Friday, August 19, 2016


Deerskin by Robin McKinley.  I have had this book for years and have read it a  number of times.  It is a book to turn to when I feel hurt and betrayed and I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.  It is a journey through  hurt, to  healing, and then to reclaiming your power.

I did not feel quite so desperate when I read it this time, but still, it resonated with me.  That sense of detachment.  And then the end.  Moonwoman told her, "Ash is looking forward to running through meadows again, can you  not give yourself leave to run through meadows too?"

Lissar said, "I am ways you cannot see, and that I cannot explain, even to myself, but only know that they are are, and a part of me, as much as my hands and eyes and breath are a part of me."

Ossin replied, "I accept that you bear them, and will always bear them, as-- as Ash bears hers."

And they speak in unspoken words that they both hear, and Ossin says in this way, "I have seen the scars you carry, and I love you.  If you and Ash cannot run quite so far as you used because of old wounds, then we will run less far together."

"And she promised herself and Ossin, and Ash and the puppie, that she would try to stay there, for as long as the length of their lives; that she would put her strength now and hereafter toward staying and not fleeing."

It's a book that speaks to the heart.  My heart yearns to be loved that way, and yearns for the love in my heart to be accepted by another.

She says, "I had forgotten that I have thought of you every hour since the night of the ball; I had convinced myself that I had thought of you only every day."

I do. I think of someone all the time.  But he will not come for me the way Ossin came for Lissar.  I spend my life alone.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy: Chapters 13-16: Mediation, Medication, Mental Hygiene, and Moving Forward

Just try meditation.  Don't expect to be good at it.  Do it, and it will be good for you.  You don't have to make your mind quiet.  Just observe what is going through your mind.  Do whatever works for you -- lie down, walk, stand on your head, close your eyes, look at a flame, listen to music.

People with ADHD tend to fill up their lives with too many things.  We tend to like to run on adrenaline.  This is not a healthy pattern.  We need to slow down, cut out some activities.  When someone asks you to do something, wait.  Tell them you will get back to them.

When people get treatment for ADHD, not just medication, but also coaching, meditation, etc., other health problems may be reduced, including asthma, allergies, fibromyalgia, athritis, hypertension, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Janet has just started Adderall and has ahd a good response to the medicine...She gets excited about all the things she can now do that she was never able to do before.  She starts out with the greatest of intentions.... 1) Get rid of piles and find an organizational system that works, 2) Set up a daily routine with a reasonable bedtime, 3) Get into an exercise routine, 4) Balance my checkbook.  Her list then segues into somewhat more grandiose goals, like 67) Write the great American novel....68) Remodel the entire house by myself, 69) Learn Chinese 70) Master the violin
Rebound: When your medication wears off, your symptoms are worse then before you were on medication.

Some people can sleep when they just took medication, and when it has left their system, but not when it is partly out of their system.

Activities such as juggling, balancing on one foot, or standing on a wobbling board stimulate the cerbellum and help peole with ADHD. 

Mental hygiene
When we're upset, find a way to be alone and take time to just be upset.

If you tend to be critical of yourself, imagine "the judge" who gives you these thoughts as a separate person from you.
Don't let anyone try to convince you that there is a certain kind of "constructive" criticism that is helpful.  We never learned anything from criticism exet to avoid it at all costs.  Rather than a steady dose of criticism, we need an enthusiastic cheerleader in our corner....The better we feel, the more likely we are to make changes that serve us and those around us.
Even when you feel stuck, you are moving forward.  It's okay to take very small steps.
The first step is to acknowledge that what you are facing is indeed a mountain.  It does not good whatsoever to tell yourself that it shouldn't be a mountain because other people do it so easily....Honor and respect the journey you are taking to conquer this mountain, because it is not trivial.   It's is a "hero's journey."
On the journey up the mountain, bring snacks, take rests, congratulate yourself after each leg of the journey,

We have a fear of taking action.  Remind yourself that you can stop at any time.

You'll thing you're moving forward, but then there will be setbacks and it will seem hopeless.  But you can keep moving forward.

You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy: Chapters 6-10: The Art of Relating and Gender Issues

People with ADHD don't like talking on the phone.  The don't like the sudden and unexpected ringing.  They don't like being on the spot to respond.  They are annoyed if there are distracting noises while they are on the phone.

A phobia is a fear out of proportion to the actual threat in a situation, and people with phobias generally try to avoid the situations they fear.  Some ADDers do avoid using the telephone.  The avoidance, however, isn't a phobic reaction to inappropriate anxiety or fear -- they have real problems with telephone communication.  The problem is sometimes an inability to process the meaning of words without the visual clues of body language....An ADDer may forget to identify himself, leave out important information, or abruptly end the conversation.
It helps if you plan your calls.  Write down all the things you want to say.  Answer the phone only when you are ready for the call.

It's hard to follow the flow of conversation, and to process it in time to figure out what to say.
Michael is standing in a cluster of four people who have been talking about a variety of topics.  He hasn't added much to the conversation because he doesn't know anything about the latest software or the movement to protect endangered caterpillars....He...vaguely hears a comment about recent activity in the Oval Office.  Since he's a builder, with a specialty in custom renovation, he eagerly jumps in with his account of an interesting circular room he once built....He looks up to see four faces etched with question marks.
Another issue with group situations is that we may be overwhelmed with stimuli.  This can cause us to shut down.
It's as if the body stays in the same spot while the brain goes off to a quiet corner somewhere to rest and regroup.  You end up standing there with a blank look....It's not that the conversation is borning....It's that the overstimulation of a group situation causes mental fatigue. 
But sometimes when people with ADHD talk to other people with ADHD, the conversation jumps around a lot, but it's something that people with ADHD can follow.

Plan in advance how to respond to things people are likely to ask you.  Try to look at the person speaking, to maintain your focus on them.

You may need to have less of a social life than other people.  Say no to some events.  Choose small groups rather than large groups.

Allocate each family member a space of their own.  Allow each family member quiet time.  You can have "Temporary Shutdown" signs that people post when they want to be left alone.  Designate certain times and certain areas of the home for quiet. Stop, look, and listen before speaking.  Don't talk on the run.  Don't talk by yelling to someone elsewhere in the house. Make a rule that anyone can say stop teasing and the person has to stop.

 Women and hormones
Low estrogen makes symptoms worse.  Stimulant medication may not be enough.  Birth control pills or estrogen replacement may help.  Dr. Pat Quinn has done a lot of research about this.

ADHD and sexuality
Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are involved in ADHD and they are involved in sexuality.  People with ADHD may be different from neurotypical people in their sexual desires, and their sexual desires may be affected by ADHD medication. SSRIs can reduce sexual desire, but this may be reduced over time, or by taking Wellbutrin, or exercise can allow you to reduce dose of SSRI.

People with ADHD may be sensitive to touch sometimes.  It's not consistent -- you may like something one day and dislike it another day.  Work with your partner to find what you like, or if you don't feel like being touched, the focus can be on you touching your partner.  People with ADHD may be distractible, may have trouble focusing on sex.  They may need novelty.  People with ADHD may be too goal oriented and may need to slow down and enjoy the process.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Forum on gun violence

I went to a forum on gun violence.  It wasn't exactly what I hoped.  But I also knew from experience that if I go to things that aren't exactly right for me, they can lead me to the things that are a better fit for me.  I've seen how most of the things that were enough of a fit that I stayed involved for some time were things that I got connected to because of being involved in something else.

So it was a forum on gun violence.  I didn't like that three of the four speakers were from outside.  They had no idea about our community.  They have their own agenda.  They want cities to pass gun safety laws, so they visit cities and give talks.  I am not so interested in gun safety, because I don't like guns at all.  What I was looking for was for our community to come together to talk about what we can do to prevent violence within our community.

The first speaker, Leah Gunn Barrett, talked about advocating for gun safety legislation.  That is not my interest.  And she had no idea who we are as a community.  I felt like she was a privileged white woman who didn't want anyone to shoot her family, but she didn't know or care about the suffering of people in inner city communities, as long as they stay away from her.

The second speaker's cause is domestic violence, and because this was a gun violence forum, he tried to express how preventing domestic violence relates to preventing gun violence.  He was not great at articulating his thoughts.  He kind of rambled around the point rather than actually stating the point.  I think he had two good points, though he did not make them very well:  1) A lot of gun violence is domestic violence, so if you reduce domestic violence, you reduce gun violence.  2) Children who grow up with domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect grow up to have many negative things in their lives, including that they may become perpetrators of violence.

He talked briefly about the topic of his book, The Quincy Solution.  He said in Quincy, they found that most people in the prison had experienced domestic violence and/or child abuse when they were children.  Therefore, they cracked down on domestic violence as a way of reducing crime.  This is where my interest lies: to give everyone a good childhood so that they are not inclined to turn to crime.

Like the first speaker, at times he seemed to view violence as a cause, to not see the toll on humans.  This was how it came across when he was saying that the problems with violence are good because it creates an opportunity to make a change.

Overall though, he came across as someone who really cares about domestic violence.  At the end of his speech, he talked about how there's a song about the integration of baseball that asks how many great baseball players did we miss because of segregation.  He applies this idea to domestic violence, saying how sad it is that our society is missing out on the contributions that would have been made, had people not been affected by domestic violence.  It was clumsily expressed, but it was very heartfelt.

I don't recall the name of the third speaker.  She spoke about suicide.  She said that many people who attempt suicide change their minds, but suicide by gun is the most effective method, and doesn't leave room to change your mind.  She spoke of a woman who survived suicide by gun, but blew off half her face.  This woman has become an advocate, speaking out about her experience.

The fourth speaker was our police chief.  I liked that he actually is from our community.  He said that what we've been doing hasn't been working, and that research has found that a public health approach works.  He mentioned the Cure Violence program, and pointed out someone from that program.  That prompted the moderators to confer and then invite the Cure Violence guy to speak for a bit about that program.  To me, that was the best part.  That was someone in our community doing something to prevent violence. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy: Chapter 5: Taking Inentory and Finding Balance

In coping with ADHD, we shouldn't blame others and we shouldn't blame ourselves.  We need to take inventory of what we can do and what we can't do.  We need to figure out how much we need of sleep, rest, stimulation, work, play, family, friends, solitude.  What do we need to do for self-care? What can we eliminate from our lives? 

Keep a daily log for several weeks.  Look at how much time you spend on each thing, and how you feel.  Do you have more signs of stress after spending a certain amount of time doing something?  Make up a schedule.  You will need to adjust it.  Keep refining it until it works.

Figure out what you do well, what you do acceptably, and what you shouldn't be attempting to do.  Find ways to do more of what you like and do well of, and less of what you fail at. 

On one hand, you need to keep it simple.  On the other hand, you need to make sure you get enough stimulation.

Make it a habit to get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off.  You will not want to do this.  When you first get up, do things that don't require much effort.  Ask your family  not to talk to you or make demands on you until you've had time to become alert.

Realize that you don't have to do what other people do.  Get help -- don't do it all yourself.  Use babysitters, gardeners, housecleaners.  Learn to accept that your house won't be perfectly clean.

"You may be a Catholic, a druid, or a dyed-in-the-wool atheist.  Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, there is wisdom in having a sanctioned day of rest."

They probably never expected an actual druid to read those words.  They are suggesting observing a Sabbath day.  I don't think that would work for me, in that it would leave only one day for chores.  But what I can do is have some time every evening for meditation and tai chi.  

You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy: Chapter 4: Coping with the Diagnosis

The book says that when we get diagnosed with ADHD, we may be relieved, and we may think that once we go on medication, we can be the normal person we always wanted to be.  However, when we go on the medication, we find that it can't make us into a normal person, and we become depressed.

It's good to know this.  The book also talks about how the despair is part of the journey, and if we continue through the despair, we can find a better life.

After getting the diagnosis, we may feel anger:
  • "Why did everyone...blame my difficulties on depression, lack of motivation, or poor character?"
  • "Why didn't someone believe in me?"
  • "Why did everybody assume the worst?"
  • "Why was I misunderstood and reprimanded when I was trying my heart out?"
  • "Why did all those mental health professionals pretend to know more than they did?"
These really resonate with me.  I've been thinking over the past several months that it seems that central to my psyche is that no one believe me.  When I say I'm tired, they say I'm not tired, that it's depression.  

You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy: Chapters 1-3: Understanding ADHD

The latest ADHD book I am reading is You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy? by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo.  It was first published in 1993, but I am reading the 2006 edition.

The previous book I read was male-oriented.  Since this was written by two female authors, I was hoping it would be more female-oriented.  However, they use male pronouns when referring a a person with ADHD.  Also, the cartoon illustrations, while depicting nonhuman creatures who aren't particularly gendered, are referred to as male.

One thing that resonates with me in the book is when it talks about people being blamed for their ADHD.  I read the same kinds of things about any kind of invisible illness, whether it's depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, migraines, etc., and whatever it's applied to, it resonates with me.

The book says that people often tell people with ADHD to shape up, try harder, etc., but this is like telling someone "in a wheelchair that he could get up and walk if he tried harder" (p. 13).

It says that it might seem that we are un-motivated, but we actually have to work a lot  harder than non-ADHD people to get things done.

Sometimes we find it hard to focus on things.  Other times, we get so focused on one thing that we have trouble noticing anything else.  When we get into hpyerfocus, others may think "It's obvious he can pay attention when he wants to" or "He's so rude! He completely ignores me" (p. 38).

We often have trouble with details.  We like the big pictures.  We can't remember the details.  That is true for me.  I may read something which makes a strong case for a point of view.  I may adopt that point of view, based on the evidence.  However, later, I can remember the point of view, but I can't remember the evidence, so to others, it sounds like I don't have a good reason for my beliefs.

Many of the attributes they describe don't resonate with me.
  • People with ADHD being moody.  They are easily irritated and may have outbursts of anger.  Afterwards, they feel ashamed.  That doesn't really happen to me, but it makes me think of domestic violence.
  • People with ADHD are thrill seekers, because the crave stimulation.  They are the kind of people who drive fast, go bungee jumping, etc.  It makes me wonder about my sister.
  • People with ADHD always crave more.  They feel, "I want, I need."  They may go to excess with drinking, drugs, shopping, sex.  I knew someone like that once.  He always wanted something more, and it left me feeling inadequate, so I chose to distance myself.  
  • People with ADHD may have obsessive compulsive disorder.  They may focus on a particular thought, and it loops in their head.
 I had read in other books about how ADHD is not a lack of attention, but a lack of ability to regulate attention.  This book says the same about hyperactivity.  People with ADHD may sometimes be hyperactive, but other time hypoactive.  They have a hard time getting going.  They may be sluggish in the morning, lively at noon, sluggish in early afternoon, and lively in late afternoon and evening.  As a result, they may be night owls.

Now I'm thinking of another person I know, someone who is sluggish in morning and lively at night, and who sometimes gets thoughts looping in his head.

People with ADHD have trouble with time.  Things always take longer than we expect.  The book says, "The daily list of an ADDer usually includes far more than any human could accomplish in three or four days.  A professor friend planned to write three articles, a book, and two grants over the summer months.  His unrealistic goals were quite typical for an ADDer!"'

That's me -- things take longer than I think, and my to do lists are too long.  I'm also reminded of my friend who described himself as "optimistic" because he always was ready later than he expected.

People with ADHD also have trouble with space.  They may have trouble telling left from right, and they may tend to bump into things.

We have trouble with sorting and filing, and one reason is because we think of all the possible exceptions, so we can't put things into neat categories.

We may have rapid internal processing, but difficulty taking in input and putting out output.  Selective attention is the ability choose what input to focus on.  Selective intention is the ability to choose which of many possible actions to take.  People with attention difficulty usually also have intention difficulty.

That's true of me, and also of my "optimistic" friend.

The authors did terribly at tennis lessons.  When they both started on Ritalin, both improved at tennis remarkably.  The reason was because of better cognitive processing.  Tennis requires that you see the motion of the ball, figure out its path, and get to the right place at the right time to hit it.

The book talks about how people with ADHD may lash out at others inappropriately.  I wonder how many domestic violence cases are a result of ADHD.

Paralysis of will: the output function ceases.  Someone asks you a question and you have no response.  You watch the ball fly by rather than trying to hit or catch it.

Your brain is fast when it's just internal, but not when you have to react.  One of the authors is good at public speaking, but not at conversation.  She can plan the public talk in advance, but she can't come up with something to say on the spot in conversation.  That's true of me too.

People think that I'm shy, that I don't like to talk, when they see me for casual conversation.  They are surprised that I enjoy public speaking.

We function better when we're in control than when we have to react to t hings.  Someone with ADHD "may stand aroudn the kitchen of a friend preparing a dinner party, unable to figure out how to assist.  But he may successfully orchestrate a social activity of his own design."  That's true of me.  I have no idea how to help people with enterntaining.

Sometimes we just freeze.  This may be the result of a loud noise or unexpected events.  "An ADDer's overloaded system can make him so tired he can barely move, talk, or think.  It is as if he is in a temporary coma.  He experiences attempts at communication as assaults on his very being.  He either ignores the assault or snaps an irritable reply -- taking any action is an impossibility."  When this happens, you need to rest and recharge.

In the section on memory, the authors say that we are better at conceptualizing than rote learning.  We can remember concepts better than we can retrieve particular facts.  Although we can't remember specific facts, we can put together pieces of information in new ways. This is certainly true of me.  It's good to have an explanation of why my mind works this way.

We can't live up to being normal people, so we develop coping strategies.  Some people try to do it all, pushing ourselves, trying to function like a normal person.  Sometimes we blame others for all the things that go wrong. Sometimes we scoff at the things we were unable to achieve, looking down on them to mask that we feel bad for not being able to achieve them.  Sometimes we give up and numbly live as underachievers.  If we have had many experiences of being chastised for what we failed to do, we may go on the offensive, chastising others for being demanding.

Because our brains don't function well when we have to react, some people may insist on always being in control, setting the agenda.

The book describes Peter Pan syndrome:  "Energetic optimism, a wacky sense of humor, and a warm acceptance of others make the people around him feel good....The ease with which he connects with people promises an intimacy that never materializes....would-be lovers and close friends find him an elusive man, impossible to pin down....When they begin to make demands for a more committed relationship, they find that Chris has moved on.  The women hurt by his 'love 'em and leave 'em' lifestyle feel used and abused.  Chris believes, however, that he's just operating under a different set of rules.  He lives according to the pleasure principle."

Friday, March 4, 2016

We need education

With what's going on with the presidential primaries, what strikes me is how ignorant people are.  We need education.  We need people who know how to be critical thinkers.  We people to recognize the way that certain kinds of rhetoric is used to get people's attention, but that just because our instincts are aroused by this rhetoric doesn't mean we have to respond.  We can pause and think about what is really going on. 

For kids, education happens in schools and camps.  Adults learn by way of media, whether it's Facebook, web sites, books, radio, TV, movies, etc. 

I don't like to be told what to do, and I don't like to tell other people what to do or what to think.  But I want to be a part of getting the information out there, exposing people to ideas, so they can make up their own minds. 

Yes it's true that there's a certain presidential candidate that I think would  not be so popular if people were better thinkers.  But I want people to be thinkers, regardless of who they support.  When I see people making ignorant statements in opposition to said presidential candidate, that's wrong too. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Book report: Your Life Can Be Better: Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD

I have been reading Your Life Can Be Better: Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD by Douglas Puryear.  Like the other ADHD books I've read, it's very readable.  It's written for people with ADHD, so it's easy to pay attention.  Mostly, the book consists of Puryear describing the strategies he uses to live with ADHD.  It also tells about how some of his friends and clients deal with ADHD.  I like the way it has a light, humorous tone.  He describes a coping strategy, but then adds that he's still working on, he doesn't get it right all the time, "after all, I have ADD."  He says that so often that it becomes humorous.

Previously I read a book about ADHD in women, but this book is more about men.  Not only is he male, so are many of the other people he writes about.  He has little to say about coping with cooking and other household chores.  He has a wife who takes care of that stuff. 

How he copes with ADHD:
  1. Identify a problem
  2. Choose a strategy
  3. Make a rule
  4. Follow the rule so much it becomes a habit.
Example: Always leave your keys on the table.

His red flags are "it will be okay," and "I have plenty of time."  When he tells himself, "It will be okay to put the keys somewhere else just this one time," then he applies the rule "put your keys on the table."

Make it a habit to check every time.  Put your fishing gear in the car the night before.  In the morning, check to see if it's all there.  You know you put it there last night, but check anyway.  You are making it a habit.  Do it every time.  No exceptions.

You can only work on establishing one or two rules/habits at a time.

He says that things that activate focus for people with ADHD are
  1. Personal interest
  2. Novelty
  3. Challenge
  4. Immediate deadline with heavy consequences
For me, I think there is something else, but I'm not sure how  to name it.  Stories suck me in.  Facebook sucks me in.  I gravitate toward these things that suck me in.  I gravitate to being engaged.  I gravitate toward things that make me forget that I'm tired, that I'm bored, that I'm aimless, that my life is screwed up.

He carries an appointment book with him and looks at it at least six times a day.  It includes a weekly schedule and a monthly schedule.  Looking at it helps keep him oriented in time.  He has made it a habit to write everything in it carefully and legibly.

He also keeps his index cards with him all the time and looks at them often.  One red index card lists the five most important things to do.  No more than five, because if there are more than five, he would feel overwhelmed and not do anything.  Yellow for things to do that aren't urgent.  Orange for things that are kind of urgent but not the top five.  He numbers things on the red card in the order he plans to do them.  When he finishes something on the red card, he can move something from the orange to the red.

Blue is for memory.  It includes phone numbers, names, sayings, etc.  Purple cards are for ideas for the book.  White cards are for everything else, such as things he is studying, like Spanish conjugations and guitar chords.  

In addition to the five things on his red card, he has his list of three.  This he keeps mentally.  It includes what he is doing now, what he will do next, and what he will do after that.  That keeps him on track, keeps him from getting sidetracked.

A similar technique, which he does not use, but which works for some with ADHD, it to begin the day by visualizing what you are going to do that day.  

He breaks things into steps.  He doesn't write "do taxes" on his red card.  The first task is "organize taxes" which means make a list of all the steps to doing his taxes.  Then each step will be an item that eventually makes it to his red card.  But he won't have all five tasks on his red card be about taxes.  He mixes it up, the five tasks go to different things. 

In his office, he is surrounded by lists.  He makes lists on envelopes from the mail he gets.  There are four stacks.  One is the blank envelopes.  One is his working lists.  One is his other lists, things like ideas for the book he is writing, Spanish conjugations, guitar chords.  The fourth is things he refers to sometimes.  He rewrites his lists many times a day.

In addition to lists and index cards, he has two white boards in his office for jotting down things he wants to remember.

Make lots of lists.  Put everything on a list.  If it's not on a list, you hold it in your head and you feel overwhelmed.  Keep your lists organized.  Look at them often.

Don't let things pile up.  If they pile up, they become overwhelming.  If they do get piled up, break the tasks into manageable steps.

Set realistic goals.  Don't aspire too high.  Make it something that you will actually accomplish, or you will become demoralized and overwhelmed.

Don't take on too much.  Learn to say no.  Say no to your own aspirations, and to what others ask of you.

You could ruminate on decisions for a long time.  Reduce the amount of decision making needed by setting rules.  For example, he has a rule that if his grandson asks him to play with him, he will always say yes.  He wishes he had realized that in time to do the same for his kids.

Every now and then, stop in the middle of what you are doing and ask yourself, "Is this a good use of my time?"

Notice the little things in your daily life that you get tangled up over.  Once you identify a problem, you can come up with a solution.

Identify your long-term goals.  Look at whether your short-term goals and your current activities support your long-term goals.

He wrote:
I will be in the middle of a productive project, like writing this book, and then it pops into my mind that I'd like to know about the six wives of King Henry the VIII.  I'm already at the computer, so I just look that up on the internet.  That's easy; there they are.  That leads to the interesting puzzle of figuring out who the various Marys were, and that leads to looking up the dates of Queen Elizabeth's reign....Then the idea for a good short story about Elizabeth comes into my mind, and I begin to write it before it escaples me, but I have to do some more research to get the facts right.
 That's how I work too.  In fact, in typing the above, I of course had to go look up Henry VIII's wives.

The way he deals with this is to periodically ask, "Why am I doing this?"  "Is this how I want to be spending my time right now?"  "Is there something I'm avoiding?"

When you get distracted, just label it.  Say, "That's a distraction.  I don't have to follow it."

We  need to take breaks from work, but we can get sucked into the breaks.  It did not really work for him to set time limits or alarms.  That does not work for me either.  Instead, mindfulness is more helpful to him.

When he finds himself thinking, "I'll do that later," that's a signal to consider whether to do it now.  If it's something quick, it may be quicker to do it than to put it on the to do list.

Another red flag is, "I have plenty of time."  That's a signal to remember that if he stays focus he has enough time to do what he needs to do, but if he does something else, he won't have enough time.

It's helpful to choose one thing to focus on.  He is learning to play guitar, and he has online lessons, lessons on a DVD, and books.  What he needs to do is make a list of all these approaches to learning to play guitar, and then pick just one of them to focus on.

That's how I am with reading nonfiction.  I have more than a dozen partially read nonfiction books.  If I could stick with one, I could finish it.  And the same with projects.  I think I want to volunteer at the food pantry.  Then I want to get a job in institutional research.  Then I want to learn to play harp.  Then I want to get a job as a registrar.  Then I want to move to another town.  Then I want to stay here and get more involved in the community. 

Don't think of all the things on your list.  Pick one thing to do first?  What do you have to do? A lot.  No.  Right now you just have to do one thing.

One of his slogans is "Do it now, do it right, do the hard part first."

Regarding do it right, his instinct is to cut corners, and I have that too.  People with ADHD, including me, often have a tendency to walk away from a tasks when it's almost done, rather than when it's done.  Regarding doing it right, he says there's a saying, "If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?"

Another slogan he uses is "Fearless."  When he is trying to decide what to do, he says that to remind himself not to let fear hold him back.

Don't say "I have to" or "I should."  Say "I need to" or "It would be good if I."  When looking at the past, instead of saying, "I should have," say, "Next time I will."

Make games and challenges for yourself.  Reframe your tasks.  If you are raking leaves, pretend you are in a leaf raking competition.  Or rake leaves with headphones on and see it as an opportunity to listen to music.  If you get home from work wanting to relax and find your wife wants you to deal with the problems of the four kids, pretend that you need extra money so you took a second job at a residential treatment facility.

Feeling overwhelmed is a state of mind, not a  reflection of reality.  When you feel overwhelmed, it's time to get organized.  Make lists.  Break things into steps.  Decide what is the one thing you need to focus on now.  Focus on that and forget the rest.

When we feel stressed, we tend to skip the things that ease stress.  We skip sleep, prayer, etc.  Don't do that.

In the chapter on studying and learning, he says, "just because you bought a book doesn't mean you know the material in it," and "I tend to scatter myself out and go in many different directions at once.  And thus I often don't get anywhere at all."  So, when he want to learn something, he focuses on one thing, and keeps on it, he strives to "overlearn it.'

Sometimes you get stuck.  The task before you is too big so you don't start it.  But that's the thing you should be working on, so you don't start any other task either.  When this happens, choose the smallest, easiest thing to do, and break it into small steps until you find something small enough to do.  Can't clean the kitchen? Maybe you can wash the dishes.  Can't wash dishes?  Maybe you can was one fork.  Can't wash one fork? Maybe you can get out the dishwashing soap.  Once you do one thing, give yourself positive self-talk for doing.  Continue the cycle -- do another small thing, and give yourself positive self-talk.

Sometimes your brain freezes due to anxiety.  Get out of it by taking a break.

Take breaks to address short attention span.  You'll get more work done in a two hour block if you take a 10  minute break in the middle than if you try to work straight through.

Sometimes we get irritable.  If this happens, step back.  Observe that you are irritable.  Take a breath, say a prayer, wonder how it looks from the other person's side.

He mentions parenthetically when talking about his friend Tom, "when we find something that helps us, we quit doing it."  I do find I don't stick with things.  Though it's not necessarily things that help me.  If I'm on a medication or  taking a supplement, I like to stop and start just to check it is having in impact.  But when I've done that and seen that it has an impact, I do stick with it.  I once mentioned to someone that when I'm feeling healthy, I experiment with quitting some of my supplements.  She seemed to think that was foolish.  But I have actually found that some of my supplements were not actually helping me.  And they can cost a lot of money.

Use memory aids, such as mnemonics and anchors.   An anchor is when you connect something you want to remember with something that is a part of your routine.  He has exercises that can be done while driving.  Whenever he gets on a certain street, that's his cue to do the exercises.  When he stirs his coffee, he thinks of  Jesus.  When he goes to the bathroom, he says the prayer of St. Francis.

He carries a card with him with principles he wants to remember, and reviews the card regularly, like when he's waiting in line.  Principles are things like, "What are you avoiding?" "Is this the best use of my time?" and "Focus on one thing/overlearn."

Sometimes we establish good habits, like looking at the card with the principles, and then we stop doing it.  We forget.

We don't do things.  We forget.  We procrastinate.  We avoid.  But then when we do things, we over do them.

He writes, "When we do something, we don't do it half way -- well, that isn't true.  We often do it half way, because we know it isn't going to turn out anyway and because we have trouble finishing.  So we do a lot of things half way.  What I  meant to say is that we don't get into things half way.  When we get into them, and our focus center is turned on, we really get into them." 

That resonates with me.  He goes on to talk about buying lots of stuff for a new hobby, and then dropping the hobby.  That's true for me.  Not always all the buying, but getting interested in something, and imagining how I'm going to practice every day and get really good at it, and then not practicing.

In most of the book, he describes strategies for living with ADHD.  Near the end he says, "most of these strategies involve some willpower," and "willpower is something we have in short supply."

Some study tips he suggests are
  • Start by reading "kindergarten" book on the topic, like for Dummies, to get an overview of the topics.  When reading a chapter, skim it first and read the summary if there is one.  Before going to a lecture, skim some material on the topic of the lecture.
  • Try to outguess the teacher and figure out what questions will be on the test.
  • Imagine that it's a big deal, like the final test before you become an astronaut.
  • Overlearn the material.
  • After each page, close the book and write a few notes about what the page said.  Also do the same for bigger chunks, like a few pages or a chapter. If you can't do it, go back and review and try again.  When your mind is free, like when you are waiting in line, review in your head.
  • Learn the material from today, and re-learn the material from three days ago and the material from ten days ago.  If you don't review the old material, you will forget it.
I haven't followed a particular study method, but I do something similar.  I write things down, and I see whether I can call them up in my head.  I've made flash cards.

His advice for meditation: "The main thing with meditation is not to become too frustrated with it. You're probably  not going to be very good at it.  Just do what you can and you'll find it helpful."

In many areas, I do what I can and don't mind that I'm not good at it, such as tai chi and dance.  However, I mind when other people become impatient with me.  But I think I do get frustrated easily in the area of repair, like house stuff and car stuff.  That's different though.  I can dance and look like a klutz but I'm still dancing.  But if I try to change the windshield wipers but I can't get them off, then I haven't changed the windshield wipers.

So, the key points from the book that I want to follow are:
  1. Decide what you're going to do and stick to it every time.  Establish a habit.
  2. Mindfulness.  What am I doing? What do I want to be doing? What am I avoiding? That's a distraction. I don't have to follow it.
  3. Keeping a collection of lists -- the master list of everything, the short list of what to focus on now, and everything in between. 
  4. Keep a list of principles, and check it regularly.
  5. Sleep, exercise, and meditate.
  6. Break things into small steps. 
  7. Look for red flags, like "I'll do that later," and "I can make an exception this time."
And the above list will be my list of principles.  And another principle may be to periodically check my notes from reading ADHD books.  He says just because you've bought a book doesn't mean you know the material.  And for me, just because I've written notes about a book doesn't mean that notes are going to stay in my head.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

ADHD meme

From the Facebook page ADHD - Tales of an Absent-Minded Superhero:

ADHD is not a learned behavior
ADHD is not a discipline problem
ADHD is not a spoiled child
ADHD is not a temper tantrum
ADHD is not a choice
ADHD is not the easy way out
ADHD is not a willpower issue
ADHD is not an inability to control oneself

ADHD is a medical condition
ADHD is a chemical imbalance
ADHD is a big deal to those who suffer with it
ADHD is a a fight to fit in
ADHD is a struggle to develop relationships
ADHD is a battle to maintain self confidence
ADHD is a deathmatch between brain and body
ADHD is a Real Thing

Please educate before you conversate

That's why I hate it when people tell others just to get it together.  It's not that easy.  When you tell people what to do, you're not helping them to do it. What you are doing is eroding their self confidence.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Look out for pedestrians

Drivers with a green light
Making a turn
Pedestrians crossing the street the drivers want to turn onto

Drivers, don't drive in my city
Unless you understand
These pedestrians have a green light too.