People with ADHD Often Tell It Like It Is

The fun part of being an ADHD coach is to have those with ADHD articulate what I couldn’t.  In the last year I’ve had a few emails, texts, and social media posts that really get to the heart of the realities of ADHD.  I’d like to share a few with you and get your thoughts (please leave comments).

In the context of dopamine, one YouTube fan posted this comment on one of my videos:

“I simply won’t get the same dopamine boost from reading a textbook as I do from playing online games or watching YouTube videos, so I’m going to pick the latter every time. I’m not as motivated by having a reward at the end as I am by having rewards built into every moment of an activity.”

It is hard to admit it, but if you are honest with yourself, you will admit that most of those with ADHD can relate to wanting rewards built into every moment of an activity.  Another YouTube fan posted this on my video, titled “ADHD: Is Foraging for Information Pleasurable?”

“I’m a chronic researcher and over-preparer… it’s my main way of procrastinating while appearing productive.”

This type of post is common among my clients. They have a learning addiction but don’t realize it because addiction is considered bad and learning is considered productive. And it is productive if you do something valuable with it.  It isn’t productive if you are learning more to get out of doing the work. In such situations, it can impair your life.

Another post was related to a video concerning emotional self-regulation. Emotional regulation is challenging because emotions are reflexive acts. It’s like when a doctor hits your knee with a hammer and your leg kicks out. The trick is to catch yourself when there is an emotional trigger, which is the pause, to breathe and get your thinking brain back on track to evaluate things rationally.  Here, this personal experience really illustrates the process:

“That is very interesting! When I was 13 years old, I came home from school to find my neighbor’s house on fire, which was a very traumatic experience for me. I remember a window breaking and hearing all the alarms going off inside the house as I felt a sudden rush of heat and smoke, which I now know was a backdraft or flashover (smoke explosion). What was my instinct? DANGER!!! RUN!!! Put it out!!! That’s exactly what I did. I ran to the neighbors’ houses and told them to hose down their properties before running home to safety. The other day, I heard a loud beeping sound that was the same pitch as a smoke/fire alarm, and, even though the fire happened 14 years ago, I immediately went back into that same fight or flight response, but was able to breathe and think, ‘What is making that beeping sound? My fire alarm isn’t flashing, so, it’s not that. Oh! It’s a backup alarm on the garbage truck outside. No big deal. Whew!’”

Another comment was made on one of my YouTube videos about working memory. It is really more about the dopamine working memory relationship.  In the end, I love how it illustrates how the Internet has created a challenge for the ADHD community.

“Sitting still, reading a screen all while not clicking off into the oblivion of the web is hard enough. I need physical textbooks and printed out notes and papers. I miss the old Internet that was slow.”

At times, I, too, think we all miss the older but slower dial up Internet.

During the COVID pandemic, more and more of us had to work from home. Here’s a text from a client who really spoke to the little things about being with people in a work environment that make a big difference.

“One of the frustrating things for me with the widget company was if I forgot like one step or needed to remember something, if I was in the office I could just ask the person next to me… hey, blah blah blah and then they would answer me and it could be over in two seconds. But when I have to write that question in a Skype and she’s busy at her house doing work and when I was asking because she couldn’t see what I was looking at, it was really difficult. She got very frustrated with me and I’d be frustrated because I know it would be something that she could just look at and help me in two seconds. So that’s just kind of the verbal bouncing back-and-forth thing that you were talking about… BTW, she felt I asked her too many times so she complained and I got in trouble.”

Wow! As simple as this concept sounds, it has a profound impact on ADHD self-regulation and productivity.  In the end, it illustrates why we work together and learn together. Working or learning remotely can seem to be a good thing. Often, it seems convenient but actually is less productive.

I hope these comments spoke to you.  If you’ve got a favorite, let me know by posting in the comments.

2 thoughts on “People with ADHD Often Tell It Like It Is

  1. I love research and made it into a highly successful career. I became famous in my field because of my research and was asked to speak at conferences, wrote killer articles that changed practice in major institutions, was cited in legal opinions, gave speeches and classes…and I made a lot of money. But I never kept enough money for myself. I spent it on my children and my aging mother, and now I don’t have enough money, though certainly enough to live on nicely — just not as much money as I should have had. And I wasn’t good at knowing whom to trust, so that I didn’t detect that a consultant hacked my work to the point where going back to do more in the same field would have been difficult. Luckily, I’d reached the point of boredom with that field — you guessed it: because I had come to understand my field better than just about anyone else. The challenge was lost. Now I have to figure out what I want to do next. Keeping all the pieces together on the chess board and working toward a coordinated strategy is hard when so many moves must be coordinated. And I’ll always have the challenge of figuring out whom to trust, whose advice to follow.

    1. It is hard to keep the pieces together on the chess board. Often, it is helpful to talk through what you have, where you want to be in 5 years, and then connect how you will get from here to there. Again, it can be made easier if you talk through what you are doing to help you with clarity. Thanks for your comment.

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