My Blog: ADHD Since 1978-

How to handle, “What to do now?”

I am happy to report that life has started to lighten up a little bit, finally, after 3 or 4 years of intense challenge. Not that it’s Sunshine rainbows and unicorns. But things are good. Most of that has to do with my kids being reasonably stable. Or at least feeling like there’s a path for them. I spent a lot of the 6 months previous not posting very often. And part of that was being completely overwhelmed by what was going on with the kids. Businesses also been going well. Which is a good thing. But it’s not so much that I didn’t have the time to bang out a quick blog post. It’s more that I didn’t have the bandwidth. I continued to schedule blog posts while I wait in the car for my son at dance class. But I stopped doing it. I just didn’t feel up to it. but, as things have gotten better, and being the constantly introspective guy that I am, I realized that there’s more to why I’m not posting. So even now that things are better and I’ve got more bandwidth, I realize that I don’t have as much to say. I think when I logged in today it showed 467 posts. That is a lot of mostly unique ADHD content with a little bit of repetition, some intentional, some probably not intentional, and with some thoughts on other issues mixed in. I’m certainly not saying I know everything about adhd. But I am saying that I know a lot and I’ve written a lot. It’s not that I don’t have any new ideas. I have some ideas that I save for my clients and don’t post on my blog I have a lot of ideas about co-occurring conditions. I’ve done a…

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Success, failure, progress, learning experiences & a positive mindset.

Nothing gets us moving faster than running away from something. But in my experience, as soon as the scary monster over our shoulder isn’t right behind us, we ease up on the gas and don’t push much further. To really achieve your goals, I think it’s particularly important to have a vision of what you’re pushing for. This might sound like a semantic distinction. But I swear to you it’s important. And it helps create a positive growth mindset. I was working with a client today who had made a lot of progress in two specific areas over the previous week. Yet, when I asked her how she was going to maintain her progress and maybe take it to the next level, her answer was, “Don’t F*** it up.” In this one simple phrase she managed to wipe away the good feeling of her accomplishment this week and frame her success only in the negative idea of screwing it up again. When I pressed her on this negative outlook, she managed to say something positive briefly and then circled back to, “not doing anything stupid.” That negative mindset born out of frustration, fear, failure, and less than stellar self-confidence was really entrenched. And this is after she had a really good week! I can only imagine how down she gets on herself when it’s a rough week. I’m not suggesting that we should be pie in the sky optimists. But when we want to make a behavioral change, it seems to me that the best course of action is to develop a picture of what we want and work towards it slowly but steadily. Of course slow and steady isn’t a straight line. But if you pull back and look at the world view consistent progress over time is pretty…

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Overlapping symptoms.

First, I’d like to apologize to my regular readers for being MIA for a bit. The reason will become apparent during this post. Second, I will admit that I have lost track of a lot of the topics that I’ve written about. I think I’ve been writing this blog for about 7 years. So I’m probably going to start repeating myself. I don’t think anyone is quite avid enough of a reader to notice. But I wanted to name my own anxiety about treading the same ground, which is probably been one of the reasons that I’ve struggled to post lately. Based on many reliable studies, up to 80% of ADHDers have been shown to have at least one comorbidity. If you have ADHD you are more likely than general population to have asd, depression, anxiety, tourette’s, bipolar, and pretty much any other diagnosable psychiatric condition you can think of. Not to mention other things that are psychiatry adjacent like sleep disorders. The most common are depression and anxiety. Though they don’t always come together, they very often do. The problem is that the symptom sets overlap quite a bit. It can often be difficult to tell what psychiatric conditions someone is suffering from as well as to tease out how effective treatments are when you know you’re dealing with more than one. Let’s take anxiety, for example. We know that ADHD and anxiety are very often comorbid. But, we also know that untreated ADHD is likely to make a human being anxious. Untreated ADHD is also likely over the long term, to make a human being at least mildly depressed. So how can you tell if the anxiety is caused by the ADHD or a separate condition? The same for depression? Of course, there’s no cut and dry answer…

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under selling attention as a society as it relates to the stimulant shortage crisis

I have seen a lot of things change in the almost 35 years since I was diagnosed with ADHD. Almost all of them have been for the better. There was a lot of, “I don’t believe in that, that’s not a real thing.” When I was younger. Seriously, people would have no problem telling me that to my face when I was like 13 years old. I think this is one of the reasons that I so strongly identify with lgbtq+ folks. Despite growing up white, suburban, and reasonably privileged, I was pretty consistently and fundamentally told, “No, you’re wrong. You’re not actually right about what your experiencing. I know better than you. As a matter of fact, in fourth grade, one of the two teachers had a master’s in special Ed. So they gave her all the kids with adhd. The first week of school in an IEP meeting she told my parents she didn’t believe in it. That was one of the worst years of my life. I still get a lot of, “I think we all have a little bit of that.” And this is progress. But it’s kind of sinister in its own way. It’s really a way of unpathologizing a legitimate medical issue to a matter of severity of something normal that everybody deals with. That would be like if you told someone you were clinically depressed and their response was, I know everybody gets depressed sometimes. No. Everybody doesn’t get clinically depressed sometimes. Everybody gets sad sometimes. Everybody gets anxious sometimes. Everybody has a hard time being in charge of their attention sometimes. But that doesn’t mean they have clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or adhd. There are clinical standards for these particular psychopathologies. When we don’t distinguish them from everyday feelings we do…

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ADHD & Anxiety & Depression

I subscribe to an ADDitude newsletter for ADHD professionals. It’s not super sciencey. Frankly, I often wish it were more in depth and cited the actual papers so I could at least read the abstract, conclusion, or methodology. But, I guess it is what it is. But the thing that baffles me is how little new is reported from reportedly new studies. I’ve been an ADHD professional for 12 or so years. I’ve been a person with ADHD for 44 years. I’ve know I had ADHD for about 34 years. And, I’ve done my best to learn about ADHD in one way or another for about 20 years. And I’ve taken part in studies on ADHD since I was 12. So, I know a lot about ADHD. I keep reading article that announce finding of stuff I already know like it’s new news. I understand that we need to build a concensus in science and medicine. But, maybe use the word “confirms” instead of “determines?” Today’s take away from January’s ADDitude for Professionals: “As many as 80% of adults with ADHD have at least one co-existing psychiatric disorder.2 According to a recent ADDitude survey of 1,500 readers, anxiety and depression are the two most common comorbid conditions diagnosed alongside ADHD in adults, with co-diagnosis rates of 72% and 70%, respectively.” I’ve been telling my clients this for over a decade. There have been scores of studies to prove it. Who cares about an anecdotal sample of a very specific 1,500 readers? But they are the two most common comorbidities. That’s been established for years. We all benefit from the prodigious amount of research done on ADHD. But, let’s break some new ground? Or maybe I’m just getting old and cranky?

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Overcompensating for our ADHD traits

whether consciously or unconsciously, many of us identify pretty early in our lives some of the ADHD trades that we would like to minimize or eliminate. It might be impulsivity, disorganization, being late, or any number of other things. Of course, there are trades that we can’t control. Otherwise ADHD wouldn’t be a legitimate diagnosis and we could just “try harder.” but there are usually some things about ourselves which, through sheer force of our will or because of overwhelming anxiety, we can work very hard to get better at. But I think we often overcompensate. It can be helpful to recognize that it can be healthy to realize our achievements and our progress and come back to a constructive middle ground. in an effort to be less esoteric, I’ll give you a couple examples. A prime example in the area of impulsivity is spending money. I think many of us have had issues with impulsive spending at some point in our lives. My dad used to tell me that money would burn a hole in my pocket when I was a kid. Not that I couldn’t delay gratification and save up for something if it was really important. But most of the time I’d spend it as soon as I got it. as I got diagnosed in medicated, as I got older and more mature, as I recognized what I wanted to improve about myself, I worked hard to be less impulsive with my spending habits. I worked to delay gratification. I worked differentiate between want and need. But all that’s easier said than done. And to a certain extent, I developed a lot of anxiety about spending money. Of course this was some time ago when I realized it was an issue. I’m not sure we were fully…

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Getting Back on the Horse

So I had covid about 4 weeks ago. I was really really sick for about 36 hours. And then reasonably sick for about a week after that. I was also stuck at home with a disregulated not very sick but covid positive 8 year old. There’s also a lot going on in my household in terms of mental health with both of my kids. And thankfully, business is good. So I’ve been digging out of the covid hole for the 3 weeks since. But I would be lying if I said that that was the only reason that it’s been a month since I posted a blog entry. If I’m completely honest, the further away I get from posting the harder it is to start again. I know this about myself, so I know that it’s not going to be a forever thing. But, there is a psychological barrier to coming back after not posting for a while and not putting in a particularly robust effort. So I make more of it than I need to and it gets a little harder to do. And then the longer I wait the better I feel it needs to be. And then it makes it harder to do. Quite the vicious cycle. Many years ago, this is the kind of thing that would have derailed me for quite some time and could have been the thing that truly broke a habit. This is the kind of thing that plagues many of my clients when it comes to consistency on any number of topics, including writing, working out, self improvement, mindfulness, whatever else you can think of. So I decided that the best way to get back into posting was to post about getting back into posting! Step one is to take the…

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meet yourself where you are.

It’s a principle of management. It’s a principle of parenting. It’s probably a good principle of conflict resolution. It’s a cornerstone of good teaching. You have to meet people where they are. But I find that my clients consistently forget to meet themselves where they are. As ADHD adults, we tend to be harder on ourselves than anybody else’s. Which is funny because the rest of the world often thinks that we don’t care and we’re not trying that hard. But the reality is that every little failure, mistake, misstep, or faux pas, whether real or imagined, it’s just another opportunity for us to beat ourselves up for our shortcomings. I’m not saying we don’t need to work on ourselves. I’ve more or less made a career out of working on myself and then teaching others to do the same. I think working on ourselves is an essential part of being a good human and a happy human. But understanding how to work on yourself in a productive and self-loving way is so important. if you constantly have expectations for yourself that are unrealistic you will consistently set yourself up to fall short, experience failure, and not succeed in the way you want to. But if you set realistic expectations for yourself and focus on succeeding that can be a foundation to be a little bit better and then a little bit better and then a little bit better over time until you’ve reached the place you want to be, even though you’re not there yet. I joke with my clients that my success in life is based on setting a low bar. The reality is, I think my success is based on setting a realistic bar, achieving what I can, and then figuring out how I can raise the…

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More thoughts on ADHD and decision making

I have this weird analogy that I’ve always used to explain decision making. Imagine you’re on a river floating down in a raft. On one side is a sheer cliff. You’re not going that way. On the other side is the jungle. It may be dangerous. It may be your salvation. And then there’s the river. Better things could lie ahead. Or you could be headed straight for a waterfall. I imagine most people who are reading this blog wouldn’t have much of a frame of reference for deciding whether or not the jungle is a good idea or whether or not the river is going to turn into white water and smash you on the rocks. So in that sense, maybe this isn’t the best analogy. But let’s assume that you have some jungle and River experience. You’re going to have all sorts of information from the world about that jungle and about that River. And you’re going to need to make a decision about what to do. And you’re going to have three choices. You can intrepidly March into that jungle with your machete and cut a swath to… Maybe something better? Or you can grab a paddle and head down that River in search of your salvation, whatever that looks like to you. But there’s always a third choice. And that third choice is to do nothing. in this case, that third choice looks a lot like the second choice. Because both of them have you going down that River. (Fyi, I don’t know why voice recognition keeps capitalizing River. I’m going to choose not to care about it and move on with my life.) The difference is when you do nothing you have abdicated your choice. And when you approach that waterfall and realize there’s nothing…

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it’s IEP review season in my house. We just did my younger son’s and are going to do my older sons in a little bit. We put that off because he’s got a little bit on his plate right now. And so do we as parents. But it made me think that it might be a good idea to cover the topic briefly on my blog. IEPs are a wonderful and mysterious thing. They allow your children with neurodiversities, mental or physical health issues, learning differences, and other issues to get a more fair and equal playing field when it comes to learning at school. In theory. Unfortunately, they’re largely unenforceable without the backing of a a large reservoir of knowledge, a will of steel, and an expensive lawyer. That is, if your school system or your individual School is not of the mind to be helpful. Yet, on the other hand much can be accomplished with cooperation without a formalized declaration of accommodations. Unfortunately, this is just another area of disparity in our society. Though it doesn’t always fall on racial and socioeconomic lines, too often it does. Cities and towns with fewer resources tend to be less accommodating and fight parents almost on principle. My general feeling is the first question we have to ask is: what is the point of school? Last time I checked it should be about learning. And maybe there should be a little bit of social justice, standing up for the little guy, and fairness thrown in there. And when I say fairness, I mean real fairness, not the fake fairness that school systems talk about when they say that everybody needs the same rules even though everybody is different. the reality is that you can ask for anything in your kids IEP…

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The Cost of Ownership

As ADHDers we are clutter prone. There is no denying it. There are many reasons why. I think I’ll probably cover that in another post. But, as you move through life and accumulate things, think about this: everything you bring in to your life has some cost after the initial cost of purchase. Even if the acquisition is free, you have to store said item. You may have to maintain it. You may have to clean it. If you move, you’ll have to move it. I am not a proponent of not having things. I have plenty of things. But I think I can offer some guidelines as to what you should bring in to your life and why that may make your things more enriching and less of a collective albatross around your neck. Maybe it’s a good time to answer the question you are surely asking yourself, why the heck has he posted a picture of wet wooden spoons. First, I’ll correct you and point out that they aren’t wet. They are glistening with mineral oil. Five out of these six spoons are almost 18 years old. We got them through our registry when we got married in 2005. You can see that there is a chip in the slotted one where I got a little to “intense” when making pesto in the blender. And some are getting a little worn at the tip. If you don’t know, I’m a classically trained chef. The spoons get quite a workout on a regular basis. I’ve included a picture of them… because an oiled, glistening, well-worn Olivewood spoon is a magnificent sight to behold… and because it nicely illustrates the first few points about what to bring into our lives. I’ll leave you with this. I was once working with…

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the cost of caring for children with mental health issues

first a note. It came to my attention that when my website change over to a new host, my blog no longer got sent out to subscribers. I think I have that situation fixed. So, if you are a long time subscriber and get this post, and it’s the first one you’ve gotten in a while, please please go back and read all of the stuff that I’ve been writing for the last 6 months. I’ve been doing it for you! Also, if you wouldn’t mind shooting me an email and letting me know that you’re getting it now, that would be a huge load off my mind. now, on to the good stuff. Or maybe it’s not so good. I’ve written on this topic before. But I think it’s worth reiterating. It certainly a thing that is front and center in my life. I’d like to be as honest as I can be without spotlighting my kids too much. I will just say that my youngest continues to struggle with a variety of mental health issues the take a severe toll on both him and the rest of the family. And my oldest began an intensive outpatient program for his own mental health concerns this week. as part of the intensive outpatient program, my wife and I are required to participate in three hour and a half long parent groups or DBT groups weekly. I had my first parent support group yesterday. The staff member who is leading it made a very interesting point when the topic of family medical leave was brought up. Without any judgment, he referenced the type of psychiatric issue that my son is dealing with as having a higher mortality rate than adolescent cancer. But he asked us how many parents would take a…

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