ADHD Related Clutter or Hoarding?

IMG_0702(Originally posted in April 2013: Re-posted by request)

The other day I noticed that one of my kitchen drawers was overflowing.  There were so many potholders, oven mitts and dish towels, that every time I took something out, other items fell to the floor.  Trying to close that stuffed drawer was like engaging in a Houdini act.

When I finally broke down and pulled everything out, I was honestly perplexed.  Why on earth would I keep all these things when I had more than enough?  And why is it such a challenge for me, and millions of others, to throw things out?

Hoarders
In the April 2013 edition of Attention Magazine, there was an article titled, “ADHD and Hoarding”.  The author, Debbie Stanley, LPC, NCC, CPO-CD, made a distinction between hoarding and tendencies to collect, clutter, and be disorganized.  Her fundamental point was that hoarding is about strong emotional attachment to things, often developed as a coping mechanism after a traumatic period in life.  Due to the severe origin of the problem, addressing hoarding can be a slow and difficult process.

Clutter and ADHD
While some people with ADHD may fall into the category of hoarding, most do not.  Instead, the clutter often begins as a “natural response” to intellectual curiosity.  It’s common for those with ADHD to pursue many ideas and interests.  While it’s a wonderful trait, the resulting living space can end up having piles of books and magazines (half-read!), multiple incomplete projects and mounds of unsorted papers.  In addition, items are often kept out in full view to prevent the out of sight out of mind tendency.  (If something is put away, not only may it be forgotten entirely, but also finding it again may take hours.)[…] Continue Reading

Thumbs up, not down!

Thumbs upIf you believe you fall short compared to others, it’s natural to feel insecure or inadequate. But when you add in some ADD tendencies, like making careless mistakes or blurting out comments you later regret, it’s easy to understand the sense of incompetency, or even worse – the accompanying shame. As one client said, “but I am inadequate,” to which I strongly disagreed!

A Sense of Not Being Good Enough
A sense of inadequacy includes feeling incapable, incompetent or simply not good enough. You may be forgetful or mess up occasionally, but these things don’t make you inadequate, nor do they trump your capabilities. No one is on top of everything and the reality is that you may need to ask for help, set reminders, or even work harder than some. But repeatedly focusing on shortcomings is destructive.

It’s our cultural norm to focus on blunders and ‘areas for improvement’. We’ve been trained to seek perfectionism by scanning for weaknesses and correcting them. While improving ourselves is important, it’s also vital to consider our attitude and method of going about it.

Give Yourself a Thumbs Up!
Consider that kids with ADHD do best when they hear positive feedback three times more often than negative. That approach would probably serve adults well too. Are you shooting to be a person who never burns the toast or always says the perfect thing? Or could you go a little easier on yourself while still aiming to do your best?[…] Continue Reading

Hyperfocus: An Upside to ADHD

hyperfocusPeople with ADHD know that despite their reputation for being easily distracted, they can also have an uncanny ability to concentrate when truly engaged with something they enjoy.  It may not happen all the time -or at the best time (!) - but it’s still worth celebrating.

The official term in the ADHD world is hyperfocus, and it’s defined by Ari Tuckman, PsyD, as “a locking-in of attention wherein the person becomes completely absorbed in an activity to the exclusion of awareness of the rest of his environment.”  It can range from throwing oneself into a writing or painting project, to playing videogames for hours.

The good news is that hyperfocus offers the potential to get a lot done, often with ease.  

When you connect with what you want to accomplish in a way that grips your attention, it can be quite satisfying and productive.  Find ways to take ownership of your projects by making them creative and appealing, even if others question your methods!  When it comes to washing the kitchen floor, this may be a stretch, but even then, sing or do whatever occurs to you to make it more engaging.

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It’s Time to Care Less

begging for chance - business womanWhether you worry about what people think, try not to offend anyone or put on a happy face all the time, you’re living from a place of fear. We all want to fit in. But focusing too much on pleasing others takes us away from being fully present.

Consider that you cannot know most people’s true feelings, nor should you. As the saying goes, “What others think of you is none of your business.”

I am not suggesting that you behave arrogantly or not care at all; being respectful of others is important. But I am addressing our tendency to allow other peoples’ attitudes towards us to figure too prominently in our self- appraisal. It’s exhausting and detrimental to worry about things that are ultimately out of our control.

Fear of being excluded or treated poorly can lurk inside us. Perhaps it’s a memory of being the last one picked for a team or a particularly embarrassing moment. Those feelings of ostracism and shame run deep and it’s time to put them to rest.

Everyone has their particular concern – Am I smart enough? Thin enough? Rich enough? ‘Together’ enough? People unwittingly behave as if they are being monitored on other people’s radar screens all the time. It’s like those bumper stickers on trucks asking, ‘How’s My Driving?’  By giving others the power to judge you, your sticker might be saying,  ‘Am I Good Enough for You?’[…] Continue Reading

Choose a Focus, Not a Goal

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Do we need to think differently about goals when it comes to ADHD? We all hear about the importance of establishing measurable goals as a way to track progress and achieve success.  There’s even the acronym S.M.A.R.T. that identifies the characteristics of an effective goal – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. While this approach […]

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Are Weekends Disappointing?

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As much as we look forward to Saturday and Sunday, they can sometimes be a letdown.  With all the unstructured time, possibilities and decisions, weekends can be frustrating or even end in conflict.  With a little thought and attention, things can significantly improve! We all have ideas for how to use our time.  On some […]

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