How do you solve a problem like Maria? Well, get her some ADHD Coaching and a prescription for Adderall. But what do I mean by that?
First let me backup a little to talk about the genesis of this idea. As a person with ADHD and also as an ADHD Coach, I find the general public’s lack of knowledge about ADHD, and the abounding myths about ADHD, to be discouraging.
Actually, not just discouraging—detrimental to how ADDers fare in life. But it’s not so easy to explain ADHD in a way that’s simple to grasp. The subject of this blog—how the character, Maria, in “The Sound of Music” movie reveals and embodies the paradoxes of ADHD—is my way of helping people “get” what ADHD looks like in the world and points to what to do about it.
Let’s look at Maria. As the movie opens, she’s out in nature singing her heart out, presumably inspiring many birds and squirrels. She’s having so much fun and is so concentrated on her task —i.e. hyperfocusing—that she forgets the time and misses mass at church, again! (Because she has no Prospective Memory, the executive function that basically is “remembering to remember”.)
The leading nuns’ reaction to this umpteeenth transgression is telling and important: they see the paradox of Maria, but overall consider the errant “child” to be a “problem” that is beyond their ability to solve. It’s confusing to them, because Maria is very likable and exhibits many other admirable qualities: energy, enthusiasm, can make nuns laugh, and is generally fun to be around. Also, “her penitence is real.” But she’s flighty, late all the time, and doesn’t learn from mistakes.
Maria’s paradoxes confound the poor nuns, who are reduced to labeling her a “flibbertigibbet”— strong words from the ladies in black—who are impossible to understand, as impossible as holding “a moonbeam in your hand.” Ultimately, the nuns, perhaps temporarily forgetting “judge not,” judge her to be a “headache,” “problem,” and—the final blow—“not an asset of the abbey.”
So, in what seems a lot more like punishment than helping a girl out, the nuns send her off to be the nanny to a house filled with children who are suffering an ongoing deprivation of childhood fun due to the demands of their distant and dictatorial father, Baron Georg Von Trapp (and his supremely non-maternal, aristocratic girlfriend, The Baroness). And these kids do not like nannies. They’ve recently broken and dispensed with several in the recent past. In short, it looks like Maria is being set up for yet another failure.
Except something truly miraculous happens. Instead of falling prey to the dysfunctional Von Trapps, Maria thrives. She discovers her true talents—for example, an uncanny ability to teach music and singing in a very sprawling, cinematic kind of way; empathizing with, understanding, and gaining the trust and love of all the formerly antagonistic children; making clothes from drapes; and controlling marionettes. All this, while effortlessly displacing the Baroness, who is helpless against Maria’s infectious lovability when it comes to holding the affection of Baron Von Trapp. Does the Baroness have it in her to hazard and pull off a duet with Georg? No, she does not. But Maria does. Without Maria, we would have no Edelweiss.
So what has happened here? Maria left a situation where her greatest talents are unexpressed and unappreciated, and entered a domain where her talents are useful, inspiring, and transformative. Because of her particular abilities, she is able to overcome daunting domestic and child-developmental challenges and single-handedly defeat the Nazis. Okay, that last bit is hyperbole, but the point stands.
When ADDers are in the right place with the right people doing the right things, they can use their greatest talents, interests, and strengths with great effectiveness. But in the wrong place doing the wrong things, they appear feckless in a way that’s hard to understand—by themselves and others.
This is a lesson to parents with a child who is struggling, employers with employees who might have a perplexing, peculiar mix of abilities and challenges, and lovers and spouses frustrated with partners who inexplicably fail at things that seem easy. To people with ADD, the lesson is both an inspiration and warning: work with your ADHD (i.e. pursue your greatest interests, strengths, and talents) and your ADHD becomes manageable or even supremely advantageous, but go against your ADHD—for instance a job that doesn’t use your talents with people who don’t understand your issues—and you will feel the pain, which will not go away until you change your approach.
Back to my question at the opening. If you are having a hard time figuring out what to do and where to be in terms of work and career, get help. For instance, from a coach. Don’t go to a nun. They got lucky with Maria. Find a well-trained and experienced coach to help you get traction, which in turn, we hope will lead to greater success and happiness. And, yes, maybe even a cornball song or two, a small price to pay for transforming your life into something you have only dreamed of.
Best of Luck,
For a deeper dive into this topic, I invite you to listen to a podcast that airs at 1 pm EST on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, where I speak with Coach Jeff Cooper of Attention Talk Radio. In this podcast, I evaluate the character of Maria in “The Sound of Music” to illustrate how ADDers can liberate themselves and get unstuck by letting go of rigid mindsets that are like invisible prison bars. The podcast is titled, “ADHD and the Conflict between Beliefs and Self-Awareness.”
Is life making you crazy? Are you feeling out of sorts and unable to accomplish simple tasks? I have identified 9 indicators ADHD is under-treated or not under control and significantly damaging the effectiveness and quality of your life or of someone you love.
The Signs to Look For
Here we go, in no particular order, with 9 signs ADHD Is under-treated or not under control.
- Chronic overwhelm — feeling as if you will never catch up
- Unacceptably high levels of anxiety and depression fueled by ADHD symptoms and impairments
- Frequent payment of the “ADHD Tax” — the “ADHD Tax” consists of extra money we pay out for things like late fees, parking tickets, and expensive credit card debt
- A strong sense of being stuck and, despite deliberate intentions, unable to self-motivate to get going again
- Job and career issues including lack of career, unemployed or under-employed, job dissatisfaction, as well as lack of work and a financial plan
- Stressful relationships undermined by ADHD
- A powerful sense of wasted potential and wasted time
- Falling significantly behind peers due to ADHD issues, including lack of independence and reliance on parents and family
- Strong and frequent feelings stemming from negative self-judgment and shame
These are all unpleasant things I used to experience all of the time and which I frequently recognize in my coaching clients. If you recognize any of these traits in yourself or someone you love, please feel free to contact me for a FREE consultation to evaluate your situation and see if we are a good match. Next to exercise, coaching is the most effective treatment for ADHD.
As Always, Best of Luck!
My Fellow Distractoids,
Before October comes to a close and we wrap up ADHD Awareness Month, I’d like to make you aware of something pretty stark. According to a 2018 study by Dr. Russell Barkley, a leading ADHD researcher, ADHD reduces life expectancy by approximately 13 years. That’s right, 13 years!
ADHD Reduces Life Expectancy by 13 Years
Here’s how Dr. Barkley describes the situation: “Our research shows that ADHD is much more than a neurodevelopmental disorder, it’s a significant public health issue,” says Dr. Barkley. “In evaluating the health consequences of ADHD over time, we found that ADHD adversely affects every aspect of quality of life and longevity. This is due to the inherent deficiencies in self-regulation associated with ADHD that lead to poor self-care and impulsive, high-risk behavior.”
In other words, people with ADHD are apt to neglect basic self-care, like having poor habits around eating, sleeping, and exercise. And, they’re more likely to neglect healthcare such as routine doc and dental check-ups, screening for common deadly diseases like colon cancer, and taking essential medications. Another thing, ADHDers are more likely to get in traffic accidents and other mishaps due to impulsive and risky behavior.
Adult ADHD is a condition that often has severe, overlooked consequences which together constitute an under-the-radar ongoing public health crisis.
That’s why I ask my clients if they are up on health check-ups, dental maintenance, recommended screening procedures, and so on. And now I’m asking you?
The Good News
ADHD is the most treatable of neurodevelopmental disorders. Education and behavior modification can mitigate the risks of untreated or under-treated ADHD. But if you’re having trouble with self-regulation, it may be time to look for support. On many factors relevant to longevity, ADHD Coaching can help. And I’m just a phone call or text away. Schedule a FREE consultation today by calling or texting me at 323-893-4922.
Until next time, good luck!
My Fellow Distractoids,
In the previous blog post, I talked about 3 Signs You Need Support for ADHD. Today, I want to share with you 3 Signs of ADHD Damage in Relationships.
The divorce rate for people with ADHD is double than for non-ADHDers. That’s almost too much misery and failure to fathom. And it doesn’t have to be that way. (Another time I will talk about healing the damage.) If you are experiencing any of these three factors in your relationship, it’s time to consider getting help:
- The relationship is unbalanced in terms of overall responsibility. The ultimate example of this is when the non-ADHD partner complains they feel “like they have another kid in the house.” If your relationship has a parent-child aspect, it’s time to call for support. This kind of imbalance (in planning, child-rearing, chores etc.) is a relationship killer.
- Entrenched reactive/triggering behavior: If you and your loved one have fallen into patterns where you easily and constantly trigger anger and reactivity in one-another, better call a time-out and reassess the fundamentals of the situation. To constantly be in a state of reactive anger is highly unpleasant and unlikely to resolve itself.
- Avoidance/Retreat: Do you often feel the need to remove yourself from your significant other or spouse and engage in behaviors like “hiding” in the office or basement in order to relax? Does it feel like your spouse is frequently pursuing you and that you are in retreat? This is a third sign that your relationship is going in the wrong direction and needs a reset.
The good news is that these and other relationship issues result from having two different kinds of brains in the house, which causes a great deal of miscommunication and lack of understanding.
Through education and coaching, it’s very possible to improve communication and understanding and, thereby, heal the damage. But, in my experience, these problems rarely fix themselves, so support is in order. The stakes are high and consequences are major, so don’t wait to act.
Until next time, good luck!
My Fellow Distractoids,
October is ADHD Awareness Month, so I’d like to make you aware of something: I recently launched a new web site, which looks and works much better than the original version. The address remains ADHDTraction.com. Check it out.
Speaking of awareness, when should a person be aware that they need to get support to cope better with their ADHD? Here are three indicators it might be time to incorporate coaching:
- Frequent/Heavy Payment of the “ADHD Tax”: The so-called “ADHD Tax” is money we unnecessarily pay for ADHD-related costs of living such as late fees, parking tickets, high interest payments on credit card debt, and so on. If you find yourself frequently paying the ADHD Tax, it might be time to up your ADHD game.
2. Living in Chronic Overwhelm: Do you find normal life overwhelming, and suffer from high levels of anxiety, frustration, and exhaustion as a result? If you are overwhelmed even in the absence of any unusually stressful factors, it’s probably time to figure out how to deal better with your ADHD. Living in a state of overwhelm is unpleasant, unhealthy, and unsustainable.
3. Feeling “stuck” in life: If you feel stuck in life, like you are spinning your wheels, and can’t get yourself motivated to move forward, or feel at a loss as to how to get out of it, chances are you could use some support in getting traction.
ADHD Traction is Here for You
That’s what “ADHD Traction” is all about. Feelings of being stuck, of wasting time and potential come with a lot of anxiety, negative self-judgment, shame, and depression. You deserve a life that’s better than that!
Yes, there are other indicators that ADHD support is in order, but these are three of the biggest impediments and the most common. The good news is that, with the right support, chances are you can learn to manage your ADHD and move to a higher plane. If you are ready, I am available to help. Call or text me at 323-893-4922 to schedule a FREE consultation.
I’m rooting for you!
My Fellow Distractoids,
Let me guess. There are certain tasks in your life the doing of which causes a feeling of major mental resistance, physical weakness, deep annoyance, resentment, frustration, anger, and pain. There’s a name for this collection of tasks:
Examples of Kryptonite ADDers have reported: making the bed, loading the dishwasher, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning out the cat-box, flossing one’s teeth, organizing a closet, making small talk, folding laundry, doing detailed clerical work like budgeting and taxes, and on and on.
Distractoids are demoralized and defeated by ADHD Kryptonite. They’ve got no shield, so to speak. So they procrastinate and try to avoid exposing themselves to the Kryptonite’s powerful soul-sucking action. Masters of Distraction, on the other hand, have learned how to handle the Kryptonite in safe and effective ways.
And that turns out to be a pretty big deal. Why? Because a lot of ADHD Kryptonite consists of routine, repetitive tasks — i.e. a big part of life. It turns out that how I’m dealing with Kryptonite reflects how I’m dealing with life, which in turn reflects what kind of handle I have on ADHD.
One way to think about it: dealing with Kryptonite requires mental and physical energy. If I’m taking care of myself overall — eating well, sleeping well, getting plenty of exercise, keeping other sources of energy depletion under control, staying out of chronic overwhelm — the Kryptonite is more manageable. Ergo life is more manageable. If I’m not taking care of myself, the Kryptonite is overpowering. Ergo I am overwhelmed and maybe even defeated by life. Distractoids operate with a deficit of mental and physical energy whereas MODS have more to give.
Another factor that can greatly improve one’s ability to deal with Kryptonite is medication. That might not be a solution for everybody, but for many medication can be life-changing; and one of the reasons is the way it greatly lowers resistance to Kryptonic routine tasks. I’ll talk about why that’s the case another time…
In addition to overall self-care and medication, there are some other useful strategies for facing the mighty “K” and making Kryptonic tasks more palatable. I will give some examples, with one caveat. As with many things ADHD, “tips and tricks” are highly individual. Therefore an important part of being a MOD is learning how to come up with individual solutions. That said, here are some ideas you might want to consider:
— Create less Kryptonite. An example, immediately wash and dry any glass or dish that can be taken care of in a matter of seconds, so far fewer dishes ever pile up.
— Play music or listen to a podcast to shift you into a more energetic, positive mood.
— Share tasks or get a “body double”, which just means having another person present to be with you when you do your thing.
— When possible, choose times of the day and week when you are freshest and most energetic to get your stuff done.
— When possible, reduce resistance by making the task easier to do: for instance, by removing any impediments or reducing the number of “steps” it takes to do. One example, I used to have a top sheet, blanket, and multiple pillows on my bed. Now, I sleep under one light comforter with just a couple of pillows. That may not seem like a big difference, but for me it’s the difference in doing or not doing — all the difference in the world.
— Delegate or get support for the things you find most depleting and hardest to face.
— Use grit to take the first step, which often times is the hardest. I try and reserve grit, willpower, determination etc. for when there is no other alternative, because I find that kind of mental heavy-lifting to be a finite resource. But there’s no getting away from this pesky truism: You can’t spell integrity without “grit.”
As always, good luck in your efforts to minimize the way ADHD Kryptonite drags on life and sucks away energy. The better you get at dealing with Kryptonite, the better off you will be.