Monday, June 25, 2007

ADHD: Six Ways to Stop Boredom

(cc) Douglas CooteyIs it possible to halt a dopamine deprived brain from bouncing out of its skull the moment boredom sets in? I believe it is and I'll be covering six ways I've found that work for me all this week.

Contrary to popular belief, as evidenced by some of my more vitriolic commenters, I have AD/HD, and until recent years it made my life a living hell. That's not to say that I suddenly found a cure. No, instead I grew tired of being beat up by consequences and decided to make some changes in my life.

Ever heard of consequences? You know, show up late to work and get fired. Forget to lock up the store after you leave and get fired. Paste a newspaper article upside down and get fired... Those kind of consequences? (I still maintain that I didn't paste that newspaper article upside down, but instead was framed...and poorly. So I didn't lose my job there, but quit it because the work environment was far too hostile. I would get bored and wander into other departments to see what was going on. My supervisor didn't like that much. He yelled and screamed and got red in the face and I would watch him with a puzzled look. Ah, to be young and blissfully stupid again.)

I've covered boredom before. AD/HD people can't really help being bored. It's part of the diagnosis. The second our mind becomes bored our thoughts strike out into any direction possible to find something that will engage our interest. Some of those directions are constructive, many are destructive. You can thank a lack of dopamine in our brains for that. We may not even realize that we've stopped flipping the pancakes and become busy reading about the history of pancakes on Wikipedia until after the fire alarm goes off. I personally have melted several pans "cooking" ramen because I drifted off while the water boringly boiled.

In worse cases, we seek out thrills to engage our interest, usually involving a chain saw, a unicycle, and a gaping chasm - metaphorically or literally. Reason does not usually rule until those pesky consequences start rolling in. A lack of control in our impulse center really complicates matters. We are often off to the races betting all our salary before we realize rent is due just because we were going out of our minds sitting still during class, or commuting home in gridlock traffic.

So, what to do? For a person with AD/HD, boredom is a physically and mentally painful experience. To force our minds to stay on task when our minds want to be free is most difficult. I can attest that it can be done, but it requires lots of training and effort. The problem is that the moment of distraction is instantaneous and seemingly beyond our ability to avert. In the past, I recommended my Boredom Survival Kit™ as a means of keeping boredom at bay. This week, I will focus on six specific boring events this week that drive Adults with AD/HD mad. The first article will appear Monday night. Get your comments in now to vote for boring scenarios in your workday or day-to-day that jeopardize your job or relationships. I can only cover six because I'll be driving my daughter deep into Utah for a gig later this week.

Remember: Not beating yourself up and maintaining a cheerful attitude are the first steps towards conquering this problem. All my advice will hinge on these two points. Please keep them in mind. In addition, I do not favor medication as a solution, but some of you may.

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