Jim Livingstone is just like you. He was first diagnosed with ADHD at 45. He has lived and experienced every aspect of ADHD over the past 70 years of his life. Including all the wild successes, struggles, and some catastrophic misadventures that come with it.
Before the diagnosis, he was self-medicating with alcohol, nicotine, fast cars, risky tendencies, and high-risk businesses to get the blood pumping and create the dopamine that’s been missing. At first, he started experimenting, figuring out what was wrong. Part of the struggle was recognizing that something is amiss, that something is not right.
Jim has had a varied career path from being an international flight attendant, and numerous businesses, from photography to starting and successfully operating a home building company and then a property development company for over thirty years.
Having studied the effects of ADHD and how it impacts self-development for forty years, he decided that he could reach other people in the same situation and help guide them. ADHD ADDults The Ultimate Success Manual is the culmination of this and his fifty years of learning about and living with ADHD.
My dopamine addiction started in early childhood. My curiosity got me into all sorts of trouble. My father had to pull me out of a water drain I had fallen headfirst into. I loved nothing better than to pull things apart. But never interested in putting them back together, which used to drive my father crazy. I once pulled apart a model plane he had painstaking build over six months.
The whole school system was a massive challenge for me.
As a child, I was sent to The Southport School, a boys’ boarding school, from the age of twelve to seventeen. I came home for the school holidays. I was frequently in trouble at school and would go AWOL for the excitement. I also borrowed a teacher’s car for a lap around the block and was expelled a week before my final senior exam. They allowed me to sit the exam at another school.
In my early twenties, I worked as a Qantas flight attendant for six years, travelling extensively. During this period, I drank heavily, as was the custom with aircrew in that era. I never missed a flight, but I did fly ‘under the weather’ several times; fortunately, my condition was hidden from the flight crew and senior cabin crew.
During this time, I crashed my car outside the Bondi police station and was arrested and charged with drink-driving and subsequently lost my license. While drunk and overseas, I would allow myself to get into dangerous situations, and I am probably lucky to have survived the experiences.
I was married at twenty-eight and took over my father’s menswear store in a small rural town. I ran the business for several years and had a beautiful daughter.
I lost interest in the business and spent more time out of it than in it. I entered into a deed of arrangement and had to close the business. My marriage also failed
During the period, I drank heavily and became depressed. I sort help from Lifeline, which was the start of my awareness that I had some serious problems that I needed to resolve.
I taught myself carpentry and got a job as a foreman on Hayman Island for three months and decided to stop drinking as the first step in my rehabilitation. I figured if I could stop drinking surrounded by a bunch of drunks with nothing else to do in our time off, that would be a good start. I have been sober for the past thirty-plus years.
I taught myself building skills and eventually became a licensed builder, and later, I started my own property development company and was very successful.
I met and married a lovely lady who has and is still supporting me in my efforts to stop the cycle of destruction I continue to cause.
Over the years, I have seen many different specialists trying to find out what was wrong with me. I was finally diagnosed at age forty-five with ADHD. 1999 and that is when I started taking dexamphetamine, which I still take daily.
First, it is the realization and acceptance that ADHD is a real and permanent major part of my life. It has both benefits and challenges. (I also suspect I might also be slightly dyslexic.) I would like to learn more about ADHD and how to capitalize on the benefits and set up strategies and a lifestyle to minimize the challenges.
I feel a little sad and pissed off that I have missed many opportunities to have a great life and look after the people in my life that I love and who have supported me. I also feel I haven’t been able to contribute much to the world as all my energies seem to go to survival, which I am barely doing as I have had to ask for help from family and friends.
I make impulsive major decisions with no real critical thinking or evaluation, and it has become a habit, which places a lot of pressure on those I love. ADHD affects my executive functioning ability. I have great ideas all the time, and I haven’t been able to commit to one at the exclusion of the others, so I don’t fully commit to anything in case something better, faster or more exciting comes up. It does feel like that is why I live in constant confusion about what to do with my life as it quickly slips away.
When I combine my ADD behavior and habits with the uncertainty of my purpose, my reason for living, I get lost in my mind and have great difficulty with any long-term clarity and commitment.
Throw in some poor beliefs that are limiting my potential, and I just spin my wheels and don’t go anywhere. ADHD also prevents me from taking other people’s needs into account. It’s not something I do deliberately; it is a by-product of my constantly confused mental state.
All my energy goes into trying to sort out the details, which never happens. I remain in this loop, so my life and circumstances don’t change; I just get more of the same. Intellectually I know I have to change my beliefs and thoughts, but I struggle to get clear on my life goals and constantly change direction.
My most recent disaster was I decided to produce a carbonated protein drink (Xrcise Fuel) to combat the energy drinks that have no nutritional value. It never occurred to me that I might fail even though I have no background in this industry.
After three years of intense effort, we had to walk away from my dream. The financial cost was more than $2 million, which we self-funded from the sale of all our investment properties, our family home and all our superannuation.
I had to ask for help from family and friends to pay our rent and buy an old vehicle for transport. The human cost is still being paid by the pressure I have put on my wife and our daughter.
While the medication has been beneficial, I needed to learn and apply better coping strategies and structures to reach my goals.
I love my curiosity and ability to find different solutions; I like many aspects of ADHD and just need to use them to my advantage, which contributes to a better world.
I have spent the past years testing and refining strategies and structures that have made significant improvements in my ability to thrive and use my ADHD to my benefit.