Think Before You Act? Easier Said Than Done (new user)

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    • #90028

      I’m a new user, diagnosed since age 6 and still fighting the good first. Before I start, I want to say how grateful I am to know that there are others out there with ADHD who are trying to get help. I have met only one other person “like me” in my 30 years of life, and spent much of my life feeling very alone in this regard. However, knowing I have a community of understanding out there is of great encouragement to me.

      Since I was a kid, my parents have tried to instill a basic principle in me on coping with my ADHD: “TBYA—Think Before You Act.” They wanted it to be my mantra, my battle cry in the war against the minions of impulsivity. Sounds simple enough, right? “Just think before you act, Andrew,” they’d say. “Just take a deep breath, pause, and T-B-Y-A!”

      If only they knew just how much effort a few letters can be.

      In reality, it’s not that I am incapable of thinking before I act—I’ve done it! The problem, however, is that all too often my impulses fool me into acting before I have even a chance to think! For example, say I am presented with instructions for a typical task, like putting together furniture: I can either choose to read all of the instructions first, then meticulously check and recheck each step before moving forward; or, I can listen to the minion dancing on my shoulder, throw caution (and the instructions) to the wind, and simply hope for the best! Despite ample evidence that the latter is fraught with negative past experience, and despite my strong desire to only do this job only once (and do it well!), more often than not I feel the inexorable force of impulse pulling me away from common sense and into the fast land of pursuing success, half-blind and without a map. Clearly, it is not favorable to choose this path, whose only redeeming quality is its lack of upfront resistance and its potential for less time spent (if completed correctly) on a non-preferred activity. I might even hear my instincts roaring in my head, “why don’t you slow down?”, but most often, my impulses have a habit of convincing me otherwise, feeding my fate to the “zoo in my tummy,” as I called my ADHD as a child. It’s not that I’m lazy, or don’t care to do a good job—I care very much! It’s that my impulses seem to throw my better instincts in cages, while they swing recklessly from the trees of my subconscious, trashing the place and leaving a mess for me to clean up. It’s maddening, to say the least.

      A perfect example is reading. Long instructions (and long menus, for that matter) intimidate me—not because I can’t comprehend them, but I convince myself, time and again, that either a) I don’t have time to read them, or b) I shouldn’t have to read them to succeed. (What’s that saying about the definition of insanity?) Often, instead of reading instructions from left to right, top to bottom, like a normal person, I struggle to keep my eyes from jumping around and aimlessly searching only the most salient details, while forsaking everything else as unimportant. Even if I commit to reading everything diligently, I can feel the muscles in my eyes trying to run wild, eager to move onto the next activity. As expected, failure is far more common than success in these scenarios, and I often end up having to do the whole damn activity over again. The thought of how much time I have wasted not doing something right the first time makes me sick with shame.

      Do others here feel this way? If so, how have you dealt with it? Does anyone have tips or tricks they have developed to quash this internal struggle? I’m this close to getting a tattoo of “TBYA,” but I’m not convinced it would help.

      I’m tired of feeling so much dumber than I know I am. Please help.


    • #90078

      As an ADDendum to my article (please excuse the pun), I should mention that I have also been medicated since I was a kid, and am currently taking Concerta. I would love to hear about others’ experience struggling with and overcoming impulse control, and how genuinely to learn to slow down.


    • #90093

      Beyond medication, what therapeutic methods have you employed? Have you looked into nutrition/supplements that can help? Have you pursued cognitive therapy? Neurofeedback?

      Medication alone is not always effective, sometimes it just gets you to the point where other therapies are possible.

    • #90095

      Thank you so much for responding!!

      I have flirted on and off with meditation for the last several years, and am currently at 4 mornings in a row (self high-five). I enjoy it, though I have trouble really focusing on my breath and convincing myself to take the time out of my day. I know it’s something that I need to stick with, and that not every session is going to be life changing or whatever.

      Beyond that, I do see a therapist approximately every two weeks (is that what you mean by cognitive therapy?), and I am hoping to start in an ADHD coaching group sometime soon. However, anything with nutrition or supplements has not, until recently, crossed my mind. I just started reading about Omega-3, though I am overwhelmed with information about how much to take, how often, etc. Can anyone provide feedback on that, and what sorts of diets/lifestyle alterations are worth investigating?

      What do you mean by neurofeedback?

      Thanks, and I look forward to hearing more thoughts.


      • #90096

        For supplements, just follow the recommended dosage on the bottle. Here are some important ones for ADHD:

        Vitamin B complex

        Since you’re on medication, talk to your doctor about these before taking them. Especially L-Phenylalanine because it can change the effects of the medication.

        You also search for “nutrition” in the search box in this site. Proper nutrition in your eating habits is better than supplementation, but that is a much harder thing to do.

        Also, search for “neurofeedback” in the search box for this site.

    • #90177

      I had attempted several different medications til only one had a noticeable effect for me. After going through a series of dose increases I personal abandoned medication. The last increase of the stimulant was concerning enough for my doctor to prescribe a heart medication.

      This lead me to a cognitive therapist who taught me a few exercises to help me retrain my brain based on my current concerns. They have helped tremendously in gaining some control. I’m sure if I returned I would learn a few new tricks to help concur my recent concerns. I have yet to have insurance that will cover any part of a visit to a neuropsychologist though I still plan a visit when my pocket allows.

      One other tactic that has helped with many of the minor hurdles for me is routines. I will say as with my own impulsivity it was very difficult to begin. With determination most of my routines took nearly a year to instill as solid habits. Habit overrides impulsivity every time for me.

    • #90396

      Yes, I have this same issue of not being able to force myself to read certain texts linearly. Menus really are difficult, and I often hear a friend saying they’re going to order something I swear was not even on the menu but then they point it out and I see I just erased it when I was reading.

      It often depends on my emotional state, and being hungry or tired makes it worse, which makes menus even more difficult. When it comes to instructions, I usually just look at the pictures instead of reading, which works for Legos and IKEA furniture. My suggestion would be to eat a snack or make sure you’re tackling instructions at the time of day you are most alert. For menus, can you look at the online menu ahead of time? I find that usually helps me to know what my options are in advance, and reduce the pressure of making a decision while hungry. I also usually find online menues easier to read for some reason.

    • #90397

      One strategy I have seen on ADDitude a lot is – do it with a buddy. My experience is that it’s more fun putting something together when you have a friend helping or just being there. Maybe it would slow you down to have a buddy read the instructions to you. I’ve put together stuff with lots of little parts and these can be overwhelming. Sorting those first makes me slow down: Making sure I have 2 “A” gadgets, 5 “B” gizmos, 15 “C” screws, and 6 “D” widgets and putting them in separate piles. Having a friend there would help remind me not to just start putting pieces together even when it’s obvious that part “F” attaches to part “H”. I might miss the part where part “A” needs to attached to part “X”, before “F” to “H”.
      Can’t help much on the menus. If there’s more than 2 pages, it may take me half an hour to make sense of it and order.
      Good Luck!

    • #90401

      Yes i have lost jobs because i cant read directions. Even with a manual I had to rewrite the directions in my own language to get it in my head. I have this problem with reading recipes so I have to get all the ingredients out where I see them

    • #90404

      Wow! Thanks for all this advice! I don’t quite have the time to respond to it all now, but I wanted to say a couple things:

      On the buddy system, that is a good idea, though usually that also causes more stress, particularly because that ‘buddy’ is always my wife. She’s very patient most of the time, but I have a real prevalent habit of almost misinterpreting instructions or rushing through something. Some of the worst fights we’ve ever had was over Ikea furniture. But this speaks to a larger fear of mine about how ADHD affects my relationship with my wife. My ability to make mistakes in the simplest of forums would, were it any other activity, deserve a medal for consistency. That’s a whole separate post, as I am sure that there are many of you who have had similar feelings.

      Does anyone else get that physical feeling that, either you’re stuck in being overly cautious and psyche yourself out of doing the simple, correct thing, or that you’re being hurled forward by some kind of inner momentum that makes you overshoot your target, no matter how hard you’re focusing?

      More to write later. So glad to have a community….

    • #90405

      Hi,newbie here also. I’m going to say your comment about reading instructions, menus and what not just pulled me in. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people, I don’t speak “manual”. Your descriptions were perfect. I’m short on time but if I don’t say something now I’ll forget. I’ve been accepting the manual language barrier and if I don’t feel the project it’s going well, I just stop and tell myself tomorrow. Or come back later. Take it on in pieces. And of course HELP. I had to give up on my not asking for help. Embrace the chaos that is me. Knowledge is power. There time, see, thought I’d have time for my full response. 😂😂😂. More later

    • #90420

      Hello there,
      I’m a mom of a 12 year old boy with ADHD. He’s the same way in dealing with a lot on a page. Menus are easier because he only reads the titles until he sees something he likes. Instructions overwhelm him so he covers the page and reveals a little at a time then moves on to more until its all read.

      We do a lot of cognitive therapy, off & on as needed. This therapist is also great at teaching skills to and strategies compensate where needed.

      I’m very sorry to hear that your ADHD interferes with your relationship. Breaks my heart even for I think this is my son’s fate too. I’m hoping to teach him to understand himself well the way I’m learning and then he must teach others closest to him and advocate for himself. He loves second chances and he’s going to demand this be part of life!

    • #90422

      Hi Evie,

      Your son may be only 12, but those are some very wise tips! I think I’ll give that a try, particularly the covering up each line. I think my insecurity about being perceived as “challenged” in some way has kept me from doing so but, as I am sure you experience with your son, our intelligence and capacity for success and the manifestations of ADHD are not by any means directly correlated. I know I’m very smart, and as I am studying to go to law school, clearly I am willing to take on challenging paths. All it means is that we have to get creative with how we cope with the cards we are dealt.

      I also want you to know, while I bring up my relationship to make a point, I don’t want you to think it’s all struggle with us at all–we’re very much in love and happy (even if I get on her nerves much more than she does on mine). Being ADHD doesn’t necessarily make you harder to love, it just asks that those who love you, at times, have a bit more patience than the average bear. My wife is very understanding and patient with me, and even when we go through a bit of ADHDistress (as I call it), she knows I bring a lot of positive qualities to the relationship too, and can see how earnest I am in trying to improve, making it easier to forgive. I am sure you son does and will continue to bring all his gifts into every aspect of his life.

      Good on you for advocating for him now–it sounds like he’s well-situated for success.



    • #90425

      I am 58 years old and was diagnosed four years ago with combined type ADHD. Impulsivity? All my life I have scolded myself–“Why did I do that? Why did I say that? Stop talking! Think before you act!” And now, I never have to do that anymore. I wear Irlen lenses and they have changed my life. I have worn them 3.5 years and they actually have changed the way my brain processes information so it just works more efficiently. My cognitive functions just work better. I comprehend what I read. Auditory processing works now. They are magical.

      • #90452

        I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD with anxiety disorder at age 54. Could you tell me about those glasses you mentioned in your post? Medication helps, but I still struggle daily with feeling so different and challenged with so many things mentioned in the posts on this site. Thanks in advance.

      • #90459

        Look at They can help with anxiety reduction. They calm the brain which makes it work more efficiently.

    • #90433

      Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s perfectly normal to not read instructions, especially if you’re 1, male, and 2, ADD. (Funny joke. Why does it take 400 million sperm to fertilize one egg? Because they won’t ask directions.) So just do the best you can. Often there’s no need to read the instructions, or at least not all of them. Then, when your impulsiveness gets you in trouble, take a step back and regroup. You can always recover if you slow down, back up, and get things under control. I’m 68 now. I didn’t know I had ADD until I was ~40. If I had known these things when I was in high school, it would’ve made a huge difference for me. Good luck!

    • #90442

      Reading, my eyes are all over the page, jumping from here to there, totally out of my control. Menus are worthless, especially pizza, burger or breakfast menus where I’m trying to compare similar meals and find what’s different. My partner–I can’t begin to explain how blessed I am to have such an understanding, loving, accepting man to put up with this–is a complete lifesaver. I choose the category, he helps me “see” the differences. Pictures are godsends but they’re pretty much limited to 24 hr eateries. Grocery shopping can nearly bring me to tears with all its options. Again, he automatically steps in and picks from the hundreds of similar options.

      I mentioned it to every kind of doctor I came across. Nothing. Two psychiatrists and finally the second one said, “Yep, you have a severe case of ADHD with dysthymia and anxiety (I understand the last two are extremely common with ADHD but too what extent they’re results of the ADHD or independent . . . it makes no difference, they’re there).” Meds and therapy (first time with a therapist) have been helpful but still extremely frustrated with the challenges. It’s cost me career positions, money, friends, relationships, everything.

      You’re the first that’s brought up the reading/menu challenge like I have. I’m not alone or totally crazy.

      As far as shame, I’m a 61 year old man on the outside with an adolescent dictating my thoughts and behaviors. Shame and regret have filled my life and to avoid them I’ve been overly private and secretive about jobs lost and failure. Top sales producers but months behind on paperwork and reports and of course I was incapable of asking for help.

      My outsides are so drastically different from my insides, it’s unbelievable. Thank you for your post and we’ll continue to fight the good fight!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by seaancsfo. Reason: Misspellings
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by seaancsfo.
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by seaancsfo.
    • #90446

      Hi everyone!

      New user here too and my word your thread caught my eye.
      Im 36 yr old mum of 2 diagnosed a year ago and on Methylphenidate once or twice a day low dose and it has changed my life. However there are still some aspects that are just ingrained in me and the whole instruction/list/menu/choice thing is such a central part to what I struggle with. It’s so normal to me i just don’t understand how anyone CAN read linearly and not jump around the page for the interesting bits 1st. I read magazines and books like recipe books backwards 1st because im impatient about the end! I haven’t pick up a fiction book in years because motherhood consuming my brain and i simply cannot concetrate on even one sentence without getting bored or my attention going else where. And CHOICE! the bane of my life. supermarkets, online shopping, menus you name it i can’t deal with it!!!!
      I have a 9 yr old daughter who has ADHD and ADD and struggles with the same things, however because I know whats going through i’m parenting her in a lot more positive manner to how i was brought up so she has confidence and bubbliness!

      No advice apart from accept yourself and your struggles. I know i still ‘hide’ my incompetences because quite frankly its embarrassing . I am a Post grauduate with a 1st degree and i still fuck up putting together a kids toy !

      One other thing…. do you find the passing of time physically painful?! Since ive been on meds its much better and i can get through the whole day without the painfullness of time… if you see what i mean? I think this co-incides with the whole ‘i don’t have enough time to read things thoroughly issue’???? I also make simply spelling and grammar mistakes simply because i do not take enough care and cant be bothered to read through what i’ve written. This causes a lot of embarrassment on Social Media!
      To a point where i can go weeks without writing everything because everyone is tuned into my mistakes

      And I too have lost many many jobs and good positions. I am now self employed and do ‘odd jobs’ and look after my family as I cannot cope with anything else anymore.

    • #90449

      Please go to and take the self-test. The Irlen Method helps so much with ADHD, reading distortions, fatigue, tracking issues, becoming distracted, and can even hlep with feelings of unhappiness and anxiety, depth perception… Take a look. They changed my life.

      • #90466

        Thanks so much, it is on my to do list today. I reread a few of your earlier posts and saw that in addition to glasses there are contacts. I will definitely check out!!

    • #90451

      So much to respond to! I’ll do so in stages today.

      On Irlen: I am intrigued by their success, though I admit being a bit sheepish about it considering the visible nature of the product. I wear glasses from time to time, but I imagine that having colored glasses will make people ask questions, and I am already shy enough about my ADHD that I am a bit dissuaded from having to explain it to more people. Are there work-arounds for this? Do they offer contacts that are a bit more discreet?

      Thanks to everyone for this great conversation! I feel very lucky to know I’m not alone.



    • #90458

      My first pair of lenses were a blend of about 5 colors so they were a darker brown. At first they sort of bothered me, but no one ever said anything. I would bring it up and say, “If you noticed, I am wearing tinted lenses….” Some people would say, “Yeah, I was wondering if those were sunglasses that just didn’t fade out properly when you came in.” Because everyone needs an individual assessment, you will find/discover the colors right for YOUR brain. The right colored lenses will not distort the color of anything you are looking at and they calm your brain. They also greatly help people with headaches and migraines, and Cornell University’s FMRI department is currently doing a big research on these lenses and the changes and impact they make on the brain.
      I often forget my lenses are tinted and notice it when I see my reflection in the mirror.

      When I first got them, my mom kept saying, “I cannot believe HOW different you are!” People that used to annoy me don’t anymore, and perhaps, I am not as annoying either–as relationships are so much easier. ADHD is difficult. I like myself sooooo much with my lenses. I would wear them even if my lens color was bright green.

    • #90460

      I stuck to it long enough to realize I don’t have a login and create one because i wanted to congratulate you on your progress and say thanks!
      ” I’m this close to getting a tattoo of “TBYA,” but I’m not convinced it would help.” You resisted that impulse!
      Thanks too for sharing TBYA. I never heard it.

      I order strictly from the first 3 things on the menu, myself. At 52, I don’t know if I’m getting much better, but I do try to play to my strengths and avoid situations where I won’t be successful. I don’t volunteer to be in charge of something with alot of details. I focus more on big picture projects and lean on my more OCD counterparts to handle what they love, the details.
      Also, try to enjoy small victories, like staying on task til something is done. Even if it’s the laundry. Good Luck, A!

    • #90485

      For me it’s I’m too impatient to read the instructions, I just want to get to it, the building, or the using of the new item, ect. My husband will read the directions, but he has meticulous OCD.
      When I switched careers from being a truck driver to working in a medical lab, it was so hard. Lab was a lot of analytics and reading. Especially big ass binders for Standard Operation Procedures that had a lot of Blah blah blah. I would have to skim and dig to just find the damn instructions or what I was looking for.
      It was the same in school for required reading or standardized test. I’m a very, get to the gist of it, kind of person. In about 3rd grade I figured out I could just skip to the questions and then go back to the text to find the answers to the question. I ended up testing out of reading in 6th grade, and English senior year. My reading comprehension in 6th grade was at a college level, yet no one took the initiative to find out why I was struggling academically, I was just passed on. Anyway, I do read for fun or information. But I still glean the text for the nitty gritty.
      This has been a huge pain trying to complete my CE credits to re-activate my ASCP Lab certification. I have to do these horrendously boring and often confusing modules. I’ve been doing my skip to the questions and go back to the text method, but some are written so poorly that I can’t find the answers, despite re-reading the text multiple times. These modules cover areas I never learned or did in the work setting. Things like Molecular Biology, immune assays, DNA testing, ect. I’m having a very hard time and it makes me feel stupid or that maybe I’m not cut out for this line of work. TBH I’m not, but I have this degree and it does pay well enough, it’s like a bird in the hand.
      Because having undiagnosed all my life, I was never aloud to really get to know me, because me was always wrong, so I was always trying to be some one else. So I don’t understand my own needs and what works for me. I think though, ambiguous work settings don’t work for me. I do better in straight forward clear cut settings. Like factory work, trucking, or maybe even programming. Lab seemed so ambiguous, it wasn’t visual most of the time, and I’m very visual. I’m actually good at electronics, mechanics, and building stuff, but since I’m a girl I was never given many opportunities to do these things. I enjoy manual labor, even though it doesn’t pay well.
      Speaking of directions, if you’re still reading this, I bought chickens without having a coop ready (classic add move here) and used the chickens to pressure me into building something which I still put off for too long! I agonized over various designs and plans, none being quite what I wanted. In the end I quit my own coop, with no plans, and very little drawn on paper. I roughly planned out the height and width. I knew it need to be about 3′ deep so I could reach in to clean the entire thing, and I made it 4′ high with a shed rough, and put it on 4×6 post framed out and about 3′ off the ground. I used a rafter measure and a right angle and a level for framing the walls and improvised and free formed most of the time. I ended up with a really nice coop, just in time, because the birds were about full grown and ready to get out of the chicken tractor. This was the first structure I ever built, and I didn’t have plans! I had previous build 2 chairs with plans and a matching table based on a photo without plans.
      I think we ADHD people have a way of visualizing that others don’t, we don’t need plans a lot if the time. We also don’t like our time wasted, we are very “on to the next thing!” kind of people. We are movers and shakers, stuck in a world that rewards people for sitting still and doing mundane things over and over again for some scratch. I hate most jobs because they take me away from my home and my projects. I need to find away to work from home capitalizing on my unique skills.

    • #90487

      I so relate to your post, ADVentures. I’ve been thinking about the same problem lately. Just the last few days I have ruined a meal because I missed an important step of a new recipe I had printed, I published something at work that I hadn’t sufficiently proof-read for errors, and I did not do an important task at work because I didn’t read all of an email. I tell myself that I need to start being more careful and print emails instead of glancing on my iWatch or iPhone. I need to spend a lot of time proof-reading before pressing the publish button. I need to go through each step of a recipe before starting out. I’m 69 years old, and I’m sorry to say, things only gotten worse for me through the years. I’m retired (have a part-time job 8 hours a week), and really have all the time in the world! Why do I still put pressure on myself to get things done as quickly as possible?

      Here’s something that has helped me read and retain more complicated reading material–

      When I have an electronic version of something that I’m having trouble reading, (e.g. a manual, Kindle book, article on this website) I will copy/paste the text into a Word document or OneNote. I then organize the text as I read it into an outline format by using bullets. I break each paragraph or each sentence into indented bullets. Reading is so much easier in this format, and I can also retain and understand the information or instructions much better this way.

      If I’m reading a paper version of something I need or want to understand, I sometimes type a synopsis in bullet format in Word or OneNote. The act of typing it out helps me to retain the information.

      When reading something on the PC or laptop that is stretched out over the large screen, I reduce the width so I’m just seeing short sentences. That is easier for me to read.

      Thanks for starting this conversation.

    • #90507

      Ha! I couldn’t even read your whole post! How’s that for inattentive?
      I’m 38, diagnosed at 36 about a year and a half ago after my daughter was diagnosed. Yeah, I have a really hard time with instructions and menus, but somehow I can follow a recipe to a tee. Sometimes too literally, or too closely and I end up screwing up, but I digress.
      I never thought I’d say this, but I’m on day 9 of a 21 day sugar detox and my attention span is phenomenal right now. I am flying through my tasks at work! Maybe my diet really does have something to do with it. I’m actually considering going gluten and sugar free (maybe 90%) once this detox ends on the 19th.

    • #90508

      Hey A!
      There is so much GREAT ADVICE here!

      Im a new user to this forum too. Although my ADHD isn’t as severe as it could be, I struggle deeply with self esteem and fitting in with others. I have a really hard time organizing my priorities. When I have a list, I cant decide where to start. That is my biggest frustration. I have developed patterns and habits that help me cope and I keep working on different methods until something works.
      I would like to suggest, first of all, that you try each of the suggestions on the comments above. You are worth every moment you put into yourself.
      For me, I make sure I eat enough protein every day and I take supplements. For me, protein is like a miracle. This gives me way better focus for the tasks I need to tackle.
      But I think my most important thing is to look in the mirror and tell myself I am wonderful, fun, smart, and capable. And I say it until i believe it. Because I am. The world around me and my family don’t decide this, I do. I was created different from them and that is good.
      Also, I carefully plan strategies for the parts of my life that I cant cope with. Every day I make a list as things come to mind. Then I pick one thing and pretend the other things dont exist until its done. I have been mocked for this and I was called stupid as a young child although my IQ is high. Their loss, right?
      A menu? I would simply give myself a break and order the first thing my finger falls on, sort of like a game of pin the tail on the donkey, or I would ask my partner to read one of the sections to me. Or I would play a game of “you choose my meal and it will be a surprise” because there are so many things you CAN do, don’t sweat the things you cant.
      Building furniture? There are lots of fun ways to make that happen.
      For your own sake, LOVE LOVE LOVE yourself. you have made great progress in many areas, don’t worry about the rest until it is time to. When I begin to struggle, I ask myself, “If i was watching my best friend go through this dilemma, what would i advise them?” Then I do it.
      Now if you can help me organize my day, bless you. If not, I’m gonna love myself anyway. Good luck!
      Love J

    • #90511

      It was many years before I realized I study best by going over information many times, rather than working from front to back systematically. I pick up the salient points first, and then fill in the gaps.

      I don’t know if this is a learned coping mechanism or not, but I don’t take things out of the box before I’ve read the instructions. Actually taking the thing out of the box is a reward for reading and understanding the instructions.

    • #90541

      A, I jumped on here real quick yesterday on an impulse to reply to your post. I was diagnosed with ADD/bipolar NOS, at 40. Was given meds and dr hallowell’s book to READ! Of course I did what every normal ADHD person would do…open it with intrigue, looking for the stuff that pertains to me,hoping to find all the answers to help me better understand myself and the guide lines to a better life. 1min later I’m just flipping through the pages looking for points of interest. Looking for the stuff that says “here is what you have to do”. Not “here’s ideas of what might work best for you”. Did my best to get through what I thought I needed out if it, it’s been on the book on shelf ever since. I have always struggled with reading. Reading in general is never smooth sailing. I have a tendency to tell people, I’m the slowest reader on the planet. Book reports in school were especially challenging, took me the allotted time just to read the book never mind write a report on it. Manuals, instructions and menus, are almost like a foreign language. I know the words, they’re just not put in the right order for me to understand them, correctly. Hence the “I don’t speak “manual” comment. In my 55 years of life, I have never known anyone that could understand how hard this reading of things is for me. And here you are, putting it all down, in better words than could have done. Thank you.
      In my last response, I was “rushed”. I had a doc appt I needed to go to. But I really wanted to respond to your post. I figured I had enough time to do that, before I left. Like others here, Time is a relative term. What I thought took about 5mins turned out to be more like 15mins. Crap, now I think I’m going to be late cuz I spent to much time online, I still had a couple things to do, I get that whirlwind kinda (painful)rush feeling that time is my enemy, careless mistakes made, like getting into the car and realizing that I took everything out with me but the car keys. Now I have to use the hide key to get back into the house, get my keys, put key back and then head out. During all this I felt like I wasted so much time, and now I’m going to be late. Long story short, I got to my appt 2mins early.
      Buddy system with spouse, dead on.
      I finally got a therapist 2 years ago that has been able to help me understand and work through all my “different channels” I’m a perfectly, wonderfully operating AM radio that keeps getting FM signals. Once I find the right “converter” I need to understand the FM signal, I’m good to go. Getting others to know you need one is another thing all it’s own. The other thing I’m finding is that the more I learn and know about what ADHD and how it relates to me, the better I can find what works for me. Trial and error is such a drag. The ADDitude magazine has been a great help. And I even read the whole Dr Hallowell book last year. -knowledge is power.
      I enjoyed, skimmed and got a bit overwhelmed with reading all the replies to your post. I love what Julia wrote. All good things to know and grow with. We’re all a work in progress.
      And it’s nice to see so many AM radios out there. 😊

      Oh, omega3 pills helped me, along with a calcium/mag/vitamin D tablet. (calcium helps calm the nerves). And unfortunately yes, killing off the sugars and junk food helps. Though I haven’t made that one a true habit yet. Practice, practice, practice, patience, patience, self patience.

    • #90545

      I’m the person who suggested using the “buddy” system for following directions/instructions especially when assembling something. The very first primary rule of picking a buddy is that he/she should NEVER, EVER, NEVER be one’s spouse. That’s a set-up for an explosion. My husband and I tried putting up some wall paper together. We had to get different buddies to finish the job and to avoid a double homicide.

    • #90550

      Thank you Suzannem, Like I said I was doing the kinda skim not skim thing. I can see how you would want to clarify that your point. I went back and really read it. I think seeing all the letters and gadget words, just made my mind glaze over it. 😅. I do believe you are correct, that spouses should not assemble projects together. Also I found that I have to make sure I’m in the right mindset for the project. New concept I’m learning and working on. I seem to hit overload at the drop of a hat. So my therapist is asking that before I start something, ask myself if I’m mentally ready for it. I may have to settle myself first. I loved last weeks Defcon 1 article! 😂😂.

    • #90402

      So often, “text overwhelm” is experienced by persons with ADHD. Before one begins to read directions for an activity or assembly instructions for a product, the individual may already feel “defeated” by ALL the printed media on the page(s).

      One solution is to use a ruler or large card to UNDERLINE needed text or BLOCK OUT much of the surrounding text that does NOT require the reader’s immediate attention. There are also multi-sensory and digital tools available as well as other strategies for this purpose, too ( They can further “anchor” the brain via the use of a preferred color (for visual learners) and/or the sense of touch (especially for tactile learners).

    • #90670

      niel.malan…as a homeschool parent, i admire anyone who discovers and utilizes a learning style that works for them. for me, it is reading out loud and moving (walking, manipulating something in my hand) while i do it.

    • #90825
      Donald Sloat

      I am a psychologist diagnosed at 60 years of age. I have worked with many patients and take many of the medications. One major issue I see with most people who take medication is they are under medicated. Generics are inferior to the Brands. Concerta is marketed as one per day. Not true. Most people need a second dose in the afternoon. This is true of all the 12 hour marketed meds. How long does the Concerta last in your system? When you are having the most trouble, is it after the medication has worn off? Like in the evening ? Most doctors are afraid to prescribe at the appropriate doses. ADHD causes anxiety and depression as a matter of course.

    • #90834
      Donald Sloat

      Here is my idea of what is happening. You have a very sensitive sensory system and your body most likely is sensitive to touch, sound, light, etc.Most ADHD people have trouble sorting and prioritizing, but for you it is to the extreme. When you look at a menu or directions, every word stands out equally, and your brain does not do the normal field/ground mode where the section you are looking at stands out and the rest fades to the background. Your eyes dart all over not knowing which word to look at, and tries to look at all of them at once. This leads to being overwhelmed quickly, and then your mind is flooded with panic not knowing what to do. In the panic mode, your are done, and cannot step out of it. Because this has happened so much in your life, your brain knows it is going to be overwhelmed and goes into panic just thinking about the menu. Check on this site for Sensory Processing Disorder. You would benefit from a medication that slows your brain’s ramp up. Low dose of Inderal, or Clonidine is best, also known Intuniv. You need a very low dose. This med limits the stress hormones that tell your body to get ready to fight or flee. It prevents the flooded state. Once you are flooded, it requires more complicated medication Xanax, Valium, etc., to calm the body, but this is not the way to go. Read Daniel Amen’s book, “Healing ADD.” Just knowing this may help you when you look at a menu. Practice at home, and observe your internal reactions to see if what I am describing is happening.

      • #91452

        Hi Donald,

        What you describe is PRECISELY what I feel. At first I am completely overwhelmed with choices, words, tasks, and have trouble prioritizing, because I can’t decide a) what is most important, and b) how much time to spend on something. I am also somewhat of a slow reader (or at least I think I am), which convinces me that I don’t have that time to spend. However, when I buckle down, and force my brain to concentrate and not leak from inattention, I can get things done.

        I am very curious about this Sensory Processing Disorder. I thought it was just something I deal with, an idiosyntricity, but when you talk about slowly that flooded state, it really intrigues me. So often I feel like, if only I could SLOW DOWN on the intake, and PACE MYSELF in the output of efforts, I would be so much better off, particularly for more detail-driven, tedious work.

        You mentioned a site, but the link did not come through. Can you please re-provide?

        Does anyone else deal with this?



      • #91679
        Donald Sloat

        Hi A:

        Thanks for your comments. Do a search on this site for “Sensory Processing Disorder” and you will find links to more information. Read what you can and I am sure you will find information that will help you. Just knowing that your brain and body is extra sensitive will help you explain and normalize your thoughts about yourself. Knowing it may help you slow down because now you have a name for it, it is normal, and when it is de-mystified the typical panic it can bring will lessen and go away because now you know what is happening and do not feel that helplessness. You can also search for it on the internet, but look at the good sites, not the ones that trash the ADHD people. Are you taking any medication? Do you have it in your system for most of your waking hours? Maybe you need to re-evaluate the slow reader label you put on yourself. You may read more slowly that others who are not flooded, but maybe that is ok. As long as you absorb the content. If your job is detailed work, that may add extra stress when you have that to do.

    • #90927

      You might’ve been joking about the TBYA tattoo, but for me the tat would be a distraction itself. I hate name tags and have even removed logos from shirts (scratched off or used a seam ripper).
      When I need to assemble something with lots of little parts I separate them into coffee mugs or dixie cups, and if there are enough of those, I’ll put them onto a plate, cookie sheet… If I feel my temper getting to me, I pause and look at all the little parts that I’d have to hunt down if I even pushed it aside (because naturally it would fall off the table or tip over and have them roll under the sofa, fridge,…
      But I also divide M&Ms by color.
      … then I look at the pictures. Except the last thing I assembled didn’t have pictures and the instructions were in Japanese and all of the bolts were too short, so I am returning it.
      I’ve learned to read through Tables of Contents (non-fiction). If a chapter seems long, I’ll flip to it to see why: Are there maps, charts, pictures, diagrams?
      Anyway, I try to break an activity down as far as I can for simplicity. If there might be a detour while driving, I try to plan ahead (and try to remember to bring an easy-to-read version along).

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