My friend is hooked on Coronation Street; has been for years.
How could I help watching when she and her partner were glued in front of the telly on weekends when I was visiting? I couldn’t be rude, now could I?
So, there we were one evening, me on the loveseat, her in her comfy chair, immersed in Episode 8439 (the show’s been running since 1960).
I’m noticing the over-the-top behavior of eight-year-old Max, son of Kylie and adopted son of husband David.
I know where this is going, I say aloud.
Sure enough, two episodes later, adoptive dad David has set up an appointment with the family doc, against mom Kylie’s wishes. Kylie doesn’t want the kid to have a label. (I’ve already labeled him. Too late, Kylie.)
Were you shocked? Was I? Yes and no. But mostly, no.
Sadly, some of us dealing with mental health issues, personally and in our professional lives, or have loved ones who are, are not as shocked as others seem to be.
Within the context of Williams’ history, his sudden death is a shock yes, but sadly not as much a shock as if his mental health and addiction challenges had been absent. With the presence of severe depression, addictions, bipolar disorder, or any combination of the above, suicide is not out of the blue, but one of many responses to the pummeling experience of living with these conditions.
So often we see that behind the public persona of some of our funniest, most clever, compassionate, kind, and empathetic artists, lies a dark side. I’ve always used humor to overcome, but sometimes to cover my pain. I’m not the first one, and certainly not the only one, to retreat behind a quick succession of jokes and comedic banter when I’m feeling emotionally challenged.
In the past I’ve asked my coach if others he’s worked with talk about similar issues. He assured me that the coaching session is for me, and whatever I want to work on, in whatever way I choose, is just fine.
This did nothing to quell my anxiety about whether or not I was doing this coaching thing right. What nailed it was our last session, which began with our usual chatter to ease in to the conversation. And then I said,
I want to share something. I’m not sure if it’s a subject for coaching.
He replied, “There’s a coachable moment in everything.”
Really? Okay then. Coach this…
It happened at a job interview. I found myself feeling clueless about eye contact: how much was too much? I was trying to pay attention to what the interviewer was saying, and ended up worrying that I was staring like an expressionless sociopath so I looked away – just when she asked me a question. I’d been vacillating between trying for a neutral expression, hoping to look attentive and reflective, and occasional smiles, which I was sure were apropos of nothing, ill-timed, and making me look even more nuts. I couldn’t help it. I had no idea whose face I was using, or how it got there, but it wasn’t mine.
Surprisingly, I got the job.
Nearly a decade has passed, and there have been few comparably cringe-worthy incidents.
Until now, that is.
I’d been sitting at my desk, spinning my wheels, unable to focus all day. That’s when I remembered Julie’s yoga class.
I might as well go, I thought; I’m not getting anything done here.
At 5:45 p.m., I threw my thick blanket in the car and off I went to Harrison Park. It was a perfect summer’s evening, with a blue sky, a gentle breeze, and a few clouds to keep us cool. I was glad to get away from my computer and knew that if I didn’t force myself to go to class, I might sit well into the evening, accomplishing nothing and becoming frustrated and despondent in the process.
As I drove the winding, descending road into the park, I began to relax, before the yoga even started.
Did you miss my introduction or Part I of guest blogger Shawn Ladd’s adventures? Read them here:
After the second SPECT scan, I had a long chat with Dr. Christine Kraus about how to read the qEEG results and what my specific readings could mean (Dr. Kraus only looks at the qEEGs, to avoid any possibility of bias.) The electrical activity in my brain is characteristic of a person who has ADD, who is prone to anxiety, and who may have a mood disorder. Cool. And there are several options that could help, which she’ll report to the psychiatrist for integrating into treatment options. Also cool. Then back to the hotel for my first drink in a week (I took the “no alcohol before testing” admonition very seriously), which turned into several, and one more sunset pee.
As promised in yesterday’s blog post, I’d like to introduce guest blogger Shawn Ladd, who is gracious enough to share his experiences at the Amen Clinics in Costa Mesa, CA. Thanks, Shawn!
I recently spent three days at the Amen Clinic in Costa Mesa, CA for further assessment and diagnosis of my ADD. I had a huge personal breakthrough when I was diagnosed with ADD (primarily inattentive) five years ago, but I’d noticed I was still struggling to initiate and follow through on projects, and was prone to bouts of depression.
Dr. Daniel Amen, known to millions of devoted PBS viewers for his specials during pledge weeks, is a prominent ADHD expert, psychiatrist, and best-selling author. What made him especially credible with me was his open and touching description of ADD in his own life and family, and his framework for distinguishing among seven distinct types of ADD. The Amen Clinics offer a multidisciplinary approach, but are unique in their use of SPECT scans (Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography) that map blood flow into various parts of the brain responsible for particular cognitive and physical functions, and identify patterns that correlate with psychiatric and neurological conditions.
Some Amen Clinics also offer a quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG), a procedure that yields a similar map of the brain, but using electrical signals rather than blood flow. Curious to see if different methods led to different conclusions, I opted for both.
The minute I was diagnosed with ADHD, I went on a learning curve and a reading binge. One of the first books I read was Healing ADD – The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 6 Types of ADD by Daniel G. Amen.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my favorite book in my growing list of ADHD tomes. I wasn’t sure I bought all this “brain scan” stuff; I didn’t like having to factor in yet one more definition of ADHD (I didn’t find other clinicians suggesting there are six distinct types of ADHD*); back to the library the book went.
Then, as now, finding agreement on the definition of ADHD is a difficult task. I suppose it follows that many paths are taken to diagnosis as well.
With a university or college graduation rate of 5% or less for young ADHD adults, clearly today’s post-secondary institutions have a long way to go before successfully engaging the special minds of ADHD students.
With academic aspirations thwarted, many young ADHD adults go on to test the entrepreneurial waters. All too often, their forays into business end in failure as well.
This September 2014, in an effort to provide a new option, co-founders Tom Bergeron and Rick Fiery will launch InventiveLabs, a third option, in Beverly, MA.
“We’re both serial entrepreneurs,” says Bergeron. The founders combine their professional expertise with personal experience, having young family members with ADHD.
Recently, I had the opportunity to re-read Conversations with God: Book 3 by Neale Donald Walsch. In his third and concluding book of the CWG trilogy, Walsch recommends a book written by Thom Hartmann as further reading. I wondered if this was the same Thom Hartmann who’d written Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception, one of the first books I’d read about ADHD shortly after my diagnosis.
Hartmann’s book is a favorite of mine, one I’ve cited often, so I was eager to learn if The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It’s Too Late, the sociopolitical treatise recommended by Walsch was written by the same author.
Hartmann, known for his revolutionary “Hunter/Farmer Hypothesis” of ADHD, stands out from the pack. His ADHD classic is innovative, his hypothesis reflects a fresh, bold approach, and one that resonates with me.