We can’t have an ADHDFL when we’re running on empty, it requires capacity and breaking the cycles we get into. One way? Paying the ADHD tax upfront, on what we want to.
When you have ADHD we quickly learn that help or understanding of our challenges isn’t always easy to get. Sometimes the way forward is to know how to give ourselves what we need, to have a more satisfying life. With knowledge comes power and when we feel empowered it makes it easier to be curious about trying different. Moira opens up about how she’s built skills to forgive herself, communicate more directly, advocate, and have a baseline of daily things to help get through the day.
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Moira Maybin 00:05
People with ADHD deserve quality treatment, understanding and support of our ADHD. And today we're going to look at the ways we can give that to ourselves. Part of that process involves learning to be comfortable in our own skin to be ourselves. Because when we have ADHD, we do not require fixing or changing. It's a simple yet radical idea how by knowing what we need, and how to get it. Welcome to the ADHD friendly lifestyle. I'm your host, Moira Maybin a woman, mom, educator, and I have late-diagnosed ADHD. This is the place to practice getting rid of guilt or shame and spending more time with our strengths and passions. There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner that is allowing me to make different decisions to make my life more ADHD friendly, and I want to share them with you. For show notes, including next steps, resources, and articles on this topic, visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com
Moira Maybin 01:11
With knowledge comes power, and when we feel empowered, it makes it easier to expect to get what we need. Here in Canada, we treat learning about our bodies as science, public health. I have always loved that it's treated as information. I can remember being about eight or nine years old and taking our family copy of “Where did I come?” from to share with my friends. As an adult, a favorite part of teaching fourth and fifth grade was the opportunity to talk to them about puberty. They are so curious at that age, about what they saw older kids going through and what would happen for them. About 20 years ago, I knew times were changing when teaching seventh grade, several of my students felt comfortable telling me that he thought it was great that they all got their period at the same time. So how can we keep that openness in the name of science and public health going? We need to be able to talk about developmental milestones, and challenges involved with having ovaries and ADHD. These involve the age of diagnosis, puberty, sexuality, pregnancy, postpartum middle age, perimenopause, and menopause. More women are being diagnosed and seeking psychiatric help. When we can find and access it. We experience more challenges in adulthood with our ADHD and hormones impact us as well.
The hormone-related brain changes at midlife exacerbate and magnify ADHD symptoms that previously may have been more subtle or manageable. Hormonal regulation is impacted by multiple factors, physical, social, and emotional environment, and our physiology. Many of these things can be out of our control. These factors can serve as a tipping point for many women in midlife, causing increased distress and overwhelm. We know that more women with ADHD are seeking help. But when they reach out for care, it is the stress that typically gets medicated health care providers are well trained to look for mood disorders. And most have much less knowledge about ADHD, and even less about women with ADHD, and even less about the interplay of hormones, all of which have similar symptoms. We end up feeling misunderstood and treated for secondary symptoms like anxiety or depression. I've said this before, and I'll say it again when women seek help for being overwhelmed and stressed, it is so important that medical professionals recognize and screen for ADHD using tools without a gender bias. Due to the messages, we see and hear daily in society, we also require reassurance, knowledge, and support to understand how our brains and bodies work, so that we can stop blaming ourselves and thinking we're not measuring up. Our struggles are different from neurotypicals. And for all these reasons, we simply require more regular, consistent, daily self-care to be well.
Moira Maybin 04:06
These days, self-care has become a go-to phrase with so many varying meanings. What I'm thinking about is what is our regular, consistent daily needs to care for ourselves. What does that involve? I don't want to simplify the notion because having self-care is vital. But it's been very much neglected in our culture. It involves building self-compassion and being curious about what is getting in the way of a satisfying life or treatment for ADHD. This requires that we have some kindness and capacity. We can't have capacity if we are tapped out. So how do we break the cycle? I have a lot to share on the subject. But for now, I want to touch on three aspects and dive into the fourth.
An important piece is our first one forgiving ourselves. We are not always in control of how we're feeling and what is going on in our minds and bodies. So, until we grow the knowledge about our minds and bodies, and what we can and can't do about it. It's unnecessary and hurtful to beat ourselves up. If we can be curious about why we feel bad, and maybe ask, did we do anything wrong? Have we heard anybody? Is beating ourselves up helping anything? Or is it just how we're used to responding? The second piece is an ability to communicate directly, which is not the same as being blunt or brutally honest. My husband and I have offices across the hall from each other. Last week, I told him, I was interrupted a lot while trying to get things done. I wanted understanding that it made working harder, but it reminded him that the same situation created noise for him. And his response was to tell me that it was too noisy for him. And could I keep it down, at first disappointed that my challenge wasn't being supported. I didn't say anything that pause, and my curiosity allowed me to take a breath, he acknowledged that I could work on that. And then I told him that his response wasn't really what I was going for, and explained that by sharing it with him, I wasn't looking for how it made things harder for him, I was looking for understanding that it made something harder for me. If I hadn't done that, I think I probably would have felt that familiar feeling of being misunderstood, alone and unsupported. I know, I'm fortunate to have a relationship that we can communicate this way. And it doesn't mean we won't be in that situation again. But I have found over time, that our communication style is improving and changing for the better. And mainly, to better understand each other's needs, or understand without making assumptions, what's going on, or needed by those in my life. This won't work with everyone. And there are those who will never get it. But what thoughts do you have about communicating directly to get what you need from those around you? We often incorrectly assume about each other. Do you ever check your assumptions? If you find it hard to ask for help or get what you need? Can you start small, ask for someone to pass you something in the office or at a dining table? Could someone hold the door for you? Kids can do those things for us too.
My example of communicating directly was also advocacy, to ask for and get what we need for ourselves and others too, to have more inclusion and understanding of what our ADHD is like, how it needs to be treated and what still needs to be done. Recently I wrote an email questioning a publication on their gender bias in reporting on ADHD. Before I sent it, I shared it with my friend and fellow ADHD brain Carey, who wrote this back to me: “This is one of the beautiful things of an ADHD brain, and in particular, what I see in YOUR ADHD brain: passion + experience + expertise/knowledge + injustice = anger which can MOVE us to ACTION and GET SHIT DONE!!! In this case, get GOOD shit done that benefits so many others! ADVOCACY BABY!! Once again, I hope that by sharing this with you, fewer of us must experience these hurdles.
I've had to record this sentence three times because it's hard for me to actually even get it out. Personally, I don't have anyone to advocate for me. And I feel vulnerable. As there's times I know, I could use that help. I also know that to be able to advocate for my kids and to teach them for themselves. I need to do that. It's exhausting. But we must have the know-how. Because to give ourselves our best chance requires consistent regular care. I also know that I need to be able to advocate for my kids and teach them how to do it effectively for themselves. It's exhausting. But we must have the know-how. Because to give ourselves our best chance requires this regular consistent care. Which means for the rest of today's episode, we're going to focus on how the heck do we carve out time to take care of ourselves. We know that having a strong reason why helps. So here's one good reason why daily doses of self-care actually lead to partial remission of menstrual symptoms. I could use that. How about you?
Moira Maybin 12:58
The question remains How on earth do we do more for ourselves when we are already stretched to the limit? Here's an insider's tip. If like me and many of my fellow ADHD ers, you have a tendency towards all or nothing thinking, we can work on letting that go. We don't have to completely revamp our lives. Often, I think of clearing everything off the desk and starting all over as the visual image of where my brain has tendency to go. That's not what we need to do here. And honestly, as I get older and my life and health more complex, I don't have that in me anymore. So we can take a deep breath, take some time and tweak things. I am sure there are many good things you've done in the past and are still doing now. We can tweak things one at a time. It's hard when we want it all done now or yesterday. But how many times have we overdone it and pushed hard and then are a complete mess or cranky or exhausted for days after the first book I read on adult ADHD was Ari Tuckman more attention less deficit. And in it, it has a list of ways to make a life with ADHD easier. I posted it and then over time, tweaked it into my own words and the pieces I need daily. It's about simplifying and trying to have a low maintenance lifestyle. My title is do daily and this is what it lists wake up at the same time. Drink water, go outside, sweat, meditate, eat regularly and nutritiously pay attention if I'm feeling out of sorts, spend time doing things I find satisfying. Spend time with people Will I love and go to bed at the same time? This is my baseline of what I need. And I can really struggle to do that. And I can often need support to actually do them. But what I know from my own experience and the research into living with ADHD, that it is what it is necessary to give me my best chance of doing well. What would your list look like? Another piece to consider is, how are we using or taxing our executive function, or E f, if you aren't familiar with that term, it's the brain power we use for anything and everything. And we can use hours all up, the more we use, the harder and longer it takes to replenish, it's a valuable resource to protect. If we use up all our executive function, figuring out what to wear, what will we have at our jobs, that sex right, I tend to go the other way. I use mine all up on work and have nothing left for dealing with food, grooming, or socializing.
Moira Maybin 16:00
Whatever we do, everything comes with a cost if we do it, or we don't do it. Over the last 10 years, I've had to put a lot of time, energy and money into my health care, and have lost a lot of time and work due to health issues and burnout. I relate to having undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. As my health is continuing to improve and still requires a lot of my attention. I've decided to pay my ADHD tax or cost upfront. Instead of going back to how things are done by others, or me in the past, I'm doing things that make my life easier. Most often. They are things that save my executive function. Yes, it costs more to get my groceries delivered, but it costs less my executive function to do it that way. So does having to pay for ongoing therapy and massages. But if I stay healthy, and well, if it extends my life, that I will work to pay back that cost. I was so happy when we replaced our lawn mower and yard tools, with cordless instead of corded one to be free of managing cords while using them and putting those damn cords away. I've also decided to not feel guilty or bad about it. It's so easy to get stuck in beliefs about how we should be. I am part of a local Facebook group for moms that has close to 5000 members. One of the moms who I do not know, posted recently about a complete and utter life unraveling number of events that hit her in the short space of time. Very soon, support started rolling in. With multiple offers of support, including a meal train, my heart sank. I wanted to help. But knowing me preparing a meal for a family and delivering it to them would require more of me then I had to give even writing that I know that there's going to be some people whose like, there's nothing to do anything like that. But for me, it is a lot. I was torn because I wanted to help. Then someone else came up with another idea. We recently had Canadian Thanksgiving. Someone offered to coordinate the provision of Thanksgiving dinner, if others can help with the cost. Yes, I could do that. It's those whispers in our heads that we need to eliminate. They do us no good. It's a great reminder for me that mine are still there sometimes. If you have those whispers in your head, or maybe they're screamers tell them to go away for a bit. Because I've got some ideas to share. Can you look for things of any size that give you the most grief, take the most out of you or that you just hate? Can you give yourself permission to be curious or admit to yourself about the things you do? Because Is there a way to reduce or eliminate the time and space to take in your life. I am no longer a fan of cooking because of my super picky children, and the amount of effort it takes to prepare food, especially following a recipe. But my husband likes it. One day, I had a light bulb moment about why I didn't mind cleaning up the kitchen. When I'm not exhausted at the end of the day. It's because the task is consistent. And that takes less executive function. I can vary the routine in order of any part of it. I don't have to think deeply and if I want to chat or watch TV or listen to music I can add that into. I also love the look of a clean kitchen so there's a reward at the end. So that's my role cleaning the kitchen. These days. It's only that way for a few minutes before teens slink in for more food. I can live with that. I can also trade off things with my kids. My son hated making his lunch before school, especially a sandwich but will willing me make my morning latte. I could throw a sandwich faster together than the coffee so that was a win for me to
Moira Maybin 19:41
Some other options can include organizers, cleaners, housekeepers, dog walkers, gardeners, anyone or anything that can take things off your plate, even if they're things you like to do, but honestly just don't have the capacity for right now. We can barter services with friends. Use a body double for accountability. Automating as much as possible. This one I love to. I know a lot of people started getting groceries delivered during the pandemic. I've been doing it for 10 years. It's taken a while but now I have two lists a for that a weekly one with the things we get weekly, and a favorites list which we get often, it cuts down on searching for items. If you use a digital calendar to schedule recurring events, then you can have them repeat with a frequency you need. I have a reminder to check my credit card statement before they come do. I also have repeating events for putting on winter tires, taking them off, booking my mammogram, dog grooming every six week haircuts, prescription refills a wide variety of things. I have to strategies, booking stuff on a repeating schedule, so it doesn't need to be figured out over and over again. And for the less frequent things, I put in a reminder early enough that there's time to schedule the appointment before it is needed. Let's not forget people in our self care, can you lean on or share some things with supportive informed family members and friends? Remember my episode on my pretend homemade dinner party when you can't, it's even more important to have the routine and supportive professionals creating that team for yourself. We need a pit crew. I like that image. Women desperately need appropriate medical support and treatment for ADHD. It leads to better self understanding and functioning. I tried for therapists until I found one who I would travel anywhere to work with. Fortunately, it was during the pandemic so I don't have to travel anywhere. I'm still working on getting to see a doctor about a booster dose so I don't run out of steam at three or four every day. And when I do that reconnecting with my darling supportive friends is high on my list. Until then, I'm sending out smoke signals from time to time to let them know that I love them and haven't forgotten them, checking in on them periodically to keep the embers of our friendship burning to. Lastly, let's not forget we're still experiencing a pandemic. Life is not normal, and there's uncertainty. Putting ourselves on the list. Creating a support team and learning how to take care of ourselves is at the top of my to do list. Is it just me or will you join me?
Moira Maybin 22:25
Okay, you've done the hard work by staying to the end, your reward. Here are the main takeaways from today's episode. Number one, there are ways to learn to be ourselves and treat our ADHD without fixing or changing who we are to hormone related brain changes at midlife exacerbate and magnify ADHD symptoms that previously may have been more subtle or manageable. Three hormonal regulation is impacted by multiple factors physical, social, and emotional environment and our physiology, making us more complex. Number four, regularly having our experiences dismissed question or mistreated means it's up to us to find the knowledge and waste to get the help we deserve. Number five, self-care that is regular consistent and daily is vital. Having a baseline of daily care items, forgiving ourselves by developing compassion and curiosity. Communicating directly including asking for help and what we need and developing the ability to advocate for ourselves.