7 Interesting Facts About ADHD

  1. 7adhdfactsADD and ADHD Are the Same Condition

ADD and ADHD are two different names for the same condition. People get quite angry when they hear this and even leave me rude messages. It’s ok if you don’t like the term ADHD, but don’t shoot the messenger 🙂

As more research is carried out and our understanding of ADHD evolves, its name has changed to reflect this new knowledge.

In 1987, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) became the official name for the condition. This showed that hyperactivity was considered an important aspect of the condition.

However, many people still use ADD (attention deficit disorder), which was the formal name from 1980 to 1987 to describe what is now called Predominantly Inattentive Presentation, or use ADD and ADHD interchangeably.

2. Presentations are the New Subtypes

Back in 1994,  “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV  (DSM-IV)”identified 3 subtypes of ADHD. You could be diagnosed with either the following:

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type.

Then in 2013, the DSM-5  replaced the word ‘subtype’ with ‘presentation’. This is more than semantics.

The term presentation is used to reflect the fluid nature of the ADHD. Each person experiences ADHD slightly differently from their ADHD neighbor. Also, symptoms change within the same person, depending on the setting and interest level.  Symptoms also change with age; as the brain grows, ADHD symptoms become more internal and less visible.

3. Genes are the Biggest ‘Cause’ of ADHD

The biggest cause of ADHD is genetic. It is thought that approximately 80% of people with ADHD inherited the condition.

Scientists don’t believe there is just one ‘ADHD gene’. Instead there are several gene candidates, and it is the combination of those genes and the environment that results in ADHD symptoms.

4.  Your parent’s ADHD Presentation Does Not Influence Yours

If you inherit ADHD from a parent, you won’t necessarily inherit the same ADHD presentation as theirs. For example, they might have hyperactive/impulsive ADHD presentation, and you could have Inattentive ADHD presentation.

5. Severity Level of ADHD is Identified

Since 2013, when you are diagnosed with ADHD, the severity level of your condition will also be identified as one of the following:

  • Mild (while still meeting the diagnosis criteria)
  • Moderate
  • Severe

Don’t worry though, no matter what your severity level is, you can still treat and manage your ADHD.

6. Thyroid Problems Do Not Cause ADHD

There was a research study in the 1990’s that showed low thyroid could cause ADHD. Since then, many other studies have disproved this theory.  However, the myth still lingers!

7.  Neurologists Do Not Need to Test For ADHD

ADHD is one of those conditions that people wonder, ‘Is it real?’ As a result, the idea of having an EEG as a diagnostic tool can seem reassuring.  However, it is not necessary to test for ADHD in this way, and it is expensive too.

While neurologists do not routinely test for ADHD, they will in certain circumstances, for instance  when ADHD symptoms might be caused by another condition, such as a seizure disorder.  Neurologists use a combination of brain imaging and physiologic testing when testing for ADHD.

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

You know the saying, ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel?’ Well it is a good motto to remember as you are going through the steps of getting

an ADHD evaluation.   It can feel like a lot of leg work and emotionally overwhelming at times. However, at the end you will be rewarded with huge clarity.

You will know the following:

*What type of ADHD you have

*Recommendations for the best treatment

*If you have any co-existing conditions with ADHD  (this is very important)

*Or if you don’t have ADHD, you will learn what condition(s)  are causing the ADHD like symptoms.

Since  putting the wheels in motion to get an official diagnosis can seem daunting, you might be tempted to try and self-diagnose with an online quiz. However, there are downsides to this. ADHD can look like many other conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, learning disabilities and much more. It would be easy to misdiagnose yourself with ADHD and not get help for the condition you do have.

In addition, if you self-diagnose, you would not be eligible for accommodations at work or school and neither would you be able to get a prescription for ADHD medication – all of which can be very helpful in managing ADHD symptoms.

Online quizzes can be helpful as a screening process though! Sometimes,  taking an online quiz can give you the confidence you need to speak to your doctor about getting an ADHD evaluation.

A well-recognized tool is the Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD Questionnaire. If you google it, it is available on many websites.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” published in May 2013 (DSM-5) provides the criteria that all clinicians use when assessing a patient for ADHD.

The criteria differs from previous DSMs as it takes into account that ADHD presents itself differently in adulthood compared to childhood.

The DSM lists 9 inattentive ADHD symptoms  and 9 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. If, a person who is 17 years or older  experiences 5 or more symptoms from one of the lists, and they meet the following points below, they can be diagnosed with ADHD.

  • The characteristics have been present for 6 months or more
  • The symptoms were present before you were 12 years old
  • The traits affect your life in 2 or more settings (e.g. home and work)
  • The symptoms impact performance so that you are not able to perform to your full potential
  • The symptoms aren’t due to another condition, such as bipolar disorder, sleep disorder or anxiety.

If you meet all of these requirements, you will be diagnosed with one of the 3 presentations of ADHD.

  •  ADHD Predominantly Inattentive presentation
  • ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive presentation
  • ADHD Combined presentation

Also, the severity level of your ADHD will have been identified.

  1.  Mild (while still meeting the diagnosis criteria)
  2. Moderate
  3. Severe

How Does the Clinician Reach Their Diagnosis?

They become a detective!  With your help, they gather information about you and your life. This information primarily comes from speaking with you. However, with your permission they might speak with your spouse or a family member or ask them to fill out a questionnaire.

The clinician also  needs to discover how you perform in different areas of life, for example, at work and school, both now and in the past. School report cards from childhood and work evaluations are helpful.

Your medical history including information about your birth or problems that your mom experienced during pregnancy are all relevant. Your family’s medical history is also of interest because the biggest ‘cause’ of ADHD is genetic.

Sometimes a physical condition needs to be ruled out, so you might be asked to have tests to check your thyroid, liver or kidney functions or have a test for epilepsy. Eyesight and hearing tests could be requested too.

The clinician might perform tests in their office to measure your memory, attention and disability levels too.

The diagnosis is often done over a couple of visits so that you are fresh and alert for the appointments and to give you time to get questionnaires completed. In total it approximately 3 hours.

Who Can Evaluate you for ADHD?

Psychiatrists, psychologists and some family doctors can all carry out evaluations.  Finding a professional who has experience testing for adult ADHD  is properly the hardest step in the evaluation process. Once you have found someone that you trust, they will be able to guide you through the rest of the process.

 

How to Read Books When You Have ADHD.

book-1760993_640“I have a lot of books on my bookcase, the problem is I stop halfway through and never finish them”

Does this sound familiar?

Don’t worry, it is not just you!  I have been hearing those words every week for the last 12 years since I became an ADHD coach.

ADHDers have an enthusiasm for learning, which gives you a passion for life, makes you fascinating company and one of the reasons why you seem much younger than your biological years.

There are many ways to gather information including,watching TV, attending lectures, listening to podcasts and surfing websites. However, there is something compelling about books. They are affordable, allow you to do dive deep into any topic and learn from the greatest minds in the world today and throughout history.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. Seuss

Not everyone with ADHD enjoys reading, and that is totally ok. This article isn’t trying to convince you to start reading.  Instead, this is for ADHDers who genuinely love reading books but feel guilty when they keep starting books and not finishing them.

Reading can be logistically hard when you have ADHD. Some people stop to daydream and others find their eyes moving from word to word but haven’t understood what they have read. Yet even with these challenges you find ways around this and are compelled to read books.

Like many things with ADHD, your reading style might not be consistent.

You might be able devour some books at a record breaking speed.

Yet rather than celebrate finishing those books, it makes you feel worse because you wonder why you can’t always do that.

There was probably something innately interesting to you about those books that captured your attention. Whether it was Harry Potter, War and Peace (one of my clients recently read this 587,287 word novel) or Keith Richard’s autobiography ‘Life,’ it was able to grab and maintain your interest.

That type of interest is different to the logical interest of ‘I have ADHD and so it would make sense for me to read this book about it.’

Your interest level will vary from book to book.

The Traditional Way to Read a Book

The traditional way to read a book is to pick it up and read it from start to finish. Then, when you reach the end, start a new one.

For ADHD readers this method doesn’t work and ends up making your feel bad about yourself. You might think to yourself, ‘Just something else I have started but couldn’t finish.’

Your mind doesn’t work in a linear, methodical way.

Some people’s minds do, and that is why they can read books cover to cover and can also follow instruction manuals  step by step.

ADHDers’ strength is gathering information from lots of different sources (books) and linking the information up in unique and novel ways.

Neither way is right or wrong. It’s just very different. It’s our differences that make the world interesting.

Game Changer!

You don’t have to read books cover to cover!

An ADHD Way to Approach Reading Books

There is a profound little book called ‘The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results’ by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The concept is if you focus on ONE thing and take action on it,  rather than scattering your focus and attention, you will experience  exceptional results.

The ONE thing can be applied to all concepts, big and small.  From your life’s mission, to what action to take at work this week. Throughout the day you can ask yourself ‘what is my one thing?’ For example, what is the ONE thing I am going to take action on after attending the meeting?

We are going to use the ONE thing principle and apply it to reading books.

For each book you started to read (you don’t need to finish it), ask yourself “What is the ONE thing I learned and am going to take action on?’

Implementation is how lives are changed. It is much more powerful to read part of book and apply a change in your life, than read the whole book and carry on with life as usual.

My guess is, when you lose interest in a book, it’s because you have discovered your ONE thing. You got the information that inspired you to pick up the book and now are moving on to your next thing.

Recently I started to read “Deep Work. Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport. After reading 28% of the book I changed my morning routine. Rather than checking my email at 6am (while still in bed), I get up, drink my glass of water (see below!) and start writing. Since I have been doing this, I have become much more productive.  I am sure the other 72% of the book is fascinating; however, I don’t feel bad for not reading it.  I have my one life changing thing.

Back in January 2014, I bought Cameron Diaz’s book ‘The Body Book’. It is a beautiful hardback book full of inspiration and solid facts. Cameron describes how she starts her morning with a liter of water. That sounded like a good idea, so I began to start my mornings like that too. Fast forward to today, nearly 3 years later, it is hardwired in my morning routine.

This habit started before I discovered The ONE thing concept.  I did feel guilty for not implementing more of her suggestions. Now that guilt has been removed! I am happy that as a result of reading that book, I have one new healthy habit.

Systematize your ONE Thing

There is a certain satisfaction that comes from finishing a book. When you started reading a new book, you have subconsciously set yourself a goal… to finish it. Even though you are using the ONE thing method, you might feel a little incomplete.

This is why systematizing your ONE thing is important.

This idea came from Megan, a guest on Hal Elrod’s podcast. Megan explained she keeps track of all the books she reads in a spreadsheet. Each time she finishes a book she adds it to her spreadsheet, along with the ONE thing she is going to implement. With each new entry she reviews the list. If she isn’t implementing her ONE thing, she goes back and rereads the book.

What an awesome idea!

Let’s tweak Megan’s system to make it ADHD friendly.

  1. Create a Word or Google document to track your books if spreadsheets fill you with fear.
  2. You don’t need to read the whole book. Write down your ONE thing from the part of the book you did read.
  3. Review the document weekly, to keep the ideas fresh in your mind.
  4. If you find that you stopped implementing your ONE thing, go back to the book and either continue reading where you had left off or  reread the part that you already read.

Volia! 

You have a whole new way to approach reading. It is very liberating.

Are you going to try the ONE thing approach to reading? Let me know in the comments below.

p.s. If you would like to listen to Megan Lyons on Hal’s podcast, here is the link

ADHD and Letting People Down

origami-827901_640Here are 5 common reasons why people with ADHD ‘let people down’, even though you don’t mean to.

  1. Forgetfulness
    ADHD affects memory. This means you forget things including: important meetings, birthdays, events, errands you were going to run. When you realize you forgot something, you probably feel awful and try to make it up to the people involved.

2) Miss Deadlines
When you have you have ADHD, a deadline can make you hustle. As the deadline approaches, you are able to work with laser-like focus and clarity. You might pull an all-nighter, and clear your schedule to meet this deadline. But not always.Sometimes a deadline will be approaching, and you just can’t make yourself take action. The deadline comes and goes and you feel really bad.It’s not that you forgot; it’s been consuming your mind for days. When you miss deadlines and other people are involved, they feel let down, annoyed or angry.

3) Cancel at the Last Minute
You have a plan to go to an event and then you have to cancel last minute.This might be because you have a deadline to meet for work, or your car ran out of gas and you are stranded. Maybe it’s because you planned it a long time ago and your excitement and motivation to go isn’t there anymore. When you cancel repeatedly (even when there is a good reason), it upsets people and they feel like you don’t care.

4) Over-Committing
Over-committing often happens because your intentions are good. You get multiple invites for one evening and rather than letting people down, you say ‘yes’ to everyone. However, this can cause the very thing you were trying to avoid. People do feel let down, because you didn’t stay long, or you were stressed and distracted while you were with them (perhaps checking your phone to reassure the next person you will be there soon).

5) Motivation
Dr. Russell Barkley says ADHD is less about attention and more about motivation. This means unless you are motivated to do something, it’s very hard to take action. In the morning, you might tell your spouse, that you will take the trash out, cook supper, or do the laundry. But when you get home from work, you aren’t motivated to do anything. They feel let down or that ‘you never do anything you say you will’. You feel bad about the situation and that you hurt someone you love.

Negative Consequences

When you feel you are constantly disappointing people, it affects your self-esteem and puts you at a mental disadvantage. You feel you owe the other person for these repeated ‘let downs’, so you tolerate behaviour from them that isn’t usually acceptable. They might put you down, or say mean things, or have an affair, etc. Because you feel you are to blame, you tolerate it.

You might agree to things you wouldn’t usually agree to, to ‘make up’ for your behaviour. For example, you agree to help them move, when you hate moving, or go on holiday to a location you know you dislike. When you do this, your ADHD symptoms get worse, which can create more problems.

It’s time to make a change!

Actions speak louder than words. Don’t try to convince people you are going to change. You don’t need their belief or support. You just need to believe in yourself AND a plan of action. Taking consistent action is how you will see different results.

Here are 6 suggestions for you to stop letting people down and start feeling great about yourself!

  1. Use External Memory Aids
    For example: a daytime planner, online calendar, reminders on your phone. They all support your memory.
  2. Become an Excellent Planner
    You might not be a natural born planner, but it is a skill you can develop. When you plan your day, week and month, you get a realistic idea of what is possible. It also helps you to be prepared. For example, you can plan a time to stop to buy gas if you have a long trip.
  3. Create Systems and Habits
    Habits are great way to override memory and motivation problems. When something becomes a habit, you do it automatically. For example, checking your calendar on Fridays to see who has a birthday next week.
  4. It’s Ok to Say No
    People would rather hear a no, than a yes followed by a cancellation. The first time you say no, it might feel scary, but after a few times, you will become a pro.
  5. Yes Means Yes
    If you get an invitation, check with your calendar. If you have time and want to go, say yes. Then do whatever it takes to be there. That might mean saying no to more exciting offers, leaving work early or going even if you don’t feel like it. However, this is how you will get a reputation of being reliable.
  6. Motivation
    When you start to upgrade your life using these suggestions, you will get a clearer idea of what you genuinely enjoy doing (the things you are motivated to do) and what you are doing out of guilt. Now, stop doing activities out of guilt! There will still be tasks you don’t feel motivated to do that need to be done. E.g. housework. For these, set up a reward system, use your timer to create a sense of urgency and turn it into a game.

 

What do you do so you don’t let people down?

How Are You Feeling?

Did you know that people with ADHD tend to be more sensitive and pick up on the moods and emotions of others? It can make you feel exhausted, unsettled and generally throw you off your game.

It can help to know this because then you don’t blame yourself. Whether it is election news, a family function or a stressful work meeting, you might notice  afterward that you aren’t as productive or as focused as usual.

Practicing extreme self-care, not watching the news or going for a long walk in the fresh air, are all great ways to shake away the negative vibes and get you back on track.

Sending Hugs

Jacqui

PS..If you want to watch something fun and heartwarming for a few minutes I have the perfect thing. Buster the dog!

 

 

 

ADHD and Famous People

hollywood-sign-1598473_640A few summers ago, I had a conversation with a 9-year-old little boy. He had been diagnosed with ADHD because he was struggling in school. He hated having ADHD. It made him feel different from everyone else, and he didn’t think it was fair that he had to struggle so much with things that all his friends found easy. He was so hurt—I really wanted to help, so I asked him a few questions. He loved sports, and the Summer Olympics was fresh in everyone’s mind, so I told him about Michael Phelps having ADHD.

I had never seen such a rapid change in someone’s mood. This little boy was thrilled. He knew he would be OK. In fact, he knew he was going to be more than OK, because ‘clearly’, having ADHD gave Michael Phelps the winning edge!

We aren’t that much different from that 9-year-old little boy. Even though as adults we try to be cool and pretend that celebrities don’t influence us, they do (we live in a celebrity-centric world)! Famous ADHDers can inspire us with their victories as well as their stories of struggle; Michael Phelps was bullied as a child, and Tarma Mellon went to rehab..

Celebrities can show us that using their gifts (often the ones that non-ADHDers want you to get rid of!) is how they became successful, and their success paves the way so that you know success is possible for you, too.

6 Reasons Why Knowing Famous People Have ADHD is Helpful

1) It normalizes the condition – anyone can have ADHD.

2) It shows that it’s possible to have ADHD and still be successful.

3) Their stories can act as an inspiration for us.

4) It validates us. We realize we aren’t alone with quirks and ‘annoyances’.

5) It gives us confidence to use our ADHD strengths.

6) It gives us HOPE!

Here are 15 Famous People Who Have ADHD.

1) Tom Hanks

Movie star. Tom Hanks has won 2 Oscars for ‘Best Actor’. He credits his success to having ADHD (not in spite of it). He has starred in many brilliant movies including Philadelphia, Bridge of Spies, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, The Da Vinci Code and Toy Story.

2) Richard Branson

Billionaire and founder of all things Virgin. Richard has achieved success in many areas of life, including business, relationships and humanitarian work. Learn more about the secrets of his success here.

3) Michael Phelps

Swimmer and most decorated Olympian ever! He has a total of 28 Olympic medals – 23 of which are gold medals and has competed in 5 Olympics. Learn about the lessons we can learn from him here.

4) Justin Timberlake

Singer-songwriter, actor, record producer. JT is an all around performer. He can sing, dance and has incredible stage presence. He is funny, genuine and can fill a huge stadium in 6 minutes.

5) Robin Williams

Everyone loved Robin Williams. When he passed away, the sad news affected people all over the world on a deep level. We know he was a talented actor and comedian and after his death, many people shared personal stories of how he touched their lives. He had empathy and sweetness that resonated with us all.

6) Tamara Mellon

Founder of Jimmy Choo’s, the luxury shoe brand. Tamara thought of the idea of creating a shoe brand while she was in rehab. When she shared her idea, people suggested perhaps she could work in a shoe store first. However, like many ADHDers Tamara was a big thinker and created the Jimmy Choo empire. You can read all about her life and adventures in her memoir called ‘In my shoes.’

7) Seth Godin

Author of 18 best selling books including, Tribes, Purple Cow and What to do When It’s Your Turn. He is a thought leader, entrepreneur and writes on his blog every day.

8) John. F. Kennedy

The 35th President of the United States. One of the qualities that people who met him use to  describe him was his vibrant energy.

9) Simone Biles

At just 19 years old, Simone Biles holds the title of being the most decorated American gymnast.

10) Albert Einstein

Theoretical physicist. There are no words needed to describe this legend.

11) Michael Jordan

Professional super-star basketball player. Considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, MJ is known for his skill, talent and burning desire to win.

12) Will Smith

Singer and actor. Will has won 4 Grammy awards. He is also a 2 time Oscar nominated actor for his role in ‘Ali,’ a movie about Muhammad Ali, and ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’

13) Salma Hayek

Oscar nominated actress. Salma is also a director and producer and brought Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, to life in the movie Frida.

14) Britney Spears

Pop Icon. Britney is a Grammy award winning singer. She has sold 100 million albums and over 100 million singles, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

15) Ryan Gosling

Oscar nominated Actor, writer, director. Ryan began his career starring in Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club. He has starred in movies  such as The Notebook,  Lars and the Real Girl and The Big Short.

Who is your favorite famous ADHDer?

 

Why Exercise Helps ADHD

Exercise is one of those things that you know you ‘should’ do, but it is often seen as a luxury activity to be done when everything else on your to list is complete. However, in this video, Dr John Ratey, co-author of the distraction books, Driven to Distraction, Answers to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction, presents compelling evidence why regular exercise is a must for everyone living with ADHD.

“Exercise as a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin’ says Dr Ratey.

While working in Boston, Dr Ratey noticed when runners were injured and forced to stop running they experience problems of depression and ADHD symptoms, such as  difficulty with planning, procrastination and paying attention. He realized that these runners, who had huge success in their careers  had been self-medicating their ADHD with exercise.

Traditionally we think exercise is for our bodies;  however, Dr Ratey says exercise is really for our brains. The physical movement switches our brains ‘on’ and positively affects our executive functions which include:

  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Initiating  action
  • Delaying a reaction
  • Ability to learn from mistakes
  • Sustain focus
  • Working memory

Exercise creates

  • A lot of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which we know is lower in the brains of people with ADHD.
  • BDNF or Brain derived neurotrophic factor,which Dr Ratey affectionately calls, “Miracle Grow For The Brain”, as it keeps our brain cells young.

Besides ADHD, Dr Ratey realized that exercise was a treatment for lots of disorders,  including ones that co-exist with ADHD. For example a study at Duke University found exercise improved our emotions including depression, anxiety and aggression.

Exercise also facilitates learning, as it turns on the attention, motivation and memory system and allows our brain cells to grow and sprout, which is how we learn everything.

Dr Ratey says

“the fitter you are, the better learner you are”

which might in itself be a motivation as adults with ADHD are lifelong learners.

A school in Naperville got their pupils to do 45 minutes of exercise every day. Look at the amazing benefits these children experienced:

Cognitive benefits

Every 4 years countries take a TIMSS test, which stands for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.  Usually the USA ranks in the low to mid teens. However, the Naperville school took the test as a country and came Number 1 in the world in Science and 6th in Math.

Physical benefits

There was no obesity and only 3% of the children were overweight, at a time when the national average was 35%.

Exercise also helps behavior. At a school in Northern Ontario, there was a class of 25 disruptive pupils.  If they were particularly disruptive they were suspended. Once these pupils started an exercise program the suspension rate went down from 95 days in a semester to just 5 days. In addition, absenteeism went down. The kids were motivated to go to school and participate in class.

Here is the video. Hope you enjoy it and that it inspires you to start exercising!!

Why do ADHDers Find it Difficult to Have an Organized Space?

Tidying UpLiving in a cluttered, unorganized environment is a common thing when you have ADHD. However, being surrounded by ‘stuff’ can make your ADHD symptoms worse. It is harder to focus and concentrate. It is easier to lose important items like keys and important paperwork, and it can also exacerbate coexisting conditions such as anxiety.

Here are 8 reasons why ADHDers find it hard to have an organized space

1) Distraction

You might start one activity, get distracted and then you start working on a second activity leaving the items from the first activity lying around.

2) Out of Sight, Out of Mind

You don’t like to put belongings away in cupboards because you are scared that you will forget about them.

3) Procrastination

Tidying up is one of those boring mundane tasks that ADHDers hate to do. This means that you keep putting it off for another day.

4) Memory

You keep newspaper articles and other objects as visual reminders of things you want to do and see. Your fear of forgetting means you accumulate lots of items, and they are difficult to keep organized.

5) Collector

ADHDers love to collect things: teapots, baseball caps, pens, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is; I bet you collect at least one thing. These collections can grow large and are tricky to keep organized.

6) Overwhelmed

You feel overwhelmed just looking at your cluttered space, and you feel parallelized, fatigued and can’t take any action.

7) Don’t Know How

You honestly never learned how to be tidy and organized. It’s not an excuse, but being tidy and organized isn’t a skill that you were born with and maybe no one taught you how to do it properly.

8) Decisions, Decisions

Organizing requires many decisions in a short space of time.

Making decisions is hard when you have ADHD. It takes mental effort, and you might second guess your decision or beat yourself up for making the ‘wrong’ decision.

How many of those points resonated with you? Don’t worry if it was all of them!

The opposite of a disorganized cluttered space, is a calm, peaceful one in which you know where your belongings are, and you feel happy to invite an unexpected visitor into your home. How do you create that space? With the help of a brilliant book by Marie Kondo called, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”.

The difference between this book and every other book written about organizing is that you ask yourself a different question. Rather than asking ‘what could I throw out’, you ask ‘what do I want to keep’. Marie suggests holding each item and asking “Does this bring me joy?” If it does, then you keep it, and if not, it is time to say goodbye.

It’s simple yet very powerful!

This simple question is very helpful for ADHDers because it cuts out all the mental negotiating that can happen in your mind. You don’t have to consider if the item was a gift, if you used it in the last year or, if you might need it again. Just ask one question, “Does this bring me joy?”

Here are 3 of my favorite tips from the book that I think will help you too.

1) Pick an Area You Want to Declutter

Start small, maybe a shelf. Remove everything from the shelf. Next, only put back  the things that bring your joy. After  you have tried the technique on a small area, and experienced for yourself how easy and fun it was, you will be very motivated to continue.

2) Start with Items That are Easier to Part With

Marie says people have trouble throwing out things that have:

Functional value (when you could still use the item)

Information value (has information you think you might need)

Emotional value (being anything sentimental)

Don’t start with any of these things! It will sabotage your good intentions. Instead, pick a category that will be easy for you. Marie suggests starting with clothes.

3) Don’t Let Your Family See What You are Getting Rid of

When people see what you are donating, they might seem shocked and you might find yourself second guessing your decisions. You have done so well to get to the donate / throw out stage; you don’t want a third person to change your mind.

With fewer items in your space, it is much easier to keep the area clean and tidy without even trying!

Have you tried any of these suggestions?

10 Reasons Why Pets are Awesome for ADHDers.

pets-and-adhd

Photo by Reanna Evoy.

 

Pets can have very positive effects on your ADHD symptoms.

“Pets, in studies, have been found to lower blood pressure and improve overall quality of life.  Dogs especially help get people exercising – and exercising has been found to be an effective non-medication treatment for ADHD.”  Stephanie Moulton Sarkis PhD NCC LMHC, author of the bestselling 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD. www.stephaniesarkis.com

I asked readers to tell me how their pets affect their daily lives.  Most readers had either cats or dogs. However, rabbits, guinea pigs and fish were also popular.

There were so many amazing replies. Thank you for taking the time to email me!  I compiled the answers into the list below.

1) Self-esteem

Low self-esteem and ADHD tend to go hand in hand. However, having a pet can help to  increase your self-esteem. Having someone who has missed you and is always excited to see you, makes you feel really good.  ADHD pet owners also feel really proud of themselves for taking care of their pets. Sometimes it is the first time they have ever been able to take consistent daily action. This builds their confidence and has a ripple effect on other parts of their lives. Some owners told me that they were barely able to take care of themselves, yet when they got their pet, it forced them to raise their game. Not only did they become outstanding pet owners, they also started taking better care of themselves too.

2) Maintain Structure and Routine

Almost every single reader mentioned how their pets help them with structure.  Having structure, routines and habits  provides a framework in your life, so you can effortless take care of all of your responsibilities and still have time for creativity and fun.  ADHD symptoms can make  setting up structure and maintaining it tricky.  Pets are very helpful in this area!

Here is what Marcia wrote about her dogs and routines:

My dogs: I cannot imagine living without my dogs. I never thought of them as helping with my ADD, but they do keep me on a routine, which I really need. Without a routine, I’m afraid I would push myself too hard and get far out of balance. I tell my dogs they have clocks in them. They get me up in the morning if I forget to set my alarm, and they tell me when it’s time to go to bed at night. If it gets to be 11 pm and I’m not moving towards the bedroom, Liesl barks at me until I do. There is just no option of continuing to sit at my computer or continuing to watch TV while there is a 12-pound dog barking at me! Also, I like to work and often try to continue working past dinner time. This is also not possible, as Gracie lets me know it’s time for dog food and a walk by 5:30 or 6 pm — and she is very insistent. Sometimes I just try to feed them and then go back to work, but then Gracie is up on my lap with her paws on my keyboard and her nose in my face. After dinner is our play, snack, and cuddle time, and if I’m not doing it, I have two sets of intense eyes on me staring and taking turns barking as they sit at my feet. They know how to get me up and moving, and it always makes me feel looked after in a gentle and fun way. 

Marcia Hoeck www.marciahoeck.com

3) Focus on The Now

Lots of readers mentioned that when they are with their pet, there brain slows down, and they are able to focus on the present moment. This has a calming and almost meditative effect.

Terry Matlen describes this effect beautifully:

Having grown up with dogs and having a dog  –  or two –  throughout my life as an adult, I can’t imagine living without one. For me, the connection between ADD and having a dog is about a sense of calmness I get when I’m petting one of them or simply hanging out with them. It slows me down, slows my brain and offers comfort. Of course, people without ADD might say the same thing, but having mine near me, especially after a hectic, stressful day, helps me to focus on something outside of myself. I stop worrying (what did I forget? What should I be doing?), and cuddling with my Elliott or Harper stops my racing brain, allowing me to slow down and connect with another living being- one that has zero expectations of me (for the most part) so that I can enjoy the moment. 

Terry Matlen

www.ADDconsults.com and www.QueensOfDistraction.com

4) Love You Just The Way You Are

Your pets love you unconditionally. They never get mad or judge you even if you forgot to take the trash out. They can see you at your worst, including the parts you hide from other people, and they still adore you.

One reader described it perfectly:

I love my dogs because they see me without my ‘mask’. They see my chaotic life as it really is and not the one everyone else sees, and they still love me for it, unconditionally.

Although I love my sons, I would give my life for them, but I find showing love towards my dogs is easier somehow. You can show them your tears, and they instinctively respond with a calmness that gives you an inner piece, then things just seem a whole lot better.

They don’t mind that I’m disorganized or slop about in my PJs when the ‘wheels fall off’…I just wish I could train them to find my keys though.

5) Reduce Stress

Living with ADHD is stressful! Research shows that it only takes 15 to 30 minutes with your cat or dog or even watching your fish for chemical changes to take place in your body and for you to feel less anxious and stressed. Lots of readers mentioned how their pets helped them to feel less anxious. In one longitudinal study it was found that people who didn’t own a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than people who did. Another study showed that cat owners had fewer strokes than non-cat owners.

6) Body Double

There is a term in the ADHD world called ‘body double’. A body double is usually a friend, family member or coach.  This person sits with you while you are doing something stressful, mundane or boring to  keep you on task.

Well in some situations (it depends on the task and your pet), your pet can be your body double substitute. Their presence can reduce your anxiety as you make that difficult phone call or file your taxes.

7) Help with Depression

One reader wrote to say that she credits her dogs in helping her deal with  bouts of depression that she has experienced throughout her life.

Unconditional love, a reason to get up in the morning, companionship, exercise in the form of walks, and getting out into the sunlight for some green therapy, are some of the ways that pets can help with depression.

8)  A Problem Shared

A reader told me that he always felt different from everyone else when he was growing up.  His black cat was the only one he could tell his problems to. Every day his cat learned about the struggles with teachers, friends and homework.  He would stroke his cat, whisper in his ear and then felt much better. A problem shared is a problem halved, and you don’t always need a solution, just a listening ear.

 9) Social Contact

Social interaction is vital to our mental and physical health. However, many ADHDers find social interactions difficult perhaps because they are shy, have social anxiety or are in hibernation in mode. Many people with ADHD also experience a deep loneliness.

Having a dog can help with all of these issues. Studies found that dog owners have many more interactions with other people when they are walking their dog than a non-dog owner walking the same route. Having a dog is an ice breaker. People will come and talk to you, and if you can’t think of anything to say, you can talk about dogs. The social interaction resulting from walking your dog helps you to  gain confidence with  talking to people in other situations.

10) Fun

Pets bring an element of fun to your life in 3 ways.  They force you to go out and have fun adventures together, they get into mischief, or their daily habits and quirky mannerisms make you laugh.

Here are some things that my cat kitty does that make me laugh.

*When sees some food she would like to taste, she licks her lips in advance.

*She always senses when we are heading to bed and runs to secure the best spot on the bed for herself.

*When she is taking a nap, she covers her eyes with her paw as if the light is too bright.

How does your pet help your ADHD symptoms?