The ADHD Storm of the Century with James Ochoa

We’re living through a time of crisis. The pandemic is of course the global medical crisis. But inside each of us, we’re living through our own, individual crises. If you’re living with ADHD, you’re likely keeping an eye on the horizon … the ADHD Storm of the Century is on us.

That’s why we’re so lucky to have our friend James Ochoa back on the show this week. Author of Focused Forward, James joins us to talk about the emotional distress onslaught that comes with the fear and uncertainty we’re living with today. We take on trauma and grief as we navigate losses behind us, and ahead, and he provides a fantastic framework for connecting meaning to our individual experiences as a form of mindful grounding through this experience.

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Episode Transcript

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Pete Wright:
Hello everybody and welcome to Taking Control, the ADHD podcast on RashPixel.FM. I’m Pete Wright and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer. Hello?

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello, Pete.

Pete Wright:
Thanks again.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello everyone.

Pete Wright:
Our crazy schedule this week. We are adapting.

Nikki Kinzer:
We are.

Pete Wright:
And it’s great. We’re fine.

Nikki Kinzer:
We’re posting shows, really almost every day. That’s what it feels little.

Pete Wright:
That’s right. This is a week of, I think, including this livestream, this show will go live, not, probably technically in this week, but we’ve got four new shows this week. It’s been a crazy week, just trying to stay ahead of the messages and the feelings, and all the things that we’re living through right now. Man, I hit it. It got close to me. Well, I’ll tell this in a minute because I got to bring in our fantastic guest.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Pete Wright:
Our dear friend of the show, James Ochoa, is back. The man behind the storms of ADHD. He has been a constant educator to us. We are thrilled that he is here to talk to us about what we’re living through and how we can get through it, to get through these storms. James, hi.

James Ochoa:
Hi. Hi. It’s great to see you both again. Yes, I don’t think that I ever considered that publishing my book now, over four years ago, which is amazing to me, it’s been out four years and it’s still growing, it’s just great, that we come upon something like this. This is the epic, not only ADD storm, but worldwide storm, that I’m calling it. It’s a new paradigm shift. So we’ll talk more about that, but we are in a new age. And it’s time to begin to come to grips with that.

Pete Wright:
I hit it last night. It hit me. We’ve been doing our best to live in the quarantine, and do all the things. We’re self-isolating, we’re doing all the things that we’re supposed to do we’ve been told. We’re trying to part of the solution. And then you go outside a lot of people who aren’t. And that’s frustrating to me. And then you start to question, “Am I really doing the right thing? Is this nuts?” And then I get a call from a dear friend whose father was taken into the ICU last night.

Pete Wright:
And so it is now personal. Now it’s somebody who’s close to me and who’s 75-plus years old. And what does that mean that they’re putting a field hospital in Shoreline, Washington, a park that I have walked myself many a time. And now it’s a field hospital. That creates storms. So, I’m glad you’re here, to help us through this.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. Me too.

James Ochoa:
I am glad I’m here, I think. When you’re an expert in this field in this world, and there are many of us out there and the emotional mental stress around part of this, I still have not found the gold card for the human behavior.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

James Ochoa:
I thought I would get it, but it still hasn’t come in the mail yet, to get out of all this. We are in the middle of it. Just so you know before we went on live, I’m using every resource at my capacity right now. I have just pulled out the stops. And I think that that’s probably the key for everybody on how we do that.

James Ochoa:
So, I am happy to provide direction, answer questions, concepts. I wrote down some things on how I’m thinking about it right now. What’s helping me stay centered. What I think is helping my clients, which still doing active work online now. I’ve been doing work online for over a week. I was an early container, I would say, here in the Austin area of Texas. We don’t have the same wave that y’all’s got up there in the Northwest, at the moment. But we shall see. So where shall we start? Where’s a good place to start in concept, in kind of driving forward to help folks?

Nikki Kinzer:
I would be curious to hear what you’re doing, and then I have certain, what I did is I wrote down a few notes of what I’ve been seeing in the last week with clients, and some of the questions that are coming up. And I think even on a personal level, being a coach and it’s so difficult at these times right now because I’m so used to trying to help people move forward and be optimistic. But I don’t even, sometimes I don’t know what to say, so I’m just listening, which is what they need too. So I’m just listening. Because there just isn’t, we don’t know. There’s just so much uncertainty right now.

James Ochoa:
Exactly, exactly. Well, let me frame a few things because conceptionally, I would say I definitely had the conceptional framework for a second back that’s developing, and some of that conceptualization is starting to come around. If you think about the ideas of neurological balance is really what we’re after here. And what’s neurological balance? It’s when I feel centered for some period of time, or I’m not too distressed, and I’m not too overly optimistic about things, but I just fell like I’m a little more centered inside.

James Ochoa:
And that’s really what we’re after, even if it’s momentarily right now. Because balance is not, first of all, balance is a dynamic structure. It’s not a static. Meaning it moves. It’s constantly flowing back and forth. I like to think of it as on an infinity circle, or a lazy eight that’s going on inside back and forth. With that, I’m trying to flow between that in a way that feels at ease, or I’ve got some balance going on like I know what’s going on around me. Okay?

James Ochoa:
So the second piece that I’m really practicing right now, that I really have hit on with the work I’m doing now is the idea of curiosity and observation skills. Those seem enormously simplistic, but they’re not. In that curiosity and observation is allowing you to unplug your mind from the fear and from the distress that’s going on, even if it’s momentarily. I’m talking maybe nanoseconds long in today’s world.

James Ochoa:
But the ideas of curiosity and observation is to be curious about what’s going on and observe what’s going on without necessarily being detached or running away from it. It’s a neurological pause button, as I’m talking about it. And that curiosity and observation, it’s a pretty constant source in my life right now.

James Ochoa:
My wife and I hadn’t been to the grocery store in a week. It was time for us to go. Things in Austin are probably going to get more significant and so we went to the grocery store. And I did my best to not get caught up in the fever of it all. But it was pretty much impossible.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s hard.

Pete Wright:
That’s a real question because I find myself, I can get into curiosity and observation mode pretty easily, and I can almost immediately go into obsessive mode. Right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

James Ochoa:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Like that seems like a pretty fine tripwire of a line.

James Ochoa:
It is a tripwire and it’s what happened with me this morning. I started with curiosity and observation and then I would flip into this obsessive, “Oh my God, we do need everything in this store.” And it’s like, “No, no, no, wait, wait, wait, wait.” I saw one sane person who was buying for dinner only tonight. But it was just like, so that is around us. It’s not going away. And because it’s not going away, we have to acknowledge that the stress is not going to abate any time soon.

James Ochoa:
And with that, I would say the ideas that you’ve heard me talk about before and more recently in the last a couple of years of what I would call is micro-meditation or slow motion, where you’re slowing down one to three minutes throughout the day. Stopping yourself. In this kind of stress, meditation is not going to feel like a luxury and it’s not going to even feel like you maybe want to do it. You want to slow yourself down. It’s going to be an effort.

James Ochoa:
It’s a real effort to stop myself and put on that timer and sit down. Because my body is going to want to run, my body is going to want to do things, my body wants to be prepared. And so in many ways, where people practice mindfulness during these levels of meditation before, you may have had some sense that it felt nurturing and connected. And I’ve gotten a little bit of that.

James Ochoa:
But 80% of my mindfulness in meditation right now is survival. It is I’m just tapping back the stress that’s around me at a palatable level so I can live in some kind of sanity in my life on an ongoing basis. I don’t know if that makes sense for both of you or if you have more questions about that, but I think that’s probably a key piece for people to understand.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, I think it’s also really important right now when you have so much anxiety about the future, it’s pulling you back to the present of where we are right now, of where you are right now, and I think that’s an important coping mechanism, for sure. So I do have a couple of question because I know that with my clients, some of them are handling this pretty well. They’re embracing it. They’re like, “Hey, I don’t have a commute anymore. I can spend more time with my family, or get things done at home.”

Nikki Kinzer:
I had an interesting conversation with a coaching group that they were talking about how they almost at times feel more focused because they work so well under pressure. Have you noticed that at all with your clients? Where some people are like, “No, I can actually, I can focus.”

James Ochoa:
Yes, it’s interesting you say that Nikki. Because there is a little bit of an element for us diagnosed with ADHD that says, “Oh, so the whole world is going through a storm like I normally go through.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

James Ochoa:
I’ll admit that I know what this feels like, and so it is a focusing agent. But in the hyperfocus at some level, it can be very adrenaline-producing. It can wear you out over short periods of time. So even for us who are used to it and know the patterns, and I’m certainly one of those. And having moved my office home, and now have everything operating here, but it’s still not settled, I’ve got a lot of energy to be able to focus on that. But you’re right, it is, there’s a normalcy to this high stress.

Pete Wright:
And I think that’s, like I was feeling, I don’t want to be whistling through the graveyard here too much, but I was feeling pretty good about things. I was feeling on top of it Monday, Tuesday. We were adjusting. We were kind of ahead of a lot of the country, and so I feel like the real wave of initial anxiety hit us last week, and so this week we were prepared. And all of my clients are thinking, “Oh, we got to get getting out of [inaudible 00:11:38].” I’m working, I’ve got tasks. I’m doing things. I’m producing podcasts. And by yesterday, I was an empty vessel. I was done. There was just nothing left. And so I have to imagine I’m not alone. That exuberance of being kind of, having that focus piece is, it’s not infinite.

James Ochoa:
No it’s not. And I think, I was talking about it earlier, there are really waves of anxiety. And so we all right all going through these waves, and they’re not predictable.

Pete Wright:
Right.

James Ochoa:
They’re not predictable because the degree of unknown changes on an ongoing basis. So if you get new information, if there’s a new subtle measure of something that suddenly gives you a different perspective. Much like for you, Pete, it becomes personal with a friend’s father. And that’s going to happen for all of us. We’re all going to know someone who is in that space. And so the other piece to really pull in here is in the cycle of grief. It’s in the cycle of law and sudden change, which is why I’m talking about it as a paradigm shift.

James Ochoa:
Things are not going to be the same. There’s going to be things that are much different in many good ways. I’ve seen more people on the street. I’ve talked to more neighbors from a social-isolating safe distance than I have in probably two years, in the last week. I don’t know if you’ve seen the pictures of Los Angeles and the smog not being there because there’s no one driving on the freeway.

Pete Wright:
Swans in the canals in Venice.

James Ochoa:
Right. And so we’re getting this paradigm shift. There’s a joke, but not a joke, in some ways. I’m like, if we’re all going to be working from home, we’re going to have all these office buildings open, so this might be a new concept to house the homeless. We put them in all these office buildings, who’ve got no place to live. It’s that kind of thinking, creatively, that I do think possible attention issues can set off of this. But it doesn’t happen if you don’t have some balance and you don’t have a process to get through those waves to reset yourself.

Nikki Kinzer:
Okay. So I talked about some of the people that are embracing it. And now I have some people too that are really resisting it. Like, “I don’t want this change. I don’t want this transition. I don’t want to see the good in it or any silver lining of it.” Now I know that that is not going to last forever. One thing I know a lot about with ADHDers is their resilience. And they persevere.

James Ochoa:
Absolutely.

Nikki Kinzer:
So I think I probably caught some of them at their worst because they’re very stressed. So here’s this new routine that we are forced into. How do you handle that? How do you get comfortable with being uncomfortable? And most important, how do you deal with the isolation because I have several clients who live by themselves and are thrown into this new routine and they have to do it by themselves.

James Ochoa:
Right and so when you’ve got this degree of transition and change, first of all, routine and structure can be real difficult for people with ADHD. But once you identify structure and routine that’s personal, it can feel very comforting. And so I’m encouraging people in this transition, where the paradigm shift has happened, where all your routines and structures are thrown off, you start looking at the ones you still have. Whether that’s brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes. I don’t really are how simple it is. You keep focusing on the ones that you are working with. And you understand that this is not an easy thing to look at, but it too shall pass. Meaning we will normalize the way that we are working together.

James Ochoa:
The isolation piece is a little more challenging because we have had such interconnectedness in so many ways of being able to get out and socialize with others. And so when you can’t go to restaurants, and when you can’t go to your local gym or other kinds of things, you suddenly are left looking around your life, saying, “Okay, what is meaningful to me?” And so this is where the meaning, I really encourage people to be walking around their homes and looking for meaning of things that have been put into corners, or need dusting off, whether it’s an old instrument, or it’s a photo album book I wanted to finish, it’s in the back of the closet.

James Ochoa:
But it’s like going to look for meaning in my environment around me. That looking for meaning is critically important in a stabilizing factor of the mind. Because when you find meaning, it creates a sense of knowing. That knowing creates a sense of comfort, of walking toward something. And so I’m doing that on an ongoing basis, and looking at whether it’s the artwork or things that provide meaning to me in my life, and to have it around me. To acknowledge it. To see it. Take inventory of it. I’ve had people who put lists of things that are meaningful and personal to them on their refrigerator as a reminder. Because there are a lot of things we have hidden away in the chaos of our lives of running around that isolation stops you from doing that.

James Ochoa:
I could look at my desk that’s in front of me right now and find many, many things of meaning that, whether it’s my son’s birthday gift that’s coming up in June that I don’t want to forget, which is dice for his B&B games. But it’s like, “Oh, yeah, I got to remember that that’s there.” But it’s meaningful. I found that three months ago. His birthday wasn’t for six. It provides a connection.

James Ochoa:
So when you’re looking for the isolation piece, I would say that a critical aspect is to find some meaning and connection in your life. And understanding that, again, the stress is not abating. It’s coming through in waves, those waves, let them pass. It’s harder if you can track and try to rebel enforced versus for like for you, Pete, stop. Take some time to relax. Take some time to slow down. Does that help, Nikki? Does that give some ideas and direction?

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love the idea of actually looking for the things that need to be dusted off. I think that this is an opportunity. This is the silver lining of now you’ve got some time. You’ve got some space. It’s forced upon you. But it’s a good thing. It can be a good thing because maybe you’re opening something back up that is really positive. I like that.

Pete Wright:
one of the things that we’ve talked about extensively, I think this year it’s been a real focus and a real key learning for us is rejection sensitivity.

James Ochoa:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
And I was talking to somebody yesterday who was living alone and dealing with this, and it hits them the way they describe it, was that they’re alone, they’re isolating, they’re doing what they are told is the best thing to do for this. They’re doing their part, and they feel like that isolation is triggering the same emotional sensation that somebody has rejected them personally. That there is no direct feedback. I think that both talking about looking for meaning and trying to find those communities, those triggers of community, really important in balancing that.

James Ochoa:
Right. So here’s a fun one in society. We have a, my wife and I, in our little dining area, we have windows that look out onto front street that go by. So when people are going by now, I’m making sure I give them a big wave from the window. And they give a wave back. It’s like old times. It’s like sitting out on your porch. So this is where I think we are regenerating a new connection with each other in ways we could never thought of.

James Ochoa:
Someone I heard talking about this yesterday was saying this has affected from A to Z. It hits all cultural, all financial, all lives, it’s affected, top to bottom. And as we brought a bag of groceries to our neighbor next door, he’s 70, he can’t get out, we do think to try to help each other, that provides meaning in my life. And so if we can stay on that active side of meaning and things that we’re grateful for or appreciate, again, like I was saying with the mindfulness and meditation earlier, there are going to be pieces of you that say, “I don’t want to do that. That feels too hard.” You have to be able to work through or ignore those kind of feelings and keeping walking toward them because they really do provide a balancing point for our emotional and mental stress.

Pete Wright:
I’m finding it even more frustrating to be met with so much of the news in the signal of people who are not doing this, who are disregarding the recommendations, regulations, wherever. And that leads to that sort of trigger-happy addiction of looking at the graphs and watching the spread, and watching the news, and feeling like I’m … It’s not really phomo, I’ve been trying to come up with an alternative to fear of missing out. And the best thing I can come up with is fear of stressing out, poso. It’s like I am addicted to the fear of stress anxiety to remind me that I’m doing this for the right reason.

Nikki Kinzer:
And I got to say too, Pete, to add to that, is that this is a different situation. It feels to me a lot like 9/11. When 9/11 happened, everybody was watching the news. Everything that was on TV was all about 9/11, and everything that was happening. It was just like almost addiction of watching it. But then there was a time where it sort of like kind of went into the stories of the people and it got sadder and sadder. And then how that evolved.

Nikki Kinzer:
The thing with this is that every day there’s something new. And so it does pull you because it’s not like you’re listening to stories anymore. You’re seeing a press conference every day from the president and his people behind him, talking about the updates. And everything is always changing. So there is this sense of need to kind of figure out what’s going on.

James Ochoa:
Well there is, Nikki. But this is where you normalize that change. You know it’s going to change. And you begin to tell yourself, “It’s going to change.” And it’s not the change I’m going to focus on, I’m going to focus on that I have a community around me. There’s an element of safety in what I’m doing. My social responsibility. I do my best deed to hold a state of gratitude when I see someone who appears to not be following the highest good of the social isolation, or helping out flatten the curve, as we’re talking about.

James Ochoa:
And the best I can do within that is to say, “I don’t know that person’s life. And I don’t know their reason for being out there in a way that appears to be meaningless to me. There may be something that they need in a way that I don’t know about.” So I’m going to give that benefit of the doubt as much as I can because that benefit of the doubt is comforting to me.

Nikki Kinzer:
Rather than being angry.

James Ochoa:
Absolutely because the anger part is the contraction. That’s the piece our bodies are used to doing. We’re used to going to that stress and contraction under survival. And again, it’s an effort. It’s an effort to look and wave at people walking by to say, “I’m not sure why that person is out, but they may have reasons that I’m not aware of, and I’m going to assume that before I’m going to assume something else.” And that’s the best we get at the moment. With the change that’s normalizing, it’s not going to stop.

James Ochoa:
But I will tell you, I have gone to very extreme measures in my own personal life about meaning regarding the biggest picture I can have that if things were to continue to evolve and become difficult, who am I today? And what kind of life have and am I living in a meaningful way? What have I given the world? What around me have I helped others with? That reflective instinct is not more fatalistic. It’s not like I’m going to perish and go away, but it’s like, “Oh, wait a minute, I’m going to really stop and reflect on my life in a way that is purposeful.”

James Ochoa:
Because to do it otherwise is to allow the change or the stress to grab you and it’s like a very viscous, viscous ride. Because it’s going to go up, and down, and sideways in ways that we cannot predict at the moment.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well and it’s interesting too. This is sort of just a side note. Dealing with the disappointment that some people are feeling because so many of these events are canceled.

James Ochoa:
Oh my gosh, yes.

Nikki Kinzer:
My nephew’s wedding is going to be postponed. Graduation for the seniors. I mean, all of the stuff that’s supposed to be kind of these monumental milestones. Dealing with that disappointment, do you go back to that gratitude. How do you work through that?

James Ochoa:
Okay. Here’s a funny one to think about. With all those losses and the shifts going, I’m asking people to really think about a personal way to celebrate those milestones. Though someone is not going to graduate with their class in college, could they get as many friends as they could on a Zoom feed, and they’re all going to put their caps on and they’re all going to make a personal dessert or a cake at home and they’re all going to celebrate together in a way they can.

James Ochoa:
I’m going to put a photo book together. It’s like, “How am I going to personalize this?” Again it’s a paradigm shift. How am I going to look at this differently now? Because if I look at it through the same lens and it’s not invalidating the loss or disappointment. That’s a really key element here. It’s like acknowledging that. Excuse the term, but it sucks. Okay. It just really sucks. It’s not any fun at all. All right? It’s not something that anybody would have wanted.

James Ochoa:
Therefore, how can I now look at that in a new way? Like my dear wife’s birthday is going to be coming up a week from Sunday. We’ll still be in social isolation. And so it’s like me asking her, “What kind of cake do you want?” I made sure when we did our grocery store run today that I had flour and the things that I could bake. But I’m going to really think about that as a celebratory element. And we may get friends on video and other kind of things. How do I do it differently? And that takes some effort to try to begin dancing around.

Nikki Kinzer:
So it feels like acknowledging that, “Yes this sucks. It’s disappointing,” There’s a lot of fear, but then at some point, also, embracing it and figuring out what are some other ways to find joy. Whether that is finding something that you haven’t been able to read for a while. Or a hobby you haven’t been able to do. One of the things that I’m really enjoying is that I get to spend time with my daughter. More than I ever have. Like, I see her all the time. My son I don’t see as much just because he’s working in a fast food place that, pizza place. It’s a delivery pizza. So it’s like-

James Ochoa:
He’s busier than he’s every been.

Nikki Kinzer:
He’s busy, right.

Pete Wright:
Right.

Nikki Kinzer:
They don’t want him to go anywhere.

Pete Wright:
You know what? That’s a really good one. It’s one of those things to be thankful for both not only the time you get to spend with your daughter, but frankly in this time, your son is doing an act of bravery.

James Ochoa:
He is considered on the front lines.

Pete Wright:
Yes.

James Ochoa:
People in food and in healthcare are considered on the front lines right now because we need both. And the people in our public works. The people who are protecting us. I mean, I cannot be more grateful, we were at the grocery store, and I looked at the workers. And I said, “I so appreciate you being here. I know this is working overtime for you and helping all of us.” And they appreciate that. We have got to stay connected at that level.

Nikki Kinzer:
You know what it reminds me of is Mr. Rogers. You got to look for the helpers. You got to look for the helpers. You have to say thank you. Because they are, they are amazing, right? I mean, geeze. These people are putting-

James Ochoa:
All three of us just smiled there and laughed, and that’s a cascade of chemistry. We all know that. When you smile right, you just running all kind of chemical through the brain. That we really get into the state of what’s called dilation. And dilation is allowing the body to really soak that in. The full appreciation and gratitude comes in. You can just fill your body with it.

James Ochoa:
I was telling you earlier about finding meaning in and around your environment. I really encourage people to stare at a deep object of meaning around them. They can even do that right now. And just really look at it and think about the story behind it. And the history, and the number of years that are connected to it. And who is connected to it. And I can just, and this is where the hyper focusing on ADD comes in. And I can just fall into that and really hold it.

James Ochoa:
And again, those are kind of micro meditations for me. I can sit and look at this picture of my grandfather that up on my desk right now and really look at, he was about 30 years old. He just looks strappingly incredible. And I’m thinking about the 1930s when he was that old and what that must have been like. And suddenly I’m in a different story, and I’m in a different mindset. It’s a different mindset. You’re looking to jump out of that gear. Because the stress gear, the survival gear, the information gear, all those are going to be there. We’re not going to get rid of them.

Pete Wright:
Isn’t funny too how the context change. Having this experience of working now at home, or just spending more time at home can change the way you relate to your own space. Space that you think you know intimately and suddenly you get to have these new insights when you slow down a little bit. I mean, that’s powerful shit.

James Ochoa:
Absolutely.

Nikki Kinzer:
I saw something on Facebook, it actually made me chuckle out loud. It was like a floor plan of just a standard home. And the heading was, “So where are we going on vacation this weekend?” It’s like which room are we going into. And I did. I totally saw it and I just chuckled because I was like, “That’s funny.”

James Ochoa:
Here’s a funny one, that’s a great one, okay? I saw online, I don’t remember which nonprofit it was immediately, but I saw where they’re getting actors and other famous people to read storybooks to kids and putting those online. It’s like with your family. “Where are you going to go on vacation?” “We’re all going to go into the master bedroom closet, we’re going to close the door in our little cubby. We’re going to get our blankets, we’re going to get flashlights, and we’re going to read books. And we’re going to nurture each other and we’re going to pretend we’re in New Zealand, or somewhere else we want to.” Agan daydreams. The imagination. All those thing you just keep using the tools that you have. It’s really important.

Pete Wright:
I’d like to ask you a question about grief, because I know a lot of us, in addition to looking for ways to keep ourselves entertained, focused, calm, are also going to be dealing with more direct, not implied but explicit grief in the coming weeks.

James Ochoa:
Yes we are.

Pete Wright:
And I wonder if you could give us a bit of a map for how we navigate what’s coming?

James Ochoa:
I can. I can. I appreciate that, asking about that because it’s probably one, I wouldn’t say it’s the overlooked aspect of it, but because you have such unbridled fear that comes out of the unknown it’s getting overridden in these lost processes, and I don’t want them to get lost. It’s very easy to lose the grief process. And the grief process is one that certainly we’ve all heard the stages of not believing it. What if I had done something different? Being angry about it? Being depressed and sad about it. Getting to accept those kind of five stages we’ve always known we’ll move through those.

James Ochoa:
But you have to remember that grief isn’t getting that goes away. Grief, as I say has a story to it. And if you can tell the story of the grief, which generally is involved in the loss, then you can begin to build the foundation of memory of constitution of what this person who you may have lost, or the graduation that I lost. What does that mean to me and how am I going to use it going forward in my life? So I encourage folks, when I’m dealing with grief and loss that you build a relationship with that loss in a way that’s got meaning and that you’re going to carry forward in your life.

James Ochoa:
And so the context of missing celebrations when celebrations come up in the future, they’re that much more meaningful to me because I know how precious they are. Okay. It could be part of the foundation of meaning someone builds if they’re missing or losing celebration.

James Ochoa:
If someone is losing individuals, and that may happen, for many of us, through the loss of dying from the severity of some of the infections and things that are going on as result of this. It’s being able to tell the story of that person’s life in a meaningful way. How am I going to carry on their legacy or their memory with me?

James Ochoa:
And I have done this with all significant people I’ve lost in my life. I carry them with me spiritually, which means a personal meaning in my daily living that makes sense to me. God, I wish I had them here in front of me. It’s probably, way too deep, and way over the top, but that’s what this is, right?

Pete Wright:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Ochoa:
With my mother, when she passed, my mother talks to me, or gives me indications that she’s spiritually a part of my life still. And if anyone knows anything in depth around me, I’ve been collecting heart rocks for years. And I probably have hundreds and hundreds of them. Well, this little heart rock, I’m going to hold up to, see that little heart rock there?

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

James Ochoa:
Okay. Okay. This heart rock I found yesterday on my green mill less than a half a mile from my house. It was in an open field of flat rock. There’s no other rocks around it. How that rock got sitting there, I have no idea. I’m not going to question it. But to me, that’s how the spirit of who I remember my mother to be comes to me. So it’s a very personal meaning that I’ve driven from that grief in a lost way. So that’s a lot I just said about grief, but it’s got to be very personal in a way that’s meaningful, but you have to let yourself feel those waves and those feelings. Don’t let yourself get stuck on them.

Pete Wright:
I imagine too that there is, I feel like I may have skipped over an important part of the question as I’m listening to you talk, that there is the grief that we need to personalize, and there is the trauma that we’re being told now is when someone gets sick, you cannot see them. You essentially have to grieve away from somebody that is sick, potentially dying, and being in that space, I don’t know how to do that.

James Ochoa:
Yes, yes. And there’s no easy way to do that, but start with that. Okay. So how does someone be with someone when social isolation says I can’t be near that person because I may also then be a part of the challenge or the problem. If anyone’s ever scuba dived before, that’s really true with scuba divers. If someone starts to have problem in scuba diving, you have to be really careful about helping them because you can get involved in the problem. But the reality is in this case, what do you do, Pete?

James Ochoa:
These are some simple things that come to mind that you can do. You can write a letter to the person. You can draw a picture for the person. You can get a loudspeaker outside their house and you can go read a story to them. I mean, don’t get me started on being weird and unusual when it comes to this because it’s so critically important because what else am I going to do but just go out of my mind when I really can’t get near a person.

James Ochoa:
So it’s like you could draw pictures and go tape it up on their window from the inside out where they could see them. There are many, many ways to connect with individuals and with people. And so we have to think about new paradigm. How might I connect with that person in a way I hadn’t thought about before. You start asking these open-ended questions, as I talk about and I won’t go into the depth part of the science of the mind on it, but open-ended questions engage insight and actions in the mind. In a space that I’m looking for meaning and purpose.

James Ochoa:
And so that open-ended question of, “Gee, how can I connect with that person? This is tragic that I can’t go to their ICU.” But what I can do is bring in six red balloons and I’m going to hang them across all their windows, so when they see the balloons, they’re going to think of happiness. Because they always liked red balloons as a kid. Again, my mind just spins toward ideas and concepts of how do we stay connected. Does that help?

Pete Wright:
Oh, absolutely. I just am hearing this. Like, don’t get stuck in a lack of creativity.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Right. Absolutely.

Pete Wright:
It’s really easy to let trauma and grief get in the way of that. But it sounds to me like in so many ways relieving that feeling of grief is just being creative and getting lost in the creative process to help and love somebody.

Nikki Kinzer:
Absolutely. And we mentioned this in our show on Monday, Pete. We are so lucky to live in a world with all of the technology that we have. If this happen 20 years ago, we would be really disconnected. But we can at least now be on Zoom, be on Skype, be on FaceTime. It may not be in person, but at least it’s better than just the telephone in some situations.

James Ochoa:
Yes. And as my oldest son told me, he said, "We are going to learn that the internet is not just a tool of luxury or play, or even production for work, it’s a utility. Much like electricity or water, other things are. It is a utility of connection. And we are going to learn new ways to use it. We already had. We’ve made dinner with our sons on video. It’s like a lot of folks are doing this. And so you’re right, Nikki. Were in the gratitude that we have to technology today to connect is really important.

Nikki Kinzer:
My daughter watched a movie with all of her friends in Netflix on their devices. They weren’t together, but they were all watching the same movie.

James Ochoa:
Same movie. Like ready, set, go.

Nikki Kinzer:
And they were loving it. They were giggling and having all kinds of fun.

Pete Wright:
That’s wonderful.

Nikki Kinzer:
Just listening to James talk actually makes me calm. So am so glad you’re here. He really can. And I just feel so much better.

James Ochoa:
And do you know what’s funny? Okay here’s more personal and highly-related pieces. I get a chance to go listen back and listen to this for myself even. Because seriously the relationship with yourself. If you read my books before, I talk to myself in the morning when I go into the office, I still do that. I’m doing more of that now.

James Ochoa:
I wake up, “James you’re okay. Focus on what’s important to you. What are you going to do next? Okay this here.” I’ve had this very interesting role of … I’ve been doing meditations between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. Very quiet around me. I wake up not in distress or anxiety, but the need to fill myself with some resource. And so I’m doing that.

James Ochoa:
And those are guidance pieces to me, but I appreciate that because it is something that I pride myself on in a way that it built, and I’m still just stunned at the amount of resource that I have around me. I encourage people to find that with meaning. A way to connect with others, like your daughter is doing. Keep doing it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Love it. Thank you so much.

Pete Wright:
What a wonderful gift that you share some of that time with us, James, as always. Where do you want people to learn more about you, like they don’t have it memorized by now.

Nikki Kinzer:
I think all of listeners have your book because either I sent it to them because they’re my client, or because they hear us talking to you and they go out and buy it. But still, you need to promote it, just in case.

James Ochoa:
Well. Absolutely. I appreciate that. So the book, Focused Forward: Navigating the Storms of Adult ADHD. I just crossed its fourth year anniversary. It’s first leap year, by the way, it was released on February 29th. It’s only had one leap year birthday. I figured that was a wonderful, quirky way to do it. But under, JamesOchoa.com is all this information right now. And I have some new services and products regarding subscription and membership type that I’m starting to put out there, called The Storm Team, and so people are interested in that as a way to stay connected with me. I do have concepts for a second book. Both of you will appreciate, I’ll give applause here, my son, Jules, and my writing coach and editor are working on season two of the podcast.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yay.

Pete Wright:
As much as I want to say, “Come on James I’ll believe it when I see it,” bring me the pod, buddy.

James Ochoa:
I could give you some spoiler alerts. Oh, here’s my dear wife.

Speaker 4:
Hi.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hi.

Speaker 4:
Am I on right now?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Say hello to the ADHD community.

Speaker 4:
Sorry bye.

James Ochoa:
This is my dear wife for 33 years. We’re all helping each other.

Speaker 4:
I hope everyone is doing well. Sorry.

James Ochoa:
She just wanted to say hi.

Speaker 4:
Sorry, sorry to get in here.

James Ochoa:
But see, this is the home office.

Pete Wright:
It’s what we got.

James Ochoa:
It’s all really good. Really good.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s so nice to see her.

Pete Wright:
Okay. JamesOchoa.com. You’ve got another season two of the podcast coming. Jules is good.

James Ochoa:
It is. It is. Let’s just say it has to do with Bruce. Okay? I won’t say anything more. It’ll be a lot of fun. It started Friday and I think I’ll be finished this summer. Jules has talked me into it and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh. That’s great.

Pete Wright:
Outstanding. You need to keep him around.

James Ochoa:
Yeah. I think I will. Good family member.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right.

Pete Wright:
Thank you, everybody for downloading and listening to this show, for hanging out with us, for hanging out with our dear friend, James. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer and James Ochoa, I’m Pete Wright, and we’ll catch you probably sooner than you expect right here.

Nikki Kinzer:
Probably.

Pete Wright:
Taking Control, the ADHD podcast. Thanks everybody.