Archives for Reflection


Enter To Win A Free Copy Of ‘ADHD According to Zoë’

Yesterday, I blabbed on and on about my penchant for forgetting important appointments, feeling too distracted to do my work, and losing important stuff around the house (like my keys).

I don't have an ADHD diagnosis, but I like to joke that I might as well have one. That's why I've been reading so much about it lately. Even if I don't have the disorder officially, why not use ADHD treatment techniques to try and improve my life?

That's the thought that ultimately got me reading Zoë Kessler's new book, ADHD According to Zoë. From yesterday's post:
"Now, I can’t really give you a full review because I’m only about halfway through. Still, I can tell you this much: each chapter presents a super-friendly balance of personal storytelling, relevant research, and practical advice for handling everything from money to job interviews to friendships with less impulsivity and greater mindfulness. Even the short chapters are further broken down into ultra-digestible sections (of only a few paragraphs apiece – at the most!)

If you’ve got an ADHD diagnosis – one with a heavy emphasis on the “H” in particular – you’ll find yourself in a comforting kinship with the author."
But don't just take my word for it. From Kay Marner:
"Each of the book’s 17 chapters chronicles an ADHD-related way of being, such as 'being diagnosed,' 'being impulsive,' and 'being unconventional.' In each chapter, Kessler gives a highly personal, often funny, sometimes heartbreaking account of her experience living with that particular ADHD-related trait...Kessler’s work exhibits a seldom-seen degree of honesty and intimacy."

Want a copy for free?
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How I Completely Forgot About World Mental Health Day (Amongst Many Other Important Things)

This past Thursday was World Mental Health Day. My fellow PsychCentral bloggers were “blog party”-ing it up here.

I’d originally planned to participate, of course. Just like I did last year. And the year before.

So, where the hell was I on Thursday? Why did I forget?

Well, I was caught up in my endless loop of anxiety and distraction, as usual. First, I ran off to teach class for a few hours at the technical college across the river.

After class, I packed up and drove home. Because that's what I always do after class. It's part of my Tuesday/Thursday autopilot setting.

Then, after walking through my front door (and putting a few dishes away and then finally hanging up my purse and my keys – in that order), I realized that I’d totally forgotten to attend a professional development seminar that I’d signed up for. Dammit!

Oh, and the location of the seminar? Just a couple of rooms away from where I’d just finished teaching.

Seriously. Sigh.
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How Perfectionism Can Ruin Your Recovery

Once, when I was in elementary school, I got a 97% on a test.

Pretty good, right?

I took it home to show my mom. This was fridge material.

"Wow," she said, "not bad..."


"...but you probably could've gotten 100%."

Ugh. As an adult, now, looking back, I know she was kidding. She had to be kidding. Right?

I wish I could go back in time and watch this interaction with adult eyes, detecting the subtle nuances in her brow movement, to prove to myself that it was a harmless joke from a mother who knew her kiddo was on the straight and narrow.

But that pint-sized brain of mine, tucked inside my skinny little body that wore a hefty neon pink and yellow backpack, heard only one thing: you could have done better.
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Win Wednesday: Share Your Anxiety-Related “Wins”!

We all know how difficult anxiety disorders are. We all know how easy it is to focus on the negatives: the endless setbacks, the embarrassment, and the ever-present triggers.

It's exhausting, isn't it?

Well, let's counter all of that exhaustion. It's time to focus on the wins.

Enter "Win Wednesday".

Admittedly, I'm sort of borrowing this concept from an ADHD forum on the social bookmarking and forum website There's a "subreddit" (or sub-forum) specifically for folks with ADHD -- and each Wednesday, users post their "wins" -- no matter how small.

Every success, after all, demonstrates progress -- right?

Users reflect upon the past 7 days and share those brief-but-stunning periods of clarity, productivity, and organization that many ADHD'ers are constantly seeking. Here's just a few examples from a recent Win Wednesday post:

"I cleaned my desk off, and the area around it!"
"Since the start of the year, I've gotten away without doing the reading in a lecture/seminar based course, because I'm bright and wily [sic] enough to get good grades while bullshitting my way through conversation. But tonight, I actually sat down and did the whole reading. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless."
"I actually studied last week and got 84% on a math test."


I think Win Wednesday would be perfect for us anxiety and panic sufferers. It's so easy to remember the bad times while discounting the good times, isn't it? Why do we do such a thing?
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Anxiety’s Complex Root System: From Green Shoot To Buried Root

Every spring, I start refilling the bird feeder on my back deck with seeds.

As the birds (and, ugh, squirrels) flit around during their meal, they accidentally scatter seeds everywhere. They fall down onto the grass, onto my deck, and occasionally, into some of my potted plants.

Birds are messy. (I should know; I own a parrot who enjoys whipping food – from seeds to fresh veggies – right out of his cage and onto my living room carpet.)

Thanks, birds.


But this post isn’t about birds. It’s about what happens to the outdoor bird seed when it lands into the fertile soil that surrounds my potted plants.

And, in fact, this post isn’t even about that.

But humor me for a moment: the seeds fall. They land in the soil. And, frankly, I don’t know enough about cheap outdoor bird food to visually distinguish between the types of seeds.

But I do know this: when they fall into dirt, they grow into something green that resembles crab grass. A short, green, stocky stem emerges from the soil surrounding my marigolds or my tomato plants.

And I pluck them. To me, they’re weeds. Birdseed weeds.

Here’s the thing about pulling out these weeds: above the soil, they’re small. They look delicate and easily pluck-able.

But when I grab one and yank at it?

I unearth a complex and gnarly root system about five times as large as the weed itself.

And now, to the real topic of this post: anxiety and its hidden depth.
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My TEDx Talk: Anxiety — Hibernate, Adapt, or Migrate?

Awhile back, I wrote about how nervous I was to speak at my local TEDx event in Williamsport, PA.

I was pretty scared. Would I get lightheaded? Would I pass out? What if I couldn't remember anything I wanted to talk about?

I wanted to talk about panic attacks. I wanted to talk about how hard it was to work in a call center while dealing with panic disorder. I wanted to talk about those dreadful "inspirational" posters on workplace walls and I wanted to...
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My Mind is Blank and So Is This Blog Post

Okay, I fibbed a little bit. The blog post isn't technically blank.

There are words and sentences and stuff, but that's about it. It's hard to fill anything with great meaning when you're placidly walking around with a blankity-blank mind.

Let me set the scene: it's 4:23 p.m. I am sitting in my bedroom office (i.e., at an L-shaped desk that I hacked together with a real desk from Target and a long hand-me-down dresser from the 1970's).

I'm facing the bed. I see an unmade mess of sheets, quilts, and pillows. I should probably make the bed, shouldn't I? Or, well, maybe not -- after all, I'm only going to un-make again five hours from now.

There's a window to the left of the bed. From my vantage point, I see an overcast sky that makes me strangely comfortable. Overcast days give me permission to do whatever I'd like -- work, read, putz around, cook -- without dealing with the manic "OMG get outside and enjoy the sunlight while it's here!" message that the sun tends to broadcast.
A cloudy sky releases the pressure to savor the season. It's a neutral force that I've come to know and love ever since developing panic disorder. In my pre-panic days, I was a high sensation-seeking gal who never passed up an opportunity to spend a day in the sunlight, ride an upside-down roller coaster, or jump off a 20-foot cliff into a river.
I'm not a high sensation-seeker any longer. Adrenaline is not my friend. I don't search for it. And when it finds me accidentally, I usually tell it to shut up.

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10 Rules for Coping With Panic: Rule #8, or How to Remember the Good Parts

(Note: this post is part of a series about navigating my way through the 10 Rules for Coping with Panic, which is a nifty little list I keep in my wallet. To read the introduction to this series, check out this post: Coping with Panic: Why I Can’t, and Why I Can.)

It's been a long time -- maybe about a month or so -- since I wrote about these rules.

And why?

Truth is, I've been doing pretty well. I've had a few panic attacks here and there, but nothing I couldn't get through with a little breather and maybe a phone call to my supportive husband.

And when I'm doing well, I fill my days with thoughts of cooking, walking, reading and writing -- not with thoughts of anxiety.

To a degree, that's a good thing. When I'm feeling well, it feels so darn good to focus on that wellness and completely forget the fact that, a year ago this week, I went on LOA from the full-time job that was a breeding ground for anxiety and panic.

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Where Did My Anxiety Go? I Can’t Find It Anywhere!

On Sunday, I took a 17-mile drive through the mountains into unknown territory.

Why? Because. Because I had a car, a full tank of gas...and no anxiety.

That's right: virtually no anxiety.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you might be saying "Whaaaaaaa?" (Don't worry; I'm saying the same thing.)

You know me as the gal who can't make it through an entire grocery store trip without feeling faint and shaky. You know me as someone who's frozen up at the entrance of Target. You know me as the blogger who, once, had to run out of a wedding because dancing to Come on Eileen was too much for my panicky little bunny-rabbit heart.

So...why in the hell am I feeling fantastic? Why do I suddenly feel like a new person?

Well, I don't really have an answer to that question, but I've been giving it a lot of thought lately. After all, I certainly want to maintain this level of functionality. I want to hold on to it. I want to bottle it up and save it for my worst days.

For my own reference -- and for yours, in case you'd like to try something similar -- here's my list of Potential Reasons For Feeling So Good:
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Video: Why Do I Blog About (My Own) Mental Health? #mhblogday

As part of the American Psychological Association's Mental Health Month Blog Party, I've decided to create my first video blog post.

Now, let me qualify the word "first": for the past few months, I have been creating news and feature videos for Psych Central. (If you want to see any of them, check out my archive here!).

But, generally, I plan those videos out pretty well. I edit them nicely. And I don't really talk about myself in them.

Today is different. I wanted to create a very personal video explaining my rationale for writing not just about mental health, but about my own mental health. I wanted to explain why I do what I do and why I feel so comfortable sharing all of my panic and anxiety-related sorrows, triumphs, dilemmas and baby steps with the world.
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