Thursday, February 11, 2010

Scattered Lover Type: Tips for Helping "ADD" Spouses

(My grandson Titus who has creatively decorated his high chair and styled his hair with oatmeal-based hair gel. ADD types rarely lose their childlike spirit; but oh, the messes we can make!)

Today, we're covering the first lover type, The Scattered Spouse. True confession: Both Dr. Henslin and I struggled with a subtype of ADD called Inattentive ADD. Yes it is a miracle that we can focus long enough to write a book together, but the secret is that when an ADD person is highly interested in a project, there's no trouble focusing. In fact, we can get completely lost in the project, unaware of anything else happening around us. Here's a small sampling of the chapter on The Scattered Lover from our book, This is Your Brain in Love.

Everything is just so interesting..remarkably at the same time.” — Frank Coppola

If you’ve often been told to slow down, be still, focus, or be practical . . . you might be a Scattered Lover.

If you’ve bought a dozen organizers and proceeded to almost immediately lose them or leave them in a dozen different places . . . you might be a Scattered Lover.

If your mate has ever pulled his hair when you announced that, once again, you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning, or the milk, or the toddler from the babysitter . . . you might be a Scattered Lover.

If your beloved has ever banged her head against the wall or yelled, “You never listen! You never pay attention! Your eyes keep wandering around the room! You don’t even see or hear me!” . . . Well, you might be a Scattered Lover.

Dr. Daniel Amen has identified six types of ADD which Dr. Henslin and I adress in detail in This is Your Brain in Love. But no matter what your ADD type, if you are Scattered Lover here's a few suggestions on how you can help yourself and how your spouse can support you.

4 Ways a Scattered Lover Can Increase Focus

1. Get intense aerobic exercise for thirty to forty-five minutes daily.
Long, fast walks will help burn off excess energy. If sitting still is difficult for you, pass up invitations to long dinners and opt to go for a walk or play tennis with friends instead. Become aware of your own need for preventive self-care. If you anticipate that being stuck in a long social situation is going to leave you irritable or antsy, let your spouse know that you’ll need a walk midway through the evening to discharge some energy

2. Avoid distractions.
Set up a corner in your house that is totally free from noise and windows to get your paper work completed. One friend of mine goes to the local corner bakery during the nonbusy hours to write and work without distractions that come with being at home. Many caf├ęs and coffee shops have free Wi-Fi (wireless local network) and can be nice alternative “offices” if there are too many distractions at home for you to get computer or writing work done.

3.Get creative with self-help.
Keep a stack of legal pads and pens at your bedside and make a to-do list each morning to keep yourself on track for the day.
Give yourself a lot of margin—extra time to get ready and go where you must be.
If you find yourself avoiding chores and neglecting duties, stop and think about them. Ask yourself if there is a more creative or fun way to tackle boring, routine responsibilities. You can do this by attaching a little reward to the mundane: Take out the trash and stop to shoot some basketballs on the way back into the house. Turn on your favorite music to wash dishes by. Make a game out of work; set the timer and see how fast you can make the bed or clean the bathroom. Save laundry and fold it while watching a favorite TV show. Put some fun in your function!

4. Notice when your best “focused time” is . . .

. . . and use these times for significant conversations with your mate or your boss. If you know that you are easily distracted and get overloaded, keep the discussion short and focused but promise to follow up with another discussion time when you are able to be clear and tune in. Best focus times vary for ADD types, but most find they are most fully awake and aware after they’ve had their supplements, medication or eaten a healthy meal and had a good night’s sleep.

4 Ways to Help Focus Your Scattered Mate

1. Dr. Amen emphasizes that in dealing with kids, employees, and spouses who have ADD —NO YELLING.On his website he writes, Many people with ADD seek conflict or excitement as a means of stimulation. They can be masters at making other people mad or angry (and often enjoy playing the mental/relational game called “Let’s Have a Problem”). Do not lose your temper with them. If they get you to explode, their unconscious, low-energy prefrontal cortex lights up and likes it. Never let your anger be their medication. They can get addicted to it.

2. Accept what cannot be changed and work around it.

A very patient friend of mine is married to a scattered wife. She’s not hyper in body, but her mind is always flitting about from one thing to another. When after much trial and error, he could not keep her from absentmindedly throwing away the lids to the milk carton, and he didn’t want his dairy tasting like yesterday’s tuna fish, he came up with a solution. He began collecting milk lids and putting them in a drawer. When she lost a lid, absently tossing it away, he simply and quietly replaced it from his “lid stash.”

3. Remember: they aren’t doing this on purpose.

Perhaps the most common complaint from spouses is that their Tigger mate rarely finishes chores or completes projects. It helps to remember that your spouse is not being lazy or insensitive. Most adults with ADD or ADHD have to expend an enormous amount of energy to maintain focus at work and stifle their tendencies to wander. Many tend to come home and collapse, in dire need of recharging their brain. They really do need time to recuperate between requirements for focusing. Here’s some advice from those who’ve loved and lived with a Tigger:
• Don’t take it personally.
• Get them started or work alongside them to get chores done.
• Help them create systems that become no-brainers. Have a box by the door to catch muddy shoes, a coat tree for coats and hats. A central message board in the kitchen with pushpins and cork can be handy.
• Post a to-do schedule and try to keep it consistent. For example:
Do laundry on Sunday evening.
Buy groceries on Tuesdays.
Pay bills on the 1st and 15th.
(Better yet, get a big, easy-to-read calendar just for them and write in their weekly or monthly reminders.)

4. Don't blame yourself for being unable to micro-manage your spouse.

You can be helpful and supportive, but ultimately they must take 100 percent responsibility to balance their own brains. You can take 100 percent responsibility for your response to them and how to become a bit wiser and more ADD savvy. But you’ll need a lot of support and encouragement.

*For more detailed specifics on supplements, medicines, stories about ADD coping strategies, pictures of brain scans and ADD subtypes, along with more practical ideas you may want to order the book, This is Your Brain in Love by clicking on the book cover to the right.

No comments:

Post a Comment