Your ADHD Valentine in Love and Relationships

ADHD Strategies    February 1, 2018

Ahh Valentine’s Day. A whole day traditionally devoted to celebrating love. And as it is quickly approaching, my thoughts turn to relationships, all sorts of different ADHD relationships, and how ADHD can be a test for even the strongest connections.

When I work with adults, often the focus of our coaching sessions turns to a request for the best ways to handle conflicts with partners. I often hear these concerns:

“I’m tired of always being late. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get there on time. I feel awful and he gets so disappointed and angry with me.”

“We got into a huge fight last night. She says I don’t listen to her and zone out in conversations. It’s not that I don’t care, but the problem is – she’s right.”

“I can’t believe I did it again. I missed our anniversary. I had it on my calendar, even left myself a note, but I completely spaced out about the date again.”

When one half of a relationship has ADHD, small adjustments in communication and expectations can make a world of difference. Here are some strategies and tools to try so your Valentine’s Day and everyday is harmonious and loving:

1. Post it, post it, post it. Lists can be a valuable time and relationship saver. You can use the basic post it note, sync your phones so they share messages and reminders or use dry erase paint on the kitchen wall – just make sure the list and reminders are in a prominent place so they can be seen and updated often.

Side notes– For non-ADHDers – Stay calm and caring if you verbally cue your partner to do something.  ADHDers – remember, reminders are not meant to be nagging nor judgmental. They are merely attempts to help keep everyone on track and aware of what needs to be done.

2. Be clear and concrete in your communication. Don’t just say you are going to work late. Try to set a time range that you plan to leave the office. Then set your watch to go off ten minutes before that time so you can wrap things up or call to say you will be later than expected. It may save many dinners from being cold or tossed in the trash with an angry hungry spouse waiting for you.

Side note – for non-ADHDers, ask for clarification. If your partner says they will come by after work, ask what that means…right after they get out at five, after they go home and change, sometime around dinner, etc. That way you both clear on the expectations.

3. Schedule planning meetings. Whether you connect in the morning to review the day’s events or sit down on Sundays to map out the week, make sure you review the list and calendar together, updating what needs to be done and cross checking any scheduling conflicts.

4. Before you launch into emotional discussions, ask if the other person is available to listen. This ‘availability’ means that the other person is in a place to focus and attend to what is being said. Limit other distractions and keep the conversation short and to the point. Ask the listener to repeat what he/she heard to determine if what was heard and absorbed is correct.

5. Know each other’s love language. Each one of us has a way we show and experience love. If your spouse feels love through your helping around the house, then start a conscious practice to finish that to do list. Or if they feel connected to you when you spend quality time together, schedule dates and attention. If feeling appreciated means giving your Valentine a thoughtful gift, be sure to keep a stash of paper and bows for those occasions. Your conflicts may not even be ADHD related, but merely misunderstanding of how you express and feel loved.

Each of these tips can be applied to any ADHD relationship to increase connection and reduce misunderstanding, whether that is professional, personal, parental or romantic.

I wish you all a wonderful, loved filled ADHD Valentine’s Day!

Fun Ways to Get Organized with ADHD

ADHD Strategies    January 1, 2018

In a world where chaos is the natural order of the universe, being or getting organized can seem like a destination we will never quite reach.

But what if rather than a destination, we can consider organization as a process.  What if instead we saw organization as a way for us to enjoy our lives more fully, by keeping all the things and stuff in our world in some sense of order?  And what if rather than wanting to give up and give into the mess, organization could actually be fun?

I’m convinced it’s possible and in this article I’m going to share with you some of my favorite ways to stay organized, while still having fun!

Invest in an Amazing Planner

Not just any ol’ calendar or spiral notebook — I’m talking about getting yourself a heavy duty “master planner” here.  What’s a “master planner”?  It’s that one place where you keep track of everything in your life.  Sometimes it’s necessary to have separate planners for work or home, but the concept of a “master planner” means that one of them contains all the details of your life.

Currently, my master planner is the “Time & To Do” planner by a “teacherpreneur” who created it after trying to juggle her teaching schedule, instructional coaching, and personal life.  I have so much respect for teachers and like the rest of us, the creator of this planner struggled with too much to do and not enough time.  What I love about this planner is that it helps me organize everything in my head into an “external memory system” so I can see it written out and reference it later.  I can see my schedule, priorities, and to-do’s all at the same time.  There is even a digital version for those of you who prefer using your electronic devices to help stay organized. Check it out at: http://timeandtodoplanner.com/shop/.

Get Your Friends Involved  

Partnering up with a friend or co-worker to sort through your things together is one of the best ways to combine organization and fun.  Set a date and take turns trading off helping each other sort, declutter and organize.  This approach works really well for both your home and/or work place.

It helps beforehand to identify one or two areas you want to focus on so you aren’t tempted to get off track.  I also find it useful to be clear about what I or the other person wants to achieve. Sometimes the goal is to simply arrange and organize; for someone else, it is to sort, toss, and donate.  Having designated toss out or donate containers nearby helps to gather the items quickly and working together gives you another set of muscles to move the containers out of the space quickly.

Also, I find it helpful to agree that if an item has a designated spot it goes back to that place.  If a place isn’t available, it goes into the donate or toss box.  And don’t forget, part of the satisfaction of this organization experience is when you actually drop those donated items off at your local charity!

Update Your Supplies

I love this step, and the start of a new year is always a great time (and excuse) to go shopping and update your organizing supplies.  Let’s face it, a new pen, planner, folder, highlighter and sticky note pack makes the task of organizing more fun!

This is the time to invest in and update tools like folders, hole punches, planners, pens, pencils, paper clips, etc., that you really like.  I am a little obsessed with the products by Mara-Mi.  The products are high quality and the artistic detail in their designs is really beautiful and seriously fun.  And with a tag line of “be playful,” their products are a go-to for me when I’m in need of a bit of inspiration to tackle those paperwork tasks.  You can check out all their products at: https://www.mara-mi.com/.

Whether you need folders to keep track of all of your papers and receipts, or new bins to put all of your magazines in, new supplies will help you get off to a great start.

Purge Your Inbox

The New Year is a great time to gain back control of your inbox.  There is something so empowering about being able to stop unwanted emails from popping up in your inbox.  If you are like me, the number of these unwanted emails slowly creep up over the year until the point where I start missing the important emails I want to read.

Recently I realized I was spending about 10 minutes each morning deleting these unwanted emails from my inbox. 10 minutes a day may not seem like much, but when I added up the time this took each week and the lasting frustration they cause, I knew I had to get things back in control.

The first thing you might try when organizing your inbox is to simply locate the “unsubscribe” link next to the subject line or at the bottom of the emails you don’t want.  If you can’t find the link to unsubscribe another option is to go into your email settings and create a “rule” so future emails from that address can be redirected or deleted before ending up in your inbox.  Also, a one stop website like Unroll.Me can make the process of unsubscribing pain-free!

Update Your Electronics

Technology and I are at times best friends and at other times…worst enemies.  When things are good they are very good…and when they are not…I resort to avoidance.  In fact I’m a bit embarrassed to say how many iPhone updates I was behind before I realized I didn’t need a new iPhone…I just needed to update the available software.  However, updating the software is just a start to getting your electronics organized.

Another step to is to get rid of contacts and apps you haven’t used in years, along with old text messages, photos, and videos that are using up all of your valuable storage.  This is also a great time of year to replace any cords, chargers, headsets or ear buds that are needed.  Even if you have a love-hate relationship with technology, taking the time to organize and making sure it works for you might make all the difference.

For me, realizing that organization is a process and not a destination has helped me incorporate ways to make organizing just a bit more fun.

What are some of the ways you have added “fun” into your organizing?  I’d love to hear from you.  Simply add your comment below and I will get back to you.

Fondly,

Laurie

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The Feelings of ADHD – Part 1

ADHD Awareness, ADHD in Children, Adults with ADHD    December 2, 2017

Recently on one of my social media sites, I asked my followers to describe what ADHD feels like for them.  The responses provided an interesting insight into what living with ADHD feels like.

Why ask people what living ADHD feels like for them?

Well, even though an increasing amount of research is being done on ADHD, the vast majority still focuses on issues related to diagnosis, treatment, and the observable behavior of people living with ADHD.  As a result, there is relatively little appreciation and understanding about other important aspects.  Specifically, the experience of what it feels like being diagnosed with and living with ADHD.

In this first of three blog posts on “The Feelings of ADHD,” we start with what it “feels” like living with ADHD…the ups and downs and in-betweens.  And who’s better to explain than those living with ADHD…people just like you.

Here are some of the responses I received to the question – “What does ADHD feel like to you?”

“ADHD feels like an invisible barrier to my life.  It prevents me from being or doing the things that I want and because you can’t see it, other people don’t have a clue how hard I really try.”

“ADHD feels overwhelming and confusing like ten thousand things are yammering for attention and all of them are equally important.”

“ADHD feels like I have islands of thoughts all disconnected…it makes me anxious and exhausted trying to make sense of them all.”

“Like I’m not smart enough…like people are eating cotton-candy in my brain.”

“At times, ADHD feels exciting and creative, like when I put things together and see the common pattern. And also frustrating that I can’t put that into action and benefit from all that creative genius.”

“My ADHD feels like I am out of control of my brain and my life…I don’t like it because I get too excited and do things I’m not supposed to, then I feel bad, guilty and ashamed.”

“Sometimes it’s fun because it keeps me going and staying active; even though I’m tired.”

“When I was diagnosed with ADHD at first it was a huge relief finally knowing what the missing piece had been all these years.  Later I realized that being diagnosed is just the first step, not the solution.  I have gone from feeling angry and blaming myself, people in my life and the ADHD to being very sad, wondering if things will ever change.  Through it all, there is part of me that somehow keeps going.”

“It’s a heavy veil you can’t shake off; a heavy secret you feel you need to hide. You have to work harder for everything, but you don’t know why — it’s frustrating and gets really exhausting.”

“When it’s good, it’s very very good. When it’s not, it’s awful.”

“Like I am on one side of glass and can’t get to the other side.  I know what I want to do, I can see it, but I can’t break through.”

“It’s lonely… you can’t talk to anyone about it, and you get really tired of hearing, “Why don’t you listen?” and “You’re not trying hard enough,” when you’ve been trying really hard to begin with.”

“ADHD feels like always experiencing failure and failure; until you realize you are playing a different game that you can win, IF you play it differently according to your own rules.”

“When my symptoms are well managed, I love having ADHD and see it as my super power.”

“I feel incredibly anxious, often self-conscious and it’s like I have no control over myself and my symptoms.  My brain feels very cluttered; like I have heavy mental fog and chaos.  It is incredibly difficult to sustain focus for very long.  I also feel very frustrated with myself because no matter how hard I try at achieving a goal, my symptoms interfere, which then makes me feel like a failure.  As a result, I retreat and only see myself as having many problems with no solutions.  It’s very discouraging”.

“ADHD makes it hard for me to communicate with people like I want.  For instance, when trying to express my thoughts or feelings, my goal is to communicate assertively.  But instead, it comes out sounding more aggressive. This is frustrating because I am not an aggressive person, I am a patient, understanding and empathetic person, but these qualities are hiding behind the ADHD symptoms which people can’t see.”

“Living for nearly 60 years with undiagnosed ADHD has taken its toll.  Throughout the years it’s like I have collected and still carry all the moments of failure and it keeps dragging me down and holding me back.”

“I don’t feel heard or understood by my doctor.  She gives the impression that she knows my ADHD better than I know it myself.  Therefore, everyday feels like a struggle or
a battle, and I feel very, very, very TIRED. More than tired; exhausted. I feel incredibly anguished from this combination of emotions and thoughts.  Despite all of these difficulties, I acknowledge that there is still hope, it just feels far away.”

“Sometimes I just need to unleash on ADHD.  Sometimes it is simply too much to bear. Sometimes I allow myself to sink into anger and self-pity.”

As you can see, living with ADHD encompasses a whole spectrum of feelings. Feelings like…relief, struggle, frustration, exhaustion, anger, sadness, hope and many more.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these comments?  What does living with ADHD feel like for you?

I’d like to know and invite you to share your thoughts in the comment box following this post.

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