Feeding Your ADHD Brain … Literally

Perhaps you’re asking, why should I worry about feeding my ADHD Brain?  My reply would be, “How many times have you heard it said, ‘You are what you eat?’ “ We know that an unhealthy diet contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and diabetes. It’s ironic, however, that the subject of food rarely comes up when we talk about the mind and the brain – an area where what you eat is as powerful, if not more so, than any medication. It is such an obvious point that it usually goes overlooked.  The most common errors, like skipping breakfast or self-medicating with food, can sabotage the best of treatment plans.

In recent years, the whole field of diet and the brain has really taken off. Gradually, we have come to take nutrition seriously, viewing food as the remarkable “drug” that it is – carrying with it enormous potential to make us well … or to make us sick.

Nutrition and ADHD

When it comes to treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other cognitive and emotional conditions, diet and nutrition play an important role. If you do not eat properly, you can become distracted, impulsive, and restless, not to mention develop all sorts of other symptoms. You can look like your have ADHD, even if you do not. Therefore, the treatment of ADHD – as well as any effort to lead a healthy life- must now consider diet as an essential component of a proper regiment.

A diet high in carbohydrates, sugar, trans-fatty acids (and all those other ingredients contained in the many processed foods we Americans love to consume) is not beneficial for anyone, least of all people coping with ADHD. People with ADHD need to “feed” their brains with the right kinds of foods. So what are these “right” kinds of foods?

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

One of the most important recommendations doctors are starting to make to their patients is to supplement their daily diet with omega-3 fatty acids. Current estimates suggest that the average American eats only 125 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per day, which is only about 5% of what the average American ate a century ago. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids lead to chronic inflammation throughout the body, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. We also know that omega-3 fatty acids increase the levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that ADHD medications act to increase. Therefore, although not yet proven, it is logical to speculate that omega-3 fatty acids may provide a specific nutritional treatment for ADHD.

Tips to “Feed” Your Brain:

  1. Always eat breakfast, and eat protein as part of that breakfast. Protein is the best long-lasting source of brain fuel.
  2. Eat lots of foods with vitamin C. I say eat because the Vitamin C in pills is not as good as the vitamin C you get from eating fruits and other foods that contain vitamin C.
  3. Blueberries and grape-seed extract are rich in antioxidants and may help improve memory.
  4. Super blue-green algae may be even better than blueberries for cognition and memory.
  5. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids – like wild salmon, sardines, and tuna.
  6. Also take a daily supplement of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish-oil, as well as in flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and certain other plant sources.
  7. Take a daily multivitamin supplement that contains vitamin C, vitamin B-12, folic acid, vitamin E, selenium and others (but be careful not to overdose on the fat-soluble vitamins, which are A, D, E and K).
  8. Drink lots of water. This is good for you in many different ways. Eight glasses is a good amount.
  9. Finally, eat a balance diet, of course. The meaning of balance changes as we learn more. Avoid junk foods. Try to eat fresh foods, and avoid foods that come in boxes, bags, wrappers, packages or tubes.

NOTE: When it comes to vitamins and any kind of supplements, remember to always consult with your doctor first, who should always supervise what you’re taking.

Wellevate

WellevateWe want to make it as easy as possible for you to access high quality vitamins and supplements to help you achieve your health goals. That’s why we have opened our own online store called Wellevate. 

With our Wellevate store, you can order the highest quality vitamins and supplements available online and have them shipped right to your home – you can even purchase some of my best selling books including, Driven to Distraction, Delivered from Distraction and The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness.

Setting up an account with our store is free. Plus we are offering you an exclusive 10% discount and free shipping for orders $49 or more.

Visit our online store: wellevate.me/hallowell

Additional Resources:

Read Dr. Hallowell’s blog post on Family Breakfast.

Click here to learn about “Exercising your ADHD Brain”

Read about Connect: The Other Vitamin C.

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This post contains affiliate links.

Promoting Hope in ADHD

Most people who discover they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) whether they be children or adults, have suffered a great deal of pain. The emotional experience of ADHD is filled with embarrassment, humiliation, and self-castigation. By the time the diagnosis is made, many people with ADHD have lost confidence in themselves. Many have consulted with numerous specialists, only to find no real help. As a result, many have lost hope. So the most important step at the beginning of treatment is to instill hope once again.

Individuals with ADHD may have forgotten what is good about themselves. They may have lost, long ago, any sense of the possibility of things working out. They are often locked in a kind of tenacious holding pattern, bringing all theory, considerable resiliency, and ingenuity just to keeping their heads above water. It is a tragic loss, the giving up on life too soon. But many people with ADHD have seen no other way than repeated failures. To hope, for them, is only to risk getting knocked down once more.

And yet, their capacity to hope and to dream is immense. More than most people, individuals with ADHD have visionary imaginations. They:

  • think big thoughts and dream big dreams;
  • can take the smallest opportunity and imagine turning it into a major break;
  • take a chance encounter and turn it into a grand evening out; and,
  • thrive on dreams

But like most dreamers, they go limp when the dream collapses. Usually, by the time the diagnosis of ADHD has been made, this collapse has happened often enough to leave them wary of hoping again. The little child would rather stay silent than risk being taunted once again. The adult would rather keep his mouth shut than risk flubbing things up once more. The treatment, then, must begin with hope.

Hope is at Hallowell

ADHD and HopeCome to one of my Hallowell Centers and let us introduce you to my strength-based approach. It begins with a personal connection with you—and your family if appropriate—and one of our clinicians.  We believe in the power of positive connection above all else. Together we turn what you may have thought was a “deficit disorder” into an advantage full of powers that can’t be bought or taught. We open up what you’ve known all along was a treasure chest, but you just didn’t know how to open.

Tips on Managing ADHD

Dr. Hallowell's ADHD ToolboxI have ADHD and I understand the struggles associated with ADHD. I know it can take a variety of strategies and tools to manage ADHD symptoms. (And they might not always work.) In this Distraction episode,  I share a few quick insights about how I manage my own ADHD on a daily basis.  One of my tools is self-acceptance. It took me awhile to get there, but now I accept who I am. 
One of the biggest challenges facing people with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) is maintaining a positive self-view. In this ADDitude article, “All You Need is Self-Love,” Dr. Hallowell, who has ADHD himself, outlines 10 strategies to repair your self-esteem, and ADDitude readers weigh in with their stories of self-acceptance.

ADHD Diagnosis and The Parents Role

ADHD Diagnosis: The Good, The Bad, and The Parents Role: If you are the parents of an ADHD child, you may worry, and rightfully so, that the diagnosis can make your child feel labeled or set apart from other kids. It is important that your child not feel defined by ADHD. Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is like being left-handed; it’s only a part of who you are. Try to answer any questions your child has about ADHD, but keep the answers simple and brief. Some older children may want to read a book about ADHD, but they don’t need to become experts on ADHD – just experts on living their lives as fully and well as they can.

One of the most important things for the parents of a child with ADHD to do is help that child feel good about who he or she is. You’ll need to search out and promote the positives – both about life and about your child – even as you deal with the all-too-obvious negatives. If your child feels good about who he is and about what life has to offer, he will do far better than if he does not.

The Positives of ADHD:

All 3 of my children have ADHD. When they were diagnosed, my reaction was not typical. Because I’m an expert in the field and I have ADHD myself, I was actually excited. I know that ADHD is as much a marker of talent as it is a potential problem, and I know the problems can be taken care of.

I am thrilled my kids can think outside the box, are intuitive, persistent, and creative, have a “special something about them,” have huge hearts and a desire to march to the beat of their own drums. All these positives are what make people with ADHD so interesting and potentially successful. Knowing all this, I was thrilled that my kids had a condition that could lead them into phenomenal lives. But I was so happy only because I have the special knowledge most parents do not yet have. I embrace the condition of ADHD. I do not see it so much as a disorder, but as a trait, a trait that can lead to huge success, joy, and fulfillment in life. My wife was a little more skeptical.

The Challenges of ADHD:

It is true that people with ADHD tend to contribute to the world in a very positive way. But first, they must get a handle on what’s going on. And they cannot do it alone.

My wife, being married to me, also understands ADHD and how positive it can be. But, being a mom, she was also a bit afraid, especially with our first child. Would things REALLY work out all right? Did I (me, Ned Hallowell) REALLY know what I was talking about when I said this could be a blessing, not a curse? At the beginning, she was apprehensive.

ADHD is a trait that can lead to very bad outcomes (the prisons are full of people with undiagnosed ADHD). With tendencies toward impulsive behaviors, and stimulation-seeking activities, people with ADHD are at increased risk. They are more likely to suffer from addiction, to get into accidents, to engage in not-well-thought-out-risk-taking behaviors. Having ADHD is like having a race-car engine for a brain, with weak brakes. Once you strengthen your brakes, you’re ready to win races! But those breaks really need some work, first.

The challenges of ADHD show up in all aspects of our children’s lives – in school, in social dynamics, in family relationships, and especially in their self-concept. Our kids run the risk of believing that their “bad behaviors” are a reflection of them. It is our job, as the adults in their lives, to teach them to manage their challenges, while celebrating their strengths.

What’s the Role of the Parent?

One of the reasons my kids, thank God, are doing well is because my wife provided the love and structure that they needed. I could not have done that on my own, nowhere near. My wife, Sue, deserves so much credit for being such an awesome mom. She always has faith in the positive, even when she is dealing with problems and conflicts. She never gives up. This is what these kids need more than anything else. Love that never gives up.

Ultimately, like Sue did with my children, a parent’s love, combined with a healthy amount of structure, can steer a child with ADHD to success in adulthood.

Team-Work – Everyone Has a Role:

Just as we encourage our children to find their islands of competency, we parents should make an effort to do what we do best. In our family, Sue was a master of structure, organization, and making sure each child went off to school fully clothed, book bag in hand, with a good breakfast in the belly. I was more the fun-maker, the new idea generator, the soft touch. This sometimes led my wife rightly to resent that she had to be the “heavy,” and I got off easy being the fairy-god-mother. But we worked this out with discussions. I tried hard to follow her lead and not undermine her attempts to create order.

There is usually one parent, more often the mom than the dad, who takes on the role my wife does in our family. It definitely helps when one parent can take the lead. But when there are reasons that will not work – like when both parents are ADHD, themselves – then dividing responsibilities based on strengths can make all the difference in the world.

This varies from family to family. Let the best organizer tend to organization and the best cook make the meals. Let the best mathematician help with math homework, and the best ball player play catch. There are many tasks that both can do equally well. The point here is to try to make sure those tasks are divided more or less equally. And, don’t forget to give your kids chores as well!

Finally, my most important single rule for parents is this: Enjoy your children. If you are doing that, you are doing it right, almost for sure.

What Else Do Parents Need?

The most important thing for parents to do when their children have ADHD is to find the support you need, and use it! Whether you join support groups, or coaching groups, don’t hold the frustrations inside. Tell trusted others about what you’re up against. As you build a team of support, for your child and yourself, you’ll have the strength to persevere, and you’ll be teaching your child the valuable lesson of reaching out for help and support. You cannot do it alone, nor should you try.

Learn more about ADHD for parents HERE and about getting an ADHD diagnosis.

In this Distraction Podcast on “What You Tell Yourself Matters” Dr. Hallowell speaks with Steven Campbell about how your brain is always paying attention. Changing your mindset can take a lot of work, but it is possible. Steven grew up thinking he would never be good at math, and went on to write two textbooks on the subject! It’s all about what you tell yourself and what you’re willing to do.  LISTEN NOW.

 

Seven Critical Habits for ADHD Adults

In today’s increasingly harried, “crazy busy” world, the ability to organize oneself is a critical survival tool, as there are so many more potentially distracting stimuli and demands on our time. For the person who has ADHD, that challenge is an even greater one. In his best-selling book on ADHD, Delivered from Distraction, Dr. Hallowell identifies seven critical habits that can help adults struggling with the condition:

1. Do what you’re good at.

Don’t spend too much time trying to get good at what you’re bad at. (You did enough of that in school.)

2. Delegate what you’re bad at to others, as often as possible.

If you don’t have someone to help, then hire someone. Delegate to others what you’re bad at.

3. Connect your energy to a creative outlet.

I call this the “creative imperative.” People with ADHD really need a creative outlet. I found that for most of us with ADHD, this is essential.

4. Get “well enough” organized to achieve your goals.

The key here is “well enough” organized to achieve your goals. It doesn’t mean you have to be Martha Stewart.

5. Ask for, and heed, advice from people you trust.

Then ignore, as best you can, the dream-breakers and finger-waggers. An old friend of mine used to say, “Be a dream maker not a dream breaker.”

6. Make sure you keep up regular contact with a few close friends.

I believe in the other Vitamin C – Vitamin Connect. Make sure you stay in touch with a few close friends. Loneliness is the biggest medical problem in the US today. One of he antidotes to loneliness is to have friends. If you don’t have friends, try to make some by join some groups visit the library, a gym. Or “get a dog.”

7. Go with your positive side.

Even though you have a negative side, make decisions and run your life with your positive side.

This list is a guide. It’s what works for me. If these habits don’t resonate with you, add your own to the list.

In this previously released Distraction mini episode on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective ADHD Adults, Dr. Hallowell gives his spin on Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, with a similar list as above for those with ADHD. From doing what you’re good at, to asking for advice, you’re bound to find a few nuggets of applicable wisdom for your own life.

If you’re looking for ideas on managing your crazybusy life, read Dr. Hallowell’s blog post on:  Taking Back Control of Your Crazybusy Life.

Learn more about Adult ADHD & High Achievers here.

How ADHD Affects Relationships

Overview of How ADHD Affects Relationships:  In couples where one or both partners have ADHD, one of the biggest challenges  is developing mutual empathy and understanding. Without that, couples slip into the blame game.  They struggle and fight. The non-ADHD spouse comes to feel as if she is the parent, not the spouse, of her ADHD mate.  The ADHD spouse feels as if he is the naughty child, always being reprimanded or scolded, always slipping up, always causing problems.  This is what my wife and I call “The Big Struggle,”  which often becomes the standard pattern of interaction.

If “The Big Struggle” isn’t addressed, it can disrupt the relationship and leave each partner frustrated, angry and exhausted.

How to Improve Relationships when ADHD is part of the picture:

The following guidelines or “tips” might be helpful in dealing with other issues of concern to couples in which one partner has ADHD. These tips offer a starting point for discussion between the partners. The best way to use them is to read them out loud together. Pause over each suggestion and discuss whether it might hep you. As you do this, you can begin to set up your own way of dealing with ADHD in your relationship. The keys to it all, as is the case with most problems in couples, are improving communication and resolving the power struggle.

First, make sure both partners understand what ADHD is.

Likewise, make sure that it is properly treated in the ADHD partner by a doctor who really knows what he or she is doing, i.e., someone who has extensive experience with adults who have ADHD.

Set aside time every day to discuss and plan. 

Build a boundary around this time.  No interruptions!  Make a rule that during this time there is to be no blaming, fighting, or leaving the room.  The purpose of this time is to discuss–not argue–and to plan what has to be done that day, that week, that month.  As you do this, you will gradually learn how to communicate rather than struggle, and solve problems rather than create more of them.

Try to understand conflicts from the other person’s point of view. 

This is often difficult!  But doing it gradually leads to mutual understanding, better communication, and deepening of love and respect.

Remember what it is that you like about the other person.

Keep it in the back of your mind for those moments when you’re angry.

Respect, respect, and more respect.

Try always to treat your partner with respect.  Repeated put-downs can become a habit and mark the beginning of the end of a relationship.

How to Avoid the Big Struggle

Attack and defend, defend and attack.   This can become a habit, a very demoralizing and destructive one.

When you see an argument or fight getting started, try to catch yourself and say to yourself, “Let me try to do this a little differently this time.”  If you usually yell, fall silent.  Or if you usually get quiet, speak up.  If you usually cry, don’t.  Likewise, if you usually rage, try negotiating or listening instead.  Just try to vary your usual way of responding.

Have fun together.

Do it however you want to do it, but make time to have fun. Sounds obvious, but many couples don’t do this.

Try to keep up an active sex life.

Distractibility subverts romance and eroticism, but ADHD and sexuality can absolutely co-exist in a healthy relationship. Learn how to revive intimacy, intrigue, and excitement with your partner in this ADDitude article “When ADHD Disrupts (and Ruins) the Romance” by Dr. Hallowell.

Finally, remember, no relationship is constantly happy, perfect, and blissful.

When times are tough, hang in there with each other.  Get some alone time, but don’t go into hiding.  You need each other.  It is easy to be there for each other in good times, but in hard times, this is when you really need one another.  This is when you just plain do it—whatever it is—for the sake of your partner and for your own sake as well.  Don’t give up.  There is always, always hope.

CLICK HERE to learn more about ADHD and Relationships.

In this Distraction Podcast, Dr. Hallowell sat down with his wife Sue for a heartwarming conversation about his own ADHD and their marriage. Sue doesn’t hold back and gives listeners a clear picture of what it’s like to be the only one in their house without ADHD.

ADHD Effect Marriage Seminar Starts September 16th.  Turn around your struggling relationship with this wonderful seminar, given by ADHD relationship expert, Melissa Orlov.  The seminar lasts 8 weeks, is given by phone, and Hallowell readers get a special discount.  Use the code HALL16 at registration checkout for $30 off.  Get more information at this LINK!

 

The Big Struggle – ADHD and Family Dynamics

What often develops in families where one child has ADHD (or one adult for that matter) is what I call the Big Struggle. The child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) chronically fails:

  • to meet obligations,
  • do chores,
  • stay up with schoolwork,
  • keep to family schedules.
  • get out of bed on time,
  • arrive home on time,
  • be ready to leave the house on time,
  • keep his or her room tidied and,
  • doesn’t cooperatively participate in family life, and, in general,
  • “get with the program” at home

What Happens When A Child Doesn’t Cooperate?

The behavior described above leads to the big struggle.  The parents set chronic limits with increasingly stringent penalties and increasingly tight limitations on the child. This, in turn, makes the child more defiant, less cooperative, and more alienated. As a result, the parents feel more exasperated with what increasingly appears to be an attitude problem, under voluntary control, rather than the neurological problem of ADHD.

As parents become more fed up with the child’s behavior, they become less sympathetic to whatever excuses or explanations the child may offer. Furthermore, they’re less willing to believe in promises to do better.  This leads to stricter consequences in a usually futile effort to control the child’s behavior. Gradually, the child’s role in the family solidified around being the “problem child.” Consequently, he or she becomes the designated scapegoat for all the family’s conflicts and problems.

The Designated Scapegoat

There’s an old saying about scapegoating that the process requires a mob and a volunteer. In the case of the Big Struggle, the family forms the mob, and the ADHD behavior volunteers the child. Virtually anything that goes wrong in the family gets blamed on the ADHD child. Over time the child is draped with a kind of blanket of derision and scorn that smothers his or her development of confidence and self-esteem.

Quashing the Big Struggle takes work – work on a daily basis. Like weeds, it will come back if allowed to.

Here are some tips on quashing the big struggle:

  1. Get an accurate diagnosis. This is the starting point of all treatment for ADHD.
  2. Educate the family. All members of the family need to learn the facts about ADHD. This is the first step in the treatment. Many problems will take care of themselves once all family members understand what is going on. The education process should take place with the entire family, if possible. Each member of the family will have questions. Make sure all these questions get answered.
  3. Try to change the family “reputation” of the person with ADHD. If you are expected to screw up, you probably will. While if you are expected to succeed, you just might. It may be hard to believe at first, but having ADHD can be more of a gift than a curse.
  4. Make it clear that ADHD is nobody’s fault. First of all, it is not Mom’s or Dad’s fault. Furthermore, it is not brother’s, sister’s or the grandparents fault. Finally, it is not the fault of the person who has ADHD. It is nobody’s fault.  This is extremely important for the whole family to understand.
  5. Give everyone in the family a chance to be heard. ADHD affects everyone in the family; some silently. Try to let those who are in silence speak.
  6. Try to break the negative process and turn it into a positive one. Applaud and encourage success when it happens. Try to get everyone pointed toward positive goals, rather than gloomily assuming the inevitability of negative outcomes.
  7. Make it clear who is responsible for what in the family. Everybody needs to know what is expected of him or her. Everybody needs to know what the rules are and what the consequences are.

Learn more about balancing ADHD and the family, finding professional support, and how separating the person from the problem can help your family dynamic in my ADDitude article on: Make It A Family Affair.

 

ADHD Students and Remote Learning

Many students with ADHD or other learning challenges struggle in the classroom. With the sudden shift to remote learning, ADHD students face the additional challenge of classroom instruction in the home environment. Distractions at home and the presence of parents, siblings, or guardians pose increased difficulties.  However, by tapping into the strengths of children with ADHD, Dr. Hallowell shows how teachers can find ways to support these children and accomplish everyone’s learning goals.

In his webinar on Supporting Students with ADHD During Remote Learning, Dr. Hallowell reviews how ADHD affects academic achievement. He also offers suggestions on the best practices and strategies for schools to use to promote creativity and achievement.

Dr. Hallowell also addresses remote learning in his podcast, How One Teacher is Streamlining Digital Learning.  In this episode, he shares some of what he learned in a recent conversation with Tasha Otenti, a teacher at Milton Academy in Massachusetts. Now that distance learning is the new normal for students and teachers are making big adjustments to meet their needs, they discuss how she’s adapted her teaching style to accommodate distance learning.

ADHD and Students

Dr. Hallowell has worked with children and adults who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) since he was diagnosed with ADHD himself back in 1981.  Learning about ADHD and educating the general public has been one of his life’s major missions. Teachers have always been one of his favorite audiences because teachers saved him from what could have been a disastrous outcome when he was growing up.  So he knows firsthand the enormous power that teachers wield to change lives dramatically for the better.

He also knows that teachers devote countless hours ensuring that lesson instructions are designed to meet the needs of each child. However, the needs of students with ADHD often do not fit neatly into recognized learning styles. Yet, many teachers have not been professionally trained to recognize or address these specific needs.

How Mining Magnificent Minds (MMM) – ADHD for Teachers Can Help

Dr. Hallowell created Mining Magnificent Minds to provide teachers with all they really need to know to bring out the best in every student who has ADHD.  MMM is a series of original, online videos intended to deepen educators’ understanding of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; sharpen their skills for working with students with ADHD; and provide them with the tools to “unwrap the gifts” that lie inherent of every child.  This program is also a helpful tool for parents.  

Click here to watch the Module#1 and learn more.

Learn more aboutMMM HERE.

Then if you’d like to purchase MMM, use this LINK TO PURCHASE all 10 videos at a special $15 discount for Dr. Hallowell’s subscribers. ($49.95 less $15 = $34.95) NOTE: You’ll receive an email with a link to download all videos within 24 hours of purchasing.

Learn about managing ADHD in the classroom with Dr. Hallowell’s 10 tips HERE. 

If you’d like to have Dr. Hallowell speak at your school, learn more HERE.

ADHD: Negative and Positive Traits

ADHDAlthough I’m known for talking about the advantages of having ADHD, in my YouTube video on ADHD: Negative and Positive Traits, I acknowledge the flip side of the trait.

As one of my patients recently said to me “ADHD Sucks.” Consequently, I understand why someone with ADHD could get mad at me for having the temerity to say, “having ADHD is actually a good thing.” Even more so  when they’re dealing with the negative traits.

In this video on the Negative and Positive Traits of ADHD, you’ll learn:

  • about the negative traits and how having ADHD can negatively affect your life;
  • its positive traits;
  • advice on what you can do about it; and
  • the importance of accepting who you are.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

ADHD DiagnosisFor a perspective on why “An ADHD Diagnosis is Good News,” listen to my Distraction podcast on the topic. You’ll learn why good things can happen when you get diagnosed with ADHD.
Pediatric neurologist and ADHD expert, Sarah Cheyette MD joins me in this episode. We talk about how learning you have the condition can be life changing.

LISTEN NOW.

For those of us who have  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) anger is common and can be a big problem.  Now is a particularly tough time for people with ADHD. Especially since people with ADHD don’t like being told what to do. As a result, having to “shelter-in-place” because of Covid-19 causes us to feel “fenced in.” This sets us “ADDers” up to be unusually prone to anger. Click HERE to learn about ADHD and Anger.

If you think you have ADHD, but haven’t been diagnosed, learn about ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment – What You Should Know. 

ADHD and ANGER

For those of us who have  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) anger is common and can be a big problem.  Now is a particularly tough time for people with ADHD. People with ADHD don’t like being told what to do. So having to “shelter-in-place” because of Covid-19 and feeling “fenced in” sets us up to be unusually prone to anger.

Instead of waiting for the situation to arise in which you get angry and perhaps become destructive, try developing strategies for dealing with your anger in advance.  Try working on ways to reduce the anger and frustration you carry around with you.

These methods might include:

  • Frequent exercise to work off stress
  • Control of substance use so that you do not lower your level of self-control with drugs like alcohol or cocaine.
  • Regular practice of meditation or prayer.
  • Getting a reasonable amount of sleep every night.
  • Psychotherapy or coaching to learn how to put feelings into words instead of action

Of course, anger can get the better of everyone from time to time, whether you have ADHD or not. When anger gets the best of you, however,  accept the human inevitability of messing up and do not let the sinking feeling of here-we-go-again devastate you.  Instead, learn from the experience and say,  “I messed up. I apologize. Let me make it right.”

ADHD and AngerIn this YouTube Video on ADHD and Anger, I discuss how to identify and watch out for your triggers and why now is a particularly tough time for people with ADHD.  You’ll also learn how to manage your expectations, reign in your tendency to loose control and why it’s important to connect with others.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH!

 

The Imagination in ADHD

I have ADHD.  That means I have one hell of an imagination.  But is having a potent imagination a blessing or a curse?  Centuries ago Samuel Johnson, who had one hell of an imagination himself and also fit the profile of ADHD, wrote about “that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must always be appeased by some employment.”

Our imagination is hungry, we who have the condition so misleadingly called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.)  I say misleadingly because the last thing we suffer from is a deficit of attention.  To the contrary, we possess an abundance of attention.  Our challenge always is to control it.

The most difficult part of our mind to control is our imagination.

Hungry?  It’s ravenous.  It must be fed. It knows no feeding schedule, but when it feels the need, it lets us know.   If we can then find employment, to use Johnson’s word, for our imagination in some pleasant or constructive project, scheme, or other undertaking, then our imagination becomes our ally, even proof of our genius, our originality, our way of changing the world even.  When suitably employed in creating something of value to us or to others, then we give thanks to our genes and our Creator for this gift called imagination we did nothing to earn but can never abandon.

However, when we cannot find suitable employment for this hungry faculty over which we have so little control, why then it turns on us with a ferocity others can’t understand. It sets about:

  • devouring us,
  • ripping away at our self regard, our
  • feeling of security in the world, our
  • confidence in a bountiful future, and our
  • actual grip on reality, on our own sanity.

What happens when our imagination is not fed?

When not fed by some suitable employment, our imagination turns into an:

  • untamed and vicious beast, an
  • an ugly, salivating monster,
  • our worst enemy, made all the worse and far, far more dangerous by being of us, in us, and always with us.

We can to nothing to dispose of it or rip it out of our minds.  To quiet it we sometimes turn to drugs, alcohol, or compulsive behaviors like gambling, spending, or sexual escapades.  It is the rapacious hunger of imagination, unable to find suitable employment, that turns so many of us who have ADHD into addicts and compulsive people of all kinds.

But is also that hungry, never-satisfied imagination that turns so many of us into:

  • artists,
  • inventors,
  • discoverers,
  • builders, and
  • creators of all stripes and types.

It is that hunger of imagination that drives the man with ADHD always onward in the lifelong search for something “commensurate to his capacity for wonder”.

Were our capacity for wonder not so great, were we not so predisposed to imagine greater than what ordinary life offers up, we would not be driven all but mad by our need to fill that capacity for wonder–to create the perfect song, or swing, or double helix, or arc, or love, or empire.  Had we punier, less intrusive imaginations, we could relax.  But because we can envision the ideal, because we can imagine perfect love, perfect symmetry, perfect prose, or perfect beauty of any kind, then we can never rest easy until we create it.

Which, of course, means we can never rest easy.

So, tell me, does this hell of an imagination create heaven, or hell?  Is it a blessing or a curse?  If you ask me, it’s both.  I have no choice but to live with it, allow it its shabby stall in my mind, feed it best as I can, and try to stay on the sane side of life as it works its way with me.

Watch Dr. Hallowell’s YouTube video on Tapping Into Your Imagination

If you wonder if you have ADHD, click here to learn about the symptoms of ADHD.