Getting the Support You Need

My Fellow Distractoids,

For a solo Distractoid* facing all the demands of life, just getting by can feel overwhelming. The results of going it alone: stress, frustration, anxiety, demoralization, and feelings of isolation and failure.

That’s not good.

Getting the support you need in areas of weakness can make life much easier and allow for more time in your areas of strength. Here are some steps to take towards building up your support system.

Step 1: Learn to recognize when you need help. Are you avoiding a task where a little help might come in handy. What does that feel like? Learn to be conscious of when these feelings are activated, so they don’t go on and on and become just another part of your life.

Step 2: Be brutally honest. Are you really going to paint the basement ever? Clean out the garage? Launch a search for a better job? If you are uncertain, act and make a choice . Get help. If there is something you’ve put off for a while, what is going to motivate you now? If there is nothing, I say get help.

Step 3: Consider easy solutions that are inexpensive or free. For instance, sometimes all we need to get started is having someone else present while we do the work. That could be a parent or friend sitting with you while you do your homework or purge your closet. Need help organizing, ask an acquaintance who’s got skills and likes organizing if they might watch to see how you’re doing. They might take pity on you and jump right in!

Step 4: If you need to pay for support, recognize the value of your mental health and peace of mind. In the past, I would avoid hiring if there was any cost involved. I told myself I couldn’t afford it. Now, I almost always feel that money spent that helps me live better and be happier is money well spent.

Step 5: Recognize that for just about any kind of activity, support is available. Hate washing the dogs? Make a groomer part of your support system. Hate getting the dogs together and driving to the groomer. Call a mobile groomer to come to your place. Services are available these days to do just about any job.

Step 6: Take five or ten minutes to think about all the areas of your life where you could use help. Don’t think about any limiting factors. Just imagine what it would be like if you could get help for anything and everything you wanted. What would life be like?

A support system might include the following: an ADHD Coach, therapist, psychiatrist, professional organizer, cleaning person, gardener, tutor or study partner, babysitter, book-keeper, accountant, financial advisor, nutritionist, personal trainer or exercise partner, personal shopper, virtual assistant, computer tech and home electronics person, handyman, dog-walker/groomer, massage therapist, chef, caterer etc.

Any number of professionals and service people might be an element in your support system, depending on what your life is like and what your needs might be. It’s not like you need all these people all the time: just to be aware that you can call upon all kinds of support if and when you need it.

Masters of Distraction develop a support mentality. It’s simply recognizing that we all need help sometimes. Recognizing when an unfinished task is driving up our anxiety and becoming an energy suck. Being realistic about what we can and can’t do ourselves. Being realistic about the limits of our motivation and energy.

Good luck in developing the support system you deserve!

-Coach Drew


My Fellow Distractoids, 

Distractoids* live reactively. They’re in a reactive “mode” almost all the time.  Life is about scrambling to keep up. Keeping up with the daily tasks of life. And keeping up with an unconscious image of who they think other people want them to be.

Masters of Distraction — let’s be honest — live reactively a lot of the time as well. But MODS have two “modes”: they know how to be proactive, too.

Being proactive means taking initiative, imagining how you want things to be in the future, and making choices that will lead to the desired outcome. Ultimately, it is the way you become the person you choose to be …

How does that happen? Let’s break it down …

1. Get the Insight Through an ADHD Lens: We all know the difference between acting and reacting. ADHD makes using that insight difficult because the ADHD brain only wants to deal with the present moment’s pressures, interests, and intrigue. Being proactive requires future-thought. What others may do automatically, we must do more consciously. We will do well to take that resistance into account.

2. Wipe the Slate Clean: If you’re kicking yourself for always being on the back foot, wipe the slate clean and be kind to yourself. No self-blame, no shame.  

3. Baby Steps: This is not the time to become Mr. Proactive Guy or Gal. MODS get to be MODS one little step at a time. The good news here is that a little proactivity can go a long way.

Make Two or Three Easy Choices That Matter — and Observe: Here, I am thinking about important but non-urgent actions that are easy to put off but that might cause major headaches down the road. What would you like to be more proactive about? Taking better care of your health? Planning for your business? Saving money? What would make a difference in how you feel about yourself?

4. For everything there is a Time: Pick a smart time to get proactive, the same time each week. A time that is linked to other activities that will help trigger your memory and help you both get started and stay on track.

For instance, I tend to have unstructured time on Sunday. It used to be I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I would do nothing, or watch sports, and scramble all week. Now I have a group of connected activities — at least connected in my non-linear brain — that I do on Sunday afternoon.

— I call or email family members and friends if I haven’t been in touch for a while — not spontaneously, but consciously and with proactive intention.

— I spend five minutes thinking about what important but non-urgent actions I can take that will help my business down the road. My intention is to complete that action on Monday, which for me is mentally linked to Sunday. (I might forget by Tuesday, Wednesday for sure.)

— I take care of one or two miscellaneous but important tasks. Things like getting new tires for my car. Or some repair that needs to be done around the house. By having a time for these things, I never think — and needlessly worry — about them during the rest of the week.

— I also usually go grocery shopping on Sunday and cook dinner at home. I try to make the dinner both relatively healthy and a little bit special. I consider these actions to be proactive, because I’m taking care of myself in a way that sets me up to have a decent week. It makes it all the better because I love to cook and actually like grocery shopping as well.

And that’s it. Nothing heroic.

— Bonus: Routines Can Work Even if You Don’t Always Do Them Routinely: Do I do all these things every Sunday? Of course not. I might not do any of them. I have ADHD. And I am still a recovering Distractoid. But as long as I don’t drop the routine completely, it doesn’t seem to matter. Because I’ve linked time and activities in a way that makes sense to my particular brain, things don’t go back to chaos. Try it and see.

One last point. Once you’ve successfully experienced how doing small things proactively can have an outsized settling influence on your life, you might find yourself getting the taste to do a little more, maybe on a larger scale … You might attempt that on your own, or you might think about hiring a coach …

Good Luck!

-Coach Drew

Getting a Life

My Fellow Distractoids,

Do you hate yourself for wasting your talent, squandering your potential, and being stuck wondering why you can’t seem to “get a life?” Lots of Distractoids* suffer from “lifelessness.”

What would it be like to “have a life” that feels right? A life where you access and enjoy using the best of your abilities and talent. How does a wayward Distractoid do that?

I’d like to share what’s helped me and and what I’ve seen work for fellow ADDers (and shhhh! — quite a few Muggles, too).

Thing One: Recognize that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or haven’t done that makes you a worthy member of the human race. As a living soul with a beating heart, you’re just as worthy as anyone else already. MODS allow themselves to feel that and know that truth. Always!

Thing Two: Make the firm choice to let your strengths, interests, and values be your guide. There are resources on the web and books about how to figure what your strengths, interests, and values are. A good ADHD Coach can help here as well. Your brain will have an much easier time acting with these powerful forces aligned.

One guide: look to things you’ve done in the past that have given you a sense of personal satisfaction. Things that mattered to you. These can be big or small. As long as you got personal satisfaction out of doing and completing these tasks.

Thing Three: Make the firm choice to do what’s exciting and fun. Something where there is an element of play. Don’t listen to people who are always emphasizing how “not all life is fun” and how “we all have to do things we don’t enjoy.” MODS know we must do things we do enjoy!

Thing Four: Make the firm choice never ever to do anything you know you will not love (at least most of the time). Distractoids get stuck in jobs they hate. Just because you can do something is not a good reason to do it.  

Thing Five: Choose to act in an environment that makes your brain happy. You know what I mean, right? If offices bum you out, don’t go there. If you need sunshine, get it.

Thing Six: Be Wide Open. Could it be that your lack of life might be from a lack of imagination or boldness to your approach? Have you played it too safe? Have you sacrificed your true dreams and desires out of a perceived need to please others or conform? Does your life lack something that challenges you in a good way? If you are saying yes to these questions, maybe it’s time to shake it up.

Thing Seven: If you are stuck, choose to do volunteer work where you can make a difference. You think you don’t have time for that? Think again. Being in service, giving of yourself — these actions will bolster your confidence and self worth. MODS know that good things come to those who do good things.

Thing Eight: Get help from trusted friends or a coach or a career counselor who understands ADHD. Getting a life can be daunting for anyone. Facing things alone makes it worse. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto and Silver. Ask for and receive help and support.

And Good Luck,

-Coach Drew

Recently Diagnosed

My Fellow Distractoids,

As a recently diagnosed adult — a newly-minted Distractoid taking step one on the path to becoming a Master of Distraction (MOD) — how do you cut through the fog of fuzzy information — and misinformation — and get a handle on how to handle having ADHD? MODS say stick to the fundamentals — the proven methods, backed by experience and research, for improving your life. Second, MODS know they need both short-term and long-term strategies.

1. Rejoice and Grieve. Take a deep breath and know that it might take a while to process the two sides of getting a diagnosis: 1) the relief and hope you experience when you finally get an explanation for what’s been secretly undermining your life, and 2) the grief you might feel over living all those years in Distractoid darkness

2. Education. MODS frequently point to education as the single biggest factor in getting to a better life. For now, try to avoid the minefield of the web, where Google searches summon the good, the bad, and the ugly with equal efficiency. Books — and audio books — by Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell and Dr. Russell A. Barkley are good places to start. Go for the most recent titles in this rapidly evolving field.

3. Medication. Strongly consider medication — even if you have qualms or have heard negative stories. This forum is too narrow to address in depth this overly fraught subject. There are a lot of F-F’s — Fake Factoids — out there in this area.  My opinion: for many adults with ADHD, the potential benefits of medication outweigh the risks of undertreated ADHD: risks such as being fired from your job, separation and divorce, abuse of (much worse) substances like alcohol and street drugs, incarceration, crushing debt, and early death due to accident or neglect.

4. Smart Therapy. ADHD Specific and Action not talk therpay: MODS know talk therapy for ADHD is just talk. Effective ADHD professionals are action-oriented and know how to see your life through an “ADHD lens.” Coaching by a trained ADHD Coach or Cognitive Behavioral Therapist with ample ADHD experience are good ways to go.

5. Baby Your Brain. Sleep, Exercise, and Diet matter. As part of your ADHD education, learn how to take care of your brain by eating well, sleeping better, and improving diet.

6. For Now Avoid New and Novel: For now, stick to the basics on the list, and avoid alternative treatments like brain-training, brain scans, neurofeedback, diets that make big promises or seem too good to be true — and probably hundreds of other similar schemes you might find on the web. I’m not saying they have no value nor am I discrediting alternatives. My point is that you have enough to think about already, as well as proven, fact-based actions to take first.

7. ADHD — The short and long of it.

MODS know that ADHD is a lifelong condition that shows up in different ways as we move through the different phases of life. MODS also know that Distractoids are naturally prone to focus on the here and now and be blind to what lies farther down the road. Make a conscious effort to see that ADHD has both immediate and long-term consequences, and that short term relief and lifelong success are not the same animal.

Good Luck,

Coach Drew