Not Your Fault and Not Off The Hook - 001Apr 23, 2017
Welcome to the first episode of Harness Your ADHD Power, a podcast show I created to explore the many facets of adult life with ADHD and how you can learn to harness your personal ADHD power to become unstoppable.
Making sure that no one gets left behind is a long-standing commitment of mine. It's probably an outgrowth of having felt that way for so much of my own life.
Words have power. If we keep using language that makes us sound like we're broken or defective, we're probably going to feel that way. Years ago I realized that I am the meaning maker of my life. Whatever I say to myself about the events of my life and what they mean is what I will come to believe. I get to decide what each event will mean to me and how it will make me feel. What a wonderful opportunity!
In this episode, I talk about why many adults get missed as kids and then diagnosed later in life, why trying to explain ADHD to others can be so difficult or confusing, why being a high achiever can't happen with low-level self-care and more.
Full Episode Transcript Today is Episode 1 with Dr B
Hey ADDers! So glad you could join me today for my very first podcast episode. I have a special surprise for you as part of my celebration today; more on that in just a bit.
Today’s episode is all about lifting the emotional burden of ADHD and offering hope. How much time do we have? Not much. So let’s get to it.
ADHD is probably one of the most researched yet least understood condition of our time. As a mental health professional of over 30 years, what I’ve seen happen to the ADHD criteria, diagnostics and treatment over time makes me really, really sad.
I firmly believe that no one should be left behind who wants a better life, especially when they’re actively looking for help. We’re all in this thing called life, together. Call me old-fashioned…(don’t laugh) but having grown up watching Little House on the Prairie, it didn’t matter whose barn burned down, the community came together and raised a new barn. No one was left behind. I’ve always admired that way of thinking – community thinking.
So, whether you’re newly diagnosed, have known for years or self-identify with ADD symptoms, there’s going to be something here for you when you keep coming back. And just so you know, I’m a work in progress, just like you. I’ve learned a lot about how to make the most of my gifts and quiet my challenges, and you can learn how to do that too.
Oh…if you’re carrying around the belief that you are “terminally unique” and that a better life just isn’t going to happen for you because, after all…look at all the “evidence” of your bad decisions or failures or half-finished tasks or your “to-do list” that has stuff on it from years ago that you never even got to… Forget all that!! You are NOT what you do or don’t do; you are more than that. WE are NOT defective or less than as people – as human beings; we’re just wired differently and the difference is actually pretty cool once you have a different perspective and the tools you need for your own success.
I could keep talking about how cool it is to live with a brain like ours, but if that’s not your experience right now, that probably won’t serve you.
Just so you know, every episode will have no more than 3 important points, with relevant stories, 1 action step, a favorite quote, and starting in May, I’ll be bringing guests to share their expertise with you, along with my own. I hope you’re as excited as I am!
In this episode, I’m going to be taking a look at WHY it can be so difficult to have adult ADHD in today’s world and why THAT is not your fault. And that doesn’t mean that you’re not off the hook either.
Today’s 3 important points are:
1. Why many adults get missed as kids and then diagnosed later in life
2. Why trying to explain ADHD to others can be so difficult or confusing
3. Why being a high achiever can’t happen with low-level self-care
But first, I want to give you a gift. That’s right, I want to give you a gift because remember…I told you that I’m celebrating today. I like to celebrate a lot – big stuff and little stuff – all the WINS of life. And today I’m celebrating the launch of my podcast show. So, my gift to you is to help you see the WINS in YOUR life; those little or big things that you overlook, think are no big deal and don’t celebrate - and how acknowledging and celebrating them can change your life. You heard me right; can change your life!
So, let’s start with your first WIN. It’s something that has already taken place; something that you overlooked as no big deal and didn’t celebrate. So, I want you to slow down your mind (that’s right, perhaps take a deep, relaxing breath and pause)…and take a moment to think of what that was – did someone pay you a compliment? Did you find some money?
Did you actually follow through on something important and finish it? Or perhaps something more basic like, did you get out of bed, get cleaned up and feed yourself?
All of those are WINS in my book and deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated. So, take a moment NOW and give yourself a pat on the back, or at least acknowledge the WIN and that’s a positive thing. Let’s face it, if you don’t celebrate the stuff that you “need to do” as well as the special stuff, how will you ever “get motivated” or “stay motivated” to keep doing the stuff you need to do? I wouldn’t and I doubt that you would either. And if you only celebrate when something HUGE happens, that could mean you are waiting a very long time in between celebrations! That would be very sad; life is for celebrating every day! At least that’s how I’m living my life now. There’s at least one thing every day that happens to each of us that’s a WIN, and you can learn to see it that way and celebrate too.
Awhile back, I created a mini course called “The Magical Power of WINS.” The course is based on the practice of sharing and celebrating WINS at the beginning of each weekly meetup group meeting I’ve facilitated since 2013. The cumulative effect of this practice has been amazing, and I want you to have some of that experience.
The course normally sells for $27, however, as my gift to you today, my first listeners, I want you to have access to “The Magical Power of WINS”. That’s right, it’s my gift to you today for showing up to listen to my very first episode and leaving a thoughtful review or comment, because I really appreciate that you’re going to do that. I want to be the best I can for you, and your feedback means the world to me. Or, grabbing a line from the movie “Jerry McGuire” – help me to help you. Seriously… After you post your review, head over to my website for a copy of today’s show notes and your free gift. Thanks for celebrating with me today!
Now back to being an adult with ADHD in today’s world. So many negative feelings can get triggered in everyone touched by ADHD. Shame, embarrassment, disappointment, frustration, secrecy, or worse yet, the disbelief of those closest to you because it just doesn’t make sense to them.
There are a lot of different reasons why this might be the case and I’m going to share three stories with you today as well as talk about your responsibility in this (that’s response-ability or your ability to respond) – since you’re not off the hook here. I hope at least one of these stories will resonate with you and be of benefit. So let’s keep going.
· Sue had lots of challenges since she was a kid. She was a daydreamer, constantly late to classes, forgetting to turn in her assignments, losing important papers…you probably can relate.
· No one seemed to pay attention to these things and just chocked it up to how Sue was as a kid.
· Around 7th grade, Sue’s parents took her to a psychologist because the problems were getting worse. More teachers in middle school, all with different teaching styles and requirements and Sue just wasn’t doing well. The psychologist was concerned that Sue “may have ADHD”. I say, “May have,” because that’s what many people heard back then.
· The psychologist didn’t really make it “real” for Sue or her parents and so it was kind of like the appointment didn’t even happen. No new skills or strategies to help Sue and no suggested accommodations at school. It wasn’t hard to just continue to think that it was just how Sue was.
· Fast-forward to Sue’s upcoming 50th birthday. She had been in and out of therapy for years, read lots of books and felt she knew a lot about doing better in life but still wasn’t. Her depression and anxieties were much better but she still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing; something that would raise her self-esteem and help her create a more successful life.
· Sue was still having problems getting started with tasks, and actually finishing what she started. She was still waiting until the last minute to get things done; whether at work or home.
· She said the day-to-day necessities of life were “boring” and she was far more interested in things that were fun and easy for her. She loved art, music, and poetry – not paying bills or completing paperwork she received in the mail. Some times she wouldn’t open her mail for weeks at a time and ended up delinquent on bills, even when she had the money to pay them.
· One day over lunch, a close friend showed her a couple of books she was reading, that were helping her a lot – Driven to Distraction and Women with Attention Deficit Disorder. She felt both books described Sue too.
· Sue told her friend that she saw a psychologist years ago when she was a kid. That they told her that she “may have ADHD” and that was that. Nothing more, so Sue didn’t think anything of it.
· On her friend’s recommendation, Sue got the books, skimmed through them and cried. Then she got frustrated. Then she got overwhelmed with so many feelings. Plus she was anger at the psychologist she saw as a kid who didn’t make a definite diagnosis or help her get the help you already needed in childhood. Sue was already grieving for how different her life could have been had she known sooner.
· As of 3/2017, none of the states in USA require any coursework about adult ADHD to get licensed.
· This means you need to “assume” that a licensed MHP does not have training in adult ADHD unless you know they do because you’ve asked
· Lots of diagnoses of depression and anxiety, when the underlying issue is ADHD and not diagnosed or addressed due to lack of coursework
· There’s no “gold standard” recommended for diagnosing adult ADHD
· The most recent edition of the diagnostic manual used for communication with insurance companies and for professional to professional was updated in 2013 – the DSM V
o Bar lowered for diagnosing ADHD; less criteria needed now
o No “official” diagnostic code for adult ADHD; only adult examples attached to the child/teen code
· How many times have you been told that you would forget your head if it wasn’t attached to your body or called a lazy good-for-nothing or a huge disappointment by a boss or friend? Or that you just don’t seem to care or you would do more or better?
· Hugh heard these things and worse his entire life.
· He worked his butt off every day, trying his best to get things done at home and work, but he never seemed to catch up.
· When he got home, he would “chill out” with some seriously needed downtime playing video games; hours would disappear and even the little things at home weren’t getting done.
· Everyone was fed up with him, including Hugh.
· He didn’t understand how he could focus for hours playing a video game that was very complicated and score exceptionally well other than he was interested in the game and loved the competition
· He didn’t understand why he couldn’t do the same thing with day-to-day life and show that he was exceptional there, instead of failing badly.
· He knew that being interested in stuff was important for him to be motivated but it sounded so lame to say that he wasn’t interested in household tasks or his job and therefore wasn’t doing the work he was capable of if he was interested.
· Hugh hadn’t learned how to make his job and life interesting to him, just like video games were.
· How we’ve defined and explained ADHD publicly doesn’t make sense to those without it nor those living with it
· We’re not helping the non-ADHD population to “walk in the shoes” of those with ADHD so they can understand the experience.
· How can you expect people to accept the story or explanation that you can only do things that interest you and not those things that don’t? Would you accept that explanation from someone?
· There’s an abundance of “stories” shared, which are each specific to that person, and when taken “globally” can actually be damaging and potentially harmful
o Everybody’s ADHD manifests differently; symptoms, response to medications or other treatments
o Some are avid readers and can focus on a book for hours, while others can’t focus to read for more than a few minutes; some can organize hobby supplies such as albums to DJ or kitchen supplies for cooking, yet can’t organize other areas of their life
o These contrasts in abilities is confusing
o Statements like “ADDers can’t…” or “ADDers are…” aren’t the way to go. Rather, “my experience is…”
· Look around at how many people are taking care of them selves today.
o Sleep deprived
o Fast food diet
o Sodas, alcohol
o Very little consistent physical activity
o Occasional time with hobbies or friends
· Tina had such great ideas and high hopes of being a high achiever. Unfortunately, she had no model for what that really means.
· No one in her family was a high achiever. She’d read books about being a high achiever and the books mostly talked about the business end of things, not what she had to become to be that person.
· So she kept working hard on her business stuff but not herself
· She wasn’t getting ahead and she was burning out on energy and enthusiasm
· The other piece that was missing for Tina is what high achievers are thinking and believing that allows them to do what they do
· It’s really an inside job
· How was she going to find out what these people were doing on the inside? She could only see the outside stuff and it wasn’t enough to change her life
· How could she expect herself to do well when she didn’t know what she needed inside and out or the questions to ask about her needs?
· Being a high achiever has a price tag. The cost is time, effort and energy
· The tools of focus, follow through, and self-management are essential
· Our minds don’t come “pre-trained” for high achievement, they have to be shaped and conditioned for it
· It takes great ingredients to produce great results; poor ingredients can’t get you great results
· Many people say that they want a better life but most aren’t willing to do what it takes to have the better life they want
· We have to have a certain mindset that is open and willing to make whatever changes are necessary to have what we say we want
· It is your response-ability to get the information and training you need; in other words – your “ability to respond” to your needs and meet them
· What it takes for you to excel and thrive is going to be different from others; even others who also have adult ADHD
· What do you understand about your own basic requirements that are essential to you living well and doing well?
o Physical activity
o Structure and accountability
o What can you focus on for any length of time?
· Follow Through
o What do you follow through on without any reminders or prodding?
o Which areas of your life do you manage well?
· Once you know
o What you can focus on, and why you can focus on it more easily than other things, you can use this info to help you focus on the less easy stuff
o What you follow through on without being pushed, and why this is so, you can use this info to help you follow through on other stuff
o What allows you to manage one area of your life well, you can use that knowledge to help you troubleshoot the difficult ones
A Favorite Quote:
Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”
I appreciate you showing up to listen today and in the future. New episodes will be available once a week, on Mondays at 12-noon PST. I’ll be talking about such compelling topics as perfectionism, analysis paralysis, procrastination, managing yourself within time and more hot topics, as well as lining up guests to bring more great insights to you. Be sure to subscribe to this podcast and keep coming back!
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