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Episode 208:
Show Notes 


In this week's episode, Dr Lucy Burns and Sharon Collon delve into the intricate challenges of managing ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), particularly during pivotal life stages such as menopause. They explore how hormonal changes and difficulties with executive function profoundly influence ADHD symptoms and share effective strategies for coping and thriving with ADHD through a holistic approach. 

Understanding ADHD: ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by different brain wiring, prioritising tasks based on interest and novelty.

Variability in Symptoms: Symptoms impact executive functions like planning, time awareness, and emotional regulation, with hyperactive, inattentive, and combined presentations recognised.

Gender Differences: Historically linked more with boys, girls often exhibit subtler symptoms, potentially leading to underdiagnosis.

Daily Life Impact: ADHD poses challenges in punctuality, meal planning, and task management due to organisational difficulties.

Health Challenges: Managing health behaviours like diet and exercise is complicated due to executive function deficits.

Social and Health Consequences: Undiagnosed ADHD can lead to stigma and health issues like binge eating disorder.

Strengths of ADHD: Despite challenges, individuals often show strengths like hyperfocus and creativity.

Menopause and ADHD: Hormonal changes during menopause can worsen symptoms, highlighting the need for awareness during life transitions.

Coping and Support: Effective strategies include developing executive function skills and personalised approaches.

Advocacy and Awareness: There's a growing need for advocacy to dispel misconceptions about ADHD.

Practical Management Strategies:

  • Understanding Triggers: Recognise individual manifestations of ADHD.
  • Managing Extreme Thinking: Avoid all-or-nothing thought patterns.
  • Developing Habits: Structure supports habit development.
  • Emotional Regulation: Use techniques like breathing exercises and sensory strategies.
  • Simplifying Life: Automate tasks and simplify decisions to reduce cognitive load.
  • Building Support Systems: Rely on support systems and create conducive environments.
  • Holistic Approach: Combine lifestyle adjustments, skill development, and medication as needed.

Explore Sharon Collon's ADHD support hub at Dive into insightful articles, coaching, and free resources, and join the ADHD Families Podcast for expert advice and personal stories. Follow @thefunctionalfamily for ongoing support and community. Discover how Sharon can empower you to navigate ADHD with confidence.

For more information about Real Life Medicine and our programs and special offers:

Episode 208: 


Dr Mary Barson (0:04) Hello, my lovely friends. I am Dr Mary Barson.

Dr Lucy Burns (0:09) And I'm Dr Lucy Burns. We are doctors and weight management and metabolic health experts.

Both (0:16) And this is the Real Health and Weight Loss podcast!

Dr Lucy Burns (0:23) Good morning gorgeous ones. How are you today? I am amazing! Had a beautiful sleep, felt fantastic and joined by a very exciting guest. And I'm really, really happy to talk to Sharon today not only because it's a topic close to both my heart and Mary's heart, but because I think it's probably going to be useful for many of you too. So today I'd love to introduce to you Sharon Collon. Sharon runs a website called the Functional Family and she's a credentialed ADHD coach and consultant. And I'm going to really highlight that word credentialed, because it's really important. We'll talk a little bit about that. But Sharon, welcome to the podcast.

Sharon Collon (1:03)  Thank you. I'm so excited to be here. 

Dr Lucy Burns (1:06)  Yeah, we are. Well, as you know, Dr  Mary and I are always talking about ADHD because it's relevant in parts of, certainly in parts of our lives, but in many of our listeners lives and I thought we'd start today by first of all, just talking about I guess what ADHD is because people you know, you hear about it, but most people really probably don't know about the nuts and bolts of it. And I thought well, who better to talk about it than you?

Sharon Collon (1:32)  Well, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition and it is literally like a different brain to do with the wiring of the brain. So the neurotypical person has a brain that's ordered on importance we can go– this is important to me, I'm going to do this bit first, this is the most important. A person with ADHD has a brain that is wired differently and it is wired on interest and novelty. Now we're going to delve into how that plays out. In particular, how it applies to your beautiful audience here. But what it looks like is people with ADHD can struggle with some executive functions. And so executive functions of things like forward planning, time, awareness, stress, resilience, emotional regulation, and the level at which they struggle can differ because ADHD differs from person to person. And everyone's very unique in their presentations. So it really is about a brain that is wired differently, and people learning about their brain so they can honour how that looks like for them and how that plays out for them.

Dr Lucy Burns (2:36)  Absolutely, absolutely. And I'm imagining, as you said, everyone's a little bit different. But there's, you know, with all things in medicine, there's a spectrum. And so you have people that perhaps mildly, show mild symptoms, and then we have medium symptoms and then severe. So again, symptoms is probably not the right word to describe ADHD, but it's perhaps the way in which it plays out in your life.

Sharon Collon (3:01)  That's right, that's right. And different levels of executive function challenges, like some people can have lots and lots of challenges in one area and then be quite fun in the other. And also we have the saying in ADHD coaching that ADHD often doesn't come to the party alone, it brings friends so we know that it can come along with ASD or Tourette's or OCD and lots of other things come along with it, too. So everyone, what I'm highlighting here is that everyone has their own unique presentation. And so you'll hear me today make some generalisations about ADHD, but it's really up to the individual to work out how that fits in for them. 

Dr Lucy Burns (3:37)  Yeah, absolutely. So I thought today we'd talk a little bit particularly around women and girls, given that the majority of the people who listen to our podcast women, and also I guess that you know, in general ADHD particularly was was thought to be more of a boys thing, you know, with the disruptive boy at school. And meanwhile, all of these girls were flying under the radar. So I thought perhaps he could just explain a little bit about how ADHD presents in in girls.

Sharon Collon (4:05)  Yes, we've done our beautiful female community such a disservice and you know, I'm sure your listeners will relate to a lot of women are now getting late diagnosed. So perhaps their children are going through the diagnostic process. And they're realising that, you know, perhaps they also have ADHD once their child is diagnosed. So in girls that can look a little bit different and it often looks a lot like anxiety. So in boys like when we think about the traditional presentation of ADHD, we think of like, air quotes the naughty boy right? The boy who can't sit still, it's getting in trouble all the time to be quite disruptive. Now that's showing the hyperactive presentation of ADHD. So there's three different presentations that are recognised in Australia there's hyperactive, inattentive, or combined, most people are actually they're combined, although they might lean more towards the hyperactive presentation. So we For the people who are the hyperactive or the combined presentation, they get diagnosed early, because they're very obvious with their symptoms. And perhaps it can be a little bit more in your face and symptoms. Now, sometimes in the girls, they can also be hyperactive or inattentive, more and more, we see that inattentive presentation. So they might be the daydreamer, or the, the person who is the space cadet. That's what we would label them as really quite wrongly. But there is another presentation that girls are showing. And it's really that they still have the hyperactive presentation, it's just that their brain is hyperactive, so their body is not showing it, their body is looking settled, but their brain is super quick, super high powered engine. And, you know, it perhaps needs a little bit of help with the steering side of things. But we're missing those that presentation and girls because they're not being disrupted. They're sitting there quietly, they might look like they're doing the things but then they're missing out on all the early intervention and that makes me so so sad.

Dr Lucy Burns (6:03)  Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So I'm imagining in my brain when you're describing that I've got this sort of pinball machine image that's just flicking out going with bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. Meanwhile, they're trying to listen to what the perhaps the teacher saying or even a friend and meanwhile, you've got ping between beaming going on.

Sharon Collon (6:21)  That's right. And you know, can have catastrophic like just even thinking about the classroom environment, what you said there, if we say something like, you know, wait till the end to ask your question. And then we've got, you know, a little girl with ADHD there. Now she'll sit there just trying to remember her question until the end. So she's now not taking in what the teacher says anything past that, wait till the end, right. She's just trying to remember her question. So we can actually, like she can miss out on big parts of the lesson and fall behind and, you know, can be really, really tricky, especially if you don't know about it.

Dr Lucy Burns (6:55)  Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think it's, it's interesting that things that seem so obvious. So as you said, the neurotypical brain where you, you know, you go in order of importance, things I must not forget to, you know, pay the bills. And then the ADHD brain that doesn't work that way means that other people aren't particularly frustrated. And again, I'm going to do a little personal anecdote. This is not all about me, of course, but for example, punctuality so I have a nickname last minute Lucy, or Lucy is always late. There was always this late Lucy, last minute Lucy, Lucy, and you know, then eye rolling because, you know, I'd be flying in the door, 10 minutes late, no matter what, doesn't matter what. And my neurotypical husband would just send me just work backwards, start at the time that you have to leave. And then you, you know, you map it all out? And I'm thinking, Yes, seems so obvious, but it never seems to work like that for me. And then you get labeled, you know, as as lazy or the other people think because you're late that you're not important to them. And so there's this then miscommunication that happens or people assign meaning to whatever's going on, and then that then has impact on your life.

Sharon Collon (8:15)  It's one of the really, really challenging executive functions that, I guess people don't realise how hard and how much work it can be for someone with ADHD to do that sequencing backwards. That can be really tricky. That's a whole lot of energy that they're putting towards that. So. Yeah, it can definitely be an area that causes people a lot of grief.

Dr Lucy Burns (8:36)  Yeah, I know, and it can be expensive when you miss flights.

Sharon Collon (8:44)  Yes, but sounds like it came from personal experience, possibly.

Dr Lucy Burns (8:49)  So, you know, there's obviously social consequences of particularly having undiagnosed ADHD but there's also some health consequences that can come along with the diagnosis or particularly than the undiagnosed brain. And I thought we'd talk a bit about some of those today and particularly safe in your experience sharing what you've seen with your cohort of people.

Sharon Collon (9:12)  So firstly, I wanted to preface this by saying that exercise or high intensity exercise is actually a really good management strategy for ADHD. So yeah, great, the research shows that it's like as effective as medication in some cases so like just flagging that as a you know, possible health benefit, you know, and possible treatment plan. A lot of people that I know of particularly women are very, very good at getting their exercise in with ADHD because they've somehow along the line worked out but it is great for management and great for their stress and their anxiety and all the stuff that can come along with ADHD. But ADHD does bring some unique challenges when it It's coming to looking after your health because I'm sure that your lovely audience would know the amount of executive functions that come along, when you are thinking about changing and making any sort of lifestyle change. So we've got forward planning here. So you need to plan what you're going to eat, where you're going to shop, what you're going to prepare, who you're going to prepare it for different amounts, like all of these things, we've got time awareness, how long is these things going to take, like, sometimes it gets to dinnertime, and you go, I need to eat right now. But now it's too late to make the right choice because I'm overly hungry. A lot of the time, people with ADHD miss out on hunger cues, due to hyper focus and things like that. So then by the time they do get hungry, they're past hunger, like they are now into hangry. Or, and even triaging and working out, you know, the sequence of you know, what I'm going to be needing to do this meal plan and what I'm going to need to, to be able to pull this all together and meal prep and all the stuff like that it can cause people a lot of snags.

Dr Lucy Burns (11:04)  Yeah, absolutely. And in fact, I often talk a little bit about the idea that it's all very well to have meat in the freezer, but you've got to remember to take it out. And those are the sorts of things that just require that next level of, you know, some prompting, I guess, some skills, you know, something to remind you to do it. Whereas, again, a neurotypical person doesn't, they're just, I don't know, it feels like magical thinking to me, I don't they just know that in the morning, they've got to take up the, you know, the meats from the freezer.

Sharon Collon (11:37)  And, you know, it can be something even bigger than that, too, because we now with ADHD, we've got things like sensory profile. So you know, wanting certain mouth feels food avoidance, because of certain the wastes feel of a food smells, tastes, or has that feel. We've got impulse control, like we know, that's a fundamental part of ADHD. So just wanting it now and getting it now. But also, coupled with that with the executive function challenges, like we spoke before can be like, oh, the bit that I want to mention there was that when you start a new program, or you start a new healthy change that's got novelty. So what does the ADHD brain do with interest in novelty, we go really well, right. So we've got that ignition, we're all inspired. And then ignition, that novelty wears off. And now we're into the momentum stage. And that momentum stage can be a real problem and can drop off. So we get people that lose or start with great gusto, but then lose it a couple of weeks in once that novelty has worn off. So I'm really excited about exploring some ways to support people with those two. 

Dr Lucy Burns (12:43)  Yeah, absolutely. And you know, from a medical point of view, we definitely know that binge eating disorder. So again, I'm talking about diagnosed binge eating disorder, not the colloquial term that people sometimes use, when they've overeating, where they'll just go, Yeah, I had a binge, proper diagnosed, binge eating disorder is highly linked to the diagnosis of ADHD. And in fact, some of the medical treatments are the same. So it's always interesting when you've got a medication that seems to fix two different problems that seem unrelated until you dig a bit further and you go, Oh, maybe they're related. 

Sharon Collon (13:17)  Interesting.

Dr Lucy Burns (13:20) So that's super interesting. And again, from our point of view, we know that people with binge eating disorder, again, untreated, end up often developing insulin resistant to obesity, type two diabetes, and their only tool to manage this is to tell themselves not to do it. Really ineffective tool, and the majority of people that just rely on that are uncured. So yeah, definitely needing tools. And I guess it's the same with ADHD. It's just, you know, the idea that you just tell somebody, oh, just be more organised or just be on time. Like to think they've never thought of that. So, okay, so we know then that again, it's there's probably some stigma I reckon with ADHD or, again, some discussion around the idea there's in there's a lot more aware and awareness of it. But you've also got this cohort of the population that is now rolling their eyes going– Oh, yeah. Every second kids diagnosed with ADHD. What are your thoughts on that?

Sharon Collon (14:24)  I think, well, I get lots of comments about ADHD because for some reason, ADHD is one of those conditions that people feel like they can have a very strong opinion about without knowing anything about it. Yeah, I do get a lot of comments about it. And being a mum of three boys with ADHD I do get the odd comment in the supermarket and things about all that didn't happen in my day and that child just needs some discipline and all of those sorts of stupid things that people say, but the world is changing like we aren't getting better at understanding ADHD but there still is a whole lot of hang ups about it like people think still think that you can grow out of ADHD. Now you absolutely do not right? You can develop ways of managing it, you can develop strategies to assist yourself, you might even mask it pretty well if you're a female, because most females are expert masters. But you don't grow out of it. It's fair, right? But what I do want to say is that executive function skills are like a muscle, you can build those right? One of my favourite analogies and this might be helpful for people is that is my spiderman analogy, right. So Spiderman, you know, he develops the webbing thing that he can weaken web. And but at the start, he's a bit chaotic with it. And he webs himself. And it's just, he doesn't know how to control it. So it goes away. And it goes to this industrial area, and he practices and practices it, until he learns to use it to his advantage. Now, this is how I view ADHD, you can absolutely web yourself with it, right? It's got some challenges. But once you know how your brain works, and you understand what's going on for you, you can use it to your advantage, we can build executive function skills, that's what I do every day as an ADHD coach, right? We help people build executive function skills. So instead of like if you're a person listening to this, and you have ADHD, and you're thinking I should be able to why can I do all like, you're just beating yourself up. Like, why didn't I follow that? Or I should, I should, I should. And you've got that language going on in your head, we need to flip that you don't need to try harder. You're trying hard enough. What we need to do is try differently. So how that looks for you is the bit that we need to discover. We need to have a tailored different approach for people with ADHD. So they stopped doing the shoulds. They stopped doing that–why can’t I? Because all it does is just shut you down in overwhelm anyway, and then you can't progress forward. It's like thinking through mud. We need to work out ways to engage and bring interest and novelty back into your brain so that you can do the thing. And how that looks like is the cool part that we get to discover together. Yeah,

Dr Lucy Burns (16:57)  I love that I love and again, you're right. I mean, there's some really, particularly you know, that ability to hyper focus. I just look at that and think yeah, that's, I mean, I think that's how I got through medicine, because I could just hyper focus for wide periods of time, but not for long periods of time. So, you know, I couldn't do it for months, but you do long, you know, short, sharp bursts, and yada, yada. And, yeah, it was great. And keeping it interesting and all of those things. But yeah, boring things like doing your tax return.

Sharon Collon (17:31)  I wouldn't really encourage like, you know, what you just said about medicine then, like, I kind of view people with ADHD like sprinters, right, you're supposed to be all in for short periods, and then pull back and not supposed to be marathon runners. They're not supposed to do consistent things for long time. So and so once you know that about yourself, like that's cool, because you just you can organie your next sprint, you don't have to be the marathon runner. And using that hyperfocus just like you did for medicine, like what an incredible gift. Like I think someone with ADHD in a hyper focus will get more done than a neurotypical person, like the same thing will take them such a shorter amount of time and a hyper focus, like what an incredible gift. And they often people with ADHD often have the best ideas, their brains are ideas, factories, they can think of things that I would only ever dream of like that the way that their brains look at problem solving, but also with pattern recognition. Like it is spectacular, like it is something that we need to celebrate as well. 

Dr Lucy Burns (18:35)  Yeah and that's what I think is important because everybody talks about all the disadvantage of you know, you lose everything and you miss planes and you're late to everything and you feel chaotic and your desks a mess. And you know, somehow a messy desk feels like a moral failing. But as you said, all of the great probably the great visionaries that people with all the ideas of people that are inventing things that use the internet, all of those people that they're probably, you know, got some form of they're certainly don't have a neurotypical brain.

Sharon Collon (19:05)  Yes, yeah. Well, if you think about it, there's a lot of research coming out now about ADHD in terms of what we were like in tribes. And you know, like, if we go back to like, because we know ADHD is genetic, it's passed down. So we're thinking about, they're doing lots of new studies about, you know, where it came from, and how this like the genetic links. And they're showing now that if we were back to living in tribes, that the people with ADHD are the people at the front who are the risk takers and driving the tribe forward, right? They are the ones who are their nervous systems are designed to scan for safety. They're looking like people with ADHD usually have very good peripheral vision. They notice things that people with neurotypical people don't. They're scanning for safety, which makes their nervous system heightened, but their skill is to do the scan. And so they're out the front and they're also programmed to take risks, right? When you look at both of those things, very good entrepreneurial traits. So they were actually part of the tribe that was supposed to be there. Now the only problem comes about when we're expecting them to sit quietly in classrooms. That's not really what they're built for. Yeah, out to be out there exploring and pushing the limits and like, you know, scan scanning for safety. So there is some new exciting research coming out about that. Actually, it's big in our industry. People are talking about it at the moment. 

Dr Lucy Burns (20:20)  Oh, fantastic. Good. I love that. I love that. Now, just to change track slightly is understanding the link with menopause and perimenopause, and then the diagnosis of ADHD. Have you got much research or talk about that at the moment?

Sharon Collon (20:36)  Well, we know that hormones play a big role in ADHD as symptoms. Well, firstly, it could be a little bit of a timing thing in the way that women in general are getting diagnosed later. So we're getting diagnosed after our kids get diagnosed, or we're getting diagnosed as we go through different life stages. So perhaps, to preface this by saying that people usually notice ADHD symptoms more in big life changes, right. So they might have lots of strong coping mechanisms, until they have kids, for example. And then all of a sudden, all the coping mechanisms that they had, and you're now doing executive functions for other people, causes an increase, increase in symptoms or awareness of symptoms, and all our coping mechanisms and not being able to retreat and do sensory things kind of decreases with that stage. And we see a lot of people in that boom or bust cycle of ADHD. But then menopause adds another element to that, right, so we've got hormone fluctuations, which we know causes more variation in terms of ADHD. We've now got people sleeping less, which is a base level of Tower of Power in terms of ADHD symptoms, like things like you know, eating well exercise, sleeping well and timeout in nature are, what the base level of the foundation of the house in terms of symptom control. And so it's got a few different areas that I'm thinking could really be impacting women of this age group. Number one, we've got more awareness around it. So I wonder how much people are saying, you know, like a noticing more of the ADHD side of things. Whereas before we were like a menopause, it's my brain, you know, whether it's actually kicking into gear, with that hormonal fluctuation for beautiful menopause and perimenopause women.

Dr Lucy Burns (22:29)  Yeah, absolutely. And look, I think that, you know, female hormones, in particular, progesterone is a calming hormone. So when you get when that starts to decrease, you lose whatever calming effect you had. So therefore, unmasking some of the other, you know, ADHD symptoms, that perhaps you are able to mask better. And as you said, I think I mean, we know this with any neurological or psychological thing, because the brain, if you're not sleeping, then whatever it is, doesn't matter whether it's anxiety, depression, ADHD, ASD, any of those, they're always going to be worse when you haven't slept. Definitely, definitely. So, you know, again, so we've preface this conversation with yes, there are lots of things that are tricky with ADHD and things that can be, you know, seem simple to people, particularly the planning thing, just plan. And then we know that there are some superpowers that can come with ADHD. So it's not all terrible. But what we want to do, I guess, is work out, well, what do we do? How do we manage it? So and, you know, the thing at Real Life Medicine we talk a lot about is that it's not an either or it's not this or that it's not medication, or no medication. It's this and that. So the this being lifestyle stuff, which is, you know, again, we do that a lot for health. Sharon, you're an ADHD coach. So I'm imagining that in your neck of the woods, that lifestyle components and skill development is your bread and butter. Yes, yeah. And again, I would just say stress management, for example. Lots of people think that the way to manage stress is the is to have the absence of stressors. Like that's how you manage it, if, if my life wasn't so stressful, I wouldn't have any stress is what I hear all the time. And the only stress management tool they have is to go on holiday, or quit their job or remove the external stressor. But it's actually just sometimes a skill shortage. So I think the same with ADHD, executive functioning can either come naturally, or it's a skill you can learn.

Sharon Collon (24:44)  Exactly, exactly. Yeah, that's true. You can build it, it's a muscle. If it's okay with you, I'd love to go through a few things that sure might help our beautiful listeners. And to be honest, these strategies actually work. Do you have ADHD or not? Because everyone to some level has levels of executive functioning impairment, right? Like we all have skills that we can develop around these things.

Dr Lucy Burns (25:10)  Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Excellent. Yeah. I'd love to hear, I'd love to pick your brains. What have you got for us?

Sharon Collon (25:14)  Well, I think my first one, which is quite obvious, is actually to learn as much as you can about ADHD. Because I feel like we all are consuming lots of content about ADHD, especially if you're in the ADHD space, and there's Tiktok, and there's all these videos. But a lot of it isn't accurate. And we want to make sure that people are getting good quality information about ADHD. But it's more than that. It's about learning how ADHD looks for that individual. So whether it be via a psychologist who has an interest in that, whether it be with your psychiatrist, whether it be with an ADHD coach, you know, really understanding how this plays out for you, right? So we know it's a spectrum. So looking at it and going okay, how does this actually look like for me? What does my brain do here? To understand clear triggers as well. So, you know, I'm trying to do this, you know, healthy lifestyle, sustainable change. When this happens, what happens for me? What am I running, what story isn't running in the background for this? So to know, to come at it from a position of power, but also from a position of compassion, because there's going to be extra challenges for you with ADHD. You're going to have executive function skills that we're going to need to build for him and that's, that's okay. It's completely possible. The next one I wanted to talk about is there's some certain patterns of thinking that come along with ADHD. And I want to see if any of these resonate with your audience. So we tend to have very extreme patterns of thinking. So it's like an all or nothing approach, right? Black or White. Yeah. So we're either on the diet or on the lifestyle change, or we're off completely. 

Dr Lucy Burns (27:01)  Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have a little analogy of where you're driving down the road, and you're either on a bender, eating everything in sight, or you're perfect, doing everything perfectly. And your career down the road of life, rara and that really what we want to do is get you in the middle with the middle lane assist. 

Sharon Collon (27:21)  Yes, yes. And so it's really working out, uh, you know, working out strategies to recognie that middle of the road, right. Because if you're living in all or nothing, or black or white in extreme patterns of thinking, which is common, then having someone to support you with that, you know, what we would say the gray or, you know, that middle of the road, like you just mentioned, there is powerful, because that's where we want to sit, that's where it's sustainable. We don't want to do the boom or bust cycles that come along with with our beautiful it's particularly women with ADHD. The next one is challenging a little bit of a belief. So usually, people with ADHD don't actually when we talk about challenging limiting beliefs, they often have this perception that they can't pick up new habits, right. So perhaps they've tried things before, and it hasn't worked for them. And they've now decided that they can't learn new habits. Now, I'm here to say that that is so false. That is so false. It is it is what it says it's a limiting belief, people with ADHD can and do every day, develop new habits, it might take a little bit longer to get there to get the habit established. But once they establish the habits, they're actually better at holding on to habits than neurotypical people. Awesome. Think about it. We didn't all just instantly get born knowing how to drive a car, right? We learned how to drive a car. And at the start, it was a lot of energy, because we had to check all the mirrors and the seat belts, and it was lots of competing stimuli. But now we drive a car and I'm thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner. I'm thinking about calling that friend. I'm like doing lots of things at the same time. That is a skill that we have learned. Same as like using a phone, we never had phones growing up. And now not many people with ADHD lose their phone, right? We know that we can do that. So we can pick up new habits, but we've got to have the right structure to help support us with that. But I just wanted to challenge that belief because particularly when we come to lifestyle, healthy lifestyle changes, that is almost like this discounted, like, I can't do that. Like I can't do it. I can't do it. I can't try like we're opting out, because we've got evidence for failures in the past. But we can absolutely do that. We just need that to try differently. Remember what I said about not trying harder, we just need to try differently. And working out how that looks for us is really, really, really important. The next one I wanted to talk about is regulation. So when we've got all these beautiful women I imagine listening to this podcast and then they'd perhaps a try to support their own kids, their kids might have ADHD too. And so we've got like emotional regulation stuff going on. And then we've got emotional regulation stuff going on for us. Any sort of lifestyle change, and what you're, you're you're encouraging people to do can feel overwhelming. So our regulation game, and like in terms of stress, resilience, and emotional regulation has to be on point if we're going to succeed these sorts of things. So knowing what that looks for us, like for us, so I kind of put it into three categories. So I have like, the green down the bottom, this is when we're just coasting, we're doing pretty well, we're able to engage. And then we're going into this orange category here where we're heightened. But we can still, we're still able to do strategies to bring it back down to the green. And then we've got red up the top. And this is not fit for human consumption. This is where we're sending a text back to our boss, and we're regretting it later. Like this is, whatever comes out from read is not something that we want, that we like, stoked about, right? It's impulse. And it's, it's when we're dysregulated. Or we go and like, you know, have the chocolate cake or whatever. You know, like, we're in red, because we are not regulated. And from red, the strategy is always move to safety, right? We're just moving away and moving to safety. There's no strategy that you can do in red, because you're past it, you dysregulate. 

Dr Lucy Burns (31:25)  Yes, you flipped your lid.

Sharon Collon (31:26)  You are exactly right, and you flipped your lid. But there is strategies, the strongest part to have the strategy for is actually in that orange, when we're feeling heightened. Now, most people have no idea when they're at the orange, when we actually ask them to look at regulation strategies, they talk about green, and they talk about red, they don't actually talk about when they're getting heightened, we don't do very much in here. But in terms of stress, and we know that stress is connected to making good choices, and making good lifestyle choices, and all that sort of stuff. And even, you know what our nervous system is doing. Having solid strategies for the orange is actually pretty important. Yeah, absolutely, we can prevent ourselves from going to red. So you know, for some people, it might be something like that might be something like having a really good breathing strategy that they can do. Or you being able to use that power of the pause and taking a beat before they respond. Being able to some people it is literally having to remove themselves from situations or you know, if they feel like they're going to make a bad choice, just making the excuse going to the toilet, you can get out of there, not responding straightaway, just saying something like I've heard what you said, I'm gonna get back to you, you know, like all of these things are great orange strategies to give you a, by your little bit of time, so you can do what you need to do to regulate. And if people are curious about like the type of regulation strategy, ice in a bottle of water is a great one that you can do that no one picks up on. So having ice in your drink bottle, wonderful for regulation, just bringing it down a little bit. So if you're constantly in that orange state, and you're going up between green and red, having ice you know, in a water bowl is great. 

Dr Lucy Burns (33:06)  Or what do you do with the ice in the water bottle, just drink it. 

Sharon Collon (33:08)  All it's doing is bringing your attention back down to your mouth, it's using these increased sensory profile to help bring everything just down a little bit. That's all we're trying to do.

Dr Lucy Burns (33:19)  So interesting, isn't it. And I know that in the red zone that people and we talk quite a bit about this that people need to go out where as you said, they're sending text messages or getting yelled or you know, getting cranky or having a fight with somebody, or they go in, and then they beat themselves up. And they turn it all on in on themselves and then berate and spend all of this time telling themselves how hopeless our and weak or terrible or useless or whatever. And so neither of those are very helpful for anybody.

Sharon Collon (33:48)  That's right. That's right. And, you know, even being able to thinking about it in advance and thinking about what are my regulation strategies, so I can call on them when I am getting heightened. Because often the problem is, and I don't know if this is the same when I'm working with parents, like we can have all this information. But when we start to get a bit dysregulated we all of a sudden can't draw on it. Yeah. So a list on your phone or somewhere or you know, practice really knowing what those things are being very clear about what those are, can really help us be able to recall them in those moments. 

Dr Lucy Burns (34:22)  Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. That's brilliant. Yes, we do talk quite a bit about this in our in particularly in the 12 week because you know the consequences of of being in that red zone are people then the skill they've got to regulate. As you said, he's either you know, barking at somebody or angry eating and they're off munching biscuits like crazy, or they're drinking wine to settle and you know, neither of those again, you know, when biscuits, no big deal, but you know, when you eat packet after packet to deal with your emotions, it becomes a big deal and has ended up with some health consequences.

Sharon Collon (34:56)  That's right, that's right. So there's lots and lots of pets. I love knowing how that how that looks for you in terms of like, is this a good choice for, you know, like my long term health versus like, immediately like that's the instant versus delayed gratification that people can really struggle with, particularly for ADHD because we have the now or not now concept, right? Like it's either, like what's happening right now, now not now could be forever away. So yeah. Later is never. When is later?

Dr Lucy Burns (35:29)  Yeah, yeah, yeah, that was my mom's favourite saying - tomorrow never comes. Because you probably say, I’ll do it tomorrow. Yep. Interesting. Ah, so they're great techniques.

Sharon Collon (35:39)  Yeah, it's good to just know, you know, and  to have explored this and you know, whether, you know, you write a list or have somewhere that you can, you can think about what they are, because it's so much easier to recall them, if you if you literally know, and you're not trying to draw on new strategies, because you won't be capable of drawing on the new strategies when you're dysregulated.

Dr Lucy Burns (35:59)  No, absolutely, absolutely. And then for me, I think some of the practical things that I just do is to automate as much as I can in my life, so that I don't have to remember particularly the boring things. So you know, all of our bills, phone bills, all of that stuff's automated the city link or whatever it's called, you know, cuz I look at an email comes in it goes your city links to you. And I think I'll do that tomorrow. And I have a few meet subscription that arrives every month, and I don't even change, the order just arrives, and then it's vacuum packed, so I don't have to freeze it. Because then I'd have to remember to unfreeze it. And it just sits in the bottom of the fridge until the next slot until you know, and I eat it. Because every four o'clock at every day at four o'clock when I think I must start thinking about dinner. I can just open the fridge and there's something that perfect as opposed to thinking I better think about what we're going to eat next Wednesday. Because then I got that's in the future. I'll deal with that later. So interesting, isn't it different brains, different brains and having really, really easy strategies. So yeah, I love that. Have you got any other easy ones that you recommend for people?

Sharon Collon (37:09)  Well, I love what you just said about having things on direct debit and stuff like that, like we want to honour what strengths people have, because there's so many with individuals with ADHD. There's lots and lots of incredible strengths. But we want to make sure that we're not leaning into the challenges too much, right. So we set up systems to work with where the strengths are. So it's something like even as simple as meal planning, trying to maneuver someone into a really rigid meal plan of this, like, you know how you said, like, you're thinking about it at 4pm, like what's for dinner, but you know, you've got options there, right, because you've done the meat planning thing. But some people try and maneuver people with ADHD into these really rigid like this Tuesdays, we have this Wednesdays we have this. And it can often require a whole host of executive function, right? Because you've got to let get the stuff out in the freezer, you've got to have that stuff in the refrigerator. Like it's a whole it's it can, it can be a problem. And then I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but people with ADHD usually hate being told what to do, and so rebellious against their own system. Yeah. And if they were rebelling against their own thing that they've put into place. So sometimes it can actually be better to have a bit more of a flexible approach, which is what you said, with the meat subscription that works out well, because you've got options. So you can actually check in with yourself that these are the things, these are the meals that I have regularly, if we're talking about healthy lifestyle stuff, these are the meals that I have. These are the ones that I have when I don't have any time during the week. These are the emergency ones when crap hits the fan, right. So these are the ones that I can pull out when days are the days didn't go to plan. And here is like some extension or what we call wildcard ones that I like when I have a little bit more time and I want to do something new and novelty, you got those but you haven't assigned them to any of the days of the week, you've just got the ingredients for those. So you can afford to be flexible based on how you're feeling what has happened for you during that day. And utilise things that you can automate like the Walworth online shopping list, you've got yeah, I've got it. Yeah, do not go into shops unless you absolutely have to, if you ever see me in there, something's gone terribly wrong. Because the amount of energy that will suck from your sensor really. And also like the amount of planning and things it takes to walk around in there, especially if you've got children just don't need to put yourself through that. So having a list that is already created, that you're just clicking off what you don't need. There's so much power in that conserving your energy for the stuff that you are good at, lean into your strengths and stuff that you are amazing at, rather than wasting time trying to, you know, lean in something that you could easily outsource or automate or have a different structure around.

Dr Lucy Burns (39:54)  Yeah, absolutely. And this is I mean, we have this little it's an easy formula for meal to sort of cover all your nutrition, we have this thing where you pick a protein. And that can be you know, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, you pick some veggies that you like, don't bother eating ones you don't like, you add some fat if the proteins lean, so that'll be some, it can be olive oil, or butter, avocado nuts, whatever. And then some flavor to make it interesting. And for me the flavor, because in the past flavors always been tricky, because you know, you have to chop herbs, or you have to measure out 59 different, you know, paprika and all this stuff. And now there's a product called Mingle, that make they're all They're all there, like the meal bases are all there. So it just makes it easy, because I can decide on the day, do I want Mexican? Or do I want Indian? Or what about Thai? And I can I can use the same food and have a completely different flavour, which totally suits my brain. 

Sharon Collon (40:53)  I love that so much. Yeah, you've got you've got interest and novelty there. Yeah. And you know, this in exactly the same amount of effort. Like you're not actually adding anything or having to measure anything out yet and love that.

Dr Lucy Burns (41:06)  Yeah, yeah. No, it is. It's, you know, we I often talk about this, we had a horse trainer once where we had a naughty little pony when my, when Ella was eight, and we took her to this guy called Dan Maloney, and he had this great phrase, which was make the right thing easy, make the wrong thing hard. So you know, we've sort of prefaced it to make the helpful thing easy and the unhelpful thing hard. Because we don't we know people already beating themselves up. So it doesn't have to be a moral judgment. But it's the thing that you want to do you know, the thing that you know, that you want to do you want to eat well make that easy. If you don't, you know, that if you there's stuff there that you don't want to eat, make that hard, make it harder. Doesn't mean, you know, again, our clever brains, we can always jump in the car and drive down the shop if we really want to. But it gives you time, that pause that you mentioned, to consider your decision and decide is this really what I want to do? Or had I just slipped my lid and I was operating in the red zone. And I don't really want to do that, actually, now that I've thought about it. 

Sharon Collon (42:01)   Love that. Yeah, the distance enforces the power of the pause, doesn't it? If we make it a little bit harder, it causes us to have that pause. And you know, it's okay. If we don't pull it off every time we don't have to we don't, you know, like, as you guys promote, you know, you don't have to be perfect all the time. But if you know that this is an area that you stumble, instead of hitting your head against a brick wall, wishing it was different way saying things like I should be able to or why can’t I? What scaffolding can we put you in place for you to help you achieve what you want to achieve? You know, like, it's all about honoring that individual if they want something, what scaffolding can we do to help them get there? 

Dr Lucy Burns (42:45)  Yeah, you know, yeah, yeah,  I love that. It's brilliant. It's brilliant. I share and this has been amazing. And so I guess, you know, the summary of all of this, as we know, is, yes, there are definitely people that need and require medications to help with ADHD and then either diagnosis. And you know, in Australia, that's a little bit complicated. You do need a pediatrician, if you're a child, and you need a psychiatrist, if you're an adult. And navigating that space can be a bit tricky, but you know, again, there's a lot more awareness about it. Now, a lot more awareness within general practice communities. So referrals a sort of a bit more free flowing. Psychiatrists are a little bit like hen's teeth, but again, just keep persisting. But it's not this or that. It's this and that, and that, that being these lifestyle, things that you've mentioned, and developing skills. It's just a skill shortage. You're not defective. He just, you know, it's like some people can naturally paint and other people learn to paint. Some people can naturally sing and other people learn. I have no idea that you could learn I thought I could have a singer you couldn't. But you can learn, who knew?

Sharon Collon (43:55)  Yeah, it's that's actually a lovely way to think of it. If it's not, just because you're struggling with something now, it doesn't mean you always have to struggle with it. No, it means that you just it's just a lagging skill. Yeah. And we can develop skills around it. That's what life is. Right? That's the exciting part. We can learn new skills, we can develop systems that work for us. And we can learn about how our brain works. So we can support ourselves in the best possible way to to get the results that we want for our lives. 

Dr Lucy Burns (44:24)  Yeah, absolutely. And I think you know, this isn't just a single person solution. This is, you know, if you're a grandparent and you've got two grandchildren who have been diagnosed with ADHD, then you can learn about it too, and learn how to support them. If you're a mum, you can learn how to support your children or yourself, or your partner, or your best friend or anybody, like it's all bringing that awareness. This is a community thing that we can all learn to develop and support people rather than I know, you know, as I said, before you feel sometimes like you're judged or you're a bit hopeless. because, you know, you forget to wash the towels for three weeks. And it's really not about that at all. It's just about learning some different systems. So, Sharon, if people want to contact you, or, you know, follow you, where do they go?

Sharon Collon (45:15)  So the best place is my website. So I've also got a podcast, which you guys are going to be on soon, which is exciting. It's called ADHD Families podcast. And there's on socials, I'm @thefunctionalfamily and there's lots of free resources. There's a free support group, there's lots and lots to get involved with and information. I do free training every year, you know, feel free to have a look and check it out and see if you know if you want extra support. 

Dr Lucy Burns (45:46)  Absolutely. And that's what we're all about just getting, you know, the right information and information. That's correct. Because as we know, there's a lot of myth, information out favorite word myth information out there. So getting and making sure that anybody that you're following if you are watching people on socials, that they're credentialed, because there is a lot of rubbish out there. So Sharon, from my understanding, you've got something coming up that people can opt into, can you just give us a little spiel about that? 

Sharon Collon (46:14)  Yes, so twice a year, we open for enrollment, the ADHD Families Membership. Now this membership is to support the whole family. So there's coaching for one on one and parent mentoring for parents. But this is about supporting the whole family with ADHD. So we tackle one theme a month. So for example, we might tackle life admin that I know that we mentioned in this podcast episode, or we might tackle things like sleep, or we might tackle, you know, emotional regulation. And we have one masterclass, one mindset session or body doubling session. So to help you get the tool that we are introducing into your family implemented, and we've also got a beautiful supportive community of people going through the same journey. So it's a great product, it's low cost, and really nice and manageable. It's not about increasing the overwhelm. It's about taking that overwhelm away. So it's one of the only things that I know that supports the whole family, and it's bigger than just the child with ADHD or the one person with ADHD, we want the right scaffolding in place for the whole family. That's where we get the best results.

Dr Lucy Burns (47:17)  Absolutely. And as you mentioned, ADHD is genetic. So one slash both of the parents may well have it. And so the parent or parents who are in your membership are likely to find personal benefit from it. And I love because you've got what we call the three C's: Coaching, Content & Community. 

Sharon Collon (47:37)  Yes, yeah, that's important, because we really want to, you know, let people know that they're not alone. Yes, this is a beautiful journey that we all go on together and it's a lovely kind space in there.

Dr Lucy Burns (47:48)  Absolutely. So their membership opens, they can go to your website set where you go to go to

Sharon Collon (47:55)  Yes, and it opens at the end of June. So I'd love to see people there. It's the only time the last time that we're opening it for 2024.

Dr Lucy Burns (48:03)  Wow, Okey dokey. All right. Lovely. So again, anybody who has a family member who wants to know a bit more who's looking for a bit more support, Sharon is the go to girl the All right, my lovelies have a beautiful week. Think about you know what systems can you put in place to support yourself and your family you and have the most spectacular week Take care for now. Bye lovelies.

Dr Lucy Burns (18:13) The information shared on the Real Health and Weight Loss Podcast, including show notes and links, provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

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