20 Dec

The Work Is The Medicine

Broken bones heal.

A cut is stitched closed and heals.

Infections are treated with antibiotics and are cured.

Muscle aches and pains, while not visible to others, can be treated over time and suffering ends.

How are illnesses of the mind treated? Is there a treatment that heals, cures or ends suffering? The answer is not a simple yes or no. Unlike broken bones, cuts and infections, there are diseases that have no immediate or long-lasting cure. A great example, presented to me by a physician, is diabetes. If you are diabetic you NEED insulin. There isn’t a cure. There isn’t a way to heal yourself of this illness. Does this mean a mental illness has no cure? You can’t get better from depression? No. There is no cure. You won’t get “better”. You can feel well though. That wellness comes from doing the work. There are ways to manage your illness. Acknowledging your mental illness is the first step on the road to recovery. Understand you have a condition that requires work on a consistent basis. I’m still learning this.

I wanted to believe a new diagnosis and a better understanding of my thinking would make me “better”. This thinking is how I started to feel not-so-good. This is okay though. A couple things happened that made this experience a positive event. There are a few people in my life right now who are fully aware of my situation and are my support team. I trust each of them. I also know I can get angry and frustrated with each of them and not receive harsh judgment.

The other day, I was convinced I was not well. To such a degree that I was erasing all my hard work and assuming all the positive changes I had implemented were a waste of my time, I was a failure. I wanted to run. One of my support people, would not let me run. I was angry. I felt very frustrated that this person had no idea what I felt and couldn’t possibly understand how I was feeling. I didn’t run though. Another of my support people did not entertain my emotions of the day. This person was not going to allow me to succumb to my feelings.

The next day, I gave myself permission to hide. I was still not being entertained by two of my support people. My final support person is my psychologist. I had a session with her that wasn’t playing out as I wanted it to. She wasn’t letting me run. She wasn’t letting me believe my thoughts. She wanted to know what else was going on. In my mind, there was nothing else going on. I changed the subject and started to tell her about the other five active situations that are playing out in my life. I was telling her how I was managing each of them. How I was patiently taking one step at a time and making thoughtful decisions. How I didn’t feel stress from any of these situations. She asked, “You have all that going on?” I replied, “Yes.” She commented, “And you are handling all of those things, really well?” Hmmm. That’s interesting. Look at all the things I’ve taken on. I’m allowing one little thing to turn into a ginormous issue. I’m also allowing myself to feel like a failure rather than celebrating my wins.

How did I do that?  I stopped working. I stopped working on me. I assumed I would just “naturally” be able to handle all situations. Guess what?! I didn’t suddenly become ill. A lifetime of events brought me to where I am today. During this time I learned a way of thinking that is detrimental to my mental health. Being aware of my thoughts doesn’t mean I suddenly know how to stop them. Being aware of my thoughts doesn’t mean they’ll stop affecting me. Awareness is only one part of the treatment. My thoughts now need new answers. They need to hear a different perspective. They need to have less impact. This is what I need to work on now. I can’t just run and avoid all situations that will give me harmful thoughts. I won’t be able to leave my house if that happens. I need to fight. I need to do the work that will provide the skills to combat my thinking. My thinking may never change, just as a diabetic will always need insulin. How my thoughts are allowed to make me feel, is completely in my control.

Less than six months ago, my thinking and how it made me feel, led me down a dangerous road. I started down that road again, not thinking there is a different way. There is a way that allows me to celebrate my successes. There is a way that allows me to “feel”. There is a way that allows me to choose what I do with those feelings. I’m learning I have the power to make a detour around the dangerous road. With these skills, I can feel empowered over my emotions. It’s not easy work, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s positive work. As hard as it will be, it is positive!



04 Oct

Goal Setting – The ADHD Way – In My Opinion

I have ADHD.20150923_091451

And?  You have ADHD.  Carry on.

Yes, I carry on!

I carry on…..

  • Understanding so much more about myself
  • Knowing how I was able to come to the conclusion that certain decisions were great ideas
  • Learning why certain tasks are such struggles
  • Being aware of why I do some of the things I do
  • Working the processes I have put in place over the years, to compensate for this illness or condition

This is how I carry on!  Will this make things better for me?  Knowing how and why will not necessarily stop the decision making processes I currently use.  I need to learn new strategies.  Currently, I am in the process of learning new strategies with my psychologist.  New ways of doing things, new ways of thinking.  Designed for me, with my needs in mind.

Where am I going with this?  For a couple weeks now, I’ve been working on one strategy.  I can’t seem to incorporate it into my daily routine.  I’m going to make it a goal.  Very recently, it was suggested to me, by a friend, that I should set a goal that I want to work on over the next month.  She had great ideas of what would make a great goal for me.  All were relevant to me and all were things I’d like to be better at.  The goal would be announced to a group, so everyone could share progress and support one another.  Here is where ADHD and goal setting are like oil and water.

For various reasons, goal setting has always been tough for me.

  1.  If this “task” (for lack of a better word, at this point) is something that I need to set as a goal, in order to get it done, it means it isn’t something I enjoy doing.  If it were something I enjoyed doing, I would choose it as the thing to do over all other not-so-much-fun-to-me tasks.
  2. If I set this “task” as a goal, I’d have to actually remember that I have a goal, that I apparently wish to complete.  I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.  To feel like a failure, year after year after year, is nothing to look forward to.  It’s not that I can’t come up with ideas for resolutions.  Anyone can do that!  And it’s not even that I don’t want to set one.  I’d love to be able to have a fabulous new resolution every year.  The reality of it is, on January 1st or 2nd or even six months after that, I’d have forgotten all about that resolution.
  3. Let’s say I set a goal.  And let’s say I remember that it is something I want to do.  I may even tell myself that I have to do it.  If the desire to do something else is stronger than the desire to complete the goal task, I will do something else. Without a thought, in most instances.  Nowhere in my mind is the little voice that I imagine says, “Stick to the goal, you can do this, think of how great you’ll feel!” Instead, my mind has a voice that says, “Great idea!  Let’s do that!”  In the moment, there is no thought of the previously set goal.  If I actually remember the goal, my mind’s voice says, “Who cares?  This is a better idea!  It feels good right now!”

All of the actions I’ve listed seem very self-sabotaging.  That isn’t the intent though.  I cannot get what I should say to myself to override my instant thoughts. This is an ADHD symptom.  You can see how it would affect many areas of your life.  Imagine the feeling that I’m left with after failing to meet goals, if I was lucky enough to have remembered them.  It is no wonder ADHD is not the only mental or emotional condition I have.

Another problem ADHD can cause is the inability to work well in a group.  The idea of sharing my goal with a group, in order to receive helpful encouragement and support, is a great one.  This would also add a layer of accountability.   What could be better?  I would have to actually report to the group!  I will have told myself that these people don’t care what my goal is.  Besides, I don’t care what they think, so I tell myself.

I have actually been trying to think of a goal that I could report to this group.  I want to be able to participate.  I believe it would be beneficial.  This morning an idea came to me.  Instead of trying to think of a goal, I should use one that I am already attempting to put in place.  By that, I mean the new strategy I’ve been working to incorporate into my daily routine.

The strategy that I can’t make “stick” is to practice breathing.  No, I don’t normally hold my breath and forget to breath.  Relaxation breathing, specifically I’m doing 7-11 breathing.  Inhale to the count of 7 and exhale to the count of 11.  Repeat until you reach your calm.  My psychologist suggests I practice this technique four times per day for two minutes each time.  Here is where goal setting comes in.

My goal is to put a reminder in my phone at four different times throughout every day.  The reminder will read, “practice breathing for two minutes”.  I will use the timer that already exists on my phone, set it for two minutes, and ta-da, I’m on my way to reaching a goal.  The purpose of this practice is to have breathing be the reaction to extreme emotion.  This creates a “pause” button.  A way to stop thinking at the height of an extreme emotion.  Pausing, with breathing, will give me time to change my thinking, prepare a different response, and possibly not need to react at all.

Just one second……don’t go anywhere……..

There!  Reminders are in my phone.  First one is for later this evening.  I look forward to the challenge of sticking to this goal.

22 Sep

Rest The Mind, Challenge The Body

Why is it, I am not as better as I’d like to think I am?nosehill

The desire to feel better can sometimes deceive and allow us that brief glimmer of what “better” will feel like.  I am convinced that desire is a helping tool.   If you want to go on a vacation in a tropical location, you are able to make this happen.  It is something you desire.  It only stands to reason that if you are wanting to feel better, you are most likely going to get there quicker because of the desire to get there.

How then, do I feel like I was lied to and cheated on?  The heavy feeling I’m carrying today is the culprit.  I started my day on a very positive note.  A great big walk with my dog.  It was a beautiful morning and I chose a great location for our walk.  I was feeling upbeat and positive.  What happened?  How can things change so quickly?  Pain.  The pain that comes from parts left unused.  I am so sore.  I know, this is funny.  We speak of pain usually from the point of view of mental anguish.  Nope, not today.  I hurt!  So much so, in fact, it has left me feeling tired and worn out.

What can I do about this?  Right now….I smile as I write this because I’m already turning my mind around.  I let myself become trapped by the pain of my body.  My mind is just fine.  It was fine this morning, and it’s going to be fine tomorrow. And tomorrow?  We do the walk again!  Stretch the pained muscles.  Work them again.  Not only am I getting muscles moving, I am working on the lungs yet again.  I’m a little out of practice with the big breathing.  Big breathing with no fear!  Even more of a challenge.  I did it today!  I will do it again tomorrow.

We do work on our minds.  We challenge our thinking.  We build coping strategies.  I have a process in place to work on my mind, my thinking and testing new strategies.  Now, I need to get my body back to work.  It needs to be challenged by physical exertion.  That is the next thing!