Stop Missing Appointments!

ADHD Strategies, Adults with ADHD, Time Optimist    August 30, 2019

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Recently I’ve noticed an increase in my dentist’s efforts to remind me of appointments.

In the good old days, I would get a postcard two weeks before an appointment reminding me of the day and time. This was helpful because most of those appointments are made six months in advance.

And then before I knew it, reminder phone calls replaced the postcards which started showing up in my mailbox about two weeks before the appointment. 

Fine by me!

Then the reminder phone calls were joined by several reminder email messages a few days before the appointment – and even a text message asking me to hit reply to confirm that I will be there.

I have a business myself that struggles to find ways to remind clients of appointments, so I can appreciate and respect these reminders.

In fact, I kind of admire the persistence.

But this got me thinking. 

Thinking about all the other polite, conscientious people out there in the world who would never purposefully miss an appointment (AKA most people I know with ADHD).

The people who do their best to remember every appointment they make…only to read a text or pick up a ringing phone the day of the appointment to hear that they were an hour late to their dental cleaning.

Are you one of those people? Constantly late or missing appointments?

If you are, and if you find you are starting to feel nervous to show your face at your dentist or doctor’s office in case you might have been put on their “naughty list”, I’ve got you covered.

A Guide to Keeping Your Appointments with ADHD

Keeping appointments is more than just putting it on the calendar or entering it on your iPhone. Remembering the appointment involves a multi-step system. A system that could fail at any point. Which is why I have broken it down into three steps that include a few tips and tricks to help you make, remember and actually show up 

1. Record the appointment in your planning system

Get in the habit of recording your appointments when you schedule them. 

Many people with ADHD make the appointment, but don’t record it anywhere except their memory. And unfortunately, we all know how that goes.

Not writing it down or thinking you are going to remember it just opens up the door for disaster. In fact, when you don’t record an appointment, it lowers the chances of actually getting to it by about 25 percent!

It is really this missed step that undermines most people’s chances of ever getting to the appointment. You may have the sincerest intentions to write it in your planner later, but be honest: most of us say we will write it down, but we procrastinate and don’t (and if you tend to procrastinate, check out my post here where I write about overcoming procrastination).

Here are some ideas for ways to record the appointment:

  • Write it in your planner
  • Type it into your smartphone
  • Write it on your calendar
  • Create a text and send it to yourself
  • Set a date and time reminder on your phone
  • Take a picture of the appointment card and send it to yourself
  • Ask for a reminder call

If you made and recorded the appointment, congratulations! 

You now have about a 50/50 chance of showing up on the right day and time. Those are better odds than before. 🙂

But, you haven’t reached the appointment yet. Which leads us to step #2…

2. Set a reminder for the day of the appointment.

Set a reminder (preferably several) for the day and time of the appointment as soon as you get it.

Go ahead and add alarms and timers on your phone or watch. Set them a week before, the day before and one hour before the actual appointment. Even better try using a unique alarm sound only for appointment reminding purposes. And if you want to increase your chances of making the appointment to 75 percent, use the vibration alarm. You’ll thank me later!

So far, you’ve made the appointment. You recorded it. You set alarms to remind yourself.

But there’s one final step – perhaps the most crucial one.

Getting there on time.

3. Know how long it will take you to get there.

When I coach my adult clients, I always tell them preparation is the key to success. So when you are trying to get to an appointment on time, be sure to prepare for it by knowing how long it will actually take you to get there. Considering the time awareness challenges so many people with ADHD have, guessing about this is not a good idea.  

Be sure to factor in the time it will take to get out of the house, possible traffic, parking delays, and even slow elevators.

When you’ve figured out how long it will take, multiple it times two.

Yes, times two.

Even with all that factoring in, it is common to still underestimate how long it will take to get somewhere. Multiplying times two allows for those pesky delays. The idea of making and keeping appointments may seem to be a trivial matter to most, but for someone with ADHD, it can be a real problem. 

Good news is that this is a problem that can be solved – as long as you put a few habits, systems and steps into place. 

What are some of your experiences or best ways to make and keep appointments?  I love reading your comments! Let me know below.

Laurie Dupar, Senior Certified ADHD Coach and trained Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, specializes in working with clients who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and want to finally understand how their brain works, minimize their challenges and get things done! Through individual/group coaching, live speaking, and her writing, she helps clients and their loved ones use effective strategies to minimize their ADHD challenges so they can experience success. She is the co-author and editor of 365+1 Ways to Succeed with ADHD and author of Brain Surfing and 31 Other Awesome Qualities of ADHD. For more information, please visit https://www.coachingforadhd.com

This article was originally published on March 30, 2015 and has been updated.

Want to learn more about using your ADHD to your advantage? Check out my most popular blogs below! And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog

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Did You Know that Having ADHD is Like Having Super Powers?

ADHD Awareness, Adults with ADHD, Entrepreneurs    August 11, 2019

ADHD super powersSummertime is in full swing. The kids are enjoying outdoor activities, patio umbrellas are open, and BBQs are grilling.

And inside, theatres are showcasing movie blockbusters including my favorite…superhero action flicks. 

Life is good.

Your ADHD Is Your Secret Superpower

Raising four kids of my own, I have watched my fair share of superhero movies. From Star Wars to Spiderman – Aquagirl to Wonder Woman…call me a superhero guru!

And whether you know it or not, if you have ADHD you’re actually a lot like those superheroes. Behind the masks, capes and action sequences, those heroes or heroines are actually someone amazing.

They’re Really ADHD Adults in Disguise. 

Take Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, for example. If you’ve seen any of the Iron Man movies, you have probably been entertained by Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the popular comic book superhero.

He is the epitome of an adult with ADHD.

Think about it: his resourcefulness, his out-of-the-box thinking, his spontaneity, and little bit of craziness, has kept him alive.

It has helped him create a power source that keeps his heart functioning. Using his own ingenuity, he saw a need for a new technology, and had the passion and vision to develop it. In fact, he built the power source from spare parts and broken weapons. 

Talk about building something amazing from nothing! Definitely the ingenuity of an ADHD brain.

And he struggles with focus and mental restlessness – like any other adult with ADHD. 

Iron Man, ADHD and Entrepreneurs

Here’s a little known fact about people with ADHD.

They are 300 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs.

So it’s no surprise that Tony possesses an ‘entrepreneurial brain style. He takes risks, bounces back quickly, and sees failure as a stepping stone to success.

Remember: your brain works differently than other people’s neurotypical brains. You just have to know its strengths and use them to your advantage. That and avoid common mistakes that can set you back. (Learn about the 9 mistakes people with an ADHD brain make here).

Achieving Your Goals Through Your ADHD Symptoms

Active. Adventurous. Complete disregard for his physical limitations (or, in Tony’s case, his Iron Man suit’s power limits). Chasing fun and excitement which often gets him in trouble. Known for locking himself in his lab for days on end until he finds an answer to his latest challenge (uh….hyperfocus?). 

Sound familiar?

These are all symptoms of ADHD.

Now think about Tony without all these characteristics.  

Who would he be without being able to ‘brain surf’ or jump from one thought to another? Who would he be without his spontaneous behavior, his ability to live in the moment? Without his incredible ability to hyper-focus on the task at hand? Without his ability to express himself with his charming nonstop commentary. (Here are some tips on how to express your amazing ADHD self).

Would you have enjoyed the movie or found Tony Stark quite so interesting if he was quiet and shy, lacked curiosity or if he meticulously thought about the consequences before he jumped off buildings?

Do you think he would have been able to achieve all his goals?

Without these gifts, Tony Stark probably would not have reached superhero status.

ADHD can be like that.

Like Tony Stark, ADHD can make someone larger than life and incredibly exciting to be around.

It’s unfortunate that ADHD symptoms are so often seen as debilitating. In fact, they can be the complete opposite if you know how to use them.

They’re not challenges. They’re superpowers.

If you could take one of your ADHD challenges and use it as a superpower, what would it be?

Let me know by commenting below!

Laurie Dupar, Senior Certified ADHD Coach and trained Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, specializes in working with clients who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and want to finally understand how their brain works, minimize their challenges and get things done! Through individual/group coaching, live speaking, and her writing, she helps clients and their loved ones use effective strategies to minimize their ADHD challenges so they can experience success. She is the co-author and editor of 365+1 Ways to Succeed with ADHD and author of Brain Surfing and 31 Other Awesome Qualities of ADHD. For more information, please visit https://www.coachingforadhd.com

This article was originally published on June 11, 2013 and has been updated.

Want to learn more about using your ADHD to your advantage? Check out my most popular blogs below! And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog

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Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD) and ADHD: How To Get Rid of Those Negative Thoughts

ADHD Treatments & Medications    August 1, 2019

RSD ADHDWhat is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria?

Rejection sensitive dysphoria or RSD is a neurologic and genetic condition very common to persons with ADHD. Those who have RSD experience extreme emotional sensitivity and emotional pain. These feeling can be triggered by the perception — not necessarily the reality — that they have been rejected, teased, failed, disrespected, or criticized by people in their life.

For people with RSD, these emotional experiences are much more intense and last longer than for neurotypical individuals. The emotional pain can hit suddenly and last for days. The dysphoria completely overwhelms their thinking, feelings, and senses. Often, it is hard for people to describe their feelings of pain. They say it’s intense, awful, terrible, overwhelming. The feelings are unbearable and highly impairing. And even though many who experience RSD say they are aware of the extreme nature of their emotional reaction, it can be nearly impossible to stop the negative emotional downward spiral. To others, RSD can look like depression, or a mood disorder complete with suicidal ideation.

In order to avoid this huge emotional pain, two things tend to happen. First, people with RSD might become people pleasers or perfectionists. The hope is that by pleasing others, they won’t suffer the feelings of rejection. Secondly, they may stop trying altogether. The possibility of failing or not meeting someone else’s expectations is just too risky. For instance, people with RSD might not apply for job advancements, meet new people, or challenge themselves with higher learning.

So what can someone with ADHD do if they are experiencing an RSD response?

Following are some behavioral and medical suggestions that may help to minimize the spiral of pain and negativity.

Don’t try and repress the feelings. It may seem logical that to get rid of negative thoughts we must suppress or push the thought out of our minds. Unfortunately, many studies have shown that doesn’t work. Trying to push thoughts out of our mind only makes them come back stronger. It’s like trying to forget about that last piece of chocolate cake sitting untouched on the kitchen counter!

Try distracting yourself. A natural tendency is also to try and distract yourself, think about something else, leaving you in peace. This can help at times, however the key is to focus on one thing rather than letting your mind wander. Apparently for the human brain, mindless wandering is associated with unhappiness. So it’s better to focus on something specific, like lyrics to a song, a game or completing a task or project.

Don’t add more stress. Another way to avoid negative persistent thoughts is to create stress in other areas of our lives. The hope is that this will leave little mental energy for the thoughts that are troubling us. Unfortunately, when tested scientifically, this turns out to be a bad approach. In fact, for whatever reason, stress makes unwanted thoughts come back stronger. So remember when you are experiencing RSD don’t make matters worse by adding more stress to your life.

Postpone the feeling until later. Even though trying to suppress a negative thought makes it come back stronger, postponing it and thinking about it later can work. For instance, postponing the negative emotion or thought and then designating 15-30 minutes as “RSD time” might work. Allowing time for all the bad feelings may ease your mind for the rest of the time.

Do the opposite of what makes sense. What if, instead of trying to get rid of the emotional RSD feeling, you actually concentrated on it? Some research suggests this can work. This is based on the same principle as “exposure therapy.” Where, for example, someone who is afraid of spiders is slowly exposed to spiders, until the fear begins to fade. This may not be for the faint-hearted, but research suggests it can be useful to get rid of negative and obsessive thoughts.

Accept the feelings. Along similar lines, trying to accept unwanted thoughts and emotions rather than doing battle with them can be beneficial. Struggling with emotions is like struggling in quicksand. Instead, try allowing the thoughts and emotions to come and pass by without feeling like you need to make them go away.

Be mindful. With mindfulness you don’t judge your thoughts. Instead let them come and go as they will, then nudge your attention back to feeling at peace. The key is to be curious and notice in a detached way what’s happening in your mind but not get involved with it. Please note that this way of thinking doesn’t come naturally but can improve with practice.

Try remembering the positive. In the midst of the negative emotional RSD spiral it can seem as though the last thing possible is to remember your positive traits. However, considering the alternative, remembering our strengths may be worth a try. And if you are having trouble remembering these nuggets, try asking someone you trust to remind you.

Write it out. Rather than telling yourself to simply snap out of it, try expressive writing. Writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings does seem to have health and psychological benefits. Expressing yourself through writing may help to get rid of negative thoughts and help you move through the emotional pain.

Use your creativity. Writing is only one way to express yourself. If you have a creative talent, and many persons with ADHD do, try tapping into this resource. Use your creativity to express yourself and the emotional overwhelm in this way.

Boost your dopamine naturally. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps us do things. It’s the main reason why we can or can’t focus when we have ADHD. It’s something your brain naturally produces. And, aside from being the ultimate motivator, dopamine has other fringe benefits such as:

  • Helping you lose weight
  • Making you feel more alive
  • Improving your memory
  • Stopping self-destructive behavior including certain addictions
  • Counteracting depression
  • Letting you resist impulsive behavior

Medication management of ADHD aims at increasing the availability of dopamine in our brains. However, there are ways to boost dopamine naturally that might be helpful in reducing the RSD experience. Briefly these include:

  • Sun
  • Human contact
  • Pet therapy
  • Sleep
  • Music you enjoy
  • Dancing
  • Caffeine
  • Taking a cold show
  • Walking
  • Eating foods that support the production of dopamine such as: meats, nuts, fruits, avocados, butter, broccoli, salmon, dark chocolate, blueberries, eggs, and almonds.

Medication. Currently there are two possible medication options for RSD. One is already used in the treatment of ADHD. It is guanfacine, or clonidine. Although not everyone experiences relief from their RSD on this medication, a large majority say it helps.

The second medication is one not typically used in the treatment of ADHD. The class of medications is called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Taking an MAOIs requires strict dietary restrictions and may include side effects such as sedation, confusion and agitation.

NOTE: Always consult your prescriber about adding or changing medication for the treatment of any ADHD or related conditions.

RSD is a debilitating condition common to persons with ADHD. Appreciating this, even if some of the above strategies may not completely prevent the experience, when combined with appropriate medical intervention, they just might provide a much welcome relief for many.