Adult ADHD Support
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Time For My Brain To Grow Up All Over Again

Medication may smooth out emotional flooding and make concentration easier when I can see a clear path; but there are still “those days”, when bending my mind to tasks at hand feels entirely too much like shepherding a recalcitrant child.

Often, it's a Monday thing, when all the loose ends of last week come back to haunt me, competing for attention: important matters interrupted by those even more important yet in growing danger (as they continue to be deferred) of becoming suddenly urgent are of course a staple, in my professional life; and getting others to understand that these aren't readily put out of mind (because, for them, they are) isn't exactly easy.

Eventually, I manage to get enough traction with SOMETHING that I can silence the deferred tasks begging for attention, just enough; but getting to really clear the backlog is rare. I don't know how those with more typical brains keep sane (though I know from their own comments that they face the same beast—albeit with far less dread); but I need to find some system to cut through all this and get productive *faster*, without so much emotional drama.

Anyone have any luck with a mental discipline that can bypass the overwhelm and avoid this unproductive churn?

Most of what I have tried proves ineffective with ADHD: too easy to get drawn into the process itself and lose time rather than save it.

Keep in mind, too, I've already done what I can, medically, after taking care to titrate medications for efficacy without diminishing returns: this is all about finding work-arounds that assume ADHD (rather than neurotypical) strengths.

Peace,

-E

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I don’t know if you have tried cognitive behavioral therapy. I have started the process and I have found it to be helpful so far. Also keeping in mind that I started this journey about six weeks ago and have not seen a psychiatrist or taking any medication. I’m just wondering if it could be helpful for you as well. Best of luck to you!

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CBT doesn't seem to do much to help with the working-memory limitations that seem to be the biggest organization obstacle: getting anything down before In forget what it is AND lose track of what I was doing that prompted me in the first place is a massive, practical challenge.

However, REBT, in particular (training I received some years ago with the help of a therapist who studied directly under Ellis—great for "side insights" beyond the literature), DID help me learn—long ago—how not to catastrophize the difficulty (and in some cases, how to wind down others' panic over the same).

Still, even with a cool head, it's extremely difficult to keep track of time spent on multiple tasks at several levels of interruption. (I do what I can to limit the interruption, of course, because it's even more costly to me than to most; but it's not entirely avoidable.)

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Hi HadEnuf, I skimmed over what you wrote and what I read sounds familiar to me. Just because I’m medicated it doesn’t mean everything is now normal for us. I hate it! Educate yourself a counselor, I go to a CHADD support group once a month. If I could afford to I would hire a maid and a personal coach

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Hear ya, there! Wish I felt comfortable with a maid, myself, as my workload is erratic and sometimes crazy (recovering from such a stretch, right now).

I was spoiled, the two-and-a-half years I lived in Austin: we had a group meeting weekly, with ADHD as the common ground of a broad gamut of neurodivergence—complete with its own set of emergent social rules. (The contrast sparked insight into more effective ways to get along, elsewhere.)

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I have been doing some searching for my adult son regarding ADHD life coaching, and have found a book by Lidia Zylowska, MD titled "The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD" which is an 8 step program for strengthening attention, managing emotions and achieving goals. It includes an audio program of guided exercises (CD). Although he hasn't started it yet, I am impressed with the layout and overall concept. It's step by sub-step, uses lots of bullet points, and seems very easy to follow. Link to her website lidiazylowska.com/book/

I've been trying to encourage him to get involved with a support group like CHADD. The one you had in Austin sounds interesting. Do you know how it got started? And what is REBT?

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Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy--one of the longer-standing branches of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: it provides tools for quickly recognizing the triggers of strong emotion, and for containing overreactions to conflicts between reality and irrational beliefs. Great for keeping minor upsets from becoming internal (if not visible) meltdowns.

Mindfulness techniques work well for quelling random mental noise and complement REBT techniques extremely well, since both seek to upstage needless and often harmful value judgments.e

Alas, the headaches I face come from dealing with a very non-mindful world that is much more invested in tracking the past and predicting the future than in maintaining a clear head in the present. Need to know at any given moment how far along N tasks are and why interrupted ones aren't done is where the conflict arises.

I don't perceive time as the world around me expresses it (definite intervals elapsing between events), and capturing what I need to translate my experience into what others need is entirely too costly.

My experience is not the popularly-assumed “now or not now”, either; but it is more event- than interval-oriented: in fact, perceiving a fixed movement of time, apart from consciousness, is quite beyond me—from my point of view, it seems more like a bunch of drunkards lurching and staggering through a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey expanse of “somewhen”.

One might think that simply jotting down a clock time as I change tasks would suffice: after all, it should be a simple matter of calculation, from that point. Alas, I have found that, too often, I forget (ADHD is terrible for habituation), lose the information (another ADHD symptom) or lose vast amounts of time trying to make sense of too much information (can't keep enough in working memory long enough). Worse still, even that small interruption can leave me wondering what the hell I was just doing or about to do (brittle, ADHD working memory, again).

The problem is that most “neurotypical” time management techniques rely on precisely the brain functions that differ radically with ADHD: indeed, this is probably why others perceive those with ADHD as “deficient”—it's so easy for them they don't really have to try, much, if at all. Meanwhile, my trying to use a day planner “the way most people do”, several years ago, became a disastrous, two-plus-hour-a-day time sink!

That's why I'm asking who might have found something efficient, non-distracting and easily habituated that doesn't turn into a cure worse than the disease.

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I, too, get stressed out even thinking about filling out or completing a planner. That is WAY too time-consuming, and I just dont have time for that. I am forced to immediately put the event or task in my phone with a reminder 1 day ahead. ThenI have to reset the reminder 1hour before. I have to stand there while the scheduling need arises and put the thing into the phone. I also havea calendar on the fridge that i quickly jot stuff down for family members to see. It's a pain in the A- - and there are so many other things I could be getting done. I also constantly dread the stress at work, which seems to consume my mind as well. It's like a rabbit hole Im trying to escape from :(

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BTDT: I'm fortunate my chosen calendar app supports up to five reminders per event.

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I try to keep everything as minimalistic as I can. But sometimes it gets out of hand. I try not to have too many clothes, but somehow I’ve gained more than I need and the strange thing is, I always wear the same few clothes and don’t even know that the other ones are there. They are just clutter. It was driving me crazy. I cleaned out my closet of stuff I haven’t used for 2-3 years. Now it’s simple again, I can handle it. Also keeping my place uncluttered helps a lot. I can get distracted by anything. Pictures on walls, open drawers, stuff on counters, coffe table... whatever. I like to keep everything to the bare minimum. As for appointments, I have to get my man to co-remember them with me. Like I have an appointment on the 23rd, to me that is sometime in the near future, I’m not really sure when, but for him it’s Monday May 23, at 3:30 pm 2018. He just told me that.

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Im totally the same way. That's funny. Its good you are able to externalize and write what things dustract you. I think I have so much, Im not sure even what to qrite...i.e. open drawers, things on tables, too many things on fridge, etc. (Oh, and allllll the clothes!!!) Although, when you said all that, I totally thought about those things and how similar my scenarios are...

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LoL my fridge was the same. I’m kinda embarrassed to admit this, but somehow I think I’m not alone here: I just recently cleaned out my fridge and I threw out 2 big plastic bags of outdated stuff. It hadn’t been cleaned in 2 years when my mom came to visit and cleaned it without even asking me. This time the thing was really dirty. Now I can find the food in my fridge. I’m really trying to get rid of stuff that I don’t need. I’m not a hoarder by no means, I couldn’t deal with that at all. But there is always stuff. 10 years ago I got rid of all my books, now I use kindle. I was happy to get rid of the books and all the dust.

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Yes. My fridge is the same. I always attribute me not doing the fridge, or clutter-cleaning to me being busy. Im a teach, mom and wife (and live art in my imaginary free time). I get a bit overwhelmed at times. I "do" go through these random cleaning frenzies, where im hyper focused on deep cleaning. I wish i could do that more!!! If im not in that right place, it never happens, which can take months or longer to be done! The problem is, Im always thinking about those things!

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I do the arbitrary cleaning frenzy too. 😊

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April 23, I meant to say. I don’t even know what month it is!

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Kinda funny in a weird way how you describe the time management HadEnuf, because it’s kinds like nothing stays in my working memory at all, or maybe a very short time. Everything in my head seems to go straight into long term memory.

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Have you searched technology for time management help? My son says technology is very important to his daily functionality, although he's still trying to find his best way to utilize it. Maybe someone should design an app.....

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Haven't found one that keeps the set-up and fiddling minimal enough, yet: needs to be damn near effortless without needing to be set up “just right”, in advance.

I've thought seriously about creating a cross-platform app that fits the purpose of minimally-invasive recordkeeping, but I have *SO* much free time (not).

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I would totally use that effortless app. If I could just push a side button on my phone, and say what I need to have it remember. Then "it" continually reminds me until I clicked a "finished" button when propmted, that would be great. Let me know when you have time to invent that ;) Ill be the 1st customer!

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When I need something simply to pester me, the task list in my existing calendar app suffices.

What I need is means to record switching between tasks and to associate notes with them that doesn't handle anything else (that might draw me off-task): my work involves tasks taking days to weeks that are interrupted often, and the cost of my time has to be allocated to capital valuation of the intellectual property I produce and the cost of its maintenance.

Most tracking systems I encounter only handle total time spent to date (by everyone) and time-stamped notes: recording start/stop notes is cumbersome and raises complaints from others who only want to see “meaningful information”; and consolidating time spent to add, each week (which others don't want to see updated thirty times—that invariably adds notations everyone has to wade through), can mean several hours hunting needles in haystacks to reconstruct what got lost because there wasn't time to spend recording the interruptions.

The “side habits” to maintain and added clerical labor become unmanageable, quickly—the more so with ADHD.

Because the notion of fixed intervals with definite duration is entirely foreign to my brain, I can't make a credible, off-the-cuff estimate, once a week, as so many others do. I'm lucky to remember I spent twice the time on X that I spent on Y, let alone whether that added up to 30 or 50 hours, not to mention the half-dozen, 2-3 hour interruptions that need to be recorded under other projects.

Not only that, but I know others' notions of time spent are often an illusion, because they're inconsistent with what I reconstruct from the information I do have; but I do NOT need to be dragged into some RSD-triggering conflict if someone disagrees with my own time-keeping, so I have to be ready to back it up with hard facts.

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I too find that I feel productive as I conquer each task in front of me. The pile of things coming mt way, I try treading through as they come vs prioritizing "when" would be the best to get each thing done on different time frames. Like bills, for example. I like to pay things when they come in vs waiting until they are due-which some people do. I know people like to put things off for various deadlines, but if I dont conquer it at that moment, I fear it will be lost...

Good luck with your work stress!!! You're not alone!!!

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I don't know if this is true for you, but my brain won't work if my hands are still. Luckily for me I've always had jobs where it was acceptable to knit or doodle during the day, because if I wasn't physically moving somehow the neurons just wouldn't fire. CBT didn't work for me either because I couldn't remember what I was supposed to be doing! So, constant repetitive motions saved my bacon. No idea if that would help you or if there's a little fiddly thing that interests you, but it might help.

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I'm always in motion, anyway: keyboards are excellent fidgets, and I “think it loud” in written words—something of an outlier, in that regard.

Getting all the interrupted tasks safely mothballed (so they don't haunt me with distraction) and always knowing where all the time went are still the big challenges.

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I’m kinda same, I have to use my hands too. It’s very hard for me to focus on something that is not in my hands.

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Yeah, that I can relate to- if I'm interrupted, that thing ain't gettin' done! Sometimes I wished for a sensory deprivation chamber just for those tasks. Just block out all of life except the darn thing that needs doing. But since that doesn't happen, then...? In your workplace, is it acceptable to put up a sign or let your coworkers know not to interrupt you during certain tasks? Maybe if you didn't have to lose the brain mojo in the first place, some things might be easier to finish! (Wishful thinking for all of us there)

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Not that kind of interruption: those are easy—I just say, “Hang on a moment, while I put down the eggs I'm juggling.” It's a fairly common courtesy, in my line of work.

My interruptions are on a scale that challenges even neurotypical minds: I deal primarily in tasks that take days to weeks to finish; and it's not unusual to have several on hold, waiting to be finished after something else became more important.

These suspended tasks drain my focus because I can't shut them out easily; and I'm naturally hypersensitive to the possibility that they can be perceived as "late", regardless of the priority of what delayed them.

Often, the interruptions are to correct latent defects made manifest by changes far from or even unrelated to the point of failure, except to the extent timing changed, somehow. I have an unusual skill at solving these types of problems—ironically, because my ADHD alters my perception of time and insulates me from illusions prone to confound others' efforts.

So what I'm uniquely equipped to do often puts me in the position of having to work around a weakness deriving from the same set of traits.

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Can you say what meds you take? Sorry if its not a good question.

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Concerta, of late. The smoother release profile makes for a more reliable buffer against the emotional flooding that becomes my worst symptom, unmedicated.

I still forego medication on weekends off to recover from dopamine receptor down-regulation (which causes some unwanted side effects, by interfering with anticipation of reward—but less so than other medications) and to avoid building tolerance due to that and other, direct effects.

Concerta also raises fewer barriers to international travel, which has been a possibility to consider in some of my work. (E.g., it's the only ADHD stimulant medication legal to possess in Japan, where trying to bring others in can land one in prison if one is unlucky enough to encounter a hard-nosed enforcer.)

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Good information to know as I travel as well. Thank you.

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What is emotional flooding?

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Fairly common symptom in ADHD, where emotions (especially negative) seize attention so powerfully they're deeply overwhelming and may be briefly debilitating—not to mention incredibly distracting. It's both a more generalized aspect and a major component of the Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria most of us experience (according to some practitioners' data). For many of us, the worst distractions—and on my case, the ones most reduced by medication—come from within.

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Yep. My anxiety does this to me... the rejection feeling. The ruminations of how to deal with interactions with others- both future and past, often put me off for hours on end while I'm trying to focus on getting important things done at home, work or school.

If you find some way to fix this, let me know. What I end up doing is saying screw it all and then I immerse myself in something that often takes 100% of my focus- not a healthy way to cope when I've got a wife & kids.

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I'm new to all of this and haven't begun medication, but I've seen how clear you are in your posts about your struggles and how remarkably similar yours are to mine even though you're male and I'm female! I found something years ago that I always thought was awesome: it's called the Kapture wristband and it records each of the prior 30 second increments on a loop; and when you tap it, it will send the file to an account so you can save it. The last time I checked, it was about 200USD. It just seems so effortless and I know that's important to you (and to me, as well as all of us). Along the lines of effortlessness, maybe staying old school with an analog egg timer or something like that would be worthwhile for keeping on track... that idea is a little rough because I don't know how many aren't loud, but they seem quick enough to use. I hope everything's getting better for you :) *hugs*

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The Kapture for remembering things, I meant to add. LOL the irony of this is great.

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I think giving myself a break. Done is better than perfect. A lot of time when I have something new I have to take care of, example is recently I became an Uber driver and the process in becoming an Uber driver was i had to submit stuff online like car info, insurance, license, etc. I get overwhelmed and sometimes things are hard to start, so for that I called my brother every time I got stuck and he helped me though it. Now that i did it, i look back and say wow that wasn’t so hard

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Awesome for you Lovinit 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

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