Saturday, August 22, 2015

Queen of Distraction

Now I am reading The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get More Done by Terry Matlen.  As with the other things I've read about ADHD, some things fits me and some don't.
  • It talks about have piles of paper all over your house, and not being able to find things in the piles.  I do have that problem.  However, other things mentioned in the chapter on clutter don't apply to me.  When I'm going out, such as to work, I don't have trouble with remembering and bringing with me the things I need, such as keys.  Also, the books says many women with ADHD have a disorganized kitchen, but that is not a problem for me.
  • It says that people with ADHD are drawn to books about how to de-clutter and get organized, but the books don't really work for us.  I think I'm not really drawn to the books, because I know they don't work.
  • One thing it suggests for de-cluttering is listen to your body.  Which aspect of the clutter makes you tense? Address that aspect of the clutter first.
  • It says "For many (but not all) women with ADHD, it's more enjoyable to do just about anything but cook."  That sounds like me.
  • It describes the following scenario for preparing dinner: "you remember there was a story you wanted to catch on the 6:00pm news, you promise yourself you'll only leave the kitchen for five minutes.  But, oh my god, the story is fascinating! While in the family room, you notice the pile of newspapers and toss them into the recycle bin in the garage.  While in the garage, you decide to take the garbage to the curb.  While outside, you notice some flowers wilting and decide to pick, oh, just a few dying petals off.  Twenty-five minutes later when you're back in the kitchen, the rice is scorched, ruining your pot and you dinner." I don't watch TV, and I don't leave things cooking to long, but this way of wandering from task to task describes me.
  • In the section on de-cluttering the kitchen, the book says go through the kitchen and put everything away.  If you find something that belongs in another room, don't leave the kitchen.  Have a box or bag for each room, and sort the things based on where they belong.  Then when you have finished in the kitchen, take each box or bag and put those things away. I have done something similar, putting things into piles depending on what is to be done with them but then when I finish sorting, I don't feel like putting the things away.  
  • It says "Brain scans show that when people with ADHD are forced to do boring tasks, the prefrontal cortex slows down, causing sluggishness.  In order to be productive, focused, and alert, the ADHD brain needs a higher level of stimulation than the non-ADHD brain."  
  • It suggests keeping a log of how you spend your time.  You may put off doing things because you feel it will take too  long.  When you realize it does not take as long as you thought, it may be easier to do it.  At the same time, you may end up being late for things because you don't allow enough time for getting ready.  I tend to have a departure time in my mind, and when that time arrives, I stop what I'm doing and depart.  Except that I still need to put on my shoes, brush my hair, and go to the bathroom, so I don't depart at the time I planned.  
  • The book says plan your day every day.  You can make the plan either in the morning, or the night before.  Make a to do list and prioritize the items on the to do list.  Then the book adds two important steps, the steps I always skip: 1) Reduce the number of items on the list to something that you can actually accomplish in the allotted time, and 2) Do the things on your list.
  • Set timers for start and stop times for activities.  Also, when you take breaks, set a time for when to end the break and get back to work.  Avoid doing "one last thing," like checking email.  
  • Give yourself mantras to help through difficult areas.  For example, when facing tasks you are avoiding, "Don't do it because you have to, do it because you can."
  • Make peace with routine.  Routine may seem unappealing to you, but it will give you peace of mind to have your chores done and to be on track.  
  • If there is something you are putting off doing, think about it.  What aspect of the task is putting you off? 
  • Sometimes people with ADHD have trouble listening on the telephone.  They need to be able to look at the person talking in order to pay attention.  I do have trouble paying attention to people talking, but I think the worst is in person in a group setting.
  • People with ADHD may have trouble with shopping, because there are so many sights and sounds.  I'm thinking about how it can be tiring for me to be out in the world, even just looking at scenery, and restful to be home in dark and quiet.  When I was on vacation, I couldn't sit by the ocean all day.  I needed to stay inside and do stuff on the computer, because staying in was more restful, even compared to just sitting by the ocean.
  • When others are talking, you wish they would hurry up and come to the point.  This is true for me.  People just keep going on and on blah blah blah in circles repeating themselves, and I interrupt them and get to the point.
  • We may argue because we crave the stimulation of arguments.   
  • When talking, it may seem that you jump from topic to topic, which may make it hard for your partner to follow your train of thought.  Make explicit the way your thoughts are connected.
  • Stay focused on what your partner is saying by repeating his words in your head, or paraphrasing out loud.
  • Looking at your partner and having physical contact with him may also help with staying focused on what he is saying.
  • When he is telling you something, it may feel like it is the same thing he has said a thousand times before, but remember, this is the most important person in your life.  Stop, drop, and listen.  
  • Your partner needs to offer support, not enabling.  Enabling is treating you like a helpless child.  Your partner needs to see you as a competent adult who has strengths and weaknesses.
  •  People with ADHD are sensitive to sensory stimulation.  They may find it hard to concentrate on something else when there are background noises.  They hear the hum of the fan, and of the refrigerator -- the sounds others don't even notice.  They jump when they hear a sudden noise.
  • Many are sensitive to touch.  They don't like sticky doorknobs, wrinkled sheets, or restrictive clothing.  But some feel the are calmed by being enclosed -- wearing close-fitting clothing, sleeping under heavy blankets.  
  • In addition to sensory sensitivity, women with ADHD may have emotional sensitivity.  They may be sensitive to criticism.
  • Women with ADHD may seem to have a strong sense of empathy, reacting strongly to the emotional states of others, or they may seem to lack empathy, because they have trouble focusing their attention on what is going on with others.  This is true for me.  I can get very sucked in to a story in a book or movie, but in real life, it may be difficult to wrap my mind around other people.
  • ADHD symptoms may be affected by puberty, PMS, and perimenopause.  During perimenopause it may be helpful to take a stimulant, an SSRI, and HRT.
  • "Many women with ADHD are underemployed and underpaid because they are afraid of taking the leap into a job they fear might be too difficult for them, resulting in many unhappy years stuck in dead-end, boring, or stressful jobs."
  • "Inattentive women still have hyperactive brains and need to be challenged and stimulated, so it's important that you don't fall into the sort of job in which you feel stagnant."
  • Schedule the things you hate doing in order to make sure they get done.  
  • Overcommitment is a common problem, agreeing to take on more than you can really handle. 
  • Sleep, nutrition, and exercise help a lot with ADHD.  Try to get out for midday walks.  Eat protein in the morning.  Eat complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohyrdates.  Cut back on sugar and caffeine.
  • Hiring a personal organizer, buying prepared foods, hiring a tutor to help your kids with homework -- these are not luxuries.  They are accommodations for your disability.

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