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Decision Making & ADHD

Sep 15, 2021

Decision making is not an executive function. Difficulty with decision making is not a symptom of ADHD. So why do so many ADHDers have difficulty making decisions? I think there are a few reasons. But the primary reason is that the actual process of making a decision is the perfect storm of Attention, Working Memory (Executive Function,) Managing Impulsivity, and Managing Anxiety. In short, to make a difficult or complex decision, we need to do all of the things that we stink at.

So, what's the solution? I have a few tips.
  1. Make the commitment to actually make decisions. Decide to decide. Don't let yourself kick the can down the road. If I've learned anything from doing this for over a decade it is that NOTHING GETS BETTER BY PUTTING IT OFF. Occasionally things go away, but even that usually has negative consequences.
  2. Be intentional about making your decision. Separate the decision from any other related tasks that you have to do and isolate that as its own task.
  3. Give yourself time and space to make that decision. Do research if you need to, but limit yourself to a specific amount of research so it doesn't drag on indefinitely.
  4. Recognize that there is often no perfect solution and no amount of research or thinking can come up with all the answers. Rarely are things 100%. Sometimes 51% has to do. 
  5. Recognize that in many cases, there are more than one right decisions and/or the decision isn't final or can be changed/fixed at some point down the road. 
  6. Manage any anxiety you may feel with exercise, meditation, and/or self talk, especially if it is a big decision.
  7. Lastly, make sure you are optimal when you set aside time to make your decision and/or do your research. Be medicated, well slept, not 'hangry,' and generally in a good state of mind.  
Hope this helps! Happy 'ciding!

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

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The Depression Entry I Meant to Write Last Time

Sep 6, 2021

So... It has been a while since I posted. My bad. But in my defense, my last post was epic. I hope nobody was thrown for a loop. It ended up getting kind of personal. This is the quick post I intended to write that day. (And I'm going to back date it and hopefully post again tomorrow!)

For those of you who know me, you know know that I live by my To Do List. So much so that I'm writing a book about my To Do List strategy and I teach it to all my clients. Generally I don't include the normal day to day stuff that I do every morning like showering, cooking everyone's breakfast, doing the dishes, icing after my workout, etc. But I was finding that since just doing those things were my victories for the day, I "wanted credit" for them. So putting them on the list and crossing them off was important, even if that meant just uncrossing them at the end of the day so I could cross them off tomorrow. It gave me a real sense of progress and success, something I very much needed. 

Now, as my depression seems to be abating and my productivity is returning, those things just clutter up my To Do List and I'm starting to take them off. But they really helped get me through.

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Managing Depression on a Daily Basis

Aug 17, 2021

So, not strictly an #ADHD topic today. But #Depression is pretty ADHD adjacent. Some studies have shown that up to 65% of ADHDers have some form of comorbid depression and/or anxiety. I certainly do. And, if you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you know that I love to share my tips, tricks, and triumphs. As my mentor coach one said, (paraphrasing) one of the things that we are selling is that we are pretty good at life. As haughty as that sounds. I don’t think it is untrue. I have two great role models in my parents. I have had many other great influences in my life, from coaches to teachers to friends. And, I’ve had the wherewithal to do a lot of work on myself along the way that has paid off.  

Having said that, I think I’d be both disingenuous and a pretty big asshole if I did admit my own vulnerabilities. I’m an ADHD coach and a life coach because I happen to think I get “it” right far more often than not. But I very much have struggles. And, I think it is important for those of us who put ourselves up on any kind of pedestal, proclaiming to be an expert, to also proclaim that we are human. We have weaknesses, we make mistakes, and we have struggles. I know that I’ve mentioned this in the context of the daily schedules that I post regularly. I used to only post those that went swimmingly. But I’ve come to realize that people get as much or more out of seeing how I handle a day that doesn’t go according to plan than they do seeing how I plan things perfectly. 

So, I’m making it a point, as I experience the vicissitudes of modern life with two challenging kids, that I show up authentically in this space and let y’all know when there are some struggles. There are two reasons for this. One, as I have already tried to articulate, simply presenting myself as a multidimensional person who doesn’t have all the answers all the time, feels like it has value in and of itself. But, also, I think that I can demonstrate strength even in weakness. We all face adversity. How we handle it generally speaks to how long it lasts, and what we are made of. So, even though I’m not speaking from atop a pedestal today, I think that I have some worthwhile things to offer. So, after a three paragraph intro that I didn’t intend to write… here goes…

Where am I today, August 17th, 2021? Well… I’m not where I want to be. My wife is in a difficult situation at work. She’s understaffed, overworked and very, very stressed. It seems like she’s working 70 hours a week. But maybe that’s just because of how many nights and weekends there are and that she’s generally not home until 6:30 on a good day. Both of my kids are experiencing serious mental health issues. I was going to make an analogy to my home feeling like your average house in Aleppo. But, that’s a real entitled first world jerk thing to say. But the point is that everyone in my house is currently experiencing trauma based on the mental health issues of my youngest. And this has been going on for years, with only minor breaks of semi-stability. That is just background, and not intended as a sob story. 

The bottom line is that all of that, combined with this pandemic that we had/are having means that I’ve been fighting off a major depression for months… well over a year now. Somehow, I thought it would get better over the summer. Not so much. I’m actually struggling more than ever due to my youngest’s struggles trickling up. But, I can’t give up. I am the “primary parent.” I can’t stop cooking dinner, making breakfast, getting the kids showered, signing them up for dance and soccer, doing the laundry, managing the rental property, food shopping, mowing the lawn, etc. Nor can I stop seeing clients, doing consultation, billing, emailing, and running my business. So, now I’m five paragraphs in and I haven’t given y’all any useful information. What a jerk! Let’s get to it. 

So what am I doing to keep my shit barely together in order to be able to take care of my familial and business responsibilities? I think I’ll just do some bullet points. If you’ve read this far, you deserve some bullet points.

  1. I’m actively managing my medication with my awesome and responsive doctor. Throughout the course of the pandemic to the peasant moment I have gone from 12.5 to 15 to 17.5 to 20 mg of my antidepressant, Trentellix. I’ve also increased my Ativan to (up to) 2mg 3x daily. And I don’t fuck around with my sleep. I automatically take one before bed. 

  2. I stopped drinking for a few months and have now brought it back in much more moderation, a tactic I’ve used several times in my life. To be clear, drinking wasn’t a real problem for me. I just didn’t like how much I was using it to manage stress. 

  3. I am exercising absolutely as much as my various injuries will allow. I’m back on the spin bike with 42 minutes of interval sprinting 4-6 days a week… watching soccer AND listening to my workout mix. It takes a lot to keep me going these days.

  4. I am doing my best to meditate for 5-10 minutes daily with the semi-guided program on the headspace app. I usually go with Andy. Eve sounds too hot and I find that distracting. (If you’re still reading. You deserve some humor!)

  5. I thought about stopping my drum lessons. But  I decided to readjust my expectations a bit and rededicated myself to practicing, even if it was not for as long. And, a few weeks in *SURPRISE* I’m making progress and getting better. 

  6. I’m also letting LOTS OF STUFF GO. My garden needs some love. It’s not getting it. I’m focusing on harvesting every other day and I’m giving away food that I don’t have the time or give-a-shit-ness to freeze, can, or pickle. 

So, really the bottom line is that this is all I’m asking of myself every day. These self care things, seeing my clients, and making sure my kids are clothed, bathed, and fed. And, of course, when my wife is around, we are making the best of the time we have together. I am putting all this stuff on my list everyday so I can check it off. Most days I do and that feels great. Even if the rest of the day is spent reading or not doing much of anything. I am surviving. We are surviving. I/we will get through this by having reasonable expectations and doing what is necessary and taking care of ourselves first and taking on the world at a later date. I realize this got a little stream of consciousness at the end. But I hope I got my point across. Take care of yourself. Take things off your plate if you can. And, feel good about what you do get done. 

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

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Smartwatch as ADHD helper?

Aug 9, 2021

Smartwatch as ADHD helper?
I will be the first to admit that I have poo-pooed the smart watch since day one. My general feeling is that they are so much unnecessary digital flotsam to distract ourselves from reality. But...

I have a relatively new client who has made me open my mind to the idea of a smartwatch being a useful tool for the right type of ADHDer. Like myself, he uses his phone for many useful things, as a tool. But he has a tendency to get distracted by its many features and to go down lengthy rabbit holes. I know that will ring true with many of you. 

So for him, the beauty of the watch, at least so far, is that it does the bare necessities without being the opportunity for too much more. 
  • He uses it as an interval timer, a useful thing that we've worked on.
  • He gets reminders and alarms on it. 
  • He can get texts and emails on it but really only to the point of knowing if they are really important or time sensitive. Since most aren't, there's no need to then take a deep dive into the email or text-verse and get lost. 
  • And he uses it to wirelessly stream music to his earbuds without having his phone out as a distraction. 
So, I'm pretty sold on his use of the watch. It seems to really be working for him. I would put the caveat that I don't think this would work for all ADHDers. Some folks would take our their phone's anyway and can't resist it's magnetic like pull. But if you are the type of person who is close to being able to use your phone as a tool, not as a toy but get sucked in in that moment of weakness when using if for something productive, maybe the smartwatch is for you?

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

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ADHD & Girls and Women

Aug 3, 2021

Now that I've hipped you to the ADDitude podcast feed, if you are a girl or a woman with ADHD you need to check out #337. Everyone knows that I like generate my own content on this blog. But sometimes I just need to refer to someone more expert than myself. Underdiagnosis and undertreatment in girls and women has been a problem for decades. Now that ADHD in Women is finally being addressed and studied, there is really important science that all ADHD women should know about. If you are a women, there are ways that your ADHD may really be different from your brother's, husband's, or father's ADHD.

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Podcasts so much better than webcasts

Jul 27, 2021

I've always listened to the ADDitude webinars as webinars. I never listen live. They are a great resource. About one in ten is worth it for me. Which is saying something, with how much I already know about ADHD. I particularly get a lot out of those that feature co-occuring conditions. But, it has always been a hassle to sign in to listen to the webinar after the fact and have my phone open on the browser, etc. And, they mention at the beginning that there is an option to listen in podcast form. 

I DO NOT KNOW WHY IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO ACTUALLY HEAR THAT AND REALIZE I COULD LISTEN TO THESE WEBINARS AS PODCAST.  But I can. And, they have a mainstream chanel. I get it on spotify in my regular feed. I'll probably still sign up for the webinar, just to remember to listen to that specific one when it comes out, since I don't listen to all of them. But this is a fabulous option.

Get them here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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