When it comes to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it’s important to know that there are three different “subtypes” of ADHD and that, to be diagnosed with ADHD, you only need to fit into one of the three types. People can have just the predominantly inattentive type, the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type, or the combined type. However, the average person tends to think that a person is required to have hyperactivity symptoms in order to be diagnosed with ADHD. For this reason, as Maria Yagoda describes in her article, ADHD is Different for Women, girls and women with ADHD, who often don’t exhibit hyperactivity, tend to go undiagnosed. Her easy-to-read article is a lovely blend of personal anecdote and research-based information, with some other resources to check out, if you are interested. So, if you (or someone you care about) are of the female persuasion and tend to find yourself constantly overwhelmed by the day to day details in life that others seem to pull off without a hitch, I suggest that you give this article a read.
Yoga is good for the body AND the mind. In addition to the obvious health benefits of regular exercise, a good yoga instructor creates an environment that promotes:
- A sense of serenity and acceptance for who you are in the moment.
- Guidance for how you can recognize when your “monkey mind” is swinging from thought to thought with the worries of the day and gently turn your attention back to the present moment and the feeling of your nourishing breath
- Feeling comfortable in your own skin.
- Increasing confidence as your strength and flexibility grows.
There is a TON of research that strongly supports using yoga to assist with the treatment of: anxiety (including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); depression; ADHD; sleep problems; substance abuse, anger issues, and schizophrenia (when done in conjunction with medication). It’s an activity that can be modified for people of any age, from 2 to 102, and you can take with you anywhere you go! There are even some instructors that have training in both mental health therapy and yoga and can customize the work to really target anxiety and trauma specifically, teaching you how to be comfortable in your own body again.
Personally, my ability to use relaxation breathing as a skill in my daily life has never left me, even though I haven’t done a class for almost 10 years. One day, when my life gets a bit simpler, I fully intend to return to the benefits of a more regular, devoted yoga practice. In the meantime, I remind myself the words of wisdom of one of my former instructors, “Even one sun salutation is a yoga practice.”
This month there is a very interesting article in Money Magazine, These Parents are Cutting Off Their Opioid Addicted Children: And it’s the Toughest Decision of their Lives by Kristen Bahler. It speaks to the very difficult choice many parents in this position face, financially. As with everything else, there is no singular path that people should follow in every situation. However , a lot of parents eventually come to a point where, partial, or even complete, withdrawal of financial support ultimately is the “right” answer.
My training in substance abuse is limited, so I don’t recommend that you consider taking these steps without consulting with a substance abuse professional. Nevertheless, because of the pervasiveness of addiction in our culture, I still find myself working with people around these issues. It’s a tricky issue for parents and I can completely relate to the temptation to try to do what initially feels like being the most supportive parent you can be and then ultimately realizing that you are enabling your child’s unhealthy choices and behavior. I think it’s a normal process that most go through until they find a balance of what’s right for them.
One thing I will say, overall…I definitely recommend that setting financial boundaries, as well as personal ones, work best when framed in a firm yet loving/accepting way. This is a hard skill to learn. Therapists and support groups can provide guidance about how to do this. I also really like the CRAFT program, which I have written about, previously. The main reason I make this recommendation actually isn’t for the parents’ benefit, it’s for the addicted family member. It’s easier for people to step onto the challenging path towards recovery when they know that your love is, and will always be, there for them. Shame and humiliation only serves to make people feel worse about themselves and gives them more reason to avoid their feelings with intoxication. You have to walk the line of loving acceptance and logical boundaries. Remember, love doesn’t mean doing everything they expect of you.
There is one critical detail that I think a lot of parents, and even some professionals, overlook when parents are stuck in rescue mode. It’s important to understand that there is a subtle message that is communicated when we repeatedly bail out our kids, “I don’t think you are capable of solving this problem or even figuring out how to attempt to solve this problem,” and, “It’s my job to protect you from all of life’s stresses and discomforts.” The biggest problem with this underlying message is that everyone’s life involves being able to tolerate discomfort and solve problems. These are core life-skills that we all need to learn, one way or another, and the only way to do this is through uncomfortable experience, making mistakes, and becoming more skilled over time. This taps into my favorite thing to teach people about, having a Growth Mindset. I encourage you to check it out.
Getting back to the Money article, there are several resources listed that can be helpful to parents. I will link them here for your convenience.
- Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL) – a faith-based network of parent-volunteer run support groups, including two weekly telephone groups if there isn’t an in-person group close to you. They have a specific, education driven series of presentations, and these resources are available on their website.
- Learn to Cope – online forum for family members of addicted loved ones.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – a government website that, among tons of information and resources, includes several different 24/7 information and treatment referral hotlines.
- Al-Anon & Nar-Anon – volunteer, peer-run groups focusing on educating and supporting loved ones affected by addiction. Based on the 12-step model used by Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous.
- Grief Recovery After Substance Passing – a community of support groups who have lost loved ones to addiction and overdoses.
Nutrition is the cornerstone of good mental health. This is why it’s one of the first things I talk with my clients about when they start to work with me. Nobody is perfect, least of all me, but the more conscious we are about making sure to eat at least three meals a day, plus a few healthy snacks, the easier it will be for our mood to be calm and comfortable and out energy level to be active.
It’s not unusual, when I start to discuss this with my clients, for folks to tell me, “Well, I’m really not hungry in the morning.” Because breakfast so strongly sets the tone for our bodies for the rest of the day (because of chemical processes that need to be fueled in the morning, as well as other things), this is an issue that we need to tackle together.
In her article, Dr. Allott teaches us about why you actually aren’t feeling hunger, even though your body really does need more food. And, while she explains it in the context of breakfast, this is true for any time that our glucose level (“blood sugar”) goes low and kicks off a process in our liver that taps into our body’s emergency reserves.
PS – While you are on her site, you may want to explore. She has TONS of free resources available that really help to illustrate the connection between nutrition and mood.
Once upon a time there were two researchers, Prochaska & DiClemente. (If you can’t already tell, I’m in a bit of a silly mood at the moment.) They were smart people who did research and read other people’s research and put it all together back in 1983 to come up with their Stages of Change model. This model is used heavily in the treatment of addictions but can also be applied to things like the treatment of anxiety and depression…or almost anything really, where change is involved. What they so wisely realized, when it came to making a change in one’s life, was that in addition to understanding the human mind and what can help it to change, you also need to be aware of the person’s readiness to actually do the work to make the change that they are looking for. The stages are Pre-Contemplation (when you don’t even have the desire to make a change), Contemplation (when you recognize that there is a problem and you are starting to consider if you want to make a change), Preparation (when you are starting to gather the resources and information you might need to help you make this change), Action (actively working on making the change happen), and Maintenance (you’ve made the change and can finally start to not work so hard on it, but there may still be some things you need to do to keep this positive change in place).
The Stages of Change model can help us to be patient with ourselves. It can help us to recognize how really ready we (or someone we care about) might actually be to make a significant change in our life. And, it can help us to realize what steps we can take to get ourselves closer to being ready to make this change. There is a therapeutic approach, Motivational Interviewing, that is also heavily rooted in the treatment of addictions but that can be applied in all sorts of other places. Motivational Interviewing is a technique that helps therapists, parents, even friends, to be accepting of the stage of change that a person is in at this moment, and being able to work with them (rather than battle with them) to explore small steps that they might feel comfortable with doing that will get them closer to being ready for change. (I plan to make a post on that at some point but for now, I leave you with doing an internet search.)
Below is an illustration of these stages. I like this illustration in particular because it’s drawn with a spiral rather than in a linear way. This is because there are no rules about the actual order we need to go in as we head towards change. And, sometimes, we even go backwards to an “earlier” level.
The CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) program (briefly described in the video below) was created by the Center for Motivation and Change teaches people who love a person with an addiction how to walk the delicate balance of loving and accepting your loved one for the entirety of who they are right now, including their challenges, while at the same time, being able to have conversations with them that can gradually open their thinking to the possibility of deciding to make a change. It can also help you to “get off of the roller coaster” that addiction creates in people’s lives. You still have to struggle with the emotional pain of watching your loved one who is still on that roller coaster, but you can create a better life for yourself when you recognize what you can and can’t control. Check out their their 20-Minute Guide. This is a private business that I have no connection to. However, I think that what they have to offer is valuable.
This model is based on the same science that has created a therapeutic approach called “Motivational Interviewing” that is used throughout the professional substance abuse field. It is a powerful tool that needs to be applied with patience and acceptance. It recognizes the reality that the person with the addiction is truly the only one that can decide to enter treatment and commit to the work that they need to do to stop their substance abuse. This is not a free service, but it may be worth the money. It’s so easy to fall into unpleasant power struggles with a loved one in these situations. These techniques teach you how to be a power struggle ninja and still feel like you are doing what you can to encourage change.
The International Bullying Prevention Association provides resources, training, and information regarding the prevention of bullying, pulling from the latest in scientific research. Periodically, they host webinars that are geared towards parents and educators, for free! You can register to participate when it is happening live or, if you are a member (which costs $25 at the time of this post), you check out their webinar archives at your leisure. Additionally, they host an annual conference to discuss the latest research and programs that are being used successfully.
Chain emails are the internet’s electric form of gossip. At best, they are good for a quick laugh. At worst, they can spread rumors, infect your computer and even spread viruses to your friends. This article offers some guidelines that can be helpful to follow.
I’m not a tech expert, so I’m sure that there are other things worth mentioning but, at the very least, it’s a start. Personally, I don’t even read most of these types of emails anymore because I often find that they are steeped in biased, negative thinking and affect my mood. The positive power of the internet (e.g., being a tool for learning, giving voice to the individual, getting information about, and to, people in need) is also it’s greatest downside because there are people who, some purposefully and other’s inadvertently, spread misinformation, lies, and risk of computer viruses. There will always be negativity in the world, that is something that I can’t control. What I have learned to control for me is the amount of time I spend wallowing in it and passing it on to others. So, with that in mind, I offer the following:
- Don’t believe anything you read in an e-mail that’s being passed around. E-mails are quickly distanced from their original author so it’s easy to lie, trick, and mislead with them and the author will never face the consequences of being “caught.”
- Verify the information sent to you for yourself before you consider passing it on to your own friends and family. Failing to do this basically means that you are very likely to be the next link in a chain of gossip, rumor, or blatant lies. Information can generally be verified by searching on the following sites (depending on what you’re trying to verify):
- www.snopes.com – The “Myth Busters” of the internet.
- www.wikipedia.org – When used with a little caution, can often lead you in the right direction. Make sure that there are validated citations for the sentences you are reading.
- www.news.google.com – Look for reputable news sources that you recognize.
- Also bear in mind that a lot of these heavily passed on e-mails contain some truth and some fiction. The truth is generally added to give the appearance that all of the information is legitimate. Don’t be tricked!
- It is always better to pass information you think is important to others by simply providing the link to where they can view the unchanged, original information. When people pass around information in text, anyone can add or take out stuff at their whim, making the information at best incomplete and at worst completely incorrect.
- Don’t blindly click on any link you see in an e-mail. It is very easy to have the text of the link be different from where the link actually takes you. Put your mouse over the hyperlink in the text and the actual link will show up above the mouse pointer. Only click on it if you are going to a reputable website that you are familiar with. Going to unfamiliar website by disreputable people/companies can result in your computer getting infected.
- You can protect your friends’ privacy when you pass on e-mails like this to your friends by sending it to yourself (optional, can be left blank) and then putting all of your friends’ e-mail addresses in the “BCC:” section. This way, everyone’s e-mail addresses are invisible to the other people you are sending the e-mail out to.
What are these skills you speak of?
“Executive functioning skills” is a term that is used to describe our brain’s ability to plan, organize, and complete tasks. Brain functions such as short-term memory, mental flexibility, and self-control are all involved in these types of tasks. In your day to day life, this means that you are capable of developing strong executive functioning skills if your brain does well with remembering, being able to shift gears or “think outside of the box,” and being self-aware enough to enable you to control impulses and adjust your actions when change is helpful. If you are lucky enough to have strong executive functioning skills you will more easily develop the ability to:
- Find things when you need them rather than spending half of your planned task activity just trying to locate the items that you need.
- Keep track of tasks that need to get taken care of or appointments/dates to keep instead of constantly needing to apologize for forgetting to do things or show up when you promised to.
- Prioritize things that are the most important over accomplishing other perhaps the easier ones…or the ones that are less tedious…or the ones that just happen to be in front of your face (I call these rabbit holes…a major weakness of mine, I go down rabbit holes all the time. My professional husband also uses the term, “project creep” when he is encouraging me to avoid it and stay on task. ).
- Chunk/plan out long term projects so that you can gather the necessary materials and then work on them gradually rather than leaving it all to the last minute.
- Estimate how long a task will take, fairly accurately, so that as you plan things in your schedule or on your “To Do” list, you have reasonable expectations of yourself rather than expecting yourself to have 8 hands and 2 brains and then feel like a failure when you don’t accomplish everything on your list.
Michele Garcia Winner is the creator of the Social Thinking framework, which teaches social skills to individuals who are struggling due to issues such as “Asperger’s” and ADHD. She writes this article inviting us to be more flexible about how we respond to people who might come across as not interested in socializing with us but really are quite lonely and would love to be a part of the conversation. The more we take the time to try to understand people we encounter, from all walks of life, the more connected we feel to each other, our families, our communities, and our world. What a great topic to consider during this busy holiday time.