January 17, 2019

Owning Your Diagnosis

Your life won’t improve until you accept and own your diagnosis. That’s when the party really starts.  It’s taken me several years to really change my thinking about ADHD. Once I changed my thinking, I could change my actions and improve my life, and you can, too. That’s actually psychology 101 – your thoughts determine your feelings. Your feelings determine your actions your actions determine your results. So if you want different results, it’s time to think different thoughts.

You can read more about my diagnosis experience HERE.



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Kristen Carder

 Welcome to the I Have ADHD Podcast where it’s all about education, encouragement, and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carder and I have ADHD.

Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor, and challenges of adulting, relationships, working, and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain, unlock your potential and move from “point a to point b.”

Hey, what’s up. This is Kristen Carder and you are listening to the I Have ADHD Podcast, episode number three. Today, we’re going to chat about one of the most important steps in the journey to success with ADHD and that owning the diagnosis. Once I [00:01:00] really understood how important this was and I finally gave in and really identified as being an ADHDer.

My life began to change for the better. Let me paint you a picture here. A man is diagnosed with ADHD. Let’s call him Robbie. Robbie is diagnosed with ADHD in his teens. He’s on medication that helps with symptoms. But as we all know, pills, don’t teach skills. And since his executive functioning is rather poor, the medication definitely isn’t a cure.

He is constantly rushing around. He’s constantly late for work and he speeds a lot because of this. He often gets tickets, which he has a hard time remembering to pay. Speaking of which Robbie’s wife takes care of the bills at home because they both know that he’ll never get them paid on time. And she gets mad at him for spending too [00:02:00] much money on the credit card.

They fight about this a lot, but nothing really changes. They can never seem to get their head above water financially. Robbie’s areas of the house are a complete disaster, and this is always a source of tension in the family because his wife is sick of cleaning up after him, after all he isn’t. There are a million projects at home and at work that Robbie has started and never finished.

As soon as the current project gets difficult, he moves on to something else. This is cost him promotions at work, and he knows it. Robbie is definitely the fun and spontaneous parent, but he often makes promises to his kids that he doesn’t keep not because he’s a bad guy. He’s a good guy. And he loves his kids, but because he forgets or something else more urgent comes up.

Robbie’s wife knows that he has ADHD, but she’s not really sure what that means other than his attention sucks. They don’t really talk about his ADHD Robbie’s [00:03:00] wife wishes that he would step up and get his act together. He seems disengaged in the tasks and the chores at home. And she feels like it’s all on her.

She’s sick of it. She’s actually kind of sick of him. Okay. Back to real life. I believe this scenario plays out over and over and over with adults with ADHD, whether male or female. Maybe this is true in your own life. You know, you have ADHD, you take your meds, but you don’t really talk about it with anyone.

So the obnoxious behaviors that you exhibit, like not helping around the house or not finishing projects are always running late or forgetting things constantly. They’re perceived as just that obnoxious. You’re annoying. You’re selfish, you’re inconsiderate. You’re immature. But is that true? No, that’s not true.

You’re a good person. You love your family. You want to do well. [00:04:00] You just can’t seem to make it happen. You can’t make yourself do the things that you know, you should do. Why? Because you have ADHD. So this brings us full circle. It’s time to start owning your diagnosis. It’s time to really start identifying as having ADHD.

It’s way more than a simple, inability to pay attention. It’s a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects every single aspect of your life. Romantic relationships and sex friendships, parenting work, driving home life, maybe even your hygiene. And yes, of course medication does help, but it doesn’t fix everything.

So you need to talk to your spouse, you need to talk to your kids and you need to talk to your friends about your ADHD. You need to fill them in. How do you [00:05:00] think your relationships would change? If the people who you were closest to knew that your short-term memory was really, really poor because of your idiots?

The things that you forget to do or not because you’re a bad person there because you have ADHD. How much would your life change if your spouse knew that task initiation and task completion were two of ADHD, most common impairments, would you guys be able to get together and make a plan to help you finish up those unfinished projects?

Would she be more understanding when you struggle to finish? Which he figured out the right words to coach you and encourage you to get the job done instead of yelling at you and belittling you for having yet another mess unfinished. You see if we don’t own our diagnosis, change our own thinking about ADHD [00:06:00] and then educate the people around us about the disorder.

They’re going to just continue to think that we’re selfish, immature, and obnoxious people. But I, for 1:00 AM sick of being mis-characterized. I’m sick of taking the fall. I’m sick of not educating the people around me and really standing up for myself. I’m pretty much done with that. Hey, I wanted to pop in here just for a second to let you know that this episode is brought to you by my brand new website.

I have ADHD. I designed this site for adults, with ADHD who feel a little lost and are looking for some direction on it. You’ll find free resources, a link to my Facebook community, and a roadmap to help you move from point a to point B. Remember, I’m not a doc. Uh, psychologist or a psychiatrist. I’m just a person with ADHD who has figured out how to achieve my goals and [00:07:00] live successfully with this disorder.

And I’m convinced that you can too, so make sure to check out I have adhd.com. Okay. So owning my diagnosis has been absolutely crucial in my marriage. I married Greg when I was 23. And at the time I didn’t understand what having ADHD meant beyond just, I sucked at paying attention other than taking my meds.

I didn’t really identify as being ADHD. I never really talked about it. I really did not even think about. Therefore every symptom or impairment of ADHD that affected my husband and made him annoyed was just seen as an obnoxious or selfish part of my personality. So we fought a lot years later, I began to research ADHD and I learned about the symptoms and impairments of the disorder beyond just poor [00:08:00] attention.

And it was then that I could really have a meaningful conversation with. And my closest friends about why I am the way I am and not just that, but I could implement systems and strategies to help me improve these areas. And I have improved so so much. I would say that I’m extremely high functioning ADHD at this point.

But first I had to realize and recognize these symptoms and impairments, and then I had to vocalize them. And then I had to figure out a plan to improve. So here are the main symptoms or impairments of ADHD that affected me personally and what I did to implement strategies and systems to make things better.

First of all, the inability to prioritize and plan. This is a natural struggle for everyone who has ADHD. And when I have a hard time with this in my day job, I pull in my right hand [00:09:00] employee and she helps me talk through things and make a good plan. When I struggle with it at home, I sit down with my husband or I text him if he’s up.

And we make a plan together. Typical brains just simply have a better ability to prioritize and plan. And so I lean on people in my real life to help keep me on track in this area. Next inability to use my time wisely. This is a whole podcast on its own, but for now I will just say that my husband definitely keeps me on track in this area.

And when he gets annoyed, I literally say to him, I’m sorry, I’m annoying you. I have ADHD, which causes time. Blindness don’t get mad at me. Just. My closest employees at work also understand that this is a huge difficulty for me, so they will remind me of appointments. They will remind me of things coming up.

Hey, just to let you know, [00:10:00] you have that meeting in five minutes. I mean, people are really, really helpful to me because they understand that. Time blindness is a real thing. It doesn’t mean that you’re not smart. It doesn’t mean that you’re not capable. It just means that you do not understand time. The way a typical brain does.

That’s fine. It’s totally fine. As long as you’re willing to implement systems and strategies to help keep you on track. Next, the inability to remain cool, calm and collected when I’m frustrated. Okay. Now, when I realized that I’m freaking out a little too much, which usually happens with my kids at home, I have three boys right now.

They are 10, eight, and four. Let me tell you they are so. Noisy all the time. I don’t understand. I really honestly thought that girls were noisier than boys. I grew up with two sisters. I never had it brother. Um, or even like a cousin. That was a boy that was close to me. So I just really did not understand, um, [00:11:00] What it would mean to have little boys.

So now I have three little boys in my home and they are so loud. They’re constantly asking questions. They’re constantly touching things. They’re just like very, um, They’re just my gosh, there are a lot. Okay. So when I start to freak out, which I do sometimes, you know, I do. And I say, I literally say to them, I’m sorry, I’m freaking out.

I love you so much. My ADHD brain is really overwhelmed right now and I can’t handle all of the noise and all of the questions and all of the. But it’s not your fault. It’s my fault. So give me five minutes for a mommy. Time-out and I’ll be right back. And I walk away. I walk away and I collect myself, but I use.

The words. I have ADHD to my kids often because I don’t want them to think that I am just an explosive person. I don’t want them to think that they are the [00:12:00] cause of my frustration. Really. They’re not my brain’s inability to process all of the overwhelming stimulus is the cause of my frustration. So I’m not going to blame that on my kids, but if I did.

Verbalize it with them. If I didn’t communicate it to them, then they would think that they are the cause they would think that I’m just. You know, a mom who likes to yell, which I think, I mean, let’s be honest, all moms yell, but I don’t want my kids to think that they can’t be themselves in their own home, but at the same time, there’s a certain level of order that needs to be maintained in order for me to feel safe.

Peaceful secure. And so I verbalize that to them. I think it’s really, really important to be honest with your kids, even if they’re little, it’s totally fine, because there’s nothing embarrassing about having ADHD. There’s nothing wrong with it. [00:13:00] Absolutely nothing. Um, the only time that it becomes embarrassing is if we feel shame.

For it and that’s our own choice. So I choose not to feel shame. I choose to embrace it and I choose to be real about it. And I choose to be honest about it with the people who are closest to me. Um, and so far that has been really, really helpful, really, really helpful. Okay, next step, the inability to start something difficult or finish something difficult.

So task initiation and task completion. Okay. So yes, this affects me at work and it affects me at home. And if I notice that I am avoiding a project that needs to be done, I will verbalize it to the person who needs to know. So if it is something at home, like. Had this great idea to clean out the closet of shame, which I mentioned in the last episode, I have a Monica closet.

Um, it is so, so unorganized. [00:14:00] Uh, the rest of my house is really neat and clean. My husband’s a neat freak. I’m very glad that he is. Um, and so our house is really pretty tidy, but I do have this closet of shame, which is literally what we call it. And, um, so every once in a while I’ll get really inspired to organize it.

But about two thirds of the way through this project, I get completely overwhelmed. I don’t want to be doing it anymore. I’m now bored of it. It’s no longer fun and exciting, and I just want to stop. And so I will go to Greg and I will say that I started this project. I don’t want to finish. I want to finish it.

I want to do it and he’ll talk me through it. You have to finish it. Well, I don’t want to, well, what’s going to happen if you don’t, it’s just going to be a wreck down there. Well, is that a good plan? No, it’s not a good plan. We will literally have this conversation. Um, and part of the reason that I need this is because as an ADHD or I don’t have the ability to do this, self-talk on the inside and that.

Something that Dr. Barkley talks about in one of his [00:15:00] seminars is that somebody who has ADHD does not have the ability to self-talk. And so, um, because of that, we can’t talk ourselves through these difficult projects. And so I lean on Greg for that at home and at work, I lean on, um, my employees who are closest to me and I’ll just say, I really don’t want to do this.

We have this project coming up and I’m avoiding this step in this step. And so we’ll implement a system to make sure that it gets done. Sometimes I will delegate the project to someone else because I just know that I’m not going to be able to do it. Or other times I will. One of my employees to check in with me on this project.

Hey, can you make sure to bug me about this so that I get it done? So, um, all of my employees know that I have ADHD is definitely not a secret at the office, but they also know that I’m smart and I’m kind, and I’m running my business well. And so they’re willing to support me. They’re just absolutely wonderful [00:16:00] humans who see the good.

In my personality and in my abilities. And they’re willing to help with the things that you know, are not great. And I think we should do that for all humans. I mean, we all have deficiencies in our ability to function and so we should be there for each other. And so my employees do an awesome job of being there for.

Uh, next up is the inability to remember, to do the stuff that I really want to do. Now, this is connected to your working memory. So our working memory, which is another term for short-term memory, um, it’s very, very poor. This is a symptom of ADHD. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It just is what it is. But if we don’t acknowledge it, if we don’t recognize it, we’re not going to end.

Systems to help us. So one of the things that I do is I utilize Google calendar, um, for everything. And I utilize Siri for everything as well. Um, [00:17:00] everything that I have to do or want to do is written down. So when I say everything I have to do, it would be. Work or picking the kids up from play practice or remembering my dentist appointment.

Okay. Like the normal things of life, but even the things that I want to do. So, um, let me give you an example of this for 2019. I decided to plan out the next six months because I want to be really, really productive and I want to totally crush it with my new website and I want to totally crush it with this podcast, but I already have.

Uh, job and I already have a family and I already have a life. So how do I add in all of these extra things that I’ve been dreaming about doing for years? So the way that I’ve done it, as I’ve literally put it on my schedule so that I know that I want to keep these things at the forefront of my mind, because the things like goals or plans or dreams that we have that we [00:18:00] don’t accomplish is because we forget to do them.

Remember to put one foot in front of the other until it’s really too late or until it’s an inconvenient time or blah, blah, blah. So what I’ve done is I’ve, I’ve gone ahead and I’ve scheduled everything out. Um, and so on my schedule for today, today is what is today, Thursday. Um, and this morning on my schedule was record to.

And I really didn’t want to do it. It’s very, very difficult. And I tried to avoid it by going on Instagram and I tried to avoid it by going on Facebook. And then I got to the point where I just couldn’t avoid it anymore. And there it was on the schedule. And so here we are friend, you and I, we are now here together, chatting.

It was on the schedule. So if there are things in your life, dreams or plans, or just goals that you want to accomplish, make room for them and put them somewhere visible and that will really help you to accomplish them. Okay. Next [00:19:00] up. And this is a big one. The inability to make myself do something that I think is pointless now.

I work in my day job with students who have ADHD. And so I see this play out all the time in little kids, right? Um, little kids who have ADHD or even teenagers, they are going to do very poorly in school academically in the subjects that they don’t enjoy, or they’re not good at. And they’re going to do very well in school, academically in the subjects that they are good at, but little kids with ADHD grow up.

So, hi, here we are. We’re adults educated, professional parents, spouses, normal humans with ADHD. So how does a 37-year-old woman who owns a company and has a family? How does she make herself do something that she feels like a super pointless because ADHD really [00:20:00] makes it difficult to talk myself through doing those things that I just find ridiculous.

So, here’s an example. We have hardwood floors throughout our first floor, and I know that I should mop those darn floors once a week because they would shine and they would look great. It’s so pointless. I have three kids and in like 30 minutes, those floors are dirty again.

So why, why am I going to bother? Why would I ever bother? And so guess how long it’s been since I’ve mopped the floor. Okay. Don’t judge me. You can take a second here and just take a deep breath and do not judge me because you know, Someday I’ll hire a cleaning lady and make her do it every single week.

But right now, I mean, why would we make ourselves do the things that we think are pointless now? Unfortunately, this can apply to more than just something silly, like mopping the floors everywhere. What about that project or [00:21:00] that request from your boss that you think is stupid making yourself do that is very difficult.

What about the thing that your wife asked you to do that you think is dumb making yourself do that is very difficult. So the solution to this is a combination of things, first of all, talk about it. So when I say to Greg, I do not want to clean the effing floors. I don’t care about. I, I just, I’ve better things to do with my life.

He, as a neat freak, we’ll talk me through, listen, do we want our floors to be gross? No. When your nephew comes over and he crawls around on them, do you want him to be grossed out? No. And we’ll just have these practical conversations and he will convince me and then fine. I will clean the floors, which I do.

Okay. So again, with the judgment, cut it out. Now the thing at work, you can, you either need to make a plan with your boss of like, can you please tell me why this is [00:22:00] important? Can you make a list of the top three things that this is going to change in the business? If I accomplish it, knowing the reason behind doing what you’re doing is going to make it so much easier to accomplish that task.

So make sure you have a very good. Y, uh, a very good answer to the question of why am I bothering to do this? Because that is going to be your motivator. Sometimes the why is just, it’s going to make your wife happy, or it’s gonna make your husband happy, or it’s going to make your kid happy. And hopefully once in a while, that really is enough motivation for us because, um, life is not just about making us happy.

Right? We have to also think of the other people in our lives that we love. Okay. So those are the top symptoms and impairments that affected me that I’ve really worked through and that I lean on other people and I have systems and I [00:23:00] have, um, accommodations in place to help me be successful. So I’m wondering if I’ve convinced you to really own your diagnosis.

Will you chat with your spouse or your best friend or your assistant at work about your ADHD and help them to understand you better help them to support you better help them to sympathize with you more. Now I have a suggestion here. If you’ve been married for a while, you may want to sit down with a counselor or a therapist and really discuss ADHD with immediate.

It’s possible that you’ve done some damage with your spouse, or maybe even with your kids. I’m not saying that you have only, you know, the answer to this, but it may be helpful for your family to hear from a professional that your ADHD really does affect your life negatively in so many areas, this professional should also be able to help you and your spouse or your kids come [00:24:00] up with some good strategies to implement change.

And that’s not going to happen overnight. Okay. So don’t expect it to, but know that each time that you have a healthy discussion about ADHD and your brain and the unique way that you are seeing the world and affecting the people that you love, you will experience relief and growth and positive change.

And that’s important. It’s taken me several years to really change my thinking about ADHD. And once I changed my thinking, I could change my actions. That’s actually psychology 1 0 1. Your thoughts determine your feelings, your feelings, determine your actions and your actions determine your results. So if you want different results, it’s time to think different thoughts.

That’s it for today. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll see you next time.

Hey, if you’re enjoying this podcast, would you do me a huge favor and leave a [00:25:00] review on iTunes? It’s estimated that roughly 5% of American adults have been diagnosed with ADHD. That means that there are well over 16 million. ADHD is out there in need of support and guidance. If I’ve offered you any value at all, would you leave a five-star review for this podcast so that other adults with ADHD can find it and listen, and be encouraged as well?

If you have negative feedback, I would love to hear from you, but don’t leave that on iTunes. It’ll mess everything up as far as numbers and the algorithm. So unless you want to mess everything up. Email me your negative feedback at kristen@ihaveadhd.com. I would love to hear from you[00:26:00].

One Response

  1. Can I just say what a comfort to discover someone who really knows what they are talking about on the internet. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people must check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular because you surely possess the gift.

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