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.

ADHD Memory Problems

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

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

Stress Management.

ADHD is extremely stressful, not only for the person with the condition but also partners and family members. Many people effected by ADHD often report feelings of anxiety, depression and extreme frustration on a regular basis. In this blog I’ve put together some of the things that I have found that help with my ADHD, and I hope others may find useful as a way of coping with their difficulties.

Stress ADHD

Over the years I’ve resorted to many methods to try and reduce the stress I have experienced due to my ADHD. Before I was diagnosed my approach to stress was simple as soon as I had money, I would just black myself out with a concoction of drugs and alcohol and I can assure any readers that approach is ill-advised and makes any difficulties much worse.   However since I was diagnosed there have been many other stress reduction tools that I found to be of great benefit for me.

Participating in hobbies and social activities is extremely important for my ADHD. I love Drama, not the Jeremy Kyle type drama, but doing plays, pantomimes and musicals. Not only is it one of the things that that I enjoy but it gets me out and about meeting new people and allows me to participate in my community in a positive way. I feel it’s very important for me to be a part of rather than apart from.Jeremy Kyle ADHD

I also like having a laugh and not taking myself too seriously.  Growing up one of my defences was playing the class clown and I suppose it as became part of who I am. Accepting this side of my personality rather than supressing it is a much easier approach to life for me.   Although the disorganised mind, forgetfulness and impulsive behaviours can still  be stressful I don’t go hard on myself as I once did. Being part of a support group has greatly helped with this. When I hear other people going through the same difficulties due to ADHD it’s much easier to identify which of my own problems are due to the condition and which of the difficulties can or cannot be changed.

I would also encourage the practice of yoga, mindfulness meditation or even just doing a bit of training in the gym as an effective way to reduce symptoms and even help bring clarity to a mind that is often extremely cluttered. I find meditation to be a great preventative measure for stress and found it beneficial in developing better self-awareness as well as greatly reduce some of the more chaotic symptoms of ADHD giving me increased ability to prioritise what needs to be done more easily.

Lion king ADHD

Many Adults with ADHD have extreme difficulties prioritizing tasks so I’d suggest taking 10 minutes before you go to bed and writing a list of things you need to do. Then rewrite the list in order of what is the most urgent. I would also recommend colour coding the tasks and setting deadlines and reminders on your phone to help maintain structure through-out the day. This may sound ridiculous to some but when I am busy I even have to set reminders to eat otherwise I would completely forget.

I would also recommend not taking on too much. I have often found myself saying yes to things that I realistically haven’t time to do, causing me to stretch myself too thin, make mistakes and let people down. I have blogged before about sticking to one goal at a time and for me without that simple approach I would get nothing done. Prioritising the ONE goal is the key.City slickers ADHD

Lastly I would encourage finding some regular peer support and a safe place to talk about your thoughts feelings and any stress that you are experiencing. There are also ADHD support groups becoming more prevalent and are a great place to access information and support to help you understand and deal with the stress due to the condition. The groups can help you understand the condition, change unhealthy habits, challenge negative beliefs about yourself, help develop and improve social skills as well as repair and bring better understanding to relationships.

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

Lost in transition.

ADHD is a hidden neurological disorder that is extremely complex which in many cases lead to school exclusion, family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, homelessness, as well as a range of anti-social behaviours and psychological disorders. In this post I will give my top 10 reasons why we as a society need to get the finger out and start to create the much needed stability and extra support to ensure our children and young people no longer get lost in transition.

  1. Approximately 4% -5% of the population have ADHD – one child in every classroom of 25 and an estimated 50–66% of those will continue to have difficulties managing ADHD in adulthood.
  2. People with ADHD don’t always present as predominantly hyperactive but may be extremely disorganised, impulsive and impatient which causes great frustration and stress on the individual. Due to large scale lack of knowledge and understanding of ADHD many people remain undiagnosed, untreated, stigmatised and fail to reach their potential due to their condition.
  3. People with ADHD, a classified mental health condition, are significantly more likely to be arrested, convicted and incarcerated due to aggression and antisocial behaviour.
  4. Many studies have shown the correlation between the early onset of substance misuse and ADHD and it is extremely common for Adults with ADHD to have a drug, alcohol and/or gambling addiction.cocaine_2118089b

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research indicated that ADHD was in the top 5 factors that can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction. Here in Northern Ireland, disgracefully, there is not one mention of ADHD in the Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs 2011-2016 and although we have wonderful 155 page detailed autism strategy action plan, and rightly so, ADHD services continues to be ignored.  The picture below will give you an idea what young people and their families are currently experiancing in regards to their ADHD healthcare here in Northern Ireland.index

  1. 75% of adults with ADHD will present with other psychiatric comorbidities such as sleep disorder, anxiety, depression, personality disorders and addiction.
  2. Many people don’t realise that ADHD is a condition that is treatable. Studies have revealed that those who have had their ADHD treated adequately have shown marked improvement in self-confidence, better professional and academic functioning as well as healthier family relationships. Results have also shown overall improved psychological functioning with reduced risk of comorbidities including substance misuse and other addictions.
  3. In the UK the population receiving treatment for ADHD is lower than the estimated population prevalence of the disorder, we have asked for the Northern Ireland figures and we were told they are non-existent.
  4. Studies have shown that untreated ADHD is extremely costly to society. Due to increased unemployment, increased rates of early drug use and alcohol addiction, as well as significantly lower academic outcomes, higher rates of marital breakdown and increased criminality.
  5. Young people with ADHD are at higher risk of self-harm, suicide attempts and completed suicide due to a combination of ADHD and comorbidities.                                      language-of-depression-620x400
  6. Despite many of the myths surrounding ADHD it is a condition that you can have regardless of IQ, socio-economic background, religion, or gender. ADHD does not discriminate..

Although it feels like we are fighting a losing battle in regards to ADHD Awareness, every now and then something positive and reassuring happens.  Only last week I was invited alongside Rose Kavanagh as representatives of Adult ADHD NI & INCADDS to Leinster House in Dublin to help implement ADHD into the new drugs strategy in the Republic of Ireland.

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

  1. ADHD Institute                                                                                                                                             http://www.adhd-institute.com/burden-of-adhd/epidemiology/#sthash.ymQtEZal.dpuf
  2. ADHD Awareness Month                                                                                             http://www.adhdawarenessmonth.org/adhd-facts/
  3. Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland                                http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/new_strategic_direction_for_alcohol_and_drugs_phase_2__2011-2016_
  4. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.                                                                            https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg72

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

The day I met my Teacher!!

A few weeks ago i was in town and I bumped into an old maths teacher of mine. For this Blog I will call her Mrs A. Mrs A is quite a pleasant lady who always had a big smile and hello for me, which is kind of surprising and makes me feel a bit guilty for some of my behaviours towards her when i was at school. Back then I hated all teachers, the authorities. For me they were the enemy and I’m sure they didn’t think much of me either. I recognise that I didn’t give teachers an easy time I lacked the empathy and understanding to recognise that many teachers were just trying to do their best to do their job.

That day in town Mrs A and I had an interesting conversation regarding ADHD. First of all we did the pleasantries, asking each other how we were, Mrs A explaining she had been retired for a number of years and then we briefly discussed how great it is to see the sun. In Co. Fermanagh it is always a topic of conversation if the sun comes out because it usually never stops raining.   Then Mrs A asked me what I was working at these days and I explained that I was a founding director of Adult ADHD NI an organisation set up to support Adults and families affected by ADHD etc. etc.. Mrs A said “well done Niall, that sounds like good work your doing”. Then brightly laughing she said “isn’t it funny in my day there was no ADHD we called them BOLD CHILDREN

Well I was glad she said it because I went on to tell her the following story, perhaps not quite as detailed, but she got the idea. It was actually Mrs A’s class that gave me a greatest understanding of how my school had failed me due to lack of knowledge or willingness to support students with various needs.   It was in year 4 that i ended up in Mrs As math class. Mrs As math class was what ye called top maths at my school. The maths class for the brainy students, the students that got everything really easy and the students that automatically understood how a2 + b2 = c2. So what the hell was I doing there? I was still trying to work out when they started adding the alphabet to sums, I must have missed that day. The reason I was there was due to the teacher I had from the year before. For this Blog ill call her Mrs B.

Mrs B was my ultimate nightmare. From the very first moment I met her at the door of her classroom Mrs B was screaming at me. At that particular moment she had no reason to scream at me but I can only assume that she had heard from other teachers that I had been a handful and she was not for taking any nonsense. Nonsense was my speciality, if I couldn’t be nonsensical I had no idea what my role was. She ordered me to sit right in front of her at the top of the class and the second I opened my mouth she was down on me like a ton of bricks.

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When Mrs B screamed the walls shook. Her face would go red then purple and what was even more frightening 10 seconds later she had a big smile on her face talking rather soft and polite. This woman scared the living crap out of me. Every day she was on my back, screaming, shouting and humiliating me in front of my classmates. If I missed homework she would scream at me, if didn’t understand something she would stand over my back and in my mind torture me until I understood it, which kind of motivated me to try and learn because I hated her and I didn’t want her in my vicinity. But most surprising of all at the end of the year I got the highest mark in the whole year and because of this I ended up in ‘top maths’.

During that time I also received a hard punch on the arm by a geography teacher who was sure i cheated because i got 97% in the geography exam he gave us. He received a punch in the face in return. Let us call him Mr C because that is the alphabetic letter that describes him best.

So there I was in Mrs A’s maths class and in with the brainies if ye don’t mind. It was like heaven in comparison to Mrs B’s class. I could sit were I wanted, usually as far to the back as possible and Mrs A didn’t even care if I didn’t understand or I missed my homework, she was a nice teacher, or perhaps indifferent.

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For someone with ADHD, especially untreated ADHD the entire situation was recipe for disaster. No structure, no support, no attention and no care. I failed that year and I was dropped to lowest maths class and then I flunked it also. I left school with no GCSEs and to be honest not much hope for the future. Mr C got his own back for me hitting him by simply not accepting the only bit of course work that did for my GCSEs but at that stage it hardly mattered.

That day in town I explained to Mrs A how Mrs B had given me a bit of one to one attention every day, even when i didn’t want it, whilst other teachers just saw me as the Bold Child and ignored me. I explained a little bit more about what ADHD was like for me then and the struggle maintaining attention during classes and how many people we support have had similar negative experiences. I felt Mrs A was beginning to get the picture. Perhaps some of the Bold Children as she called them, had also a condition that prevented them from learning as other children do. I also wondered how many of these bold children’s lives ended tragically young through drugs and alcohol or suicide.

Mrs B although her methods may be questionable, her intentions were good. She was a good teacher with a great heart but if i met her my legs would probably go to jelly, especially after writing this. By screaming at me, she must have created enough dopamine in my brain to sustain my attention long enough to learn the boring math and my attention possibly filtered over to Mr C’s geography classroom. My wish is to raise awareness and to offer support and understanding to not only people with ADHD but their parents, teachers, and healthcare providers I hope to reduce stigma and help those with the condition to reach their potential and live healthy fulfilled lives.

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 Creativity

One of the more positive aspects about having ADHD for me is the continuous flow of new and creative ideas. Unfortunately for many with ADHD, including myself, many ideas remain ideas, due to various factors such as difficulty organising and planning projects appropriately, frustration, and perhaps an inability to sustain the long term focus needed to bring a project to life. I’ve heard many people with ADHD sharing great ideas that if implemented correctly could certainly be successful but the ideas more often fade into nothing after weeks or months leaving behind a sense of failure and depression.   In this post I will attempt to examine why people with ADHD seem to be very creative yet often fail to follow their ideas through. Using my own experience my hope is that others with ADHD can relate and perhaps understand themselves a little better and overcome some of the barriers and perhaps learn to bring their ideas to life.steve-jobs

The widely held understanding of ADHD from the scientific community is that there are abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex of the brain in those with ADHD. The Neurotransmitters which release dopamine and noradrenaline appear to be impaired in this area of the brain that controls emotional responses, behaviour, judgement and Attention.

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Due to these differences in the pre-frontal cortex a person who has ADHD often will have great difficulty regulating their attention an impulses and will often appear hyperactive or extremely fidgety. Rather than being described as a deficit, meaning a lack of, ADHD has also been defined as a dysregulation of the management system. This may explain why sometimes there appears to be no attention what so ever and other times there is hyper-focus which although sometimes can be a positive, if you are in the zone you get things done, more often the hyper-focus can be an unproductive quality. For example playing GTA 5 rather than doing homework that needs to be in by tomorrow, a child with ADHD may find it more difficult to prioritise and focus appropriately due to being unable to regulate their management system.

So what has this got to do with creativity? From my own experience growing up as a child with ADHD, when my brain switched off in the classroom due to a lack of stimulation or a boring Feckin teacher, my brain would create its own stimuli. I would drift off into a world of my own and my imagination would take over. Although I was physically present within the classroom my mind was usually elsewhere. I often felt stupid and frustrated because I couldn’t concentrate on algebra for instance. Looking back I was extremely creative in my imagination as a coping mechanism to get me through the boring school environment. Although I was unable to sustain concentration on certain subjects my mind was always active and thinking new ideas. In my imagination I could run wild whilst being confined to a bloody seat. It was all well and good until I had to sit an exam or answer a question on what the teacher had just been talking about. My point is, perhaps the brain of those with ADHD compensates for their lack of attention during mundane tasks allowing the person to develop a more innovative and creative type of brain.

Every now and again a thought or a new idea will pop into my mind. I’ve actually had one in the last few weeks that I’m quite precious about and that can be a problem in itself. I don’t always have the necessary skills to bring my ideas to life and if you are overly precious or cautious, you could potentially fail to connect with the right people that could bring the idea to the next level.

I mentioned earlier that people with ADHD experience difficulty organising and planning projects appropriately, so again having a clear and realistic understanding of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to identify possible partners with the skills you are lacking and help implement the ideas to become a reality.

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In my own experience in the initial stages of an AHA moment there is usually an adrenalin rush or perhaps dopamine and noradrenaline rush were all of a sudden you have deep focus and even organisation skills. The idea feels like the best idea in the whole wide world. You can’t think of anything else. You sit up nights on end working and without realising you can actually plan and deliver during this time. For me it’s very useful to identify these patterns and behaviours.

Then comes the dreaded decrease in activity, suddenly the new project feels like the stupidest idea in the world. Perhaps you’ve told the wrong person about the idea or they fail to see your vision. Alongside a life time of difficulties due to having ADHD the mind starts to doubt. ‘Why did I start this’ ‘It is so stupid’ I’ve heard many people saying ‘all of a sudden I can’t even look at the project’ which is quite sad considering the effort and sleepless nights invested in these projects. I’ve known people to spend their life savings on their ideas to the despair of loving partners, who perhaps have also seen these patterns before. Once the dip in the initial excitement appears the ability to focus and implement the work decreases often leaving a sense of humiliation and depression. Then before you know it another idea pops into the mind and away you go again. The ADHDer often moves from one idea to the next, perhaps just to feel again what it is like to be able to focus. The repeating of this pattern leaves a feeling of uselessness as well as lots of unfinished projects that are worthless.

I have learned from previous experiences to recognise and almost expect the dip in energy and by doing so better prepare for it. If there is a sudden feeling of negativity towards the work you’ve invested in it may be useful to take a step back and revaluate in a few weeks to see how you feel. I recognise that not all ideas or good and sometimes the negatively comes from the realisation that the idea is silly, a few weeks away can help clarify if it is or not and prevent you investing anymore unnecessary time. Having supportive people around you with your best interests at heart can also help you clarify and give you the extra nudge when needed.

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I am sure that there are those that will argue that people with ADHD are no more creative, good for you. The aim of this blog is to try and help those who can relate to the common problems that many with ADHD experience. By understanding ourselves a little better perhaps we can overcome some of the barriers we face. In my experience working with Adult ADHD NI I’ve met many unique and creative people and I’ve seen how a little support and encouragement can transform lives. Perhaps the bursts of creativity and innovative ideas that people with ADHD experience is the brain trying to experience deep focus and the organisation skills they are lacking, unfortunately it never remains.

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 Blogger Dr. Douglas A. Puryear, MD. Eleven Basic “Facts” About ADD ADHD

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Doug Puryear as my guest blogger. Through Doug’s writing I have managed to better understand my own ADHD and have also been able to implement some of his recommended strategies to help me better manage life with ADHD. I highly recommend books such as Your Life Can Be Better, and I’ve found that people we have supported through Adult ADHD NI have also found his works equally valuable. I encourage all my readers to visit Doug’s Blog ADDadultstrategies.wordpress.com <https://addadultstrategies.wordpress.com/> which offers constructive
ways for helping people cope with the problems that are associated with ADD or ADHD.

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Eleven Basic “Facts” About ADD ADHD

  1. ADD ADHD exists. Our brains function differently than other peoples. This has been shown by brain imaging.
  2. Our main difficulty is an inability to control our focus. We are either unfocused or hyperfocused. Most of our difficulties come from that.
  3. Thus we tend to be distractible, impulsive, irritable and unreliable. We forget things and lose things. We procrastinate. We get eagerly involved in something and then quickly lose interest. We have trouble finishing things. And so on and so on. We each have our own individual pattern of problems.
  4. This can make our lives very difficult, but there are things we can do to make our lives better.
  5. Medication helps many people who have ADD ADHD, but it is not for everyone. It primarily helps with focus.
  6. Stratgies are very helpful. We identify a problem that causes us enough trouble to make it worth working on. We devise a strategy. We persist in that strategy until it becomes a habit.

The problem must be specific – for example, “I lose my keys.” not “I lose things.”

7.Many physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists do not understand ADD ADHD. Many of them do not understand that they do not understand. Certified ADD ADHD coaches can be very helpful.

8.  We need to educate ourselves about our condition and how we can cope. There is a lot of good information on the net. There is a lot of garbage on the net.

I recommend three books:, The ADHD Effect On Marriage, and most humbly, my own, Your Life Can Be Better, primarily about using strategies. I recommend three websites: this one, and ADDerworld.ning.com, and even more humbly, ADDadultstrategies.wordpress.com.

9.The basic basics: You need an appointment book and a to do list, or their electronic equivalents, and you need to know how to use them. You needed sleep, structure, strategies, exercise, and outdoors.

10.Every person is unique. You need to find what works for you.

11.Your life can be better.

Note. Sometimes people confuse their opinions with facts. I call these ten “facts” because some of them are truly facts and some of them are more my opinion.

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