Living with Inattentive ADHD: Unlocking the Secrets of ADHD | MomCave LIVE

Hey there, attention wanderers and daydream enthusiasts! Ever find yourself lost in thought while everyone else is paying attention? Well, you’re not alone! Join the fabulous Jen, the maestro of MomCave LIVE, as she dives into the wonderfully wacky world of Inattentive ADHD with the one and only Cynthia Hammer. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride through the maze of distracted minds, sprinkled with insights on how the digital age, TikTok, and social media are shaking things up. It’s like a comedy show for your brain—tune in for laughs, stories, and a sprinkle of wisdom on navigating life with Inattentive ADHD. Your attention may wander, but trust us, this conversation is worth staying tuned in for!

Cynthia’s Book can be found here: https://amzn.to/3PVvt5x

Living with Inattentive ADHD: A Candid Conversation.

Jen: Welcome, everyone, to MomCave LIVE, where we may have lost our minds, but we haven’t lost our sense of humor. I’m Jen, and I have author Cynthia Hammer here with me tonight. We have so much to talk about. Hey, Cynthia.

Cynthia Hammer: Hi, Jen. It’s nice to be with you again.

Jen: Thank you. Yeah, I was a guest on Cynthia’s podcast just a little while ago, and I’ll tell you all about that. But we’d like this to be interactive so we can read the comments. If you have any questions or comments, just pop them in there, and we’ll be watching it and talking with everybody. So Cynthia wrote a book. First of all, congratulations on actually writing an entire book because not everyone can do that.

Cynthia Hammer discusses her book on ADHD and how COVID-19 has affected women with the condition.

Cynthia Hammer: Well, especially if you have ADHD, it’s a little hard to do. I only did it because I was forced into isolation because of COVID.

Jen: Oh, we can all blame COVID for good and bad on many things. It made us do some things we wouldn’t have otherwise done.

Cynthia Hammer: I think at least for women, I talked to a lot of women who figured out their ADHD because of COVID. So it was good in that way. They were home watching TikTok and Instagram, and they started recognizing themselves.

Jen: That is definitely what happened to me and some of my family. So I would love to talk about that. Before we do, I’ll flash up the book, and the link to the book will be in the comments, but this is Cynthia’s book.

Cynthia Hammer: Just slow motion, working slowly.

ADHD diagnosis rates may have increased due to improved recognition of symptoms in females.

Jen: Sometimes, when you have ADHD, it seems like your brain is either working too quickly for the situation or too slowly for the situation, but it’s never on it.

Cynthia Hammer: Well, someone wrote the other day, which I responded to about how time differs. And they said, if you’re getting ready to go someplace, time is short. But if you’re waiting for someone, the time is long. That’s true. That’s so they were talking back and forth between when time seems to drag on forever and when it goes by so quickly you can’t imagine running late. That’s like parenthood in general.

Jen: The cliché, the days feel so long.

ADHD diagnosis and its impact on daily life.

Cynthia Hammer: But the years, especially when school gets out for the summer, those first few days of summer are long.

Jen: They’re very long and very rough. Let’s get back to the ADHD talk. You mentioned that, with the rise of TikTok, it suddenly became apparent that many individuals were discussing the lack of diagnosis or incorrect diagnosis of adult women with ADHD. And everyone was sort of figuring it out by listening to each other’s symptoms and experiences and going, “Oh, that’s me. I see that in me.” So, do you think that the rates of ADHD have gone up, or just the rates of being diagnosed have gone up?

Cynthia Hammer: Well, I’m reading that even for autism and for ADHD, the symptoms were based on research done mostly on males. So, it’s more common for males to be recognized. Moreover, I can’t deny that girls don’t exhibit physical hyperactivity, but males are often encouraged to express their physical hyperactivity more openly, leading to higher diagnosis rates among them. On average, children get diagnosed around the age of seven, but this statistic often leaves undiagnosed girls overlooked. Even now, we think only about 20% of adults know that they have ADHD. So there’s a big backlog.

The Impact of ADHD on Daily Life: Living with Inattentive ADHD

Jen: When you say, “have ADHD,” to me, it’s always like that kind of sounds like it’s not a disease, but it’s a disorder. But what you have is a collection of symptoms. I’m not making any sense right now, but it’s not like I have this disease. It’s more like I have these characteristics. That’s maybe the way my brain works. Is that correct?

Cynthia Hammer: I would think so. It’s down to our brain wiring. And certain things are harder for us to do, and maybe other things are easier for us to do. But we’re in the minority, so the world is mostly set up for people who don’t have brains like us. We’re trying to say, “Hey, with just a few adaptations, we’ll function much better in situations where we often feel ashamed or awkward. We’re not sure how to proceed.” So our organization is really into children getting diagnosed by the second grade, coming through life knowing that they have this different brain. It’s a huge game-changer.

Jen: Yeah.

Cynthia Hammer: I don’t know if you’ve experienced that yet, Jennifer, because you said you’ve only been diagnosed a couple of years. But it usually takes more than a couple of years to feel comfortable in a persona that incorporates your ADHD.

Questioning the Reality of Inattentive ADHD.

Jen: To be very honest, there are still times when I’m like, “Oh, is this a real thing?” It seems so trendy, especially with TikTok. We were talking about the whole TikTok thing, and it feels like every girl online is saying, “I have ADHD now.” I sometimes doubt, like, is it just a trendy thing? And then we get medicated, and it’s kind of like, you know, back in the 50s when housewives were depressed, so they were getting all kinds of drugs. I know it isn’t that. But on my dark days, maybe this isn’t a thing. And even so, I doubt it, though I most definitely have it.

Cynthia Hammer: Well, at least a lot of people I’ve talked to, they went through their lives knowing, feeling they were different. Yes. That’s the first clue. You felt different throughout your life without an explanation of why. “Why do I feel different?” Dr. Dodson talks about people feeling like they didn’t get the owner’s manual or they got the wrong owner’s manual, and they just need to figure out how to function right in certain situations in our society. Then, when they do well, they have this variable performance, which adds to their saying,

“You know, who am I? Am I this person who can do awesome things, but the next day, I turn around and do something dumb without the explanation of why that might happen in your life. You absorb those comments, like “You’re lazy, you’re stupid, you’re not living up to your potential.” And you have to say, “Yeah, I agree. I’m not living up to my potential, but I don’t know how to.”

Jen: Right! So, to me, I’ve always felt different, but I just thought, “This is just me. This is the way I am. Something’s wrong with me. I don’t know what it is. But I don’t have the energy other people have, and I get overwhelmed so easily. I can’t concentrate on one thing.” And that’s just me. It’s a more negative way of feeling.

Being labeled as a flaw.

Cynthia Hammer: Yeah, people say it’s my personality flaw. Some people said, “I thought it was normal because my whole family was this way.” So it was kind of refreshing to hear that you didn’t feel alone.

Jen: Well, that’s good. Suppose you don’t feel alone. How common is it for it to run in families? Do you know the statistics on that?

Cynthia Hammer: I think the research suggests that the likelihood is at 50%. One or the other parent has it. Is it genetic? What I had heard 30 years ago, just from a practicing pediatrician, is that second to height. You know how often we say, “Oh, he inherited his height from his dad.” They say that ADHD is the second most inheritable characteristic they have found. So it’s very, very common. And beyond that, though, if you don’t have ADHD in your family, you might have autism. You might have bipolar disorder. There are lots of, I guess, parts of the brain where things could just be wired differently. So there’s a complex of disorders, I guess you’d call it, that could run in families.

Late Diagnosis: The Impact on Cynthia’s Life.

Jen: If you don’t mind me asking, how old were you when you were diagnosed?

Cynthia Hammer:Well, it was 30 years ago, almost 31. I’m gonna be 80 next Tuesday.

Jen: Oh, congratulations.

Cynthia: I was diagnosed when I was 49. I was diagnosed, which happens the same way as it happens now with a lot of adults. Their child was getting diagnosed, and they learned about it and figured, “This is me also.” When I was diagnosed, I was ashamed and sad. I thought I was the only adult in America that knew they had ADHD. So when I found one other person and when I found a book, there was only one book then, there was no, it wasn’t even Driven to Distraction.

Jen: Yeah, certainly before any internet to go and find some group to talk about.

Cynthia Hammer: Yes. Right. I had one person in my state, and then we went to a conference together, which was the first conference for adults. That was the start.

Would life have been different?

Jen: Do you think your life would have been very different if you had been diagnosed as a child?

Cynthia Hammer: It’s hard for me to remember except for certain episodes that stand out in my childhood. So it’s hard for me to say. I know that I could have been a better student. I was always a B student with an A in gym. In college, I was a C student with an A in PE. So, I wonder if I would have been a better student. I always wondered why I wasn’t a better student. I wanted to be. My brother and sister were both in the top classes in their school.

So, as far as my generation and my dad’s upbringing, he said we could become a nurse or a teacher. So, even though I would have enjoyed being an attorney, now that I look back on it, I don’t think my parents would have steered me in that direction. It was a joke when I went to college, but it was mostly you go to college to get an “Mrs.”

Jen: Mrs. to meet the husband. Did you meet your husband in college?

ADHD diagnosis and management.

Cynthia Hammer: It was kind of an off-and-on relationship, yes.

Jen: Okay. Well, I must confess, I met my husband in college, and we’re still married. So yeah, it wasn’t that kind of college. I had a different experience than you as a child. Anyone who’s watching, if you want to jump in and tell us if you see this, what you see in yourself or your kids, I wasn’t a straight-A student. I had the highest SAT score that my high school ever had. It was amazing, and I loved school. But it was because I was. That’s why I think I was not diagnosed. Nobody thought of it.

Cynthia Hammer: Maybe that’s why you question it too because you’re told if you’re smart, you can’t have ADHD, which is a myth.

Jen: If you ever talk to my mother, she will tell you all kinds of things. Like she used to always say, “Jennifer leaves trails everywhere,” meaning I just have piles of stuff. Like if something gets put away, I’ll forget it exists. So I have to have it there to see it to remind me to do something. Then those pile up because I’m not the best judge of time or prioritizing, and all of a sudden, it just looks like bombs have gone off.

Some Strategies we wish we had as a child Living with Inattentive ADHD.

And I think I was a good student because I overcompensated in all of these ways. My brain was going so quickly. I put a lot of my angst into, “If I just study harder if I just do this and memorize these things.” And I think I would have been maybe more relaxed if I knew that I had ADHD.

Cynthia Hammer: Well, I’m wondering, when you’re a good student, do you get benefits from that? Did you tell yourself, “I’m smart? I’m a good student?” Did that kind of balance some of the negative things going on?

Jen speaks about how schooling was for someone living with ADHD but undiagnosed.

Jen: In many times, you know, there were times when I was proud, and I was happy that I was a good student and being recognized for it. There was always this belief in the back of my mind, “Yeah, I can be really smart. I can pass tests and be really smart, but deep down, they don’t know that I am a disaster.”

Cynthia Hammer: Oh, you felt like an imposter? For me, I was too unaware. I tell people I was too unaware of masking. When I tried to go for college interviews, and I wondered if they still do them in person, the person asked me why my score on my SATs varied by 150 points between one year and the next year. I had no explanation. When I got diagnosed, I realized that’s tied in with probably anxiety—variable performance. You can’t explain why some days you’re on, and some days you’re off.

Dealing with the ups and downs of ADHD.

Jen: Do you deal with a lot of energy, ups and downs?

Cynthia Hammer: I used to need to take naps a lot. I can’t say now that I’m back having allergy problems, which also, from research, is more prevalent in people with ADHD. There are a lot of health conditions. So lucky we got the whole ball of wax. I mean, we do get apparently more health problems because we don’t follow the doctor’s directions. It’s hard for us to follow a diet. It’s hard for us to get exercise. Regularity is hard for us. So now I don’t need it. My energy is good all day long.

Jen: That’s so great. When we talked, I guess I just touched on that. That was the thing that kept my whole life. I’ve been a low-energy person, and I get a ton done, and I’m really productive. Then I just crash, and I feel like if I don’t take a nap, I’m going to be ill. I’m going to die.

What is it like to live with Inattentive ADHD and anxiety.

Cynthia Hammer: Just being worn out. It was hard for me to understand when you said how medicine makes a difference. I said, like having coffee, or is it less anxiety? Because anxiety can wear you out, too.

Jen: What wears me out is that my brain is going so quickly, and I can’t focus on one thing, and I’m trying to do all these things at once. They all seem equally important. So medication kind of calms that down. It doesn’t change much about who I am or anything. It just, I just kind of the first time I took it, I went, “Oh,” like it was like a buzzing kind of stopped, like the background noise kind of stopped a little bit.

Cynthia Hammer: So for a lot of people, when they take medication, they don’t even see the difference because they just feel normal. Maybe they feel like their best selves.

Jen: Crappy when you’re not on the medication, your life.

Cynthia Hammer: More of the time.

Jen: That’s definitely true for me, and coffee definitely helps. I know that. Caffeine is sort of a self-medicating thing.

Cynthia Hammer: So you drink a lot of coffee?

Sometimes, coffee helps Jen with ADHD.

Jen: I try not to drink too much. I drink a cup in the morning, and my routine I always have a cup in the morning and a cup at 5 pm.

Cynthia Hammer: Wow, you have a routine.

Jen: Yeah, that’s my coffee routine. I love it. The one at 5 p.m. is like a yummy vanilla latte coffee. So I look forward to it. On days that I’m really busy and exhausted, I sometimes will have a cup in the middle there or a cup of tea. I definitely feel a difference.

I wanted to talk a little bit about something that you introduced me to. After we did our talk on your podcast, you emailed me, and you said, “There’s this thing, and I think it might be helpful for you. I’m not selling it. I’m not paid to tell you this.” I’ve heard of it before, but I’ve never thought of really giving it a try. Can you just briefly say what that is about?

Making connections with those in the ADHD space.

Cynthia Hammer: I met someone connected with the company, and as a favor to him, I said I’d try it. For me, if I tell someone something that helps me, it motivates me to do it. I can’t say that I would have persisted as much as I did without having told someone. It’s a video game that’s on your cell phone. I don’t know what the price is a month, but its purpose is to improve someone’s attention. It’s not supposed to replace medication, but it does improve someone’s attention. I’ve played it since mid-July every day. I feel like it improved my attention. Boring tasks that I needed to do for my organization, I could persist with almost all day long. I would think prior to doing this, I kind of persisted like that. 

Jen: So I say, the ADHD brain gets bored quickly, which is just like hell for us.

EndeavorRx: A Game-Changer for Living with Inattentive ADHD.

Cynthia Hammer: Exactly, it can be rather mundane. You’re actively controlling a character on a small raft navigating downstream, aiming to target specific fountains. Occasionally, you receive prior instructions to remember certain elements, and failing to do so can lead to dire consequences. You need to remember that target. So when it appears, you zap the target. If you’re zapping the wrong target or if you’re not zapping quickly enough, you don’t get to move to the next level. There are all those little rewards that you want to be successful.

Jen: Yeah, I found it really interesting. I was reading a little bit about it. Apparently, this has been clinically tested and used for children before this version. We’re talking about the adult version, and it’s called EndeavorOTC. The FDA approved the EndeavorRX for children as an ADHD treatment, which blows my mind that the FDA approves a video game. 

Cynthia Hammer: I think it blew a lot of people’s minds, and they questioned it. Now that it’s out for adults, it’s just over the counter. They’re working to try to make it approved by the FDA. But I forgot what I was gonna say.

Jen: That’s okay because things come and go. Well, I’ve been trying it. It’s been a week or two, and I don’t know.

The drawbacks of Endeavor for someone Living with Inattentive ADHD.

Cynthia Hammer: Usually, they say you have to stick with it for six weeks. The drawback, and they haven’t been unable to tell you this yet, is you don’t know what you have to do to continue. I mean, I got to a certain level, which is like 50% of the highest you could get. I get it, and I’m plateauing. They say at some point, you plateau well. It’s like exercise for the body. So now that I have plateaued, what do I have to do to maintain it? Do I still do it every day? I don’t want to give 25 minutes a day to maintain, either.

Jen: Yeah, I wonder if they’ll figure that out?

Cynthia Hammer: They’re working on it now.

Connecting with others also Living with Inattentive ADHD.

Jen: That’s awesome. The book is “Living with Inattentive ADHD.” I read it, and it was great. It was a good book. I was enjoying it and was reading it pretty calmly, and I actually had a few days off. I was trying to relax and have a vacation. So I’m reading this book. I won’t give anything away, but I got to a part of the book, and I was gutted. I’m sure you know what part I’m referring to. So that was very touching for me. It was surprising. The way that ADHD can affect our lives is massive. So, anybody watching and they are looking for resources go to Cynthia’s website. She’s the executive director of a nonprofit now called the Inattentive ADHD Coalition. 

Cynthia Hammer: We have a website with a lot of good articles on it. We have videos there, and we also have videos on a YouTube channel. And Jennifer, I just posted her video today. If you want to go see her interview with Katherine Allison, who’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, she also has ADD, but the combined type. So as I go along, I’m gathering people that I’m getting my speaking engagements with people who have it.

Jen: Are you as strange as me like that? Oh, you are okay. Well, now we’ll help each other out. Yes, go visit her site.

Empowering Those Living with Inattentive ADHD

Cynthia Hammer: Amazon. It should be available at all your bookstores.

Jen: And let me make sure I can put it. I’m going to, and it should come up in the comments when I do this.

Cynthia Hammer: Maybe now that I’ve heard bad things about Amazon. I hate to tell people to go there to buy my book. So ask for it at your library or ask your local bookstore to buy it because I’ve heard that Amazon doesn’t have some, well, innocent until proven guilty. I guess there are cases out there that they kind of force people to not give a better price for their product anywhere else.

Get Your Copy of “Living with Inattentive ADHD.”

Jen: Well, I’m kind of addicted to Amazon, so me too, nothing stops me. The UPS man comes here every day, pretty much. My daughter is like, “Oh, let’s see the UPS man. What are we getting now?”

Cynthia Hammer: Oh, not the prime delivery person. No.

Jen: I’m too rural for that. So, me too, that shipping takes a little longer to get to me.

Cynthia Hammer: Oh, yeah. Next day or?

Jen: No, we get two days. Two days out here in the boonies. But I put the URL to the book right in the comments there. I thank you for writing it, finding me, and doing what you’re doing. You have a great mission. Thank you.

Cynthia Hammer: Yep, we’re done.

Jen: I think we’re about done. Okay, thank you so much.

Cynthia Hammer: Thank you.

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