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6 Dating Mistakes ADHD Adults Make

February 12, 2014

ADHD Dating MistakesHaving ADHD is hard but I know something harder.  Growing up, dating/living with/marrying/divorcing every wrong person possible, and not finding out that the reason your love life is such a train wreck is because you have ADHD.

For me, this became almost an integral part of my personality and how people saw me.  Great gal, horrible taste in men.  I used to joke that if there was one unemployed, drug-addicted, criminally inclined asshat in a crowded room of wonderful, caring, loving men….he is the only one that would interest me at all.  There were several times in my 20’s and early 30’s that I just gave up for a few years, frustrated at my inability to see past the shiny exterior at the junker underneath.  I read every self-help book there was about women who pick the wrong men.  I asked the advice of everyone I knew.  If there was a tactic, I tried it, a set of rules, I followed them, but the end result, with limited exceptions, was almost always the same.  I would spend a year or two supporting an emotionally unavailable jackass who did nothing but make me feel bad about myself.

And then came ADHD

One of the most transformative things about my diagnosis was getting to re-write this part of my story.  Rather than being “a broken man magnet” or “so desperate she’ll date anything”, I began to see how my ADHD impacted everything about my romantic relationships.  It dictated who I picked.  It gave me a blindside a million miles wide.  It was the reason I was willing to rationalize away almost every kind of bad behavior….after all, I was no picnic myself.  There are many things about having ADHD that make my life amazing and better than it would be without it, but when it came to relationships, it is my Achilles heel.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, here are the 6 dating mistakes adults with ADHD are apt to make.

Mistake #1 – We Don’t Date

I am old enough to have a college age child and I don’t think I have ever been on a “date” at least not like the ones in the movies.  I meet people and then I am in a relationship with them.  There are only those two steps.  This is a common problem amongst us ADHDers and the next 5 mistakes will help explain why.

Mistake #2- Light Speed “I Love Yous”

If there is one thing that characterized every relationship I have ever been it, it is this.   ADHDers fall fast and they fall hard which unfortunately means they don’t often fall for the actual person they are dating.  This doesn’t always mean jumping in the sack too soon, but often times that is part of  these kinds of light speed relationships.

If you think about the dynamics of a new relationship, it’s easy to see why this happens.  New love is incredibly interesting and produces a ton of dopamine and oxytocin.  Unfortunately, this often means we go so fast that we end up making Mistake #2.

Mistake #3 – Settling for Someone Who Doesn’t Deserve You

When we are newly in love, us ADHDers can be amazing at looking past someone’s flaws, well, that isn’t exactly true, it’s more like we don’t notice them at all.   I used to think I was just color-blind when it came to red-flags because I never saw them until it was too late for them to be useful.  

I blame all that dopamine and oxytocin racing around in our brains and making us feel so good that anything bad just doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, this makes it almost impossible to do that thing “daters” are supposed to do – learn enough about the other person to decide whether or not we actually like them.  This is a step we often miss and when we do, we may find ourselves laying on the ground, with a banged up heart, wondering what the hell just happened. 

Mistake #4 – Hyperfocus, Hyperfocus, Hyperfocus, ….Squirrel!

One of the hallmarks of my past relationships was that I never noticed all those red flags on the road to rock bottom… but once I got there, they were all I could see.

This is an example of what can happen when we hyperfocus on the relationship in the early stages and put all our efforts towards making it work.  Eventually, our attention shifts to other things which causes very real changes in the relationship.  This kind of hyperfocusing  is also why so many ADHD relationships are great, until right after the wedding.   If are hyperfocusing on our relationship, our partner, and our partner’s needs during the early stages, the other person comes to expect that as the norm.  But when our attention shifts, and it will, they can be left feeling alone, like we don’t love them anymore, or worse, like we sold them some kind of lie.

Mistake #5 – Acting Like Siamese Twins

So, having a brain full of dopamine is pretty great and being in a new relationship is also pretty great and when you combine them it is very easy to want to make those great things happen ALL THE TIME!

I don’t even need to explain why this is so unhealthy or how it contributes to/exacerbates the other mistakes above.   Unfortunately, the rest of your life like,  your job, your friends, your family, your pets, and your plants might not be willing to sit back and wait for you to remember they exist and devote some time to them.  You may not realize until the moment you need them the most that you lost them along the way

Mistake #6 – Living in Magic Land

In my life, magic land is the place where all magical thinking, like that I am someday going to win the lottery, happens.   We ADHDers are really great at creating this kinds of places and we really like to spend a lot of time there.  But when your head is in the clouds, it is difficult to stay grounded.  But the very last thing you need when you have a brain bursting with dopamine and overrun with oxytocin is your feet leave the ground.

When we spend our time in magic land, we create the version of the person we are dating that we like best, which is easier when we aren’t seeing all those pesky red flags.  We create this perfect version of who we are with this person.  We create this perfect version of who the two of us are together.  We get so wrapped up in imagining our happily even after that we don’t realize none of it is real and being pulled back to reality can be incredibly painful.   Magic land lays the foundation for the worst of these mistakes to have the harshest and most long-lasting repercussions.

If any of these sound like you, take heart.  Making these common mistakes will only keep you from finding true love if you don’t do anything different.  But the first step is always being able to see where you are going wrong….so you can stop taking that path.

Rori Boyce is Living an ADD Life and helping others like her along the way.  Learn more about Rori and what she does here

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Help Me Change People’s Lives…..Vote Every Day

February 12, 2014
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FedEx ADHD ImageI am incredibly excited to be one of the small businesses vying for the FedEx Small Business Grant program this year (you can learn the specifics of this program at the bottom of this post.

The grand prize of $25,000 would be transformative for my business and in order to inspire people to vote for me every day I wanted to expand upon the information provided on the Turning Leaf voting page.    In order to qualify for the grant, each small business had to answer three questions.  These questions and my expanded answers are below.  I hope you will take one minute every day for the next week and a half to cast your vote to help me change the lives of those with ADHD and PTSD.

 

You can vote here.

 

You can also Like my Facebook Page where I am making it incredibly easy to vote by posting a link every day.

 

So without further ado, this is what the money will mean to me and my business.

 

What inspired you to get into the business you are in today?

At age 36 I was diagnosed with ADHD and it changed almost everything in my life. I found that the resources available for adults with ADHD were very limited and I made it my mission to change that. I am very passionate about raising ADHD awareness and removing the stigma associated with having a brain that works differently than other brains. There is nothing more rewarding than helping an adult, a parent, or a family learn to thrive with ADHD even though they live in a non-ADHD world.

But ADHD isn’t the only mental health condition that has impacted my life.  My mother was in a tragic car accident when I was in my early teens which left me with a long lasting case of PTSD.  Over the past four years I have had the privilege to witness how my personal experiences with ADHD paired with my style of coaching has changed the lives of the people I have worked with.  As I think of all the veterans, abuse survivors, and others suffering from PTSD, I feel called to find a way to help in that area as well.

As the wife of a man with Asperger’s Syndrome, I am painfully aware of how few resources there are for adults with the condition.  The more I learn about the challenges Asperger’s adults, their spouses, and their families face, the more drawn I am to create a program tailored to that area as well.

As I look to the future, I hope to expand my coaching practice to provide more services to those with ADHD, those dealing with PTSD, and eventually to those with Asperger’s Syndrome.

How do you define success for yourself and for your business?

As part of the decision to leave my very lucrative career in Information Technology to follow my passion and create a business focused on helping others, there were three things that I felt I had to have in order to feel successful.  I am happy to say that four years in, they are still the same three things.

 1. Operating in a way that aligns to my values which means not taking clients that I don’t think I can help, offering sliding scale/reduced fees for those who can benefit from what I do but who cannot afford it, and basing my business decisions on what is right rather than on what will increase profits.

2. Helping as many people/ families with ADHD as possible to build successful lives.  For me, this also means making sure my clients are getting value for their money and benefiting from my coaching.

3. Being profitable enough that I can afford to do pro-bono work.

If you take those three together, what success truly means to me is being able to use the skills and gifts that I have to help others in a way that I can always be proud of while also being able to support my family financially.

How would you use the FedEx SMB Grant money to make a significant impact on your business and/or on others?

This grant would allow me to do three significant things.

1. Enhance my education so that I can bill through insurance companies and significantly increase the number of people for whom coaching is accessible/affordable. What this really means is that a portion of the money would go towards paying tuition in a Master’s of Social Work program on the road to becoming a licensed therapist.  One of my greatest frustrations since starting my business has been the number of people who cannot get the benefit of coaching, which is the second most effective treatment for adult ADHD after medication, because it is not covered by insurance and therefore cost prohibitive.  I do what I can to charge lower rates and provide a sliding scale but there are some people whose lives could be changed for the better who will never be able to access these kinds of services unless I can bill their insurance.  In order to do that I need to be licensed.  

2. Offer more free ADHD Awareness and educational seminars for schools, businesses, and other organizations.

 

This is something I already do on a limited basis.  A portion of the money would be put toward arranging more free programs to help raise awareness for ADHD.

3. Expand my business to include working with those with PTSD to manage and overcome this debilitating disorder, especially former Iraq/Afghanistan veterans.

This really ties back to number 1 which would provide me with the appropriate skills and background to expand my practice to include PTSD and Aspergers.

Fedex Vote

You can vote here.

FedEx Small Business Grant Details 

 

Vote for your favorite small business to win a grant.

Thousands of small businesses have entered the contest. Your vote can help your favorite small business win:

  • The grand prize of $25,000
  • One of four first-place grants of $5,000
  • One of five second-place grants of $1,000

The number of votes a business receives will boost its visibility in the contest and is one factor that FedEx will consider when selecting the top 100 finalists and the winners. We will review every submission to identify the most compelling business stories.

ADHD in the News – Simon Says It’s Time to Play

February 5, 2014

ADHD Simon SaysA study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders near the end of 2013 may offer parents of ADHD children some new ways to help their child.  The goal of the study, which included a group of pre-school aged children who have been diagnosed with ADHD and their parents, was to determine the effectiveness of play-based intervention on decreasing ADHD symptoms.  The participating children and parents were given specific games to play that were designed to increase the children’s ability to control their inhibitions, enhance their working memory, increase their attention span, improve visio-spatial ability, expand planning abilities, and improve motor skills.  Each family was asked to play these games at home for 30-45 minutes every day for the eight week duration of the study.   At the end of the study, both parents and teachers of the participating children reported improvement in ADHD symptoms that lasted for up to three months.  Additional research is needed to expand the participant pool and to determine why the games seemed to be beneficial in mitigating ADHD symptoms.

I think this is great news for any parent with a young child with ADHD and I will be interested in what future research indicates about why playing games like “Red Light, Green Light” and “Simon Says” resulted in symptom improvement.  The article theorizes that these games help speed up or otherwise alter brain development which results in improvements in symptoms.    But since this theory is based on the unproven idea that ADHD deficits result from delays in brain development, I am not on board with their reasoning at this point.  There are just too many theories and not enough facts for me.

BUT

My skepticism on the resulting theory aside, I think every parent of an ADHD child should embrace this idea, especially those who are struggling.  No matter what else it does for your child, and for you, spending 30-45 minutes a day having fun with your child can never be anything but a great thing.   So, block out time on your calendar because Simon Says…..It’s Time to Play!

Read the article I read here.

 

 

 

 

ADHD in the News – Driving…..is Dangerous, Take Your Meds

January 31, 2014

car accident

A new study conducted by the Karolinka Institute in Sweden indicates that drivers with ADHD are almost 50% more likely to be involved in a serious automobile accident than their peers without the disorder.  The study also showed that when med with ADHD take medication for the disorder, they can dramatically decrease this risk.

 

For me, this shows two things I have always known to be true.

1. Having ADHD makes it hard to be a good driver.  It requires attention, patience, impulse control, and focus – all of which we are traditionally very bad at.  Although, in my own personal experience, driving was much more difficult for me in the first few years after I started taking medication because I couldn’t distract myself from the things about driving that drive me crazy……mostly, other drivers.  You can read more about my experience in this post I wrote about ADHD and road rage.

2. Meds matter, especially to adults.  In fact, one of the best things about meds for me is that they make driving possible.  In the months preceding my diagnosis, I quit smoking and one of the greatest challenges I had was being able to stay awake while driving when I wasn’t chain smoking.  Apparently, my brain finds driving far too boring to remain conscious.  In order to stay awake in those first few non-smoking months I would eat, constantly, because someone once told me your body will not allow you to fall asleep if there is food in your mouth in order to prevent choking.  Really, it was just a good excuse to eat a lot of Boston Creme Donuts.  But, three months post-smoking I had already gained almost 40 pounds….most of it from driving donuts.  Then came Adderall, which was a much better replacement for all the caffeine and nicotine I used to self-medicate with than donuts ever could be.  I can totally understand how meds makes driving safer for all ADHDers on the road.

You can read more about the study here or here.

 

 

ADHD in the News – I Guess It Really Can Make You Fat!!

January 23, 2014

Funny Fat ADHDFor those of us who are sporting a few extra pounds, it is always nice to have someone or something else to blame.  For me, one of the best things about my ADHD diagnosis was being able to blame it for all the things I wasn’t very good at!  And now, thanks to the wonders of science and those fabulous people who have a long enough attention span to do comprehensive research, I don’t have to murmur things about big bones or bad genes anymore….I can just blame my ADD!

The study followed a group of boys who had been diagnosed with ADHD as children for more than 30 years and included a series of checkpoints where each participant answered questions about their lives and symptoms.  When the ADHD participants turned 18, a control group of young men without ADHD was added to the study to enable accurate comparisons.  By the time the entire group reached their 40’s, twice as many of the men who were diagnosed with ADHD as children had a body mass index indicating they were obese.  And this was seen across the board regardless of whether or not the men were still experiencing ADHD symptoms.

Wow!  I guess I had it right last year when I wrote about how ADHD complicates my weight management problem in “I Would Never Have Known I Was Fat if it Wasn’t For My Wii“.

But, despite my glee at being able to blame the size of my butt on my ADHD, it doesn’t give me an excuse to be overweight….just more information on what keeps getting in the way of changing that condition.  And information is power, especially when you have ADHD, because it helps you figure out how to get where you need to be when the paths other people take just don’t work for you.

Read the original article I read on Scientific American.

ADHD in the News – Sunny States Have Lower Rates

January 18, 2014

ADHD SunshineAnyone who lives up here in the great white North where winter means short cold days and long dark nights is familiar with SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.  But new research indicates that the lower exposure to sunlight experienced in northern areas might also contribute to the development of ADHD.  The study which was performed in the Netherlands looked at the rate of ADHD diagnosis in 10 countries, including the U.S.  Then they looked at which regions in those countries received the most sunlight annually.  What they found was that across the board, the regions of each country that got the most sun had half the rate of ADHD diagnosis as those that got the least.  Here in the U.S., the data showed that the Southwest including Arizona, Nevada, California, New Mexico, and even Utah got the most sunlight and had about half the diagnosis rate as the least sunny places like the Northeast.  The results held fast even after factoring out other things that could be skewing the data.

The research team notes that since some people with ADHD have messed up biological clocks, which are controlled by sunlight exposure, the findings point to the need for additional research.

From my perspective, there may be something to this even though my formative years were spent in sunnier locations.   We have noticed, and I often recommend to my clients, that when symptoms are bad – especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or shut down – just going outside can act as a jump start to your body and a palette cleanser for your mind.   Now, I don’t know if it is sunshine or fresh air or outdoors or nature or just the change of scenery but it definitely makes a difference.  And since odds are that people who live in sunnier (read warmer) places are likely to spend more time outside than those of us in the frozen north it may come down to sunlight impacting the severity of symptoms rather than the condition itself.

You can read the article on US News here.

 

ADHD in the News – Which States Medicate

January 17, 2014

ADHD States MedicateWith all the recent press about the ever increasing diagnosis rate there are a number of theories floating around about why the diagnosis rate, which is hovering around 11% per the CDC, is so much higher than the estimated prevalence (in children) of around 5%.  One of the more prevalent theories, that affluent parents are using the ADHD label and stimulant medication treatment to give their children an “edge”, was recently put to the test by a research team who compared differences in the use of stimulant medication treatment across different parts of the country.

Now, if the theory were true, the results of this data analysis would show that the highest concentration of stimulant use corresponded to affluent areas.  But the data doesn’t lie and this data proved that theory incorrect.  In fact, when socioeconomics were factored in, the results showed that higher treatment rates were prevalent in areas with lower socioeconomic status, rather than the other way around.  It might be easy to take that result and flip it on its head and go back to blaming bad parenting (since poor parents are almost always generalized into bad parents) for the increased diagnosis rates and seeming “overuse”of medication, but when you take into account the other important factors found to correlate to higher treatment rates, I think the real picture becomes clearer.  In addition to socioeconomic status, the other high treatment area factors were a higher availability of pediatricians and more funding for special education.

What these results say to me is that the kids who are lucky enough to get their ADHD treated with stimulant medication are lucky because they have more access to medical care and the special education services that can be the difference between a child who is diagnosed with ADHD, treated, and given the support needed to thrive and a child who is labeled as bad and slips through the cracks.

And, as a final thought, the next time someone starts talking about the “overuse” of medication, use these numbers to show them why they need to stop talking about things they clearly know nothing about.

1. According to the experts, the estimated prevalence of ADHD in children in 5% and in adults is 4.5%

2. This study found that only 2.5% of children and 0.75% of adults are being treated with stimulant medication.  (The study did not include those who are treated with non-stimulant medication like Intuniv and Strattera)

3.  This means that if you just use the prevalence figures, nearly 50% of children and 80% of adults with ADHD  are not being treated with stimulant medication.

4. AND if you then extrapolate this out to use the diagnosis rate rather than the estimated prevalence rate, less than 25% of children with ADHD are being treated with the stimulant medication that has proven to be the most effective treatment for ADHD.  (There aren’t any good diagnosis rates for adults)

Math has never been my thing, but even I have trouble understanding how we can be overusing stimulant medication to treat ADHD when 75-80% of the those with the condition are not taking the medication.  In my world, that looks more like a gross injustice.

You can read the original article about this study on the Psychology Today website.