ADHD from A to Zoë ADHD from the eyes of Zoe Kessler. 2016-07-19T01:03:53Z Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[7 Keys to ADHD Awareness]]> 2015-10-21T02:54:17Z 2015-10-21T04:01:43Z Warning: ADHD Ahead!Most of us (thank goodness) aren’t plagued by ADHD in every area of our lives. For example, I’ve heard from women who are successfully managing a law career, but fall apart when it comes to managing their home life.

Some have relationship success, but struggle when it comes to meeting deadlines, getting organized, and arriving at work on time.

Who says you can’t have it all?

Me? I consider myself a “generalist.” That is, by the time I was diagnosed, I’d pretty much covered all the bases: my relationships sucked; I’d been fired from more than one job; my financial life was in ruins; and my adoptive family thought I was weird and unfathomable.

On the bright side, when it came to writing ADHD According to Zoë, I could speak with authority and insight about how ADHD manifests in each area of life. I’ve been there.

That’s why I decided to share some strategies this month in two webinars. In the first, I offer suggestions about how to tackle ADHD in seven key areas, going right back to the diagnosis itself. Being diagnosed as an adult is a big deal. Our whole world turns upside down, and the first challenge is to integrate our new knowledge of ADHD into our self-understanding.

If you weren’t able to attend the webinar, you can watch the replay video here:


I ended with a challenge for the webinar attendees to pick one or two strategies from a handout and take them for a test-drive until we meet again on October 26 for our follow-up session, ADHD Awareness Month: Strategies That Work. (If you’d like to join us, there’s still time to register:  ADHD Awareness Month: Strategies That Work).

If you’d like to check out the exercises and strategies in the handout, you can download them here:

ADHD Awareness: 7 Keys to Unlocking Your ADHD Potential – Handout pdf

The assignments aren’t hard! They’re designed to help you triage what area of your life you’d like to work on, and to help you reach your goals. Just pick one or two, and give ‘em a whirl.

Practice might not make perfect – but it definitely can make our lives better.

What I’m aware of this month

For me, I’m aware that over the past few weeks it’s been important for me to say “no.” Not an easy thing for an easily overwhelmed person who’s all too quick to impulsively say “yes” whenever she’s asked to take an extra shift at work, to go out when she’s feeling under the weather or exhausted, or any number of things that add to an already over-crowded day timer.

It still takes a conscious effort, and sometimes I say a qualified “yes” then cancel later, knowing that I should have said “no” in the first place, but it’s become much easier over the years since my diagnosis. But the first step was gaining awareness of how those of us with ADHD become overwhelmed.

I’ve learned to save myself from the guilt I felt for decades.

I’ve learned to save myself from the guilt I felt for decades (before my ADHD diagnosis) when I’d have to back out of plans, or arrived late because I was trying to squeeze too much into my day, or when (even worse) I double-booked or even forgot an event.

Join us!

So – what are you doing during ADHD Awareness Month to raise your awareness about ADHD, and especially about YOUR ADHD?

I’d like to encourage you to take the time, pick an activity (even if it’s just consciously saying “no” when you otherwise might have ill-advisedly said “yes”) raise your ADHD awareness, and come back and share with us Monday night.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there. Good luck!

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Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[October: ADHD Awareness Month]]> 2016-07-18T23:16:04Z 2015-10-02T04:01:30Z I don't have ADHD. I'm a squ... HEY look! A Human!It’s that time of year again! October is ADHD Awareness Month.

I’ve been thinking about what “ADHD awareness” means to me. And the short answer is: everything.

My own diagnosis was about a decade ago, and at first, the learning curve was steep. In fact, I had to jump off my bike and walk after the first year or two just to make it up the hill. I’m not saying I’ve arrived, but I’ve come a long way and (mostly) I’ve enjoyed the journey.

Thinking back on those first tentative steps, new insights came almost daily. I read everything ADHD-related I could get my hands on. I talked to others with ADHD. I interviewed experts. I did everything I could to learn. But most importantly, I researched myself.

I finally had the key to understanding why I had “lost” so many jobs. (I didn’t actually “lose” them; I know exactly where they went: to other people).

I finally had the key to understanding why my family relationships had been so difficult.

I finally knew why I’d messed up friendships, and why I couldn’t stand the volume in a movie theater while others didn’t seem to notice.

My ADHD is different than yours. And yours is different from others’.

The insights came fast and furious. It was a personal journey, tailor-made for me. My ADHD is different than yours. And yours is different from others’. And that’s the most important part of ADHD awareness: being aware of what your ADHD looks like.

It’s only by identifying which ADHD traits trip us up that we can begin to find solutions or work-arounds. What works for me, might not work for you.

But where do you begin in this journey of self-discovery?

Well, there’s no better time than ADHD Awareness Month!

So here’s the deal: I want to help.

I’m offering two free webinars, hosted by PsychCentral, in which we’ll discover how you can become more aware of what’s most critical to you. You’ll learn to identify the top ADHD bugaboos you need to battle, and how to slay your own personal ADHD dragon.

We’ll start with a session on the 7 key areas to look at, and I’ll give you some tips and strategies to try for a couple of weeks. Some will work, some won’t. And you’ll probably come up with, or enhance, some of your own.

Then we’ll regroup at a second webinar at the end of the month and share what we’ve learned. Together, we’ll send you on your way with enhanced ADHD awareness. Awareness that’s tailored to you so that you can go forward with a greater understanding, and greater skill at living – happily – with ADHD.

I hope you’ll join us!

To register for the first of two ADHD Awareness Month webinars, click here:  ADHD Awareness: The 7 Keys to Unlocking Your ADHD Potential

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Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[Time Tracking and ADHD]]> 2015-08-04T04:22:07Z 2015-08-04T04:15:04Z 1948 Mead Boulevard Watch Ad Don O’Brien via Compfight

If I had to list my relationship with time on Facebook, I’d have to choose, “It’s complicated.”

Shortly after my late-in-life diagnosis, I learned my ADHD brain was to blame. Sure, it was great to be absolved of time-management guilt, but I was pretty sure the rest of the world would still expect me to arrive on time, ADHD or not, so I poured over ADHD books seeking time-management tips.

I started using a paper planner right away, and still rely on one. I didn’t even have a smartphone when I was first diagnosed, about nine years ago.

It took about three years to adopt the kitchen-timer strategy. At first, I resisted. I mean, what full-grown adult relies on a kitchen timer to run their life? What was I, a Christmas turkey? It just seemed kind of weird. Then again, so did having ADHD.

I was hoping my ADHD treatment would help me to feel less, not more, like a turkey.

Finally, I caved and shelled out the two bucks at the local dollar store to pick up a timer. (Technically, it should have cost a dollar, right?)  Now I use that baby all the time. Sometimes, even when I’m cooking. It keeps me from hyperfocusing when I don’t want to, and adds the adrenaline rush I need, kind of like playing “beat the clock” to get things finished and move on.

In “Not Dressed Up with Somewhere to Go,” my chapter on time management in ADHD According to Zoë, (which took forever to write) I wrote:

“By taking a moment to think it through before acting, I can often restrain myself from trying to squeeze one more thing in before leaving for work.”

When I’m trying to stay on track I try to be mindful (aware) of the moment by asking myself, Is this what I’m supposed to be doing right now? Or, Is this what I want to be doing right now? The word no comes up a lot here too. I use it to get me back on track.

I also try to catch myself when I’m saying “yes” when I should be saying “no” to an activity or commitment that I don’t have time for. This can help me say no the next time.

I stopped my formal quest for time-management tools a few years ago, but recently caught myself using some tricks I hadn’t been aware I’d been using.

Parking meters

Last week, I found myself standing in front of a parking meter trying to calculate how long I’d be at the library doing research. The prospect of losing money, even by paying an extra quarter or two; or, worse, not putting enough money in the meter and getting a parking ticket, is a great way of motivating me.

The goal was to get back to my car with only a minute or two left on the meter. I was suddenly conscious that over the years, I’d gotten into the habit of periodically testing how well I was able to measure time by using the parking meter in this way.

If I lucked out and found a meter with time left on it, it added a whole new dimension. Then, I’d ask myself: Is it enough time for my task? Is it more than enough? How much more? What task can I add to take advantage of the time I found left on the meter?

Clearly, this second parking meter scenario was helpful in addressing not just time-related issues, but an additional ADHD challenge: money management. I could manage my time and save quarters. Bonus.


I have no idea how other people use their smartphones to keep on track. I’ve heard something about schedules and calendars and apps and such, but I’m still not that tech-savvy.

I did, however, discover the big clock icon a few months ago. I tapped it.

I’m now making regular use of the stopwatch (for example, to time my bike ride from home to work so I know how long it takes and can leave in time to be on time).

And I use the alarm, which I set for a few hours at work so I don’t hyperfocus and work a seven-hour shift when I was supposed to work for four. I even leave a 5- or 10-minute transition time to finish up what I’m working on and get to my break.

Last week, I noticed the “world time” icon. I tapped “Add city.” Big mistake. Did I really need to know what time it was in Kazakhstan while I was taking my break? Before long, I had three other cities selected, and started confusing myself. Thus ended that little experiment (it’s 7:14 a.m. in Kazakhstan, tomorrow, as I write this, btw).

Overall, I’m doing pretty well with the time management thing, Kazakhstan aside.

What are some of the strategies that work for you? Do you have the time to share with us?

Are you sure?

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Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[ADHD Look-alikes]]> 2015-07-22T21:39:44Z 2015-07-22T04:36:10Z East End Fest -7410 RussellReno via Compfight

I’ve been thinking since my last post about the issue of ADHD and ADHD look-alikes. I’ve written about them before, but found myself taken by surprise at recent events in my life.

For example, ADHD and depression often go together. While I’ve never been diagnosed with clinical depression, I know plenty who have been, including those who are doubly endowed with both.

Yet for the past year I’ve been experiencing what might be categorized as clinical depression. Maybe. I’m not sure. I’m not sure, because I’m no expert in depression. But – I’ve been feeling like nothing matters; I’d lost interest in many things that used to give me pleasure; and I was constantly tired or even exhausted by around three in the afternoon on a daily basis.

If it walks like a duck?

Although I’m no expert in depression, I had the intuition that this was not the kind of duck I’ve heard about in those who have been diagnosed (with or without ADHD). When I found out recently from blood tests that my thyroid is very close to qualifying as hypothyroid, I took a quick look at a reputable site online to check out the symptoms. I followed up with a call to my medical practitioner.

Lo and behold, depression, fatigue, and inability to lose weight are all symptoms. And all had been plaguing me for the past year.

Meanwhile, I’d been off my ADHD medication during that same year, feeling very foggy-headed. And couldn’t these symptoms all be signs of aging? Sorting out what was going on was not easy.

One concerned person asked if I might be suffering from a sleep disorder, as sleep disorders and ADHD often go together too.

Again, I’ve only rarely had trouble with sleep, and it didn’t last long. But I do know that, like depression, ADHD and sleep disorders often go hand in hand. Many people with ADHD are naturally night owls, but I’ve always been a morning person (why I had to take up astronomy is beyond me, and a topic for another blog post).

I’ve explored the old label bugaboo in the past. I still maintain that unless we have a label for something, how can we begin to know what an effective approach or treatment is?

Yet with so many things mimicking or sharing traits with ADHD, it can get complicated. Why didn’t I seek help sooner?

I’m not even sure I would have known where to begin. It was only because I went for my annual physical (which followed my previous one, a mere four years earlier because I forgot. Now that’s classic ADHD…) that I discovered the whole wonky thyroid thing.

I’m glad my blood tests showed up something that seems to explain my past year’s symptoms. With follow-up, we’ll see if my symptoms can be resolved or at least managed.

Because somewhere underneath all this tiredness, weight gain, and depression – there’s an über-active, irrationally optimistic, and wildly-excited-about-life ADHD girl waiting to be unleashed upon the world! …again…

Read about more ADHD Look-alikes:

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Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[ADHD Fog: A Confession]]> 2015-07-22T21:41:17Z 2015-07-16T02:35:11Z Fog 'n' Tree - Explored! Hamish Irvine via Compfight

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was…”

I’m not Catholic, but that whole confession thing speaks to me right now. Let’s try it like this:

Forgive me, Dear Readers, for I have sinned neglected my blog. My last confession post was two months, three weeks, and two days ago and these are my sins issues:

  • I’ve been binge-watching Coronation Street and reading novels until the wee hours of the morning
  • I’ve caved to my Facebook addiction until I was so sick of cats knocking stuff off shelves I wanted to kill somebody
  • I’ve stopped meditating, playing bass, and doing yoga
  • I haven’t followed through on a zillion ideas and have forgotten what most of them were
  • I completely forgot my mission-critical goals and projects
  • I’ve become depressed and despondent

I am truly sorry I lost myself in a black hole. I have no idea where I’ve been.

There is no Priest to forgive me. No ADHD coach to absolve me of my descent into ADHD hell. I had to rescue myself. And here’s what I discovered:

  • I didn’t meditate, do yoga, or practice bass because I had no privacy
  • Without daily privacy I’m an irritable, nervous, crazy person who sits in her room eating chips and watching British soaps
  • I need to fill my emotional and spiritual well on a regular basis or I’ll fall into an empty well
  • Being unproductive, for me, is depressing, disorienting, and self-esteem crushing

When I finally realized that I hadn’t been doing the things I needed to do to manage my ADHD and mood, I made changes. My boarder (who was home 24/7) moved out and I regained my privacy.

This helped.

But the truth is, my entire last year is mostly a blur (my loyal readers will recall that I went off my ADHD medication back in March 2014).

I was shocked when I realized I’d been off my medication for over a year. Hadn’t it been only a few months?

A trip to my family doctor and the decision was made.

In May, I went back on my medication. Instantly, it felt like a fog had lifted.

When I told my ADHD friend that I’d felt like I’d spent the past year in a fog, he said, “That sounds awful.”

I don’t see it that way. Losing the first 47 years, now that was awful. But so much has changed for the positive.

Off meds, I discovered that I’d learned a lot since my late-in-life diagnosis at 47. I was no longer as verbally impulsive; my friendships and part-time work remained stable. But moving my main life and work goals forward had been a Sisyphean task.

Still, even three weeks back on my meds, I’m dragging my butt. I’ve started to become more productive again, but I’m still exhausted. Today I learned the possible reason: a wonky thyroid. Perhaps it’s not just the ADHD that’s been holding me back over the past year.

Imagine that.

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Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[Parenting ADHD Kids: Care for You and Your Child]]> 2015-04-24T19:43:32Z 2015-04-24T19:30:35Z Not What I Expected by Dr. Rita EichensteinWhen I was diagnosed with ADHD late in life, a series of tumultuous emotions washed over me, from relief to regret, from anger to embarrassment, from shame to sorrow. It was several years before I realized how undiagnosed ADHD might have affected my beleaguered adoptive mom.

Not being a mother myself, it was a bit of a leap to put myself in her shoes. As a young adult, I’d had to focus on dealing with an oversize heap of emotional baggage of my own via a hit parade of assorted therapists. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and rebirthers – all had taken a crack over the years at cracking open the leftover feelings of rage and resentment I had from my childhood experiences.

Aside from realizing that my mom’s own parenting must have been less-than-perfect, I’d never understood how challenging raising a child like me must have been. On a subconscious level, I must have had an inkling, as I often quipped, “Thank God I never had a child like me to raise.”  Still, it wasn’t until I understood ADHD that I began to understand how truly difficult it must have been– especially when my family knew nothing of ADHD as I was growing up.

This realization added a substantial amount of guilt and regret to the post-ADHD-diagnosis emotional train wreck. Although I couldn’t have done any better, none of us could, I temporarily felt huge regret at having been such a handful as a child.

This is one of the reasons reading Dr. Rita Eichenstein’s recently published book, Not What I Expected: Hope and Help for Parents of Atypical Children, was such a bittersweet experience. If I could have a life do-over, I’d want my mom to have a copy of Dr. Eichenstein’s book.

As an adoptee, I grew up well aware that I was definitely not the little girl my mom had expected. I was quite different from the rest of my adoptive family, in appearance, mannerisms, abilities and so on. Being the only one in the family with ADHD set me apart even further. My adoptive mom was ill-equipped to deal with the whirling, hyperactive dervish of a daughter that was me.

Eichenstein speaks to parents of kids with ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, anxiety, giftedness, and a wide array of differences which lead to raising an “atypical” child. I can’t help but think that Eichenstein’s book would have gone far to alleviate my mom’s challenges by reassuring and validating her in her quest to be the best parent she could be.

It is too late for me and my mom (she passed away when I was 26, long before my ADHD diagnosis), but I would urge any parent who is struggling with a special needs child to pick up Not What I Expected. You’ll be encouraged to savor the rewards, and sustained to withstand the challenges, in dealing with your surprising, unexpected child.

To learn more about how to take care of yourself while parenting a special needs child, please join me Monday, April 27, as I host a free Psych Central webinar with my very special guest, Dr. Rita Eichenstein, pediatric neuropsychologist.

Register for the webinar here.

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[‘Twas Four Days Before Christmas]]> 2014-12-22T23:05:44Z 2014-12-23T05:05:19Z ADHD stockings hung with care‘Twas four days before Christmas, I sat in my house
My cat was still sleeping, ignoring her stuffed mouse;
My friends’ stockings were hung by the new wooden stairs
I sat in my office in my old office chair.

At ten in the morning, my first morning call;
I chatted as per usual, not suspecting at all.
When out in the front room there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

As I stood up, my head it started to ring;
To my dread and my horror, it could be only one thing!
The cat was all nestled, snug in her chair;
She (being quite deaf) still slept without care.

But I couldn’t ignore
The sight of my tree,
Oh, perfect, I thought;
It’s like ADHD.

An ADHD Christmas - Dec. 22, 2014

An ADHD Christmas – Dec. 22, 2014

I stared there in shock as the thoughts tumbled in:
The floor soaking wet, the water sinking in.
Save all the presents! I thought with alarm,
And ran for a towel to lessen the harm.

Grace under pressure, I stayed on the phone;
Sopped up the water and cleaned up my home.
As I multi-tasked in true ADHD style,
I finished my call with a bewildered smile.

Now vacuum! Now sweep!
Drag the tree down the hall!
Clean up every shattered
Ornament and ball!

As dry needles
Out my backdoor they flew,
With four days ‘til Christmas,
What the hell would I do?

The stump of a cigarette
I held in my teeth
The smoke it encircled
My head like a wreath.

I sat chubby and plump, my miserable self
(I just joined the Y to rehabilitate myself).
Back in the house, made a cup of hot tea
I know what I’ll do! I’ll go to plan B.

I sprang to my kitchen
And picked up a plant;
Rearranged all the gifts,
Though the result was quite scant.

My friends they were due
To arrive in four days,
To eat Christmas dinner,
And music to play.

The spirit of Christmas
Would greet them with no tree,
But I knew with assurance,
They were there to see me.

As I ponder with wonder
My pre-Christmas plight,
I think What can go wrong, will,
But we’ll have a good night.

Happy ADHD Christmas everyone!

P.S. – A Christmas miracle: only ONE ornament broke!

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Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[New Year’s Resolutions? Forget ‘Em]]> 2014-12-19T21:00:24Z 2014-12-19T21:00:24Z
Zoe's ADHD towel rack. Get it?
A towel rack for someone who loves double-entendres.

The calendar days are dwindling down. Winter Solstice will soon be upon us and once more, the light will return.

Still, I procrastinate.

All year I’ve told myself, Tomorrow, I’ll go swimming. With the New Year fast approaching, I’m starting to panic. What if this year closes, and I haven’t started on my goal?

Why not make it a New Year’s resolution? I thought, seduced by the age-old tradition of setting our sights on a fresh start in the New Year.

My brief flirtation with waiting until the New Year was quickly dashed as I remembered the many times when, along with hordes of hopefuls, I embarked on New Year’s resolutions only to end up in failure.

Then it hit me: why repeat the same mistake?

I’ve found a new resolution: to hell with resolutions.

As the New Year approaches, I’ve found a new resolution: to hell with resolutions.

I’ve found the perfect way to overcome procrastination, achieve my goal, and avoid kicking off the new year with a soon-to-be-failed resolution. I’ve resolved not to wait until the New Year to get started.

I went swimming.

Fear-of-resolution-failure, I’ve discovered, works much like another great ADHD goal-achiever: the procrastination-pummeling, adrenaline-inducing, fast-approaching deadline.

Instead of once again joining the hordes of fitness-club joiners who’d undoubtedly be splashing around poolside come January, I started now, in December. If I get a head start now (I’m thinking), I can have a routine set up by the time New Year’s eve rolls around.

Besides not setting myself up to break a resolution, there are other benefits to starting my exercise regime early.

I’m already combating seasonal chocolate-cookie-candy-boozy-turkey-holiday-induced bloat.

I’m employing a sure-fire ADHD treatment with mood-smoothing properties; impulse-suppression powers; and task-focusing abilities.

I’ve taken the plunge (literally) early this year. I will not be making any New Year’s resolutions. Nor, I’m even happier to say, will I therefore be breaking any.

So here’s my challenge to you: why not make (or start to make) that change you’ve wanted to make now, instead of in the New Year?

Imagine how great it will feel when New Year’s rolls around and you’re celebrating two weeks of success rather than setting yourself up for resolution failure?

Our best successes come from doing it our way. The ADHD way. So buck the trend: do it now.


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Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[7 Great ADHD Gifts I’d Like to See]]> 2014-12-11T21:03:01Z 2014-12-11T17:32:18Z mood ring 2‘Tis the season of giving. The perfect gift for me would be something to help me with the day-to-day circus that is life with ADHD. Something like, say, these fine (and fictitious) products. If only!

Mood-detection gifts

1 ) Emoti-glasses

Reading other people’s facial expressions is a crap shoot at best. Emoti-glasses would do the work for me, flashing “happy,” “angry,” or whatever accordingly for a few seconds across the lens.

This would give me time to gear up for an exchange or, alternatively, to turn around and walk (or run) like hell.

2 ) Mood shirt

The mood shirt is the opposite of emoti-glasses. Rather than flagging other people’s feelings for us, the mood shirt broadcasts our mood to others. Sure, you can still find the mood rings of yore, but they’re far too subtle for our purposes.

By the time someone’s in range to see the color of my mood ring, it’s way too late: they’re in my bubble and they’re either gonna love it – or not.

Smart appliances… and I mean, really smart

3 ) Kettle that reminds you

People with ADHD are maybe the only people who can burn anything, including water. There is nothing quite like the smell of a burning pot (I broke my kettle years ago and haven’t gotten around to replacing it).

I’d like to see something more aggressive than a kettle that whistles. I need one that screams, “Hey you!” as I walk up the stairs, forgetting I’ve left the water on to boil.

No: what I need is a kettle that will whistle, scream at me, then send a text message if necessary before I leave the driveway (or airport).

In the UK and EU, there’s the iKettle, but it just doesn’t fit the bill. The iKettle lets you turn the kettle on remotely, sets the water temperature, and has an auto shutoff. So far, so good.

But all this does nothing to help the distracted ADHDer who is wandering around the house, completely having forgotten that they were hankering after a cup of tea.

In lieu of sending a helpful reminder while the iKettle’s still boiling, your presumptuous applicance assumes you’ve changed your mind (you haven’t; your mind went on vacation. There’s a difference.)

4 ) Clutter alarm

Like a carbon monoxide detector, the clutter alarm would plug into the wall. Instead of detecting fumes, it would have sensors (or something; I’m not an inventor, don’t ask me) that would detect when your clutter has reached a toxic level.

What’s toxic? That depends on you. The clutter alarm would be customizable to your personal level of overwhelm. There could even be a warning alarm to let you know you’re reaching dangerously unproductive levels of mass and to allow you to take action accordingly.

For those of us who are coordination challenged

5 ) Decorative edge softeners (aka D.E.S.’s)

Sure, you can get door edge guards to protect car doors – but what about protecting something infinitely more valuable to me – my shins?

For those of us who regularly bump into doorjambs, furniture, walls, the cat, and such, I’d like to see an invisible or decorative spongy material available to protect not car parts but body parts.

Perhaps a strip of foam rubber you can cut into whatever length or shape you need (let someone else cut it for you, obviously) and stick to whichever nefarious edge is your most dangerous nemesis. If it’s invisible, no one needs to know (your family or co-workers will notice you’re yelling in pain less often. Maybe they’ll think you got new glasses or contact lenses. Let them.)

6 ) Bounce back fabric

For those of us who feel like the world is one giant pinball machine, and we are the balls not the players – wouldn’t it be nice to have an ensemble made of fabric that not only protects us from bruises, scrapes, sprains, and other injuries, but looked good too?
This holiday season, I’d love to receive a full ensemble of bounce back clothing, made of a fabric that could ricochet me up off the sidewalk, bounce me off the wall (no need for the DES’s come to think of it) and back on my feet.

The fabric would have to be lightweight, stylish, and of course comfy. The pieces would be tagless, seamless, and breathable. This might not be available for this year, but I’m willing to bet that I won’t be any more coordinated in 2015. I can wait.

7 ) Understanding

What if those around you understood your ADHD? What if they cut you some slack, supported you when they saw that you were flagging, got a kick out of you and told you on a regular basis, and loved you just the way you are?

While the other gifts are far-fetched, maybe with more education, more compassion, and more dialogue – this one’s achievable. Maybe not this year or even the next. But some day. And again, this one is worth the wait – but I hope we don’t have to wait long.

What about you? What would be a great ADHD-defying gift for you this holiday season?


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Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed. <![CDATA[Holiday Abundance and ADHD]]> 2014-12-08T14:58:45Z 2014-12-08T05:06:32Z The warm glow of a winter house Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Christmas is a time of abundance. This may be especially true for those of us with ADHD.

Yes, there is more chocolate (always a good thing). But there’s also more impulsivity and more serious consequences for the future. Unless you want a diet, an overdrawn bank account, and emotional burnout in your post-holiday future, heightened impulsivity will not serve you well at this time.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, or nothing at all: there’s more.

More of being overwhelmed. More distraction. More emotional stress. More disorganization, more time management challenges, more opportunities for social faux pas.

What we do need more of

So how do we avoid getting more of the ADHD “gifts” that we’d rather return? When asking for gifts this year, just remember that “S” does not just stand for “Santa:” it’s also for simplicity, support, supplements, serenity, and surrender: five things we do need more of.


‘Tis the season to triage. With the potential to be quickly overwhelmed, now’s the time to stay focused on mission-critical targets. So, simplify. If you can cut things off the list, you’ll simplify the task of prioritizing before you even begin.

Make a list of things you can forgo until after the holidays. Does the dog need to be groomed? Consider letting Scruffy live up to his name over the holidays, taking one less time- and resource-consuming task off your list.

Do you really need to throw a dinner party for your family or 400 of your closest friends? Yes? If so, how about a potluck this year instead of a seven-course festive feast?

Before diving into the holiday havoc, try coming up with a list of at least 10 things you can either simplify, postpone, or strike off the to-do list altogether. Ready? Go!


The last thing we want to do is ask for help.

Do it! Now, more than ever, it’s time to call in favors, delegate, and let go of control-freak tendencies.

With perfectionism rampant amongst us, I know it’s difficult to let go of the reins. Delegate, then try walking out of the room or leave the house when a family member is baking the holiday shortbread – their own way. Hovering over them giving instructions or wiping up the counter while they’re trying to work will not decrease your stress or constitute full-fledged “delegation,” so buzz off and leave them to their own devices.

And don’t forget to be grateful for, not judgmental of the results.


During the holiday season, you may want to talk to your doctor to make sure your meds are optimized, and try supplementing your regular ADHD treatment with Omega-3 fish oils, B vitamins, zinc, Iron and magnesium. I’m no dietition, but some ADHD experts (Dr. Ned Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction among them) do recommend dietary changes and supplements to help manage ADHD. To learn more about what changes might be beneficial, check out Ten Foods to Boost Your ADHD Brain.


Do you meditate? Perhaps now is not the time to start, but consider the stress-relief strategies you already use. Now consider doubling up on those.

Yoga, a walk in the woods with (or without) Scruffy, a lavender bubble-bath, a timeout with a friend or a favorite (non-stressful) movie – whatever! Schedule it into your planner. (I hope the words “schedule” and “planner” didn’t stress you out. I discovered these after my ADHD diagnosis, and by gosh, they’re handy.)

When you take an item off your “to-do” list (see “Simplify” above), plug in one of these serenity-inducing activities. Adding this activity will take time, yes, but chances are it will be time well spent and might make your other tasks go more smoothly.


Finally, keep top of mind that this too shall pass. No matter how hard you try, or even if you give up; this holiday season will soon be over. There, at least, is something to hold on to!

What are your holiday coping strategies? Please share. Helpful options are also something we all need more of.


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