ADHD in Adults and My Experience

October is ADHD-Awareness Month. I thought I’d speak to my experience.

I was diagnosed with ADHD in my 40s. Looking back, I see the early symptoms in my childhood – lots of daydreaming, easily distracted, unable to have single-focus. I was raised in the kind of home where manners were important and was taught to pay attention, entertain myself in quiet situations (like in a restaurant), and respect my elders and others. This meant I always had a book with me so I had something to occupy my mind, did not interrupt, waited my turn, and adhered to all of the social niceties. Interrupting, getting out of your seat, and being loud or messy are symptoms of ADHD in children, especially boys, that I did not display because I was taught that they were unacceptable behaviors. But when I think back to being in school, I remember looking out of the window for long periods of time, doodling in the margins of my notes, writing poems during class lectures, and other distractible behaviors that were unnoticed by others. In college, I applied the behaviors I learned growing up; I had good study skills and was always a straight-A student. College was not difficult for me, but did require a lot of reading and studying outside of class.

As an young adult, I had learned to make my brain work for me. I multi-tasked constantly and always had 15 tabs open in my brain’s computer, including one always playing music of some sort. Working in an office was fine for me, but keeping to a clock always bothered me. I’m super-efficient, and get a job organized in just a few months and am bored thereafter. I hate punching a clock and find that I have usually finished my 8 hours of work in a few hours, so why be chained to the desk before I’m allowed to leave? This caused me to feel resentment and I thought there was something wrong with how I thought about work, as people I talked to did not feel this way, and simply slacked off more during the day; I would rather slack off at home, where my video games were. I always worked and attended school, as well as raised my kid, was in a relationship, and managed both my home and my kid’s extra-curricular activity. I was so busy outside of work, that having down time at work felt unacceptable.

In my later adulthood and career, I own and run multiple businesses, write books, play and run D&D games, am always planning business ideas, and all the normal things like see my friends and do hobbies. This works much better for me. I set my own schedule, can work a few hours here and there, jump from project to project, and utilize lists to get multiple things done. I use the calendar to set up my tasks and be sure they are done; I live and die by my calendar. I have used the Sticky Notes app on my computer, with a different note for each “category” (each business, home things, writing) to stay organized.

In my 40s, I went to the psychiatrist and asked about being assessed for ADHD. He asked me for a list of my current projects and I told him to clear out his calendar for the rest of the day. I listed them (take a deep breath): 3 projects for my board-game business in various stages of readiness, building my counseling business (including counseling, seeing interns, doing the social media, marketing, bookkeeping, etc.), planning auditing as a service, writing a curriculum for treatment centers, planning online courses to sell, and writing a fiction novel. He did some testing and prescribed me a medication. I’ve been on it since, including a dose increase. It took about a month before I noticed the change I was looking for: decreased distractibility. I want to finish more projects, spend more time on a project once I’ve begun it, and be more satisfied with the work that I am doing. Medication has helped me with this focus.

Here are a few of my favorite videos on how ADHD symptoms present in adults, and they’re in bite-sized format, perfect for the mind that has trouble concentrating.

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdYrE9K1/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdYrgHAD/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdYrKkXL/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdYrKbeD/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdYh6Exv/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdYrKDx8/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdYhjUrD/

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Suicide Can Wait

It’s okay if all you do today is survive.

Vineyard with hills in the background

If you are considering ending your life, do nothing for 24 hours. That is an accomplishment you can build upon. Avoiding an action is an action. 

How many small moments will you have today? Spend a little time outside, or just looking outside from inside. What do you notice? What made you smile, surprised, or captured your attention? What thoughts did you have? Those are the everyday moments that make life interesting. Share them with someone. What did they say? Did they share your feeling? What did they say? Those connections make life a shared experience. 

At this moment, it may be difficult, or even impossible, to see a life that doesn’t look like the one you have. But the experience of life is not constant and situations will change. Some may deteriorate and some may strengthen, but it is certain there will be change. Think of your life before it was how it feels now; maybe that was a year ago, or 5 or 10 years ago, but it was different. You haven’t always felt this badly. You won’t always feel this way, either. But it can take time. That might feel heavy to hear, but compare that other time to this one. Now compare this time to 1, 5, 10 years from now, even if may be difficult to imagine, know that it will be changed. You have to stick it out, get through this rough part to get to that good part again. 

This is a valley surrounded by hills. Keep climbing.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

On Victim Blaming

The only people who rape are rapists. Full stop.

If an attractive person, without a stitch of clothing on, appeared in front of you, I would hope that your reaction would be to get that person to safety, offering a way to cover them, and the ability to get to a place where they will be okay. If your first reaction is to attempt to have sex with them, this is problematic behavior.

This sounds like farce, right? But if you listen to victim blaming, they will say “If they weren’t dressed like that” or “if they weren’t in that place” or “if they were sober at the time” as justification for rape.

At no time, would I consider forcing or coercing someone to have sex with me. I hope that is true for you, also. That makes us not rapists! If someone were not sober, were dressed scantily, and/or were in a place that was unsafe, I would, and I hope you would, get them to safety as your first order of business.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

The Benefits of Not Using your Insurance

Most people believe that going to therapy is a process earmarked by privacy. And it is, sort of, if you don’t use your insurance. I have worked in therapy both as a therapist and as a medical biller for a therapy agency, so I know both sides of this fence intimately. When you see your therapist, the therapist, by law, generates an intake, a treatment plan, and notes. They likely also diagnose you with one or more conditions, which may be transient or permanent, depending on the client.

If you use your insurance, this information is all available to the insurance company, and is part of the contract either your therapist or their agency signs when agreeing to be paid by the insurance company. The insurance company can reject payment if they do not have “justification” that your problem is significant enough, which can result in a therapist making an addendum to the note to state you are worse off then you are, or that they require more information about your case; this results in the therapist sending more information from your file (extra copies of notes or additional notes or summaries) stating your problem, when it began, problems with treatment (perhaps you missed an appointment, were late, or did not do a homework assignment), or additional facts about your case that were not initially captured in the session note. While, ethically, all of this information should be factual, it is also private and is not the business of the insurance company.

If you are seeking treatment for substance abuse, for example, it needs to be cited what drugs you were taking, but what means, in what amounts, for how long, and what previous steps you have taken to try and quit. If you have not tried unsuccessfully to quit on your own, most insurance companies will not cover your inpatient services. If you have tried to quit several times through inpatient and outpatient services, they may deny you as too big of a risk for failure. The insurance company is not on your side in these matters, but looks at you as part of risk-analysis.

I believe the client-therapist relationship is one based on honesty, privacy, ethics, and rapport. I want my clients to know that their information stays with me and no one else. I do not believe that most people understand how their information will be used and to whom and how it will be disclosed. Now you know. Feel free to share this.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Metaphor Consultation

When working with the subconscious, you have to connect with the subconscious in it’s language.

Think of a birthday party you once had. Do you remember who was there? What happened? How you felt? Music that played? What was said? There’s little chance you remember specifically what was said because the mind stores information in pictures and feelings. Language is an overlay that we have worked hard to create over time, but is translated at the conscious level.

Working with the subconscious is best done through the use of accurate metaphors. Metaphor creates a layer of protection between the client’s threatening memory and the therapy process, taking the sting out of therapy and making it much more fun to participate in; this leads to additional client engagement and less cancelled sessions.

If you would like to hear your client’s story, noting the relevant items, relationships, and settings, and ignoring the irrelevant ones, to create metaphors that subconscious mind connects with in order to induce the most useful change, call me for a consultation.

For example: A woman recalls having been tripped in the cafeteria in middle school. She felt embarrassed, confused, and upset. She tells you that her peers and the adults in the room did nothing while the bully pointed and laughed at her. Take a moment to examine this example for what her subconscious mind remembered in that 2 second video clip or snapshot of the moment. What elements are relevant? Which are irrelevant?

I would construct a metaphor utilizing the feelings she verbalized (embarrassed, confused, upset), the notion that she was not saved by her community, and lightening that metaphor so that the memory of the original event is softened. This new metaphor is a subset of the original memory, which will be attached, but not replace, the original memory.

She is a court jester. Her job is to be embarrassed in front of her community, even though she does not always like that job, and most people do not love every moment of their jobs. She has to do pratfalls, get pied in the face, and be made fun of by royalty. This is much less threatening of an event to imagine than the actual event.

This takes me just a moment to concoct. I’d like you to be as excellent at working with the subconscious! There is no such thing as too many good therapists and if I can help you grow with this technique, it is my pleasure to do so.

Consultation is $50/hour as we can meet monthly or up to weekly, as is your preference, in small groups or individually. Please call 954-612-9553 to schedule. Video conferencing is available from me to where ever you are in the world.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Consultation: Write Better Notes

After a session, we are taught to write brief, but “good” notes. What does that even mean? Notes should take you 5-10 minutes to write. They should include a mini-mental status exam, what you did, how the client responded, and what you will do for next time. Does that should like it will take you an hour?

I have streamlined this process and can teach you to do them quickly and well. My notes have gone through subpoena and I have been an expert witness with excellent results based on my notes.

Consultation is offered individually or in small groups and I am happy to work with your agency or group of interns. Cost is $50/hour and is estimated to take 1-2 hours. Please call to schedule an appointment at 954-612-9553.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

For the Sheer Joy of Doing it

Have you heard the expression “for the sheer joy of doing it”? As in: Look at that kid skipping down the sidewalk, just for the sheer joy of doing it.

Halloween child friendly treats with bananas and clementines made to look like pumpkins and ghosts

When is the last time you did something just for fun? Now take it even deeper. When is the last time you did something just for the sheer joy of doing it? I do lots of things for fun, but is it for joy? I thought about this for a couple of weeks and found that one thing I do for the sheer joy of doing it is dancing. Most of my hobbies are enjoyable, but don’t bring me joy. Perhaps I need more hobbies, or more dancing in my life.

What do you need more of, or to start doing?

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Reframing Guilt in Faith

I once worked with a Catholic woman in her 40s who felt that her history of serial monogamy had ruined her desire of dating in the future because it was in the way of her relationship with God. She felt that her four 5-year relationships were “failed” as they were all ended, and she did not know if she would or should ever date again as a result. She was erroneously linking past relationship with future relationships as if a pattern existed, and that it was a repetitive fractal.

We began with reframing the thought of “failed” versus “ended.” There were good things about the relationships that made each of them last for many years. There were also things about them that were not so good that made them worth ending. I challenged her belief that just because something doesn’t last forever, it does not mean it was failed. After all, she does not have the same job now that she had in high school. She agreed and it clicked. 
She responded “it must be the Catholic guilt.” I asked what was “Catholic” about guilt? She told me that, in her understanding, you are supposed to be with someone forever. I asked if she meant her first crush or the boy she lost her virginity to? She laughed again. “Well, neither…”
I asked her about her concept of God in order for her to envision her deity exactly as was true to her faith, and let that model do the reflection for her. I wanted to know what he/she looked like, wore, got around, and did for fun? She said that he wears Birkenstocks and rides a bicycle, and probably has flowers in his beard. She laughed and smiled; you could see the spiritual connection, strong in that moment. I asked about his personality – was he forgiving and kind or vengeful and smiting – as certainly both versions exist in Catholicism? She said “he is hip, but not a hipster.” I asked if he is with the times and gets what modern life is like, and she said he changes with the times. 
“So then, to him, does he get what dating is like?” She said he does.
“Does he think all first dates should be marriages?” She said he’d find that ridiculous, that you have to try people out for awhile to see what they are like and if they will be a good fit. “And if they are going to be a long-term good fit? Say, longer than the relationships you’ve had thus far? Even if it takes a few tries, even in your 40s?” She said he does.
“So you were guilty over what, again?” Nothing but smiles.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Simple anxiety and depression technique

Zooming in, zooming out

Sometimes, I’m looking at my life through a microscope. Other times, through a telescope. When I’m feeling extra stressed or extra sad, I know that my attention is on the wrong things, and I need to zoom into a different direction.

For example, if I am focused on politics and world news, and that is causing me to feel off balance, out of control, and to worry about things over which I have no ability to make changes, I am zoomed out too far.

technology eye scan radar

On the other hand, if I am focused on the health problem, bills, things that are happening only in my world, I need to zoom out.

The difficulty in this technique is noticing your zoom. A way to get around this is to either notice what you’re thinking about, or notice the feelings that you’re having. You can follow your feelings to the thoughts, or your thoughts to the feelings. Once you identify the level of zoom, change it by moving your attention, your thoughts.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Not a Reflection

What someone else does or says or how he/she acts is no reflection on you. Even if someone were to speak directly to you, about you, their words, their meaning has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. 
Imagine you went to the doctor’s office and were sitting in the waiting room. Near your chair is a table with a variety of magazines upon it. You look at the magazines and pick up one that looks as if it may be interesting to you. Opening it up, you flip through past some photos and articles that don’t interest you and eventually land on something that does. You look at the pictures and read the article and you think it was pleasant. You did not write the article, nor did you take the photos, nor work for that magazine. You have no personal investment in what was said, or how, or why. What does that article say about you? Nothing. It is simply an article that happened to be in your path that you happened to find interesting.
So it is with the comments of others. What someone else feels, thinks, or says has everything to do with him or her and nothing to do with you. Even though their comment may be directed at you, or even about you, without their frame of reference, it would be completely different. He or she speaks from that point of view, which is a reflection on him/her and not a reflection of you. 

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida and Georgia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.