Being Productive When You Live In Chaos

Being Productive When You Live In Chaos

Kristin Seymour knows firsthand how tough it is to be productive when you have ADHD. Not only does she have ADHD, but Kristin is the mom of two ADHD teens, and she’s also an ADHD specialist.

The advanced practice nurse returns to Distraction to share more of her “life hacks” along with some special advice for parents of ADHD kids.

As Ned puts it, “Kristin has the knack, the understanding and natural empathy of one who has been there, of one who really burns to make sure others do not suffer the way she did.”

Kristin’s website: http://www.ADHDFogLifted.com

If you like this episode, please rate and review Distraction on Apple Podcasts! If you have a question, comment, or show idea please email it to [email protected].

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0!

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

This episode was originally released in November 2018.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years, and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com. And brite is intentionally misspelled B-R-I-T-E. Omegabritewellness.com

Kristin Seymour:
Everybody was just like, “What is going on?” And I really believed he was on the wrong medication, it was working, in fact, probably against him. That child is on the right medication now, he had three letters of commendation from emails from teachers this week, and is respecting mom at home.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today, I am thrilled to be joined by a guest we’ve had before, but we cannot have often enough. Kristin Seymour is one of our favorites. She is a clinical nurse practitioner from St. Louis. She is a specialist in cardiology on the faculty of the Barnes-Jewish hospital, one of the leading academic hospitals in the world, and she also just happens to be an expert on ADHD. Not only because she has it herself, but because she’s made it her business to develop a specialty while continuing to be specialists taking care of critical patients in the field of cardiology. She went on to write a book entitled The Fog Lifted: A Clinician’s Victorious Journey With ADHD, where she told about her personal struggle growing up in St. Louis. Ultimately, the amazing victory she had, where she now is really at the top of her game. And it’s a great treat and pleasure to welcome Kristin back to Distraction.

Kristin Seymour:
Well, thanks, Ned. I’m not sure I’m worth all of that, but thanks for the kind words. Good to be back and talking with you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, we wanted to touch on a couple of topics. The first one being one that you’re often asked, namely, how do you manage to get done as much as you do? Being not only a cardiology specialist and ADD specialist, but a mom, a wife, and a incredibly busy woman, how do you achieve productivity in the midst of the chaos that ADD can create?

Kristin Seymour:
Right. That’s a good question because it’s probably the first thing everybody always asks. And I think the most important advice I’ve been giving people lately, and I’ve been taking myself, is to always come back to the core four, which is my four family members, myself, my husband and my girls. And every day starts and ends with what’s best for them, and what they need to get done, we all need to do throughout the day, and everything else goes around that. Barnes-Jewish hospital, I work my job around that, the girls, gym, my consulting works around my family. As long as you always keep your priority and your eye on the ball, which is your core four people or five, or your key three, however many in your family, that is the most important thing.

Kristin Seymour:
And that’s why I can do what I do. So that’s how each day begins and ends, and then everything else works around that. And so, I always try to figure out a way and resources available, to make sure I can get done what I need to do with my priority of the day. That’s probably the biggest thing, the first most thing. The second most important thing is just to be gentle with yourself and know you can only do so much, and not be afraid to say no. So, if someone wants to see me or do something or meet or have me take on an extremely time-consuming case and I know I can’t, I will wait a few weeks. You can only do what you can do. And a lot of us ADHD’ers are pleasers, perfectionists, always want to say yes. The other thing is incentivizing yourself.

Kristin Seymour:
Most all of the teams I work with, and college students, don’t understand the real meaning of incentive. Because we’re dopamine driven, love positive feedback, we need to reward ourselves for doing things that are mentally challenging or exhausting. So if somebody has to do a paper that they’re just completely dreading, they need to set time on it, attack it in compartments or small intervals, and then reward themselves when the paper is done. That soft and hard deadlines, things like that. Set a soft deadline of maybe a week before it’s really due or a few days and a hard deadline of the day it’s due. So you can have that cushion of time, it’s a backup. If it doesn’t get done due to illness or unexpected events.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You also had some other tips about productivity that I remember.

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah, the life hack. They’re shortcuts and ways to make things easier. I have a cooler in my car on certain days when I’m going to be running around town, going from place to place or hospital to hospital with ice packs in it. So I can pop by the grocery and throw a few items in it. Moat people like to go to different grocery stores, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, wherever, and then put the different items and it keep them cold. So you’re not backtracking where you just were earlier that day, taking pictures of your receipts, that you have to expense items for your job. Not only do you have the day and time and receipt, you can virtually move that to a folder of 2018 expenses and a subheading. So you’re not messing with all of these different receipts.

Kristin Seymour:
So things like just trying to take shortcuts like that, or taking a picture of where you parked your car, because so many of us have that poor short-term memory at times. Dictating in your note, if you’re fortunate enough to have a smartphone, which I think most of the population does anymore, you can use the voice activated memo. And I dictate my to-do-list, dictate my emails, dictate things for… It’s hard for many of us to write down all of our thoughts and then uploading it to an email. And then you’ve got your whole some brief notes to go back to if you don’t have time to sit and write something. So those are all some good ideas to help people save time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
On another note, I know that you have worked with a number of high school students who were particularly lost, and do you have any sort of general themes and trends because I’ve seen you really turn them around? What are the issues you think are there?

Kristin Seymour:
Well, the best thing is when you can partner with parents, whether they’re married or divorced, all of these, every parent or guardian wants their child or student to succeed. And when you partner with them and better understand the dynamics, not only at home but at school and with their athletics and sports and extracurriculars, it’s a bigger picture than maybe sometimes the teacher sees, or maybe a parent can’t see the whole scope all the time. So what I like to do is if I can, and most often the families welcome it, it’s having a meeting of the minds with the school advisor, the student’s advisor, the head of the school, the Dean of students, the parents, and sometimes, with the student and sometimes without to just see what pressure this kid is under. Because sometimes when everyone’s on the same page, things go amazing.

Kristin Seymour:
But sometimes people are missing a link. So partnering with the school, really understanding everyone and learning what’s best for the student, it’s just really, really effective. You have some parents who think the school should do every single thing and the parents should do nothing. That’s not correct. You have some parents that think the school does nothing, and they have no idea what the school is capable of because they’ve never sat down and looked at the whole picture. So when they start learning, when they’re younger in high school and junior high, it’s really cool and fascinating and remarkable to see what they’re able to execute on their own with mom and dad far away, their coach, me, far away on their own, thing outside the box to partner with the school

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you say partnering with the school comes as news to some parents?

Kristin Seymour:
Exactly. And the biggest thing, if I can say that I’ve witnessed is when the parents come in with an open-mind and calm and wanting to partner and say, “Thank you for all you’ve done for Sally,” whoever, the student. “We are so fortunate to have a team like you.” And not have to kiss their rear end, but really partner because the school works really hard too. And then say, “What are we able to accomplish within reason?” And they’re going to work with you, but coming in, they’re angry and upset and kicked off and with a chip on your shoulder and offensive about something or a diagnosis a situation, that will not be a helpful approach.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s a pretty natural of alliance. I mean, you’re all on the same team. So it’s really, you’re opening a natural door. There’s no reason to keep it closed. And because all that stuff is born out of anxiety, how do you help parents become less anxious? And how do you help them come into the school with the right attitude?

Kristin Seymour:
That is a great, great question. The first thing I usually do is just tell them, and I sometimes feel rude saying this that I have to say, “Let’s just slow down.” And I hate when people say that to me. So I feel like I have regret, but, “Let’s just take a breath. Let’s sit down. Let’s slow down. Let’s see what the grades really are to date.” How anxious is the student? How vital are sports? How far are we in the season? And it just lets the parents settle down and know that we probably can drop an AP course. We probably can maybe decrease the time on the ACT for our class on a weekend, on top of the tournament. Let’s space things out differently. The school’s on our side. If it’s a public school and private, but more public, there’s laws that protect that parent. It don’t have to be so hysterical.

Kristin Seymour:
There are standards in place if you’re not getting what we need for your students. Private schools, they have standards as well, very high ones as well. But those same laws are always applied. So therefore, you can say, “We’re paying tuition. We’re seeking this education. Let’s partner on this together.” But not in a threatening way. The parents didn’t think you’re right. The ball is in our court. There’s one parent that I’ve ever had to say who actually was so anxious that we had to do a meeting before the meeting to role play. And then, that parent is probably going to… There’s some parents that end up needing a little bit more, like working out, exercising, and taking out caffeine because they just feed their anxiety. But other than that, they usually get very calm when they feel they have a partner or that the school is really on their side.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, just your sort of taking the by the hand and saying, “We can do this together.”

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. And the parents were just like, “What is it that you’re doing that we’re not?” And I’m like, “It’s just because sometimes it comes from somebody else who’s not in a position of authority like a teacher or a parent, but they command. They have the respect for it as well, and you’re up here, but you get the brain because I lived it.” And I know what they’re saying when they say they can’t focus. I know why they have to get up after 10 minutes to take a break.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of OmegaBrite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking OmegaBrites, and Omega-3s, CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations. Now, there are many different products, brands, fish oil, why is OmegaBrite the best?

Dr. Carol Locke:
What I can speak to with OmegaBrite is it’s a very different formula than typically what you can get in the store or online. And OmegaBrite is clinically proven. We have over 10 studies in major academic centers, showing OmegaBrite improving mood, helping with bipolar, with depression, with ADHD, with anxiety, with inflammation. So, that’s a very proven product for you to gain these benefits. And these benefits we know come from OmegaBrite. You can’t get that with a typical Omega-3, which has say 180 milligrams of EPA in it. That just isn’t going to provide that benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order at OmegaBritewellness.com by using the promo code Podcast2020. All right, let’s get back to today’s topic. What do you wish someone had told you when you were in high school in trying to figure it all out?

Kristin Seymour:
That it truly can be an asset and it’s good news. It’s a gift, if you harness it properly, that it’s not a curse, that it sometimes might feel like one, but that you have an incredible ability to think large and accomplish much. You’re not a failure and you are smart because all of us feel so dumb.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how did you beat the odds? I mean, how did you manage to make it?

Kristin Seymour:
Well, probably when I got my diagnosis, I was so relieved to know it wasn’t my fault, if you will. And at 19, I was like, “This is such a relief to know I’m not stupid and I’m not lazy and I’m not applying myself.” And after trying everything that was non-medication, scheduled routine structure, diet, exercise, sleep, everything like that, then when I went on the medication, it was really a big game changer because I was such a textbook case. And that was what changed it around. But then I thought nothing’s going to stop me, nothing was getting in my way. I just had this desire to be a nurse. And I’m like, “I don’t care what I have to do to do this. I’m going to do it.” And then that clarity was a relief.

Kristin Seymour:
And then I was like, “This is fine, and this is easy.” And I can’t believe how much I actually liked school. And the other thing is, this is just a side note. My parents never gave up, they really didn’t. And they did love me through that. But when I was dating people or if my friends in high school college and post-college, those people believed in me and those people cheerleaded [inaudible 00:14:53] like gym, the whole way through. Those are the people that have your back and support you in so many loving ways, why I was successful off medication too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. How much difference did medication make for you?

Kristin Seymour:
100%, because everything else was not, I mean, working that we had tried over so many years and even after diagnosis. And so in 1992, Dr. Garrett Burris was like, “Let’s just try this.” And I think this is, “She’s a classic case,” and we did it. And it was literally like turning on the windshield wipers in a rain storm and clarity or a cable from a non-cable TV. It truly is that way. And I had a patient I’m working with, he’s so impulsive in 8th grade, he opened the car door while his mom was driving down an interstate, and he’s fine, but he was just doing so many impulsive things. And just everybody, the school, everybody was just like, “What is going on?” And I really believe he was on the wrong medication, was working in fact probably against him because it was not the right dose.

Kristin Seymour:
It was like sometimes when you don’t have the right medication at the right dose, it’s sub-therapeutic. It’s not effective. It’s not against him, but it wasn’t working in his favor. It wasn’t making a difference. So, that child is on the right medication now that I suggested to as a psychiatrist. He had three letters of commendation from emails from teachers this week or last week, I apologize, at the end of last week. And is respecting mom at home and doing so well. And that is so fast that you can see how fast the correct plan all around and medication can be effective in major ways.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The correct plan and medication, I think so true. But I would add, and you don’t know how well you do this, but I’ve seen it. You advocating, you really go to bat for these kids. And I think in a way that a lot of doctors don’t have time or don’t feel that it’s their role or what have you, but I’ve seen you. I mean, you go right in there, you go right into the school and you get right in with the kids and you really cheer-lead them in a big way. And I think that element is often forgotten that people don’t realize how important that is.

Kristin Seymour:
You’re exactly right. And when you work with cases where you have to always remember that child, your parents are trusting you and them as a team. And that child is all I care about. I mean, the parents vision and their mission and their beliefs is important, but one parent goes, “Medicine’s not an option for us.” And I said, “Well, this isn’t your journey, this is Sally’s journey.” And we need to really reevaluate what this is about. Let’s look at the facts, because right now, your child is so defeated. They’re going to turn to something else possibly to calm their mind, and that’s that.

Kristin Seymour:
And that usually is very powerful because if she was diabetic or chemo if she had cancer, or eyeglasses for vision problems, I mean, let’s stop and think about this. And that really bothers them when they don’t want to, because they don’t believe in it, or they don’t believe the facts. Look at the MTA analysis. Look at all the good data out there that shows how effective it can be without long-lasting side effects. To be effective, it’s not about making friends with everybody. You have to be direct and factual and represent and do a good job for that student.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Why do you think there aren’t more services like the ones you provide? They’re very hard to find people who do it the way you do it.

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. I don’t know. I think probably because some people think that they’re a good coach or accountability coach or advocate and they probably are. I mean, I think there’s just not a lot of people who’ve lived it and lived it well that want to talk about it, and share some of the struggles I had and how I wanted to get in there with them and say, “I know you’d probably rather poke your eyeballs out or starved herself to death than do this paper, but I know that feeling, but let’s bite off in little chunks.” Not a lot of people would admit they had to go through that to get through school, or didn’t even know they had it, or don’t care enough, or don’t want to spend that much time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. I mean, I think people forget this is not just take a pill and see me in the morning kind of thing.

Kristin Seymour:
Right? No. No, it’s literally the student and I meeting with the parents and going sometimes to where they… Whether it’s FaceTime, virtually or in person and seeing the dynamic and the setup. What does homework look like in your house? Where are you sitting and how can we make this more effective? And let’s make some strategies that will work or… You know what I mean? It’s kind of like taking on a family, “Okay, I see this girl who I love and I’m working with right now.” And this girl is awesome. I mean, she’s more athletic, smarter, prettier, more competent than I was and I diagnosed with ADHD, combined type with anxiety, just similar to what I would have been in high school.

Kristin Seymour:
This girl wants to help herself so much and is willing to do anything I say and suggest, and her parents as well, that I burn to help them. So my daughter, I take care of my girls, take care of my family, take care of myself. And then when I have time and my kids are out or doing something else, I will go over to that house. So I will meet in my office and help this family, because this kid wants it as bad as I do. But when I seem to care more than the child or more than the parent, that’s not good. Those are the cases I do my best with, but it’s when the parents are so wanting me and they’re all engaged that I just like in it with them. And those are the ones who have the fastest improvement too within a month.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I could talk to you for a long time. I want to remind people that you’ll be at the International ADHD Conference in St. Louis, November 8th to the 11th. And you’ll be talking about self-medication and vaping, is that correct?

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. In all students, but particularly in ADHD, impulsive students and what that does to the brain and their behaviors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And the conference will have a ton of wonderfully interesting speakers. So if any of you want to go and can go, I really recommend it. And again, Kristin’s book is called The Fog Lifted: A Clinician’s Victorious Journey With ADHD. And if people want to reach you, what’s the best way for them to reach you?

Kristin Seymour:
They can reach me on my website. It’s ADHDfoglifted.com, and there’s a contact form there. But they’re into my email, I believe my business email’s in my book as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good. Well, your messages is very practical, but also very hopeful and inspiring. You’ve lived it, you practice it and you put in that kind of work and don’t give up and you do get a good outcome. Well, Kristin, thanks a million for taking the time to join us. I know how really busy you are and as always, you’re wonderful. We have to have you on again soon. Thank you so much.

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Well, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction, and thank you so much for joining us. The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at omegabrite, and that’s B-R-I-T-E, wellness.com.

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