Looking for changes I can implement r... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

CHADD's Adult ADHD Support

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Looking for changes I can implement right now to manage ADHD (not on meds yet)

Portia_pine profile image

Hi everyone! I'm new here, and I'm in the process of getting an official diagnosis of ADHD. After reading up on ADHD, talking to my doctor, and comparing symptoms with some trusted friends who also have ADHD, I am practically certain that I have it. I have suffered with so many of the common symptoms for my entire life, but I always just thought I had some serious character flaws (master procrastinator, always distracted, never punctual, daydreaming all the time, disorganized, interpersonal problems, etc.). I know what I need to do to get good grades or do well at my job, but I feel quite literally UNABLE to make myself do those things.

All of this is to say that, while I am relieved to finally have an explanation for these problems in my life, I know I need help. My primary doctor said I screened positive for ADHD and gave me a referral with a psych to get a full evaluation. My doctor won't let me try meds until I have a full eval. I have been on a waitlist for months and finally got an appointment, but it keeps getting pushed farther out due to Covid restrictions.

I am slogging through my third year of law school and I need help. Can anyone give me some things I can start doing right now to help with my symptoms while I am stuck waiting for my appointment? I am desperate for some tips to focus, stay accountable, and get things done.

Thanks in advance, you people all seem so lovely and supportive!

14 Replies

Wow you sound really busy with school. I appreciate where you are and I hope this helps. Medication helps the brain behave more 'normally' which is great because then there is a reference point. Beyond that for just getting through law school, try The Adult ADHD Toolkit, by Russell Ramsay and Anthony Rostain. Two quick tips from the book are keeping the daily to do list and the 10-minute start. Sure keep a long term to do list but make your daily to do list short by using an index card for the day's priorities (keeps eyeballs out of the phone rabbit hole). Set a timer for 10 minutes, start working on an assignment or task for that 10 minutes, check in, and decide if you want to keep going. Most likely you will and alternatively you might even be done the task. Good luck!

Thanks for your response Shirleytaps. Those sound like helpful tips. I definitely get overwhelmed by the size of my to-do list, and then the anxiety distracts me from getting real work done. I will try the 10 minute start, it sounds like a good way to at least start getting work done. Thank you!

Portia_pine, I am turning 40 and assume I am significantly older than you. I am just coming to the same realization as you, and was formally diagnosed with ADHD just last week. I am now trying to figure out what to do with all this. But it is just an incredible relief to know that this simply isn't "laziness". Everything you have mentioned from simply being unable to make yourself do what you know you need to do.. along with the anxiety that accompanies all of this.. it applies to me as well.

I only bring up my age so that hopefully you will be thankful that you were able to identify this as ADHD at a younger age before you go full-blast into your career. I will be cheering for you.. and am following this thread for more ideas!

Hi Prortia , I am really sorry to hear that you have to wait so long to get you meds. I strongly recommend you meditate daily. Mindfulness is a way for slowing down the mind and being more present and in control. I use a app called Headspace but you can use anything that works for you. Wishing you good luck.

Hi Portia, I am also in the process of being diagnosed and not on medication. I realized over the years that I actually developed a lot of the techniques other people are telling you to try and they have worked for me too. I also really enjoy the headspace app and find their music for concentration to be a real life saver I wish I had access to it when I was in graduate school.

I have also found that making exercise a regular thing helps, I have more concentration and fewer mood swings.

Finally, I have a lot of items on my "to do" list that give me anxiety (paying bills, for example) I have tried to take as many of those anxiety producing tasks out of my daily routine and either automate them or have someone help me with them

I hope you can get an appointment soon. I'm just starting the process to find someone who can prescribe meds and do the official assessment (I'm seeing a therapist now who helped me with my diagnosis).

Hi New-Confused, it's comforting to hear about other people who are in a similar place.

Headspace seems like a really popular app, so I'll have to try that. I also get very anxious when I have a long to-do list with a lot of little things like bills and returning calls/texts/emails. Those little tasks take so much energy and distract me from the real work I need to do. I have noticed that exercise helps, but my problem is keeping up with a routine. Do you have success with sticking to a routine each day?

Good luck to you too, I wish you well with getting an official assessment!

I'm absolutely terrible at a routine & I sometimes make it harder on myself by trying to get the stuff I don't want to do or makes me anxious out of the way first.

I've been experimenting with making different kinds of lists, separating by different types of responsibilities (work, fun, not so fun) and prioritizing things differently, like, don't wait until you've paid all your bills to exercise. Get the exercise done first, because it helps with concentration and then do the other thing. Finally, I've been better at noticing when I'm distracted and have been trying to stay on task. And better at understanding some of the causality, like X makes me anxious and Y makes me anxious, so, if I do them both I need to give myself a break after because I"m just NEVER going to be able to get the third thing done without a break

Some weeks I'm great at it and other weeks (this week), I'm all over the place.

Hi Boingel1234, thanks for the response. It's good to know that meditation helps, although I find it hard to meditate because my mind wanders. But I will have to try it out - I'm willing to try anything that will help me stick to a routine. Good luck with you as well!

Hi Portia , I totally understand that challenge because it’s happening to me all the time , however you will find that the correct meditation is expecting this to happen and most of the people who find meditation not to work is exactly because of the reason that they try to fight the wondering of the mind and that of course doesn’t work. If I can summarise , a state of meditation isn’t something you achieve but rather something discover. Let you mind wonder , however have the conscience that’s it’s only a thought and you can always come back to yourself. I strongly recommend headspace app and try the illustration it explains it very clearly. Good luck.

Everyone’s mind wanders when they meditate. That’s completely normal. The moment of mindfulness is noticing when your mind has wandered off and gently bringing it back, without judgement. You will do this over and over again. It takes lots of practice, like any skill. I’ve been practicing for years, and my mind still wanders, but I do find it helps me to be more present and to pause before reacting. I find guided meditations easier because it gives me something to focus on besides breathing. There are tons of apps out there with guided meditations. Insight Timer is a good one. Calm is another, but it’s subscription based (there are some free ones you can try, though, to see if you like it).

I love Headspace!

Look in YouTube “How ADHD” this girl gives you a strategies very good. The Pomodoro strategy is really good, the10 minute start, meditation , omega 3,

Hi Portia, I am 56 and also am more recently diagnosed (in July). I began Vyvanse 6 weeks ago. It's been a rollercoaster ride, but I'm finally adjusting and may finally have a workable dose. I also have a therapist who specializes in adult ADHD. He helps me come to grips with being ok with being me. It isn't easy wiping away a lifetime of being made to feel there is something wrong with me. I am a lifelong student. If it weren't for systems I already had (was taught by a very patient set of grandparents that realized what worked for my siblings wasn't going to work for me) I think I'd be in the nut house right now. I use timers a lot. I set one for 15 min before I actually need to do something and when it goes off i set it for 10 min later so i can wrap up what i'm working on. I set a timer to remind me to begin things, to take a break from them, to eat, to get ready for bed.

For assignments, I can get so overwhelmed if I try to see it as a whole. I use the timer to start my brain thinking about what it is i need to accomplish with the assignment. I set it for 15 minutes and review the assignment. Then I figure out what the first thing I need to do is, and don't think about what else needs to be done until I get that first part completed.

I use a Franklin Planner and I break my school assignments into pieces. I do the same with chores and errands. And I double however much time i think something it going to take to get done. I also try not to schedule a full day of errands or cleaning or anything else because too much on my calendar can be extremely overwhelming and frustrating. I try to stick with 3 have to do and 3 should do items.

I don't know if any of that is helpful to you. While the ADHD brain works differently from a neuro-typical one, none of us are the same. There are things I've been researching since July to try to figure out how to accomplish (like meal planning and cooking) and I still haven't found what works for me.

Hi Portia_pine,

So glad you've had this realization now. I am 51 and just diagnosed this month after a degree, a professional designation and so many feelings of failure. I am also looking for tips to focus and get things done!

Great advice given above regarding exercise (try the 10 minute timer here and go for a quick walk), using a daily planner (paper works better for me just so not getting sucked into rabbit holes), music while I work to help with focus (YouTube/Spotify have free music you can listen to - chill out works for me), and meditation (I liked the book 8 Minute Meditation by Victor Davich. It is only 8 minutes/day and you are guided through a different meditation each week so you can see what you like or what works better).

One last suggestion - while waiting for your assessment, go though the symptoms and executive functions and write down examples of when you've exhibited it.

Good luck with the slog!

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