ADHD Voices: Delaid

Photo courtesy of Delaid

Hi my name is Delaid and I am 45 years old and amongst many other things diagnosed throughout my lifetime the most recent was a diagnosis of ADHD in September of 2019. The diagnosis of ADHD in my case is quite interesting from an objective perspective and I thought it might be of interest to other people who are late in life receiving an ADHD diagnosis.

Let me go back a few years to when I was 13 years old when I was diagnosed and treated for narcolepsy with dexamphetamine (Adderall in the USA). In July 2018 this stimulant therapy was ceased due to complications with other health conditions which appeared around that time. Absolutely nothing prepared me for what was about to occur when the stimulant therapy ceased. 

The first thing I noticed were tasks that I previously could tackle on my own and competently were falling to the wayside, to the point that I found myself in bed with Netflix on yet not watching anything just inside my head panicking about what the hell I was supposed to do and what was happening. 

I was not able to articulate to my psychiatrist or my medical team what was occurring because I had never experienced anything like this. All I could communicate was that in the last six to nine months I felt my depression was becoming so bad that I was unable to do even the most basic tasks. 

From July 2018 though to June 2019 I had multiple admissions for severe depression to a mental health unit. Each time I would describe simply that my depression was getting worse. Finally in June 2019 my husband advocated for me confirming that there was just not usual depression. 

Let me give you some examples of what was presented to my doctor:

● In the space of about six to nine months piles of paper that contained bills, important documents such as birth certificates mixed up with all sorts of other documents appeared 
● Baskets of unfolded laundry 
● Family members asking me for items and I had no idea where they were 
● Constantly running out of food in the house as I would forget to do the shopping 
● My home had become chaos and despite support from family members it would return to chaos
● I was being charged fees for missing medical appointments
● Some of my medical team discharged me as I was not turning up and therefore losing out on much needed support 
● I was constantly re-purchasing items because it was easier than the anxiety of searching for them 
● Hours spent in bed distraught as to how to fix this despite being surrounded with to-do lists 
● Yet I could plan a perfect snowboarding holiday & this seeming paradox really confused me and added to my deepening depression. 
● I would get deeply focused on an activity and easily angered if interrupted. 
● I couldn’t explain where hours of time had gone and got very distraught if asked about it 

It was noted that although there were elements of these aspects before my medication was discontinued, this was a huge change in my life that was noticeable by my husband. 

Discovering ADHD

During my June 2019 Admission my psychiatrist performed what I describe as a “reverse diagnosis”. I was prescribed Modafinil and monitored for 6 months and provided information on ADHD, Executive Dysfunction, Hyperfocus and Hyperactivity. 

Whilst Modafinil is not as effective for me as dexamphetamine, it has fewer side effects and has made a huge difference to my life. It treats both ADHD and narcolepsy. Immediately I was able to manage my day to day appointment schedule, which was a huge win for me. This meant no more missed appointment fees and I could rebuild my support network, including a peer ADHD life coach who has been awesome. 

I was no longer confused why I could organise some activities and not others, which lifted my mood. I joined an ADHD Discord group, and rather than sit in bed in angst I surrounded myself with support and ideas and I am slowly overcoming the challenges that medication doesn’t resolve.

I gained more confidence in asking family members (all adults) to take responsibility for their own important belongings. I accepted that sometimes it is just easier to order a new certificate if needed than to put myself through the stress of finding it, and then I put the new certificate in its new home. I have learned the art of throwing stuff out, ruthlessly. 

Yes my house is still Chaos. There are still baskets of laundry to be put away. There is still decluttering to be done. Each day I do at least one small thing to make my home a cleaner, more organised space. Yes some days it still gets me down, however I find the use of photographs really helps me see the progress. 

In September 2019 I was formally diagnosed with ADHD with my psychiatrist adding that I place the “H” in ADHD. 😀 

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If you’d like to connect with Delaid,
she can be found as @TheRealDelaid on Twitter

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ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @ gmail.com

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Book Review: Delivered From Distraction

I read Dr. Ned Hallowell’s “Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder,” the 2017 revision of his 2005 book. This is a follow-up to his earlier book, “Driven to Distraction.” Full disclosure, I actually listened to the unabridged audiobook. It’s read beautifully by Dan Cashman. This was the first book that I read after finding out about my own ADHD.

What stands out about this book?

Dr. Hallowell is open about the fact that he has ADHD. Writing as one of us adds a level of depth to his understanding that many experts are lacking. He wrote this book with the ADHDer in mind, knowing that many of us struggle to finish reading books, even when we start with the best of intentions. So he wrote the first chapter as a bit of a catch-all. Its subtitle is to the point: “Read this if you can’t read the whole book.”

The book is perhaps the perfect introductory material for those new to ADHD, either undiagnosed or recently diagnosed. While recognizing the many struggles brought on by ADHD, the tone throughout the book is overwhelmingly positive. Hallowell absolutely believes that ADHD is a strength, and helps frame it that way as he presents it to you. I really appreciated the following tips that he gave in one of the early chapters.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective ADD Adults:

  1. Do what you’re good at. Don’t spend too much time trying to get good at what you’re bad at (You did enough of that in school).
  2. Delegate what you’re bad at to others, as often as possible.
  3. Connect your energy to a creative outlet.
  4. Get well enough organized to achieve your goals. The key here is “well enough.” That doesn’t mean you have to be very well organized at all—just well enough organized to achieve your goals.
  5. Ask for and heed advice from people you trust—and ignore, as best you can, the dream-breakers and finger-waggers.
  6. Make sure you keep up regular contact with a few close friends.
  7. Go with your positive side. Even though you have a negative side, make decisions and run your life with your positive side.

What makes this book useful?

The strength of this book is its ability to reach the ADHD novice and give her or him the tools needed to get on a path toward understanding and potential diagnosis. In the book, Dr. Hallowell includes a guide for using the ASRS (Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale).

The beginning questions on the ASRS are these, with each being given a response on a continuum including Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, and Very often:

  1. How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?
  2. How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?
  3. How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?
  4. When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?
  5. How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands and feet when you have to sit down for a long time?
  6. How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, as if you were driven by a motor?

Dr. Hallowell then gives his own self-assessment quiz, which is more descriptive and not diagnostic, but which I found very helpful. As I was questioning whether I had ADHD. the list really solidified in my mind that I wasn’t simply making all this up.

Beyond the basics of ADHD, Hallowell has provided a wealth of information regarding ADHD in this book. There are real-life examples of folks who he has diagnosed through his practice. These stories further serve to bring to life the impacts of ADHD as well as illustrating many potential solutions to make ADHD a positive force in your life.

Topics covered in other sections of the book include: conditions that coexist with ADHD, distinguishing bipolar disorder from ADHD, dyslexia, the role of genetics in ADHD, addictions, treatments, nutrition, supplements, and physical exercise recommendations, getting rid of piles, choosing the right partner, etc.

What didn’t work for me

Honestly there was nothing in this reading that didn’t work for me. I have heard from some people who feel that it’s too simple and would prefer a deeper dive into many of the topics presented, but they agree with my assessment that it’s an excellent introductory book to the ADHD world. Even knowing as much as I do now, I would absolutely consider it my go-to resource for ADHD.

Final verdict

This book is a must-read for the ADHDer or those trying to understand the ADHDer in their life. Dr. Hallowell sees ADHD as a gift, which I know shed some very positive light in my own life as I was struggling to come to terms with knowing I had ADHD. This book answered so many questions I had about ADHD, and explained so plainly the various impacts ADHD can have on your life. But it also comes with a strong message of hope, that properly treated, ADHD can be a great asset to your life.

If you only read one book on ADHD, make it this one. You won’t regret it.

🧠🧠🧠🧠 🧠 5/5 Brains – Excellent Read

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If you are interested in purchasing Delivered From Distraction, you can do so here on Amazon. And for further reading on Dr. Amen’s approach, you can visit his website at DrHallowell.com.

I am not paid or sponsored in any way through this post or the links I share. They are provided solely for the benefit of my readers.

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Working from Home with ADHD Part 2: Staying Motivated

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

This is part two of my “working from home” series, prompted by Covid-19 creating a great influx of workers into the home environment, including me. Part one dealt with setting up your workspace and schedule.

Accountability checklists

It is hard to do things. With ADHD it is even harder to do things. With ADHD and without accountability, it’s nearly impossible. So working from home, telecommuting, or whatever your current situation, see if you can build in some accountability. It seems somewhat easier to accomplish tasks when you have a boss at your workplace who is going to come by and check on you from time to time. If you still need something like that, try creating check-ins with your boss. These could be calls, texts, emails, or video chats.

I am asking my staff to email me at the beginning and end of every day to let me know what they’re working on, and then reporting back to let me know how they did. My hope is that knowing the end-of-day email is coming will help with some of that motivation. I do the same with my boss, as that gives me a real and tangible accountability for my work, which my ADHD desperately needs.

An example of my accountability checklist that I send to my supervisor. Each day starts with the empty boxes and I change them to checked boxes as I go.

✅Review staff check-in/check-out emails
✅Zoom with School Team
✅Zoom with Admin Team
✅Prepare and file TPS reports
🔲Check status of team progress on distance learning materials
✅Zoom with state superintendent’s office
✅Plan for tomorrow

If you’re having trouble staying focused and productive, something else you can try is related to scheduling. Each day, set up a list of things you want or need to accomplish. Play with the order so you have something to look forward to after the more undesirable tasks. Maybe include rewards or a break when you hit certain checkpoints or milestones.

And by the way, this list doesn’t have to be shared with your boss. You can share with a close friend, family member, or many use the accountability section of our online ADHD support group.

Minimizing distraction

You’ve probably already found the best workspace possible in your home, as far from distractions like TV, food, and people as possible. But with stay-at-home and quarantine orders going around, you may find it difficult to feel truly alone, as it’s not likely that anyone has much choice about who will be around in their home right now. I have a family of four, and we’re all pretty much stuck under this roof for the foreseeable future.

I have chosen the best workspace I can to stay out of their usual paths. I will also let family members know when I have crucial tasks on my schedule for the day so they know when it’s extra important to stay quiet. For young kids, this may be when I engage screen time. For adults, they can often plug into headphones and find a quiet task to do at the same time. And don’t forget, if you’ve got your desk right next to your favorite distraction, that’s probably a bad idea.

Self Care

Just four days into working from home, I cannot stress this enough. My job is just as many hours at it always was, though my 2 hour commute has been reduced to 2 minutes. But despite averaging more than an hour of sleep extra and gaining another hour of family time in the evening, this work seems so much harder. And I think it’s because I really never leave the office now.

I get to come down for lunch with my family, and I always get dinner with them. These are amazing bonuses to working from home. But at the end of the day, I may spend 8 hours staring at a computer screen while sitting in the same chair that digs into my thighs while I stare out the window at the same scene day after day. So what needs to change to make this work long term?

Self care. Please learn from my experience this week. Shower every day. Eat healthy meals. Try not to graze all day. Put breaks on your calendar. If permitted locally, go out for a walk. Get fidgets and other small items of interest to brighten your workspace. Make sure you have time to get up and walk away. If you need to take a mental health day, make arrangements and do it. Working from home is still work, and you can burn out even more easily if you’re not careful.

I should do a whole post on self-care sometime. What do you do for self-care? Please share in the comments below

How can anyone work at a time like this?

With all that is going on in the world at the moment, it can be extremely difficult to focus on school or work. What you’re being asked to do may seem trivial or meaningless when you consider that Covid-19 is raging through our communities and we have no idea what the future will bring.

I can’t tell the future any better than you can. But I do know that this too shall pass. The virus will eventually work through to its endpoint. We will move on, and life will eventually resume. Much of what we typically do has been taken away by the virus and responses to it.

Take this opportunity to carve out as much normal as you can. Because when it comes down to it, the best that most of us can do right now is follow guidelines and stay home. There isn’t a lick of good that will be accomplished through worry or fueling our anxiety and depression by hyperfocusing on Covid-19. Keep it from winning by doing. Don’t get frozen into inaction. Start small. Pick a place to work and make a to-do list. And don’t forget to have a little fun. You’re at home, after all.

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