17
Aug 14

Robin Williams ADD and Mental Health

I obviously did not know Robin Williams, and as far as I know he never publicly announced that he had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD. However, I don’t think anyone who saw his crazy, topic to topic, anything can and will pop into his head, style would be surprised. As we’ve mentioned before, ADD and depression are comorbid indicators, meaning one often goes along with the other.

I have no intention of trying to build something off of Robin Williams’ tragic death, nor will I use it as an excuse to promote anything. However, I would like to take this opportunity to remind readers of several things.

brain chemistry add adhdFirst of all, mental illness is a real medical, biological thing. That is, it is not a defect of character. You don’t have a mental illness, like ADD, because of something you did, because of something you didn’t do, or because you just aren’t trying hard enough. Even someone in wonderful circumstances, with everything life can offer at their fingertips can be depressed, have ADHD, or any other mental issues. Just because science can’t put its finger on exactly what is wrong yet, doesn’t mean it won’t eventually. Current theories of depression revolve around the body not properly producing, or overly efficiently eliminating brain chemical such as serotonin. You can’t make your brain change how it deals with chemical reactions just by getting a better attitude, and you can’t make your brain less ADD by just focusing harder.

Second, there are always going to be people who can, or won’t, accept that ADHD is real, that depression is real, or that mental illness is real. That is irrelevant. Science doesn’t care if you believe in it or not, it just is. These people apply their own personal histories as the arbiter of facts for the entire human race. That’s not only crazy, it’s incredibly self-centered. Just because you haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. If it seems that ADD and depression, and other mental illnesses are more common these days it is only because medical science has learned so much in the past 30, 40, and 50 years. The human brain is hard to study because the experiments must be delicate and involve complex instruments. Even then, we are guessing that we are measuring the right things. The next 50 years will bring even more discoveries about the human brain. None of them will be less relevant just because nobody knew about them in 1955.

Third, and this is the most important. There is no need to be miserable in life. No matter what is going on with you, there are people who can help. Free counseling is available in many venues. You doctor can, and should, be a good starting off place, but if they aren’t willing to take your help to the next level, find someone who can. Talk with a friend, a stranger, a loved one, anyone. Just saying out loud that you are worried, sad, or scared can be a huge relief. You don’t have to take prescription medications, or change anything about yourself if you don’t want to, but just pretending there is nothing going on because of fear, loneliness, or doubt, is not the solution. If you are thinking of hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Hotline first at 1-800-273-8255.

Enjoy your day. There are many out there who cannot. If you are one of them, make today the day that you seek out answers.


06
Sep 13

ADD More Energy Less Tired

People with ADD often take medical stimulants or other prescription medications to help control their ADHD symptoms. Ironically, adults with ADD often complain of being tired or having low energy. While the various ADD medications can alleviate some of these symptoms, thanks to their stimulating effect, many times the boost can be short lived. Furthermore, for those ADDers who are currently not taking any medication or looking for alternative, natural ADD treatments, the stimulant solution offers little help.

As regular readers of this ADD tips blog know, I’m not one to really go in for pseudo-science or even limited empirical evidence. On the other hand, when I find something that helps me, I like to pass it along, just in case it would help others as well. I’ve stumbled upon something that helps with my energy in the morning and throughout the day that I wanted to share. Keep in mind that this is something that works on my ADHD and may or may not work on yours, although there is no down side if it doesn’t.

More Energy from Nutrition

When it comes to attention deficit disorder, or any other medical condition, the one almost universal constant is that better diet and nutrition, and regular exercise is helpful. While not a cure, exercise and diet make almost anything better, from diabetes, to cancer symptoms, to yes, ADD/ADHD, better nutrition and healthful exercise are always beneficial.

There is a trick to better nutrition, however, Like most folks, when I think of eating better I think about all of the things I should STOP eating. However, real nutrition comes from not just reducing the amount of junk food you eat, but also from increasing the amount of healthy things you eat. It turns out that eating more healthy stuff is actually harder for me than cutting out things. That’s because I actively dislike many healthy foods.

Stop eating nachos? Well… OK, if I must.

Eat this bowl of spinach? Eww, yuck.

Recently, however, I stumbled upon a wonderful little trick that lets me not only eat better nutrition, but do it quickly and painlessly, first thing in the morning when my nutrition needs the biggest boost.

There is a book out there, actually two books, about increasing health by reducing inflammation in the digestive track. One is called Clean, and the other is Clean Diet, I believe. (I’ll do a quick write up about them in a subsequent post.) These books greatly overreach in my opinion. However, my wife wanted to try out some of the concepts, and being a supportive husband, who frankly could stand to be in better shape, I went along.

One of the main things you do with this diet plan is to make nutritious shakes. The basic shake consists of nutrient rich leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, and so on, some coconut or almond milk, combined with protein powder, some coconut oil (for taste and fat), and some fruit like bananas, apples or berries, along with a bit of ground flax seed.If you’re doing the math, you can see some pretty nice nutrition in this combination. You can also see that to actually eat this every day would not be fun. Eating it for breakfast would be even worse. But, by blending it into a shake, you can chug it down with your morning coffee.

Here is where it gets interesting. When I was doing this diet plan I never really thought much about it. However, when I stopped I noticed a sharp drop in my energy levels in the morning. These low energy levels are the reason I pound coffee like a camel gearing up for two weeks walking across the desert. (Camels drink a lot, right?) However, the energy is never really all the way there even if my mind is racing a bit. I always blamed my ADHD. After all, if it takes a boatload of Adderall to affect this brain, how much is coffee really going to help?

Check out my review of Credit Karma here.

As it turn out, I might just need a little more in the nutrition department. I tried just the shake, and blew off everything else from the diet and the energy returned. It’s gotten so I can actually feel the difference. I find that the secret ingredient is kale (specifically baby kale). While the shakes made with spinach and other greens are good, the ones with kale seem to be particularly effective. Experiment with your own combinations and see what works for you.

Healthy ADD Energy Shake Tips

  • Use plenty of liquid. The difference between a juicer and a blender is pulp. Unfortunately, when making these kinds of shakes, the pulp is all the good stuff. That means this drink will not be smooth or pulp free. I said it was easy, not that it was yummy. I don’t like these shakes per se, but for just a few minutes of effort, the result it worth it. The more liquid you use, the thinner, and more drinkable your shakes will be.
  • If you really don’t like the pulp, don’t use apples. Apples seem to resist blending the most of any fruit.
  • If you don’t like the taste, add bananas. Bananas flavor is apparently pretty powerful. Throw a banana in your shake and most of the taste will be banana.
  • Chug - this isn’t for pleasure. The taste isn’t phenomenal and the thickness isn’t fun either. But, if you chug your shake, you can be done with it in just a few seconds and go back to drinking your morning coffee.
  • You’ll need a decent blender. — The gold standard in blenders is the Vitamix. However, at around $400, that’s the same price as a new TV. While a different blender will be louder and maybe not as perfect, it will do just fine as long as it isn’t some $40 Target blender. I shelled out for a Ninja blender which means that there is something in my kitchen named Ninja, and it does a nice enough job whacking all of this nutrition together.

Try out the shake idea with your favorite recipes and let me know what you find works (or doesn’t) for you.


19
Mar 13

ADD Cell Phone Status

I think I’ll turn this into an ADD infographic later, but for now, so I don’t forget it, here is the ADHD cellphone status sheet in text format.

add cell phone adhd graphic

Cell Phone Status – Not Expecting Call

  • Location: Laying around somewhere, probably with my keys… or wallet.
  • Ringer: Still on silent from when I turned it off in that meeting two days ago. (Becoming vaguely aware of the fact that no one has called in a while.)
  • Charge: Probably still has battery. I haven’t called anyone in a while.
  • Concern Level: I’ll look at it eventually. If it was important, they would have emailed, or messaged, or Skyped, or posted on Facebook. I should check Tumblr just in case.

Cell Phone Status – Expecting a Call

  • Location: Sitting on desk right next to me. Wait, better double-check. Yep, there it is. Is it ringing?
  • Ringer: Deafening. Hopefully the neighbor’s baby isn’t asleep when someone calls.
  • Charge: 100%, and still plugged in. I hope it lasts long enough…
  • Concern Level: Hyper-vigilant. I’ve checked the ringer four times in the last hour. I keep looking at it just to see if it lights up just in case the speaker went out after the last call. I’ve tested it by calling my voicemail, and by calling my cell from another phone. Maybe I should test it again.

Here’s a link to a post about Credit Karma.

If you can’t tell, I’m expecting a call today.

Hope your day is full of adventure and success.


11
Mar 13

Little ADD Tricks

Sometimes, all it takes is a little tweak to make your life with ADD more successful and easier to manage. Unfortunately, we ADDers often spend all of our time looking for those big life adjustments. While it is true that having ADHD can require big lifestyle changes, the little day-to-day things that get lost are actually the ones that can have the greatest immediate impact on our lives.

Small ADHD Tricks and Adjustments

As you go through your day, think about little things you could do to help you remember, focus, and manage your daily life just a little better. Today’s tip from yours truly is on the tip of my brain because I’m heading to the grocery store.

add-tips-tricks graphicOf course, no ADDer gets through the grocery store without some distraction. I find a list to be very helpful. I actually have two lists. One list contains the ingredients that I need for the meals I’ve planned out. The other list contains all of those little lifestyle things that you end up needing, things like batteries, shampoo, coffee filters, and so on. The second list, I keep on a whiteboard in the kitchen where I can write those things down right away so I don’t forget them between when I think of it, and when I end up with a piece of paper. I just take a picture of the list on the whiteboard when I head out. That way, whether I end up at Target or Safeway, or whatever, I can be sure to remember the toilet paper.

Today’s ADD trick is about coupons. I have one of those educational coupon books you buy from your kids as a fundraiser at school. Some of the most valuable coupons in the book are for $5 off of groceries. Each one is good for a certain two month time period. The problem is that I always forget to use them. First, I leave them at home. Then, when I finally put them in my wallet, I forget to give it to the cashier. After a while, I forget it is even in my wallet at all, and I find it months later after it is already expired.

ADD Tip for Coupons

Fortunately, a little ADHD tip occurred to me not too long ago. I always use the same credit card to pay for my groceries. This is both habit and it helps with money management. Now, when I remember the coupon and head to the store, I fold it around the card I use to pay. That way, I CAN’T forget it. It is in the way when I go to pay.

The result?

I actually use the $5 off coupon every two months and end up saving $30 over the course of the year, more than offsetting the $10 I paid for the coupon book. Everything else in there ends up just being money saving gravy!

What little tips do you use in your daily life?


06
Mar 13

ADHD Study Suggests Higher Suicide Rate in Adults

A recent study published in Pediatrics has a couple of potentially interesting conclusions. The first conclusion is that ADD from childhood often persists into adulthood. That isn’t news to anyone who reads this website, but you know me, I like my knowledge backed up by published science. The researchers used a sample of 5,700+ children associated with the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and found 367 were diagnosed with ADHD as children. They then followed up with that same pool as adults when they were approximately 29 years old. 232 of the original pool allowed access to their medical records.

ADHD Continues into Adulthood

The researchers found that approximately 30 percent of the adults who were diagnosed with ADD as children continue to have ADD as adults. In other words, about a third of children diagnosed with ADHD as kids will still have ADHD as adults. That isn’t new information. Most of us ADDers on here know all too well that ADD doesn’t necessarily go away once you turn 18 years old, despite the fact that health insurance companies like to stop covering it then.

The percentage is a new confirmation of just how many adults who had ADD as kids end up with it in adulthood as well.

ADD May Have Higher Suicide Risk and Other Risks

Another interesting tidbit of this particular study is statistically valid finding of a higher incidence of suicide in the population of people diagnosed with ADD as children. Before anyone goes and freaks out, the raw numbers aren’t quite as scary. Out of the 367 people in the study who were diagnosed with ADHD as children, three of them had committed suicide by the time the study was done. In contrast, 7 people in the larger pool of nearly 5,000 non-ADD participants committed suicide. While statistically relevant, it does NOT suggest that people with ADHD are doomed in anyway.

new add research graphicAlso not new information, was the finding that people diagnosed with ADHD have a higher incidence of other mental health issues. Called co-morbid indicators for ADD, these other mental health issues most commonly included depression and alcoholism.

What was new information for me was that these higher incidences of metal health problems were also indicated for the population that had ADD as children, but did not continue to have ADD as adults. This may feed into the thought that ADD is a smaller subset of a larger, as of yet, not understood mechanism acting within the brain.

As always, the key is to get the help you need when you need it and then adjust your life accordingly. There is always plenty to enjoy in life no matter who you are. Play to your strengths, and pursue your interests. You’ll still forget stuff and leave important things laying around, but you’ll have plenty of fun along the way.


21
Feb 13

Forgetting While Doing

Sometimes, it can be difficult to convey just how extreme the distractibility of ADD / ADHD can be. The best way, of course, is to related concrete ADD examples. Unfortunately, they don’t always spring to mind upon command. Today, my mind was kind enough to produce and example for me :)

Getting Distracted While Getting Started

forgot what I started graphicToday, I was sitting in the library reading a programming book when a thought occurred to me. The timing was fortuitous, because I wanted to pick up some books on the topic. I finished reading to a break on the page, placed a bookmark, pulled out my library card, logged into the catalog computer, and… nothing.

I couldn’t remember what the thought was that had prompted this course of action. I sat there and tried to remember. I re-opened the book to see if looking at the page would re-trigger the thought. I re-read the page I was on to see if that jogged anything.

Nothing.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember what it was I wanted to get those books about. Whatever it was, was important enough to get me to stop what I was doing. Since I was interested in the material I was reading, that means it carried some weight, or I would have kept reading and tried to remember it for later. But, try as I might, I can’t pull the thought back up. I’m sure it will occur to me later, hopefully, I be able to better remember it then.

The point is that while executing the tasks required to carry out a deliberate function, my mind got so caught up in the mechanics of getting ready to search for the necessary books, that it lost track of what it was I was wanting to look for. It is the difficulties of this kind of distraction that makes things like writing it down, or leaving yourself a voicemail, insufficient solutions.

For whatever it is worth, I’m not currently taking my Adderall. It’s things like this that I wonder if the ADD medication helps, and not the “bigger” things that maybe are easier to notice.

Onward.

 


26
Apr 12

Overcorrecting ADD Behavior

My office is a nightmare. The shelves are crammed with what was originally placed on the shelf, plus all of the things that were stuffed on to of those things. There are file folders on top of books, there are books on top of files, the lesser used printer has stuff that can’t be chanced with getting lost on one of those full shelves. Behind me, the floor is piled high with papers, file boxes, laptop bags (I seem to collect them), and plenty more stuff. The irony is that while I have never been a neat person, my office never used to get this bad. It is truly terrible now, thanks to me being diagnosed with ADD, but not for the reason you think.

Correcting ADHD Behavior

Many have noted that being diagnosed with ADHD can actually be liberating at first. There is a great sense of relief at knowing the name for what has been going on for all these years. Frankly, Attention Deficit Disorder isn’t really all that scary sounding. To me, that sounds way better than something like depression or even Seasonal Affected Disorder, with its unfortunate acronym telling you exactly how to feel about that one.

However, after a while, ADD becomes like any other chronic condition. You start to try and fix it, or manage it in some ways. There are often two components of ADD treatment. One is often ADHD medication, the other is behavior modification or therapy, usually in conjunction with a health professional or ADD coach. Either way, the self-aware ADDer will eventually become aware of at least some of the things that his or her ADD seems to propagate within their personality.

For me, the biggest problem I have in the entire world is procrastination. I have no doubt that I could have had success a hundred-fold above and beyond everything I have ever achieved in any arena in life if I could just stop procrastinating and get things done at even a semi-reasonable pace. Many ADDers report being unable to adequately focus and get going until a deadline looms. For me, the deadline must often pass, and the consequence be severe before I can get going. It is the one thing that I would gladly change about myself.

Knowing this, shortly after being told I have ADD I noticed myself organizing my office ahead of a huge, important project, with a very looming deadline. Like many ADDers, I had a reasonable excuse for this ADD trait kicking in. After all, I would be much more productive if everything were organized neatly and I could find what I was looking for right away.

The catch, of course, is that a full office organization of this kind can take hours, precious hours that should be spent on the task at hand. Organizing would have been helpful last week. Doing some of the 20 hours of work that are left before the deadline 12 hours away, would be much, much, more helpful. And so, I stopped.

Unfortunately, that was years ago and I haven’t really organized since. Every time I even think about organizing a list of important things to do floods my mind and I feel guilty for moving around even one scrap of paper, believing that what I am doing is procrastinating. Frankly, that is what I’m doing sometimes, but doing that occasionally would likely be better than getting to where the current state of my office is.

This is a sneaky ADD issue to avoid successfully. Often, in our attempts to better ourselves and “make up” for the various character trait of ADHD that cause us distress, we overreact. Shifting too far is often no better than staying where you were on the behavior spectrum. It can be difficult to see when you have overreacted, but there are some signs to look for.

Signs You Have Overcorrected for ADD

  1. You set a hard and fast rule – Life isn’t static. Things change. Organizing isn’t always procrastinating. Sometimes it is good, even necessary. If you have a “never” or “always” lurking in your mind, you may have overcompensated.
  2. The new situation is just as bad – Never cleaning leads to a state just as bad or worse than cleaning too often, or at the wrong times.
  3. You feel bad about doing something – Adjusting to ADD is about understanding how your mind works and making tweaks to the things that you want to in order to achieve your own goals, which should be primarily about happiness. If you’ve set up a structure that makes you feel bad about doing something, then chances are you’ve overcorrected. Stop and think about what you actually feel bad about. Should you really feel bad about that? Feeling bad about cleaning or organizing is not what I wanted. I wanted to be sure that I was doing it for the right reason at the right time, but it progressed to just feeling wrong about doing it at all. If you feel bad about overeating or not exercising or yelling at a spouse, that makes sense. I’m fine with feeling bad about those things. But if it doesn’t seem right that you feel negatively about something, then it probably isn’t.

Have you overcorrected  any of your ADD traits? What kinds of ADHD symptoms have you gone too far with?


16
Apr 12

You Might Have ADD If…

Jeff Foxworthy does this stand-up comedy bit where he goes through a list of things that, if true about you, might make you a redneck. My personal favorite is, “If you mother does not take the Marlboro out of her lips before telling the state trooper that he can kiss her ass… you might be a redneck.”

My dad’s, who grew up on a farm, favorite is “If you have ever unloaded a pickup truck by driving backwards really fast and slamming on the breaks… you might be a redneck.” He’ll then add, by way of explanation, that that is the fastest way to unload a pickup truck.

I’ve often thought of doing a set of these for ADD. “If you ever <did something>, then you might have ADD.”

Unfortunately, I often forget them before I can compile any sort of list. I figured that if I started chronically them here as I came up with them, then I might get my list of funny ADD traits together faster. Ironically, I had a really great one yesterday that is currently playing hide and seek with my mind. I’m sure it will come to me, again, when I’m somewhere that remembering it will be totally useless to me, like in the shower, or in the car, or while giving a presentation.

Anyway, I had an ADD Moment today that I think would make a decent one. Here goes:

“If you’ve ever been to the fridge to get something you just bought at the store and been unable to find it… because it was still on the counter, you might have ADD.”

It’s a work in progress.

This one came to me because I went to the store this morning. I did not forget the groceries in the back of the car (Score!), but I did have to go to the bathroom as soon as I got them all into the house. After finishing my restroom business, I went about my daily business, only to come back a half an hour later to be surprised by all the groceries still on the counter.

Fortunately, everything was still frozen or cold, as necessary, and I got them all put away.

At times like these, I try and replay what happened in my head. I like to see where I got distracted or where my train of thought derailed. This was one of those times where everything was so rote that I’m not sure I was actively thinking anything at all. At least I can’t remember anything running through my head.

I probably just threw on the autopilot to go into the bathroom and didn’t resume full control until I had moved on to something else.

Update: I just thought of another one.

If you remember that you haven’t eaten lunch yet… at dinner time… you might have ADD.

How’s your Monday?


10
Apr 12

Wellness Formula for ADD ADHD

Regular readers of Addessories know that I’m all about real research, real data, and real science. I don’t go in for fake ADD cures or treatments, and I certainly don’t believe in miracle pills that claim to treat almost anything that has to do with the brain. So, you’ll forgive me if I head into crackpot territory.

ADD Wellness FormulaFirst, this is something that I have noticed for ME. There is no science, no data, and not even the company that makes Wellness Formula makes any sort of claim about ADD. But, for some reason, it seems that Wellness Formula helps with ADHD symptoms from the confusion, fuzzy thinking side of things.

Let’s back up and take this from the beginning.

What Is Wellness Formula?

Wellness Formula is a pill from Source Naturals, sold at Whole Foods, among other places, that helps with overall “wellness.” If wellness seems pretty vague, you are right. Basically, I take it when:

  1. I’ve been around or are going to be around sick people
  2. I go to the doctors office (sick people)
  3. I start feeling sick
  4. I get a sore throat
  5. I feel a little bit “off”

You get the idea.

Basically, to me, Wellness Formula can best be described as a pill that contains every vitamin, herb, root or supplement that has been shown to have a beneficial effect on preventing or shortening the effects of the common cold. Or, as the company puts it, things that support the immune system.

Echinacea? It’s in there.

Vitamin C? B? A? Yep, yep, yep

Garlic Clove? Check.

Elerberry, Goldenseal, Astragalus, Ginger, Grape seed, you name, it’s in there.

In other words, if one of those things works, you are covered. The rest I guess are filler.

Wellness Formula Helps ADD?

Now, here is where we get from colds to ADD symptoms.

Sometimes, my head just doesn’t feel right. It might be fuzzy, slow, apathetic, blah. Use your favorite word for just not quite firing on all cylinders. When that happens, sometimes, I throw a Wellness Formula pill down my throat with the rest of my vitamins.

What I have noticed as I’ve tried to monitor my ADHD more closely now that I’m off (at least temporarily) the Adderall is that it seems surprisingly effective on that fuzzy, cloudy, uncaring mental state that is an ADD symptom for some people. The reason I notice it so much is that it seems very connected to my ADD, but is not necessarily one of my “everyday” symptoms.

If you ever have to sort of discombobulated feeling going around in your head and you want to try and do something for it, and are willing to go a little out there on the ADD alternative treatment branches, try Wellness Formula. It might not help, or it might just be a placebo affect, but it can’t really hurt, and it might just keep you from getting sick :)

Have you ever tried Wellness Formula for ADD? Do you have other kooky, regular, vitamins or supplements that seem to inexplicably work for you?

 


19
Feb 12

ADD ADHD What I Do Meme

For those of you who spend a lot of time on the internet (and let’s face it, a lot of us with ADD do), you may have seen something called the “What I Do” meme. It’s basically an image, usually two rows of three columns with pictures depicting things like, “What my mom thinks I do,” and “What society thinks I do,” finally ending with “What I really do.”

Here is an example of one I found for writers:

What I Do Writer Meme

As you can see, the whole thing is a joke that pokes fun at both the perceptions of someone as well as actually poking fun at the person the meme is about. There are thousands of these things out there about just about any topic or profession you can think of. Ironically, a significant number of them show Moms thinking that the  person in question hangs out getting drunk. I’m not sure what that says about many professions and hobbies, or what it says about mothers, but that is not our topic for the day.

Someone sent me a What I Do – ADD / ADHD one of these. Now, before anyone goes crazy about how attention deficit disorder and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is no laughing matter, let me remind you that

a) I have ADD

b) laughter is the best medicine

c) it’s a JOKE!

So without further ado, the What I Do ADD Joke Meme:

What I Do ADD ADHD Meme

 

By the way, I think this could be funny without using the cliche of getting lost in the middle of doing something. ADD isn’t really always like that, of course. Still there is some comedy gold in ADD and ADHD if you are willing to remember that your life is not only as full and rich as everyone else’s, it can also be just as funny as well :) That being said, when I get some free time, I think I’ll punch out a few of these that are maybe just as funny, while being a bit more clever.