APSARD conference…

it’s an ADHD professional organization. Google it.

just got back from 5-day conference. My brain is full of add information. I’m going to spend some time in the next few posts doing some takeaways from the conference. They will probably be in bullet points. And I will likely do some posts on specifics in more depth after having a chance to watch some of the recordings.

I think I’m going to start with some personal takeaways.

— sitting still and paying attention is hard. I believe that my medication works about as well as one can expect. And if obviously made a career out of managing my adhd. So, I didn’t expect it to be quite so draining. But unlike other conferences I’ve gone to, the slides were not available online. So I couldn’t follow along. Many of the lectures were overcrowded. So I was jammed on a tiny seat between other people. I did my share of standing up on the side. But there were definitely times I wish I could have sat on the floor against the wall and still seeing the screen. Reflecting, it was actually the sitting still in a small place that was harder than the paying attention. But the combination was a doozy. I actually broke the fidget toy that I brought. Apparently I squeezed it one too many times and it actually exploded. I’ll post a picture of that later.

— my tried and true strategy of planning a workout in the middle of every day of lectures worked beautifully. There were actually two days I think that I worked out twice. A really hard hour on the spin bike or lifting weights between 3 and 1/2 hours of sessions in the morning and 4 hours of sessions in the afternoon was not only helpful, but mandatory.

— planning. Planning. Planning. I practice what I preach and it works. Planning my travel. Planning each day of the conference ahead of time. Planning meals. Planning workouts. Making reservations. Ordering Ubers. I didn’t always stick to everything exactly. But 90% of the time I stuck to the plan. And the other 10% of the time I made the choice to deviate from the plan for a specific reason. Thus, no regrets and I feel like I got the most out of the conference.

— is it imposter syndrome if everyone else is actually more qualified than you? Trick question. This was a conference primarily for medical professionals. There were lots of psychiatrists, primary care doctors, pediatricians, a lot of psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychologists, grad students, PhD candidates, and little old me, the coach. I made more than one joke about being at the kids table in the back. But on the last night of the conference I got out there and met some people including two other great coaches. But really that’s not the takeaway of this bullet point. I think this was my third major add conference and my first in about 6 years. Also it was my first that wasn’t in Boston. I literally knew nobody there, with the exception of one doctor from Mass general who I barely know.

my anxiety combined with feeling under qualified to participate was extremely difficult my previous two conferences. But I am now older, more experienced, more mature, understand myself better. Or perhaps, like Bill Murray in caddyshack, I have achieved complete and total consciousness. I wish. What I did do was give myself a pep talk before the conference started, reminding myself that I’m really good at what I do and I’m there for a reason and I’m smart enough to hang with these people even if I haven’t been to med school. And you know what, going in with that attitude, it turned out to be true. Though it did feel a little outmatched at certain points. Because…

— I definitely need to take a college level class in statistics to understand better the science being presented. I’m going to add that to my list. Because I’ve known for years I need to figure out how to advance my knowledge of neurochemistry and neurobiology.

— being away from the stresses of everyday life, my appetite immediately changed. I ate significantly less while there and wasn’t constantly hungry. Food for thought.

— when I am on my own, it’s important to balance the desire to decompress have no responsibilities, and do my own thing with not isolating myself and getting lonely and depressed. I know this about myself. But it was interesting to put it into action in a scenario where I didn’t know anybody.

— being immersed in the thing that I’m passionate about and engaging the part of me that absolutely loves learning got me fired up before I even got there. Instead of watching a movie on the plane, I pulled out a pad and outlined basically my whole book. And then I pulled out my Chromebook and started typing. It’s been almost 4 years since I worked on my book. It’s at the point where I basically have to start over. But the energy I got from the idea of this conference got me excited about getting my ideas out there. And as a follow-up, I created an intention today to write for an hour a week. Now I just have to be intense about executing that intention.

— I like being away for long enough that I can unpack and feel settled in my hotel room. It benefits my state of mind.

— I’ve redoubled my effort to meditate daily in the last month or so. Doing it every day at the conference for even a little bit longer than I usually do felt important for managing my anxiety and my attention. I guess the takeaway is if it works at home, it’ll probably work when you’re somewhere else out of routine. Though it may take a little more effort to work it in when you’re out of routine, it’s probably worth it.

— A lot of what I “new to be true” is still dead on according to the science. But some things have progressed. In some places, new data is available. In some ways we are looking at the data differently. In some ways we’ve simply advanced our scientific knowledge in the last however many years since I went to a conference. I had to be aware of the feelings of frustration I had when confronted by something that changed, contradicted, put into question something that I had adopted as fact in the past. But that’s part of being an open-minded person and a good scientist. It’s good to always remember that the world was flat until it wasn’t. And a lot of people were invested in it still being flat. And strangely, some people still are. But that doesn’t make it any less round. Smart people are open to new ideas and don’t take them personally.

This feels like enough of boring y’all with my own personal takeaways. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to post some thoughts on medication, specifically name brand versus generic, length of action, non-stimulants. I’m going to talk about substance abuse disorder and ADHD, myths and facts. And I’m going to do quite a bit on girls and women with ADHD. Assuming I can remember all of this. I’m writing this on the 23rd. So generally these will roll out weekly.

you probably know my standard disclaimer by now.

p.s. one of my favorite things to do at these conferences is to look around the crowd and see who else is a member of my ADHD tribe. Most of the folks there are because ADHD is their professional discipline. Some of them ADHD is their professional discipline because they have it. I like to look around for people squirming in their seats, jackhammering their leg up and down, playing with a fidget toy, or randomly working out in the middle of the day with me.