Grace Friedman was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at twelve years old, wrote her first book about it at 15, and now she’s an advocate for young people with ADHD and founder of the ADDYTeen.com community. Dr. Sarah Cheyette is a pediatric neurologist and expert in working with kids with ADHD. Together, they have written Winning with ADHD: A Playbook for Teens and Young Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and they’re here to talk with us about their journey on the show this week.
Links & Notes
- Winning With ADHD: A Playbook for Teens and Young Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder — Amazon.com
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Pete: Hello, everybody. And welcome to “Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast” on trustory.fm we’re back. I’m Pete Wright and right over there is Nikki Kinzer. Hello, Nikki.
Nikki: Hello, Pete Wright. Hello, everyone. Welcome back.
Pete: Have you missed the podcasting?
Nikki: I have. Because it’s a routine that I’m so used to being in, and then on Monday mornings, I would look at my schedule and there was no Pete.
Pete: What do you do? Nothing. What do you do? It’s an empty shell of time. You know, it’s a hopeless black void.
Nikki: I did take advantage of it. What about you?
Pete: You know, I’ll yell you, I’m back from a week of vacation, went back East to New York and spent a little family time. My wife’s parents are married 50 years, so we went back to celebrate their 50th anniversary, that’s all fun. But, you know, I had this ADHD thought and I wanted to share it, and maybe it will come into our conversation today. Everybody was asking me, when I say everybody my family, was asking me why I am so stressed when I travel.
I mean it all boils down to the anxiety that stems from not being able to stop my ADHD. I’m one of those incredibly anxious travelers. And it’s because I can’t turn off the gates, right? I can’t turn off, oh, what if the bus isn’t here on time, or what if the driver doesn’t get here on time to get us to the airport? What is this traffic on the highway and we get stalled at the airport? What if, when we get to the airport, something breaks or we don’t have something and we can’t get through security? What if one of my children is taken, you know, for an interview because I look shifty as a parent, you know?
Nikki: That could definitely happen.
Pete: There are horrible signs all over the Buffalo airport that are like, or this is in Minneapolis, “Beware of human trafficking. They look just like you and your family.” Like, it’s just horrible stuff, right? And that becomes this network of fireworks that drown out everything else in my life. You know, and I cannot…until we get land in our destination, those fireworks make me incredibly anxious.
So, yesterday was a rough day and it was a great opportunity to reflect on the fireworks of ADHD going off in my head. I look totally calm, but in there, the shark’s always swimming, shark’s always swimming, Nikki Kinzer. So I am relieved to be here, there were no delays, there were no human trafficking issues to my knowledge, we did okay. So I’m looking forward to a great show to get back in the saddle here.
Nikki: Well, welcome back to the podcast and from vacation. And I am so glad that none of those things that you said happened.
Pete: Well, let my life serve as a warning to others, that’s all I have to say, I live by it. We are gonna talk about some great stuff. We got two fantastic guests here today, and I feel like we have climbed mountains with them already today as we navigate the hills and valleys of Zoom and audio and professional podcasting. So we’re gonna talk to them in just a moment.
Before we do that, make sure you head over to take controladhd.com, you can get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list, and that you’ll get an email each time a new episode is released. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook @takecontroladhd as always, you know the drill. Okay, we just have a couple of announcements before we get into the meat of things. Nikki, let’s talk briefly about the newsletter.
Nikki: Well, yes, because you even mentioned, to get on the mailing list to listen to the updated our most current podcast, right?
Pete: I’m a massive spoiler.
Nikki: Yes you are, and that’s what this update on this new newsletter is. So you’re gonna get the latest podcast news, but you are also going to get an additional blog post and a coach’s corner where I’m going to actually ask a couple of questions to get people to think about the topic that we’re talking about. So how does that resonate with them, how can they apply that into their own lives?
So it’s just a few coaching questions and then, of course, you’ll be the first to know about any events or offerings here at “Take Control ADHD.” So if you want to sign up for the newsletter, we can do that here in the show notes or you can go to my website, @takecontroladhd.
Pete: We can?
Nikki: Yes, you can.
Pete: All of those things can happen, make sure you check that out. We’re gonna be talking about “Winning with ADHD” today. Anytime we can win with ADHD, I want to throw a parade. And we have the authors of the book “Winning with ADHD” joining us here on the show. Grace Friedman was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at 12 years old. She wrote her first book about it at 15, and now she’s an advocate for young people with ADHD, and the founder of the addyteen.com community. She’s 22 now, she’s out of college, and she’s planning for a future as a clinical psychologist. We’re excited to hear about that.
And we also have Dr. Sarah Cheyette here with us today, pediatric neurologist and expert in working with kids with ADHD. And together they have written “Winning with ADHD,” a playbook for teens and young adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And they’re here to talk about all of that in their journey toward writing the book. Grace and Sarah, welcome to “The ADHD Podcast.”
Grace: Thank you so much, very excited to chat.
Sarah: Thank you for having us.
Nikki: Welcome. Wow, I don’t even know where to start, Pete.
Pete: I know, right?
Nikki: We’re gonna start with these fantastic women, holy cow. So, first of all, how you guys know each other? Let’s start there.
Sarah: Well, I think I connected with you Grace, right? Where I had written a book before “Winning with ADHD” called “ADHD and the Focused Mind.” And online, I connected with Grace and her addyteen.com website. And so we connected and realized we had a lot of things in common.
Grace: Yes. Sarah and I both have a similar philosophy when it comes to dealing with ADHD, which is, you know no sugarcoat, tough love, here’s what you need to do to win. And so we were attracted to our philosophies instantly and immediately started working together, and got signed by amazing New Harbinger in Oakland, California, which is an amazing publication company. It’s been about two years in the making.
Nikki: The book is available now, correct?
Grace: Correct. You can get it on Amazon or through the New Harbinger website or Barnes & Noble or wherever anybody gets books.
Nikki: So tell us a little bit about what the book is, what can people, what can our listeners learn from it?
Grace: Sure, absolutely. First and foremost, I would say that “Winning with ADHD” is a teen-friendly self-help guide to help young adults and teens with ADHD and their families learn how to cope and thrive with ADHD. The book is very special because it’s mirrored off of sports plays. As a young soccer player, you know, having relationships of my coaches seemed natural but working with my ADHD was challenging.
So part of why this book is so special is because just like sport plays how coaches walk through a player step-by-step on plays or drills, that’s exactly what we do in the book. So we talk about everything to managing your time, to managing your emotions, to dealing with parents and friends at school. And we all tackle that using step-by-step methods. Sarah’s brilliant mind as far as the medicine and the neurology behind ADHD coupled with my own experience, and challenges, and strength working with my own ADHD. So that together makes “Winning with ADHD.”
Sarah: Yeah, I mean, I think this book is unique. I don’t think there’s ever been another book written by somebody who’s been there and done that with ADHD like Grace and an expert person, a neurologist or a psychiatrist. So it’s kind of nice because Grace really brings here is what you need to know type of experience to the readers of the book. And I think hopefully with the combination, we’re able to deliver the information that they need in the right amount of complexity.
I would also add that “Winning with ADHD” is our mindset and just like any athlete has to have the right mindset in order to make a success of themselves, you have to have the mindset that you can win with ADHD. And here, we tried to show you how to do that in the least painful way possible.
Nikki: So give us an example of how you do that, especially because your reader is either a young adult or teenager, correct? How do you talk to them or I guess you’re not talking to them because it’s a book, but how are you writing to them to let them know they can win with ADHD, right? Because you’re talking to a younger audience who maybe hasn’t felt like they can win with ADHD.
Pete: Yeah. I think that’s a really good question, and I almost wonder could I add on to that, what does it take to convince a teen that they can win with ADHD?
Sarah: That’s a great question. You know, how do you take somebody who hasn’t had success and make them believe that success is in their future?
Pete: Yeah, right. I mean, we can all…certainly as an adult with ADHD diagnosed as an adult, we can all learn from the answers to that question.
Grace: The thing that, you know, I coach kids with ADHD, I have a lot of friends with ADHD, and I think when it comes to support and guidance and thriving with anything is about connectedness and shared experience. Something that I tried to do in the book was give my real life experience. Yes, that does include jargon, it includes comedy, it includes challenges. I think that, you know, kids with ADHD can get caught into this negative cycle of why try, this is challenging, and I’m not able to really try my best. And something that’s highlighted in the book is very blunt and straightforward kind of questions that we frame as what do you want in your lives, and how does your life look right now, and how can you better your lives with your ADHD, and how can we help you do that?
As a young adult with ADHD, I like to feel successful and positive. But that’s not the reality a lot of the time when it comes to my own, you know, learning disability and ADHD. So, it’s important to get kids right off the bat saying, you know what, ADHD isn’t easy, and it is gonna be challenging. But it really depends on what you want out of life, and with anything that’s challenging requires effort. So I like in the book how it’s very…you know, it’s not cookie-cutter, it’s straightforward, and it really gives a chance for the audience and the reader to reflect back and say, “Well, is this something that I wanna work on or am I just going to plateau?” And our audiences are, you know, the ages where identity and autonomy and responsibility is all coming into play. And so this book gives a little nudge to those kids with ADHD who wants to take control back into their life.
Sarah: And I guess I would add on that, that I think it gets to the question of what’s the point of focusing in the first place? I mean, if you’re not focusing, you’re not hurting anyone, right, I mean, you’re a good person still anyways. But when you focus, it helps you accomplish and when you accomplish, that feels good. And you notice how good you’re doing and other people notice how good you’re doing, and then you decide that you wanna keep trying, and you want to try harder things and better things. And so you get on a cycle where you’re building yourself up. If you’re not able to get on that cycle, then you’re usually in a cycle where you’re building yourself lower, where you’re losing self-esteem because you’re not accomplishing.
Everybody’s wondering what’s wrong with you, you’re wondering what’s wrong with you, and you wind up not wanting to try. So to get from that negative cycle to a positive cycle sometimes it just takes a little bit of advice and a little bit of belief. So in the book, we’re trying to give you both things. We want you to believe that it’s possible and so, you know, we give you advice to start small and build up from there and develop some successes and then build on those successes, and we also want to show you how. So, Grace has written down really specific, practical, easy to follow plays that say, “Here’s how you do it. Here’s what worked for me and here’s what could work for you.”
Nikki: So, now you described, or somewhere I read, that the book was described as a workbook. Is that correct?
Grace: A workbook in the sense that there are plays that readers can practice. And going off of what Sarah said, so we have two types of plays. We have foundational plays, which are big-picture concepts, right? These are managing your time, managing your emotions, organizing your stuff, big pillar skills that we believe ADDY teens need to master in order to go on to more specific things and they can apply those foundational skills to more specific situations. And those we call set plays. So, once I learned how to manage my time and regulate my emotions, then I can take that key skill and then apply it to a specific thing in my life. So even though we’re talking about themes that ADDY teens experience, they’re able to practice that and then apply it to their own lives, and in that sense, it could be a workbook.
Nikki: Right, right. Okay, that makes sense. And something I just wanted to comment on when you guys were answering our question. It reminds me of the growth mindset, fixed mindset, that Pete and I have talked about, and I’m sure you’re very familiar with. But having students understand what those differences are between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset and understanding, I completely agree, that you have to believe that there’s possibility, you have to believe that there’s things out there that will work for you. What are some of your favorite strategies, if you don’t mind giving us maybe one or two that really worked for you, Grace, that you’re like, “Man, this is like the go-to thing that I always go to when I’m, you know, struggling in this area?”
Grace: Well, Nikki, it’s hard to pick just a couple.
Pete: Also, because of ADHD, now we’re thinking of all of them at the same time.
Nikki: At the same time, that’s right.
Grace: Exactly. Well, I guess before I answered that, it’s important for me to say that even though I’m an author, my ADHD is still very much real. I deal with it every day, I have to actively manage it every day, and that’s something that I practice. And I say this with confidence because sometimes I do it with confidence. And other times, I have to really remember these step-by-step processes that I have created because sometimes I get stuck too.
So, to answer your question, organization is absolutely huge. Like I said, I’m an ADHD coach. I just graduated college. I have a full-time job and a full-time life, and that requires organization. And I pride myself on it, it’s important that I write things down. And even when there are big things that I have to tackle, I break them down into smaller chunks so I feel like I can actually get some things done and it doesn’t look like this massive task that’s very hard for me to complete. Day by day, I can chisel down on it and that really helps me reduce my stress and get my stuff done.
A big part of ADHD is managing your emotions. I say in the book that we have emotions on steroids, and I’m not joking. I deal with how I act and how I respond to things a lot of the time, and that takes active management, so organization, controlling my emotions and thoughts, and then advocating for myself. We’re no mind readers, and a lot of the time ADDY teens have a hard time articulating just exactly what we want and how we need to be done, how that’s gonna be most helpful for us. So, speaking up for myself and getting resources and help and guidance that I need, that’s something that I work on every day and it’s helped me tremendously.
Nikki: And now is that something…accommodations is something that I talk to a lot with my college students that I work with. So when you’re talking about advocating for yourself, is that also in the book where people can read that and kind of learn like, okay, these are the things that I might need in a classroom setting or these are the things that are okay to talk to a teacher or professor about, like, how do you go about that?
Grace: Yeah, great question. Sarah and I address accommodations, IEDs and 504s. We talk about, you know, in a broader sense, what we need to do to succeed, and that is reaching out for help for our support system whether that’s parents, coaches, teachers, therapists. And not all kids with ADHD are comfortable speaking up for what they need, especially in college, you know, high school and college are so different. High school, you’re in this small bubble where you can get resources very easily. In college, you have the right to access those resources, but they are not handed to you. So, college is really where it picks up. And I would say that Sarah and I do address those changes in “Winning with ADHD.”
Sarah: So some teens wanna keep their diagnosis a secret, which is fine, it’s up to them. But if they can speak up and let people know that they need help, there may be something in it for them. It also might help them address anxiety, which, Pete, I think you were talking about when you were telling your story about your travel earlier in the broadcast. I think it’s really important to realize that with ADHD it’s like your brain has all these inputs coming all at once, and it’s really hard to manage them without anxiety.
And your brain basically has two different parts to it. One is the anxious part and the other one is the rational thinking part. And if the anxious part of your brain is on, it literally and physically turns off the rational thinking part of your brain, so it’s even harder to manage all those inputs. So getting help is a key part of this and trying to remember when you’re anxious that the thinking part of your brain is off, that it’ll feel different when you think about it when you’re not anxious.
Nikki: That’s a good point. Time, separating, you know, just giving yourself a little bit of time to get out of that anxiety, whatever is driving that anxiety.
Sarah: You got to turn off the anxious part of your brain. I mean, Pete said when he touched down or saw land, all of a sudden, it’s all gone. And that’s because the rational part of his brain, which is there, can certainly start working at that point once the anxious part of it turns off. But until that happens, reality is very distorted. So a lot of kids, teens, and adults with ADHD are walking around, you know, anxious a lot of the time because of all the inputs and then because of the anxiety, it worsens the ADHD management.
Pete: That is exactly what it’s like. And I’ll tell you, the rational thinking part is Charlie Brown, right, it’s Charlie Brown. And you think that the parallel is gonna be Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. And that Lucy is anxiety, and she’s gonna take the football. But in my case, when anxiety rears its head, it’s not Lucy, it’s Charlie Brown and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and he is shutting down everything. And that is the muscle that I feel like even as an adult with 20 years behind me of the diagnosis, I’m still every day working on this accommodation, or in my head, I’m working on developing this muscle to stave off, you know, The Rock and…
Sarah: Right. So, your focus is taking Charlie Brown to the gym or at least remembering that The Rock can yell all he wants but it doesn’t make sense until Charlie Brown says it makes sense. What a great image.
Pete: Also, “Moana,” come on. If I can remember my anxiety can sing like that, you know, what, you’re welcome, I’ll take it.
Sarah: Yes. Go ahead and start singing the “Moana” song because that will reduce the anxiety and emotions, and you will become much more rational after that.
Pete: Unfortunately, I don’t become any bigger. I wish all of that could happen with us. Anyhow. So that actually leads to a great question. I think what I’m noodling on is the idea of transitions, the idea of moving from this place in the world where, you know, you have accommodations handed to you as a younger teen and then you move into college and you have to take sort of responsibility in order to advocate for yourself, in order to get these accommodations.
And then transition out of college into, you know, the broader world where you get a job, and you have to continue to make this incredibly complex choice around access to support and accommodations and desire or willingness to be vulnerable about where you live with your diagnosis of ADHD. I’m curious if either of you have anything to say about the idea specifically of making those transitions successfully?
Grace: Yeah. I’ll take it a run because that is my reality right now. Like I said, I graduated college about a year ago. I have a full-time job at a psychiatric hospital and transitions are hard. When it comes to high school to college, you know, I had accommodations all through high school, and I practiced during those four years at public high school how can I get my needs met, advocate for myself so I can practice it to such an extent I feel comfortable doing it in college? And on that note, I looked for college specifically for their accommodations because that’s what I needed to succeed or that was a big part of it.
And so I knew going to my university, which was about 2,500 kids, I wasn’t going to swim upstream, I was able to get my needs met because I knew what the department is, I had my documentation, I just needed to do it, right? I just needed to take that free throw in basketball. There’s no one around me, I just need to speak up for myself. And with advocating for yourself comes building relationships, trust, support networks. And so now I’m carrying that after college, I still have the support, I have those skills to speak up for myself, and I’m fine doing that to my bosses, to my team, and to my friends and family because I still need support from them as well. So transitions are hard but you can do it. And it’s just about practicing and speaking up.
Pete: One, listen to what Grace just said. She searched for a university and one of her criteria was accommodations, right? That is such an important lesson for all of us in making decisions about where we look for jobs, not just where we go to school, are you looking for a place that has an accommodation like that and practicing those skills? Number two, practicing being an advocate for yourself is hugely important, build that muscle, take it to the gym. Sarah, I’m sorry.
Sarah: No, I mean, also building on that, I would just say, you know, every school year comes and goes, right, you learn something or you don’t. You get the A or the B or you don’t, and that’s not really what matters. What really matters is building skills to be successful for whatever you wanna do. You know, for example, you know, I hated chemistry and I hated a lot of different subjects in school, but one thing I learned from that is to do the things that I hated and make myself focus on them and be successful and look for some sort of triumph at the end, even if I didn’t like it.
So in my job right now that skill is that, you know, I do all of my job, I don’t just see the patients that I like, you know, I really like talking to the patients, I don’t really like talking to insurance companies, but I get everything done because of the skills that I learned in school. And I think if you think about school or whatever you’re doing in kind of a broader context, it might make you value it more. So you move away from “I hate chemistry” to “Chemistry is a way for me to learn how to do X,” no matter what. And when you value something more, your focus automatically gets better. So you’re not gonna love everything you do, but at least you can find a way to make things palatable, interesting, or a challenge that you’re gonna overcome.
Nikki: Grace, I have a question for you because you’d mentioned earlier about the emotional regulation that you’ve had to deal with. And I know, again, with the clients that I’ve worked with that are college students, and I don’t work with high school students, just college. So I’m assuming they probably have a lot of the same issues around friends and communication and having those emotions run high. What would be, I don’t know if it’s advice or guidance that you would give to a young adult, you know, going into college on their own for the first time? They don’t know anybody except for maybe one person. You know, what kind of encouragement would you give them? Because we know they can do it, we know that they can build relationships and communicate. But do you see what I’m saying like kind of what I’m asking here?
Grace: Yeah, absolutely.
Grace: I think that touches very organically on this whole transition topic, right? How can you transition into a new place, new environment almost like you’re shedding your high school self and, you know, putting on your peacock feathers, and just trying to do everything all over again? Sometimes that’s really easy and sometimes it’s challenging. If I’m honest with you guys, freshman year of my college was really hard for that reason, you know, transitions and finding new friends then I felt this sense of like imposter syndrome. Like, who am I to be successful, and who am I to get into this great university?
Maybe this is my tough love speaking, but my first advice would say, you know what, it can be challenging, and some things will be challenging. But reaching out to people who you find interesting, who you connect with, cracking a joke, asking people if you wanna study together. I mean, it’s as easy as just speaking up, and sure, it’s a little nerve-wracking, but everyone can make friends whether it’s 1 friend or 10 friends. You know, in college, we wanna find new things and explore and expand, and it’s really easy to make friends when it comes to a common interest. So join clubs, ask people, like I said, if they’d like to study, whether they wanna grab dinner or watch a movie, I mean, things that you like to do, extend the olive branch and see who else would like to do that with you.
Nikki: I like that. So it makes you feel a little uncomfortable but the payoff the end, I mean, that could be your next best friend, I mean, your best friend for life, right? Like that one person you talk to in English 101 could be really important to you. That’s great, thank you.
Sarah: It’s a shared experience, you know, and you guys can lift each other up. To extend the sports metaphor, you’re on a team with the people you go to college with, your classmates are part of your team. And sometimes you can compete against them, and that can be good for both. And sometimes that’s not so good for anybody but, you know, a rising tide floats all the boats, right? So using the power of people around you who might have some strength that you lack, and you have something to offer the group as well.
Grace: College isn’t easy. It’s fun at times, but it’s not as easy as you think. And so, when it comes to kids with ADHD and the challenges that they face, having a support network really involves your friends, it involves people who you, like Sarah said, work on a team with, and you wanna prepare together as a team. And us as ADDY teens, we may have some weaknesses that we need help with and what better, you know, practice your strengths and weaknesses is doing it with a friend who may or may not have ADHD, but at least you’re doing it together. And I think that commonality is really important. I would have big ADHD moments at college and my friends without ADHD would say, you know, we can do this together even if we don’t have the same set of strengths and weaknesses, we can still do this together. And here I am friends with them five years later.
Sarah: And what Grace said is absolutely true. It’s supposed to be hard. Like, one big, important training thing as a child is growing up and becoming a teenager and young adult is to be really clear, like there are things that are supposed to be hard and it’s how you meet the challenge that really defines who you are. And it sounds like a cliche, but if you wanted to divide the world up into people who run away from challenges and people who know how to deal with challenges, you know, the ones who deal with the challenges are gonna go farther.
So, you know, I would tell somebody, and I do tell people when they’re going to college, it’s supposed to be hard. That’s okay that, you know, how are you gonna deal with it and with whom? And all colleges have like a mental health center or like, you know, you could go to the orientation and it’s all like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, at least when I went to my kids’ college orientation was like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah all the time. But I tell the kids when they say, “If you’re in trouble, here’s where to go,” perk up and know that one before you’re completely in a hole, before you’re completely panicking because it’s sure as heck easier to get out of shallow hole as compared to a deep hole. So if you’re struggling, ask for help early and often.
Nikki: I love that you say that. It’s interesting because, again, working with college students, I always ask my preference is to work with you right at the beginning of the semester, preferably about a week before you go into school. Because getting them at the beginning and, you know, really working with them on those habits and that planning and time management before they start falling behind is so much easier. Because if they’ve come to me after the fact and they’re already very, very behind and already getting a D or F in the class, it’s so much harder to get back up, yeah.
Sarah: Yeah. You can’t pick that up. I mean, anyone can panic the week before finals, that doesn’t take any skill. You go in early, that’s what…you know, and on a practical basis, people get booked up.
Nikki: Another point that I wanna make that I think is really interesting to what you’re saying, and I’m sure you guys have heard this too. And maybe Grace, you’ve even said it, probably not you because I think you have probably exceptional study skills. I hear a lot of people transitioning from high school to college and they’re struggling because they didn’t think that college would be as hard as it was, they didn’t think that they needed to study because in high school they were able to just show up, take the test, and pass. And they end up not doing as well in college because that’s not the case. And it really goes back to that point of it’s not so supposed to be that way.
You know, college is hard, you do have to study. You have to go to class, you have to read the material, you have to do all of the things that the professor’s asking you to do because there’s a reason for that. And so, you know, unfortunately, it’s a wakeup call a lot of times too late because that self-esteem has already been beaten up, and they don’t understand necessarily the connection between the ADHD and the study skills. So, I agree with what you guys are saying, people out there that are looking for going into either higher education or also still in high school to read your book, get these resources, connect with people, get the help that you need. Because you’re not alone, there’s resources everywhere that can help. It’s just a matter of opening yourself up to them.
Pete: Well, this is the thing that I’m reflecting on here listening to all of you talk about this. Like, there is a feeling that you get inside when you have waited too long. And it’s hollow, and it’s dark, and it’s a really itchy, and it just feels bad. And you know, you can actually get used to that. You can get used to that experience of feeling bad and of carrying the weight of not knowing how to ask for help and falling behind and failing. You can habituate that if you choose to.
And I think a lot of the folks that we’ve run into who’ve have joined our community who are looking for help are people who have, to some degree, habituated feeling terrible because that’s what the world has shown them. And I think, at large part, some of it might be because they didn’t know how to ask for help early enough.
Grace: I totally love what you said about that, like, dark pit in your chest when you know you’ve waited too long. And I want to be the flip side of that coin and say, you know, what also feels really good is making traction. And that is what this book helps you do, building skills that you can practice by yourself, you can practice with your coach or therapist or with family and friends is making traction and feeling good about the choices that you make, right? Feeling okay with “Okay, well, yes, I have a lot of things on my plate now that I’m a freshman in college, but I know how to tackle them, or I know how to manage my emotions.”
And a feeling a physical feeling is really important, right, that tells our brain and our body like, no, this does not feel good, or yes, I should continue doing this. And something that I found over the past handful of years is listening to my body and brain and reminding myself, well, I felt good in this moment, I need to continue with this moment. And we all have our personal preferences on what we can handle. I have a low threshold as far as…you know, I want to make progress and I want to make traction. And either you or Nikki said this is that may require you starting a little early. And that may require some extra steps taken. Sure, that’s extra effort, but feeling good with the decisions you make and feeling good about school and friends, that’s the ultimate goal, right? That’s called winning when you feel good about the decisions that you make, and that’s healthy and productive.
Nikki: I love that. Is that how you came up with the title of the book, that just kept kind of coming up for you?
Grace: The title of book…Sarah, do you [inaudible 00:38:50]?
Sarah: Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s what our philosophy is. I mean, you define your own winning. And, you know, winning is absolutely possible with ADHD. Grace and I, I think, both hate it when people say, “I can’t do this,” and, “I can’t do that because of my ADHD.” It’s like, yes, it makes it challenging. Yes, you have to find a way to do it anyways. And so, you know, that is obviously easier said than done, but the focus is on winning. So, Grace’s terrific metaphor was about running a race with the backpack that was really heavy. You know, you may not be the fastest person to win the race, but you’re sure as heck getting stronger all the time you run. And if you finish, maybe that is your winning.
So it’s important to have a positive outlook because, again, it goes back to what I said about the anxiety worsening your focus. If you’ve got the bugaboo of emotions, like what’s wrong with me, I can’t do this, this happened again, I must be a failure, it makes that much harder to get out of the situation. At some point, you have to be able to say it’s just school and you have to be able to then step back and try to look at things logically. Along with that, it’s important that you try to preserve sleeping and nutrition and exercise because those are all things that physically worsen the emotional part of your life if they’re not in place and can help you make more rational decisions that are in your best interest. If you are totally strung out, if you are totally eating crappy food, and if you haven’t exercised like all semester, you’re not gonna feel as good and be able to protect your own self.
Nikki: I’m glad you bring that up. That’s so true. And especially with teens and young adults, they tend to stay up later and don’t necessarily think of the sleep habit or the things you can do to create a sleep routine to help them get to bed on time. So glad you bring that up, so important.
Sarah: You wanna do things that make your focus better. And that’s whether or not you have ADHD, but obviously much more important if you have ADHD, and things that make your focus better include good sleep, good nutrition, and exercise. Exercise being something that makes you sweat, not walking around the block.
Pete: But it’s really hot today, can we just say it’s really hot.
Sarah: And getting out in nature and walking around the block is a terrific way to kind of move life back to the pace that our brains can really handle. So, you know, our crazy electronic world which, you know, one of the big problems is that it goes at a breakneck pace. To counteract that, it’s really important to get out and see some nature and be part of nature.
Nikki: Thank you so much for being here, this is wonderful. Where can people learn more about the book and find you ladies?
Grace: Sure, sure. So my personal website is addyteen.com, that’s addyteen.com. And New Harbinger has all sorts of great information about “Winning with ADHD.” And then Sarah, you have your personal website as well.
Sarah: Yeah, my personal website is sarahcheyette.com, sarahcheyette.com. And like I said, you can pretty much order the book wherever books are sold.
Pete: We will put all of those links to all of the websites and places where the book can be purchased in the show notes. You can swipe over in the show notes in your podcast player and tap on it right now. You could do it right this second. Just swipe and tap.
Sarah: That’s right, and there’s Twitter and Facebook and all the social media, all that business, I think we’re both on, so.
Pete: Excellent, excellent. This is fantastic. Thank you guys so much for taking the time, for shaking up your schedule. And thank you, everybody, for downloading and listening to this very podcast. We sure appreciate your time and your attention. On behalf of Sarah Cheyette and Grace Friedman and, of course, Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright. We’ll catch you next time right here on “Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.”