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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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 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

Vulnerability, hero’s and ADHD

The point of me writing post isn’t to create a sob story the aim is to raise awareness. When I write about my childhood experiences in particular my hope is to illustrate what other children with ADHD may be experiencing due to there ADHD. I certainly didn’t have the words to explain my difficulties back then nor did I have the courage to express them. Perhaps what I write today will help some, whether it be a child a parent or a teacher. Through my work supporting those affected by ADHD it’s became evident that many children with ADHD experience the same vulnerabilities, exclusion and issues. I think it’s imperative we try to bring understanding to the phenomenon of ADHD.

I’ve been thinking about vulnerability and how it relates to those with ADHD.  Having ADHD myself I have no clear memories of feeling vulnerable as a child. I probably felt invincible rather than vulnerable. I was always quick with my tongue and I used it as a strong defence to protect myself. If someone said something smart I was always able to fire a smart assed comment back just as quick. I would have definitely felt isolated and secluded but not really vulnerable. Due to my birthday being July I went to school a year too soon and because of this I was very small compared to my classmates and possibly a year less mature. I cannot say for sure but I would imagine my ADHD traits may have irritated my peers adding to the reasons why I may have been Billy no mates. I was never invited to a birthday party in primary school and although I felt that rejection throughout I somehow learned to deal with it.  I never really enjoyed playing with big groups anyway and I was happy enough to run around on my own pretending I was superman.

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During my Primary school years Barry McGuigan became the world champion feather weight boxer. Barry is from Clones Co. Monaghan only 7 miles from the village I’m from. I remember my Uncle Paddy used to get me posters of Barry, sponsored by Champion milk lol, and I had them all over my room. (nostalgia) In my mind I was his no.1 fan. I became obsessed with boxing; I had boxing gloves, a punch bag and an older brother who was only glad to get punching the head of me when we sparred. I’m not saying I was like Barry McGuigan, far from it actually, but I did get to the stage that if I needed to I could physically defend myself despite my scrawny build. So again, I didn’t feel vulnerable yet in many ways I was. As I got older and entered secondary school I learned that bad behaviour, by this stage I was a specialist, meant instant access into the cool club. All of a sudden I was accepted and had “friends”. Unfortunately this was when I became much more vulnerable.

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One of the vulnerabilities for people with ADHD lies in the underdevelopment of effective self-discipline or self-control. My insecurities where easily tapped into and I found myself doing things that were suggested by others. ‘Niall, I dare you to tell Mrs to fuck off’. In my mind I had to maintain my new “friends” even if it meant detention for a week. I was one of the first of my class to start smoking because I now was hanging out with the older Kids, one must keep up appearances. I even got in fights with people for no other reason than somebody saying, hit him. I was a child who was easily influenced. Many young people with ADHD end up in the Criminal Justice System due to this vulnerability. In the company of the wrong people ADHD children, teenagers and Adults can be very susceptible to having their thoughts emotions and actions manipulated and controlled without even realising its happening.

The School experience as a whole wasn’t a very positive environment me. I was always in trouble but at least I was now getting rewarded for my poor behaviour by having people that said I was their “friend”. Don’t get me wrong I was no angel an I loved an audience. I had a natural ability to act like an edjit and make people laugh both of which I have tuned to a fine art to this day. Education became of no interest to me what so ever as long as I had people that I could call my “friends”.

As I got older I had other vulnerabilities to contend with, addiction for one. For me my escape was alcohol and towards the end I was battling with drugs as well. It’s a very frightening thing when a substance has so much power over you that our willing to do almost anything to get more. Approximately 60% of those with ADHD will also have drug and Alcohol issues. That is more than one in two. I will expand further on Addiction and ADHD another time. I could probably write a book on that subject alone.

Children with ADHD are much more vulnerable to accidents such as falling of bicycles or skate boards, falling out of trees and running out on roads without looking due to impulsivity and failing to recognise risks. As adults the risk taking vulnerability manifests as drug, alcohol and gambling addictions or riding motorbikes or cars at 150mph and having a feeling of invincibility. A Danish study that came out last month showed that people with ADHD are at higher risk of dying due to some of what I’ve just described.

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Today as an adult with ADHD I have learned to manage life much more successfully. I keep my circles small and choose friends carefully. I can still be like the wee boy with the big dreams and my Barry McGuigan obsession has transferred to the Conor McGregor obsession and again in my mind I am his no.1 fan. I’m getting distracted here. My point is, adequate support and understanding of this condition is needed because the majority of people with ADHD remain highly vulnerable to substance abuse, depression, anxiety, accidents and manipulation by some.

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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