Book Reviews: Self Help

Of course, my goal for January was to read as many of the self help books I have sitting unread on my book shelf, as I could. I never intended to post book reviews as I finished each book, since these are nowhere to be found on the “Best Books” list. That worked out fine, because it took me thirty days to finish the first book. It was just a lot of information and I sort of slogged through it, even though I was mostly enjoying it. So here is the review for that book, as well as a review for the book I read on January 31 during a full-on, all-day book marathon. (I also tried to read a book about migraines, but this almost always leads to psychosomatic migraines, so I had to stop at about a third in. Not worth it, right now.)

MORE ATTENTIONMore Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD, Ari Tuckman, Specialty Press, Inc. 2009.

I first want to say that this cover cracks me up. Here’s this book about “more attention,” and you have a photo of a boss-type showing something to a young business man and a young business woman who appears to have ADHD. How do you know she is the ADHD one? Sure, she’s smiling at us conspiratorially so we get that she is happy and overcoming, but…. she’s also not paying a lick of attention to her boss or coworker. Oi.

This book is not perfect, but it certainly led to many aha moments for me, as someone who has struggled with ADHD my whole life. For example: I drop pieces of working memory, which is why I have always felt I am walking around with a lot of missing puzzle pieces; ADHD is probably the reason I don’t do my hair or wear makeup; it’s clearly why I had academic struggles, but I was shocked by the rate of students with ADHD who do not graduate; I was not at all shocked to discover that studies show hormones play a part in worsening ADHD; and now I can blame something for my hypersensitivity to failure. I would recommend this book for people with ADHD, parents of kids with ADHD, and loved ones of ADHDers, with these caveats: I believe that he underplays the role of general health in managing ADHD and shrugs off important alternative arguments and difficult studies. He is going to tell you right from the start that you need to high thee to the doctor and definitely consider medication (which he argues out for you). He spends chapter on chapter on chapter sympathizing with you and pointing out that this is a brain issue, but then he gives you hundreds of pages of suggestions for what you can do differently… if you could only remember! (See list way down below.) He skates a fine line between helping you and just plain being ironic. It was definitely not a waste of my time, and I spent four weeks processing what he had to say. I also plan to implement a lot of it, and highly value feeling understood.

(See below for Quotes and Action Points)

HORMONE SWINGJump Off the Hormone Swing: Fly Through the Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Symptoms of PMS and Perimenopause, Lorraine Pintus, Moody Publishers, 2011.

Sure, that’s personal, but since more than 85 per cent of 50 per cent of the population can identify with me… well, that’s not very personal, is it? I love this book. It is not extremely rigorous and has a very strong religious bent, but both of those things are okay with me. I don’t think this is the last book I will read about hormones. It might be the cheesiest book I read this year, but… (Humor wise, it was on par with Looney Spoons, although I did snicker here and there.) Bottom line is: if you are a Christian woman of any age, this is a must-read and it would make a great ten week small group. And I always appreciate it when a self help book tells you at some point to get professional help if…, like they’re not threatened by the professionals and they care about you.

And that’s it. Now we are on to February Books at the Oscars Month.


Quotes from More Attention, Less Deficit:

“On these occasions, the ADHD person may be as surprised and disappointed as everyone else that the task wasn’t completed” (p13).

“Everyone does worse on less interesting activities–but folks with ADHD do much worse” (p29).

“Probably the single best indicator of ADHD  symptoms in childhood is unreliable and incomplete homework performance” (p35).

“There are many ways to compensate for  sometimes significant weaknesses  in certain skills and still achieve greatness” (p50).

“People with ADHD perform some tasks quite well but not others, or they can’t maintain a consistent performance for the same task over time. This meansthat sometimes they do great on mundane activities, like doing all the laundry in a flurry of activity, but most of the time it looks like a mountain of dirty clothes is trying to eat the hamper” (p70).
“…most of them time its the smaller and more frequent problems that cause the most damage to the person’s and family’s peace of mind and quality of life” (p79).

Procrastination: “This is one of those habits that works great, except when it doesn’t” (p95).

“So, despite clear evidence of the cost of these habits, some people may be hesitant to work on changing them, for fear of losing part of who they are, of not being themselves anymore” (p100).

“…may be some mourning necessary in order to let go of the dream that it would all just get better by itself” (p116).

“Most ADHD folks have a love/hate relationship with structure and schedules” (p170).

“ADHD has three core deficits: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity” (p186).

“ADHD adults may feel like frauds who are just waiting to be found out” (p204).

“He was told, but since it never registered, he doesn’t know that” (p211).

“In some cases, the avoidance is based on an accurate self-assessment that the demands exceed their abilities, causing justified feelings of hopelessness” (p211).

“Some adults with ADHD may also stick rigidly with their routines as a way to ensure that things get done right–for example, their keys always have to go in the same place, and they get really angry if anyone moves them. Or they may become hyper-organized because anything less than that too quickly degenerates into total chaos” (p214).

“So it’s hard to ever feel really confident that there isn’t a ticking time bomb out there somewhere. This makes it really hard to relax” (p219).

“For most ADHD folks…. far-away deadlines tend to disappear in the daily hustle and bustle” (p288).

“So economists would tell us to maximize the returns on our invested time by choosing the best activities since we can spend each hour only once” (p307).

“This involves making good decisions about how and when to ask for help, striving for balance in the relationship, living up to your obligations without making your problems other peoples’ problems, and not promising more than you can deliver” (p312).

“Your behavior made them feel out of control, so they tried to do what they could to feel less anxious” (p316).

“It’s much easier to get your partner to change what she does when you both feel like you’re on the same team” (p329).

“On the other hand, it’s that much harder for a parent with ADHD to create the predictability and structure that helps children with ADHD to perform at their best” (p338).

“Your kids will also watch how the other parent reacts to the ADHD behaviors” (p339).

Action Points from More Attention, Less Deficit:

  • Education, Medication, Coaching, Therapy
  • Reduce extraneous stimuli. Reduce clutter, noise, visual stimuli, and reminders of tasks you shouldn’t be engaged in. Turn off your phone.
  • Amplify relevant stimuli. Set an alarm. Tapes notes on the wall. Sit closer.
  • Seek out situations that allow for safe expression of hyperactivity, especially on nights and weekends.
  • Minimize or avoid situations that require more restraint then you can muster. Allow yourself breaks, remind yourself of benefits, create rewards.
  • Create barriers to problematic actions. Reduce tempting stimuli. Don’t go there.
  • Set up cushions to reduce potential damage.
  • Bring cash to the store.
  • Make better options loom larger in your decision-making process. Tape up a picture.
  • Learn as much as you can about ADHD.
  • Actively seek treatment. Medication, coaching, therapy.
  • Review strategies that you have tried in the past.
  • Accept that some things will be difficult for you.
  • Lower your expectations, where necessary.
  • Commit to do at least 10 minutes of an activity.
  • Build in rewards for completing boring tasks.
  • Designate at least one time per week to tackle mundane tasks. Put a sign up, set an alarm.
  • Rotate between different boring activities.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you are likely to do. Be honest when your dreams are more pipe dreams.
  • Tell people to make sure they have your complete attention before telling you something.
  • If you don’t remember, admit it is possible you were told and get back to dealing with the situation as it stands.
  • Teach yourself or be taught required skills.
  • Give yourself credit for being flexible instead of stubbornly pushing something through to the bitter end.
  • Break a big project into several smaller pieces and create some intermediate deadlines.
  • Identify your favorite time fillers and be eagle-eyed about spotting them.
  • Ask yourself if there is anything you are avoiding getting back to.
  • Dial it back from being rigid to having a routine.
  • Remind yourself that quantity is no substitute for quality.
  • Pick your battles and figure for collateral damage to relationships and stress level.
  • Try to defer judgment until you know for sure that someone is being negative.
  • Make understanding and treating your ADHD a part-time job.
  • Go easy on yourself.
  • Identify if this challenge brings you closer to your overall goals.
  • Brainstorm new approaches.
  • Bite the bullet.
  • Incorporate to-do lists and a planner.
  • Don’t over-commit yourself.
  • Accept that sometimes you blow it.
  • Learn to fix problems gracefully; honestly, directly, with amends.
  • Use your strengths to make up for skills you are weak in.
  • Be smart about the situations you put yourself in.
  • Recognize that destinations often have a boring journey. Keep going you must.
  • Balance destination activities with journey activities.
  • Try to make destination activities more enjoyable. Put on music or the TV.
  • Farm out the destination activities you are weakest at or hate the most.
  • If you don’t want to be misinterpreted, make the other person see more clearly how you feel.
  • Work on your general stress and frustration level.
  • Deal directly with the things that are bothering you.
  • Identify potentially tense situations and envision how you might best handle them.
  • If things escalate, walk away and clear your head. Pay attention to how you feel.
  • Make a point of paying attention. Try to remember it, and reduce competition for your attention.
  • Recall things by asking for clues from others present or thinking about circumstances.
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Write things down. Write everything down.
  • Make positive tasks more active. Paraphrase. When reading, pause. Highlight. Write notes.
  • Take your medication.
  • Repeat information out loud or mentally.
  • Relate new information to what you already know.
  • Think about how the information will be retrieved later. Picture yourself in that situation.
  • Process the information further. Carefully study appearances. Ask why.
  • Do the activity yourself. Talk yourself through it.
  • Use flash cards and repetition.
  • Study at your best time of day. Designate high brain-power times. Schedule uninterrupted times.
  • No more yelling information informally.
  • Ask for reminders.
  • Always carry around a pen and note cards or a notebook.
  • Use a digital voice recorder.
  • Ask the speaker to slow down or repeat himself.
  • Don’t put words in the speaker’s mouth.
  • Check in after a conversation. Review what was decided, what should be done next, and who will do what.
  • Mentally repeat the task and actively resist distraction. (Short-term solution.)
  • Create external reminders: schedule, note, alarm, voicemail…
  • Reduce distractions, like piles of clothes and piles of emails.
  • Place objects where they will serve as their own cues, especially in areas of inconvenience.
  • Respond to alarms immediately.
  • Use a family calendar. Meet occasionally to clarify.
  • Use white boards or mounted pads of paper in all rooms.
  • Leave yourself a voicemail or email at the point of performance.
  • Develop routines.
  • Hang up a bunch of clocks.
  • Wear a watch with a chime.
  • Keep alarm clocks and times everywhere.
  • Consider a PDA and computer software.
  • Time how long common activities take and write that down.
  • Build in extra time.
  • Create a schedule for common events. Tape those up in each room.
  • Review your schedule with someone else.
  • Be hard on yourself. Do not justify borderline activities.
  • Set alarms.
  • Plan your time. Write it down. Pin it up.
  • Start things, then finish them. Acknowledge these moments are harder for you, but you have to do them.
  • Get organized. Invest chunks of time in getting organized and getting rid of clutter.
  • Refer to your schedule regularly.
  • Take on less.
  • Use social pressure positively. Make a commitment to someone for a time period.
  • Work next to someone. The right person.
  • Set a repeating alarm.
  • Reduce clutter. (It may be better to push it aside and deal with it later.)
  • Go back to the original task.
  • Use hyperfocus positively. Gather all supplies, reduce distractions, and pump yourself up.
  • Create shorter work sessions.
  • Use active processing techniques. Talk to yourself. Scribble.
  • Capture loose thoughts.
  • Save to your computer frequently.
  • Build in daily down-time, intentionally.
  • Create visual reminders.
  • Use self-talk to tell yourself what to do and how.
  • Get out of a bad situation.
  • Remind yourself of the price paid for procrastination.
  • Ask for help.
  • Allow times every week to go where your fancy takes you.
  • Don’t follow hyperfocus with impulsivity.
  • Count time backwards.
  • Avoid best-case scenario planning.
  • Set an alarm for when you need to start getting ready.
  • Get into bed on time.
  • Keep the morning routine as simple as possible.
  • Avoid starting engrossing activities when its getting too close to leave time.
  • Bring something to fill the time.
  • Remember, nothing takes only one minute.
  • Always check your schedule before committing to something. If it’s not handy, tell the person you will get back to them.
  • Set up regular meetings.
  • Set your home page to blank.
  • Get productive things out of the way first.
  • Set a timer before starting. Do this for online time by using an online timer.
  • Admit that sometimes it’s better to just not start.
  • Accept that there is always more to see and do.
  • Put back what got taken out, clean occasionally, replace what gets used up, fix it.
  • Get rid of something when something new comes in.
  • Create a more logical and easily maintained organizational system.
  • Deal with the constant inflow of new things.
  • Restrict how much comes into your life.
  • Flip a coin if necessary to get rid of duplicates and excess.
  • Tackle small sections to organize, and take photos to document progress.
  • Place things where you can’t help but see them. Do this immediately.
  • Create a transfer station near the door.
  • Have duplicates of important but easily lost items, like keys, glasses, and pens.
  • Build in time to get ready to leave.
  • Use different, coordinating colors.
  • Nothing is official until it is written down. Require that everything be written down.
  • Write contact info and reward amount on important items that might get lost.
  • Put things on your to do list when you think of them. Don’t include too many things.
  • Cross off things you’ll never get to.
  • Write a new to do list occasionally.
  • Create a master list and a daily list.
  • Prioritize what is on your list.
  • Include notes about things you will need and time restrictions.
  • Track your progress with a chart or graph.
  • Ask someone to hold you accountable. Have two-minute meetings.
  • Get a different job.
  • Set specific deadlines.
  • Crank up the tunes.
  • Set up rituals.
  • Set a timer that will tell you when you can take a break.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Work an active job.
  • Take breaks when you can.
  • Move during lunch.
  • Get on a schedule.
  • Limit caffeine after noon.
  • Create a pre-bedtime routine.
  • Find calming activities for the evening.
  • Set a bedtime alarm.
  • Put a recycling and donation bin at the door.
  • Pitch marginal stuff.
  • Create a designated space for important items, close to the door.
  • Set up bills on automatic payments.
  • Create a designated time to pay bills, weekly. Put it on your schedule. Set an alarm.
  • Save only what you must.
  • Get overdraft protection.
  • Cancel unused subscriptions and catalogs.
  • Have a family meeting time, weekly. Make it quick, about scheduling, half with the kids, and don’t make bad promises.
  • Schedule big school projects for the kids.
  • Tie a pen to you calendars and white boards.
  • Write notes to yourself all the time. Use the posted boards. Then erase or transfer old stuff.
  • Avoid problem stores. Bring cash only. Save the receipt. Resist impulse buys.
  • Write a monthly and weekly budget.
  • Have a balanced checkbook and a simple budget.
  • Have your partner manage the finances, if possible.
  • Limit how much comes at you. Make good choices about what you seek out.
  • Get done what you need to do, then just play.
  • Stop flipping channels and surfing.
  • Acknowledge your limitation to yourself and others. Explain what they mean and what they don’t.
  • Do your best.
  • Give other people options and permission, then make amends when appropriate.
  • Apologize: Admit, Recognize the impact, Say what you will realistically do different, Fix or make token gesture.
  • Practice concise ways to explain common ADHD symptoms.
  • Educate others about ADHD, but don’t blab you have it to everyone.
  • Occasionally sit down and redistribute house chores.
  • Remind, don’t do it yourself.
  • Express appreciation for your partner. Do something nice for them and resist criticism. Recall why you like them.
  • Seek professional help for ADHD or ADHD relational stress, when needed.

Quotes from Jump Off the Hormone Swing:

“Problem: I wanted chocolate, but I needed ‘fruit,’ especially that one called self-control” (p73).

“Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?” (p96).

“Do you have control issues when it comes to food?” (p102).

“One husband said, ‘I tape-recorded my wife screaming at me. When I played it back, she could hardly believe that shrieking woman was her” (p131).

Action Points from Jump Off the Hormone Swing:

  • In your reflective, healing time of post-PMS, use your time to journal, listen to music, and pamper.
  • In your second week, tackle projects and schedule thing that require energy and creativity.
  • In your third week, listen to your body, anticipate changes, and complete unfinished projects.
  • During PMS, exercise, eat protein snacks every four hours, cancel unnecessary appointments, and do NOT overeat, drink alcohol, or add stress to your life.
  • Reduce fat and sugars, increase protein, and exercise.
  • Limit xenoestrogens in you life.
  • Detox by adding fiber and lots of water.
  • Minimize stress.
  • Make sure you are ovulating.
  • If needed, consider supplementation with bio-identical progesterone.
  • Stop using products that contain toxic chemicals.
  • Educate yourself on toxicity and exposure.
  • Eat organic foods, especially cruciferous veggies.
  • Develop a personal philosophy about xenoestrogens.
  • Eliminate the nine blood stranglers: stress; caffeine; nicotine; dehydration; heart disease; environmental toxins; lack of sleep; lack of exercise; and drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Boost brain function with nutrition and exercise.
  • Eat the ten brain foods: blueberries; yogurt; bananas; nuts; meat; fiber; spinach; tomatoes; broccoli; olive oil.
  • To increase brain function: brush your teeth with the opposite hand; listen to music; repeat. Learn the piano; read.; highlight and do activities. Read aloud; nap. Sleep; write, creatively; laugh; play brain games, like Sudoku; pray; break new powder and change old habits and routines.
  • For physical relief: nap; snuggle up with a heating pad. Warm yourself; take naproxen products; restrict salt; cut caffeine;sip warm tea; take calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin B6; drink water; limit sugar; don’t skip breakfast; and eat five small protein-packed meals per day.
  • Exercise. In pain? Do static. In some pain? Do a combo. Not in pain? Do dynamic.
  • Change your exercise types, change the duration, and change the intensity.
  • Force yourself outside daily for a brisk twenty minute walk.
  • Do not blame bad behavior on PMS.
  • Understand and accept the cycles of PMS and your hormones. It will come back.
  • Don’t make major decisions during PMS.
  • Do not ignore PMS warning signs.
  • Chart your symptoms and listen to your body.
  • Understand that menstruation is not a curse.
  • Appropriately celebrate your daughters’ graduation into womanhood.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Relinquish control issues between you and food.
  • Mark Red Alert days in your calendar and schedule around them.
  • Learn what minimizes your symptoms.
  • Eat foods that give life to your body.
  • To soothe stress: cry; practice isometrics; kick it out; jump rope; dance; have sex; do aerobics; create something new; take a multivitamin; pet a pet; breathe deeply; hug and kiss; indulge in aromatherapy, a comfy chair, closed eyes, a pillow; embrace beauty; try acupuncture; take a bath; and/or get a massage.
  • Shut your mouth. Post “mouth guards.”
  • Wear a Gripes Be Gone band.
  • Make resolutions.
  • Do not say it if you are emotionally charged and others will see this as an attack.
  • Do not say it when your words and thoughts are not connecting. Wait.
  • Know the Bible. Study it.
  • Memorize Scripture.
  • Expose the lies and replace them with truths.
  • Understand the symbolism of blood.
  • Know your identity in Christ. See “Who Am I?” list.
  • Remember that God loves you.
  • Do daily cleanings: confess; receive (allow a wash); respond.
  • Run to a quiet place and pray.
  • Stand up to the enemy in the full armor.
  • Get together with a non-PMS-ing friend.
  • Journal: pray on paper; sing on paper; dream; draw; dialogue; document your life.
  • Read “Top Eight PMS Verses”
  • Listen to the Spirit.
  • Get alone.
  • Serve others. Volunteer. Reach out.
  • Worship.
  • Start over. Repent.
  • Don’t whine about your symptoms. Use them as triggers to be thankful.
  • Get “small.” Get perspective.
  • Remember pain is a sacrifice and a “pathway to peace.”
  • Bow. Be humble. Ask for help and strength.

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