(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Matthew, you have a question about your behavior, about ADHD?
Matthew: Yes I do.
Dr. Kenner: Tell me what’s going on?
Matthew: I was recently on the internet and I saw something about ADHD and it sounded kind of interesting, so I actually went to this link and started reading up on some of it. As I started reading through it, I started thinking, “Oh my God, I have a lot of these symptoms,” and it actually made me want to look a little more into it. As I started looking more into it, so many of the symptoms I guess I’ve had my whole life, so I took a test that I found on a website and of course it said it can’t tell with 100% certainty, only a doctor can. But it said that by my answers to the test that I had severe ADHD. I don’t have insurance or anything like that right now. I was wondering if, I read about maybe herbal medicine and things like that and various exercises. I was wondering if you knew much about any of that kind of thing, if it’s helpful?
Dr. Kenner: I went to a conference a few years back on herbal medicines and how they can really mess with your head. Meaning I thought it was pro-alternative medicines and I was delightfully surprised that they were totally rational and that they looked at what happens when like St. John’s Wart or some of these others interact with medications you’re on or just what do they do to you long-range? What is the evidence behind them? I would not recommend that route.
What I would recommend are thinking skills. If you find, a little bit about ADHD. I know you’ve already read about it, but part of it involves that you’re not paying attention. You find that you can make careless mistakes, you don’t focus when someone is talking to you, you don’t organize your life. Things just seem to be a little chaotic. It’s a little bit hard to stay on task if you’re involved in some activity, you can shift to another one very quickly. And you can be forgetful or easily distracted. Does that sound like what you were talking about?
Matthew: Yes. I have pretty much all of that.
Dr. Kenner: There’s another aspect to it, and that’s when you’re very hyperactive. I mean, if you think of a little kid sitting and squirming in his chair and maybe he’s running around and it’s not recess time and he should be sitting in his chair, it’s that feeling of always being on the go?
Matthew: I had that when I was younger. Not so much anymore.
Dr. Kenner: You know, my father is such a vivacious, fun guy that he can’t sit still. It’s not necessarily a bad trait. Which is the next point I’m going to get to after we cover the last category. So inattention is one. That hyperactivity is the second one. Then there’s a third one where you’re just very impulsive.
Matthew: Yes, that’s me. Just as an example, when I get paid, I will go to Walmart to buy various things that I need to buy and I will end up spending almost all of my money because I’ll say, “I need one of these and I’ve always wanted one of those,” and I’ll leave and I’ll regret it afterward. It happens all the time. I can’t ever keep money. I’ll try and save it and I’ll just always end up spending it just on random things because I have money in my pocket.
Dr. Kenner: Okay, so you’ve developed a habit and there’s one sentence, if you wrote it down on paper, “I can’t ever keep money.” Would you like to tear that paper up right now? Because that thought is undermining your ability to be able to save and respect yourself more.
Dr. Kenner: If you tear that up, I can’t ever keep money, it opens up the possibility that maybe, with some effort and with some good thinking, you can go back and return some of the tings that you got at Walmart or wherever you bought them. You can use some skills. I mean, I read a recent article in the paper that said, new habits to turn spenders into savers. That’s the article’s title. And it says you can have a $10 rule. You set a rule that before you buy anything that is over $10, you stop and ask yourself two questions. The first one, “Can I live without this?” And the second one, “Is it at all possible that I can wait a week to get this?” You train yourself to wait a week. And what do you think will happen in a week?
Matthew: Hopefully if it goes well, I’ll still be waiting.
Dr. Kenner: The thing is, you buy yourself some time. A week’s worth of time. Did I really need that extra CD or did I really need that? I went into a store today and I bought tweezers that I don’t really need, and if I had just asked myself those two questions, I could have put them back. I bought some other things. I bought mouthwash I didn’t quite need yet, so if I asked myself that question, it helps me be less impulsive.
Your original question, do you have ADHD? I don’t know whether you have something that used to be called minimal brain damage – that’s ADHD, they changed the name and now everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon. It was called minimal brain damage and how many people want that? Or whether you are just a normal person who has never trained yourself to have some good habits and some good thinking skills. If it’s the latter, that’s very good news because just as you ripped up that paper and just as we talked about the two questions you can ask yourself, can I live without this, you’re learning new thinking skills and changing what you say to yourself after you get your paycheck. If you start taking pride in being a saver, you’ll like yourself more. Thank you so much for your call Matthew.
Male 1: Smell my hands. I’m just so proud. I had to stop for gas and I pumped it myself. Part of a new kick I’m on.
Male 2: Which is what?
Male 1: I’m learning to be handy. I depend too much on other people so I’m doing it myself. Feel that and tell me that’s not the start of a first-rate callous. I got my first work shirt this morning and tonight I’m tackling the squeaky hasp on my cigar humidor.
Dr. Kenner: That’s Niles from Frasier. All of us want to feel more independent. Of course, taking some starts to pump your own gas or I changed my own tire and I felt phenomenal and I felt like I could conquer the world. That feels good. Doing your own thinking. Thinking for yourself. And charting a path for yourself in life that’s healthy for yourself in the area of romance, in the area of a career, in the area of friendships, in the area of hobbies – that is true independence. Really trying to figure out, “What do I want in life?” Not what does my mom want for me? What does my dad want for me? What should I be doing? What is the right thing? That all has a perspective of coming from outside of you. It’s like you’re looking in at yourself, rather than experiencing the world from being inside yourself and saying, “What do I enjoy in life? What would I love? What’s reasonable? How do I go after it? How do I achieve it?” Obviously rationally, not by hook or crook, but rationally.