"I am miserable and I'm making my family miserable because of my ADD," says 33-year-old Kat who's a stay-at-home mom. "I will start a project and never finish it, and I will leave things to the last minute."
Kat also has a problem making decisions. "I have stacks and stacks of stuff that needs to be returned, but I tend to procrastinate when it comes time to return it," she explains. In order for Kat to be punctual, she must set her clocks fast. "I literally have to trick myself to be on time. It's almost something that I don't have control over."
"We can't go on this way," says Jamie, Kat's husband of three years. "The majority of our fights are due to a lack of completion. When I come home and see an exorbitant amount of tasks that haven't been done, it's extremely frustrating." Jamie is also worried how Kat's behavior
Kat agrees, explaining that she told her son she would play with him one night, but didn't keep her promise. "I completely forgot. I don't want my children thinking I'm a liar," she says.
Jamie has told Kat that she needs to seek help. "I love my wife to death, but we're really at an impasse."
Kat went to a therapist and her doctor and they agreed she should try medication. "At first I felt a little better, but then I felt like I was falling back into old habits," she says, turning to Dr. Phil for help. "My fear is that if this does not change, I will have single handedly destroyed my family."
Referring to Kat's indecision, tardiness, procrastination and lack of focus, Dr. Phil asks, "Is that just being spoiled and irresponsible and not holding yourself to a high enough standard, or is this something you have the best intentions to do, but you just can't ever get connected?"
"It seems that way — that it's just spoiled — but it's more so that I have the best intentions and I just can't seem to get a grip," Kat explains, noting that her house is a disaster and
Dr. Phil asks Jamie, "Has this gone so far that, at this point, you're just judgmental about it, or do you have the effort and energy and willingness to try to resolve this issue?"
"I definitely do, otherwise I wouldn't be here," Jamie says. "I really feel I'm lacking the tools to truly understand what's going on with her and to truly understand how I can enable her to get the help she needs. I really want to know how to get through this with her."
"What are you doing to contribute to the problem?" Dr. Phil probes.
"I really want to feel like I can rely on her," Jamie says, explaining that he gives her tasks to help him out. "And it may or may not get done."
"What if there truly is something neurologically out of balance with you that makes this an involuntary process. Wouldn't you want
"Oh, absolutely," she replies.
Dr. Phil explains that ADD is complicated, because it's not something you can see, and it can't be easily fixed like a broken arm. "It's something that has to do with your ability to concentrate, your ability to follow through with certain things. It's oftentimes not a singular element," he says. "There's a lot of things and they feed on each other."
Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Frank Lawlis, author of The ADD Answer, and asks him, "In your opinion, based on everything you've seen, do you believe that we're dealing with ADD here?"
"I do think there are symptoms of ADD here. There's other more important symptoms, however," Dr. Lawlis says. "What often happens with people with ADD is they begin to have this internal dialogue, and that creates more and more anxiety," he explains. "So we're talking about a multiple level issue."
"Your anxiety starts an internal dialogue of saying, 'You're screwing up here. You're not getting stuff done,'" Dr. Phil tells Kat. "You're hearing this internal dialogue, and you're trying to focus with a brain that doesn't want to dial in."
Dr. Phil clarifies what that means. "Relax doesn't mean chill out, kick back, drink a beer, watch TV. We're talking about some very specific clinical skills that allow reducing muscle tonus, increasing oxygenation to the brain and to other parts of the body, and being able to focus on a specific image for a period
Dr. Lawlis has created a CD that guides people through the relaxation process, including during times of motion and activity. "When you're stressed out, you're limiting oxygen to the brain," he explains. "You need to be able to relax while you're moving, while you're going from one task to the other."
Dr. Lawlis continues explaining his ADD Management Tools. Number two is waking up your brain. "ADD basically means that a part of your brain is asleep," Dr. Lawlis says. There are several ways to
Number three is proper nutrition and supplements. "It's very important to have a lot of protein, B12 and B6," Dr. Lawlis explains. "I'm a very big proponent of eggs because it has choline in it and it's also very high in protein. And by all means, eat a good protein breakfast."
Number four is strong family support. "You have to be willing to honestly work together as a team," Dr. Phil tells Kat and Jamie. He assures Kat that if she takes small steps — like limiting the number of tasks competing for her attention — things will change. "In 30 days, you can have a dramatic difference in what's going on."
Medication can also help. "Medication is a tool," Dr. Lawlis explains. "It's very important to integrate and balance your life as part of that."
To find out if Kat does in fact have ADD, Dr. Lawlis is willing to map her brain at his PsychoNeuroPlasticity Center in Texas.