Yes, you read it correctly.  I have entered the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which means that I will be TRYING to post to my blog every single day for the month of July!  All of my posts won’t likely be as long as the ones so far, which may be seen as a good thing by some.  

Also, watch for a new addition to my blog called “Living To the Beat of A Different Drum,” which will be featuring snippets of music and a quick video of how that song relates to ADD/ADHD in my mind.  Of course, this is totally my opinion.  It may give some a different view of ADD/ADHD, and it will certainly be fun!

I’d love your support as I tackle this challenge!  Please feel free to share my posts on Facebook, Twitter, or any other Social Media site.  Thanks for reading and sharing!

Take care of you.

Tina

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Have you ever been so involved in something that you completely lost track of time even to the extent of missing appointments or forgetting to eat?  This is one example of hyperfocus in action. 

As you can see from the given example, there are some good and bad results with hyperfocus.  We must try to learn how to use hyperfocus to our advantage rather than letting it control us.  Some can do this own their own while others may need the help of a Coach to get on track.  Regardless of the approach, controlling hyperfocus is certainly something that is possible.

When you have a task that is to be done within a certain timeframe, it can be very beneficial to be able to hyperfocus.  You are able to focus completely on the project at hand without having many distractions.  You find that your mind is completely taken with the task you are tackling even though you may not realize it until you are done. 

It is very easy to lose track of time when hyperfocus is involved.  Thus, it is important to use strategies to keep yourself on track as to the time if a deadline must be met or if you simply need to remember to eat or go to sleep before you complete this task.  One thing I find tough about stopping a task when I am hyperfocused on it is getting back into the project.  It is very important to leave the project with an obvious parting point so that you can easily return to the project and begin again.

Hyperfocus can be of great help in one’s job, school, or with any projects that require time and concentration to complete.  When purposefully using hyperfocus, it is important to have a comfortable environment, which can be different for each person.  One person may need music or other noise to help him or her concentrate.  Another may need total silence while working.  The workspace may need to be at a desk or sitting in the floor.  Many factors can come into play when considering the best environment for a person’s ability to hyperfocus.

On the flip side, hyperfocus can work against us.  For example, when we get involved in something on the Internet that is merely of interest to us, we can easily get lost in the information, which is a form of hyperfocusing.  This is when loosing track of time is paramount.  Many will miss phone calls or appointments or lose sleep due to the time they spend on-line.  Once I was reading comments related to an article after doing some research on-line.  The comments went on and on, yet they were entertaining to me.  Before I realized it, I had been on-line for at least three hours, and it was around 2:30 AM!  The time passed very quickly, and I had lost sleep that I knew I would miss the next day.

There are certainly ways to control hyperfocus when it works against us.  The use of timers or alarms can help IF you are aware enough of the possibility of getting lost in a project to remember to set the timer.  There are other ways to help one stay on track with his or her schedule when hyperfocus is possible; however, these often differ from person to person.

As you can see, hyperfocus can be your friend as well as being your enemy depending on the circumstances or situation.  It is important to learn about you as to when or under what conditions hyperfocus usually hits.  Once this is somewhat understood, you can begin using hyperfocus to your benefit rather than finding its use being to your peril. 

Do you have things that tend to grab your attention in ways described above?  Are you able to control hyperfocus when it occurs?  I would love to hear your comments!

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What is self-care?  Webster merely defines self-care as “care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.”  For many years, I defined self-care as a selfish act.  That’s it.  No further thought about a true meaning.  Just a selfish act.  Interesting, huh? 

I believe that this point of view about self-care comes from my people-pleasing personality.  I have always thought that I was supposed to put others before myself.  I still believe this; however, putting others first does not mean putting yourself in jeopardy.  Once I realized that I was exhausting every ounce of my energy on others while I was slowly yet literally wearing out, I had to learn that self-care is NOT a selfish act.  I actually had to discover its true meaning.  Another important fact is that I did not just realize this on my own.  When I encountered health issues that caused me to take leave from my corporate job, I actually learned about self-care.

Many of us with ADD/ADHD find ourselves trying to people-please.  I believe the reason for this can be attributed to several things.  One cause can be our lack of self-confidence.  We tend to people-please so that others accept us.  We want others to think of us in the highest regard.  This is very dangerous for those of us with ADD/ADHD because often when we people-please, these acts become expected as the norm from us.  Thus, we are put under even more pressure (usually by ourselves) to go beyond the “norm” that is now expected.  We are constantly pushing ourselves beyond the limits most people would never dare approach.  However, if we can experience just a taste of acceptance by others, we will continue with all of our might.  It can become a vicious cycle.

Another cause of people-pleasing can be that over time, we were not told that we were good enough much less ever complimented on our efforts.  We constantly feel that we have to prove ourselves to others when it is not necessary at all.  When one with ADD/ADHD is raised in an environment that is not nurturing to him or her or that never offers encouragement, one grows up feeling as if he or she is lacking in some way.  This can lead to the constant effort for approval and praise for one’s work.  In today’s society, it is more common to point out where things are wrong versus where progress occurs or where a job is well done.  How sad is this?!  It is SO important that we acknowledge each other’s successes rather than only pointing out faults or better, more efficient ways of doing things.

In addition, maybe people-pleasing comes from simply wanting to do much for others.  It could just be one’s nature.  That is a wonderful and admirable characteristic to have as long as one takes care of his or her needs as well.

We must remember that in order to be helpful to others, we must first take care of ourselves.  If we are running on empty, so to speak, we are not as effective in caring for others.  We also typically falter in many other areas of life simply due to a lack of caring for ourselves.

What are some ways we can practice self-care?  One way is to take time for you!  I know it sounds unusual, but it is worth it.  Even if this time is only 15- 30 minutes out of the day, it will serve a great purpose.  This time can be spent quietly resting, watching a funny TV show or movie, reading, journaling, talking with a friend, taking a nap, going for a drive, or anything you enjoy doing that is totally for YOU.  This time allows you to refresh and renew your thoughts and energy for the rest of the day.   

We also must make sure we eat properly during the day.  Many people with ADD/ADHD become so focused on what they are doing that they forget to eat!  I know some of you are thinking, “I wish that was my problem!”  No, you don’t.  I am one who forgets to eat during the day.  The results are my feeling very weak by the afternoon having to grab something to eat on the whim, which usually isn’t very healthy.  I also end up eating much at night, which isn’t good for me either.  It is best to try to eat 5-6 times throughout the day to keep your energy up.  No, each time you are not eating a full meal; however, you can have snacks of almonds, yogurt, or fruit at some of these times.  Then you also will not likely eat as much at meals, and your energy will be distributed more evenly throughout the day.

Rest is very important for everyone.  It is certainly important for those of us with ADD/ADHD.  Without rest, our ADD/ADHD symptoms are usually worse.  In addition, if there is stress, anxiety, or depression diagnosed along with your ADD/ADHD, lack of rest can make these symptoms much worse as well.

There are MANY ways we can practice self-care.  I have only scratched the surface here.  What are some ways you practice self-care?  Please share your ideas with us even if you do not have ADD/ADHD.  This topic is important for everyone.

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Do any of these comments sound familiar?  They certainly do to me.  Sensitivity can be much higher in those of us with ADD/ADHD than in others.  And usually people who don’t understand ADD/ADHD have a very difficult time accepting that being highly sensitive is part of who we are.

One can be sensitive emotionally, empathetically, and/or physically.  Some people are actually highly sensitive in all areas with certain ones being more prominent than others. 

Being emotionally sensitive can cause the statements I’ve included in the title of this blog to emerge from those who don’t understand.  This sensitivity can be expressed through many outlets including anger, sadness, excitement, anxiety, insecurity, and fear as well as many other ways. 

At times people will make comments that mean nothing to them, while we with ADD/ADHD can internalize these statements and become highly affected by them.  These comments may seem to be judgmental, condescending, or even on the flip side, very complementary, yet the one who said the statement may not even recall saying it.  Often people with ADD/ADHD are very passionate about their interests.  When something is said about one’s interest of great passion, the reaction can channel this passion in ways others don’t understand.

When one is empathetically sensitive, it’s as though he or she is going through the same circumstances as the person/people around him or her is/are experiencing.  When someone encounters a very exciting situation, one with ADD/ADHD can be just as excited, and maybe even more excited, than the person actually celebrating.  On the other hand, when someone is in great pain or need, someone with ADD/ADHD can feel this angst to such a great degree that it can cause him or her to become very upset and maybe even withdrawn. 

It’s difficult to explain how we can take on the emotions and feelings of those around us.  For example, it is very difficult for me to go to hospitals or retirement/nursing homes.  I notice everyone and everything around me; thus, being in a place with much pain, anxiety, and sometimes sadness, is quite a challenge.  A while ago, I began noticing that I was picking up on things that others didn’t notice – whether it was regarding the person we were visiting or even people in rooms with open doors that we passed in the hallway.  I would take these feelings home with me and be very down for some time.

Being physically sensitive is often much easier to explain even though it can be hard for some to comprehend.  Smell, sound, and touch can be enhanced to such a higher degree for one with ADD/ADHD that it is literally hard to believe.  Certain smells can be quite pleasant to some while the same smell can cause one with ADD/ADHD to almost feel ill.  Sounds can be too loud or too soft.  There can be too many different sounds at once, which cause the ADD/ADHD brain to be in chaos. 

When it comes to touch and space, a person with ADD/ADHD can be very sensitive.  Many need their space, and they need MUCH space at certain times.  This can even mean having to be alone for a bit to decompress even if they don’t necessarily feel overwhelmed.  Being sensitive to touch can involve someone else’s touch or the touch of something such as a tag on clothing.  Some with ADD/ADHD don’t really like to be hugged or touched by others…especially when they barely know the other person.  This isn’t necessarily from being obsessive-compulsive about germs or from disliking the other person.  It’s simply a very high sensitivity to touch. 

Tags in clothing; seams in socks; a hemline on bare skin; certain types of material; turtlenecks; and cuffs of shirtsleeves are just a few examples of what can bother one with a sensitivity to touch.  Many of these things are never even considered by others, yet they can’t be worn by some with ADD/ADHD without MUCH discomfort. 

Many of these sensitivities may seem extreme.  Some may wonder how one would live with such high sensitivity.  You learn to adjust.  Yes, it may take some time as well as some explanation to those close to you, but it’s possible.  Life is much easier when we choose to adjust things according to our needs rather than our trying to adjust to the world.

Everyone who is highly sensitive doesn’t necessarily have ADD/ADHD.  It’s just that some people who do have ADD/ADHD are also highly sensitive people.  Do you have any particular sensitivities to share?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Last week several things had my attention rather than what was actually planned on my calendar for the week including posting to my blog.  Of course, I spent time beating myself up, figuratively speaking, over not getting things done that actually needed to be completed.  People with ADD/ADHD are typically their worst critics, and we are so very hard on ourselves often not acknowledging any successes if all aren’t accomplished.  Over time this can take a toll on us resulting in depression and anxiety beyond belief.

The things from last week weren’t just everyday distractions that we with ADD/ADHD constantly battle.  They were extraordinary circumstances that actually deserved some of my attention; however, “some” is the key word here.  They deserved some of my attention but not quite all of it. 

In the midst of these struggles in my mind, I thought, “OK, what can I learn from this?  What is actually a symptom of ADD/ADHD, and how can that be addressed?  Could I have possibly handled this week more productively?”  No, I haven’t always thought this way; it’s come about since I’ve been coaching others. 

Just for your information, two huge items that had my attention this week included: First and foremost, a friend I’ve had since first grade was in a horrible accident at the first of the week, and I’ve been keeping up with and letting others know of his progress throughout the week.  Thankfully, he is doing well so far.  The other item that had much of my attention was that my computer “caught” a virus mid-week.  It was something I was able to take care of myself after some searching on the Internet; however, most of my hard drive was erased in the process in spite of the statement that kept popping up, “None of your files were affected in this process.”  Thus, my next task was to try to restore those files. 

Three things I noted in my thinking about what ADD/ADHD-related challenges I’d encountered this week were: sensitivity, self-care, and hyperfocus.  I call these “challenges” simply because that is how they presented themselves to me during this time.  They can also be seen as assets as you will see in my addressing each one over the weeks to come.

To highlight the difficulties I encountered with each challenge mentioned, I’ll begin with sensitivity.  The extent of sensitivity those with ADD/ADHD can experience can be so much greater than one can fathom.  We can be so very sensitive to others’ pains and troubles as well as their joys and successes.  This sensitivity can truly become such a part of us that it’s difficult to distinguish between what is attributed to our actual situations versus the circumstances of those we care for deeply.

Self-care comes in many forms.  When those of us with ADD/ADHD get absorbed in something, we easily forget about ourselves.  In fact I’ve always thought of “self-care” as a selfish thing when it is actually one of the most self-LESS things we can do in life.  When we don’t take care of ourselves, we are not able to help or be there for others; moreover, we can even cause others to have to care for us if we neglect ourselves for too long.  As you can see, this can result in the opposite effect of we had in mind.

When we become so engrossed in something that everything, and I do mean every single thing, takes a back seat to that particular item, we are hyperfocused on whatever has our attention.  This can be good if we use it in a productive manner to get a project done.  However, it can work against us in mighty ways when we simply can’t let go of something until it is complete or to a certain point before we move forward on anything else. 

So my answer to the initial question of whether we can learn from life’s experiences is, “Yes, if we are teachable.”  We must remain open to the lessons hidden in the experiences of life, which can be especially difficult when we find that we may need to make some changes to better deal with future circumstances that could be similar.

My next post will address the topic of sensitivity in those of us with ADD/ADHD in more detail.  Please let me know if you have any questions or aspects of sensitivity you’d like to see addressed.

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When we think of a “Coach,” we often think of sports.  There are games, rules, and boundaries.  One might also picture a Coach stomping feet, screaming obscenities, and turning red-faced.  While there may be a few similarities, an ADD Coach is quite different than a Coach for sports and certainly in the areas mentioned above.

I’m often asked, “So, just what do you do as an ADD Coach?”  My typical reply is that I work with people who have ADD/ADHD, whether diagnosed or not, to help them learn how to work with or around their challenges rather than against them.  I also help clients discover their strengths, since these are often overlooked by those of us with ADD, as well as helping them learn how to capitalize on these strengths. 

So what exactly does that mean?  Well, first of all, as an ADD Coach, one of my main objectives is to LISTEN.  Many people with ADD have never had someone who can actually understand the struggles that often come with their everyday life.  When a client discovers that he or she is “not the only one,” it can be so refreshing.  Just knowing there is someone, even if it seems only one, who can identify with him or her is something that many find particularly comforting. 

Initially, the client and I spend time discussing his or her long-term and short-term goals.  Then with the permission of the client, I can help with prioritizing the goals if needed.  Following the initial introductory session(s), the weekly coaching sessions are led by the client in terms of what we discuss.  If something has come up that is not related to our discussion of goals, we can address that issue instead.  It’s basically the client’s agenda to set.  As an ADD Coach, I do help to keep the client on track as to the topic at hand.  It’s very easy for us with ADD to go astray in conversation without realizing it, and I am there to gently guide our conversation back to the original topic as needed.

As an ADD Coach, I am also there to encourage the client as he or she moves forward through circumstances that bring challenges.  Often we discover strengths of the client and learn that these were often thought by the client to merely be common traits among most people.  At times these strengths can be used to help the client in dealing with how his or her challenges are met.  I ask questions of and listen to the client as he or she discovers what works best in his or her particular situations.  If the client gets stuck, so to speak, I am there to give suggestions of strategies as needed as long as I have the client’s permission to do so.  It’s important that I understand the client’s needs rather than making any assumptions during our meetings.

Hopefully by now you can see that ADD Coaching is all about the client.  The entire process is structured to benefit the client to the greatest extent possible in any areas of life he or she chooses to address.  During the coaching process rather than my giving solutions, the client often comes up with the answers or solutions that best fit his or her circumstances.  This allows the client to discover what works best for a given situation as well as to learn to apply the same reasoning or thought process to future decisions.  In other words, the client is learning to be more independent as well as learning self-advocacy.

There are several other items or aspects about ADD Coaching that I could discuss.  What is something you would like to know about the process?

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Math was my favorite subject in school.  Yes, I was in the minority.  The challenge of the subject as well as knowing there was a definite answer intrigued me.  Oh, I did despise the word problems, and now I understand why.   When reading a math word problem, I had trouble comprehending the parts of the problem well enough to be able to calculate the answer without MUCH effort.

Even though some symptoms existed in elementary school, I wasn’t diagnosed with ADD until adulthood.  (I didn’t have the “typical” symptoms of ADD.)  No one in my family or among my close friends could believe it because of my doing well throughout school and having a successful career.  The truth is that no one actually knew the effort it took for me to get to the point I did in school or in my career.  And all that time, I thought I was doing what anyone else who was successful would do.  Until…

In college I began noticing that it took me MANY more hours of study and preparation than those making similar grades.  I also noticed that I had much anxiety when it came to some social settings.  Insecurity was my middle name; although, on the outside I just seemed to be a high achiever and a bookworm. 

Then in the corporate world as a CPA, I worked hours upon hours to get things accomplished.  One reason was that I had a difficult time working during the day when everyone was in the office.  Anytime someone passed my office door, I would look up.  I couldn’t sit at my desk very long without having to get up to walk around and would inevitably end up talking to someone.  Then when the office and the phone calmed down, I could hyperfocus like no one else.  (And no, the clients weren’t charged for all those hours I spent trying to work.) 

Once I was diagnosed with ADD, I began reading all I could find about the diagnosis.  I was a textbook case…well, almost.  I wasn’t as hyperactive as was usually described in the books.  It was easy for me to rationalize that my mind was actually where the hyperactivity occurred. 

Then I learned about the Inattentive type of ADD.  This is my textbook description.  It includes two of the key symptoms of ADD, which are inattention and impulsivity.  Also, included are possible symptoms such as:

  • trouble finalizing tasks once challenging parts are complete
  • making careless mistakes when dealing with boring or difficult tasks
  • difficulty maintaining attention during boring or difficult activities
  • difficulty concentrating on what someone is saying even if spoken to directly
  • avoiding or putting off projects that require organization
  • being distracted by surrounding noise or activity
  • having trouble remembering appointments or obligations

I never knew these were things others didn’t experience often; I thought these were all just part of life.

There are other symptom that I’ve learned clearly reflect my diagnosis.  Being highly sensitive emotionally as well as physically (smell, touch, noise, etc.) can be very challenging.  Energy fluctuations can be quite frustrating when the beginning of the day is productive yet uses enough energy that the remainder of the day is spent resting.  Having great ideas in size and importance yet not being able to carry them out can cause feelings of defeat.  Often expectations from others, and usually of ourselves, are much higher than we can accomplish in a given time, which can lead to feelings of shame and defeat.  

Yes, some of these challenges are experienced by many people.  When they begin to interfere with one’s day-to-day life, it could be time to consider whether or not ADD is the cause.  Some people consider ADD a gift, while others see it as a curse.  I believe ADD is what you make of it as are many aspects of life.  What say you?

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So, what does “perfectionism” have to do with being an ADD/ADHD Life Coach?  Well, not only am I a Life Coach specializing in ADD/ADHD, but I also have been diagnosed with ADD and experience its wonders daily. (By the way, I use “ADD” in my writing to cover all types of ADD and/or ADHD.) 

Having ADD can mean that one tends to be a perfectionist either in general or in particular areas of their life.  I happen to be one of those who could easily be called a full-blown “Perfectionist.”  Now don’t be deceived by this term.  It doesn’t mean that I have everything in order and am always just so.  It means that I am very particular about certain things and want many things done in a way that satisfies me.  Wow, when I write this, it sounds more selfish than anything!  I’ve never thought of that angle of perfectionism.  Let’s save that for another blog post.

You may wonder how it is that I am letting go of perfectionism at the moment.  Well, you are witnessing the results of it as you read.  Before I posted a blog, my intention was to have my website exactly like I want it as to appearance, function, and basic information.  Yes, I did expect it to change as a constant work-in-progress; however, I had a vision of a constant work-of-improvement of what was already a great site.  Allow me to say that I’ve been quite humbled once again.

Posting this first blog on my very incomplete website is like my going to speak to a group of doctors on the topic of ADD while wearing my pajamas and no make-up!  (Although that could make for a great talk about certain ADD challenges…hmmm.)  Anyway, I think you get my point.  Those who know me well and those who possess even a hint of perfectionism know that THIS TOOK GUTS on my part. 

With the help of a Business Coach, I realized that I must get started with something rather than just letting my site sit without any action.  As a person with ADD, I am used to doing things a bit differently than most; I just usually see processes getting done in a different way than expected.  With my website, I began to realize that my perfectionism was causing MUCH procrastination and frustration for me; thus, I finally gave in to working on my website in the area that I felt I could begin, which is with blog posts.  Now I believe the other parts of updating my website will follow more quickly. 

Together we will see how this works!  I’ll keep you posted on my thoughts and challenges along the way without making it the focus of my blog.  And please do ask questions or make comments regarding this process as it unfolds.

The main take-away here is that someone with ADD may have to approach projects or processes a bit differently than others to begin to see progress.  Our steps may not be logical to many; however, if the steps we take DO get the job done, so to speak, we are moving in the right direction.   Others usually have to learn to be patient with us and to give us a chance when our ideas may seem a bit “out there.”  One never knows what masterpiece could come from our creative path of approaching and completing a project.

I look forward to many more discussions with you.  Please feel free to comment below as well as sharing this link with anyone if you’d like.  And yes, I will make that MUCH easier for you in the near future.  It’s a part of my work-of-improvement!

Take care of you.

Tina

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I am currently in the process of preparing my site.  It will be ready soon, and I hope you will come back to visit often.  If you’d like me to email you when my first blog is posted, which will be when the site is ready, please submit a comment below with your email included.

Thanks!

Tina

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