with Yvonne Nardone, co-host of the Tom Nardone Show
Co-host of the Tom Nardone Show podcast, Yvonne Nardone joins Eric to talk through her personal story involving manic depression, discovering she had ADHD, and its effect on her interplay with her husband Tom, who also has ADHD. Battling depression and anxiety at a young age, Yvonne was eventually able to find a treatment regimen that suited her, learning lessons of mindfulness along the way. Not one to shy away from a good story, Yvonne details a number of stories of her and Tom’s quirky relationship.
Co-host of the Tom Nardone Show podcast
Eric describes the podcast as “listening to a conversation we really shouldn’t be”.
Yvonne discovered that she had ADHD while researching her son’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
She had already been diagnosed with depression and anxiety at that point.
In the past, Yvonne struggled with manic depression and anxiety.
“I was staying up all night, sewing, refinishing furniture, and went out and got three jobs – and then couldn’t sleep.”
Afraid she would over-medicate in an attempt to go to sleep, she was admitted into a mental hospital.
Following the death of her mother and subsequent hospitalizations, Yvonne came to the realization that she had ADHD just as much as bipolar disorder.
Eric: ADHD often comes with “friends”; bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, dyslexia, OCD, and others sometime are present alongside ADHD.
When she was younger, she would more frequently experience manic episodes. As she grew older, her bipolar disorder represented itself more through symptoms of bipolar II, hypomania and depression.
Eric: “Two is blue and one is fun”.
Finding the right “cocktail” of medications was important for Yvonne.
Keeping track of filling prescriptions on time and organizing the medication is made all the more challenging with ADHD.
Yvonne: “I feel like I’m Elvis because of all of the stuff I have to take just to function.”
Therapy and Desperation:
Thinking therapists were mostly “a bunch of hooey,” Yvonne eventually gave in and visited one.
Yvonne: “I was just desperate. […] It’s not fun to be in the hospital. It’s like prison beds, they blow an air conditioner on you, they stick a needle in your arm at five o’clock in the morning and then throw a blood pressure cuff on you. You get coffee but it’s decaffeinated. You sit in these conference chairs […] There’s nowhere comfortable to sit. You watch the same television shows that everybody watches – they’re all on video, it’s so old. But they’re charging you thousands of dollars a day to be there.”
Going to a therapist really helped Yvonne with self-confidence, as well.
The therapist actually helped her receive more ADHD medicine after recognizing Yvonne’s current prescription would wear off, causing her to hate her work and become disorganized.
Yvonne and Tom:
Following an incident with a tree falling in their front yard, their lawn was at risk of dying if the tree wasn’t removed. Tom responded that if the lawn died, he would no longer have to mow it.
Eric suggests taking a picture of the tree that fell, bringing it into a note-taking software like Skitch, cutting it up into sections, and then use each piece to represent what you plan to accomplish that day with the tree.
Set a timer to see how long the first of the six parts of tree breakdown last. Then, you’ll have a frame of reference for how long it’ll take.
When they were first married, Tom would help Yvonne, who at one point was a horticulture major and landscaper, with her “mulching parties”. He would whine and complain beforehand, but once they began the work he would be great.
While in the middle of mulching or podcasting, much to Yvonne’s chagrin, Tom will occasionally try to invent new ways to use tools instead of completing the task at hand.
Yvonne: “I landscaped around Tom’s ineptitude, so I know that everything out there [in the yard] I can do myself.”
So she could go out in public with him, Yvonne bought him a pair of shoes and told him he couldn’t wear sweatpants with penny loafers and no socks.
Taking steps to address Tom’s fashion sense, Yvonne threw away all of his socks and bought grey tube socks in order to eliminate potential variables.
They also hold “underwear amnesty day” where you throw away all of your old underwear and Yvonne buys new underwear.
Eric: In line with the Dollar Shave Club, which delivers new shaving razors on a schedule, perhaps a Dollar Underwear Club could work?
In order to manage her laundry with ADHD, Yvonne had to block out time just for her own laundry, leaving her husband and son to fend for themselves.
Except when it comes to too much time playing video games, Yvonne allows Tom to have the freedom he needs to do much of what he wants.
One time, Tom ended up with a carpal tunnel-like injury after playing a game for twelve hours at a time and missed work as a result. He’s since learned to curtail his playing habits.
Yvonne feels what helped make up for her ADHD was her work ethic. Despite not having good written communication skills and being disorganized, because she was such a hard worker and so productive helped her along in her career.
Eric: Having that sense of self-determination and a desire to grow oneself and be successful builds character.
As a woman with ADHD, Yvonne often felt she had to work twice as hard as the men around her in her job. Oftentimes, she would be the only woman in a staff meeting.
One of Yvonne’s bosses identified her ADHD since his wife had been diagnosed with it.
When Tom and Yvonne first met at their job, Tom wasn’t thrilled about working with her because of her reputation for being abrasive and commanding.
Almost instantaneously when they met, Yvonne loved his attitude and personality.
Yvonne’s father was a “toxic” person. She hadn’t had much of a relationship with him since age thirteen. He was very much about creativity, but to a fault.
Once, when Yvonne told someone she wanted to be a stock broker when she grew up, her father lectured her about how uncreative that would be, how creativity was how she could rule her life, and how money didn’t matter.
Eric: So, you married someone who also doesn’t care about money. . .
Tom still knows Yvonne’s expectation is that he’ll have a job and be responsible.
Yvonne places a high value on work ethic.
Acceptance and Getting Started:
During lunch break at their job, Tom and Yvonne used to go to Waffle House. Tom would never bring money. Yvonne would buy him fries, which he would then smother in a mess of condiments.
Eric: What I love about Tom is his radical acceptance. He accepts more than he probably should.
Yvonne has to accept the many processes associated with her marriage to Tom. He has multiple transitions he works through before he takes action.
While Yvonne is more goal oriented and set on getting things done now, Tom will sometimes be overwhelmed.
Yvonne suspects Tom’s admission to the ADHD reWired Coaching and Accountability Group will be used as an excuse to not finish other tasks.
Eric recently saw a post on Facebook that used the Nike slogan “Just do it.” Many with ADHD find that slogan irritating.
He suggests and alternate slogan of “Just do it, anyway.”
The word “just” can be interpreted as a minimalizing word that can belittle how hard or challenging a task may be to complete.
Even though it’s hard, boring, and scary, get started.
“The hardest part is getting started.”
When Tom launched the Tom Nardone Show, he said Yvonne was having no part of it.
Tom and Yvonne ended up doing an episode together offhandedly. It was so much fun and turned out so well, Tom said he then couldn’t do it without her.
Eric: This must be doing amazing things for your marriage.
Because Tom won’t normally go out to do anything, it gives the two of them an excuse to spend time together that they wouldn’t ordinarily have.
Yvonne: Yesterday we did two podcasts, and it was way better than going to a movie, where we wouldn’t normally talk to each other.
The podcast is mainly Tom’s endeavor; he manages its production.
While they bill it as an ADHD podcast, and ADHD is mentioned a lot during episodes, it often ends up being more of a general audience show than one aimed at the ADHD audience.
Anxiety and Mindfulness:
Yvonne’s mind will start racing as she thinks about all she has to do. Then, she’ll begin negative self-talk, telling herself she’s worthless, etc.
Yvonne: “The anxiety is there regardless of what I do or think about. It’s just a physical thing that happens to me.”
In a dark room, sometimes even with the TV on to distract her from her anxiety, she’ll meditate – she’s found it to be especially helpful. “Medication will only take you half-way there.”
Stopping the negative loop, the “tape”, that drones on about various life predicaments and builds into a never-ending stream once her ADHD medicine wears off, is a major goal of her meditative efforts.
One method of meditation she uses is called “progressive muscle relaxation”, where one focuses on different muscle groups throughout the body, tenses them for a few seconds while holding a breath, and then subsequently completely relaxes the muscles.
Eric: My favorite is to make a funny face during the tension part when working with kids. Many people don’t realize they have a stressed look on their face during stressful times. The activation of specific muscle groups in the face is often tied to certain emotions, so if you can control those muscles and connect their use with a relaxation meditation exercise (as opposed to frustration), you’ll have an easier time mentally relaxing.
Yvonne sometimes tries the “power pose” at work, which involves pumping oneself up, standing in a Wonder Woman-like pose while talking to yourself about how strong and invincible you are.
Different emotions can be triggered when one activates the different correct muscle sequences that pertain to each emotion. Smiling being connected to happiness is an easy one to figure out; other emotions are also connected to the activation of other muscle groups.
Part of mindfulness is noticing and paying attention to oneself. Instead of fighting against a particular thought or emotion, label it as a thought and analyze it from a third-person perspective. Even looking at a thought as a sign that you’re alive can be useful.
Just because we think it, doesn’t mean it’s true; just because we feel it, doesn’t mean it’s true.
The book 10% Happier mentions a that an alternate name for the book was “My Inner Voice is an Asshole”.
Once you have identified your negative inner voice, Eric recommends giving it a benign or neutral name, like Bob, Sam, John, etc. Then, you can tell that named voice that you are in control.
Eric: Anxiety is kind of like a Chinese finger trap in that by pulling away from the negative thoughts and emotions, one only entraps themselves more the next time those thoughts arise again. Instead, it’s better to lean into and intentionally encounter the anxiety for as long as one can hold out. Eventually, one will realize that nothing dangerous is happening.
It’s not about the content of the anxiety, it’s the anxious feelings behind that content that is the culprit.
Random Question Round:
Think of an invention that would improve people’s lives. What would it be?
If you were to build a house out of corn stalks, do you think you would be able to manage it using only the materials upward from the roots?
If you were to make your own podcast, hosted from within this house made of corn stalks, what would it be about and what would its name be?
Products, Services, and Other Links:
Chasing Kites by Tom Nardone
Skitch, an annotation and note-taking application from the makers of Evernote.
Find and Contact Yvonne Nardone:
ADHD People Facebook Page
ADHD People Facebook Group
ADHD reWired Facebook Community
Eric has set September 14th as the start date of the Fall 2015 session of the ADHD reWired Coaching and Accountability Group. If you are interested in reserving a spot in the group, visit coachingrewired.com.
Eric is collecting videos describing people’s experiences with CHADD. If you are currently involved with CHADD, record a video however you wish (horizontally, please!) of you describing your relationship to ADHD and what CHADD does for you. Send it to Eric via Facebook, Twitter, or email here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help CHADD, an ADHD organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with ADHD through useful research and support, by donating to their fundraising campaign here: gofundme.com/oneof15m.
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