Oct. 2017 Mental Health Awareness


October is ADD/ADHD Awareness Month

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for many other mental health issues —
this month especially

World Mental Health Day is October 10th

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the ADD/ADHD Cormidities series

Mark your blogging calendar

Each year is peppered with a great many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about important emotional, physical and psychological health issues. Scroll down for a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact mental health.

Also included on the list below are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood and attention management.

If I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments below so that I can add it to the list.

Attention Bloggers: If you write (or have written) an article that adds content to any of these categories, feel free to leave a link in the comment section and I will move it into its appropriate category.

(Keep it to one link/comment or you’ll be auto-spammed and I’ll never see it TO approve)


Increase your ADD/ADHD Awareness

Many attentional challenges are NOT genetic

The attentional challenges you will most frequently hear or read about are experienced by individuals diagnosed with one of the ADD/ADHD varietals, usually associated with a genetic component today — at least by those who do their research before ringing in.

Related Post: ADD Overview-101

However, NOT ALL attentional & cognitive deficits are present from birth, waiting for manifestations of a genetic propensity to show up as an infant grows oldernot by a long shot!

Almost everyone experiences situational deficits of attention and cognition any time the number of events requiring our attention and focus exceeds our ability to attend.

Situational challenges are those transitory lapses that occur whenever our ability to attend is temporarily impairedwhen there are too many items competing for focus at the same time.

As I began in Types of Attentional Deficits, regardless of origin or age of onset, problems with attention and cognition are accompanied by specific brain based bio-markers, the following in particular:

  • neuro-atypical changes in the pattern of brain waves,
  • the location of the area doing the work of attention and cognition, and
  • the neural highways and byways traveled to get the work done.

In addition to the challenges that accompany neuropsychiatric issues and age-related cognitive decline, a currently unknown percentage of attentional deficits are those that are the result of damage to the brain.

Many ways brains can be damaged

  • Some types of damage occur during gestation and birth
    (for example, the result of substances taken or falls sustained during pregnancy, or an interruption of the delivery of oxygen in the birth process);
  • Others are the result of a subsequent head injury caused by an accident or contact sports
    (since TBIs often involve damage to the tips of the frontal lobes or shearing of white-matter tracts associated with diagnostic AD(h)D);
  • Still others result from the absorption or ingestion of neurotoxic substances; and
  • A great many are riding the wake of damage caused by stroke, physical illnesses and their treatment protocols and medications.

Still More Examples:

Cognitive lapses and attentional struggles frequently occur when the brain is temporarily impaired or underfunctioning due to:

  • Medication, alcohol or other substances
  • Grief or other strong emotional responses
  • Stress, especially prolonged stress
  • Sleep deprivation

Stay tuned for more articles about attentional struggles and attention management throughout October.

NOW let’s take a look at what else for which October is noted.

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If music be the food of health, play ON!


How is music processed?
How might we use it to support memory & brain health?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Source: MedicalNewsToday

Music and Physical Health

In last week’s post, an original Tallis Steelyard tale from author Jim Webster, we saw how music awakened the soul of a woman who was struggling with dementia, barely alert until called by the song.

As I noted at the end:
Music has been well documented to remain in the minds of Alzheimer’s patients long after other memories and much of their Executive Functioning capabilities have faded.

Patients often retain memories of well-loved songs, which gives them a great deal of pleasure, and some can still play instruments. The description of life flooding back into formerly vacant eyes in response to music has been reported repeatedly.

Medical researchers have long noted that listening to or playing music can result in changes in our bodies, regardless of our age or current state of mental alertness, however.

For example, lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been observed in the presence of music. Better sleep and a lowered heart rate are associated with listening to music as well.

Even when you are a bit out of sorts, don’t you feel better immediately when a song comes on that reminds you of a particularly happy memory?

Science rings in

Dr. Charles Limb is a musician and surgeon who specializes in cochlear implants at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He has been researching how our brain makes that happen. He and his team analyzed neurological responses to a variety of music, especially jazz and hip-hop.

In studies with magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], they have been particularly interested in finding out which areas of the brain “light up” when jazz musicians are improvising or rappers are “freestyling.”

The Universal Language?

They observed that the areas of the brain activated when jazz players are improvising are actually the language centers of the brain (the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior superior temporal gyrus).

When rappers were freestyling with their eyes closed within the MRI scanner, the researchers observed major activity in the visual and motor coordination areas of the brain.

  • Connection to movement centers certainly makes sense, if you think about it. Since rappers are usually moving when they rap, those areas are likely to be brain-linked.
  • But the visual areas?  Hmmmmmm . . . neurolinked to a video perhaps, or choreography?

Seeing when you listen

Haven’t you noticed that when you listen to music your brain sends you visual information as well — a flash of the club where you first danced to the tune, or the face of your partner when it came on the radio, right before you kissed for the first time?

Some people imagine scenes of their own private movie as they hear certain orchestral arrangements. Others report seeing abstract colors and shapes that flow and change with any music they hear. Maybe you see a few moments of a particular marketing video?

I challenge anyone who’s ever watched one of Michael Jackson’s music videos to listen to that track on the radio without at least a flash or two of a moving image!

Even in a Scanner

The brain seems to call upon its language, visual and motor coordination mechanisms when imagining and responding creatively to music both, even when the participants are lying still, eyes closed, and within a scanner.

In fact, Dr. Limb’s team found that the areas of the brain that were formerly associated with interpreting music – the angular gyrus and the supra marginal gyrus, which process semantic information (meaning, vocabulary, etc.) – are deactivated while musicians are improvising.

So what does that indicate about memory and healthy brain aging?

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September is the BEST time for what activity?


Forming or Changing a HABIT
and setting new goals!
Don’t wait for New Years Resolutions

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Habits, Decisions & Attention Series

New year, new goals

Somebody needs to write a new anthem: The kids are back in school!!  (My brain wants to sing it to the tune of The Boys are Back in Town)

Except for our under-appreciated, overworked teachers, most parents begin yearning for September long before July is in their rear view mirrors.

As much as they look forward to more family time during the school year, most have forgotten how having the youngsters at home all day tends to make a shambles of their schedules.

But the teachers are aware of something that the rest of us tend to overlook . . .

September really begins the New Year

I don’t care how old you are, unless you were home schooled or spent your younger years in full-time boarding school, most of us feel a fresh gust of wind beneath our wings at the start of every school year.  That tends to be the case even for those of us who don’t have kids at home anymore – or never had kids at home (old habits die hard).

  • Few of us complain about the early appearance of new notebooks and school supplies in the stores nearly as much as we kvetch about shelves of early Jack-o-Lanterns, Pilgrims, Turkeys and Christmas sparklies.
  • Many of us are as pleased by wandering the aisles to replenish our supplies of journals and pens as the kiddies who are excited to see the latest in backpacks.
  • And many folks fill the first few pages of those brand new journals with brand new goals for the brand new “school year” – an old habit reactivated.

Those folks and the teachers are aware of something
that the rest of us would do well to keep in mind . . .

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Of Kings and Kindness


A Tallis Steelyard Tale
Written especially for us by a popular & prolific author

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Story: © Jim Webster, all rights reserved

Mental Health and Fantasy?

In a blog conversation about his newest Tallis Steelyard tales, The Monster of Bell-Wether Gardens and other stories, author Jim Webster disclosed that he was about to launch a blog tour, sharing stories from and about his protagonist, Tallis Steelyard.

I commented that if he had anything mental health related I’d be happy to participate.

His response was, “I was wondering if anybody else had ever introduced mental health issues into Fantasy Comedy of Manners!”

Quick as a flash, he penned the story that debuts below!
I am honored to be able to host it here.

A little background

This episode picks up our hero following his previous adventure, which those of you who are curious will be able to find on Sue Vincent’s blog (Part I) and Chris Graham’s blog (Part II) — although everything you need to enjoy this story is complete right here, on the page below.

  1. Guest poet and raconteur: Tallis Steelyard – A Family Saga
  2. Playing the Game – Guest Post by, Tallis Steelyard…

I added a bit of formatting to the third part of the story here — for neurodiverse readers who find it difficult to stay focused on longer strings of similarly formatted text, but the author’s words are unchanged (British spellings included).

Let’s not quibble over American and English spellings as we sit back to read this delightful tale.

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The Laziest Exercise Tactic Believed to Work


Passive Heating:
The lazy-person’s way to get the benefits of exercise?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Source: iflscience site (augmented reblog)

Exercise is essential for body and brain health

I know that,
you
know that,
he, she and it knows that!! 

I doubt that there is anyone reading these words who does NOT know that.

  • How many books and blogs and gurus tout the importance of a regular exercise routine?
  • And how many times have how many of us sworn that we were gonna’ start tomorrow?
  • And do we DO that?  Not so much.

According to a study by Nuffield Health, 18% of us never exercise while 40% exercise less than once a month.

In an ideal world, says Grant Tosner, personal trainer and ambassador for Bio-Synergy: “We would follow government guidelines and exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week.”

A mere 16% say they meet the guidelines.

Well guess what?

Some of us may have already been exercising 30 minutes practically every day — and we didn’t even know it!

We may have been exercising passively.

At least that’s what a recent study seems to indicate!

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Ageism cuts both ways: Don’t Discount the Kids


Gen-Xers to Millenials
Sharper than WE were?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the What Kind of World do YOU Want? Series

Eavesdropping on an interesting discussion

Shortly after calling for an end to Stigma in my 2017 September Awareness Days article, I had the occasion to revisit the topic through another lens.

Coming across a couple of “kids” in the nearby park where my puppy TinkerToy and I sometimes wander, I was reminded yet again of the need to guard against our knee-jerk assessments.

By looks alone, it would have been all too easy to dismiss the pair as yet another Blonde Barbie and an over-eager lad who wanted nothing so much as to get her alone and in private.

Since we seemed to be wandering the same paths, Tink and I just a bit behind them, I had an opportunity to eavesdrop on their lively conversation.

BOOKS! They were discussing classic novels, comparing and contrasting them in a manner that would have done any geek-level book club proud.

Their vocabulary was certainly equal to my own, and their knowledge of the books they were discussing was superior.  They looked to be no older than 18 –  freshmen or sophomores, most likely, attending one of the many nearby colleges.

When they turned around to head back my way, apparently reaching a dead-end on one of the paths that Tinker wanted to investigate, I asked them how well they knew the park and if they knew where a different trail led.

I discovered, in the lengthy conversation that followed, that they were both not only intelligent but delightful – and very kind to Tink.  It turned out they were just beginning their senior year in High School!

I hope they discovered that whatever they initially thought about me was inaccurate as well — especially since I am probably at least as old as their grandparents.

How many times do we assume a “generation gap” that doesn’t really exist?  And how many opportunities to populate our world with friends of all ages pass us by because we do?

Have you ever actually talked with a couple of dark-skinned dread-locked young men — or a few of those “kids” with spiky purple and green hair, belly-baring tee shirts with confrontational sayings — and nose rings? (I mean, about more than who does their hair and what happens when they have a cold and need to blow their nose.)

Respect goes both ways. Some of them have equally “out of the box” views on drug abuse, politics and life itself that just might save us all.

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Emergency Prep for lives that have A LOT of them!


When SHTF is a DAILY Occurrence . . .
and “Stuff Hits The Fan” repeatedly!

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Executive Functioning Series

“Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life,
not a sudden, spectacular program.” ~ Spencer W. Kimball

Time to revisit some older content . . .
(Updated content from a post originally published in February 2015)

Given what’s going in Texas, Louisiana and Florida during this Hurricane Season, there are a lot of “preparedness” articles to be found around the blogging universe these days.

THIS one’s a little different.

The first half of this article is a good disaster-prep reminder you probably will NOT see many other places – but the second half offers a bit of help toward preventing those “emergencies” in our everyday lives.

Lots to learn from the Survivalists

©Phillip Martin – artist/educator Found HERE

New to the acronym? “SHTF” is a Survivalist abbreviation for Stuff Hits The Fan (with another 4-letter “S” word replacing the one I used to keep things family-friendly).

As with any subgroup, Survivalists run the gamut from the extreme through the consumed by anxiety to the worried . . . all the way to the lower end of the scale: those who are merely cautious.

At base, many of them are no different from savers and planners in any other arena — except that Survivalists larder physical supplies and foodstuffs instead of cash reserves in more traditional savings formats.

They’ve lost faith in the system.

That’s something that many of us here in Alphabet City share with them.  Except the system we have a hard time trusting anymore is The Mental Health Care System which includes hospital administrators and health “professionals,” as well as the legislators charged with protecting the rights of the many in our society who have “invisible” disabilities.

It makes sense to me, given the probabilities,
that we ALL might be wise to expect the best
but prepare for the worst. just like those Survivalists.

Global catastrophe’s aside, the “worst” here in Alphabet City seems to happen A LOT more frequently than in the neurotypical population — and history has proven repeatedly that we can expect precious little help from the current state of the Mental Health [lack of an effective] System.

Let’s not spend time going over all of the ways in which the system is broken and desperately needs changing.  Despite the fact that I’ve been ringing that bell for over 25 years now – along with a great many other Mental Health advocates – things continue to worsen nonetheless.

Instead, let’s focus on what we might think about putting in place to, like good Scouts say, BE PREPARED.

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Best ways to help victims of Hurricane Harvey


Hurricane Harvey – How You Can Help
From Nicolas Rossi and Deborah Carney

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
adding to the What Kind of World do YOU Want Series

Long time readers know that I rarely reblog, since the WordPress truncated “click to read more” reblog format is frustrating for so many of you.

I am making a rare exception in this case (edited via Press This), sharing an article from Nicholas C. Rossis.

It contains quite a few suggestions about ways in which those of you who are inspired to help Harvey’s disaster relief efforts might best do so.

It was generated by information from Deborah Carney of BookGoodies.com, who speaks from personal experience.

In 2012 she lost everything in Hurricane Sandy.

Nicholas goes on to say that Deborah’s experience “taught her a lot about how organizations and the government don’t help the way you think they will.”

So, Hurricane Harvey prompted her to compile and share a list of organizations that are dedicated to helping people directly affected.

They are “boots on the ground” and not tying up your donations in administrative costs and funding things that don’t really help.

I AM going to send you over to Nicholas’ blog to read more about what Deborah found most needed and most helpful, along with most of her suggestions of places that will do a lot with your contributions, briefly explaining how they work and how they help.

If you are anything like me, you want the majority of any help you are able to provide to go to directly to the people who are struggling – NOT to the agencies with administrative overhead to support, or to anyone attempting to profit personally under the guise of “helping the victims.”

Before you go, I want to share just a few of her suggestions here, as well as a few links to some other articles below, for anyone interested.

Please feel free to reblog – here or there –
spreading the word is something we can ALL afford to do.

Helpful Organizations

In Deborah’s case, the following organizations showed up and dived in, helping with food, donations directly to people, and with hands to help her clean out her house.

They were there before the Red Cross and did more for people than any government agency did — and without “paperwork” or asking for anything in return:

Read the entire article here:
Hurricane Harvey – How You Can Help | Nicholas C. Rossis

From the News & ’round the ‘net:


As always, if you want notification of new articles in this Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, do stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)


You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —

COACHING LINKS at the end of all posts

Moving Past PTSD triggers


Do we ever really heal from trauma?
What does “healing” really mean?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
adding to the Habits, Memory, EF, and PTSD Series

Responding to a comment

Right after I published the second part of one of my PTSD Awareness articles, author and blogger Chuck Jackson posted a comment that asked a question I couldn’t  answer at length in the comment format.

Do you ever recover fully from PTSD?

Chuck went on to add some context to his question:

Looking at your list of symptoms (mental and physical), if I was honest with myself, I would still mark yes to over fifty percent.

The majority of the time, I live a happy and enjoyable life. It is only during periods of anxiety or prolonged depression, do these symptoms raise their dirty head.

They are not debilitating, just very annoying.

So, for the most part, I suppose we could say that Chuck is essentially “healed.”

He has moved well beyond some pretty nasty stuff in his childhood (his healing journey shared in his stunning book about child abuse, “What Did I Do?).”

But I believe he is asking another, broader question with a much broader application:

Why am I not beyond all of my symptoms all of the time?

Real questions have real answers, so lets take a look at a couple of questions I’m sure we have all entertained at some point in our lives:

I’ll begin with a segment of my comment in answer to his question.

Forgetting is part of the process of memory too

“Forgetting” is still quite the mystery to scientists, even as they learn more about “remembering” – and that is really at the heart of Chuck’s question.

Most of us would prefer to have a way of “erasing” disturbing tracks laid down as the result of earlier experiences so that we can focus on and recall more positive/supportive reactions, thoughts and behaviors instead of disturbing reactions to PTSD triggers.

From an article I posted 3 years ago now,
Brain-Based Habit Formation:
~~~~~~

Any golf pro will tell you that eradicating their clients’ bad habits is the toughest challenge they face.

It’s much easier and quicker to coach someone to play par golf if they’ve never picked up a club than if they’ve been a bogey golfer for years.

Only the best golf pros understand why that is so and what to do to overcome it more quickly, however!

Brain-Based Habit Formation also explains that old pathways never actually get “deleted” — so unless the bogey golfer practices the new habits EVERY SINGLE TIME he picks up a club, he is likely to slip back into his old habits.

And every single time he “rehearses the old,” he deepens the “brain-grooves” of the habit he wants to eradicate.  In the same manner:

If you focus on your triggers and allow them to control you,
you are likely to find yourself back-sliding quickly.

What is needed is to link a new action to an old cue – to pull yourself gently but intentionally away from the old fears and other manifestations (symptoms) the moment you realize that you are “rehearsing the pain.”

So, in that sense only, I will tell you that,
at present, “PTSD” never really goes away.

NOW, let’s unpack that a bit – because that does NOT mean that you are going to have to suffer for the rest of your life. After all, as I said to Chuck, who cares whether “PTSD” goes away or not if it never troubles you!

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September 2017: Focus on Suicide Prevention


Awareness Day Articles ’round the ‘net
Depression, PTSD, Chronic Pain and more
– the importance of kindness & understanding
(and maybe an email to your legislators for MORE research funding?)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

World Suicide Prevention Day – Monday, September 10, 2017 – every year, since 2003.

The introduction and Suicide Awareness section of this article is an edited reblog of the one I posted in September 2016.  Unfortunately, not much has changed in the past year.

Notice that my usual calendar is missing this month, to underscore the reality that those who commit suicide no longer have use for one.

Onward and upward?

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” ~ Helen Keller

The extent of the mental health problem

Every single year approximately 44 million American adults alone — along with millions more children and adults around the world — struggle with “mental health” conditions.

They range from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ASD, OCD, PTSD, TBI/ABI to ADD/EFD and so-much-MORE.

Many of those struggling with depression and anxiety developed these conditions as a result of chronic pain, fighting cancer (and the after-effects of chemo), diabetes, and other illnesses and diseases thought of primarily for their physical effects.

DID YOU KNOW that one in FIVE of those of us living in first-world countries will be diagnosed with a mental illness during our lifetimes.  More than double that number will continue to suffer undiagnosed, according to the projections from the World Health Organization and others.

Many of those individuals will teeter on the brink of the idea that the pain of remaining alive has finally become too difficult to continue to endure.


One kind comment can literally be life-saving, just as a single shaming, cruel, unthinking remark can be enough to push somebody over the suicide edge.

It is PAST time we ended mental health stigma

Far too many people suffering from even “common” mental health diagnoses have been shamed into silence because of their supposed mental “shortcomings.”

Sadly, every single person who passes on mental health stigma, makes fun of mental health problems, or lets it slide without comment when they witness unkind behavior or are in the presence of unkind words – online or anywhere else – has contributed to their incarceration in prisons of despair.

Related Post: What’s my beef with Sir Ken Robinson?

We can do better – and I am going to firmly hold the thought that we WILL.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO’s primary role is to direct international health within the United Nations’ system and to lead partners in global health responses), suicide kills over 800,000 people each yearONE PERSON EVERY 40 SECONDS.

STILL there are many too many people who believe that mental health issues are not real – or that those who suffer are simply “not trying hard enough.”

That is STIGMA, and it is past time for this to change.

I’m calling out mental health stigma for what it is:
SMALL MINDED IGNORANCE!

(unless, of course, you want to label it outright BULLY behavior)

NOW, let’s all focus our thoughts in a more positive direction: on universal acceptance, and appropriate mental health care for every single person on the planet.

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