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The ADHD Zero-Tolerance Rule

What two self-imposed ADHD rules do I never violate? Putting my keys in “their spot” and taking my fish oil. Here’s why…

I’ll confess, I don’t always do what I’m supposed to.

As a seasoned ADHD coach, I have an arsenal of solutions for every symptom of attention deficit disorder. I know what I need to do. I even know how to do it. But sometimes, I choose not to.

There’s a part of me that takes joy in noncompliance. I set rules for myself, and my inner rebel is not satisfied unless I break at least one of them. Sometimes it rebels against exercise. Sometimes it just will not let me start that timer. Or it whispers that I can ignore those supplements, just this once. The rest of me follows along, and I pay a price.

I do have a few zero-tolerance rules that I never violate. For example, my keys. If I lose my keys, I will be late. And panicked (I hate that feeling). Or worse, I’ll cause my family to be late. It took years to get to this point, but now, if I put my keys anywhere other than their two Approved Locations, my inner voice jumps up and down screaming until I put them in the right place.

Until last week, putting the keys away was my only zero-tolerance rule. You can’t have too many or they become impossible to follow. Kind of like “everyone’s special”.

I think my ADHD is getting worse as I get older. Forgetfulness and getting distracted are the two biggies. So it’s time for another Zero-Tolerance Rule: taking the supplements.

Spending Mothers Day with my grandmother was a powerful motivator. She’s 85 and suffers from severe dementia. She kept wanting to call her husband to tell him she’d be late getting home that day. He’s been dead for five years. She didn’t even know who I was. The ADHD comes from her side of the family. Although I know that Alzheimers and ADHD are two completely different things, every time I think about this I keep connecting them. And worrying about my own future.

I need to do everything I can to keep my brain healthy. They say learning a foreign language is a great way to stay sharp. So I started learning Russian a few years ago, just before I turned 40. That was fun for a while but I got bored with it. Fortunately, I have plenty of things in my daily life to keep my intellect sharp.

I take fish oil and it really works for me. As of last Sunday, I have elevated it to Zero-Tolerance status. I must take it every day. No exceptions. I have a system for remembering: I keep it next to my coffee filters so I see it every morning. So far, so good. I think about my grandmother and the inner rebel has nothing to say to me.

Updated on March 28, 2017

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  1. Sometimes there’s an article here that really resonates with me, and this is one of them. I NEED to exercise, it’s been that way forever, and I will find a way. That’s odd because so many other things slip past me. But recently I’ve realized how much I hate the stress of leaving my house for an appointment when I’m running late. I’m going to be honest that I haven’t reached zero tolerance, but I’m getting closer. As often as possible, I leave early, even if that means I have some waiting time before my appointment (I can always find something to read). I’ve had to work on thinking about when to LEAVE, not when I’m supposed to GET THERE.

    Also, my mother had Alzheimer’s, and that or some kind of dementia seemed to run in her family. I think one brother (out of six) didn’t have it, but he died from cancer in his 70s, and my mother didn’t really start to show signs until her 80s. It terrifies me because I think she also had ADHD. However, I’m certain my father had ADHD and he had no signs of dementia when he died at 87.

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