It is so amazing how organizations are popping up all over the world helping us join forces to tackle mental health diseases. I was privileged enough to speak in Athens, Greece a few years ago about iFred’s rebranding depression work, and learned from countries around the world just how important it is we work together to solve our greatest challenges.
I’ve just recently been asked to join their advisory board, and continue to be amazed and impressed by the work of all throughout the world.
It was celebrated across the U.S. when we were able to get mental health parity law passed. I don’t by any means intend to minimize this work – but do we realize that what we accomplished was to treat the brain in a similar fashion to the heart, liver, and intestines? Should we really have to fight that hard for that? Those that were involved in the legislation understand the intense work, dedication, and challenge this simple piece of legislation involved – and unfortunately the rest of the world is so far behind us in many different ways.
It seems so basic, yet it has taken me a lifetime and then some to learn that to be in the here and now I have to get off ‘autopilot’ and engage my senses. I actually created a company to encourage it, yet still I forget to do it. My ADHD seems to have a mind of its own so I find it helps to create some tools that keep me present.
When I find I am getting more and more distracted with my ADHD, I practice the art of engagement by engaging my senses. The five senses that I was born with, but often forget are there because my mind is on the fast track. The sense of smell, taste, touch, sound, and sight.
I can’t tell you how many times I do this – say yes when I mean no. And it has caused so many problems in my life, and while I am getting better I need a constant reminder of how and why it is important to give the right answer the first time. That right answer never fails to be “let me think about it and get back to you.”
If you have ADHD you know that your mind often is way ahead of your reality. You want to say yes to those you care about, please others, do it all, see a smile on someone’s face; often at the expense of yourself or your actual abilities. It is so difficult to think things through before you react in your ‘aiming to please’ way.
I haven’t read studies, but I have to believe that women with ADHD have a much harder time coping with PMS than those without it. I have always had depression, but my life was mixed with alcohol which makes things a lot less clear, as it is always changing your brain chemistry.
When I quit drinking completely at 33, and started living a more aware life sitting through any type of feeling, I started recognizing patterns. I was probably 36 by the time I realized just how much PMS had affected me earlier on, and have come to realize ADHD only added fuel to an already explosive situation.
It was like a breath of fresh air once I started realizing what was happening. Every month, I feel completely ‘awful terrible the world is ending.’ Every month. In the past I didn’t understand it so ran every which way but into and out of the feelings. Yet I never understood the connection.
I think one of the great things about being ADHD is that we can go after something for a long, long time once we have our focus on it. Or, as I do, go on / off / on / off / on / off for a long time trying to figure out if I SHOULD keep going as many have told me long ago I am crazy. While others recommending to hold on just a little longer. So confusing!
Winston Churchill’s great advice that is quoted so often “Never, never, never give up.” While that is so true, so is the old saying ‘it is like beating a dead horse.’
I hate that saying, but you get my point. So very, very confusing.
I’ve been talking about the upside a lot – and I think it’s important for friends, family and coworkers to all realize there is a MAJOR upside. There is also something that I think a lot of people would benefit from understanding, in terms of the downside. And if people did, they could save a LOT of painful, ultimately pointless conversations and conflicts.
Just as the ADHD mind has the ability to go on and on, on positive subjects with new, creative, brilliant, juicy ideas… the opposite can unfortunately happen as well. If you aren’t careful and don’t understand this, you can end up making the situation much worse by engaging the ADHD mind instead of finding a way to end the conflict (or save it for another time).
Now, this may not be the best solution ever for solving the gay marriage issue, but it’s something my ADHD mind came up with that I guarantee a person who thinks along logical, straight lines might never imagine. Our minds simply work in different ways.
I came up with the thought in bed this morning, while reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Committed, about the entire marriage concept. She talks at length about why we get married, the failure rate of 50% that would never be tolerated in any other government run program, and our ongoing desire to ‘get married.’ It makes me wonder why on earth people don’t scrap this institution, and come up with a new one that works.
I can’t tell you how many times I get to around 10 or 11am and think to myself, ‘What am I supposed to be doing? I feel like I am running in circles!,’ only to realize that once again I have forgotten to take my ADHD meds. It should not be that hard — I mean I take them every day, yet still somehow I manage to get through 5 or 6 hours of my day before realizing the mistake.
And then if I have therapy, well, what do I tell my doctor? I can’t remember my moods yesterday, let alone a week ago. How am I supposed to know what affected my moods throughout the week?
I can’t begin to explain how hard it is at times for me to focus. To sit down, and get going on what I need to do. But when I do – look out – because I can do a lot to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, it’s so difficult to get to that place these days because there is an ongoing bombardment of distractions that seem to get greater by the day.
Research has shown that if you work in an office environment you get interrupted about once every 8 minutes. And that it takes 4-5 minutes to refocus after an interruption. And those are just studies on the general population!
There was SO MUCH misunderstanding going on and it absolutely baffled me. I was being told on the one hand this person really cared for me and on the other finding all the evidence in the world to challenge it.
I was banging my head against the wall day after day after day trying to figure out what exactly was going on.