Reply To: Really struggling, any advice appreciated please

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#106716
Spaceboy 99
Participant

Hey there 🙂

Well done for reaching out! It’s never easy asking for help, and doing so is the first step towards correcting whatever it is that is bothering you 🙂

I think that what you’re talking about is probably something that bothers 99% of ADHD people once they realise that it’s a problem, and to be honest, I’m not sure I have any advice on how to MODERATE your phone use, especially since I’m here typing this instead of doing my job, but I have some advice that may help the problem.

First off, are you on any ADHD medications? Or do you have any ADHD coping strategies in place, and if so, which ones do you find work for you? Have you actually been diagnosed ADHD, or is this your attempt to reach out and find out if you have it (I’m going to assume that you do since you’ve posted here, please do correct me if I’m wrong). If you haven’t been diagnosed, but suspect you have ADHD, the best advice I can give is to immediately schedule an appointment with a specialist to determine whether or not you have it. Only medical professionals can accurately diagnose ADHD (though sometimes even they get it wrong).

The problem with social media and phone reading is that the articles are DESIGNED to trap your attention. There’s always one more to read, there’s always one more to see, there’s always the chance that the NEXT ONE will resound with you perfectly and explain your life, and if you don’t keep reading you’ll never know! This fear is called FOMO- Fear Of Missing Out, and it’s a bugger.

I don’t really have a cure for FOMO, because I suffer from it myself. But there are some simple things I CAN recommend to you. For starters, are there any hobbies that interest you, or that you could take up, that would give you the same sort of stimulation, or more stimulation, than you get from your phone? Is there any way for you to do these at home, with your kids around, or even actively WITH your kids? Ones that spring to mind, for me, are things like video games, board games, card games, knitting, handicrafts, movie nights, anything that FORCES you to put down the phone if you’re going to DO THE THING. During these activities, you could mandate a ‘no phones’ rule. If you need your phone for the instructions, print these out at work or a library, then bring them home, just so you have one less thing to use your phone for.

I find that with addictive behaviours, the easiest way to limit them is to remove the source of addiction. So with your phone, you could, on getting home (not necessarily every day, even, maybe only two nights a week AT MOST) turn your phone off, take it upstairs, and put it in your bedside drawer. It stays there either until you wake up the following day, or until an hour after the kids have been in bed. Tell your family and friends that if they ever need to get a hold of you, they need to call your house phone, not your mobile. If this doesn’t work, you could even leave it at your job until you get there the following day.

The key is to make sure that, for any time you’re intentionally not using your phone (and genuinely, make sure you DO turn it off and put it far away from you every time you do this, it’s a powerful psychological tool) that you fill the time with something enjoyable and fulfilling, else you’re going to go looking for your phone. You’ll probably be anxious the first time you try this. You’ll want to go and check your phone every couple of minutes, you’ll reach for it to find it’s not there, and you’ll clutch your pocket, terrified it’s gone missing. Push through it. Once you’ve gotten used to the routine, it will become just that- routine. You won’t worry anymore.

Don’t feel pressured to spend your ‘no phone’ time with your family, either. Maybe you could read a book, watch a movie, call a friend or family member, or put a little extra time into cooking dinner and make something extra special, or any number of things. The important thing is breaking the hold you fear your phone has over you. Start off with one night a week, make it a Wednesday. Then, after about a month, maybe two, try two nights a week. A while longer, then try three. On your ‘phone days’, maybe try to incorporate some of the same things you do on your ‘no phone days’, so you’ll get home and read your book instead of scrolling facebook. Over time, this will get easier, and the phone will lose its grip. You could even try turning off facebook notifications, so you only see things that are happening when you actively turn on the app. This can do wonders, I’ve found.

The important thing, though, is not to feel ashamed about this, and to not feel ashamed for asking for help. Social media is LITERALLY DESIGNED to do this to you. It’s designed to draw you in and hold your attention for AGES. If you have ADHD, you’re doubly, triply more likely to fall victim to this, because we’re WIRED to chase after the shiny attention-grabber. You can break the hold by putting the shiny attention-grabber somewhere where you can’t reach it 🙂

Any questions or further thoughts, please feel free to ask 🙂 Best of luck!