ADHD and Anxiety

ADHD and all its complexities is something I ponder on quite a bit. Through my work with Adult ADHD NI, as well as trying to manage my own symptoms, I have access to a well of information that I can draw from when thinking about ADHD.  I often wonder what it is like to be “normal” and spend a lot of time comparing those without ADHD to myself and others with ADHD. My wish is to share my thoughts through this blog with the aim of supporting the community of people affected by ADHD to better understand their condition and help readers to  find coping strategies to manage their lives in a society that at present, fails to recognise and support them with their condition.

Recently I have been working with parents of children with ADHD as well as some adults and a common theme that is arising is Social Anxiety.  Social Anxiety disorder is “A persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” (Socialanxietyinstituteorg, 2016)  People with Social Anxiety are often extremely self-conscious, have fear of public humiliation when participating in social activates, with the result of feeling unable to communicate properly and often experience symptoms of panic or paranoia.  Untreated Social Anxiety disorder can also lead to comorbid conditions such as depression, panic attacks and low self-esteem.

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The parents I have spoken too report that their kids come home from school crying their eyes out because of how difficult they are finding the environment,  as well as crying in the mornings begging their mums not to force them to go to school, which can be very traumatic for both the child and the parents.  ADHD kids struggle academically, often get in trouble due to behavioural problems  and are usually very disorganised,  easily distracted, forgetful and fall behind in work.  ADHD children become  socially isolated, have difficulty maintaining friendships and are usually the kids who are not invited to birthday parties.  At a very early age these kids recognise that they are different but don’t really understand why and begin to negatively over analysis social situations.  One mother I spoke to just the other day said “my son worries about everything” .  

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For many children with ADHD the constant state of anxiety and worry continues into adulthood and is reinforced due to poor academic achievement, difficulties maintaining employment, constantly being  late for meetings, failing  to meet expectations, procrastinating, always losing things and poor social skills which makes the core symptoms of ADHD (inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity) much worse, creating a demoralizing and vicious cycle. To cope with the constant state of anxiety many people with ADHD turn to drugs, alchohol, self-harm or complete social isolation to cope with how they feel.

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I have been recently studying Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and the good news is that evidence shows that CBT for adults with ADHD is highly effective for alleviating the frustrations caused by deficits in core executive function and working memory as well as helping to reduce symptoms of Social Anxiety.  The CBT model recognises the importance of a personalized treatment plans for the best chance of successful outcomes and can help the person identify and implement, behavioural coping strategies, relieving some of the negative effects of ADHD such as poor time management and lack of organizational skills. CBT can also help the person reduce worry, identify and challenge negative beliefs and assumptions and help the person gain a more balanced view of themselves and their situation.

Other treatments that help with ADHD and Anxiety are ADHD support  groups, having access to a good psychiatrist,  relaxation therapies and as well as developing healthy habits such as exercise, good nutrition and meditation.

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As I have said before many times, ADHD is not a problem for those with the condition, it is a problem of society and how we recognise and support differences.  I personally am very hopeful  for  the future and I see changes in attitude taking place. Last week I was in Liverpool for a The ADHD Foundations annual conference.  Which was a two-day event exploring new ideas, approaches and best practice in Health, Social Care and Education for children, young people and adults with ADHD, ASC and other  neurodevelopmental conditions.  Over 800 people attended that event and I found inspiration from  Dr Tony Lloyd and his dedicated team and look forward to working together in partnership in the future to help those who are #BornToBeADHD.

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If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

Daddy with ADHD

Since I last wrote a blog I have become a Daddy to my lovely little daughter Amelia Greene. I am probably still traumatised from the birth experience which is why it has taken me so long to write a blog. (well that is my excuse anyway) On hindsight I probably should have researched the process a bit better instead of almost passing out during the birth.  There is a photograph of me holding Amelia not long after the birth and I am a pale green colour but still managing to look very very proud.  Overall it has been an amazing experience which has completely changed me as a person and  it has only been three months. My partner Emma and I have been waiting for Amelia to come into our lives for quite a while and neither of us can believe she is finally here.  We are loving every moment.  I am learning new skills like changing nappies, walking around the house like a ninja so as to not wake the baby and surviving without sleep.  Amelia is teaching me to live in the moment and appreciate life like I have never done before and as she grows I look forward to teaching her  to develops skills to cope with life.

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Proud Daddy

Before she was born I always had anxiety about becoming a dad.   I never thought it would happen for a start and I worried that if I did become one, would my child be like me?  I am an adult with ADHD who has had great difficulty looking after myself never mind being responsible for a child of my own.  However, as I have gotten older and learned more about my ADHD and myself I have found that life has become a lot more manageable, I no longer see myself and my ADHD from a negative perspective and instead I have a more balanced view of myself and of other people.   Over the years through therapy, study and trying to improve myself I have learned that regardless of having ADHD, just like everybody else in the world I have good days and bad days and it is just part of the human condition.  Growing up with ADHD I received a lot of negative verbal and nonverbal messages that I was a bad egg and one to avoid and it has taken a long-time to uncover, discover and discard that mess and  a process that I am happy to work on for the rest of my life if need be.

I still  sometimes fear that my ADHD might impact Amelia in a negative way, however I think that is a healthy fear and one that should not be ignored.  We all have strengths and weaknesses and by identifying  and using our strengths to their full potential and working to improve our areas of weaknesses or find support in these areas if needed there is no reason to be afraid.

Important parenting skills such as time management, organizing  tasks, implementing routine and  managing emotions happen to be areas in which adults with ADHD have deficits and failing to recognise, or not working to improve on these deficits can only lead to increased stress and a sense  failure or  inadequacy in parenting.

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An area of ADHD that I have found  myself concerned about is distractibility.  Distractibility alongside poor memory is the reason I walk away from  restaurants leaving my wallet or mobile phone on the table.  Holy feck!!  What if I forget Amelia? Although I can’t imagine it ever really happening, it is something that has crossed my mind and if anything it has made me much more mindful and vigilant when we are out.  However, distractibility can be a real issue that causes me difficulties and if I were to just ignore it I am sure that it would have a negative impact on my relationship with Amelia in the future.  So it is very important for me to remember what is important and for me that is being a Dad  and a partner that is present, loving and available. Perhaps the key is maintaining a healthy amount of distractibility that allows the person to be themselves with their ADHD without compromising relationships with family, easier said than done I suppose.

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Having  ADHD is a very frustrating thing .  You constantly forget appointments,  tend to be extremely disorganised, often you  will have problems completing household tasks; keeping track of finances and  most of all  people with ADHD feel misunderstood by everyone.  But having ADHD is not an excuse to be an asshole and to think that it is ok to take frustrations out on your family or your loved ones.  So for me the number one thing for a parent with ADHD is  to  find help to manage difficult emotions so that you are not hurting the people you love and creating a negative atmosphere within the  home.  I always promote counselling and psychotherapy and I truly believe that all adults with ADHD should have weekly sessions with a good therapist to help regulate emotions, untangle distorted thinking, get to know yourself better as well as improving relationships with the people closest to you.  Other areas can help regulate emotions such as meditation, mindfulness, sports, but I have learned that the  first few months of being a parent can make most of this very difficult, so perhaps only one or two of the above.

I am sure that as time goes on there will be other issues that will present about being a Daddy with ADHD and I will share when the time comes, but for the moment I am still in doting daddy mode, hyper-focusing on this new  little life that is teaching me so much, including my capacity to learn new things and how much I enjoy being a parent.   I have found that my hyperactivity and boundless energy has found a new release valve in my life through being Amelia’s light entertainment throughout the day .  I knew all those years in pantomime were preparing me for something BIG – singing endless silly songs and creating much  laughter and giggles..   Apologies if this post is a little over the place, I have been out of practice this last few months but hope to get back in the swing of things and thank you for reading. This post is dedicated to my lovely partner Emma who has done the hard work and to my lovely little daughter Amelia.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

ADHD the square pegs.

Many people with ADHD have problems fitting in. I often hear the people we support through Adult ADHD NI describe themselves as being the square peg in the round hole. Due to a life time of ADHD and experiencing life from a somewhat foggy perspective it can be extremely difficult to navigate social situations appropriately. Kids growing up having the excessive traits of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness because of their ADHD are less likely to fit in with their peers at school and due to a combination of these ADHD traits as well as having less opportunities to develop in social groups due to rejection by their peers, these children often grow up with underdeveloped social skills and issues such as low self-esteem.

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Since I was diagnosed with ADHD I have become more aware of how socially clumsy I am due to my ADHD, such as interrupting people when they are speaking, abruptly ending conversations by changing the subject impulsively or walking away because I have gotten distracted by something else. My ADHD diagnosis allowed me to recognise the problematic traits I was up against and identify how much my ADHD was affecting my ability to communicate appropriately in social situations.

Having ADHD myself I recognise that people with ADHD can be quite intense and draining for those without ADHD, who are often left struggling to keep up with the constant changes of topics, the jumping back and forth on subjects or the blurting out of seemingly random or inappropriate things during conversations. I say “seemingly random things” because the ADHD mind often makes connections that may not always seem obvious or in relation to the conversation to an non-ADHDer, but for the person with ADHD because their mind work very fast it can be hard and overwhelming trying to keep up with the connections or the patterns of thinking. The blurting out or the quick changes in subject for me, is due to the short term memory problems associated with ADHD and the need to say what you have to say otherwise it will be forgotten and lost forever.

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Hypersensitivity is another aspect of ADHD that affects communication with people and causes them to appear rude or cause offence. I have spoken to many Adults with ADHD that have heightened senses which cause distraction during conversation. For instance I have heightened sense of smell and find it very difficult to hold conversation if there is a strong smell that I can’t identify the source. So imagine trying to have a conversation with me when every few minutes I keep saying “what is that smell?”.

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When you have ADHD you also tend not to mince your words and people on the receiving end are often hit with the uncut and unedited thoughts of the ADHD individual. Without realising, a person with ADHD often offends people accidentally by speaking inappropriately or saying whatever pops into their head and it’s only on hindsight that the person with ADHD recognises the social mistakes. For many people with ADHD every social interaction is over analysed to ensure no social mistakes were made and this can be extremely draining and cause the individual to seclude themselves rather than make social blunders.

Another thing that I have identified within myself is that if a subject arises that I am passionate about I can’t seem to shut up even when I am aware that I am talking way too much and the non-verbal cues I am receiving are not positive. It’s almost like I get overly excited and shift from a dialogue into a monologue and prevent other people from getting a word in edge ways. I often find myself asking those close to me when I am out “Am I talking too much?” because I find it really hard to gauge what is an appropriate level of dialogue.

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These little observations and recognitions of my own difficulties have been extremely important for me in developing new ways of communicating and overall helping me to maintain better relationships with people.   However it is also very important for me to be able to express myself freely and I am lucky enough to be able to do so through my close friendships and relationships with people who understand and accept my way of being.   In an ideal world people in general would be more understanding and accepting of the personalities of those with ADHD and hopefully that will happen through time, with education and willingness for people to try and understand differences. More and more people are recognising ADHD as a real and complex condition that affects the lives of both children and adults. Learning about my own ADHD over the years has helped me to come to accept that I am a bit of a square peg in a round hole and I’ve been lucky enough to meet many other fantastic square pegs along the way. I’ll probably always continue to find myself saying, OH OH, my mouth has got me in trouble, AGAIN!! But you can’t please everyone.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

ADHD and Money

First of all I would like to wish everybody a Happy New year and start the blog with a thank you to all of my readers and everybody that has supported the blog as well as Adult ADHD NI in 2015. Over the last year I can see a positive shift in attitudes towards ADHD and a growing willingness to understand the condition and recognise the difficulties that those affected experience.

Ideally I would like to start 2016 by writing a positive post but its freezing outside, I have had the dreaded manflu for the past 3 weeks (it will not go away) and I’m not feeling in a positive mood. So what better way to start 2016 than writing about ADHD and money.

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The bottom line is, if you have ADHD there is a very high chance that you are crap with money and here are some of the reasons why.

  • You impulsively spend your money, often buying things you don’t need and leaving yourself without enough to survive until your next pay cheque.
  • Without realizing you spend more than you can afford or than what you actually have causing you to bounce cheques, have poor credit or not have enough to pay your bills.
  • You try to keep track “in your head” of how much money you can spend and convince yourself that you are doing a really good job, when you are not.
  • You have difficulty saving for the future.
  • Being so disorganized causes you to forget when the mortgage or car payment is due.
  • You often spend more than you earn
  • Due to poor impulse control and the tendency towards seeking a high you may have difficulty diligently saving your money or accumulating wealth gradually over time.
  • You seem to be unable to consider the consequences of being left with no money until it’s too late as well as failing to learn from your mistakes and repeating the actions over and over again to the distress of the person and their family members.
  • When you are out socializing you act like a millionaire, when you not.       (Unless you are, in that case, fair enough.)
  • If you have ADHD you are more likely to have an addiction. So your money is compulsively spent on your addiction of choice Alcohol, drugs, gambling, cigarettes, shopping etc.
  • You don’t organise your finances or work to a budget.

When I was in my teens and early 20s none of it seemed to matter, I worked hard and spent my money foolishly and thankfully I had no responsibilities. But as I got older it became extremely frustrating and depressing. I would work all week and would plan in my mind to save money and with all the best intentions in the world I would spend 90% of my money within the first 48 hours of getting payed, on crap I didn’t need and then spend the rest of the week with no money, in further debt and having to borrow of people to survive and genuinely forgetting that I had borrowed the money in the first place. All of which caused extreme stain on my relationships with people.ADHD and Money

Part of the problem for me is that I don’t really understand money, I don’t process it the same as other people and although I have gotten better at controlling impulsive spending, I believe that due to my ADHD I am still underdeveloped for my age when it comes to managing finances and my spending still often seems to happen spontaneously and without warning.

However it is January and we are all encouraged to revaluate areas of our lives that we would like to improve so I’ve put together somethings that we could all do that would help us manage our finances better.

  • Plan our shopping in advance, write a list of essentials and stick to it rigorously.
  • Identify areas of weakness, in my case Amazon, and take preventative measures eg. close Amazon account.
  • Avoid credit cards.
  • Start making a record of all purchases.
  • The key to management is to plan for all expenses every month. Before you get payed make a list of all out goings and ensure to prioritise the most important things on the list.
  • If possible seek advice or support from financial professionals such as an accountant or a certified financial planner.
  • Create financial goals for the short term and long term and use visual aids such as wall charts so that you can see your goals every day.
  • Don’t over complicate your budget. Keep it simple, what are my “needs” and what are my “wants”
  • Alternatively download a money management app on to your smart phone and don’t forget to use it.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help managing your finances. Mismanagement of finances is extremely common in people with ADHD and part of managing your ADHD is recognising your difficulties and having the courage to ask for help when necessary.

I’ve came across lists like the one above before and my immediate thought is negative. “Yeah that’s all well and good in theory but when you try to put it into action it’s another story.” But at least we can try. It doesn’t matter who we are, there is always room for improvement.

Writing this post has certainly cheered me up and it has gave me a more positive and focused outlook on 2016.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com

ADHD and Memory Problems.

I’ve been meaning to write about ADHD and memory problems for some time now but I kept forgetting Boom Boom. Silly joke out of the way, I would like you to think about the list below and try and imagine what life would be like for someone living with the following difficulties.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  4. Problems with words in speaking or writing.
  5. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  6. Changes in mood and personality.
  7. Decreased or poor judgment.
  8. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  9. Confusion with time or place.

For me the list above sums up exactly what ADHD is like, this is what children with ADHD experience and for many people with ADHD these problems never go away. The surprising thing about the above list is that I took from an Alzheimer’s website describing Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s. http://www.alz.org

Memory loss that disrupts daily life.

Many people with ADHD struggle with memory problems, and just as it is for those with early onset of Alzheimer’s, people with ADHD constantly forget information that they recently learned. Every day is a battle to remember important dates or events and you will find someone with ADHD asking for the same information over and over due to the inability to save the information in their mind. People with ADHD are also encouraged to use memory aids such as electronic devices and reminder notes and often rely heavily on family members to help keep them on track throughout the day. For me I experience waking up every day with a blank slate almost like switching off your computer without saving your work. No matter how hard you try to retrieve the information you can’t seem to find it. This loss of information also happens throughout the day and causes the person to feel extremely frustrated and angry at self.

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Challenges in planning or solving problems.

Due to impaired processing in the prefrontal cortex, people with ADHD often have severe difficulty planning, solving problems, keeping track of monthly bills, completing tasks and due to problems in concentrating, those with ADHD often take much longer to do things than other people.

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.

As I said previously people with ADHD find it hard to complete daily tasks and this is mainly due to short term memory problems and presents itself as unfinished household chores, incomplete and inconsistent patterns of work performance and letting friends down by forgetting to turn up at arranged times. These examples can cause strain on relationships with family members, work colleagues and friends.

Problems with words in speaking or writing.

People with ADHD often have trouble following or engaging in conversations. They may stop in the middle of a sentence because they have completely forgot what they were saying, which can be extremely embarrassing because it’s so unusual. They often interrupt when others are speaking mainly because if you don’t jump in you will forget your point and this can come across as being rude to the other person. Partly due to memory difficulties in childhood people with ADHD may have issues remembering how to spell words or may have missed out on vital aspects of learning at school due to distractibility and forgetfulness.

Withdrawal from work or social activities.

Due to the stress of everyday life with ADHD the person often removes themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. It is widely known that people with ADHD are at higher risk of comorbidities such as depression, anxiety, substance misuse and social isolation.

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Changes in mood and personality.

Again due to a life time of ADHD related stress the person can become depressed, anxious, confused, suspicious and many people with ADHD are diagnosed in adulthood with bipolar disorder due to extreme highs and lows in their mood. Without adequate support, understanding and acceptance of the condition a person with ADHD can frequently be upset at home, at work, or with friends especially when a routine is disrupted.

Decreased or poor judgment.

People with ADHD often repeat negative patterns of behaviour, are more at risk of getting in trouble due to poor judgment, decision-making and processing risk. Young people with ADHD especially, are much more vulnerable to being taken advantage of by people pretending to befriend the person for their own gain.

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.

Just like it is in the early signs of Alzheimer’s people with ADHD constantly lose things like keys, mobile phones, homework books etc. and due to memory problems the person is often unable to go back over their steps to find the missing items. The person with ADHD may accuse others of stealing due to the confusion and frustration which again causes fractures in relationships with others.

Confusion with time or place.

People with ADHD constantly lose track of dates and time. Due to the impulsivity and forgetfulness the person with ADHD will do what is immediately in front of them and because of this miss important meetings and schedules.

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Some may find it a shocking that I’ve compared ADHD to the early onset of Alzheimer’s but I’m pretty sure anybody that is affected by severe ADHD will agree with the comparison. The major differences with Alzheimer’s is that the person with Alzheimer’s will often go from normal functioning to the above list which I can only imagine is terribly frustrating for a person who had normal functioning previously. As well as the fact that the person with Alzheimer’s gets progressively worse over time until it completely takes away a person’s identity and ability to connect with others as well as their ability to think, eat, talk and walk until they eventually pass away. However, many people with ADHD live their whole lives never knowing what it is like to function ‘normally’, whatever that means. Instead the person with ADHD has a life of frustration due to a combination of problems that society continues to dismiss as non-existent.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype.  If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com