Singing a New Tune

Despite setbacks, Bob Carney is enjoying happiness and freedom for the first time ever.


Filed Under: Adult ADD: Late Diagnosis, Organization Tips for ADD Adults, Focus at Work, ADHD and Relationships

Singing a New Tune, Part 2

Dana: In addition to his financial problems, Bob has always had trouble getting organized. He's tried using calendars, planners, dry-erase boards, timers, a PDA, and computer reminders - but with little success. One problem is that he keeps losing things. The only thing he never loses is his cell phone. That's why we think that getting one of those combination PDA/cell phones will be Bob's ticket for keeping track of his time and his to-do list.

Bob: A couple of years ago, I was working as a traffic reporter at a radio station in Houston. I did traffic updates from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. One night, my boss happened to be at the site of an accident I was reporting. She called in to say I had gotten all the details wrong. The accident wasn't at the exit I'd mentioned, the intersections were wrong, and so on.

The problem was that I kept getting distracted. To get the information about the accident, I had to listen to three separate scanners at once, and there were also several TVs on in the station at the same time. To do my job right, I would have had to put together some sort of book with maps and a list of all of the streets, so I could chart everything out.

Dana has encouraged me to create my own systems for getting things done. She says I am like a ping-pong ball, and that, to get down the right path, the walls on either side shouldn't be too far apart or too narrow. She has helped me create systems that give me the right amount of space to keep moving and stay on track.

I think the best system I've learned is a new method of time management. In the past, one day for me was pretty much like every other day, and it was hard for me to tell how I should allot my time.

Dana suggested dividing my days into the following three categories. Focus days are money-making days. Foundation days are devoted to planning new projects, creating presentations, and taking care of other tasks that don't bring in cash right away but which lay a foundation for the future. Free days are for resting, having fun, and nurturing relationships.

Before I managed my time with foundation, focus, and free days, I had been trying to do everything at the same time. It was chaotic.

Dana: Right now, Bob is concentrating on his career and on getting back on his feet financially. He dates occasionally - nothing serious. The few relationships he has had during our work together drained his focus and energy. But he's eager to find a loving, supportive relationship.

Bob: I'd love to get involved with a woman, but I'm afraid of burdening her with my ADHD. Dana is getting paid to listen to my problems. It's exhausting for someone in a relationship to play that role.

I'm not saying that I don't tell women that I have ADHD. In fact, I make a point to mention it. I tell the women that we have to go to a quiet restaurant and that I need to sit with my back to the "traffic" going to and from the kitchen. If not, I'll be staring at every waiter who walks by, and my date will think that I'm not interested in what she has to say.

My trouble with time management makes my dating life even more complicated. I explain to the women I date that I might be late for get-togethers or even miss them entirely. We might agree to meet at such-and-such time, and then I get delayed and she's left wondering where the heck I am. Or I'll forget to call her till about 11:30 p.m. - so I put off calling her until the next day, and then forget again. My last relationship hit the wall because the woman didn't want to deal with these things.

Dana: I always try to help my clients find ways to work with their strengths. Bob loves singing and playing the guitar, and he has always dreamed of becoming a professional musician. I've tried to help Bob focus on that dream. A number of times in our years together, Bob has taken a job only for the money. But making money isn't enough for Bob.

Recently, I urged Bob to check out the music stores in his area. That led to a job as a salesman at a guitar store, which led to work as a deejay and some singing gigs. This past summer he played several solo gigs near his Long Island home. At this point, the money he makes from performing isn't enough to support him, but he's starting to rebuild his world around his passion.

Bob: I'm sure that it looks to most people as if my life has been on a downward slide. I'm not denying that I have experienced some setbacks, but I'm also experiencing a sense of freedom and happiness that had eluded me for almost my whole life.

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