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I HAVE ADHD PODCAST - Episode #244

January 2, 2024

A Beginner’s Guide to ADHD, Part 5: Busting ADHD Myths

When it comes to ADHD, there are a lot of myths out there. For instance, you may have heard (or believed) that ADHD is an excuse. I can’t tell you how often I see clients worry that they’re using it as an excuse while working to set their lives up for success.

Look: ADHD is NOT an excuse. It’s an explanation. It’s an explanation of why certain things are hard for you, why your memory sucks, why you’re terrible with time management, why you have exposed emotions.

Other myths like ADHD is overly diagnosed, ADHD medication is dangerous or addictive, and everyone has a little ADHD are common. They’ve created beliefs around the disorder that just aren’t true.

As a person with ADHD, it’s your job to be educated in the diagnosis so that you understand what you’re dealing with. This also allows you to teach those around you how they can best support you and your relationship.

Because here’s the thing: Just because there’s more access to information and people are being diagnosed more readily, it does not mean that there’s an overdiagnosis of ADHD.

And no, ADHD medication is *not* addictive. In fact, when used correctly, it can actually help lower the risk of addiction.

Oh, and just because someone struggles with some of the symptoms common to ADHD doesn’t mean that they have the disorder. That diagnosis is reserved for those who experience symptoms to a debilitating degree. 

So, if you’re ready to further educate yourself on what it means to have ADHD so you can speak the truth and bust myths when they come up, episode 241 of the I Have ADHD Podcast is for you.

For more education and support around your ADHD, I highly encourage you to check out my group coaching program, FOCUSED. Starting in January, you’ll have access to my brand new course called “How to Build Self-Trust (Even When You Have ADHD).” If you’re curious about what 2024 would look like if you finally trusted yourself, click here to learn more.

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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 Carter 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 Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast. I am medicated, I am caffeinated. I am regulated and ready to roll.

I feel like it gets darker and darker every single time I record that like little intro phrase. And I just I don’t care. It’s fun to say. And it’s a reminder to you that like medicated, caffeinated and regulated is it’s a just a really good thing. It’s a good thing.

Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here. I know that literally there are 5 million podcasts vying for your attention. And the fact that you press play on this one is no accident. listener, I’m so so glad that you’re here. It’s gonna be a wild ride today, because we are going to be busting ADHD myths, the things that people say to us, am I right? They’re so annoying. And you know, it’s the holiday season right now. So maybe you’re getting some of these comments from like extended family or friends, as they’re asking you about your life. And maybe you’ve shared something about ADHD. And so maybe you will hear these comments, these myths come out of the mouths of people that you have relationship with. And so I am going to give you some comebacks, I’m going to give you some information, some education, and essentially a script of what to say to people when they when they say the ignorant things. And you know what, we all have people in our lives that are going to say ignorant things from time to time, it doesn’t mean that we need to like cut them off necessarily, but we do have an obligation to ourselves, I believe, to stand up for ourselves, we have an obligation to like our own inner peace, to be able to speak truth. And to say, yeah, that’s not actually accurate and give some information and education around it.

So as the person with ADHD, it’s your job, it’s my job to be educated in the diagnosis so that we understand what we’re dealing with. And so that we can help the people around us to understand what we’re dealing with as well. And so I cannot wait to get rolling on this because I’m already fired up. It’s gonna be a doozy of an episode, where this is in the series of back to basics with ADHD. This is a short and sweet episode that is kind of like an overview. I’ve already said all of these things before on different podcasts. But I’m curating it for you here in the short and sweet episodes that we can bust some ADHD myths. Before we get rolling, though, I want to remind you that I’m going to be teaching a brand new course in my adult ADHD coaching program called focused, the course is how to build self trust, even when you have ADHD, even when you have a huge body of evidence to show that you’ve made a lot of mistakes, that a lot of your decisions have been quote unquote, wrong decisions that maybe you are not managing money well or I don’t know, whatever goes into your body of evidence that like you’re just not doing it right. How in the world do you build self trust? How in the world do you feel grounded and solid and confident in yourself when you have ADHD? That is what we are talking about in January in my coaching program. And I have a question for you.

What would it be like for you to go into 2024 As someone who trusts themselves? What might that change for you? I would love for you to join us for this course go to I have adhd.com/focused to join the coaching program and then we will be doing this course in January I will be teaching it live and I will be hosting coaching calls centered around self trust. So each week it’ll be a class on self trust and then a coaching call around self trust as well. It’s going to be epic. I don’t know Epic is like a strong word. I just had like a flash from a Marvel movie like that’s pretty epic. I don’t know if this is gonna be epic, but I think it will change your life. I really do. This has been something that I have been working on in the last Fear is building my own self trust. And I have created a roadmap for it, and I want to give it to you, ihaveadhd.com/focused, join my program. And we’ll be doing this course in January.

And if you’re listening to this, like, I don’t know, a year later, this course is available to you as soon as you join the program. So we have it in tier one. And so you know, if you’re listening to this at a later time, join focus, and you’ll get this recorded course, including a workbook and the recorded classes and coaching calls right away. All right, let’s bust some ADHD myths, shall we? The first myth that I hear most often is ADHD is an excuse. It’s just an excuse. So what I hear from people is that their partners or their parents, or their whatever their boss says, don’t use your ADHD as an excuse. Or I hear my clients say, I really don’t want to use my ADHD as an excuse. I’m afraid that what I’m doing as I’m learning to accept myself, as I’m setting my life up to work for me, I’m afraid that I’m using my ADHD as an excuse. And what I want to say to you, is this, let’s never use ADHD as an excuse because it is not an excuse. What it is, is an explanation. ADHD, is an explanation of why we are struggling. ADHD is an explanation of why certain things are very hard for me, or very hard for you. ADHD is an explanation of why my memory sucks, or why I’m terrible with time management, or why I have explosive emotions that I struggle to control.

ADHD is not an excuse. But it is a beautiful explanation. It is a science based explanation of why certain people struggle so much with certain things. It’s an explanation for why I struggle to stop and think before I act or I speak. It’s an explanation for why I’m so impulsive. This is not an excuse, my friends. If someone says to you that ADHD is just an excuse, you can put your hand up in the air and gently say, Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. It is not an excuse. And I won’t use it as an excuse. But it is an explanation for why I’m struggling. And so when I am trying to explain myself to you, when I’m trying to show you the correlation between what I’m struggling with and my ADHD symptoms, please do not demean or diminish or dismiss me by saying, Oh, you’re just using it as an excuse. Okay, that’s unkind, that’s unkind. Because what I’m trying to do is help you to understand me, yes, I will continue to work at this. Yes, I’m going to try to implement a lot of support and improve in these areas of my life. But I will continue to struggle.

And it would be very helpful if you decided to begin to understand me, that would be so helpful, your understanding would be helpful to our relationship. I want to say that some times, people who are kind of on the toxic end of the relational spectrum, they will use this as a weapon against you. Oh, you’re just using your ADHD as an excuse. That’s a weapon. That is like shots fired? Am I right? I mean, have you ever had someone in your life just like in a very dismissive, demeaning, diminishing way, say you’re just using this as an excuse, that is a weapon, my friend. And the antidote, or the solution for that is to not accept that fire that is not friendly fire. And again, when I am setting just like a gentle boundary, and I would dare say this is not very gentle, you know, shots fired, as I said, but like hands up in the air, and we just say, Oh, I do not accept that. I am not using this as an excuse. I am simply explaining what the research says about my mental health condition. Okay, this is not an excuse. It’s an explanation. I am already so fired up. And this is just number one. I just have this urge to protect adults with ADHD and if I could go in and have all of these conversations for you, my dear listener, I would I want to talk to the people in your life who are demeaning you. I want to I want to go in there and be like, Excuse me? No, this is not overdone. Do I wish I could do that for you, but I cannot. So I want to empower you to say things like, I will not use it as an excuse, I am not using it as an excuse. However, it is an explanation of why this is hard. Now, I will do my part to work on it, I will do my part to implement support, but your understanding is going to be very beneficial to this whole scenario. Okay. All right, getting fired up. Let’s move on to Myth number two. Myth number two is I’m just gonna get mad about all of these, I think Myth number two so annoying, because it is entirely untrue. Myth number two is that ADHD is overly diagnosed. And so maybe you’ll share with someone like, Oh, I just got an ADHD diagnosis. And they’ll say to you, like, doesn’t everyone have ADHD right now, like, oh, my gosh, is so over diagnosed. Or maybe you’ll have your child assessed and diagnosed for ADHD. And a family member will say, Oh, my gosh, all these kids getting diagnosed with ADHD, when will it ever end?

You can just rest easy knowing that ADHD is not overly diagnosed, our awareness about the condition has increased so much. And therefore there are a lot of people seeking assessments that previously would have never known to seek out an assessment. There is so much more awareness and education around the disorder, which is so wonderful, that is a good thing. This is why like ADHD, trending on tick tock is actually like a really good thing because it is building awareness around the disorder, and making it so that people who had never considered that maybe ADHD was a factor for them, are educating themselves and sometimes reaching out to their clinicians for a diagnosis. Just because education and awareness has increased, it doesn’t mean that it’s over diagnosed, I think. And this is my opinion, based on 10 years of being in the ADHD space. I think that we are just finally catching up. I think we’re just finally catching up to the number of people who should be diagnosed, but I still, I truly believe that it is under diagnosed. I heard Dr. Russell Barkley who asked me to call him Ross, by the way, and I was like, I will never be calling you ever. You are the esteemed Dr. Russell Barkley. But anyway, he said in a conversation that we had that ADHD was wildly under diagnosed, and I completely completely agree with it.

Right now the stats are that 8.7% of children and 5.4% of adults are currently diagnosed with ADHD. That’s not a large body of the population at all. And we now know that most people don’t grow out of ADHD, it was once thought that ADHD was just a childhood condition that if you were diagnosed as a child, no problem, you’re going to grow out of it by the time that your adult but that’s not a thing anymore. And so I want you to look at the discrepancy between 5.4% of adults diagnosed and 8.7% of children diagnosed. There’s a percentage gap there, right. And so, here’s what I will say, ADHD is under diagnosed in adults, that is Kristen Carter’s position. ADHD is under diagnosed in adults. If it were more balanced, that would be better. If it were more like seven, seven and a half 8% of adults diagnosed to match the diagnostics in children. That would be way more appropriate, okay. But we’re not seeing that we’re not seeing that match. And so I’m gonna go on record saying ADHD is actually under diagnosed, not over diagnosed, just because it’s a trending topic, just because there’s way more education way more access to information, and people are being diagnosed more readily.

That’s actually a good thing. That does not mean that there’s an over diagnosis. And now a word from our sponsor. This summer, I started noticing that I would wake up feeling groggy, almost every morning, like pretty trashy, and I’ve been wondering, what is something pretty easy that I can do to change that. Now, if you’re a longtime listener, you might know that I’ve been drinking ag one for over a year. I love ag one. But what I haven’t been doing is doing it per the recommendation in the morning on an empty stomach. And so I decided to to experiment and see if it would make a difference for me to drink ag one in the morning on an empty stomach as recommended. And over the last probably six weeks, I have done it consistently, not even persistently, consistently. I’ve gotten up out of bed and instead of going straight to the coffeepot, I have made a big one, which is super easy. A scoop of powder in eight to 10 ounces of water, shake it up, good to go drink it down. It literally takes me 20 seconds. It’s so easy. And I’ve got to tell you, I have felt a massive difference to the point that now my coffee is an afterthought. Do I still drink coffee? You better believe I do. But it’s not because I have to. It’s not because it is like the thing I need to wake me up because I’ve got to tell you, I feel so much better drinking ag one daily as recommended, which you know, shocking. Following the directions might make a little bit of difference. I felt a massive difference in my daily health and my energy. That’s because ag one is a foundational nutrition supplement that supports your body’s universal needs like gut optimization, stress management and immune support. Since 2010, ag one has led the future of foundational nutrition, continuously refining their formula to create a smarter, better way to elevate your baseline health. Now, I will go on record and raise my hand saying that Kristen Carter needs to elevate her baseline health because cooking, eating planning consistently following dietary recommendations, not something I’m good at.

That’s not something I care very much about. And so I was noticing that my health was waning because of it. And aging one has made such a difference. Now I’ve gotten my team hooked on ag one and my executive assistant Heather. She has joked that she thinks that I am doing this strategically so that she gets more work done because she notices such a big difference in her energy that she thinks that I’m strategic about encouraging her to take 81 as well because she is more productive, and she feels more energetic when she drinks it. So if you’re like me, and you’re feeling groggy, and maybe a little less energetic than you want to, you are going to need to check this out. And if you want to take ownership of your health, it starts with ag one, try ag one and get a free one year supply of vitamin d3. K two and five free ag one travel packs with your first purchase. This is a great deal. Go to drink, ag one.com/i have ADHD. That’s drink ag one.com/i have ADHD, check it out.

Myth number three is actually like a cluster of three totally ridiculous things that people say about ADHD medication. So Myth number three is medication is addictive. It’s dangerous, and it’s overly prescribed. Not true, not true, not true. So let us bust this myth. I just want to say like standing in solidarity with those of you who have intrusive people in your lives that want to know if you’re medicated, and who want to give you their opinion on you being medicated, or who want to know if your kids are medicated. And they want to give you their opinion on kids being too they have to take that forever.

What are the long term effects? What is it going to be like? One thing that I like to say to people is I got this. I’m good. Thank you. I’m gonna listen to my doctor when it comes to medical advice. So you’re allowed to have an opinion. But I don’t really want to hear it because the opinion that I care about is the opinion of my doctor. Same thing goes with my kids. I have two kids on mental health medications including medicating for ADHD. I don’t need anyone else’s opinion on that. I’m going to trust their physicians with that opinion. Right. I do not need a grandma or a parent or an Auntie’s opinion on my kids mental health. I’m going to look to their psychologist, their therapists, their psychiatrists. Those are the opinions that I care about. And so when people in your life kind of scoff, and they roll their eyes, and they’re like, oh my gosh, everybody is being prescribed medication. It’s so overly prescribed. Not true. So let’s bust these three. The first one is medication is addictive. Now, ADHD medication is not addictive for people who have ADHD. That’s the whole point people. If you actually have ADHD, the medication is not addictive. Are there people out there misusing the medication? For sure, but don’t blame that on the ADHD or unkind. Like, please.

If a neurotypical is going to crush up a stimulant and snorted up their nostril like, yeah, that’s not great. Well, if anybody does that, that’s not great. Let’s never do that. Okay. But for someone with ADHD, who is taking their medication as prescribed, do you know that that actually lowers their chance of becoming addicted to substances? Did you know that? Did you know that the typical ADHD ear is much more likely to struggle with addictive behaviors, but if they are medically treated properly, that risk of addiction lowers? So the risk of addiction for someone with ADHD lowers if they are prescribed a medication that works well for them. So no, and Charlet. ADHD medication is not addictive for people with ADHD. And also, I don’t really need to discuss my medical history or my kids medical history with you. Because we have doctors that are going to take care of that for us. Now, would you pass the pie, please? Let’s eat some dessert. How’s that for a boundary? That sounds good, right? Okay, here’s an excellent ADHD medications are dangerous. Oh my gosh, they’re so dangerous people. I get so upset by this because it’s actually very dangerous not to treat someone with ADHD, right. And like, that’s actually the danger. But we’re going to circle back to that.

So I just Googled, like, the dangers of ADHD medication, and a couple of things came up. And ones that I’ve heard, you know, frequently decreased appetite. Absolutely. If your kiddo or if you are on a stimulant medication, you are really going to want to look out for decreased appetite. And you may want to, you know, kind of covertly monitor and just like really encourage yourself or your kid out to really just enjoy eating, just encourage it. So decreased appetite might be one of them insomnia. Some people who take similar medications have trouble sleeping, yeah, that’s a problem. Some people will see mood changes, you definitely want to be on the lookout for that some stimulants can cause motor tics, so you want to be on the lookout for that. Because of decreased appetite. Sometimes there is delayed growth, which is why you and your doctor really need to keep an eye on it. Okay? Other things that go on here like dizziness, hallucinations, headaches, nervousness, and a very small percentage, there have been seizures. And so that’s obviously something that you want to consider and be on the lookout with your doctor. But the thing is, for the majority of people, the benefits far outweigh the risks with every single medication that we are prescribed. I mean, it’s like watching one of those commercials, you know, those commercials, the medication, the prescription commercials, and it’s like, this medication is amazing. And then they have like, the really beautiful scenes of people just like enjoying their lives. And while you’re watching that you’re hearing them say like this can cause nausea, vomiting, death, cancer, like it’s just like listing out all of these horrible things.

And you’re like, oh, my gosh, what am I watching? Of course, we have to take into consideration that there may be side effects. And so if it’s you, or if it’s your kiddo, you’re going to want to just really be vigilant in the first couple of weeks or month of taking a new medication. Absolutely. This is why we are working with a medical professional to have these medications prescribed. But the point is that the dangers of not taking ADHD medication far outweigh the dangers of taking medication. For most people. I have a whole episode on this topic. It’s called the dangers of ADHD. It’s got a ton of research in it. And so if this is an interesting topic to you, please go listen to that episode. But I talked about this a lot. And so I don’t want to go too deep into it here. But the point is, that if someone were to say to you, oh my goodness, ADHD medication is so dangerous. What would be lovely is for you to say, well, that’s something that I’m considering with my doctor, as every medication does have the potential for side effects. But did you know that people with ADHD who are not medicated are at much greater risk for addiction for risky behavior for poor money decisions debt, job loss, for divorce for car accidents, and it even lowers life expectancy. So for me personally, I’m willing to take on the risks of the medication because the dangers of not treating it far outweigh the risks of the medication for me personally. Now, would you like some cake or ice cream? Should we eat some dessert? Okay, the last one Is that ADHD medication is overly prescribed false? It is not. It is not. There is research to show that the amount of people taking medication is nowhere near the amount of people who have been diagnosed with ADHD. It’s actually under prescribed. Okay. There are many people out there in the world with an ADHD diagnosis who are choosing not to medicate for one reason or another. But I dare say that one of the reasons why people choose not to medicate is because of these myths, because they are told by society or family members that oh, it’s addictive, it’s dangerous, it’s overly prescribed. No, not true. I think that our community, our ADHD community would be a better place if there was not such a stigma around medication. And if we were able to get that number up to balance, where the majority of people with ADHD are properly medicated for it. Now, we know that about 10% of people with ADHD who try medication, they’re just not able to take it, it doesn’t work well for them, it doesn’t do anything for them, or it doesn’t feel good to their bodies.

And that’s totally totally valid. But for the other 90% of us, we should have access to these medications without all of the stigma of these stupid myths. All right, the last myth we’re gonna tackle today is this phrase right here. Oh, everyone’s a little ADHD. Isn’t everyone just a little ADHD? No, no, just know. Now, to be fair, the problem with ADHD traits is that everyone does struggle with them, right? Everyone is forgetful once in a while, or everyone runs late once in a while. But what distinguishes ADHD as a diagnosis is that these traits persist across several domains, and are continuously impacting you in a negative way. Sometimes, even to a debilitating degree. No one seeks out an ADHD diagnosis because they’re running late once in a while, and no one seeks out an ADHD diagnosis because they’re occasionally forgetful. That is not a thing, when people are being diagnosed with ADHD is because their lives are being ruined by these symptoms. It’s because life is just too hard to bear because of the symptoms. When someone is actually privileged enough to acquire an ADHD diagnosis. It’s because they have so many debilitating symptoms that match the symptoms in the DSM five, which is what clinicians use to diagnose people with ADHD. And so it’s important to understand that no, not everyone is a little ADHD. That’s not a thing. Is everyone forgetful once in awhile? Sure, it does everyone struggle with time management, sure.

But someone with ADHD is going to see these symptoms persist across several domains, meaning at work at home with friend groups. It’s not just in an isolated area, but it’s an every aspect of their life. And they’re going to experience these symptoms to a debilitating degree, to the point of not being able to keep a job or not feeling like they’re reaching their potential, or not being able to sustain relationships or always feeling rejected, or always making decisions that are really risky and impulsive, or driving too fast and thinking too fast. And just having all of these symptoms affect them in in a way that is impairing their lives, their work life, their home life, their relationships, no, not everyone is a little ADHD that is not a thing that is a myth. There are neurotypical people who of course, are forgetful once in a while, who struggle with time once in a while, who get emotional once in a while. That is very typical. That is not a problem. And then there are people with ADHD who are experiencing symptoms to a debilitating degree and who are not able to function in their lives to their full potential. And so the potential and performance gap is so wide where the potential is way up high, but their performance is just consistently lower than what they think they’re capable of. And the reason is not that they’re lazy. It’s not that they’re dumb. It’s not that they just need to try harder. The reason is ADHD. So no Aunt Carol, not everyone is a little ADHD on chi. This is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects people in a very negative way, but can be helped with education, diagnosis, medication, support, treatment, all of the things, right. We busted these myths today. I have been feeling deep I hope you’ve loved this. I cannot wait to talk to you next time and I hope you feel empowered to have some responses to people in your life who’s just saying correct things just have that feeling of empowerment and just educate them. as you can, alright,

I’ll see you next week. Bye bye. If you’re being treated for your ADHD but you still don’t feel like you’re reaching your potential you’ve got to join focused. It’s my monthly coaching membership where I teach you how to tame your wild thoughts and create the life that you’ve always wanted. No matter what season of life you’re in, or where you are in the world focused is for you. All materials and call recordings are stored in the site for you to access at your convenience. Go to Ihaveadhd.com/focused for all the info

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