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.
As you may know, I’ve been trying and trying to meditate for months. I’m doing a pretty good job – 15 minutes a day in the morning and at night, with deep breathing exercises. However, these last few weeks have been particularly trying and I don’t mean to be flippant, but have felt like torture.
Literally I sit down and the cells in my body cry out “You have too much to do – get up and start doing it”! It feels like there are things pushing me from the inside to get up and get moving.
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’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).
One of my words for the year is Passion. Last night I was at a class that is serving as a type of spiritual grounding while I am on a project away from home. We read a poem and were asked to listen to what phrase or word spoke to us most, and I felt the passion jolt through my body when the words were spoken “I want to know” in regards to another person’s feelings and thoughts. “YES”, I thought. I want to know.
The discipline of Psychology has come up with some fairly simple rules to follow for fighting fair, and it amazes me how each and every day we ignore these rules and suffer again and again from their lessons.
The recent shooting in Arizona has brought up a lot of this, but I am reminded when I hear of bullying, the divorce rate, and the constant battle of the media and politics. While Psychology is far from perfect, it is an evolving discipline (as are we) and I would think we would take at least what we do know, and use it to our advantage.
Fighting fair is an art, and it needs to be taught in school and practiced throughout every relationship. Yet it takes a great deal of discipline, and it seems few have it. The amount of hurtful words we are constantly spewing out of our mouths, on an hourly basis, is creating a majorly toxic environment. Our kids are learning how to treat each other through the television, politicians, adults, and teachers – and what kinds of fighting are we doing every day?
The individual’s ability to recognize the problem from both sides of the spectrum, acknowledge the challenges that each group faces on a regular day, and taking all of it into consideration allowed them to provide an innovative solution.
Often times, extreme views happen because we don’t understand another person’s perspective, and instead of trying to be a better listener we become a louder talker. We find others on our side that agree with us to make us feel better about our own position, and condone anyone that thinks otherwise. It’s a normal human defense, but not one that is very productive to solving the many issues in society; all it does is shut off listening and polarize views further.
In many ways, it is a blessing to have ADHD because if something hurts you can quickly retract and move on to something else. For those of you that do not have ADHD, imagine putting your finger in a fire. Those with ADHD can quickly withdraw and move to something else, but don’t learn much. Those without ADHD, however, take longer to withdraw their finger but the burn is imprinted in their mind so they do not do it again.
It’s how I see my ADHD. I’ve had similar situations happen over and over again, and wonder what it is that I am not getting. Why my behavior is not changing, and why I continue to throw myself into the fire again and again. I have finally come to realize, through therapy, reading, and the constant struggles of ‘why,’ that I am simply not standing in the pain long enough to understand the lesson I need to learn.
I want to be a good person. As a matter of fact, I strive to be a great person, and have big dreams for making a significant contribution to this world. Unfortunately, my attempt at perfection continues to catapult me from a world of despair to joy to despair again.
The list of ‘to do’s’ that us ADHDers have, and really anybody for that matter, is tremendous. I mean, every day, I expect more than perfection and wonder why I feel so shitty.
Look at my list, who can do this?