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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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

Guest ADHD blogger and friend from Miami, Mauro Bagnariol.

It’s December! 2015 Is Almost up & It’s Time to Focus On Ourselves In 2016

Howdy folks! I want to start off by giving all of you great big hello and introducing myself as Niall’s friend and guest-blogger, Mauro Bagnariol from across the pond. I currently reside in Miami, Florida and am a graduate from Florida International University, having majored in International Relations and Political Science. Also, I am the founder of Tribal Dynamic, a blog/forum where people in our ADHD family can go for help, questions, resource information, and just meet other people and share their experiences having lived with ADHD. Please feel free to go through present and past musings of mine at blog.tribaladd.com and let me know what you think! So this is who I am, and I am very pleased to be able to write and communicate my blurbs to you all!

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As Niall has pointed out in his past post, people with ADHD can have persistent and frustrating problems with memory, attention, confusing things, forgetfulness, misplacing objects (guilty of that multiple times), as well as a number of other things which can make life seem burdensome and an ordeal. As Niall further points out, it can have a real effect in our day-to-day interactions with friends, colleagues, as well as during social interactions, where it is imperative that we focus on what others are saying in order to stay in the flow of the conversation and on topic. All of these are legitimate reasons to feel down and as if we’re stuck in a rut, but I also am keen to point out that these are just a part of what makes us unique in the ADHD Tribe and family, and that we possess MANY other traits and gifts which more than make up for those things that can hinder us.

I’ve written on my blog on how we, as an ADHD family tend to develop a self-defeatist attitude and are oftentimes way too hard on ourselves when it’s ok to stop for a second, breathe, and realize that we are human, and as such, we will make mistakes. It’s human nature! It’s what makes us who we are and that’s perfectly ok. There is no reason to beat ourselves up for something we forgot, tardiness, misplacing an item, etc. In my view, I like to see ADHD as a gift; raw, unharnessed energy and talent that when channeled the right way and in the right direction, we can accomplish practically ANYTHING. I treat stories of the “cons” of ADHD with levity to remind my fellow ADHD Tribe members that it’s ok to fall off the wagon sometimes and to instead use it as a learning experience and to better oneself. As Niall mentioned in his previous post about Memory Problems, developing a “system” or “method” to keep you on track is crucial. His mention of using electronic devices to set reminders, appointments, etc is EXACTLY what I do. iPhones, tablets and the like are a mainstay in this era, so why not use them!? My personal “system” is using the Notes app on my iPhone to jot down important things, as well as using the Calendar app to write down EVERY appointment, no matter how big or small and set it to remind me. That, and Siri to remind me if I need to buy milk at the supermarket that day or whatever other task is at hand, lol. These sound simple and inane maybe, but they REALLY help and my world would be in disarray without this “system” I’ve developed. I’ve other “systems” I’ve developed to help me be on time, have my clothes ready for a gathering later that evening or for the next day, things I have to do at work or with friends, etc. It doesn’t need to be an act replica of what Niall or I do, but find a “method”, “system” that works for YOU and implement it on a daily basis and you’ll see improvements and results almost immediately. I tell you from experience.

Now, to focus on 2016! As stated above, we sometimes tend to be self-defeating and don’t focus on those traits of ours that make us GREAT. The ability to hyperfocus in ADHD that allows us to expand our creative minds and really follow through on a task we enjoy and see it to full completion. Our brains are wired to think in a non-linear way, therefore, we have the ability to solve problems in unique and eccentric ways that our non-ADHD brothers and sisters cannot. This is a gift, a unique ability we embody. Use it! How many times haven’t I come up with the solution to a given problem at work or in a personal situation by thinking in this manner and coming up with the solution, oftentimes eliciting a “I NEVER would have thought of it that way!” from others. Whatever your line of work, or whatever the task it at hand, always remember to focus on the “pros” that come with our gifts and our unique talents as part of the ADHD family. Carry this into 2016 and start the year off focusing on how much better this new year will be because of how you’ll tackle any project or task thrown at you head on and with gusto. Also, our ADHD family is imbued with endless generosity, empathy and kindness towards others. We are often the life of the party or the ones friends and loved ones come to in order to share a worry with, vent, and to get advice. We are an incredible asset to the people around us, and they know it, and again, this is why I say that ADHD is a gift with a multitude of talents that sets us apart from the general populace.

It has been an absolute pleasure to communicate with you all! I close by leaving you with this video from our good friends over at BuzzFeed about what it’s like to live a regular day with ADHD. Again, the theme is to take it all in stride, not take yourself too seriously, and above all, don’t beat yourselves up over things!

Mauro Bagnariol

Owner/Founder of Tribal Dynamic

Follow me on Twitter @TribalDynamic

Instagram @Tribalmauro

Website: blog.tribaladd.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8dJMYadkWQ

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

Shame on Who?

There is an aspect of ADHD that many people over look which it is extremely common in both children and Adults with ADHD and severely detrimental to the person’s wellbeing and that is a deep sense of shame.

14289-290x290Parents, school teacher, sports coaches and even employers use shame as a method of behaviour modification to try and assert control and discipline. Whether the shaming is obvious or subtle it can be extremely demoralizing for the individual receiving the shame, placing them with a negative self-image as well as feelings of inadequacy, despair and powerlessness. This often leads the shamed person to behave with increased destructive actions or attitudes and in regards to ADHD increases compulsive, impulsive, irresponsible and even addictive behaviours which the individual believes to be alleviating the feeling of shame.

Shame ADHDIts common knowledge that parents and teachers find a large majority of children with ADHD harder to manage and due to this the children with ADHD are more likely to be on the receiving end of shaming. “Bad girl!”, “Act your age” “how many times do you have to be told to be quiet”, “tell the class what I have just said, you don’t know, that is because you were not listening”, “Why do you have to act so stupid.”, “if I have to tell you one more time, you will be sorry”. Back in the day physical shaming was commonly used, I remember on many occasions a teacher lifting me clean off my school chair by both ears and feeling so ashamed and embarrassed. There is also the non-verbal shaming such as angry looks or ignoring the individual. These are all examples of techniques authority figures such as teachers, parents and many others use without fully understanding the impact that the shaming may be having on the individual.

I write in a previous blog about the connection between Oppositional Defiance Disorder and ADHD, or as I called it  “Piss Off You Won’t Tell Me What To Do Syndrome”and perhaps shaming is one of the primary causes of defiance. If you constantly publicly shame someone through an abuse of authority you will often see the person on the receiving end acting out in defiance of the mistreatment. If the child grows up experiancing those in charge criticizing and shaming than there will be a feeling of anger, and mistrust of all those in positions of authority. Many people affected by ADHD will understand exactly what I mean.

A life time of constant shaming because of the ADHD or should I say lack of understanding from others about ADHD often results in the individual experiencing extreme mood swings, low self-esteem, higher rates of self-harm, destructive behaviours and eventually the person will withdraw from society and experience deep depressive episodes. Studys have shown that people with ADHD are at higher risk of suicide and due to the stigma and lack of understanding regarding ADHD I personally can see why this is happening. In my experience only in desperation do we find the courage to share our deep feelings of shame.  Shame is a debilitating emotion however it can be alleviated by talking through your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust or a professional therapist.

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I will reiterate what I have said in previous blog posts.  Society needs to recognise that both children and adults with ADHD have greater difficulty focusing, regulating their emotions and actions, filtering out or ignoring distractions, delaying gratification as well as organizing and prioritizing their work, to the frustration of many parents, teachers, employers etc. This is due to an Imbalance of chemical messengers in the brain  These individuals need open minded support, positive reinforcement and not to be shamed or humiliated as a means to assert control. There are fantastic ADHD support services in many areas willing to support parents, educational providers and employers to help them understand ADHD and as a result this will help the individual thrive, to feel valued within their community and reach their full potential.

FB_IMG_1445445280160I want to end this Blog with a special thank you to Rory O Donnell from my own County Fermanagh who is going to run the Dublin Marathon on behalf of Adult ADHD NI a support service here in Ireland that my partner Emma and I founded. Thank you and good Luck Rory!!

If you wish to sponsor Rory a few quid please follow the link below.

http://adultadhdni.org/en/Rorys-page/

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 Stigma

Many people with mental health conditions report the stigma and discrimination they experience from their families, friends, employers and society as a whole. As with other Mental health conditions there is the same stigma associated to ADHD and like other mental health conditions just because you can’t see ADHD it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The more negative aspects of ADHD frequently present as behavioural problems and as like people with specific types of mental health conditions people with ADHD often have difficulty controlling how they think, feel and behave yet there seems to be less tolerance for those with ADHD. They SHOULD just know better, and are often labelled lazy and told their ADHD is just an excuse for bad behaviour.

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People in our society generally don’t understand ADHD and when we generally don’t understand something, we tend to fear it. That is why in the old days here in the UK and Ireland if you had a mental health condition you were branded a lunatic and locked away. Looking back it was society that was insane treating the vulnerable so poorly. Look at our prison systems today, or perhaps they should be called our modern day lunatic asylums, 40% of young offenders present with ADHD. Again fear and lack of understanding and our refusal to look at ourselves as part of the problem. I’ve personally spoken to young people that find life easier locked up because of difficulites they have living in our society due of their condition.

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Even when ADHD is treated it can be extremely stressful and lonely. Especially if you have no one else to talk to about what you are experiencing. Not only do we have our condition to deal with the traits of ADHD, having ADHD means you are also six times more likely to have other conditions such as depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, social exclusion as well as finding it extremely hard to maintain daily structure, manage relationships with people or hold down jobs.photo.PNG-48

Let me make this clear WE DON’T GROW OUT OF IT. Like other mental health conditions some of us manage it better than others, depending on our circumstances, or the severity of the ADHD. I recognise that it can be very difficult for people prone to prejudice and judgmental thinking to accept that some of us find life more difficult but that is the reality of mental health conditions such as ADHD.

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There is a major difference that I have identified between other mental health conditions and ADHD. If a person with depression for example felt that they were being stigmatised by family, friends, employers and society there is usually a reasonably adequate mental health system that understands the condition and willing to help the person experiencing the depression reduce symptoms. In regards to ADHD this is simply not the case. Healthcare professionals throughout Ireland and the UK are simply not trained adequately to help people with ADHD. There is a lack of willingness to try and understand and treat the condition and this mistreatment can have devastating effects on people’s lives. Many psychiatrists don’t realise that Antipsychotics are not recommended for the treatment of ADHD in adults. Here in Northern Ireland adults have been misdiagnosed and given Antipsychotic medication simply due to untrained psychiatrists refusing to recognise ADHD as a real condition.

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