Like many addicts, who were able to break out of their addictive cycle I’ve experienced a tremendous improvement in my life. My personal relationships, my daily commitments, and my self respect all have improved.
Stopping my addiction, however, was only the first of many steps. Shortly after I’ve stopper relying on my addiction to deal with everything that went wrong in my life, I began to notice all kinds of issues rising up to the surface. I now had a lot of free time, so there should have been nothing getting in a way of my success in school, and yet I found myself being unable to concentrate. I tried connecting to others, but found myself feeling shy, and embraced, not knowing what to say. And I began to notice a whole list of discomforts taking place in my life. I began to think that there were some other undealt problems that I was now being aware of. Perhaps all of this was just a consequences of my addiction, but I’ve couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the symptoms that I was experiencing were very similar to the description of ADD. Therefore I approached this issue in my traditional manner – I found one of the best book available on the subject and read it.
The book that I decided to go with this time was Healing ADD (Sponsored Link) by Daniel Amen, partially because the book had great reviews, and partially because I’ve seen some other Dr. Amen works before, and was in favor of his approach and presentation methods. He started out the book explaining that, in his practice he found there were not one but five different types of ADD, based on the different areas of the brain being affected. Than he provided a self guided test that would helped identify if you had ADD, and if yes what kind. Here are some of the items that I’ve scored the highest on:
- Easily distracted
- Difficulty sustaining attention span
- Trouble listening to others
- Trouble with time (always late, underestimates time required to complete a task)
- Tired, sluggish, and slow moving
- Talks excessively
- Implosive in words and actions (doesn’t think it through)
- Interrupts others
- Worries excessively
- Strong tendency to get locked into negative thoughts
- Tendency towards compulsive behaviour
- Needs to things be done in a certain way, or gets really upset
- Misinterprets comments as negative when they are not
- Has a history of head injury
- Has low energy
- Socially Isolated
- Frequent feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or excessive guilt
- Chronic low self esteem
- Has periods of increased talkativeness
- Periods of increased impulsivity
As a result of this test my dominant ADD type was inattentive ADD, which is different from standard ADHD, and does not include the hyperactivity part.
Dr. Amen goes on to explain various types of ADD in depth by providing brain scans of actual patients, as well as sharing their stories. He also recommends professional diagnosis and medical treatment in combination with other tools used to minimize the impact of ADD on person’s life. He makes an argument that any form of self medication, even by the use of legal stimulants like coffee and tobacco, is much more damaging to the brain than the prescribed medication. Yet, like many people, I am not exactly ready to start popping pills even if I were to get officially diagnosed with ADD.
This thought brought me to a new conclusion, I don’t really need to get diagnosed with ADD to get the help that I need. Since the only difference that psychiatrist can provide is medication, and I am not interested in medication, there is no need in the official diagnoses. But since I do have many of the described symptoms, it is logical to assume that trying all the other, “non-intrusive” approaches that are used by ADD patients could also improve my life. Therefore I decided to concentrate only on the “organic” solution to my “ADDish” problems.
Dr.Amen identifies 3 areas of support that need to be worked on to improve lives of ADD patients: Biological, Psychological, and Social.
- Eliminate Anything Toxic – i.e. drugs, caffeine, nicotine
- Protect your head from injuries ( makes ADD worse)
- Dietary Intervention – Reduce simple carbs, high protein high vegetable diet (Note: There are different dietary recommendations for each time of ADD provided in the book.)
- Intense Aerobic Exercise
- Reduce exposure to any form of Video and Computer Games
- Multivitamins (Note: Once again author only suggest it in combination with medication prescribed by professional)
- Sleep Strategies
- Correcting Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANT’s)
- Breaking up Negative Believe Patterns
- Focused Breathing – the only subconscious bodily function that we can control consciously
- Self Hypnosis
- Dr. Amen provide numerous resources for people with ADD in his book, I believe that I am able to receive similar support from my 12 steps group.
ANT’s here is the list of the Automatic Negative Thoughts that ADD patients should be aware of:
- “All or nothing” thinking -. If I get C on this test I am the worst student ever
- “Always” thinking – She is always yelling at me
- Focusing on the negative – Your thoughts only see bad and ignore any good
- Fortune-telling – Other people WILL laugh at me or think I am stupid
- Mind reading – Those people are mad at me. They don’t like me.
- Thinking with your feelings – I feel that I am stupid, therefore I am stupid
- Guilt Beating – I have to do homework, I must never lie. Whenever we hear must or have to we automatically don’t want to do it
- Labelling – Jerk, nerd, spoiled brat
- Blame others – It wasn’t my fault, how was I supposed to know
After reading this book, I am even more suspicious that even though many people suffer from many different things and get many different diagnoses, at the end there is a one general way of life that can help majority of the people. Therefore, even though I don’t think that I have ADD, healthy lifestyle, and healthy choices will help me to do my personal best.