Archives for May 2010

ADHD Diagnosis

A common sentence I hear as an ADHD coach is “I think I have ADHD, but I don’t want to get a ADHD diagnosis because I am scared I will use it as an excuse not to try and succeed in life anymore.”

Getting an official ADHD diagnosis doesn’t mean that a switch is flipped and you become such a different person that you don’t recognize yourself any more. You will still be you. Except now, you know why you are the way you are.

In my late twenties, I was officially diagnosed with severe dyslexia. The diagnosis was a huge relief to me as it explained why I found some things exceptionally hard and yet to others they seemed effortless. From studying or filling out forms, to giving the waitress my order. After being diagnosed, I continue to do those things and I still experience anxiety, discomfort and mental fatigue etc. However, I know rather than being ‘stupid’ it’s because I am dyslexic.

It’s the same when you have an ADHD diagnosis.  There is a huge feeling of relief that you aren’t “lazy” or “lacking in self-discipline” and “disorganized” or any of the other negative labels you have been giving yourself. You might have a disorganized living environment, but that is not because you are lazy, it’s because you have ADHD and being organized is a challenge.

If you are the type of person who asks the question “Will getting diagnosed result in me no longer trying in life?”, it means that you are a highly motivated and conciseness person who wants to be the best they can be. Rather than sabotage your efforts to succeed, a diagnosis actually allows you to be more successful as you know the reason behind certain behaviors and can learn techniques to manage those behaviors. In the long run you will see great results for the same amount effort AND feel a level of comfort and ease within yourself that you never had before.

Diagnosing ADD

When I am introduced to a new person and I say I am an ADHD coach the standard response is ‘oh I have ADD’ and then they smile. Now, it’s highly unlikely that everyone I meet actually has ADHD. What is more likely is that at times they experience some of the characteristics of ADHD.

When a professional is diagnosing ADD they test to find out if the person has a certain cluster of characters or traits.

Those traits are traits that anyone can experience periodically, particularly when they are stressed or feeling overwhelmed. Examples of these traits are, inability to concentrate, trouble thinking clearly, lack of organizing in the physical environment, poor managing time, procrastination, feeling overwhelmed and constantly behind, poor memory and forgetfulness, problems with relationships and a general feeling that they aren’t living up to their potential.

But for a person with ADHD, it’s the amount of these traits that are present and the extent that they experience them. These traits are present to such an extent that they negatively affect their life.

Before officially diagnosing ADD , the specialist carrying out your evaluation will want to find out the following

That the ADHD characteristics have been present for 6 months or more.

The symptoms were present before you were 7 years old

The traits effect your life in 2 or more settings

and finally the symptoms aren’ t due to another condition,  such as bipolar disorder, sleep disorder or anxiety etc

Bottom line: Not everyone has ADHD, but lots of people, at times may experience some of things that people with ADHD do and if this is you, you will still benefit from all the tips and ideas here on this blog.

 

 

 

ADHD and Bipolar Disorder

 

Approximately 20 percent of ADHD adults also have Bipolar Disorder. It’s difficult to differentiate between the 2 conditions as some symptoms are the same. For example: ADD is diagnosed by elevated levels inability to concentrate, impulsivity, distractibility and hyper-activeness. During a manic episode someone with Bipolar Disorder experiences high levels of impulsivity and hyper- activeness.

People with ADD can be inattentive and during a depressed mood someone with Bipolar Disorder may also experience this inattentiveness.

However, there are lots of differences too.

ADD usually appears in childhood (although not always diagnosed in childhood) and is consistently present lifetime.

Bipolar Disorder (with some exceptions) usually appears in the very late teens or early 20’s. There are long periods of ‘normal’ mood levels. As well as experiencing the intense highs and lows that are characteristic of Bipolar.

In both ADHD and Bipolar Disorder there are swings from one mood to another. But while someone with ADHD experiences more intense moods than a peer with ADHD, there moods are still deemed ‘normal’. By contrast someone with Bipolar experience intense moods, swinging from an incredible high and happy mood or mania to a deep low depression.

People with ADHD’s emotions and moods are connected to life events. So if something happy happens they feel joyful, if a sad event happens they feel sad. This differs from someone with Bipolar Disorder as their moods are not connected to events in their life.

There is no reason to feel scared or fearful if you think you have one or both ADHD and Bipolar disorder. Both can be managed, and you can enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. However like all conditions it’s important to first understand what you are dealing with and then it can be treated  according, so visit your doctor to begin the diagnosis process.

ADHD Memory

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For someone with ADHD memory can be a big issue. It can result in important possessions, such as passports, wallets and purses, laptops and keys being lost or misplaced. In his book ‘Scattered Minds’ Dr. G. Mate tells an amusing true story but one that encapsulated what it is like living with ADHD memory issues. A gentleman with ADHD has a dog and together they go for daily walks. As the owner puts his coat, shoes, hat, etc. on in preparation for the walk, the dog stays peacefully under the kitchen table. The owner leaves the house and the dog waits under the table. The owner comes back several times for forgotten items, such as keys, wallet etc. then on the third time the dog gets up and joins his owner for the walk. This wise dog had gotten the hang of living with an  Adult ADHD!

This story always makes me smiles. A great solution for helping your memory is creating new small habits. For example, if you are someone who is always leaving bags, umbrellas etc. on public transport, one of your new habits would be to briefly cast your eyes around where you were sitting to make sure you have everything before you leave. It only takes a few seconds, but you will be amazed how quickly it becomes second nature and how much time you save when you don’t have to phone bus companies or taxi firms to see if they have found your missing items.

Another example of a new habit would be to create a check list of everything you need before leaving the house and stick it to your front door. The list will probably include, wallet, cellphone, keys, bag. However you will personalize it suit your lifestyle. Then, get into the habit of checking this list and the items that you have on you before walking through the door. Very soon, you will notice that you are automatically checking to be sure you have everything without even looking at the list.

Have a special place to keep important items, such a passports. When you come home from your travels, pop it in that special place. Perhaps a top drawer, a pretty tin, whatever it is make it your top priority to return it as soon as you return from your trip. This removes an enormous amount of stress from your life as you always know where your important items are at all times.

Your homework this week is to think of 5 areas of your life where you are forgetful and then create small habits around those areas to help you both remember the items AND save time and reduce your stress.