Reading The Disorganized Mind could have made a huge difference at several key points in my life.
The Disorganized Mind is a jargon-free story of self-coaching and learning to live with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Written from the perspective of someone who has struggled with ADHD throughout their life, then became a successful coach who helped thousands of Adult ADHD sufferers learn to succeed in spite of its symptoms, it’s remarkably convincing.
Reading The Disorganized Mind, I frequently felt a strong sense of déjà vu. At numerous points, I recognized behaviors and habits that haveover and over againinterfered with my success or caused embarrassing, expensive, and painful mistakes.
One of the most riveting chapters in The Disorganized Mind describes the experiences of “Sam,” one of the author’s clients suffering with Adult ADHD who had enjoyed a great deal of creative and sales success accompanied by frequent career setbacks. Sam had been successful and well-liked, but was perennially on the verge of dismissal. His ADHD symptoms were constantly undermining his creativity and ability to instantly assess situations.
Themes of control, coping, and optimism resonate throughout The Disorganized Mind. Ratey reports that either Child or Adult ADHD is not an “excuse” for inappropriate behavior, nor are medicationsby themselvesmiracle cure-alls.
In Nancy Ratey’s excellent book success comes from following a 6-step program, reduced to an acronym, ANSWER:
Acknowledge. Both Child and Adult ADHD suffers must acknowledge that their brains occasionally misbehave, and that it’s their responsibility to devise strategies to cope, or work around, the way their brains respond.
Narrowthe focus. Sometimes “big thinking” gets in the way of paying attention to the detailslike specific situations that trigger inappropriate responses. Focusing on specific situations allows sufferers to train themselves to anticipate approaching problems.
Strategizing. Narrowing the focus and watching out for problems allows sufferers to prepareor, even, rehearsehealthier responses.
Working the plan. Reading about coping strategies, or making plans without taking action, doesn’t accomplish anything. The hard part, the core of a successful coaching or self-coaching relationship, is taking consistent action…even when the initial attempts fail to deliver the hoped-for results.
Evaluating. At several points in The Disorganized Mind, Nancy Ratey emphasizes that there is no one, universal, coping strategy for all ADHD sufferers. Everyone has to track the results they obtain from different techniques, and create their own, unique, combination of strategies.
Repeating. Since ADHD is unlikely to go away by itself, successful strategies need repetition to become habitsor patterns of healthy responses.
The Disorganized Mind contains hundreds of ideas, structures, strategies, and tips that can be successfully used to cope with the 16 key Symptoms or Issues of ADHD that are summarized in Appendix A, an Index of Strategies.
The book, itself, is a fast read that is well organized in 4 parts:
Part l: Coaching. The 4 chapters in this section describe the author’s background and introduce the coaching, self-coaching, and the A-N-S-W-E-R framework.
Part ll: Coaching the ADHD Brain. The next 5 chaptersthe major of the book–describe the key issues that can keep ADHD sufferers from achieving their potential: time management, procrastination, impulsivity, distractibility, transitions.
Part lll: Strategies for a Balanced Life. The 3 chapters in this section focus on strategies for home, physical health, and spiritual and mental wellness.
Part lV: Living or Working with Someone with Adult ADHD. The final 2 chapters offer advice for spouses, partners, and co-workers.
Twenty pages of resources and an unusually comprehensive index round-out The Disorganized Mind.
ADHD Medication Rules will help you understand the variables that influence the effectiveness of any medications prescribed for you. By understanding the variables, you’ll know what to look for in your reaction to medications. You’ll also be better able to discuss their effectiveness with your physician or physicians. ADHD Medication Rules is the perfect “patient user guide for the medication side.”
But for either Adult or Child ADHD, medication, alone, may not be enough! You’ll also want to take action on your ownand either hire an ADHD coach to help you develop your own coping strategiesor you’ll have to become your own self-coach and take specific actions on your own. And this is where The Disorganized Mind comes in, outlining what you can do to develop the day-to-day strategies to maximize the effectiveness of your prescriptions.
Either way, these two books point the way to a happier, more successful future.
I enjoyed coaching with Roger years ago whilst initially working on ADHD Medication Rules – he’s a phenomenal writing coach with outstanding credentials and a gift for what-works-best. You will appreciate his candor in this piece, an interesting and intimate view of another exceedingly successful professional working, as many of us are, on the ongoing process of self discovery.
Thanks Roger for posting this piece – and thanks for your kind remarks!