This post is written by one of my ADHD coaching clients, Joshua. He has succinctly captured how and why ADHD Coaching can be helpful. Thank you Joshua. I wish you luck as you enter law school, and I am really impressed by your ability to illustrate how you have made small, subtle changes to work with your ADHD, instead of against it.

Sometimes, what is considered a weakness can turn out to be a great strength. I have lived my entire life with ADHD. For most of that time, I have viewed my ADHD as a major disadvantage, and I refused to take it seriously. I was content with procrastinating as long as possible, getting grades less than my potential, making impulsive and irresponsible purchases, and coming off as rude by not being able to keep focused in a conversation. Seeking to handle these issues in a healthy way had never even crossed my mind.

My brain needed intensity in order to successfully function, so pushing deadlines was my way of getting motivated to finish a project in college. That same desire for intensity made it difficult to give some work any attention at all. If I could not find the intensity for a class or assignment, I chose to do something that could provide that stimulation instead. If the idea of buying something that I did not need popped into my head, I would buy it just as quickly as I got the idea. If a conversation with my fiancée contained anything other than getting to the point, I would wander off to play guitar or piano without even thinking about it.

The negative stigmas of ADHD of always being disorganized, irresponsible, and rude had been reinforced my whole life by teachers and peers. It held me back academically, professionally, and personally. Fortunately, I was still able to do decently well in school, land an excellent job before graduating college, and still maintain relationships with understanding friends and family. Although I did not fully understand it, when I did get that intensity that I needed, I was unstoppable. However, without it, I struggled.

Soon after college, I started seeing that although I managed the struggling, I could definitely do better. An ADHD coach was recommended to me, and I decided that it was time to take control of my ADHD instead of letting it control me. It turned out to be the best decision of my life. I learned why I felt physically unable to do something unless it brought me a specific brain stimulation from intensity. I learned why I was so cold and calculated in my approach to solving problems, and I also learned why it sometimes gave people a negative impression of me. I learned why my neurological makeup made me the way I was, and I learned how to turn the disadvantages into advantages.

Through various mental and meditative exercises, my ADHD coaching helped me to be able to create the intensity that I need to accomplish the things that did not naturally provide that stimulation. My patience and attentiveness have increased greatly. While I once got distracted at work while waiting for the computer to load by going on my phone, now instead I will update my work calendar, respond to an email, or have other work accessible and ready. My self-awareness has greatly increased. While I once went from talking about wedding planning with my fiancée to playing guitar or piano without even noticing the transition, I now mentally observe my impulse to wander off and refocus myself back into the conversation. My impulsiveness is under better control each day because I have become more aware of my mental processes. When I once bought a computer as soon as the thought to do so came into my head, instead I am now quick to discuss the exciting prospect of buying a Play Station with close friends who, by talking to, help me to get a better grip on how unreasonable such a purchase would have been.

For me, ADHD has never been an excuse, but for so long it was a cumbersome hurdle. By taking the initiative to get coached on my brain’s functions, I have not only felt better and more confident in all aspects of my life, but I have the successes to show for it. The advantages that come with having control over my brain’s need for intensity have allowed me to succeed very rapidly in the workplace, and I plan to bring that knowledge to do the same with law school.

While I did not know this at the time, my ADHD coach was teaching me mindfulness, the ability to be present to each and every activity in my day. My Coach was kind of like Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. He taught how to be present and mindful in each and every moment, but he did not announce that. We talked about a variety of things and part of our conversation always revolved, effortlessly, around how our brains worked. Anyway, I feel fully ready to tackle the challenges of law school. WAX ON, WAX OFF!

Technology: Destroyer of Dreams

I live alone and I am not self-motivated. Add high-speed Internet and a computer to that mix and hours of unproductive time in front of a screen easily ensue. I get up every morning and go out for a coffee. While in the car on the way to and from the coffee shop, my mind teems with ideas, but by the time I get back and plop down in my computer chair, the ideas all but vanish, along with the motivation that had seemed so promisingly potent just a few minutes before.

Today, I am noticing and observing my urge to surf the net, to repeatedly check email and Facebook, and to peruse flight deals on Kayak for trips I am NOT taking. I am in this moment plagued by that funk, that slightly sunken mood that renders me unproductive. I have notions about working on my book and brainstorming video scripts, but I don’t have that oomph that creative writing requires. I almost never have that oomph! This is the battle I struggle with every single day.

The ease of access of technology makes the battle harder to win, because the Internet soothes me by giving me something “satisfying” to do that I don’t have to work for, and that I can reliably do even when I am in the deepest of funks. When I click to refresh my inbox, there is a subtle and instantaneous anticipation that a new message could arrive. I feel that in my gut, a subtle sensation of expectation. If no new, non-spam messages arrive, I can check Facebook to see if there’s a new notification, friend request or interesting newsfeed piece. I might even espy an article that outrages me, and then I can get energized to respond. If these two sites provide no satisfaction, I go to LinkedIn, and check out stories about business and read articles on how to find a job, even though I am not looking for one.

Technology makes many aspects of my life easier, but it also messes with my mind. I have click-itis, that disease that warps the mind by giving instant satisfaction via a micro movement of the index finger. I can sit and click for hours upon hours, and I cannot, or do not, stop!

For me, technology quickly becomes addictive; it harms me by distracting me from what I really want to accomplish. I continue this behavior in spite of the negative consequences, which are nothing short of destroying, or at least delaying, my dreams. When I merrily click away, I am not writing; I am not doing the hard work of distilling my message; I am not in integrity with myself or the people who look to me for guidance. My relation to technology has an impulse-control aspect, because I often “play” online for hours, when I had simply gone on the computer to check and respond to email for fifteen minutes. Technology wastes my times, and lays waste to my dreams.

Here are some signs that you, like me, might have a problematic relationship to technology.

1. Time warp: inability to determine screen time.
2. Changes or disruptions in sleep.
3. Emotional disturbance when you are deprived of the screen.
4. Withdrawing from family and friends in favor of the screen.
5. Suffer from backache, carpal tunnel syndrome, stiff neck, nerve pain, eye strain, “texting thumb.”
6. Persistent inability to cut down.
7. Ever-increasing amounts of time spent in front of the screen
8. Prefer the screen over family and friends.
9. Household tasks and responsibilities are left undone because of too much screen time
10. You are afraid that without your phone or Internet access, you might “miss something.”
If you exhibit a few of these, I recommend a techfast, for which I will provide detailed information in next week’s blog. Technology sends my life out of balance. A techfast helps remedy that situation.

NOTE: This blog post started because I was pissed at myself for being in a funk. I simply decided to be honest about my internal process, and I also let the anger power me through. After having written this, I am 90% out of the funk, but beset with a strong urge to go back now and check email, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I can do that if I set a timer. Five minutes, no more!