How well do you REALLY function?


Soldiering ON with less
than Optimal Functioning™
when we could REALLY have a much easier time of it

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
part of the Executive Functioning Series
May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

Do you suffer from boiling frog syndrome?

You’ve probably already heard the story about cooking frogs by putting them in cold or tepid water, then slowly bringing it to a boil — even though they would have jumped out immediately if they were suddenly thrust into hot water.

Other versions of the story assert that, as long as the temperature increases slowly, the frog is able to adjust its body temperature to remain comfortable — until it ultimately becomes too weak to jump out before it’s cooked.

Just a myth, but apt

According to an interesting article on Wikipedia, neither version is true, but the analogy is perfect: as things slowly but steadily worsen, most of us adjust and accommodate, even when we could find ourselves in much better situations if we’d only react more quickly and reach out for help.

  • In my 25+ year coaching career, only a rare few individuals ever reached out for help or brain-based information until they were practically desperate, and almost all had been leading what I call “limp-along lives” for years.
  • More than a few had been taking pricey vacations or eating lunches in restaurants to get away from the stress of the work environment, or indulging in daily caffeine fixes at several dollars a pop, still convinced that they couldn’t afford coaching fees — until they felt they “had no choice.”

For YEARS it only made sense in the context of Boiling Frog Syndrome.

Even if they were cracker-jack “over-achievers” when they were younger, they contributed their functional and cognitive slow-down to aging
. . .  or the demands of parenthood
. . . or the increasing complexities of modern life
. . . or the rise of social media expectations

. . . or anything other than being flat-out worn down by repeated, unrecognized struggles with Executive Functioning they never understood how to overcome.

So What Goes Wrong?

It’s mentally and physically exhausting to continue to swim upstream.

  • As long as you are swimming with the current you get carried downstream with much less thrashing about on your part.
  • Not only that, when you’re swimming upstream, if you stop stroking for even a minute, your life goes backwards.  Nobody can keep up that kind of effort.
  • Before you realize it you are swimming alone, unhappy that life is so much work, but not really expecting it to be easier because you’ve always had to “work twice as hard for half as much” — or so it seems to you in your most private of thoughts.
  • You begin to believe that everybody struggles in the same fashion, but suspect that the others are somehow better able to cope than you are.

But it doesn’t have to be that way

It recently occurred to me that many people don’t reach out for help, perhaps, because they have forgotten (or have never really known) what effective focus and follow-through look like.

They’re falling victim to “that happens to everybody”
or “this is the best I can expect from myself” thinking
to explain and attempt to accept their various challenges.

Things can get WORSE as time goes by . . .

because each new skill must build on the ones before it.

If you never learned to add or subtract, multiplication and division would remain a mystery.

If you never really mastered basic arithmetic, how could anyone expect you to do well as you moved through school?

Similar to moving from basic arithmetic to higher math, learning how to manage life’s many challenges is also an incremental, multi-stepped process.

So, for the next few Mondays, I am going to detail the problems many of my clients had been putting up with because ““that happens to everybody,” and do my best to explain what’s behind the struggle — in the hopes that I will finally inspire more of you to spend a few months working with me to turn things around before you feel like you are about to crash and burn.

Lets START by taking a look at some of the problems
that are NOT “normal” functioning.
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My Computer has ADD


Stranger than fiction
But maybe more amusing?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Whimsy Series

Madelyn’s Believe it or Not

What is it about Executive Functioning struggles that has things go wrong JUST at the moment you need everything to go right to stand a prayer of showing up like you have a brain at all?

Or is it just me?

I know that sometimes my Calamity Jane moments are my own darn fault because I procrastinated, or failed to write something down, or use my systems or whatever.  I’m not talking about those times.

I’m not talking about those times when I ADD-out and forget to give somebody an important message — like maybe, they changed the time for his only daughter’s wedding. (not my oops, actually – one from a client)

I’m not even thinking about those times when I say yes to one more request when I am already juggling more than any six humans could accomplish in a single lifetime if they worked together and never slept.

It’s those OTHER times . . .

You know, like when you practically break your arm putting a gun in your own back to keep yourself on task so that you won’t seem flaky, and THEN the universe laughs in your face and you end up looking flaky anyway — for a bizarre reason that nobody would believe really happened, even if you had it on film.

Come to think of it, it seems that even when I am channeling somebody else’s reliable functioning, it doesn’t always work quite the same way for me.  I’m starting to believe that somebody up there doesn’t really WANT me to plan ahead.

Like that time the water gets turned off – through NO fault of my own, btw – before I have a chance to rinse off the dark brown hair dye I was wise enough to apply to my snowy roots two entire days before an important media event, for example.

I end up having to explain why I’m knocking on a strange neighbor’s door in snow boots, head wrapped in plastic and bod in terrycloth.

I need to use his phone, of course.

It’s urgent that I find out when my friend Janet will be coming home.  I need her to unlock the door to my apartment, simply because I spaced one tiny little detail in my haste to run next door to use her bathroom before my hair turned green: KEYS!

OK, I could have called to see if she was home before my mad dash, but I didn’t want to chance getting dark hair dye on my white phone — and Janet has no social life anyway – she’s ALWAYS home! (If anybody figures out who I’m really talking about, PLEASE don’t tell her I said that!)

Oh, and would this kind stranger and new best friend mind if I used his shower to wash out the hair dye so I won’t get it all over his nice living room furniture while I wait with him for Janet to arrive?

Surely he wouldn’t leave me out in the cold with wet hair, even if his wife IS away on a business trip?

And, by the way, I’m going to need towels.

Stuff like that.  Like I said, flaky!  

So I’m sure that you are not going to believe that what’s going on with my computer is really not my fault! But at least it’s not as outrageous as the experience of my friend Steven’s then fiance’s brother-in-law Jeff. THAT story is the stuff of legend!

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Stimulant BASICS: Ritalin and Adderall


Two BRAND names for medications
known for treating ADD/ADHD
GOOD news or bad?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
in the Diagnosis and Treatment Series – Part I

How much do you really KNOW?

When I first learned about ADD, as it was named when I was diagnosed at 38, years ago now, I was overjoyed to learn that there was a medication reputed to help.  Tearfully so.

Still, it took me over a year to give psychostimulants a trial – the first-line medications for ADD.

Meanwhile, I did my research, and continue to do so.

I am dismayed (often appalled!) by how much myth and misinformation I found and continue to find today — in the media, on the web, and even out of the mouths of doctors, sourcing so much needless fear and struggle.

SO, I have always been inspired to share what I learned
with as many people who are willing to listen
with an open mind.

Stimulant Basics

While I endeavor to share some important overview information in this particular article in the Diagnosis and Treatment Series, I’m going to hit the highlights, and save a great many of the specifics for another time and format.

Let’s begin here by going over the similarities between two medications you hear about most often: Ritalin and Adderall.

The Related Links at the very bottom of this article are there for those of you who want more specifics about the differences NOW.

On to those basics . . .

The psychostimulants you hear about most often (also called stimulants), are amphetamines (ex., Adderall & Dexedrine) and methylphenidates (ex., Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate & Methylin).

They are similar in chemical structure, and ALL can have different effects – including side-effects (true with any substance).

Psychostimulants are a broad class of drugs reported to reduce fatigue, promote alertness and wakefulness, with possible mood-enhancing properties (Orr 2007).

Don’t let that term scare you. Caffeine, nicotine and some of the non-drowsy allergy medications are also psychostimulants.

Since the early 1930s, doctors have prescribed either amphetamines or methylphenidate to treat various health-related conditions and disorders, among them obesity, depression & other mood disorders, impulse control disorders, asthma, chronic fatigue, and sleep disorders characterized by excessive sleep or excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnolence).

Addiction and Abuse

According to Wikipedia and despite what you frequently read: it is estimated that the percentage of the population that has abused amphetamines, cocaine and MDMA combined is between .8% and 2.1%.[4]

A study published in the Journal Pediatrics*, showed that individuals with ADD/HD who were treated with stimulant medication had a lower risk of drug abuse than ADD/HD individuals who had not taken medication, and subsequent studies have returned similar findings.

* Biederman et al, Pharmacotherapy of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Reduces Risk for Substance Abuse Disorder, Pediatrics, Vol 104, No 2, Aug.’99.

How they are the same?

Both drugs are in the same medication class: psychostimulants, and it is said that they both work in two ways.  While not exactly accurate, this is basically how they work:

  1. They make neurotransmitters last longer in the parts of the brain that control attention and alertness, and
  2. They increase the concentration of neurotransmitters in areas of the brain believed to be under-aroused or otherwise under-performing.

In other words, stimulant medications increase the release or block the reabsorption of dopamine and norepinephrine, increasing transmission between certain neurons. Each stimulant has a slightly different mechanism of action, and each may have similar or different effects on the ADD/HD symptoms of any given individual.

For anyone new to the blog, neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that send signals from one neuron (brain cell) to another, increasing the activity in certain parts of the brain, in this case helping to focus attention.

WHY they might be necessary

Contrary to what might seem logical if you’ve ever spent much time around a diagnostic Hyperactive Harry or Chatty Cathy, an ADDer’s unmedicated brain is less active than a neurotypical brain in the conscious “supervisory” areas that FOCUS behavior — in particular, the prefrontal cortex [PFC]. 

That leads to an under-performance of the brain-based mechanisms that make it possible for human beings to observe the environment and supervise responses, guiding decision-making and directing subsequent action effectively.

Basically, in a person with an ADD diagnosis, the brain’s filtering & focusing areas are not operating well, so its “juggling ability” is limited by the number of “attentional balls” it is forced to juggle already.  These are elements filtered out automatically by neurotypical brains.

Regular readers of this blog may recall that the PFC has “regulation responsibility” for what we term the brain’s executive functions, which include planning, organization, and critical thinking as well as time management, effective judgment, and impulse control.

The “normal” human ability to sift through options, plan ahead, use time wisely, focus on goals, maintain social responsibility and communicate effectively is heavily dependent on a PFC that is up to the task.

Stimulants do just what they sound like they’d do, and seem to work particularly well on the area that most needs it: they stimulate sluggish neuro-perfomance, waking up the PFC so that it can do its job.

Connecting the Brakes

While ALL stimulants are activating for certain parts of the brain, they often seem to help calm a person with ADHD.

That is frequently referred to as the “paradoxical effect” — leading to erroneous claims that ADD meds are “sedating” kids into compliance.

NOT SO – that’s not how they work!

Whenever the PFC under performs, other areas of the brain, effectively, step up to compensate. You can see the difference on a brain scan.

So the filtering and focusing areas are, essentially, down for the count, and there’s suddenly more activity that needs filtering and focusing.

  • See the problem when the PFC’s “offline”?

No filters, MORE to filter = BRAIN CHATTER, distractibility or hyperactivity, problems with short-term memory – swimming upstream!

  • Once the PFC is stimulated to come back on line, the rest of the brain can relax (filters working better – less to filter). Suddenly, we can get things done – swimming WITH the current!

As soon as the PFC is stimulated into action, the rest of the brain can calm down – leading to a calmer individual.

A study reported in the Jan. 1999 issue of Science* suggested that methylphenidate also elevates levels of serotonin, which may account for some of its calming effects as well. Methylphenidate has never worked that way in my own brain, however, it makes me jittery.

* Gainetdov et al., Role of Serotonin in the Paradoxical Calming Effect of Psychostimulants on Hyperactivity, Science, Jan. 15, 1999: 397-410.

So WHICH medication is better?
Read more of this post

Memory Glitches and Executive Functioning


MEMORY ISSUES:

AGING Executive Functions and Alphabet Disorders
(ADD/HD-EFD, TBI, ABI, OCD, ODD, ASD, PDA, PDD, MDD, MS, etc.)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from the Memory Issues Series:
Forgetting/Remembering | When Memory Fails

BlankMemoryMEMORY: Movin’ it IN – Movin’ it OUT

With Alzheimer’s getting so much press these days (and with adequate mental healthcare for Americans unlikely for the next four years or more, since extremely short-sighted House Republicans are willing to vote in accord with the unconscionable desires of the billionaire in office) — most of us are likely to be more than a little fearful when our memory slips, even a bit.

Understanding how memory works can help us all calm down —
about at least that much.

As I mentioned in When Memory Fails – Part 2, the process of memory storage is an extremely important part of the memory equation — but if our brain’s librarian can’t find what we want when it comes time to USE the information, what good is it?

 

USB_memorystick 64x64

Human Memory vs. Computer Memory

It would be wonderful if human memory were at least as reliable as those “memory sticks” that allow us to sweep files we need to have with us onto a nifty portable device we can use anywhere we can find a device with a USB port.

Unfortunately, it isn’t.

But before we explore the process of moving information into long-term memory storage, our brains’ version of a “memory stick,” let’s take a look at the ways in which our “neuro-librarians” deliver what we’re looking for once it is stored there.

The “regurgitation” portion of the memory process is a factor of, essentially, three different processes:

  • recognition
  • recall, and
  • recall on demand

Let’s distinguish each of them before we go any further.

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May 2017: Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in May

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)

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

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts
onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?
They make GREAT, positive writing prompts!

It takes a village to transform a world. ~ mgh

Mark your blogging calendars!

Although May has been set aside to promote ALL Mental Health Awareness issues, many days of the rest of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, included on every Awareness Month list at ADDandSoMuchMORE.com are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create additional problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

Since I have written prior articles on many of these issues, I have added links to a few posts with explanations, for those of you who are interested in learning more or blogging about these issues yourselves.

If I’ve missed something Mental Health related that you believe needs inclusion, please let me know why in a comment so that I can add it to the list below.  Thanks!

May 2017 be the year
when everyone becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded Mental Health Awareness.
All the way to the TOP!

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

Read more of this post

Friday Fun: Fashion and Shopping


Can’t take fashion seriously?
(or maybe you take it TOO seriously?)
Whatever!
Let’s ALL laugh the whole thing off

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based and Friday Funnies Series

Quick Review before we get to the Funnies

Today is Jodie’s last installment of our collaboration exploring fashion as a “change agent.”  So before I send you over to A Touch of Style to finish up the series and read my closing observations, I want to review the point of fashion week before I inspire everybody to exit with a chuckle or two.

Don’t skip this review – it’s vital to everyone who wants to spend his or her “golden years” having fun rather than merely waiting for the inevitable.

Epigenetics and Fashion Week?

In Making Friends with CHANGE, posted  a week ago today, I briefly underscored the miracle of lifetime neuroplasticity — that the brain can change its structure and its function throughout our lifespan, depending on what we do with it.

We’re not stuck with – or blessed with – a lifetime contract on the brain we had when we were born.

Here’s the Good News

Gene expression is dependent upon our environment, the actions to which we commit ourselves, and even upon what we think and imagine.

The genes that shaped our brain in utero are literally capable of being turned on or off in reaction to how we respond to the targets of our focus, actually “rewiring” the brain we were born with with every new and different experience.

Changing anything is healthy-brain-aging friendly.

Change forces the brain to create new “roads” it can use when its usual pathway is damaged by any one of a number of things: stroke, concussion, medication, chronic stress – whatever.

If we change and grow as we go through life, our brain rewards us by creating new connections that will serve us well as we age.

Here’s the bad news: it works both ways

If we allow ourselves to stagnate, comfortable in our same ole’/same ole’ ways, we merely deepen the grooves of those same ole’/same ole’ pathways.

That’s GREAT for habit creation to handle those nattering Treadmill Tasks (distraction insurance that releases cognitive bandwidth for more important endeavors), but not a great strategy for brain-health overall.

For most of us, doing what we’ve always done is a recipe for functional backsliding called age-related cognitive decline – unless we are very, very lucky.

But in order to experience the benefits of brain-change, we must actually CHANGE what we ask it to do, with activities like:

  • studying something completely new to us
  • learning a new language
  • practicing a new musical instrument
  • exploring a new environment
  • taking up a brand new & challenging hobby

WARNING: if we don’t keep it up, the pathways created by our brain-healthy changes actually atrophy and die from disuse.

So, just like physical exercise, it’s important to pick something we actually enjoy to keep us motivated to keep it up — so we keep on making friends with new changes.

Making friends with CHANGE as we change our clothes

Jodie and I decided it would be fun to put our heads together to see if we could come up with a week’s worth of challenges specifically designed to shake things up, forcing change to our SELF-images on the way to helping us become more “change-friendly” overall.

As I commented in Jodie’s first post of this 3-part series . . .

Not only have researchers begun to discover the importance of “play” to healthy brain development and continued health, any time we spend making friends with change is what is called “neuro-protective.”

Together we explored how playing with what we choose to wear – recombining items we already own or adding something inexpensive to alter the look – can be a terrific way of making friends with change.

Stay tuned for more about change and healthy brain aging – including tips, techniques and work arounds. Meanwhile . . .

I’ve left you links to all three of Jodie’s posts at the bottom of the funnies, so be sure to pop over to see how three different challenges were interpreted by three different “real person” models representing three different decades — along with some additional comments from me to underscore the brain- benefits.


AND NOW for some fashion-related humor TODAY . . .

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head
(or shake it)?

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment. (Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome).

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Change your Clothes, Change your Brain?


Fashionistas & their Opposites
A brain-based look

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based Series
Collaboration with
Jodie’s Touch of Style

Fashionistas First

You’ve seen them on television, on the internet, in the tabloids, maybe even in your own neighborhood, right?

Whatever we think about how they put themselves together, we tend to notice that we see them in a different outfit every time we see them – even if we see them several times on the same day.

Many of us who like to think of ourselves as serious thinkers love to make fun of them.  We frequently believe they’re vapid, self-focused vanity plates wasting time and energy on items that don’t make one whit of difference.

And we’d be wrong.

They might not be changing the world, but they certainly are changing their clothes!  And that’s not such a bad thing, you’ll come to find out as you keep reading.

Frozen Fashionitas

Most of us have met at least one of these ladies.  A perfect example is the college beauty queen who hasn’t changed her style since her heyday, despite the fact that she is now middle aged or older.

Her hairstyle is practically the same, often chemically processed at considerable trouble or expense to remain exactly the same color.  Her wardrobe usually has a slightly “Delta Dawn” feel to it – frozen in time.

Youngsters sometimes point them out in a manner you wish they wouldn’t, and often at the top of their lungs, “Look Mom – that old lady looks just like Aunt Theresa!”

Another example is “Sensible Susie.”

She has decided what is appropriate and what is no longer suitable for any number of reasons: since she’s gained or lost weight, now that she’s older, the kids are in middle school, her husband got a promotion — whatever!

She may well be right, but the problem is that she turns what might have been a good idea into a rule book from which she never varies.

She may be easy to shop for, but nobody would ever accuse her of being “fashion forward,” and she’s often one of the first to point out the supposed flaws in the outfit of a contemporary.

Make way for “Matching Molly”

My own grandmother could have been the Matching Molly poster girl.  If an ensemble was purchased as an outfit, the various items might as well have been sewn together.

Suggesting to her that she could wear the jacket from Outfit A over a dress – or with the skirt from Outfit B – was practically enough to give her apoplexy.

She had a fit if I mixed and matched in my own wardrobe too, especially with items that she had given me as birthday or Christmas presents — there was no such thing as “separates” in my grandmother’s closet or her world view.

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Making friends with CHANGE


Habits, Brain Changes & Brain Aging
Why your brain resists change
and how you can make it do what’s good for it – Part I

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Brain-Based Series
Collaboration with
Jodie’s Touch of Style

“A mind equipped with a wide range of
previously formed
pattern recognition devices
can withstand the effects of neuroerosion
for a long time.”

~ Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, PhD, from
The Wisdom Paradox 

About the Brain that Changes Itself

It took science a long time to agree that an old idea was not only obsolete, but completely WRONG.

Until 1970, it was generally believed that the brain might as well be carved in stone after a certain childhood window of a great deal of change.

What is practically universally accepted these days is that our brains change and grow throughout our lives.

In fact, learning anything new after a certain age would be impossible unless the brain were capable of forming new pathways, which also involves the ongoing creation of brand new brain cells (neurons) and connections (synapses).

Another way to say it

Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain’s Way of Healing and the New York Times best-seller The Brain that Changes Itself (the all-time bestselling science book in Australia) puts it this way:

Plasticity simply means that the brain can change its structure and its function depending on what it does.

And that means, depending on what we react to when we’re sensing and perceiving, our brains will “rewire” depending on the actions that we commit ourselves to, and most intriguingly, depending on what we think and imagine.

ALL of these things can change the structure of the brain.

More about Doidge here: The Brain Science Podcast Turns TEN!

HOWEVER, since the brain is, essentially, a pattern-recognition organ, most human beings kick and scream when we are forced to change. Many of us who would like to change – maybe even those of us who are eager to change – struggle still.

Change is not easy

Change requires our conscious attention to doing things differently. Consciousness is a resource-intensive process. Your brain REALLY doesn’t want to burn up those resources dealing with the same information and making the same decisions over and over again.

Brains like the easy-to-pattern-match same ole/same ole, despite the fact that it’s not particularly good for them long term.

Even though it’s a huge help to put what I like to call the treadmill tasks on autopilot (like laundry, dishes and dusting) – a practice I highly recommend – that old saw about variety turns out to be an understatement where moving through the rest of life is concerned.

Unless spices are the main ingredients in the meals at your house, you are underestimating the importance of change to healthy brain functioning over your entire lifetime.

And still, we resist

Almost ALL of us, ADD/EFD or not, have a small – perfectly “normal” – part of our personalities that balks unless a new idea or different manner of approaching a change in something familiar is totally appealing in the moment we are “supposed” to take it on.  Why?

As I began in an earlier article, Change, Growth and Decision Dilemmas, it is essential to understand a fundamental, psychological truth about all human beings, ADD/EFD or not.

We are conflicted about growth and change.

At bottom, most of us crave safety as strongly as we crave freedom and adventure, although not in equal measure at all times and about all things.

The fact remains that there is a conflicted relationship between making choices at all – and new choices in particular – and preserving the freedom to do whatever we want.  To escape the discomfort of the conflict, it is all too tempting to fall back on “the devil we know” – and so we usually do.

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10 Simple Coaching Questions to Consider


10-Step Coaching – NOT just for ADD
Things to think about that can give you a Brand New LIFE

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another coaching article for Counseling Awareness Month
Reflections: edited reposting


Begin with a pen, pencil
(or crayon!) and a pad of your favorite paper — or your favorite software on your computer (whatever you believe works best for YOU – but I promise it will work best for your brain to do it on paper).

Find a comfortable place to perch
while you meander through the ten items below.

I promised you simple – but not easy – so plan on spending 30-45 minutes or longer – as much time as you can spare, but don’t try to squeeze it all in between activities and interruptions. You need to get into a thinking space and stay there, even if that means you take it in segments.

FIRST, gather everything you are going to need
so you’re not tempting to wander away mid-process:

  • Something to write with – and on – or
  • Whatever electronic toy you swear works better for you
  • Something to drink
  • Maybe something to snack on while you work

Adjust your clothing, if you need to.  Unfasten anything that needs to be looser. Kick off your shoes if you feel like it.  Squirm around until you feel comfortable in your own skin.

Take several d-e-e-p breaths, exhaling slowly, while you think about your life as it is RIGHT NOW, before you work your way through the list below.

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April 2017: Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in April

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)
Posting a day late so nobody shouts, April Fools!

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

Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts
onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?
They make GREAT writing prompts!

It takes a village to transform a world. ~ mgh

Mark your blogging calendars!

Many days of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.  It has – or will – affect most of us at some point in our lives.

The World Health Organization [WHO] has identified mental illness as a growing cause of disability worldwide.  They predict that, in the future, mental illness – and depression in particular – will be the top cause of disability.

That’s globally, by the way.  There has been an 18% increase in depression alone in the decade from 2005 to 2015.

Awareness Helps

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post offers a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health issues.

Included on every Awareness Month list at ADDandSoMuchMORE.com are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

There are quite a few events in April, so I haven’t lengthened the post by adding text to explain them all.  Instead, I have added links to related posts, blogs and websites with explanations, for those of you who are interested in learning more – or considering blogging about these issues (make sure you come back and leave a link if you do).

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

May 2017 be the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded Mental Health Awareness
especially at the top!

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

Read more of this post

10 Organizing Principles for the Organizationally Impaired


NOT Your Mama’s Organization

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the Challenges Inventory™ & ADD Coaching Series
my edited reposting of a five year old article

If at first you don’t succeed . . .

I know.  I’m right there with you.  You’ve read all the books and made a good stab at following their advice, and you still live in what might affectionately be called a pig stye if only it were that neat.

Give it up!

Those books were NOT written for you and me.  They were written for fundamentally organized people with relatively reliable follow-through skills and abilities.

They simply needed a little how-to help and advice.

I don’t work their way.
Do YOU work their way?

How DO you work?

If you don’t get real about how you work, you will never be able to determine what YOU need to do to to keep from spending half your life looking for things that were “right here a minute ago” — and the other half tripping over dirt and detritus.

As I began in an even earlier post (ADD & Organized?) . . .

Yea verily, even YOU can learn to be organized
just as soon as you understand
the reasons why you’ve been stopped in the past.  

Those of us who struggle with any of what are referred to as Executive Functions work a bit differently than those neurotypical folks.  We do not have vanilla-flavored brains.  We’re more like the ice cream with the mix-ins.  Our stoppers are not their stoppers.

HERE’S the KICKER: it’s a different mix of stoppers for every single one of us.  

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

That said, I’m going to go w-a-a-y out on a limb by offering my top ten organizing principles that I now call, collectively, The Executive Functioning Organizing Manifesto — a summary of some basic concepts that need to be embraced and understood if you want to have a shot at working out what you need to do for YOU to be organized.

In future posts in this series, I will expand on some of the points below.
For NOW, print ’em out and hang ’em up and follow them!

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Do you have a minute? Sorry for the Inconvenience.


Tough Love Lessons
from an Empathy Deficit Society

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series – Part I

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”

Not my problem, not my business?

Our society seems to be rapidly moving to a state where it is empathy-averse. The next few posts are my attempt at trying to change that sad reality in some small fashion by telling my personal story. It is time

Many who are still able to care what happens to others take the “wait and see” approach, hoping perhaps that some of the problems will resolve without their involvement.

I have noticed it most overtly in response to current political actions of late, but I have always seen it most pervasively in the continuing lack of Mental Health Awareness.

That attitude troubles me greatly.  We need each other, and the quote at the top of this page has never been more apt.

I always planned to speak out about it, once I put my life back together after a horrendous event that all but took it away from me entirely. But there was so much to do in the aftermath that time got away from me.

The attitude I observe, that seems to be increasing since the start of the most recent election cycle, has emboldened me.  I think it’s time to put some polish on a few drafts and publish them.

The Value of Personal Stories

Sometimes hearing the stories of people you know, even a little, makes a greater impact than any urging to step up, speak out and make a difference ever could.

So I will be sharing two personal experiences, one a great many years ago and the other only a few. I plan to divide the article into three parts, mindful of the time many of us lack for reading extremely long posts, even though these will be longer than many.  They will post on consecutive Wednesdays.

I am posting them NOW to underscore the reason we all need to increase our willingness to get involved before the next DSM is forced to add a new category: EDD – Empathy Deficiency Disorder.

Sympathy vs. Empathy

Sympathy is “feeling sorry for” a person in a particular situation. It is a feeling that allows us to be grateful that we are not the ones going through the experience personally. But it also fosters a pull to allow ourselves to sit back and do nothing to ease the burden for another.

Empathy is “putting ourselves in the shoes of another,” allowing us to imagine what we would find helpful and encouraging, and perhaps to step up to extend support – if only a little bit, and maybe more than that.

Talk and Timing

As I said in one of my updates to an article years ago now, NO contact possible: mugged at gunpoint, modern medicine is very different than the first time I had a broken bone but, unfortunately, bones don’t heal correspondingly rapidly.

My first experience was the result of multiple, serious, spiral fractures to my right leg, many years ago.  The damage was the result of a skiing accident that left me unable to get out of bed for a month, in a hip cast for about 8 months, and a leg that was smaller than the diameter of my arm once the cast was finally removed.

The negative impact to my acting career was substantial, but my attitude remained essentially positive – despite a great many challenges – thanks to more than a little help from a small handful of my friends.

This is my story

New York City, where I was living when I broke my leg, was in the middle of a transit strike, and New York cabbies were reluctant to take the time to deal with someone on crutches or in a wheelchair.

  • At that time I lived with a godsend of a roommate who stood at the curb to hail a cab while I was hidden from view, so that I could get where I needed to go.
  • She also emptied my bedpans for that first bed-ridden month. She kept me company, the bills paid and our services on, and food in my belly.
  • At no time – for an entire year – did she display impatience or treat me differently. Nor did she suggest that I pretend that lack of autonomy was less of a struggle for me than it was. She helped me keep my spirits up with conversation and laughter.
  • At NO time did she expect that I pretend my situation could be handled by “thinking positively” about it.  She understood without having to be reminded, that “motivational” talk of that type would have felt belittling.
  • She sat with me patiently during the times I wept over the seeming relentlessness of the situation.

Thank you Janine.  I was extremely grateful at the time but, until the contrast of my more recent experience, I had NO idea how very much your help and your attitude made it possible for me to make it through that time emotionally – and whole.

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Take Me Out to the BALLGAME!


Life gets GOOD

Once you understand
how to drive the very brain you were born with
— even if it’s taken a few hits in the meantime™

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Diagnosis & Treatment series

A lot of people have ADHD,
but they don’t want to talk about it.
But I am who I am,
and I don’t feel bad about it.
~ Major league baseball player Andrés Torres

Late to the Party

I have to admit that, because I’ve never been the world’s biggest sports fan, I’m more than a bit late to this particular party.

Maybe some of you missed it too?

I just read a heartwarming human interest sports story about Andrés Torres, a ball-playing superstar who couldn’t get to first base until he accepted that he needed to get real about a treatment protocol for his AD”H”D.

As the New York Times article began:

“Discerning a fastball from a changeup is difficult enough; imagine doing it with untethered focus, attention meandering.

This was precisely the obstacle impeding Andrés Torres, who stumbled for a decade through baseball’s minor leagues, working for a break, always falling short.

Only when Torres accepted the extent to which he was debilitated by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, finally embracing the medication and therapy prescribed five years earlier, did he begin to blossom as a ballplayer.”

And blossom he most certainly did!

In case you don’t follow baseball very closely either, after many disheartening years of limping along, barely functioning in an arena that was incredibly important to him — no matter how hard he worked — his story took a dramatic turn for the better.

In 2010 Torres helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series —
before moving on to play center field and bat leadoff for the Mets.

If you aren’t already aware of his story, and especially if you are still struggling yourself or are the parent of a child who is struggling, click to read a few of the links in the Related Content section, always at the end of my articles.

Ring me in

As the founder of the ADD/EFD Coach Training field, co-founder of the ADD Coaching field, an ADD/EFD advocate, coach, trainer & speaker for over 25 years now [and the ADD Poster Girl herself], I can assure you that this article was RIGHT ON in terms of their point of view.

Unfortunately, the scientific point of view is under-reported, most likely because the complex nature of Executive Functioning disorders makes them difficult to recognize and harder still for anyone who isn’t highly ADD/EFD-literate to diagnose.

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How do brains get damaged? Is yours?


Even a “little” hit to the head can cause problems that can last for years
But that’s not the ONLY way your brain can be damaged

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the TBI/PTSD Brain-based Series

In our attempt to understand ourselves and our environment, we often end up talking about the brain — “that three pound lump of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hand” ~ V.S. Ramachandran

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Brain Awareness Week
– March 13-19, 2017

More Common that you realize

Brain Injury can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye, whether it happens as the result of stroke, car accident, playing football, taking a tumble off a bike, or sometimes even when you trip and fall walking down the sidewalk.

After-effects can persist for years in some cases — and you don’t actually have to hit your head to bruise your brain, by the way.

The only brains most of us have ever seen are models, or brains that have been solidified by chemicals, leading us to believe that they are solid structures that are fairly rugged — and that it might take a significant hit to damage a brain.

Nope! The living brain is soft, floating around inside a fluid filled environment keeping it from bumping up against the inside of a hard skull that, in turn, is protecting the fragile brain itself.

The severity of brain damage can vary with the type of brain injury.

  • A mild brain injury is temporary, sometimes barely seeming to cause much of a problem at all, and often limited to headaches, confusion, memory problems and nausea when it does.
  • In a moderate brain injury, symptoms often last longer, can be more pronounced and can result in other challenges and impairments.

In the majority of cases of mild to moderate brain damage your brain recovers completely, as long as you give it time to heal.

Don’t let that encourage you to take brain injury lightly

Your brain can be easily injured bumping up against that bony skull, even when no hit to the head was involved in the original accident — especially the PFC [prefrontal cortex], the executive functioning portion right behind your forehead.

In addition to brain injuries that involve even limited damage to the skull, anything that makes the brain “slosh around” in the fluid in a manner that causes it to come in contact with the skull results in at least minor brain damage.  What frequently follows can be much worse.

Subsequent swelling or bleeding is a big problem with shaken baby syndrome, for example. I also learned from the overnight death of the young brother of a colleague that all children injured in sledding accidents need to be taken to the doctor to be checked out immediately – before you put them to bed.

Closed head injuries frequently result in what is called diffuse brain damage — damage to several areas of the brain — that also can cause a variety of subsequent problems with cognition, speech and language, vision, or difficulties getting other parts of the body to respond.

Anyone who has a head or brain injury needs immediate medical attention. Depending on the extent and location of the damage, brain injury that seems mild can be as dangerous as more overtly serious injuries.

The extent of potential brain damage is determined by neurological examination, usually including X-rays or brain scans, and neuro-psychological assessments that check out reflexes and cognitive abilities. After checking for brain bleeds and swelling, the first goal is to stabilize the patient to make sure that blood pressure is controlled, and that blood carrying oxygen is flowing to the brain to prevent further injury.

With the correct diagnosis and treatment that contains the damage, even more serious brain injuries do not necessarily have to result in long-term disability or impairment, although approximately half of severe injuries require surgery to repair a ruptured blood vessel or to relieve pressure on the brain.

Every brain injury is different – and ALL need time to heal

Found on Pinterest

Regardless of cause, brain injuries can range from mild to severe, with a majority of cases you hear about being concussions.

It can sometimes take many years for brains to heal from certain kinds of damage, but it always takes longer than a day or two for your brain to recover completely from even minor damage – and longer still if you suffer another injury while it’s still healing.

Football players eager to get back on the field aren’t the only ones who fail to understand why and how long they have to take it easy to avoid long-term damage, even when they believe they are ready to hard-charge it again.

You really do have to take it easy afterwards, just as you would if you’d injured an arm or a leg, but even more important.

Brain damage disrupts the brain’s normal functioning, and can affect thinking, understanding, word-retrieval and language skills, and/or memory, sometimes for years afterwards and sometimes not evident until years later.

Other than those who play professional sports, males between 15 and 24 are most vulnerable because they are the population most frequently engaging in risky behaviors. Young children and the aging also have a higher risk, probably because they are most likely to have balance challenges that result in falls.

Symptoms of Brain Injury

There are many, but negative effects cluster in what can be thought of in terms of three functional systems:

(1) intellect, which is the information-handling aspect of behavior;
(2) emotionality, which concerns feelings and motivations;  and
(3) control, which has to do with how behavior is expressed.
Source: Neuropsychological Assessment, 3nd  Ed., 1995,  by Muriel D. Lezak

These commonly include trouble with some or all of the following: 

• attention and concentration 
• short-term memory   • organizing/prioritizing
• impulsiveness   • task switching,
  and occasionally
• poor social skills   and   • mood swings.

EXCELLENT Related Post:
Lost & Found: What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

Causes of Brain Injuries

In this article we won’t be looking at brain damage in the womb as part of a genetic or congenital disorder (fetal alcohol syndrome, for example) or damage to the fetus due to maternal illness or accident.

I also won’t cover in this post what is often referred to as Acquired Brain Injury [ABI] — brain damage due to disease, stroke, medication, alcohol and drug use, or oxygen deprivation. ABIs affect the brain at a cellular level, most often associated with pressure on the brain, or as the result of a neurological illness.

I want to focus on the kind of brain damage most likely to affect most of you who read and follow ADDandSoMuchMore.com — and the most commonly reported source of brain damage is trauma.

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SOAR: Summer Adventures for ADD/LD Kids & Teens


Looking for a Summer Program
perfect for neurodiverse brains?
Check out THIS one – with programs for ages 8-25

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

Guestpost from David Rabiner, Ph.D.
Dept. of Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University
©
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE; March 14, 2017

Building Executive Function Skills at Camp

This just in from David Rabiner, Ph.D., whose guest posts you’ve seen here previously, and who is the creator and publisher of one of the best ADD/EFD Newsletters in the field.

SOARSuccess Oriented Achievement Realized – is a long-time sponsor of Rabiner’s excellent Attention Research Update, enabling him to offer it at no charge to professionals, parents and ADD/EFD individuals.

He informs us that . . .

SOAR offers a variety of outdoor adventure programs that are designed to provide a positive, exciting, and successful experience for children and teens with ADHD and Learning Disabilities.

A brief description of several of the wonderful SOAR programs can be found below, my support for parents and grandparents looking for a program specifically tailored for kids or teens with Learning Disabilities or ADD/EFD struggles.  PLEASE pass it on. [Disclosure: NO compensation has been offered or received for this content]

NOTE: Dr. Rabiner uses the DSM-5 term “ADHD,” rather than “ADD” or ADD/EFD, which I strongly prefer and otherwise use on this site (click HERE for why).

Please remember at ALL times that he uses this term to refer to the Inattentive and Combined subtypes as well as the Hyperactive subtype.

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Pot Smoking and Developing Brains


Studies may lead to help for PTSD
as well as a greater understanding of addiction
and schizophrenia

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concept of the Intentionality Series
Opinions vs. Facts

Reefer Madness?

Weed, Ganja, MaryJane, Cannabis, Pot, Hemp, Herb, Reefer

Some of my Senior readers may not recognize each of them, but practically any teen can tell you that they are all names for marijuana.

You know, that stuff you can roll into a joint that – except in jest – only the most out-of-it refer to as “a funny cigarette.”

The technical term for marijuana is cannabis – for a very good reason.  Since at least 1967, various chemical constituents of marijuana have been classified as cannabinoids.

They act on cannabinoid receptors in cells throughout our bodies, and alter neurotransmitter release in the brain – but they are NOT all the same.

One toke gets you higher and another makes you well?

THC [delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or Delta-9-THC] is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – the stuff that gets you high – but it is not always the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana.

Depending on the particular plant, cannabidiol can be the most abundant cannabinoid, which has many healing properties that you can read about on almost any Medical Marijuana site.

Cannabidiol is currently one of the most exciting of the 85+ known cannabinoids.

Also known as CBD, it is stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight as a potentially breakthrough nutritional component and treatment.

It occurs naturally in significant quantities in cannabis, and it is extracted relatively easily from the seeds, stalk and flowers of cannabis plants – which include hemp as well as marijuana. (The main functional difference between hemp and marijuana is the level of THC.)

Receptor Sites and Binding

All recent studies have indicated that the behavioral effects of THC are receptor mediated. That means that neurons in the brain are activated when a compound binds to its receptor — a protein typically located on the surface of a particular cell “specialized” to, metaphorically, “speak its language.”

So THC gets you high only after binding to its receptor.  That, in turn, triggers a series of events in the cell that results in a change in the cell’s activity, its gene regulation, or the signals that it sends on to another cell.

Wikipedia – ©Creative Commons

Steven R. Laviolette and his team at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry discovered that directly activating cannabinoid receptors in a region of the brain called the amygdala, can strongly influence the significance of emotional information and memory processing.

PFC implications

Activating cannabinoid receptors also dramatically increased the activity patterns of neurons in a connected region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex [PFC].

That, in turn, controls how the brain perceives the emotional significance of sensory information, and the strength of the memories associated with these emotional experiences.

Regular readers may recall that the PFC has connections to, essentially, every other part of the brain.

It is the part of the cortex that allows us to regulate Executive Functions appropriately – items like planning, problem solving, concentration, mental flexibility, and controlling short-term behavior to achieve long-term goals.

The PFC is a major player for those of us with ADD and other Executive Function Disorders and dysregulations – including those with traumatic and acquired brain injuries [TBI/ABI].

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Naps help Memory


 Our Brains are not Designed
to Learn Non-Stop
Sleep is essential for memory & learning

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Sleep and Memory Series
All Rights Reserved

National Sleep Awareness Week PostMarch 2 – 9

Sleep is more important than you think

Some preschools are still considering the elimination of naptime to fit in more teaching.

According to new studies,
that is probably a lousy idea.

Researchers have already shown that, following a good night’s sleep, facts learned one day are retained better the next, in learners both young and old.

It is looking like midday naps, discovered to be essential for brain development in infants, perform the same memory-enhancing function for toddlers and young children as a good night’s sleep for teen and adult learners.

Naps appear to help memory and learning

A study published in PLOS ONE suggests that a little snooze in the middle of the day may help kids retain information they learned earlier the very same day.

[Laura Kurdziel et al., Sleep spindles in midday naps enhance learning in preschool children]

To repeat what I disclosed in an earlier article, Emotional Mastery to help us move forward:

Sleep has been proven to play a critical role in both physical and mental well being. Sleep deficiency is not only associated with physical disease, but also with a range of emotional disturbances from subtle to dramatic.

A great many important functions take place while our brains sleep — such as the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels, as well as the brain’s housekeeping chores, when memories are consolidated and debris is swept away with the help of glial cells.

Other related neurodiversity posts:
You Don’t Want to Pay the Interest Charges on Sleep Debt
Sleeping with the Enemy: Mom’s N-24

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Mental Health Awareness for March 2017


Special days & weeks in March

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)

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

It takes one person to make a difference —
just think of what thousands can do.

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts
onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?

Mark your blogging calendars!

Many days of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post attempts to offer a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health challenges.

Included on every Awareness Month list at ADDandSoMuchMORE.com are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create additional problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

I haven’t lengthened the post by adding text to explain them all – but I have added links to posts with explanations, for those of you who are interested in learning more or blogging about these issues.

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

May 2017 be the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded mental health Awareness.

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

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Dealing with Distractions


When the mind drifts away
Even when we’re trying hard to concentrate

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from The Challenges Series

This article (and Series) speaks to ANY of us who struggle with staying focused and on-task, by the way.  Distractibility is common with depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and in plain vanilla brains with too much to do and too little time in which to do it all. What do you think is behind procrastination?

More about Distractibility

As I said in the conclusion to an earlier post of this series, Distinguishing Distractibility, most brains screen out persistent stimuli.  That talent is part of the mechanism that ensures the survival of the species.

In order to be alert to something that might be life threatening, the brain automatically decides that ongoing stimuli are merely “background,” no longer important enough to pass along to the conscious mind.

I’ll use the sense of smell to give you an example of what I mean . . . 

Because smells are processed directly by what used to be referred to as the limbic area of the brain (instead of having to go through the thalamus, like the other senses), most ADD/EFD and “vanilla” brains – those without the cognitive mix-ins – usually have the same experience of the way it works.

Lessons from the Kitchen

Have you ever prepared a Thanksgiving meal, or been in the kitchen while one was being prepared?

Think back to those amazing smells. Mmmmmmmmm – heaven!

Yet, if you stay in the kitchen, after a while you stop noticing them.

In fact, when another person comes into the room exclaiming, “Boy, it sure smells great in here!” you can’t really smell those amazing aromas anymore, even if you try.

Because cognitive bandwidth is a limited resource, your brain has “backgrounded” the persistent odors so that you will be available to pay attention to any new ones, possibly needing immediate attention — like the fact that the rolls are burning.

If you leave the room (or the house) for a few minutes then come back into the kitchen, even a short while later, every good smell will hit you like a wave in the ocean. “Wow. It does smell good in here!”

YOU don’t have to think about handling the “backgrounding.”

Your brain does that for you, just as transparently as your brain tells you how to walk down a sidewalk without your having to consciously consider each little step in the process — allowing you sufficient “brain space” to think about something else.

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Learning to Work Around “Spacing Out”


Honey, you’re not listening
ADDvanced Listening & Languaging

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Memory & Coaching Skills Series

Spacing out – when attention wanders

We’ve all had times when our mind goes off on a short walk-about as someone seems to go on and on and on.

But that’s not the only arena where attention wanders off on its own.

Have you ever gone into another room only to wonder what you went there to do?

I’ll bet you have little to no awareness of where your attention went during your short trip to the other room, but if you’re like me (or most of my clients and students), you’ve sometimes wondered if doorways are embedded with some kind of Star Trekkian technology that wipes our minds clean on pass-through.

Awareness is a factor of ATTENTION

Has your mate ever said “Honey, I TOLD you I would be home late on Tuesday nights!” — when you honestly couldn’t remember ever hearing it before that very moment, or only dimly remember the conversation for the first time when it comes up again?

Most of the time, when that happens, we are so lost in our own thoughts, we have little to no awareness that we spaced out while someone was speaking to us.

What do you do DO on those occasions where you suddenly realize that you have been hearing but not really listening?

Don’t you tend to attempt to fill in the gaps, silently praying that anything important will be repeated? I know I do.

It is a rare individual who has the guts to say, “I’m so sorry, I got distracted.  Could you repeat every single word you just said?” 

And how likely are you to ask for clarification once you are listening once more?

  • If you’re like most people, you probably assume that the reason you are slow to understand is because you missed the explanatory words during your “brain blip.”
  • If the conversation concludes with, “Call me if you have any problems,” I’ll bet you don’t reply, “With what?!”

That’s what the person with attending deficits or an exceptionally busy brain goes through in almost every single interchange, unless they learn how to attend or the person speaking learns how to talk so people listen.

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Why we hate to change our minds


The Greater our Investment
The greater the likelihood
we will hold on to ideas that don’t serve us

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concept of the Intentionality Series
Opinions vs. Facts

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong.  Presented with conflicting information, accepting the new evidence would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable (called cognitive dissonance)

And because it is so important to protect that core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit with the core belief.~ Franz Fanon, Free Your Mind and Think

Confirmation Bias

There has been a great deal of research and writing on the implications of the concept of confirmation bias. I have often referred to the concept here on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com, so many of my regular readers are already familiar with the expression.

Given today’s political climate, I believe it is time to review a few ideas
as we all attempt to make sense of what’s going on.

Some of you will recall seeing the information in the box below – but I believe it will be useful to take a moment to reread it as an introduction to this particular article.

Confirmation bias is a term describing the unconscious tendency of people to favor information that confirms their hypotheses or closely held belief systems.

Individuals display confirmation bias when they selectively gather, note or remember information, or when they interpret it in a way that fits what they already believe.

The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues, for deeply entrenched beliefs, when we are desperate for answers, and when there is more attachment to being right than being effective.

How it tends to work

Human beings will interpret the same information in radically different ways to support their own views of the themselves. We hate to believe that we might have been wrong — especially when we have invested time and energy coming to a decision.

Studies on fraternity hazing have shown repeatedly that, when attempting to join a group, the more difficult the barriers to group acceptance, the more people will value their membership.

To resolve the discrepancy between the hoops they were forced to jump through and the reality of whatever their experience turns out to be, they are likely to convince themselves that their decision was, in fact, the best possible choice they could have made.

Similar logic helps to explain the “Stockholm Syndrome,” the actions of those who seem to remain loyal to their captors following their release.

©Dogbert/Dilbert by Scott Adams — Found HERE

Adjusting Beliefs

People quickly adjust their opinions to fit their behavior — sometimes even when it goes against their moral beliefs overall. We ALL do it at times, even those of us who are aware of the dynamic and consciously fight against it.

It’s an unconscious adaptation that is a result of the brain’s desire for self-consistency. For example:

  • Those who take home pens or paper from their workplace might tell themselves that “Everybody does it” — and that they would be losing out if they didn’t do it too.
  • Or they will tell themselves, perhaps, “I’m so underpaid I deserve a little extra under the table – they expect us to do it.”

And nowhere is it easier to see than in political disagreements!

When validating our view on a contentious point, we conveniently overlook or “over-ride” information that is at odds with our current or former opinions, while recalling everything that fits with what is more psychologically comfortable to believe – whether we are aware of it consciously or not.

We don’t have to look further than the aftermath of the most recent election here in America for many excellent examples of how difficult it is for human beings to believe that maybe they might have been wrong.

BUT WHY?

To understand why, we need to look briefly at another concept that science has many studies to support: cognitive dissonance.

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Smoking: Additional reasons why it’s SO hard to quit


Nicotine and
self-medication

NOT what you think this post is going to be about!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another post in the Walking A Mile in Another’s Shoes Series

It’s National Cancer Prevention Month!
American Institute for Cancer Research

A relatively new study on nicotine and self medication (linked below in the Related Content) prompted me to revisit the topic of smoking.

Why do so many of us continue to do it?

WHY does it seem to be so difficult to put those smokes down — despite the black-box warnings that now come on every pack sold in the USA?

Science rings in

The link between self-medication and smoking really isn’t news to me, by the way, but some scientific validation is always reassuring.

An article I published early-ish in 2013 can be found HERE – where I discussed the relationship between nicotine’s psycho-stimulation, the brain, and the concept of “core benefits.”

For those of you who enjoy a bit of sarcasm with your information, it’s written in a rah-ther snarky tone toward the self-righteous – who, because of the way the brain responds, actually make it more difficult for people who need to quit with their nags and nudges.

Even if you don’t, you’ve probably never come across this particular point of view anywhere else as an explanation for why it can be such a struggle to quit — especially for those of us who are card-carrying members of Alphabet City.

I’ll give you just a little preview of what I mean by “snarky” below
(along with Cliff Notes™ of most of the info, for those of you with more interest than time).


HOLD YOUR HORSES!!

Sit on your hands if you must, but do your dead-level best to hear me out before you make it your business to burn up the keyboard telling me what I already know, okay?

I PROMISE YOU I have already heard everything
you are going to find it difficult not to flame at me.

There is not a literate human being in the United States (or the world) who hasn’t been made aware of every single argument you might attempt to burn into the retinas of every smoky throated human within any circle of influence you are able to tie down, shout down, argue down or otherwise pontificate toward.

NOW – can you listen for once?  I’m not going to force you to inhale.  I’m not even trying to change your mind. I would like to OPEN it a crack, however.

If you sincerely want to protect your friends and loved ones while you rid the world of the deleterious effects of all that nasty second-hand smoke, wouldn’t it make some sense to understand WHY your arguments continue to fall on deaf ears?

Unless you truly believe that saying the same thing for the two million and twenty-second time is going to suddenly make a difference —

or unless you don’t really care whether people stop smoking
or not as long as you get to rant and rave about it

 — wouldn’t it make some sense to listen for a moment to WHY some of the people are still smoking?

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Can Eating Grapes Improve Your Memory?


Pilot study highlights role of grapes
in preventing Alzheimer’s disease
Implications for Memory & Attentional Struggles in Alphabet City

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Edited Reblog from the ClinicalNews blog
Ralph Turchiano on February 3, 2017

Brand New Study suggests Good News!

Grape-enriched diet prevents metabolic brain decline,
improves attention and memory
Public Release: 3-Feb-2017: California Table Grape Commission FRESNO, CA

Consuming grapes twice a day for six months protected against significant metabolic decline in Alzheimer-related areas of the brain in a study of people with early memory decline.

Low metabolic activity in these areas of the brain is a hallmark of early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Study results showed a grape-enriched diet protected against the decline of metabolic activity.

Alzheimer’s disease. as most people know, is a brain disease that results in a slow decline of memory and cognitive skills. Although it’s cause is not yet fully understood, it is believed result from a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

Currently 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease — and the numbers continue to grow.

Study implications for EFD

Scientists noted that the group that was given the grape-enriched diet also exhibited increased metabolism in other areas of the brain that correlated with individual improvements in attention and working memory performance, compared to those on the non-grape diet.

That’s encouraging news for those of us with Executive Functioning Disorders.

EFD, remember, is the term used to describe problems with cognitive abilities that most adults take for granted as products of intelligence, education and maturity — items like planning, problem solving, concentration, mental flexibility, and controlling short-term behavior to achieve long-term goals.

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Mental Health Awareness for February 2017


Special days & weeks in February

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)

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

It takes one person to make a difference —
just think of what thousands can do.

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

Online Marketing Gurus extol the effectiveness of piggy-backing posts,
onto particular events – how about one or several of the ones below?

Mark your blogging calendars!

Many days of the year have been set aside every month to promote awareness or advocacy of an issue, illness, disability, or special-needs related cause.

Included on every Awareness Month list at ADDandSoMuchMORE.com are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post attempts to offer a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health issues.

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

May 2017 be the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded mental health Awareness.

Google Find – suspicious link to source not included here

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published).

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Friday Fun: Memory


I know we’ve met many times,
but what was your name again?
Let’s laugh the whole thing off

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Friday Funnies Series

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

What we can and cannot recall at any particular time depends on a lot of factors . . .

our generation … our cultural imperatives … what sticks out among the familiar … the time of day and how much sleep we’ve had lately … whether we are well-hydrated — even what we ate for breakfast.

Unfortunately, the mechanics of human memory still remain a mystery to the science crowd.

They now know a great many more things, however, for example:

* THAT memories are not stored in one part of the brain alone – nouns, names & faces are stored in different areas (and some brains have trouble with ALL of them)

* THAT bits of memories are distributed — each time they are recalled they are reconsolidated anew

* THAT how we feel and think when we recall them changes memory’s bits and bytes — which is why eye-witness testimony is not reliable

* THAT more recent memories become tougher to recall as we age, even when we can vividly remember what happened much earlier in great detail, and

* THAT attention and focus (and sleep) are essential for effective long-term storage. If we are paying attention elsewhere, storage for recall is iffy (and when we don’t sleep, brain filing is a crapshoot) — even our own promises to our significant others

But that is ALL little consolation when they can’t help us with CRS:
that disabling “disorder” when we
Can’t Remember Stuff.

Related ComicWinter Food Storage

All is not lost

Source: Wrong Hands

Fortunately, there are quite a few brain-based explanations and work-arounds for memory’s glitches.

I continue to share a great many coaching tips and tricks to help with more reliable storage and recall (and I’ve included links in this post to some of my longer, more serious articles on memory).

Today, however, we’re going to temper our frustrations with a quick bit of humor.
How many of the situations below have you experienced in YOUR life?

Oh, and after today, Funnies post only occasionally

Reminding you of what I disclosed in last Friday’s introduction to this series, Funnies about Perspective: unlike the ongoing Sunday Smiles and Monday Funnies you’ll find on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog, my Friday Funnies will show up only occasionally, usually clustered around a theme.

If I get the feeling that things have gotten a tad serious here in the world – or on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com – get ready for another hit of humor, most likely another Friday Funny.

YOU PLAY TOO

If you have something on your website or blog that relates to the theme, especially if it’s humorous, please feel free to leave a link in a comment. Keep it to one link per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed, but multiple comments are just fine and most welcome.

AND NOW for some more humor . . .

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ABOUT the Mental Health Writers Guild


A new badge on my sidebar
and one more item I can cross off my to-do list

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series

No longer languishing undone

I’m doing my happy dance to be able to announce, finally, that ADDandSoMuchMORE.com is now included among the many other wonderful blogs on the membership roster of the Mental Health Writers Guild.

For those who are not already aware, The Mental Health Writers’ Guild is a voluntary, non-profit, non-professional community.

It exists to encourage positive, informative, inspirational writing supporting Mental Health Awareness, advocacy, encouragement, information and help.

It seeks to provide and promote a community open to all bloggers and writers who write articles which are either directly or indirectly related to mental health and mental well-being in an affirming – and non-commercial – manner.

Gettin’ A Round Tuit at last

It has been my intention to submit ADDandSoMuchMORE.com for membership seemingly forever, but something always jumped in front of it on my to-do list.

  • When I finally had the time and focus last year, the life of the site creator and administrator wasn’t in a place where he could keep up with the administration required, so was unable to respond to requests for membership for a time.
  • BoldKeven (also blogging at Voices of Glass) checks out every blog personally, to make sure that member sites reflect positively on one another and on the Guild, then adds a link to blog of the newly approved member on the Guild’s Membership Page.

All’s well that end’s well, right?

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Emotional Mastery to help us move forward


Upgrading how you feel
to help you change what you DO

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Intentionality Series

UPDATE: This article was written to support the mood challenges of most readers here.  The blog of one reader reminded me to be SURE to say that some of you are dealing with issues that are more complex, and that other articles I’ve written might be more helpful to you.  Click to the PTSD/TBI LinkList for links to a selection of those.

Riding herd on runaway emotions

I recently found an emotional resiliency blog post by PsychCentral blogger Athena Staik, Ph.D. that fits right in with my focus on change-management in 2017.

She begins with four important points to keep in mind:

  1. Emotion mastery is a built-in capacity, often ignored yet always available.
  2. It is a learned ability to respond in a conscious manner that short-circuits our body’s survival-system to keep it from controlling us and our lives with ineffective automatic reactions and unconscious defensive strategies.
  3. It involves developing an awareness of and connection to our thoughts, emotions and body sensations — so that we are able to, step by step, cultivate a practice, or lifestyle habit of making conscious, informed decisions that will keep us on course toward achieving our goals
  4. In the process of cultivating emotion mastery, we will build the confidence and resilience we need to handle upcoming challenges more effectively.

Emotional Mastery

She continues by using the acronym M-A-S-T-E-R-Y to outline a system she recommends to help us tame our emotional reactivity.

The article seems to have been written from a neuro-typical point of view, so I don’t agree completely with every single thing she has to say about them.

I do agree with her on their importance, however – and I’m sharing in the hopes that her “MASTERY” mnemonic will help us all keep them in mind.

Mnemonic devices are techniques a person can use to help them improve their ability to remember something — a memory technique to help your brain better encode and recall important information.

You can jump over to Staik’s article to see what she has to offer in response to each letter.  My own thoughts will be found in the posts I’ve linked within or below each of her mnemonic assists.

 So lets take a look at them!

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Happy New Year’s Life Upgrades to YOU


Resolutions? Affirmations? Intentions?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An edited reposting of an earlier idea

Drawing of a hand, arm, quill pen and paper, under the words New Year Resolutions - as if in handwriting.

A therapist I know has this to say about change:

“Everybody wants things to be different,
but nobody wants anything to change.”

He doesn’t add, “especially anything about THEM” – but I have always believed that’s what he was really talking about: the devil you know, and all that.

What IS it about change that makes us cringe?  

Never one to ask a rhetorical question without some kind of an answer gnawing at the edges of my mind, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking it is – at least where those of us with ADD/EFD brain wiring are concerned: it’s so darned disorienting.

  • JUST when we get a few processes on autopilot so that we can finally avoid the dreaded decision-making horror with every step of the process, and . . .
  • Just as we get things systematized, automated to the point where short-term memory deficits are no longer as likely to trip us up . . .
  • Some idiot updates the software and nothing works the same way anymore. (Those of us in the WordPress.com blogging community know I’m not JUST speaking metaphorically here!)

It’s beyond frustrating – it makes us feel stupid. It’s salt in an ADD/EFD wound that’s barely scabbed over to begin with.

Our only alternative is to revise and adjust, which sometimes feels like beginning anew — and often is exactly like beginning anew.

It seems that ever since the recently deceased futurist Alvin Toffler first published his only-constant-is-change Future Shock in 1970, nothing holds still for very long at all.  And, forced to adapt, we are absolutely powerless to do anything else about that but bitch.

Is it any wonder that we want to dig in our heels whenever and wherever we have a bit of power and change doesn’t seem absolutely necessary?

  • RESOLVE to change something we’re used to?
  • Change something about US?

When pigs fly, and not one moment sooner!

And yet . . .

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Mental Health Awareness for January 2017


January Mental Health Awareness

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for other mental health related issues
(and a calendar for the month!)

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

It takes one person to make a difference —
just think of what thousands can do.

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

A bit early for January

I am using the lull between Christmas Day and New Years Eve to post January’s Awareness list.

I’m pretty sure that nobody will be in any kind of shape to pay attention to it on New Year’s Day (nor am I likely to be in any kind of shape to get it up on January first myself!)

Mark your blogging calendars anyway

Every month and many days of the year have been set aside to promote awareness or advocacy of an illness, disability, or other special-needs-related cause. Scroll down to use this January index to make sure you mark those special occasions this month.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post usually offers a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health issues.

May 2017 be the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded mental health Awareness.

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

Attention Bloggers: If you write (or have written) an article that adds content, feel free to leave a link in the comment section and I will move it into it into the Related Content on this post.

Included on every Awareness Month list are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

Stay tuned for more articles about Executive Functioning struggles and management throughout the year (and check out the Related Posts for a great many already published.

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How to navigate those “Home Alone” Holidays


The Single Person’s Holiday Playbook

(Putting an end to those awkward holidays!)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An edited reblog of a previously published article

ENOUGH with the questions from well-meaning others!

Whether we are alone by choice or circumstance, holidays can be, at best, awkward.

Found on: Lolsnaps

“Have any plans for the upcoming holiday?” can be asked at any moment – even by total strangers trying to be friendly in grocery lines.

ANY version of, “Not really,” is something they do NOT, actually, want to hear.

Nor is it something that most of us who are already feeling marooned are eager to utter aloud.

No Mom, s/he won’t be coming

As any single person who’s ever gone “HOME for the holidays” can probably tell you, being “unpartnered” during special family events can present a unique set of challenges, especially the first time.

It runs the gamut:

  • from feeling awkward, maybe a bit defensive about your [lack of] relationship status this particular holiday,
  • all the way to feeling that you must either “ruin everyone’s holiday with a display of pique” -or-
  • grit your teeth, grin and bear it as you attempt to find a way to politely field unintentionally rude inquiries about why you happen to be alone.

The Formerly Familied

Far too many individuals who are divorced, widowed, separated (or outliving their families and many of their friends) can find solo-holidays sad and depressing.

A friend of mine, an emotionally healthy, extremely self-reliant, empty-nest single parent says her married kids “make other plans” for major holidays — at the very least every other year.

She really doesn’t resent the reality that the kids have their own lives, hope to start their own family traditions, and deserve to feel unconflicted about making holiday plans that won’t always include her,  BUT . . .

She says that she can’t face cooking a holiday meal for one OR going to a restaurant alone when everyone but her seems to have somebody celebrating WITH them.

She also finds it unbearably depressing to fuff around in her pajamas and slippers ALL day, even though she feels like she is “all dressed up with no place to go” if she doesn’t.

Reaching out to help others?

Even singles who volunteer at soup kitchens and so on have to make it through at least a portion of the day totally alone, at a time that was once known for family get-togethers.

People who never drink anything stronger than root beer have confessed that the idea of becoming a regular at their town’s version of the Cheers bar crosses their minds more than a few times, just to have somewhere to go and a few people to talk to on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve.

Different ways to make it work . . .

Since I have spent most of the major holidays alone for many years now, I’m hoping that I will be able to help you look at things in ways you haven’t already thought of, tried and rejected.

In any case, I’m not planning to rehash the holiday survival tips already found all over the internet (but in case you have missed a few bloggy ideas, check out the articles under the Related Articles ’round the net heading in the links below the original post.)

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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