your head, taking up memory and distracting you for the necessary priorities.

Note: Make sure that you devote at least a couple of hours in a place where you can control or minimize your distractions - and recognize that the very act of thinking deeply and comprehensively about items you have not attended to can be anxiety-inducing. So give yourself breaks, and go easy on yourself if you feel guilty. Guilt was a necessary guiding force when you were young, so as not to violate the unassailable, implicit and explicit rules of authority figures around you. But now that you're all grown up, you may wish to allow yourself to question your feelings of guilt and perhaps allow yourself to behave in self-serving ways, counter to the messages of authority - towards the goal of reclaiming your lost agency and parts of your self, i.e. to reconnect with who you are.

David Allen's summary of the process behind Getting Things Done:
"THE CORE PROCESS I teach for mastering the art of relaxed and controlled knowledge work is a five-stage method for managing work flow. No matter what the setting, there are five discrete stages that we go through as we deal with our work. We (1) collect things that command our attention; (2) process what they mean and what to do about them; and (3) organize the results, which we (4) review as options for what we choose to (5) do. This constitutes the management of the "horizontal" aspect of our lives—incorporating everything that has our attention at any time."
Collection process details:
"Gathering 100 Percent of the "Incompletes"

In order to eliminate "holes in the bucket," you need to collect and gather together placeholders for or representations of all the things you consider incomplete in your world—that is, anything personal or professional, big or little, of urgent or minor importance, that you think ought to be different than it currently is and that you have any level of internal commitment to changing.

Many of the things you have to do are being collected for you as you read this. Mail is coming into your mailbox, memos are being routed to your in-basket, e-mail is being funneled into your computer, and messages are accumulating on your voice-mail. But at the same time, you've been "collecting" things in your environment and in your psyche that don't belong where they are, the way they are, for all eternity. Even though it may not be as obviously "in your face" as your e-mail, this "stuff" still requires some kind of resolution—a loop to be closed, something to be done. Strategy ideas loitering on a legal pad in a stack on your credenza, "dead" gadgets in your desk drawers that need to be fixed or thrown away, and out-of-date magazines on your coffee table all fall into this category of "stuff."
As soon as you attach a "should," "need to," or "ought to" to an item, it becomes an incomplete. Decisions you still need to make about whether or not you are going to do something, for example, are already incompletes. This includes all of your "I'm going to"s, where you've decided to do something but haven't started moving on it yet. And it certainly includes all pending and in-progress items, as well as those things on which you've done everything you're ever going to do except acknowledge that you're finished with them.

In order to manage this inventory of open loops appropriately, you need to capture it into "containers" that hold items in abeyance until you have a few moments to decide what they are and what, if anything, you're going to do about them. Then you must empty these containers regularly to ensure that they remain viable collection tools.

Basically, everything is already being collected, in the larger sense. If it's not being directly managed in a trusted external system of yours, then it's resident somewhere in your psyche. The fact that you haven't put an item in your in-basket doesn't mean you haven't got it. But we're talking here about making sure that everything you need is collected somewhere other than in your head."

Here are Kathy Paauw's instructions for downloading the incompletes in your life. You may wish to adapt it to include 'trigger questions' that are more appropriate to your own life:

"Begin the Download

Using the list of trigger questions below to get you started, write down things you’re storing in your memory that need your attention. This is not intended to become a “to-do” list, but rather a complete “download” of what your brain is holding on to at the conscious and subconscious level. Download all your incompletions here. (An Incompletion is anything you pay attention or give thought to that needs to be different than it is right now.)

At this point, don’t try to prioritize or decide whether or not you will do these things. After you’ve completed the “download” you can decide what to do with the items on your list. For now, don’t think about that…just list!

Go through this list of questions TWICE – once for your WORK activities and once for your PERSONAL activities. Write EVERYTHING down that comes to mind – the more the better! 100% download is important.

After you’ve gone through the entire list of Trigger Questions, review your list of action items needing your attention and ask yourself if any action items are part of a bigger project. For example, if you listed “purchase file folders,” is this part of a bigger project involving an office reorganization? If so, there may be other action items necessary to complete the whole project. Write it ALL down.

After the Download

Now that you have gone through a complete download, get in the habit of doing the following:
· Get all new ideas out of your head and written down somewhere so you don’t have to remember them all.
· Have a minimum number of places where you keep the ideas you write down (one at home, one in the office, one in your car). You can use pads of paper, electronic notes on your Palm or computer, or even a voice-activated recording device for when you’re driving – as long as you regularly transcribe recorded messages to paper or electronic notes.
· Do a weekly review of action items you write down, and incorporate them into the 4Ds –
· Do (this week -- calendar)
· Defer (another week -- Perhaps List)
· Delegate (review during weekly planning -- Delegation Log)
· Delete/Dump

Incompletions: Trigger List of Questions

1. List projects started & not completed:
· What’s on your desk?
· What’s in your drawers?
· What’s on your floor/under your desk?
· What’s behind your door?
· What’s in your briefcase or bags?
· What’s in storage boxes?
· What’s in the stacks of paper on your credenza or filing cabinet?
· What about the scraps of paper, business cards, receipts?
· What’s on your “to do” lists?
· What’s on your Post-it notes around your office or on the refrigerator?
· What’s on your “to do” lists on note pads, from meeting notes, in your calendar or journal?
· What’s in your e-mail box that needs your attention?
· What’s on your calendar from previous weeks that did not get handled (family calendar and appointment book)?

2. List projects not yet started:
· What’s on your desk?
· What’s in your drawers?
· What’s on your floor/under your desk?
· What’s behind your door?
· What’s in your briefcase or bags?
· What’s in storage boxes?
· What’s in the stacks of paper on your credenza or filing cabinet?
· What about the scraps of paper, business cards, receipts?
· What’s on your “to do” lists?
· What’s on your Post-it notes around your office or on the refrigerator?
· What’s on your “to do” lists on note pads, from meeting notes, in your calendar or journal?
· What’s in your e-mail box that needs your attention?
· What’s coming up on your calendar that needs to be handled (family calendar and appointment book)?

3. What projects are completed that need to be acknowledged as complete?

4. What commitments or promises have you made and not kept? Do you need to follow through or renegotiate? What do you need to clarify or resolve?

5. Are there people waiting for you to get back to them?

6. Are there people you are waiting to hear back from?

7. What do you need to research or look into?

8. Are there professionals or support staff waiting to hear back from you about anything?
· Lawyer
· Accountant
· Consultants
· Administrative assistant
· Other

9. What communications are incomplete?
· Phone calls
· Letters
· Cards (greeting, thank you, special event)
· Memos
· E-mails
· Faxes

10. Any important events coming up?
· Dinners
· Parties
· Receptions
· Graduations
· Weddings
· Birthdays
· Anniversaries
· Reunions (family, class, other)
· Holidays
· Cultural events
· Sporting events

11. Any writing you need to do?
· Drafts
· Reports
· Evaluations, reviews
· Proposals
· Articles
· Promotional/marketing material
· Instructions
· Summaries
· Charting (medical dictation, etc.)
· Minutes of meetings or events
· Rewrite or edit
· Status reports
· Tracking or logging of key communications or conversations
· Billing

12. Anything needing to be done around meetings?
· Anything need to be set or confirmed?
· Do you need to make reservations for transportation, meeting space, a place to stay?
· Do you need to request a meeting from someone?
· Do you need to prepare anything for meetings?
· Debrief of meetings already had?
· Actions or commitments agreed to?
· Any tracking or recording needed?

13. Any read and review needed?
· Documents
· Articles
· Books/publications
· Updates, memos
· Peer review

14. Anything needing attention with financial aspects?
· Accounts
· Cash/cash flow
· Budgets
· Balance sheets
· Assets
· Profit & loss
· Forecasting
· Credit/credit lines
· Loans/mortgages
· Taxes
· Insurance
· Payables
· Billing
· Receivables
· Petty cash
· Banks/bankers
· Investments
· Expense reimbursement or tracking expenses for tax deductions
· Allowance for kids
· College fund

15. Anything you need to do in the area of planning & organizing?
· Long-term goals
· Short-term goals
· Setting up an effective system for processing and managing paper flow
· Contact management
· Targets/objectives
· Business plans/business planning
· Marketing plans
· Financial planning
· Event planning
· Presentations, meetings
· Conferences
· Organizing space:
· Main living areas
· Main working areas
· On-site storage (garage, attic, storage rooms)
· Off-site storage (rented storage space)
· Organizing collections (videos, slides, photos, CDs, cassettes, records, etc.)
· Organizing paper (reference files and action/tickler files)

16. What about travel & vacation planning?
· Gathering ideas & information
· Making reservations
· Arranging for things to be handled while you’re away (coverage at work, house-sitter for pets, holding the mail and newspaper, etc.)
· Documents such as Passport or Visa up-to-date?

17. Anything needing attention about your organization or company?
· Organizational chart
· Lines of authority
· Job descriptions
· Restructuring the organization
· Anything about facilities
· New systems
· Change initiatives
· Leadership
· Succession planning
· Administrative things
· Legal issues
· Forms
· Procedures or instruction manual
· Insurance issues
· Personnel issues
· Staffing – hiring & firing
· Reviews
· Policies & procedures
· Training & education (self & others)
· Staff development
· Compensation -- salary & benefits
· Communication about or with staff
· Morale
· Feedback
· Evaluations
· Rewards/awards
· Acknowledgments
· Corrective action

18. Anything needing your attention with sales & marketing?
· Customers/clients/patients
· Prospective customers/clients/patients
· Lead generation
· Sales process
· Sales training
· Relationship-building
· Sales or status reporting
· Tracking
· Customer service
· Promotional campaigns
· Promotional materials
· Public relations
· Image of organization

19. Are you waiting for anything?
· Information you have requested
· Things you have delegated to others – projects, tasks
· Replies to communications, proposals
· Answers to questions
· Reimbursements or rebates you’ve submitted
· Orders you’ve placed but not received – tickets, products, supplies, equipment

20. Anything you want to do around professional development?
· Seminars/workshops
· Things to learn
· Skills you want to develop or improve on
· Books or journals you want to read
· Subscriptions – subscribe or unsubscribe
· Research on things you want to look into
· Certifications
· Formal education/degrees
· Courses
· Career planning
· Revise resume/CV
· Professional wardrobe
· Professional gear you need
· Organizational systems for your office
· Other
· Other
· Other

21. Any attention needed for volunteer/civic work, projects, or stewardship?
· Service clubs
· Church/synagogue
· Professional organizations/associations you belong to
· Community organizations/non-profits
· School programs
· Contributions
· Planned/Deferred Giving (wills, trusts, etc.)
· Care for the environment (recycling, etc.)
· Other
· Other
· Other

22. Any attention you want to pay to professional and personal relationships?
· Spouse/significant other
· Children
· Parents
· Other family
· Friends
· Pets
· Co-workers/peers
· Other professionals in your industry
· Professionals in other industries you want to connect with
· Counselors
· Consultants
· Coaches
· Other
· Other
· Other
· Other
· Other
· Other
· Other

23. Anything in your physical environment in need of repair, remodel/update, replacement?
· Computer software – upgrade, update downloads
· Computer hardware
· Printers
· Electronic equipment
· Office equipment
· Appliances
· Entertainment (TV, VCR, stereo, etc.)
· Tools
· Construction/remodeling/repairs
· Heating/air conditioning
· Air quality/ventilation
· Plumbing
· Electricity/wiring
· Landscaping
· Driveways, sidewalks
· Roofing
· Walls, flooring, ceilings
· Décor/fixtures
· Furniture
· Lighting
· Signage
· Phones
· Databases
· Faxes
· Filing systems
· Archives/storage
· Supplies
· Business cards
· Letterhead/envelopes/stationery

24. Do any legal aspects of your life need attention?
· Will/Living Will
· Trusts
· Documents
· Contracts/deeds
· Agreements
· Power of Attorney
· Licenses (business, professional, sporting)

25. Have you loaned anything to anyone who has not returned it?
· Books/publications
· Tools
· Equipment
· Teaching materials (slides, overheads, etc.)

26. Do you need to return anything to anyone you have borrowed something from?
· Books/publications
· Tools
· Equipment
· Teaching materials (slides, overheads, etc.)

27. How about self-care activities?
· Exercise
· Health (doctor, dentist, optometrist, health practitioners, etc.)
· Recreation & sports
· Entertainment
· Hobbies (sewing, knitting, woodwork, building, etc.)
· Diet
· Creative expressions (art, music, photography, etc.)
· Counseling
· Coaching
· Spiritual renewal
· Rest & relaxation/stress reduction
· Books to read
· Music/videos to listen to/view
· Personal development (classes, workshops, seminars, education)

28. Any concerns about transportation (purchase, repair, renew lease, etc.)?
· Car/truck
· Bike/motorcycle
· Commuting
· Repair
· Purchase or lease options
· Insurance coverage

29. Does your wardrobe effectively support your activities in the comfort and style you desire? Does it fit? Is it in style? Does anything need repair?
· Work
· Leisure/loungewear
· Formal wear
· Hobbies
· Sports
· Accessories
· Luggage (purse, briefcase, suitcases, carry-on travel cases, etc.)

30. Any errands you want to run? Purchases you want to make? Shopping or Web surfing you want to do?
· Hardware store
· Pharmacy
· Grocery store
· Bank
· Cleaner
· Stationery/office supply
· Mall
· Gifts
· Software & hardware
· Health food store

31. As you walk around your home and work space, do you notice anything that you have attention on which needs to be different than it is right now?
I hope you've found this post useful. At the very least, read the David Allen summary of the collection process, and download and print out Kathy Paauw's PDF document of the instructions for downloading the incompletes in your life, and take some time to go through it, with a blank pad of paper and a pen beside you in a quiet room.

Cheers,

Mungo

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August 11, 2010

Twitter Posting Roundup from @MungosADHD

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

Mungo

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August 9, 2010

Adult ADHD Meeting (Anonymous) & List of Characteristics of an ADHD Adult

I am attending an Adult ADHD meeting tonight - the first time I'll have done that. I'm nervous - I feel like I'll be attending some sort of AA meeting. Minus the addiction. Should be interesting, not really sure at all what to expect. I hope they have donuts and coffee.

I came across a site while searching the web about Strattera. The site has a list of characteristics of ADHD adults. I thought that if I had come across this list a year ago, I would have said something like "Yeah, well, isn't everyone like this?". That was before I had even the slightest clue that I would end up being diagnosed with Adult ADHD:

"Typical problems of Adults with ADHD - adults may have many, but not necessarily all of these symptoms:

  • Easily irritated
  • Forgetful
  • Become bored easily
  • Difficulty understanding written directions
  • Difficulty remembering verbal directions
  • Have to read things several times to remember what was read
  • Become frustrated easily
  • Become disorganized easily
  • Burdened by too many projects
  • Lose or misplace things
  • Difficulty in school or work
  • Daydream or space out
  • Feel out of control
  • Feel on the verge of losing control
  • Do things too quickly
  • Procrastinate (put things off)
  • Inconsistent effort or productivity
  • Full of ideas
  • Poor follow-through
  • Difficulty with time tests or time lines
  • Feel tired, sleepy, not alert
  • Feel like an underachiever
  • Anticipate failure or inadequate performance
  • Become distracted easily
  • Do not stick with tasks until they are finished
  • Make careless mistakes
  • Talk rapidly
  • Talk or act first, think later
  • Have difficulty concentrating on boring tasks
  • Overactive
  • Get careless and make mistakes when task is demanding
  • Do not listen carefully
  • Feel restless
  • Short attention span
  • Poor short-term memory
  • Over focused
  • Tense
  • Have low self esteem
  • Feel or act "driven"
  • Impatient
  • Seek stimulating experiences
  • Mood swings
  • Do best with deadlines/pressure
  • Jumpy, pace, fidget, drum, hum
  • Stir things up when bored
  • Seem to get in arguments a lot

Good Lord (a substitute for a much more colourful set of profanities): That's an unnervingly accurate portrait of me, except for a couple here and there.

Cheers,

Mungo

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August 5, 2010

ADHD Attention Inconsistency, and Poor Sleep Habits

We ADHDers present with a marked attentional inconsistency, at different times displaying intense perseverative focus which is most often inappropriate (as it interferes with us doing the appropriately prioritized things that need to be done - getting to work on time, versus effectively organizing the socks in my dresser) and at other times an inability to maintain long term attention (e.g. drifting away, fighting to maintain attention in a meeting, or during a monotonous, drudgery-filled task).

So there is a constant battle whereby we need to ensure we get a handle on both perseveration, and on drifting away. Medication, in my case, has helped me a fair amount to put structure around my attention, to contain it appropriately. Therapy, coaching (self-coaching included) and bibliotherapy (reading books to learn skills and theory and information about ADHD) are all methods that can help with your attention issues. Setting up an uncluttered office at work helps me not get distracted easily. Setting alarm reminders helps me to not get 'stuck' in some interesting tasks to the detriment of me missing a meeting, etc...

I read somewhere that an ADHDer's mind is like mercury in a thermometer. Properly encased in glass, the mercury does what needs to be done - it performs its function as designed. But remove the glass structure and the mercury spills this way and that, racing all over the place, scattered in every direction. Just like an ADHDer's attention.

So structure is key to ameliorating attentional inconsistencies in us ADHDers: pattern planning, day-timers and calendars, alarms and reminder notes. Using friends, professionals, and family to act as accountability resources (e.g. "Hey, just thought I'd give you a phone call and ask if you have cleared the gutters yet this weekend, as you asked me to remind you...") can provide structure around our attentional resources too.

But there are sometimes inadvertent or under-noticed secondary gains for engaging in ADHD perseveration or drifting away. This also partly explains why we do this stuff...

Drifting away is useful if you are in the most boring meeting ever, the type that can actually cause your eyes to bleed, and for your brain to coagulate. It is probably best in advance to decline the meeting, or ask the organizer to prepare an agenda in advance, or ask if you can leave after the relevant sections have been presented. If the meeting is unavoidable, and is de facto destined to be incredibly boring, then feel free to attend to shiny things and birds flying by. Everyone else, even the non-ADHDers will be doing the same, so you'll be in good company.

In all seriousness, the secondary gain obtained here is the avoidance of an almost intolerable boredom, a mental state that is distressing.

Perseverative attention is useful if you are coding, or building a scale model of the Eiffel Tower, or are reading a fascinating text book for your studies. But it is also employed while anticipating or trying to avoid a racing mental state that is distressing, as is frequent with ADHDers.

Note: Some call this perseverative attention 'hyperfocus', I think this a misnomer: The problem is not super-focused attention per se, it is inappropriately overmaintained super-focused attention on something. In that you can't switch gears. You get stuck doing something when you more appropriately should be doing something else.

Poor sleep habits are to ADHDers like poor diets are to alcoholics - a secondary effect of the disorder. And not getting enough quality sleep exacerbates ADHD symptoms.

As much as I enjoy my own company, and can find myself endlessly interesting (!), sometimes when I lay down to sleep, my brain begins to hop around like an old car radio being switched about madly. I try bodily relaxation exercises, sometimes even anxiolytics before sleep, and that can help. Hopefully I can engage in a daydream of camping, or doing something fun and interesting - or make lists in my head. But often I get unstructured crap racing around my cranium.

And this is likely why I delay going to bed so often, why I keep reading the internet blogs and newspapers I do, why I watch movies on my computer until way too late. Now that I have my diagnosis, at least I can better understand why I engage in this 'just-one-more-thing' habit - to avoid an uncomfortable ADHD mental state. I find it especially worse on the weekends, when I have the least time structure of all.

So maybe the solution to my poor sleep habits is in the same league as the solution to attentional inconsistency - providing structure to keep me on course. Maybe a set bed time. Maybe a quick read before sleeping. I may have to contend with my racing thoughts, and hopefully this will be therapeutic in that I will be able to confront and explore this tendency, and hopefully find a way to encompass and take ownership over this habit. And at the very least, I will get some better sleep which will improve my ADHD symptoms and perhaps indirectly lead to fewer racing thoughts, thus encouraging me to stop avoiding laying down to sleep at an early hour.

Phew. My brain hurts from writing all of that.

Hope you're having a terrific day,

Cheers,

Mungo

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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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