Sunday, March 13, 2016

ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder - Learning more about it.



Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD, is a fairly common neurological issue that for years, has been classified as a learning disability. If you’re born with it or acquire it during your lifetime, you do not "outgrow" it--though it's likely you'll invent some useful coping strategies to make your symptoms feel less troublesome. This is a cyclical disorder that's attended by mood fluctuations, which coincide with periods of intense productivity, contrasted by periods of apathy or inertia. These cycles impact your self-confidence (no matter how talented or intelligent you are), because you're not able to consistently demonstrate your abilities.

Aside from various challenges you may face, there are a great number of positive aspects or characteristics associated with this disorder, which are discussed a bit farther down in this article. This self-diagnostic tool is intended to help you discern the degree to which you may have ADD/ADHD. If you've struggled with some of the obstacles mentioned here, there's help to overcome them! Imagine breaking free of the shame that's a by-product of this disorder, and creating a life more rewarding, than you've ever thought possible. You are on your way there, right now.

THE MOST TYPICAL HALLMARKS OF THIS CONDITION ARE:

*Chronic procrastination~ always putting things off until the last minute, or indefinitely--especially if it's a task you'd prefer to avoid.
*Reluctance to commit~ You make appointments 'on the fly,' when you're in need of seeing your doctor or chiropractor, 'cause you're never sure of how you'll be feeling, when you've booked that appointment weeks ahead of time.
*Mood cycles ~ sometimes up, feeling motivated, confident, “normal” and capable of getting a lot accomplished--and sometimes down, feeling unmotivated, inert, disorganized, insecure, overwhelmed, ashamed, “crazy or stupid” and mild to moderately depressed.
*Wondering if you're manic-depressive, or "a little bipolar." Believe it or not, lots of ADD'ers have questioned this at one time or another! Check out my piece on Bipolar Disorder, and discern the difference for yourself.
*Feeling like an underachiever~ no matter how much you’ve accomplished during your lifetime, and it just never seems like enough!
*Getting started, is the hardest part! Once you're at the laundromat you do okay, and momentum carries you along--but it's beginning a chore, that's the most difficult. Just start, and you'll be fine!
*You may feel like an impostor or fraud. Your accomplishments are usually within areas of innate talent or ability (you're born with 'em), which means they're fairly effortless! Because they've come so easily, you may take them for granted, and can't feel deserving of accolades, honors or rewards for your work or contributions.
*Lack of follow-through~ starting projects and seldom finishing them. Loss of interest, motivation, enthusiasm for an activity or goal that might have previously generated a lot of excitement (I've coined this, The Gym Membership Syndrome).
*You may be a Novelty Junkie~ you'll get really excited about a new health benefit or gadget, but lose the 'juice' soon after. You keep buying stuff on infomercials, and end up with a kitchen or closet full of items you've never used more than a few times (if at all). You may have solid plans to turn these into a service business--but before you can, the novelty wears off, and you're out another few hundred bucks. Great intentions fizzle-out before they get off the ground.
*You work best under pressure~ in the ‘eleventh hour’ when time's running out on a task or project you must handle, you're suddenly efficient, focused, driven and effective. (More on this below.)
*Chronic tardiness~ always "running late" (see 'pressure' issue above).
*You're inclined to find 'shortcuts' for resolving an issue, rather than going through the usual or "proper" channels to get something handled.
*You're drawn to work that allows you a lot of creative expression~actors, writers, artists, designers, photographers, directors, inventors, architects, plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, etc.
*So many goals, so little focus! 'Changing the channel' of focus feeds your need for diverse stimulation, and may inspire you to create several streams of income. More on this, under "The Good News" section (below).
*Attraction to jobs or careers that involve a high degree of risk or danger~ stunt people, firemen, paramedics, emergency room doctors/nurses, interventionists, etc. You're drawn to environments that are highly stressful and production oriented, or where various types of activities are all going on at once. Any kind of job requiring your attention to be several placessimultaneously, or hyper-focused when there’s a crucial situation you mustrespond to with the added pressure of time limited, high yield performance (i.e. physical rescue work).
*Attraction to high-risk activities for sport or pleasure: Jumping out of airplanes, off cliffs/bridges, high risk snow or water skiing/surfing, mountain climbing, dangerous, high-maintenance (Borderline) partners, or potentially fatal sex practices, etc. In other words, “adrenaline junkies” who insatiably crave intense stimulation.
*Intense relationships: A romance with someone who has personality disorder features (like NPD or BPD) is stimulating to an ADD'er, whether the partner is involking pleasure in them or pain. Pain is grounding, and makes us feel alive. The craving for a sense of aliveness keeps us going back for more, even when it harms us.
There are many symptoms associated with ADD and these are just a few! Not all of the above may apply to you, but if you resonate with several of them, it may serve you to (at least) browse the rest of this piece.

"I'VE ALWAYS FELT LIKE I WAS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PEOPLE."
You are. This is an extremely common perception among ADD'ers, because your rhythm or pacing is different from other individuals you've known. You may get various tasks accomplished and do them well--but this is according toyour tempo, and they're more easily managed when the “pressure’s on” or during periods when you're feeling more up or empowered. There are times you’ll feel productive, focused and on top of your game--but at other times, it's just the opposite! It's been my opinion for years, that Attention Deficit Disorder should be called Attention Inconsistency Disorder, as this is a far more accurate description of how ADD affects literally hundreds of thousands of individuals.

While it's true that you have this learning disability, it doesn't mean you'reunable to learn--you just have special ways of doing it! ADD'ers are typically more visually oriented than auditory, which is a very typical characteristic of creative minds. You might say that your brain's "processing plant" is a little different from other folks; it generally needs to form mental pictures in order to make sense of information, and determine how to respond/react.
Visual stimulation can inhibit your ability to process auditory information, and this affects us in various ways. Have you ever noticed, you can't look at your waiter while he's describing that day's specials, and retain all the information? This happens because your mind's eye has to construct images that help it 'see' what's on those dishes being described, so you can more easily make your choice. Lowering or closing your eyes as you listen, lets your brain do what it does best (and no, it's not rude). By the way, foreign/subtitled films, or movies where much of the storyline is told through the characters' dialogue, can be troublesome to ADD'ers for the same reason. We become visually distracted, and afraid we'll miss important points that help us understand or 'track with' the story.

Most forms of learning are linear. People with ADD/ADHD have a non-linearway of learning. The creative ADD brain is capable of making abstractions, which is a higher order of thinking that we ideally develop between the ages of 9 - 12 years old (around the time we're supposed to learn empathy). Abright mind finds ways to process new information by applying it to various other similar situations in his/her life. This requires analytical ability! The ADD'er automatically looks for ways to make fresh data 'fit' with other parts of his puzzle. He presumes that if something's true in one sense, it could be true in others--and connects the dots! Someone stuck in a concrete (lower order) way of thinking can't do this. Their mental process is more childlike, simple or linear.

Problems can arise between adult children and their parents, if one is stuck in a concrete level of development, and the other has acquired the capacity for abstract thinking. Often, the child has surpassed the parent's mental/emotional capacity in this regard, and frustrating relationship dynamics ensue, because they're literally speaking different languages! It can feel to the adult child like he/she is trying to make themselves understood by a small child. A gifted therapist can illuminate this issue, and help them discover new ways of communicating with a shared language that can serve the relationship.

HOW (AND WHY) DOES THIS DISORDER EXIST?
There's a small structure at the base of your brain called the Thalamus. Your Thalamus combines with a tentacle-like structure called the R.A.S. (Reticular Activating System) that functions much like the valve on a garden hose, to allow stimulation to reach your cerebral cortex (thinking part of the brain) or not. When this “valve” is closed or shut down, it’s like having a kink in your garden hose, and water can’t flow through. Similarly, when this happens to your brain you’re unable to get the stimulation you need, to think clearly and function/perform as you would like. You work best under pressure, because when time's running out on a task that's needing your attention, your body'sanxiety response to it triggers an adrenalin release in your bloodstream. This chemical functions like high-octane fuel for your brain, so that it can go into 'overdrive,' and help you push through most resistance/procrastination.

The worst part of living with attention deficit issues, is you've carried around a lot of shame about not being able to get your ship in the water--and those around you (like your parents or partner) think it's your fault for "not trying hard enough."

WHAT CAN CAUSE IT?

*Head trauma; serious bruising/concussions, etc., during any part of your life, either in childhood or adulthood.
*Chronic/severe earaches; or multiple ear infections during childhood.
*High fevers; particularly, if they've lasted 24-hours or more.
*Encephalitis and/or Meningitis.
*Heredity; if your parent or close relative suffers with ADD/ADHD (or bipolar issues), there’s a genetic probability that you will too.
*Near-death experience (NDE); especially if your brain has been deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes.
*Birth trauma; umbilical strangling during the birth process, or other types of fetal trauma involving oxygen deprivation or acute pressure to the head.
*Damage in-utero; if your mother regularly smoked or drank alcohol during pregnancy, this could have impaired normal brain development, and left you at risk for acquiring this disorder.

WHAT IS "ADHD?"

ADHD is ADD that includes a hyperactivity component. This disorder is far more readily identified (and treated) in childhood than ADD, and is more prevalent in males than females (nobody’s quite sure why). In children andadults it's generally characterized by restlessness, agitation, inability to focus or concentrate, irritability, inattention, lack of follow-through, difficulty resting, feeling relaxed or “laid-back.” Achieving scholastic or professional success might be easier for ADHD'ers; their ability to self-activate could be enhanced, simply because it's harder to sit still! Depressive episodes and inertia are not quite as common with ADHD, but the ability to focus/slow down enough tocomplete a task, may be more challenging. ADHD'ers are often flooded by stimulation, which can easily prompt sensations of overwhelm. When overwhelm occurs, it's like an electrical overload that 'short circuits' our brains, and causes a mental system shut-down that can literally feel paralyzing (and depressing).

To Learn more....Please note! If you want to share this article with someone you care about, make sure you capitalize "ADD" in this link, or they won't get to it! Example;www.GettinBetter.com/ADD.html. You can also save this page to your 'favorites' for quick, easy future access.





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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Family Conflict and The Holidays.


When a holiday or special occasion comes roaming around, there are times where some of us can’t help but to be put in the position where we have to consider spending time with family members we don’t particularly care for. For me it’s my sister in law whom I rather not have to be in the company of.
During holiday's such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Memorial day, and Easter my mother feels torn in between the decision of which one of her children's home will she visit. Quite often she will choose my brother's home and try to convince me to go over so that we could all celebrate as a family. Whenever she chooses my brother's home I kindly refuse and explain how grateful I am for the invite but I and my children have already made plans and are going to have friends over at our home.
That doesn’t fly over so well with mom and of course for at least a few seconds we express our views to one another with a bit of hostility. Before you know it, my brother is calling me to give his opinion on the topic, which is also, not very amusing. What I find interesting in all this is how unresolved issues from the past which have nothing to do with the present, suddenly rise to the surface during our heated conversations.
It is not uncommon to have some sort of stressful family interactions, especially during the holidays or special occasion. But, over the years and with practice, I have learned that there are things we can do to considerably change how we respond to these individuals who we care for very much and are in our lives for the long haul.

Rather than letting our unresolved family conflicts continue to eat away at our insides, there are some steps we can take to help guide us and not let things go overboard:
 Don’t go overboard with anger. Try and remember that this may also be stressful for the other person. Even if there is animosity, still try and not to make an enemy out of your family member. That is just going to disturb you inner peace, and put a damper on the occasion, as well as cause you emotional hurt in the long run.
Strengthen the connection you have with other siblings, cousins, in-laws and relatives who are sensible and caring, include them and your friends in your activities.
 Disagreements between you and your family members can be an opportunity to learn important lessons about patience, persistence, setting good limits, or it might be that you and this other person are both a little too stubborn and possibly this family conflict is a chance to work on finding a middle ground.
 Express awareness of them caring about you and let them know you care for them. Suggest making your next meeting more satisfying for both of you.
 If your relative has a personality that is self-absorbed, or stubborn, don’t set up an unrealistic expectation that this person is going to change. When it comes to difficult family members, it’s good to just keep your interactions civil, while remembering you do not need to change this person’s personality. You just need to stay healthy, calm and relaxed regardless of their behavior.

When I first wrote this post, well over 4 years ago, I was experiencing a lot of depression in my life as well as many unresolved family issues. I am happy to say that I have taken my own advice over the years and have indeed practiced what I so passionately preach. 

 In these recent years, holidays have been a lot smoother as well more peaceful and festive.  
If you are experiencing less than a festive feeling toward the holiday season, don’t be hard on yourself, you are not alone, know that there are those who understand and that you too can get through this. 


For others, who don’t share any similar feelings during the holidays; feel free to share any tips that might help those who still experience some challenges. 

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Free Feeling – Getting Things Done and Doing Away With Procrastination


Procrastination was a big character defect of mine; I mean things were literally falling apart in front of my eyes. Laundry was piled up everywhere in the corners of my home, dishes were not getting cleaned, important documents that came in the mail were not read and filled accordingly, my appointments of any kind were not being kept. 

Some would call it laziness and in some instances it probably was. Fear took a great part in it as well, fear of seeing things for what they were, which for the most part represented my life, messy, unmanageable and disorganized. Other times it was a bout of depression getting ready to set its course, make its mark and stay for a very long time.

For me procrastination pretty much meant my life being sent up into an uproar and in complete disarray and if I don’t watch out it can easily creep back in again. It is important for me to practice consistency along with having some form of healthy structure in my everyday living.

The one thing that is absolutely freighting about bad habits such as procrastination is when it gets a grip on you; it can be extremely difficult to break free. At least that’s how it can be for me. But the good news is it's not impossible.

Listed below are a few things that worked for me in breaking my procrastination habit.

If you look carefully and place trust in others you will realize that there are people near us that care about our well being and are ready to assist us in improving our lives. For me it was my best friend at the time. Every morning when I woke up, I would call her and she would give me a simple assignment. (We would called them assignments) At times it was as simple as cleaning a single kitchen cabinet, opening a few pieces envelopes that came in the mail or taking a small walk around the neighborhood to get some energy and get my body moving.

After I completed an assignment I would call her back and we would move on to another assignment. It really helped so much to know that I had someone to count on. I’m pretty sure that even if she was not available, a therapist or relative would have been just as helpful, even an online program or a self help book. I’m a firm believer in that if you want a change bad enough and you’re tired of being tired like I was, you will find the help if you seek for it. It may take several attempts and some days may be better than others. But it eventually becomes part of a daily routine.

Just do it! If it’s good and healthy for you, Just do it, don’t think twice or you just might think yourself back into procrastination mode. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy; we allow our stinking thinking to get the best of us. I was told long ago that when negative thought begins to creep in I should move a muscle, in other words change a thought move a muscle. That particular advice always stuck with me and has also always worked. Busy helps…….that is healthy busy, the ones you set boundaries around so we don’t wind up being so busy we get frustrated, yet we are busy enough getting things done.

If you have a setback that's okay just get back on track, stand firm and move forward. There are unlimited possibilities but often we limit ourselves to them because of our insecurities. Consistency is huge. Do it and be consistent. For me, at the end of the night or even at the end of the week, looking back and seeing all that I accomplished gave me a sense of freedom as well as freed up space in my head. My thoughts felt less tangled and I felt less anxious because I had one less thing to do or think about doing.

 When I really take the time to appreciate that feeling, I’ll call it “the free feeling,” I like it. I also like to remember it, that’s where self awareness takes place. Being aware of the free feeling and Identifying them with the completed task, enabled me to continue, simply because I feel good versus feeling anxious, not rocket science really, although it may seem like it when we are stuck in the procrastination zone. Something as simple as awareness, thought and productivity allowed me to move forward.


When completing a task, take your hand, reach out behind your shoulder and give yourself a few taps for a job well done, which would regularly be ignored and procrastinated over. If that seems silly to do, well then just say AWESOMEEEE….out loud.  Remember it does not have to be an all out “getting everything done today,” type of event. Especially if you are a notorious procrastinator like I was. Start small, remember it’s the little things that can be huge and before you know it, the big things won’t seem so big anymore.  
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Friday, November 27, 2015

ME TIME - Dancing to the rhythm of the weather.


Running around trying to cross out everything on our “mental to do list” and sometimes even trying to get them all done simultaneously while also tending to loved ones and careers, can eventually put a toll on some of us.  FYI I call it a  “mental to do list” because even finding a pencil to write a list with, was a task in itself for me in my household when the children were small. So everything I had to do, was taken in through a mental note that at moments would catch up leaving me frazzled with anxiety and headaches.
Many of us are so busy taking care of others that we forget to care for ourselves, only to find out when we break down from physical or mental exhaustion, we become no good to others as well.
I have met people who are workaholics and not necessarily because of work related deadlines or pressures from superiors but, because they somehow feel empty if they are not producing or may have unfounded fears of losing their job.  Yet, even if valid the fears are valid, it is not healthy to work seven days a week, up to 12 hours a day on a weekly basis without some ME time.  And although such schedules sound utterly ridiculous, their are those that have them, Workaholics are all around us. For a sometime I use to be one. 
There is also the super mom and dad, they handle the household, children, their aging parents and countless of other responsibilities. I know parents with small children whose day go by and they never sit on a chair for even a moment, their downtime is in the evening at bedtime, that’s when they plop into bed, in a complete and utter exhaustion and wake up a few hours later to do it all over again day after day.
By all means, things need to get done, being responsible is essential and the parenting role needs to be top priority, I certainly applaud all parents. As a parent myself, I  recall many days when the highlight of my day was the plopping into bed, time for night, night, lights off….that was my ME time.  I also know these parents need a break sometimes, on special occasions such as birthdays; they should be given gift certificates to spas and offered free babysitting for a few hours a week so that they can rejuvenate.
How about the “I am busy, I am successful” Yup, I’ve done this one too.  You, know those who thrive from a demanding day, full of deadlines and a chaotic schedule. As a matter of fact if they are not experiencing over the limit activity they feel as if nothing is getting done and may even feel less successful.
For them I recommend at least one day out of the week to set all aside, and self indulge in relaxation, Netflix, nature walking, inner talent discovery, ball throwing, and all sorts of  unwinding pleasures.
Most will always have some kind of financial concern, especially in this economy. Many are even afraid of going on a vacation because of the fear of returning back to no job. But, that should not stop any one from regaining piece of mind or having leisure time.

There are instances where I wonder why some people wait for sunny days and warm weather to take a walk on a board walk, when a walk can be as soothing in any kind weather, with the exception of tornadoes and hurricanes during that kind, unless you have to flee for safety, I recommend sipping on your favorite beverage while listening to music, or just get up and dance to the music and the rhythm of weather, will ya…….

 And why not let your very own back yard serve as a getaway? Create your own oasis…..home depot and Lowes have fabulous items you can buy to turn your back yard into a vacation spot, but then again, most home owners already know this, and just need a reminder.:)

When was the last time you put on a pair of pajamas in the early afternoon, made a bowl of popcorn, sat back and enjoyed watching a good movie?
Our minds, bodies and spirits need tune ups, we need ME time. Too busy all the time, can easily cause us to ignore our bodies call for rejuvenation from exhaustion. That call usually comes in moodiness, depression, confusion, aches and pains. We can work toward muting the noise of those calls by engaging in healthy practices now.


When was the last time you had some “ME TIME”?


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