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ADHD. Blessing or Curse?

Oct 17, 2018

I feel that I have to preface this by saying that I have not read much of Dr. Ned Hallowell's stuff. But I do have experience with many people who have had negative experiences with his Hallowell Center in Sudbury, MA. And, I'm reasonably familiar with the fact that he's been touting ADHD as a blessing for many years now. Frankly, I think that's bull shit. (Pardon my language.) So when the following came in my email I had mixed feelings.

From Shame and Stigma to Pride and Truth: It’s Time to Celebrate ADHD Differences
with Ned Hallowell, M.D., and William Dodson, M.D.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 @ 1pm ET

I'm certainly a big believer that ADHD shouldn't carry the stigma that it does. Things have gotten a lot better from when I was a kid. I don't think anyone has told me that they don't believe in ADHD in about a decade. That's progress. But to say that ADHD is a blessing is such an unbelievable stretch as to be insulting. 

I understand the desire to make ADHD into a thing that isn't only negative. But, I'm curious how one can even define what the "benefits" are. ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that exists on a spectrum. It, likewise, negatively affects functioning on a spectrum. It can be diagnosed and is, thus, subject to standards. I don't read the DSM V as having any positives listed in the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. 

I like to think that the things I like about me are about me, not about my ADHD. Or at the very least that I can separate those two things. Here's how I always put it: If a genie had come out of a lamp when I was, say, 15 and told me I could change one thing about me, without hesitation I would have said, "I wish I didn't have ADHD." But as I sit here a few weeks away from hitting my 40's, I realize that you can't separate me from the ADHD. I've always thought of it like when a tree grows into a fence and you couldn't pry the two apart if you wanted to without destroying both. In essence they have become one and the same. 

Some people claim that ADHDers are more creative than "normal" people. As far as I know there has never been any research to prove this. There does seem to be a strong empathetic streak in ADHDers. Statistically, we are overrepresented in helping professions. But is that the ADHD? Is it how certain personality types respond to struggling with ADHD? Or is it something else? As far as I know, there have been no studies either way. 

I realize this has gotten a bit rambling and preachy. But, from where I sit, saying that ADHD is a gift is irresponsible. I undermines the decades of work ADHD and clinicians have put in proving that ADHD is a legitimate medical diagnosis. It minimizes the struggle and the desperation that accompany undiagnosed, untreated, and undertreated ADHD in many kids and adults. It can stigmatize the seeking of help and make people and families less likely to seek the pharmacological intervention that has been proven to really help people.  I defy you to find another "gift" that is diagnosable, treatable, and responds to both medication and behavioral intervention. Maybe the gift... is just you! So, treat the ADHD and let the gift of you shine through.



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.



ADHD. Blessing or Curse?

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Never too early to think about a career.

Oct 12, 2018

I grew up in Newton. One of the best school systems in the state. I got a tremendous, well rounded liberal arts education in high school. As I look back, one of the few failings of the Newton School System was that no one ever encouraged me to really think about what I wanted to do for a career or have me reflect on how my passions and my talents might converge to allow me to make a living. 

We were solidly middle class. My Dad was a high school english teacher and administrator. My mom took a bunch of years of but was a graphic designer. My Dad went to Brown and my mom went to RISD. (That's where they met.) All my friends parents were doctors, lawyers, therapists, engineers, professors, judges, or the like. All very traditional career paths that involved college and mostly grad school. But I never really thought about how one gets there. I just put my head down and tried to make the best of my high school education, all the while hoping things would get more interesting and relevant in college. They didn't. 

I don't necessarily have any regrets. I'm happy with my life. But it was a grind to get here. I wonder what life would have been like if I'd done culinary right out of high school. What if I'd learned to be a carpenter and owned my own contracting business. What if I'd been exposed to other white collar jobs that were more specialized. I have a friend in logistics. His job is to get stuff from one place to another all over the county. I think I'd be great at that. But who knew that was a thing? 

I don't expect a high school sophomore to know what they want to do for a living yet. But they should start thinking about it. Explore options over the summer. Shadow someone. Take a class for fun in something that isn't an option at high school. Explore the vocational floor if it's in the regular high school like it was at Newton North. Or consider a vocational high school. You can alway go to college. But graduating high school with a marketable skill is no small thing. Consider what direction at least you might go in and tailor your college choice in that direction. Or think about transfering when you realize what your passion is and find out that your school doesn't have a great department in whatever that is. (One of my best friends went to Oberlin and love it. But he realized that his passion was the theater and transferred to NYU's Tisch school after one year.)

College can be a wonderful opportunity or a monumental waste of time and money. Particularly as ADHDers, we struggle when we are not working toward something specific. If the present sucks (and school sucks for many of us,) and there isn't a compelling light at the end of the tunnel... things are likely to end poorly. 

That's not to say that your path can't change. Nor am I saying that you have to choose a path early other than to be on the path of exploring intentionally and intensely. You may not find your passion until that class you take your Jr. year of college. That's okay. But if you've spent the first two years of school trying new things and looking for that passion, it is time and money well spent. If you're just punching the clock in college not looking for or expecting to find your passion, maybe it's not worth it. 

I realize this has probably become long, rambling, and you may not be able to hear me all the way up here on my soapbox. So I'll end with the thing that brought me to writing about this topic in the first place. A client's mom just hipped me to the fact that the main BPL in Copley has a whole program/area devoted to career and college planning. The details on the site are thin. But it appears you can get one on one guidance on careers and college planning. And I here that they are a great resource for considering future careers even for teenagers. 


Check it out. 


Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.





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New ADHD med study @ south shore psychiatric srvcs.

Oct 1, 2018

Please see attached for more info.
New ADHD med study @ south shore psychiatric srvcs.

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Vote No on MA question no. 1

Sep 26, 2018

So, you are wondering why I'm writing a blog post about a ballot question. Fair enough. Here's why: As an advocate for mental health care and affordable healthcare and medication, this ballot question is extreme important. I would ask that you please read this and consider my points. 

First, I come by this information because of my involvement in the Mass General Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council. I would not have know enough about this question and now that I do, I'm desperate to spread the word. I will attempt to be concise but thorough. 

What the deal with Question No. 1? This is a piece of legislation that the MA Nurses Association has been trying to push through the legislature for 20 years. But has had so little support that it has never even gotten out of committee or been sponsored as a bill.  So the went the ballot question route. 

Who are the MA Nurses Association? The are the nurses union in MA. Unfortunately the represent less than 1/3 of all nurses. And many of their members are against the ballot question anyway. 

Why is this an issue? There are some hospitals, mostly rural hospitals, that are asking their nurses to to too much. In a small number of locations, there is a problem with understaffing of nurses. However, this is not a pervasive problem in MA. 

What are some of the details of this bill that make it a problem?
  1. These staffing regulations do not take into account day of the week, time of day, needs of a particular floor, the experience level of nurses, or any other real world considerations of staffing. 
  2. This law would require implementation over the course of just 37 business days. In some cases MGH spends 6 months "onboarding" new nursing staff. 
  3. There is already a nursing shortage in MA. This law would likely lead to less quality in nursing staff even if the quantity is increased. 
  4. The hospitals that are stretching their staffs too thin are generally hospitals in financial trouble. It is likely that those hospitals will have to close in the wake of this law. That would create an even worse situation for the people in those communities.
  5. Each "violation" of the law would incur a $25,000 fine that goes... nobody really knows.
  6. It would force hospitals to "float" nurses to different areas of the hospital where they may not be comfortable to be in compliance, again sacrificing quality for quantity.

Do any other states have this law? Only California has this law. They took 5 years to implement the law. There is no fine. And, the California rank of outcomes is considerably lower than MA, which happens to be ranked 2nd in the nation in terms of medical outcomes. Clearly not a broken system.

How much will this cost ME as a consumer? Well, the estimated start up cost to the MA medical system is close to $2 Billion Dollars with an annual expense of an additional $1.3 Billion dollars annually. THIS IS TOTALLY UNFUNDED. It will not take long for that cost to be passed on to you and me in terms of higher insurance rates, copays, and deductibles

I'm generally a liberal guy. I don't have a problem with government regulation. But, in my opinion, this law totally goes above the reasonable function of government. I think the state has a right to demand that its citizens have access to quality medical care. But telling hospitals how to provide that care in such detail is inherently inappropriate. 

Please join me in voting No. on Question 1 this Nov. And, please spread the word about how damaging this law could be to our state, its medical infrastructure, and ultimately you and I.

By the way, the pic is of a bumper sticker that I saw in the parking lot at Milton Hospital this month when I was there for the Adult ADHD support group that I run.



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.

Vote No on MA question no. 1

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What should I tell my boss?

Sep 21, 2018

What should I tell my boss?
The topic of what to tell one's boss about one's ADHD, if anything at all has come up for me a few times recently. Here's my two cents. I think it is important to keep colleagues and superiors in the loop. However, I would never suggest doing that as an excuse. 

Most of us work in results based professions. Nobody wants to hear excuses about why we can't do the work, get there on time, produce a mistake free product, or deliver on expectations. That said, I think most of us may deliver in a non-traditional way. I would never excuse lack of results by referring to ones ADHD. But I'm more than happy to explain my methods, needs, and quicks in that same framework. 

It is important to be in an organization that isn't so rigid that there is no room for individuality. As ADHDers we may need to approach our work day differently. We may need to come in early or stay late. We may need to borrow a conference room when the main office area gets to distracting. We may need to stand up in longer meeting to stay focused. We may need to utilize any number of strategies to produce the expected product. A good boss will recognize that we are all individuals and let us get there however is best as long as we get there.


Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.


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Do your own thing!

Sep 13, 2018

My wife is a total rule follower. She is very uncomfortable "coloring outside the lines." I firmly believe that the rules are, at best, suggestions. I have always felt like a square peg in round hole. Or more accurately, a square peg standing angrily next to a round hole that looks so easy and enticing that I know I will never fit into. Well, I guess I should say that I was at one time angry. Then I decided that I was going to have to buy some tools and make some square holes. (How's that for taking an analogy too far?)

My point is that as ADHDers we don't fit the mold. But THAT'S OKAY. Give yourself the freedom to experiment, try new things, question assumptions, challenge the conventional wisdom, and break the mold. Not only is that how many of the great innovations of our time have been achieved, but it's the only way for us to tap into our true potential. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm not encouraging anarchy. But when your environment doesn't fit you, think about changing your environment. As a small, crazy, and totally irrelevant example... I have been much happier since I decided to own the fact that I don't like breakfast foods (at least not for breakfast.) I ate this delicious salad for breakfast. Works for me.

My biggest challenge is that my son got my ADHD and his mother's rule following anxiety. I'm trying to teach him how to not follow all the rules... without saying that exact phrase out loud. Parenting is hard.


Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.

Do your own thing!

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