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ADHD, BLM & Mental Healthcare

Dec 3, 2020

I was the classic hyperactive boy. This was fully on display in my late teens and twenties when I was a young driver. Luckily I am an athlete with exceptional spatial abilities and hand eye coordination. So, despite being, at one point, one point away from losing my licence from speeding tickets, I was never in an accident that was my fault. 

There was an incident when I was at an all day concert in North Hampton with a girl. We originally were going to camp out and come home in the morning. But it had rained that day and we couldn't find any good places to stay... and I was still wired at 1am. I was about 19 at the time, pretty much straight edge. So when I got pulled over on the Mass Pike at 1am going 95 mph I was totally sober.

I should probably note now, for those of you who don't know me personally or haven't seen my pictures on the other pages of my site, that I am about as white as you get. Not in the sense that I'm Mayflower white. I'm 3rd generation American in three directions and am a total mutt. But, I am a white (partly) Anglo-Saxon (raised) Protestant, who grew up (solidly middle class) in a rich Boston suburb. 

So, when I got pulled over I was scared... about losing my license, about having my car towed and how I was going to get home, about having to tell my parents, about what it was going to do to my insurance rates. But not for one second was I scared about the interaction I was about to have with the state police officer that was about to come to my car door. Because, fundamentally, I grew up with a respectful relationship with cops and was always treated fairly by them. The youth office in Newton was my D.A.R.E officer and the coach of our state championship high school lacrosse team. 

And that interaction went fine. I got a huge ticket for driving 89 mph. I think that is because 90 mph meant an automatic driving to endanger charge that may have meant impounding the car and lots of paperwork. And, the trooper seemed like a good guy. I like to think the interaction would have gone exactly the same if I were a young black man. But I don't know. Certainly statistics show that that is not always the case. And if you think a young black man in the same situation doesn't have a reason to be concerned, you are wilfully ignorant of the world we live in. 

I'm posting this now because I've wrestled with the idea of whether or not I should use this forum to express these thoughts. But finally decided that censoring myself is absurd. A direct line can be drawn from my hyperactivity to my speeding to my getting pulled over. (And, I was diagnosed and effectively treated.) A direct line can be drawn from Walter Wallace Jr.'s mental illness to his death at the hands of police in Philadelphia. 

We have a race problem in this country. We also have a mental health problem in this county. And the place where those two problems converge exists a crisis. We have missed the mark by talking about defunding anything. We need to be talking about funding mental healthcare, particularly in underserved communities. I will resist the impulse to write another 10,000 words about the problems and the solutions. I will just say that despite severe ADHD, I have grown up privileged in many ways as a white suburban American. I look forward to the day that we can all enjoy that privilege simply by virtue of the fact that we are Americans.


Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts muh,  if at all. Please excuse 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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Getting back on the horse

Nov 24, 2020

I've been thinking about how to make my triumphant return to my blog. How can I possibly come back with the consistency that I had always had pre-pandemic? Should I stockpile entries? Should I try to write in the middle of the night after the kids were in bed? Should I only do short, pithy posts that are less substantive but can be churned out? Should I take longer posts and make them into long series? Should I...???

The answer is no, no, and no. I can't expect myself to know what the future holds. I don't have a crystal ball. I don't even have a magic 8 ball. I can't guarantee that I can post weekly like I have in the past. But I can guarantee that I'm currently posting today. And that is a victory. That is an ADHD victory. That is a human victory. That is an anxiety victory. That is a pandemic victory. I haven't posted since early August. If I start posting at all, even if it's not every week, that will continue to be a victory. 

And I think we all need victories right now. So whatever you are struggling with, working out, eating well, meditation, getting work done, homework, job searching, keeping the house tidy, whatever... remember that it is not all or nothing. YOU CAN MAKE PROGRESS WITHOUT BEING PERFECT. Change is not a light switch, it is an iterative process. 

I have had so, so many things on hold as I've been in survive, not thrive mode through the last 8 months. And that was the right thing to do. Now I'm struggling with how to approach those things knowing that I'm still in survive mode but that I want or need to get back in the game somehow. I think the answer is small bites. 

ONE BLOG POST. DONE! BOOM! I feel better. How about you. Let's see when the next one comes... no pressure. But today I did one more than I have since August. Feels good!


Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts muh,  if at all. Please excuse 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. AND YOU KNOW I DIDN'T REREAD THIS ONE. WHO HAs TIME FOR THAT $#!*


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Is your clinician really an ADHD expert?

Aug 11, 2020

ADDitude has a great article on Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria today. It is part of the emotional dysregulation that comes with ADHD for many. "New Insights Into Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria." It's a great article. But if you weren't reading super carefully, you might have missed something really important.

"It’s widely understood that the diagnostic criteria for ADHD in the DSM-V only fit well with elementary school age children (6-12) and have never been validated in a group of people over the age of 16.1 They are based on only observational or behavioral criteria that can be seen and counted. The traditional diagnostic criteria intentionally avoid symptoms associated with emotion, thinking styles, relationships, sleeping, etc. because these features are hard to quantify. For clinicians who work with later adolescents and adults, the DSM-V criteria are almost useless because they ignore so much which is vital to understanding how people with an ADHD nervous system experience their lives."

This is one of the main reasons we have so many incompetent clinicians in America, when it comes to ADHD. If you are truly "in the know." there is a wealth of information on ADHD, diagnosis, treatment, medication, etc. But, if you are going by the book, the one book that you are supposed to go by to diagnose and treat all mental disease and disorders... well, then you're shit out of luck in terms of knowing what you are doing. It is really shameful. 

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Update on checklists for the kids

Jun 17, 2020

Quite a while ago I posted about a checklist I'd made for my son for his morning routine. This is an update, re-exploration of that topic. 

My son is 11. He is the most wonderful, empathetic, smart, and sensitive kid you will ever meet. But, he's on his own planet much of the time. This is hard for me because his flavor of ADHD is so different from mine. I am over sensitive to my environment. I notice everything. As a kid I may not have cared to address what I noticed because it seemed like too much effort, but I knew it was there. I struggle with gett my 11 year old to even notice.

So, a few years ago, I made him a checklist and printed it on bright yellow paper and posted it next to the door in his room. I worked for a few weeks and then faded into his background. I know that ADHDers tend to do a new thing while it is the "bright, shiny object" and then tune it out. I know that visual reminders need to be refreshed often to work for ADHDers. Yet, somehow I expected that the posted checklist would work indefinitely. Or maybe I just wanted it to. 

Needless to say, it did not work forever. Not even close. He didn't slide back to square one but much of the progress was lost. I guess it wasn't super high on my list to follow up and enough of the progress was retained. Then the zombie apocalypse happened and we're all stuck in the house together, and I have more on my plate than ever. And having to chase my son around to do pretty basic stuff like clearing his plate after meals was really grinding my gears. 

And before you ask, no, reminding, yelling, threatening to take away morning TV, etc. didn't work. And, what's worse, I think my being up his tail pipe all the time was negatively affecting our relationship. So I took my own advice and updated and reprinted the checklist, this time on bright pink paper. And, I added a list for meal times. 

Surprise! He immediately responded to the list and did the things more or less successfully for about four day... Then his intensity started to slip. Hopefully I won't have to make a new list every four days. But if I have to change things up a bit every few weeks until the behaviors come automatically for him... I guess I'm willing. It's better than being frustrated and making him upset and still not getting results.


Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts muh,  if at all. Please excuse 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.


Update on checklists for the kids

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Letting go is freedom... for now at least

Jun 9, 2020

Hey everyone. It has been almost two months since I posted last. I believe one of my last posts was about being in "survive" mode as opposed to "thrive" mode. I've definitely been surviving. The past few months at home have been tough, as I'm sure they have for most of you too. In many ways I've been forced to cut down to the bare minimum in order to survive. My self care is not quite where I would like it to be. I don't get to play the drums as much as I'd like.. hardly at all. But I only skipped one lesson. I'm still trying to progress. I haven't had as much time as I would like to work in the garden. But my wife took the kids for three hours on Sunday and I more or less caught up. So far everything looks good. I've made a concerted effort to start meditating on my own again over the last few weeks... with varied success. 

Work is also a challenge. I have done zero marketing and basically only made time for my clients. Other than that... I'm not keeping up on my ADHD reading and webinars. And, as you know, I'm not posting here. I was very insistent when I started this blog that I didn't want to do the ADHD thing of posting for two months and then forgetting about the blog altogether. I'm proud to say that I've been very consistent over the years. But things change. With this unprecedented situation, I've had to adjust my expectations. 

I think the key to my success (if you want to call it that,) is that I'm just not expecting to thrive. I'm more willing to let things go now than I ever have been before, which is nice. Years ago I would have beat myself up for not thriving and run myself into the ground. On the field I've lost a step... or two. But I like to think I've accrued some wisdom. 

But you will note that I am posting today. I guess that means that I let go while still keeping my thoughts about getting back to normal on the back burner. I had a client end a little early today and thought to myself, I could bang out a blog post. My point is that most people I work with are worried about letting go of anything because they are afraid that they'll never pick those things back up. I'm her to tell you that that isn't the case necessarilly. 


P.S. Formatting and spell check aren't currently working. Please forgive any weirdness.


Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts muh,  if at all. Please excuse 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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Fidget toys don't have to be fancy

Apr 17, 2020

My daughter found this picture nail in my office. It has been my go to fidget toy this week during many a remote session. Sometimes simple is best... and cheapest.
Fidget toys don't have to be fancy

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