Category Archives: Behaviour

Adult ADHD and the Challenge of Change

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Change isn’t easy for most people, but when you include ADHD into the mix, change can be a major challenge.

Why do people fear, dislike, and avoid change while others welcome it? In pursuit of answers there are organizations that specialize in change theory and help organizations, non-profits, and government sectors deal with internal and external change. For people with ADHD/ADD there are ADD coaches, life coaches, psychologists, social workers, and your circle of knowledgeable friends and family.

Do you remember the popular Prayer of Jabez movement from the 2000s? My memory of that time was people boldly praying the verse from 1 Chronicles 4:10,

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.”

They didn’t ask for simple things like, ‘Lord, help me to be nice to my co-worker that I treat like garbage’ or ‘God please help me to understand my spouse with more compassion and empathy’; nope, there were people who were praying for a long list of material goods, a husband, pregnancy, and all sorts of personal wishes. While there is nothing wrong with asking God for something that is meaningful to you, the problems were that people didn’t seem to understand that when God “gives” or “blesses” you with something there is often change involved. If you want a child, then your life will change significantly when the child arrives. You want to change careers and start your own business, well, it’s important to understand that self-employment creates personal changes in income, insurance, and stability. When something significant comes into or out of our lives, it will include change. Sometimes that change is for the better, other times it is for the worst.

People prayed the Prayer of Jabez with a focus on “bless me indeed” and “enlarge my territory” but by passed the parts “Keep me from evil” and “that I may not cause pain!”. We are taught that change needs to benefit us 100% without consideration of how it might affect others. There will be times when we must make decisions and changes that will affect others, but as Jabez asked of God, don’t let evilness towards others and intentionally causing people pain be part of your plans for change.

When you have ADHD, change will need to include a lot of trust. Trust in your choices, trust in the future, and trust in your abilities; but most of all trust in God. Adult ADHD traits such as impatience, distraction, forgetfulness, ever changing priorities, anxiety, and moodiness not only affects our own journey of change, but it affects others as well. It is important to remember that as believers, change includes forgiveness, grace, mercy, all the fruits of the spirit, seeking wise counsel, and lots of prayer.

If you would like further information on change and Adult ADHD here are some further online resources:

Can Adults With ADHD Really Change?

Adults with ADHD Can Change Their Love-Hate Relationships

5 Warning Signs You Are Reaching Your ADHD Tipping Point

Change Management Models (not ADHD related)

What is Theory of Change?

 

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ADHD: The Gift That Costs You

Is this a gift that can be re-gifted?

 

Recently a Facebook post came across my page asking, “Can AD/HD be a Gift?” It was posted by an Occupational Therapy group here in Canada. I clicked on the post, read the comments, and instantly regretted doing so.

It is not unusual to hear people proclaim that ADD/ADHD is a gift, however, speaking as a person with severe, life disrupting ADHD, I have never believed this disorder to be a gift. Would we tell a person their cancer is a gift? Would you tell a person who’s only mode of transportation is a wheelchair that not being able to walk on one’s own is a gift? Would you tell a person who is blind that their lack of clear sight is a gift? The answer to all these questions is likely to be an emphatic “no”.

There are people with ADHD who have gifts, this is no different than people without ADHD. Having this disorder doesn’t prevent a person from being born with incredible gifts or developing excellent talents. Those with ADHD experience different symptoms and are effected differently due to circumstances such as one’s occupation, gender, age, family circumstances, access to psycho-social supports, personal beliefs about the ADHD, and socio-economic status.

The Mayo Clinic lists some of the symptoms of Adult ADHD (2018):

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress

Looking over this list, do these sound like “gifts”. If someone wrapped all these symptoms up in a bow and offered them to you, would you accept them. Would you trade your even temper, patience, and self-control for the “gift” of ADHD?

The key to living successfully as an adult with ADHD is managing one’s symptoms. Again, everyone experiences different symptoms and to varying degrees. Some manage successfully without medication, others need high doses of prescribed stimulants in order to maintain a job and look after themselves and their family. It’s important to find out what management methods work for each of us.

What I see as a gift is the fact that I was able to finally be diagnosed as an adult. I was able to find a psychologist who was able to do testing for free and refer me to a medical doctor for an official diagnosis. It was a gift to attend a university where ADHD was viewed as a legitimate disability and I was allowed to have a liaison and academic support; without this I wouldn’t have been able to complete courses and graduate. It is a gift that I don’t have to pay for ADHD medication. Health care is not free in Canada, we have to pay for a variety of services. There are adults who have ADHD and are not able to access free services. Health care coverage in Canada varies according to which province you reside in.

Those who do well despite having this disorder do so because they have been able to find suitable and/or accommodating employment, social and/or family support, the right medication and dosage (if needed), proper diagnosis, and a variety of ways to manage and decrease symptoms. This is the “gift”.

 

 

 

 

ADHD and Underwhelming Self Care

When I was a child there was a popular commercial on television, the slogan was, “Calgon take me away” and “Lose yourself in luxury”. Calgon was supposed to take you away from reality and into a fantasy world where you were alone in a large bubble filled bath overlooking a cloud filled sky. I didn’t find the commercial and advertising to be calming, instead, I found them to be funny. Maybe it was because I was a child who didn’t quite understand that some adults need to retreat into a fantasy world to escape their current realities.

When I see articles and lists with ideas on how to practice self-care, I can’t help but see some of them as a modern day Calgon commercial. There are times when the suggestions seem to be about escape rather than tending to one’s emotional, physical, and spiritual care and rejuvenation.

Healthy versions of self-care accept the reality of your busy schedule, your lack of funds to do all the things you’d like, the tiredness you feel, and all the other parts of your life that you can’t escape from or ignore for too long.

When you have ADHD it’s important to keep self-care simple otherwise you may end up becoming stressed or overwhelmed with your plans for self-care. Allow yourself the freedom to tend to your own needs on a daily and weekly basis.

Here are some basic and underwhelming self-care activities. These ideas are based on saving yourself time and energy as a way to keep your life somewhat less hectic and more organized, two things are important in managing adult adhd.

Food:

Order take out. This isn’t something I would recommend doing often, but there is something to be said about coming home and not having to cook occasionally. Ordering in means avoiding noisy, crowded places, and instead of standing in line, you get to relax at home while you wait for your order.

 Bagged salads. This is another way that I have saved time. It only takes a few seconds to rip open the bag, and there you have it, a salad. No need to chop greens or wash fruits and vegetables, and you use less kitchen items. Depending on the salad, you might even be able to eat it straight out of the bag.

Make use of household appliances:

Microwave meals. I can’t begin to tell you how much time I’ve saved by having pre-made frozen meals in the freezer. Once a month I make a few meals and they go into the freezer for those days when I know I will be short on time, or when I don’t have the desire or energy required to cook for myself.

Use the dishwasher. Why do dishes by hand when you can simply open the door to the dishwasher and let the appliance do the job for you.

Slow cookers. This item is a classic time saver; throw your food in, place the lid on, push a few buttons and walk away for a couple of hours.

The Body:

Shower before you go to bed. Showering the night before saves you time in the morning. You can use that extra time to do something healthy like sleep longer, eat breakfast, daily devotions/prayer, and anything else that feels like self-care.

Purchase quality hair and body care products. Showers and baths can be used as a time to relax. When you’re in the shower products that smell good and help you to feel calm make a difference to your mind. Lavender has been shown to put people in a relaxed state. If this isn’t your scent, find one that helps relax you. I used to use a peppermint shampoo (I stopped because it became too costly for me to purchase), the smell and the feeling on my scalp felt great.

Regardless of what you choose as your form of self-care, remember, it’s not meant to be overwhelming, if it is, find something else to do.

ADHD and Spring Fever

The first day of Spring in North America is March 20th, but spring fever has already set in. The fatigue inducing time change took place last Sunday March 11th, snow is melting, and the daylight kisses our faces for longer hours. There is excitement in the air as people keep mentioning that Spring is almost here.

The truth for those of us who live in the northern part of the continent is that Winter weather likes to linger as long as it can, we are not free of snow until mid May.

“Spring fever is something that teachers will often comment about starting in March or April.  It’s historically “known” that students with ADHD become more antsy, restless, and unfocused in the classroom around this time.  Adults will feel energized and more playful as well. The daylight is increasing, the weather is starting to warm, we see plants turning green and more animals coming out during the day.  In spring, the natural cycle of life supports us to get outside, breathe deeply in the natural world and become more physically active.” Add.org (click link to read article)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1

Spring isn’t only related to a change in the weather and hours of daylight, it is related to our moods and our faith. Spring equinox is a time to be reminded of metaphors around restoration, renewal, and rejuvenation. There’s a reason Easter occurs during the Spring, and it has nothing to do with any historical basis for the date of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

This new season is a great reminder to bring your hurts, pains, regrets, and any other burdens you carry to the cross. Those trees with dying leaves, the vegetables in the garden that died at the end of Summer, and the brown grass of September will not be the same; the new season makes things new and alive again. Spring reminds us that we need to go through a process of shedding and pruning in order to survive, grow, and be renewed.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:7

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful… 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15: 1-4

 

Break Time: Knowing When to Pause

 It’s difficult enough for people who don’t have ADHD to maintain focus on topics that are of no interest to them; when you have ADHD staying on track with something that requires your mandatory attention feels maddening.

After too many years of struggling to officially finish my masters level thesis, I have decided to heavily decrease distractions from my life. One of those distractions is blogging. I have maintained two blog sites and have fallen behind in writing and posting on both. Each week “write a blog post” and “post blog entry” sits without the triumphant check mark beside it on my master To-Do list.

With every un-checked item on my To-Do list, I feel like a mini-failure. Internal questions such as, “why can’t I keep up with everything on my list“, “when am I going to finally be productive”, “why am I so_______ (insert negative self-image here)” cycle through my mind day and night. I’ve accepted the truth that sometimes a person’s (mine to be exact) To-Do list is a reflection of wishes and dreams and not necessarily a list of the most important things that need to be completed by the end of the day. 

The truth is my attention disorder helps me to be creative. I think of countless ideas throughout the day (and annoyingly, sometimes at night).  I not only think of many ideas, I also begin to plan how I’m going to bring these ideas to life. Not good. One, maybe two ideas are manageable, but when you have an active mind, too many ideas, and too much planning can get one into time management trouble.

Most of the time ADHD daydreaming needs to remain just that, a dream. Not a goal. Not a plan. Not an action. Keep it as a dream that had it’s big moment in your head and went no where.

Focus on a few important and fulfilling things in life and pursue those. Allow other distractions to take a back seat in your life. Being the “jack of all trades, master of none” doesn’t work well when you have adult ADHD. Maintaining a manageable and stable life becomes an unnecessary challenge when you take on too many side projects, hobbies, and interests.

So, I’m going to take my own advice (and the advice of others) by paring down my To-Do list and taking time to focus on the few most important and time sensitive goals in my life right now.

See you in the New Year (January 2018).

 

 

 

 

 

ADHD and Responding during Heated Political Times

This past week has been emotionally tense for many in North America. The murder of a female protester, the injury of peaceful protesters, and the heated debates surrounding the reasons for these protests have revealed the true feelings and ideology people hold regarding race, immigration, human rights, and other crucial topics.

I’ve had to bite my tongue too many times this week. I’m not a quiet bystander whose greatest contribution is creating Twitter hashtags, or clicking “like” on a Facebook post. I’m certainly not a quiet person who doesn’t speak my mind, I speak my mind, a lot. I’m also not a person in denial about what is happening in our country and that of our neighbours in the United States. I’ve had to bite my tongue because I know that if I give in to the ignorant, hateful, ridiculous views and actions of those who support hate groups I will turn into an ugly person.

My ADHD symptoms make it all too easy for me to become angry with people who are ignorant and hateful.

Having ADHD leaves those of us with this disorder extra vulnerable for some of the following reasons:

We sometimes lack focus, trying to address too many different causes at one time and therefore not being well informed as to what is happening at a deeper level beyond media headlines.

Difficulty with emotional regulation. This makes it easier to experience and express intense emotions. Once these emotions begin, it can be difficult to refocus and be open to what is happening in the moment.

Holding on to grudges. Whether having peaceful discussions or heated disagreements, these encounters can lead to holding onto grudges. Grudges create barriers to understanding where others are coming from with their own views, forgiving others, and makes it difficult to work with others we disagree with.

Inappropriate spontaneity can happen due to a mixture of strong emotions and impulsivity. Emotional outbreaks can lead to unnecessary disagreements, making situations worse, and moves people’s attention away from the actual situation.

Having ADHD doesn’t mean that one can’t become involved in meaningful conversations, advocacy groups, and peaceful protests; what is means is that one has to be cautious and careful, taking into account what they need to be most aware of due to their own ADHD challenges.

When you find yourself in the midst of uncomfortable discussions, debates, and disagreements make efforts to be mindful of how you are feeling, your body language, your tone of voice, and what you are saying. It’s perfectly alright to pause, speak slowly, or respectfully end the conversation.

Over the past two weeks I’ve had to remember this popular verse:

If you’ve done wrong by loosing your temper, saying hurtful words to your opponents, or held unhealthy thoughts and feelings in your heart bring them to God. He is our healer. He knows our frustrations and what we go through with having ADHD. In order to fight “the bad guys” we need to remember not to mirror their hateful actions, and words; if we don’t, we will all be losers in this fight for justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADHD and The Princess Bride

2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the film release The Princess Bride. This whimsical movie was one of the first I had seen in a theatre. At the time I was young and didn’t fully understand the jokes or the brilliance of the cast and screenplay. With each passing year my enjoyment for the film has grown.

On Valentines Day there was a The Princess Bride Quote-A-Long. For those energetic person’s with ADHD this is an excellent way to view a film. Not only do you get to watch the film but you are given full permission to enthusiastically and openly quote lines from the film.

Inconceivable

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

I’ll explain, and I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog-faced buffoon.

As you wish.”

I love events where my ADHD symptoms blend right in. Talking during a movie? I love it! Hold my popcorn please, while I fully participate in this movie!

In my free time I try to include activities where I don’t have to struggle with my symptoms. I spend the work week managing this disorder, during the weekends and evenings I want to be free from having to struggling with controlling my ADHD.

I strongly believe part of developing an ADD/ADHD self-care routine involves choosing activities where you don’t have to worry about your symptoms. It means choosing a few activities where you: don’t have to be concerned with periods of daydreaming; can fidget all you want; talk non-stop about something you are passionate about; forget about the time, and freely lose yourself in whatever it is you are engaged in.

If you don’t give yourself time during the week to be as ADHD as you want to be you are stifling yourself and your creativity. “Letting the ADHD out”, as I like to call it are some of my most creative times. I have noise in the background, a messy desk, snacks within arms length, and all the tools I need for getting things done.

 

When you find that you are stressed out, frustrated, or are not as productive as you feel you could be, carve out some time during the week to “let it all out”. Just be sure you don’t allow this to be at the expense of responsibilities and duties such as watching your children, being late at the expense of others, etc.

 

 

 

 

Prayer Does Not Cure ADHD

Prayer and ADHD

Things That People Have Said To Me About ADHD:

Have you tried praying that your ADHD will go away?

When you’re distracted, pray.

God can heal your ADHD.

Are you sure you have ADHD?

I thought only children had ADHD.

I came upon this blog post by Andy Lee  http://wordsbyandylee.com/how-to-focus-adhd-prayer/.

I’m not sure if she has ADHD, but she titled her post “How to Focus ADHD Prayer.” She listed the following symptoms checklist:

Do you have trouble focusing your thoughts when praying?

Do you pray the same prayers everyday?

Do you get bored when praying?

Do your prayers get lost in your plans or worries for the day?

Her solution: “If you struggle praying, if focus is impossible, there is a very good chance the enemy is running interference. Put on your helmet. Tell Him to go away in Jesus’ name.

She and others who take this approach are certainly people of faith. They have met spiritual interference and battled it with the help of God’s mighty spirit and strength. This is great, but ADHD is not a spiritual battle. It is not a sin. It is not something that can be prayed away.

Those of us with ADHD do need God’s help when dealing with the symptoms of ADHD, but I must be clear in stating that ADHD is not a spiritual disability.

Distraction A Warning

If we keep our focus solely on our disability instead of focusing on our abilities, yes, we will eventually beat ourselves down spiritually. If we don’t keep our emotions in check we can end up believing things that are not from God such as thinking:

-we are not good enough

-we don’t have gifts and talents to offer the world

-there is something wrong with us

-we are less godly or spiritually disciplined than “normal” people

If you have ADHD please know and believe that you do not have a spiritual disease. While spiritual disciplines and faith in God can help you manage your symptoms, it cannot “cure”, “solve”, or “get ride of” ADHD.

ADHD and Marching Women

On Saturday January 21, 2017, women and their supporters marched to send a message to the new government in the United States. I didn’t attend the march. I spent the afternoon ill, curled up in bed yet again, wishing I was at the march instead of at home.

I live in a city of barely 1 million people, but a couple thousand people showed up to the march. I was impressed with the numbers in my city and around the word. Women were marching, women were serious, women meant business.

I felt this way until I realized there were a number of women who were marching and didn’t quite know what they were marching for. I read new articles which blamed the problem on so-called whiny feminists, air-head millennials, and all sorts of other negative reasons. With so many injustices in the world, how does a woman show up to a march without a cause, without something worth fighting for.

I’m not a feminist in the traditional sense of the word. I don’t know what you could label me as. The reason I don’t call myself a feminist is because I find it to be a difficult concept to describe. I care about women’s rights, but I don’t think that is enough to tag the label feminist onto me.

labelling-yourself

I think it’s important for people, especially women, to be careful when “labeling” one’s self. We live in a culture that seems to like labels and expects us to wear them and live a certain way according to the label we give our self. Some of us wear more than one label and that can add additional problems to the already focus challenged life of the person with ADHD.

Environmentalist, Feminist, Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Vegetarian, Raw Foodist, Whole 30ist, Paleo, Roman Catholic, Mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Pro-Choice, Pro-life. This is just a very short list of the labels we are expected to choose from. Not only do we have to choose these labels, but we also have to be part of the causes associated with these labels.

Label People

When I think about this, I’m not surprised there were a number of women at these marches who didn’t know what they were marching for. To be fair, not everyone has a passion and not everyone has a cause they are fighting for. Not having a passion for something is foreign to me; I’ve always been a passionate person since I was a young girl in elementary.

With ADHD it’s easy to become interested in many different protests, causes, charities and organizations; but I’m writing this to say that it is alright to only remain heavily focused on one or two issues. By remaining focused on only a small number of issues you provide yourself with more time to dedicate to activities related to your causes. You can attend marches and be able to clearly state what you’re marching for and why.

Staying focused means being able to learn more about issues at a deeper level. You can take the time to read legitimate news pieces, blogs, and online resources. Focus also allows you to spend time with others who are equally as dedicated to a cause as you are.

Lack of focus isn’t exclusive to those with ADHD, but we do have to be extra careful to give our attention and energy to the things we are concerned about the most. It is too easy to spread ourselves thin and be of little use to ourselves or the causes we are involved with.

proverbs-21_15

Whatever you march for, don’t give up. Stay within the will of God, ask for His strength to help you, and His Spirit to guide you.

ADHD and a Not So New Year

 

january-start

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017. I’m looking forward to all the great possibilities that will be presented to me this year. My hope is that as you read this, you are looking forward to the good things this calendar year has to offer you.

As I have been doing for the past few years, I have chosen to pass on making new year’s resolutions. Instead, I continue to choose one word and one verse to be my focus for the year.

This year my word is Ephphatha, an Aramaic word meaning “be opened”. The word is taken from Mark 7:34 where Jesus heals a mute and deaf man. The pronunciation is “EHF-uh-thuh”. My verse for the year is from the Book of Ecclesiasus/Sirach 1:23-24 (found in the Apocrypha) “A patient person puts up with things until the right time comes: but his joy will break out in the end. Till the time comes he keeps his thoughts to himself, and many a lip will affirm how wise he is.”

As a person with ADHD I’ve accepted that a New Year doesn’t mean a new me. The date on the calendar doesn’t mean anything. I and others with ADHD can’t make a New Year’s resolution to quit ADHD or resolve to have less ADHD. Our disorder is here and it’s not going anywhere.

no_new_year_resolutions

There is no need to give into the idea of needing to make changes in January or create resolutions that you will likely not maintain. Setting goals and making changes takes time; and waking up on January 1st after several days of over eating, reduced sleep, and keeping up with all the holiday festivities is not the right time for anyone to make unprepared life changing decisions.

Because I was like many people who made resolutions and forgot what they were by the end of the first week of each January that passed by, I knew that whatever was on my list wasn’t important to me. If I had considered these resolutions important I would have remembered them and committed to achieving them by the end of the year. If something is important to you, you will commit to it. You might not be perfect at it, you might have days where you fall behind, or struggle, but you will still be committed to it and it will show by your actions, not your words.

At the beginning of each January I do a review of the previous year. I pull out that paper where my one word and verse are written and the hopes that I had for the then upcoming year.

james-1_5

As you make your way through the first month of the year, try doing a self-reflective review of the previous year, ask yourself some of these questions:

What obstacles did you overcome?

 

What did you accomplish during the year?

 

What are some things that you learned?

 

What changed about you?

 

Were you satisfied about your life?

 

What would have liked to accomplish but didn’t?

 

What are some things you learned about yourself?

 

How would you rate the quality of your relationships (friends/family/co-workers) during the past year?

What were your hobbies/recreational activities/fun times from the past year?

After you review your past year, celebrate. Even if the past year was difficult for you, there is still something to celebrate. You are alive, you made it into 2017 and that is a gift that millions of people around the world didn’t get.

Life never goes exactly as we plan, and that isn’t a sign of failure, it’s a natural part of life. This is why I’m not a fan of new year resolutions; why start of the year with plans and goals you have no intention of achieving. Start the year off being realistic. With ADHD we have a tendency to jump from one thing to another, leaving many ideas and plans incomplete. The best way to have a great and prosperous year is to be honest with yourself and others about what you can do and are willing to do.

Whatever you choose to focus on during 2017, I wish you the best. I wish you peace, transformation, and personal growth; these are some of the most important accomplishments a person can aim for.