November 2017 Mental Health Awareness


November includes N-24 Awareness Day

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for many other mental health (and related) issues

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

I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
Edward Everett Hale

Each month is peppered with a great many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about important emotional, physical and psychological health issues that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood and attention management.

ALL great blogging prompts!

As October comes to a close, it is almost time for a brand new month filled with days designed to remind us all to help spread awareness and acceptance to help overcome the STIGMA associated with “invisible disabilities” and cognitive challenges — as well as to remain grateful for our own mental and physical health as we prepare for the upcoming holidays.

Mark your blogging calendars . . .

. . . and start drafting your own awareness posts to share here. Scroll down for the November dates, highlighting important days and weeks that impact mental health — as well as those remaining active for the entire month. (The calendar is not my own, btw, so not all mental health awareness events linked below are included ON the calendar.)

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 — or other mental health related days in November — please leave us all a link in the comment section. I will move it into its appropriate place on the list in the article, or into the Related Content section.  It will remain for next year’s calendar as long as the link works.

And please feel free to reblog this post if time runs short.

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Head Injuries – Acquired ADD?


Head Injuries Affect Attention & Focus
whether the injury was mild or severe

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

Boing-oing-oing-oing . . . OUCH!

As long as there have been humans, there have been hits to the head. Some of them were a actually caused by those humans!

Much attention has been paid to sports-concussions and severe forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI), especially those resulting in concussions and coma.

The milder impacts, such as those from falling off a bicycle or a ladder, the jolt from a low-speed car accident or taking a weak punch in a fistfight are far more common.

These milder injuries may not entail losing consciousness — more likely to result in a slightly dazed feeling or a brief lack in responsiveness before recovering — have gotten the attention they deserve only relatively recently

They ALL damage the brain, however.

“New data suggests blows to the head are on the rise among U.S. adults and kids, but definitive diagnosis remains elusive.” ~ Scientific American Mind

Questions remain as to how long it takes to recover, to what degree and how quickly each piece of the cognitive puzzle comes back on line reliably, as well as how to identify which brain injuries are likely to recover and why some never do.

Part of the challenge in understanding these injuries is how varied they can be.  But it is no small problem.

Making things worse still, suffering even one concussion elevates the risk of suffering another and may make it all the more challenging to recover from future damage.

Here’s a scary statistic: According to an article found on the Scientific American blogsite, the average a 10-year old can experience as many as 240 hits to the head in a single football season.

Related Post: How Do Brains Get Damaged?  Is YOURS?

Troubles Often Persist

Even when a brain-scan cannot pinpoint specific areas of damage, months after a concussion patients may still have lingering symptoms, including an inability to concentrate as well as headaches — even when initial brain scans reveal nothing amiss.

Dr. Jennifer Marin, a Pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh says, “Explaining the concept of cognitive rest [for recovering from injury] is difficult when you can’t show an image of how the brain has been injured.”

At the hospital, she says, “we stabilize patients but then they go home and a lot of them will experience complications down the line.”

What KIND of “complications?”

Attentional deficits and reduced speed of information processing have been found consistently, in even mild head injuries, despite lack of gross deficits in intelligence or memory (Bohnen, Jolles, Twijnstra, Mellink, & Wijnen, 1995).

These deficits are frequently the most persisting cognitive complaints (Chan, 2001).

From an article on ScienceDirect from the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology (Volume 21, Issue 4, May 2006, Pages 293-296):

Head injury typically results in diffuse damage (not in one specific spot) that produces a reduction in information processing capacity.

This processing capacity has been broadly described as the number of operations the brain can carry out at the same time.

Individuals with mild head injury demonstrate problems when they are required to analyze or process more information than they can handle simultaneously (Gronwall, 1989).

Decreased information processing has been posited to be primarily due to problems with attention (Kay, Newman, Cavallo, Ezrachi, & Resnick, 1992; Szymanski & Linn, 1992)

In addition, fatigue and/or stress, common following head injuries, have been shown to further compromise the processing speed of those who have incurred even a mild head injury (Ewing, McCarthy, Gronwall, & Wrightson, 1980; Wood, Novack, & Long, 1984).

Related Post: ABOUT Processing Speed

Or perhaps it’s because of slowed processing speed?

Research conducted by Ponsford and Kinsella (1992) demonstrated that the difficulty in performing a sustained attention task experienced by individuals who have suffered even a mild head injury may result more from a slowed speed of processing than from attentional deficits.

Fortunately, even though the speed of performance is reduced for head-injured participants, no significant reduction exists in terms of accuracy of performance (Stuss et al., 1985).

Related Posts:
Processing slower or more to think about?
Processing Efficiency is all about Juggling

REGARDLESS of the underlying problem, the effects on behavior are very much the same as the struggles of those with a particular Executive Functioning Disorder known as Attention Deficit Disorder.

Let’s take a look at what that means.

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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 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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PTSD Awareness Post 2017 – Part II


June was PTSD Awareness Month
Adding to our awareness – Part II

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Updated Refliections Post
Self-Health Series
Part I HERE

“Emotions are very good at activating thoughts,
but thoughts are not very good at controlling emotions.

~  Joseph LeDoux

Since my Sleep Awareness post somehow jumped the queue and was posted at the same time as Part-1 of this article, I decided to wait a bit to give readers a shot at catching up.  Again, my apologies for seeming to inundate with info – it was not intentional.

This Part may seem long, but much of the first half is review — so those of you who read Part-1 will be able to skim through it quickly.

Identifying PTSD

PTSD can present in a variety of ways, with more than a few symptoms in common with depression, in addition to any or all of those characterizing other anxiety disorders.

As I explained in Part I, PTSD is now believed to be caused by a neuro-chemical alteration in the brain in response to exposure to trauma. It holds us prisoner, responding in the moment to threats from the past.

Unprocessed trauma continues to haunt us, eroding our sense of safety and security. As a result, it can keep us stuck in an amygdala-defensive emotional pattern that may induce a variety of symptoms over which we feel we have no control.

In fact, we cannot control them in the moment.  Current therapies are focused on helping us to change our subsequent response to them.

Exposure to trauma physically changes the structure of the brain, upsetting the neurochemical balance needed to respond appropriately, faster than we can over-ride cognitively.

It seems that repeated experience of traumatic events, especially when left to fester unprocessed, can prevent rebalancing, which prevents healing (meaning, allowing the past to remain in the past, confident that you have the strength to handle whatever life throws your way in the future).

In other words, our brains are designed to respond neuro-chemically when our safety is threatened, regardless of what we think about it logically or how we feel about it emotionally.

  • Some of us are able to process those perfectly normal and appropriate fearful responses and move forward.
  • Others of us, for a great many reasons science is still trying to understand, are not.
  • At this point in time, we move forward primarily with statistics.

Statistics explored in Part I

In the previous section of this article we also looked at the prevalence of PTSD compared to the total number of people who ever experienced trauma in their lives.  We took a look at the various risk factors for developing PTSD following exposure to trauma.

You saw that the risk was effectively double for women, and that significantly more women are exposed to trauma in their lives than their male friends and relatives – and that recovery times tended to be longer.

Approximately 50% – five out of every ten women – will experience a traumatic event at some point during their lifetime, according to the The National Center for PTSD, a division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

One in ten of those women will develop PTSD as a result.

Inadequate understanding & treatment

Science is still looking for many of the pieces of the PTSD puzzle.

Even though a variety of therapies can help relieve PTSD symptoms, at the current time there is no “cure” – or prevention – nor is there an adequate explanation for how exposure to the same trauma can affect different individuals to different degrees of severity.

We also do not have definitive treatment protocols equally effective for everyone who experiences PTSD.

Brain-based research

Right now it looks like the difference between who recovers from trauma and who is more likely to develop PTSD may turn out to have a genetic component.

It may be also be linked to the size of specific areas of the brain, which could be a product of genetics or epigentics (how your internal and external environments change the expression of your genes).

Related Posts:
Making Friends with CHANGE
A Super Brief and Basic Explanation of Epigenetics for Total Beginners (off-site)

While controversial, the most recent research ties the development of PTSD to the size of an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is primarily known for its role in the formation of non-disordered memories.

Greater size indicates a greater ability to recover from trauma.

A smaller hippocampus may increase the risk of developing PTSD as well as the severity of its symptoms, and/or lengthen the duration and recovery time.

Some studies suggest that repeated exposure to stress may actually damage the hippocampus, through the repeated release of the stress-hormone cortisol.

Related Posts:
Hippocampal volume and resilience in PTSD
Brain region size associated with response to PTSD treatment

So perhaps PTSD is hormonal?

Cortisol is a mobilizing hormone.  We need it. We might not even get up off the couch without it. However, it is most widely known for its assistance motivating the body for rapid and effective response to a stressful or life-threatening event – our “fight or flight” reaction.

Problems result because our brains and bodies are not designed
to live in a state of persistent and protracted stress.

Scientists have long suspected the role of cortisol in PTSD.  They have been studying it, with inconclusive results, since findings in the 1980s connected abnormal cortisol levels to an increased PTSD risk

A study reported in early 2011 by researchers at Emory University and the University of Vermont found that high blood levels of the hormone PACAP (pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide), produced in response to stress, are linked to PTSD in women — but not in men.

PACAP is known to act throughout both body and brain, modulating metabolism, blood pressure, immune function, CNS activity [central nervous system], and pain sensitivity.

Its identification as an indicator of PTSD may lead to new diagnostics and to effective treatments — for anxiety disorders overall, as well as PTSD in particular.

But maybe not cortisol alone

Findings published early this year in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology point to cortisol’s critical role in the emergence of PTSD only when levels of testosterone are suppressed [April 2017, Volume 78, Pages 76–84 ]

Testosterone is one of most important of the male sex hormones,
but is is also found in women, albeit in much lower concentrations.

According to UT Austin professor of psychology Robert Josephs, the first author of the study:

“Recent evidence points to testosterone’s suppression of cortisol activity, and vice versa.

It is becoming clear to many researchers that you can’t understand the effects of one without simultaneously monitoring the activity of the other.

Prior attempts to link PTSD to cortisol may have failed because the powerful effect that testosterone has on the hormonal regulation of stress was not taken into account.”

PTSD Risk Can Be Predicted by Hormone Levels Prior to Deployment, Study Says

What we think we know for sure

What science does believe it now knows is that PTSD is a result of both the event that threatens injury to self or others, and the emotional, hormonal response to those events that involve persistent fear or helplessness.

At this time, the goal of PTSD treatment is to reduce, if not eliminate, chronic fear-based emotional and physical symptoms to improve the quality of day-to-day life.

Research is ongoing to see if it is possible to chemically block the development of PTSD by blocking the formation of fear memories.

Blocking human fear memory with the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor doxycycline

Current treatments are limited to psychotherapy, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) or other types of counseling/coaching, and/or medication, along with less well-known and less widely accepted attempts at intervention like EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique: “tapping”) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

The value of information

Before we explore the variety of treatments currently available (in a future article), let’s take a look at some of the symptoms associated with PTSD.  It will help you understand your own or those of a loved-one with PTSD.

Understanding, empathy and self-acceptance walk hand in hand – which are healing all by themselves.

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July 2017 Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in July

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

July is Fire Cracker Month in America

Please be aware that many vets will have flashbacks triggered by those noisy explosions that you think are harmless fun.

If ALL you want is to make a bunch of noise, please think again – or, at least, confine them to ONE DAY – July 4th, when many vets with PTSD go away.

Addendum from a comment from Ray’s dad Colin:

Pet owners will also really appreciate fireworks being restricted to that one celebration day. They can then plan their pet’s outdoor time accordingly. In advance… many thanks to all those who do limit their celebrations to July 4, and are respectful and sympathetic to vets… and pets.

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 have NOT lengthened the post by adding text to explain them all – but I have added links to posts and websites 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.

I pray that 2017 will 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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2017 PTSD Awareness Post – Part I


June is PTSD Awareness Month
Adding to our awareness and understanding

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Self-Health Series
Refliections Post

“Emotions are very good at activating thoughts,
but thoughts are not very good at controlling emotions.

~  Joseph LeDoux

What We’ve Learned from LeDoux: Mechanisms of Fear

Cognitive neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux is an NYU professor and a member of the Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology at New York University.

In addition to his work focused on the neural mechanisms of emotion and memory, he is also the director of the Center for the Neuroscience of Fear and Anxiety — a multi-university Research Center in Manhattan using research with rats to explore and attempt to understand the mechanisms of pathological fear and anxiety in humans (which LeDoux prefers to call “extreme emotional reactions to the threat response”)

Essentially, when we are looking at PTSD, we are talking about individuals stuck in a particular type of FEAR response — responding in the present to threats from the past.

PTSD sufferers appear to be at the mercy of the reappearance of memories and resulting emotions because they lack immediate conscious control.

For many years, neuroscientists believed that the cortex, the most recently evolved, wrinkly outer covering of the human brain, was required for the processing of any kind of conscious experience, even those triggered by a sensory input resulting in an emotional response.

Thanks to the work of LeDoux and his colleagues at The LeDoux Lab, we now know that this information can be chemically transmitted through the brain in an additional manner using a pathway that bypasses the cortex, allowing our emotions to be triggered unconsciously, faster than the speed of thought.

In other words, our brains are designed to respond neuro-chemically when our safety is threatened, regardless of what we think about it logically or how we feel about it emotionally.

How traumatic events intensify the threat response

According to current scientific understanding, experiencing traumatic events can change the way our brains function.

PTSD develops when we get stuck in the “ready to act” survival mode as the memory cycle repeats and strengthens the emotional responses to the original traumatic event in reaction to some sort of trigger.

The stress hormone cortisol strengthens memories of traumatic experiences, both while the memory is being formed for the first time, and afterwards.

Every time our brain gathers the pieces of memory’s puzzle and puts them back together – a process known as reconsolidation – cortisol is released anew as we are reminded of a traumatic experience.

Previous studies using scanning technology have shown that people with PTSD have altered brain anatomy and function.

Subsequent research on the connection between PTSD and brain-based disorders — including those associated with dementia and TBI [traumatic brain injury] — indicate that trauma itself actually changes structures in the brain.

In the face of an overwhelming feeling of fear, our lifesaving-in-the-moment set of adaptive responses leave behind ongoing, long-term and brain scan-observable physical residuals that can result in psychological problems as well as attendant physical symptoms.

Trauma upsets the brain’s chemical balance

Synchronization of the activity of different networks in the brain is the fundamental process that facilitates the transmission of detailed information and the triggering of appropriate behavioral responses. The brain accomplished this task through the use of chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.

Synchronization is crucial for sensory, motor and cognitive processes, as well as the appropriate functioning of the circuits involved in controlling emotional behavior.

Synchronization is a balancing act

Researchers from Uppsala University and the medical university Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm have shown that in people with PTSD there is an imbalance between serotonin and substance P, two of the brain’s neuro-chemical signalling systems.

The greater the imbalance,
the more serious the symptoms.

It seems that repeated experience of traumatic events, especially when left to fester unprocessed, can prevent rebalancing, which prevents healing (meaning, allowing the past to remain in the past, feeling confident that you have the strength to handle whatever life throws your way in the future).

Related Post: PTSD reveals imbalance between signalling systems in the brain

Responding to threats of danger

Our nervous system developed to greatly increase the chances that we would remain alive to procreate in the presence of threats to safety and security. We wouldn’t live long at all if we lacked a mechanism to allow us to detect and respond to danger – rapidly.

When our safety is threatened, a survival response automatically kicks in — before the brain circuits that control our slower conscious processes have had time to interpret that physiological response that is occurring “under the radar.”

Initially, there is no emotion attached to our automatic response to threat. In other words, fear is a cognitive construct.

Our individual perceptions of the extent of the danger we just experienced or witnessed is what adds velocity to the development of fearful emotions, even if our feeling response follows only a moment behind.

Some of us are able to process those perfectly normal and appropriate fearful responses and move forward. Others of us, for a great many different reasons, are not.

Many of those who are not able to process and move forward are likely to develop one or more of the anxiety disorders, while others will develop a particular type of anxiety disorder we call PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Related articles:
When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic
Understanding Fear and Anxiety

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June 2017 Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in June

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

JUNE is PTSD Awareness Month —
June begins with Sleep Disorder Awareness Week
and National Cancer Survivor’s Day

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!

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 — reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create additional problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

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

I pray that 2017 will be the year
when EVERYONE becomes aware of
the crying need for upgraded mental health Awareness —
and FUNDING.

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

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

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

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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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).

Read more of this post

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).

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

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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My 2016 Birthday Prayer


Today is my birthday
but, awakening from a nightmare,
I’m not feeling very happy right now

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

First, my birthday prayer:

The personal story behind both the prayer and my recurring nightmares follows below.

PLEASE God, we seriously need to upgrade the health-care system in this country. We need a clean sweep of the Mammon-worshipping insurance industry, God, clearing out everyone who is getting rich off the health challenges of the citizens of this country.

Please make everyone aware that, most importantly, we desperately need to FIX America’s woefully inadequate mental health care system, as we vastly improve mental health awareness in the entire country – including empathy for the poor, the homeless and every single one of our veterans.

Lay it on the heart of every single American with breath enough to speak, God. Let them know it like *I* know it, feel it like *I* feel it

Make them realize that action can no longer be procrastinated, regardless of whether America’s new administration is willing to understand or is otherwise uninspired to take effective steps toward solutions that are more than sound-bites and cronyism.

Let the world finally understand that jails and prisons are no place for those who are mentally ill, God, and that Law Enforcement without in-depth mental health training has NO place dealing with the mentally ill.

Amen

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Mental Health Awareness in November


November includes N-24 Awareness Day

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for many other mental health (and related) issues

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

Mark your blogging calendars

Another month of many days designed to remind us all to spread awareness and acceptance to help overcome the STIGMA associated with “invisible disabilities” and cognitive challenges — as well as to remain grateful as we prepare for the upcoming holidays. Start drafting your own awareness posts now.

Each month is peppered with a great many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about important emotional, physical and psychological health issues. Scroll down for the November dates, highlighting important days and weeks that impact mental health — as well as those remaining active for the entire month.

Also included on the list following the calendar below are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood and attention management. (The calendar is not my own, btw, so not all mental health awareness events linked below it are included.)

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 — or other mental health related days in November — please leave us all a link in the comment section. I will move it into its appropriate place on the list in the article, or into the Related Content section.

And please feel free to reblog this post if time runs short.

Jump over to Picnic with Ants to read her first post following a prompt from WEGO’s Health Activist Writers Month Challenge.

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The Wisdom of Compensating for Deficits


Brain-Change vs. Compensation
TIME is of the Essence

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Self-Help Series – Part I

Arguing with YouTube

I have been watching a lot of brain-based TED Talks of late – talks from notables like the following:

I added links to those videos above so you can click to watch them too.

Their Advice for Us

Each of them hopes to direct the focus of the world to healing the problem rather than working at the level of symptoms.

That makes A LOT of sense, right?
I LIKE these experts, and applaud their efforts.
I have known about the things they espouse for many years now,
and I think each is a great idea.

HOWEVER, something about each of their talks left me with a sense that something was off, or missing — or that, in the way they came up with their advised solutions, they devalued or overlooked a point of view that was important.

It took me a bit of noodling, but I finally figured out what was bugging me.

Three things:

  1. The advice was presented in an either/or, better/worse, black and white fashion that, in some subtle manner, left me with an uneasy feeling. I was left with an impression that they each believed that their way of working was the best way for ALL individuals to proceed — and that we would be somehow foolish to approach finding a solution to compensate for our challenges instead of “fixing” the root cause.
  2. They seemed oblivious to the reality that, for a great many of us, some of their solutions are absolutely out of reach financially (Do you have any idea how much it costs to get a brain scan for diagnostic purposes, for example?)
  3. They left out the TIME factor altogether – and didn’t quite explain who was going to support us while we set about changing our brains by getting more sleep, changing our diets for optimal brain health and healing, or working through exercises that will improve short term memory (for example).

Few of us can afford to take a year or more OFF while we take advantage of the miracle of neuroplasticity to give our brains a fighting chance at “normalizing.”

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Nick: A Personal Triumph over Brain Damage


He’s come back from so much
– proof that nothing is impossible with hard work
and a dream

a hand-crafted reblog adding to the What Kind of World Series
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Autonomy implies Independent motion

In 2009, the 25 year old son of one of the most positive lights in the blogging community, Sue Vincent, had his youthful potential cut short. He was stabbed through the brain with a screwdriver in an unprovoked attack and left for dead in an alley.  His prognosis was grim.

He was not expected to survive at all – and not expected to have much of a life worth living if he did.  They were told that if he woke, it would probably be to a vegetative state. At best, he might have the mind and abilities of a two-year-old. The damage was extensive and irreversible. He would need constant care for the rest of his life.

The triumph of will

Over the past couple of years, many in the blogging community already know he did survive, defying all the odds, fighting his way back to achieve wonderful things in spite of the physical challenges with which he lives still, wheelchair bound.

Sue’s article describes even more about his inspiring story, and links to posts about his courage in the face of subsequent challenges, as well as his incredible adventures since that day.

She blogs of the magic of May Day, his skydive… the London to Brighton cycle ride (raising funds for Headway, a charity supporting brain injury victims and their families) … and the Triathlon — all of which raised thousands of pounds for charity.

More than I would attempt, for SURE!

The London to Brighton cycle challenge was a ride of some 54 miles (87km).

It included the ascent of Ditchling Beacon, which climbs nearly 500 feet in less than a mile… all, according to Sue, carrying a bag that weighs as much as a small county on the back as well.

It was made possible with help — others who donated time and the strength of their own bodies to make sure the equipment that supported Nick’s goal was packed and transported so that Nick was able to start and complete the ride.

But Nick dreams of still MORE.

Autonomy enough to travel

Sue explains in her article that Nick’s dream of autonomy with travel is currently hampered by a plethora of problems accepted as “normal” with his current “trike” – in a manner that some angel on earth has found a way to overcome with the Mountain Trike, a cross between a mountain bike and a wheelchair.

More than the smooth terrain necessary for most wheelchairs, this trike can go off-road and up mountains. It can handle sandy beaches, ford streams and cope with muddy tracks and cobbles. It even has a luggage rack.

More important, it is a manual wheelchair with an innovative propulsion system that Nick can use, even with reduced mobility and struggles with coordinating both sides of his body.

It doesn’t need batteries, can be fixed by most bike shops in an emergency and, crucially, doesn’t need anyone to push it. He can go out into the wild places alone for the very first time in seven and a half years.

Source: Independent motion – can you help?

Meet Nick

A few of you may follow Nick’s blog and may already have read about his recent preparations for his biggest adventure yet — looking forward to accomplishing the impossible once again, proving that ‘impossible’ really isn’t, if you set your mind and heart to something.

If you are new to Nick’s story, I hope you will give yourself the gift of reading about it – and that you will take the time to watch the video he has included on THIS post – especially those of you who are close to giving in and giving up.
Read more of this post

October 10th is World Mental Health Day


Take a moment to think about it
You can change somebody’s world with a moment of reflection

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

Somebody YOU know is struggling

How you respond and how you speak to them can – literally – make the difference between life and death.

  • A kind and respectful comment at the right time can make ALL the difference.
  • An unthinking comment at the wrong time can kick somebody over the suicide edge.

The problem is that we can’t really distinguish
those right and wrong times.

The following infographic is “reblogged” from the Courage Coaching site.  The accompanying article includes a list of things that many people say that don’t help and can easily harm.  It’s a quickie. Hop over to read it.

“This years’ theme ‘Dignity in Mental Health-Psychological & Mental Health First Aid for All’ will enable us to contribute to the goal of taking mental health out of the shadows so that people in general feel more confident in tackling the stigma, isolation and discrimination that continues to plague people with mental health conditions, their families and carers.” ~ World Mental Health Day 2016 | World Federation for Mental Health

Read more of this post

When Depression Comes Knocking


Depression:
NONE of us can count on immunity
when life kicks us down

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
A Mental Health Awareness Month Post

Today, the first Thursday of October, is National Depression Screening Day.

I have written relatively little about my own struggles, and don’t intend to focus there. Nor do I consider myself a poet; I rarely share my amateur attempts. However, a brave post by writer Christoph Fischer touched me in a manner that an informational article would not have. I decided to risk pulling back the curtain on a bit of the struggle in my own life for just a moment, hoping that it will touch someone else in a similar manner and encourage them to reach out. 

We are more alike under the skin than we realize.  NONE of us are really alone.

Nethersides of Bell Jars

I have been wrestling with PTSD along with struggles sleeping when it is dark out since a friend and I were gang mugged at gunpoint between Christmas and New Years Day, 2013 – only a few steps from the house where I rented an apartment.

My friend was pistol-whipped and almost abducted. After they robbed her, they turned their attention to me.

Among other things, my brand new iPhone, keys, datebook, all bank cards, checking account, and the locks on my van each had to be replaced – and everything else that entails.

Since the hoodlums smashed my dominant hand, I had to do it all encased in a cumbersome cast, one-handed for three months.  I wasn’t able to drive – or even wash my face, hands or dishes very well.  Zippers and can openers were beyond me.

Practically the moment my cast came off, I was informed that my landlord wanted her apartment back.  Apartment hunting, packing, moving and unpacking with a hand that was still healing – along with retrofitting inadequate closets, building shelves to accommodate my library and my no-storage kitchen, arranging for internet access and all the other details involved in a move  – took every single ounce of energy I could summon.  Eventually, I hit the wall.

Unpacking and turning a pre-war apartment into a home remains unfinished still.

In the past 2-1/2 years I’ve dipped in and out of periods of depression so debilitating that, many days, the only thing that got me up off the couch where I had taken to sleeping away much of the day was empathy for my puppy.

He needs food, water, love and attention, grooming, and several trips outside each day – and he just started blogging himself.

I’ve frequently had the thought that taking care of him probably saved my sanity – maybe even my life, but many days it took everything I had to take care of him, as the isolation in this town made everything worse.

The words below

I’m sharing the words I wrote the day the psychopharm I have visited since my move to Cincinnati decided not to treat me anymore.  When I called for an appointment, her receptionist delivered the news as a fait accompli, sans explanation.

  • It might make sense to be refused treatment if I attempted to obtain medication too often.
  • The truth is that, for quite some time, I hadn’t been able to manage the scheduling details that would allow me to visit her at all — even though that was the only way to obtain the stimulant medication that makes it possible for me to drive my brain, much less anything else that might give me a leg up and out of depression’s black hole.
  • I would have expected any mental health professional to recognize and understand depression’s struggle. I hoped that she would be willing to help once I contacted her again. Nope!

One more thing I must jump through hoops to replace, costly and time consuming.

Related Post: Repair Deficit

And so, the words below, written upon awakening the day after I was turned away . . .

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Depression and ADD/EFD – one or both?


Increased Risk for Depression –
and for being diagnosed with depression in error

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An ADD Awareness Month Post

Because of the pervasiveness of the co-existence of these 2 diagnoses, it is vital to understand the differences between the two and to also treat both . . . when appropriate . . . to develop the most effective treatment plan and outcome.

[It’s] important to treat the primary diagnosis first, in order to achieve the best treatment outcome. ~ from Attention Research Update by Duke University’s David Rabiner, Ph.D. (whose article on ADD and Depression was the genesis of this article)

ADD/EFD, depression or both?

Found HERE

Everybody has shuffled through a down day or a down week. Most of us occasionally experience feelings of sadness, grief or depression as the result of a difficult life event.

We don’t qualify for a diagnosis of depressive disorder, however, unless these feelings are so overwhelming that we cannot function normally — generally characterized by the presence of sad, empty or irritable moods that interfere with the ability to engage in everyday activities over a period of time.

It’s not Unusual

Depression is one of the most common disorders to occur in tandem with ADD/EFD.  In fact, it has been determined that, at one time or another, close to 50% of all ADD/EFD adults have also suffered with depression.  Studies indicate that between 10-30% of children with ADD may have an additional mood disorder like major depression.

The overlap of the symptoms of ADD/EFD and depression, however, can make one or both disorders more difficult to diagnose — poor concentration and physical agitation (or hyperactivity) are symptoms of both ADD and depression, for example.  That increases the potential for a missed differential diagnosis – as well as missing the manner in which each relates to the other.

The chicken and egg component

Found HERE

Many too many doctors don’t seem to understand that serious depression can result from the ongoing “never enough” demoralization of ADD/EFD struggles. In those cases depression is considered a secondary diagnosis.

In other cases, depression can be the primary diagnosis, with ADD/EFD the secondary.

Treatment protocol must always consider the primary diagnosis first, since this is the one that is causing the greatest impairment, and may, in fact, present as another diagnosis.

It is essential for a diagnostician to make this distinction correctly to develop an effective treatment protocol.

  • Untreated primary depression can be debilitating, and suicidal thoughts might be acted upon.
  • If primary ADD is not detected, it is highly likely that treating the depression will not be effective, since its genesis is not being addressed.

Read more of this post

Mental Health Awareness in October


October is ADD/ADHD Awareness Month

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for many other mental health issues

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

Mark your blogging calendars

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 (and for the entire month) that impact mental health.

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.

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.

Read more of this post

September 2016: Focus on Suicide Prevention


Articles ’round the ‘net
Depression, PTSD and more – the importance of kindness & understanding

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

World Suicide Prevention Day – Saturday, September 10, 2016 – every year, since 2003. I deliberately choose to wait a day to post my own article of support for two reasons:

  1. So that I could “reblog” and link to the efforts of others, offering some of the memes and articles they have created to give you both a quick hit and an overview of the extent of the problem.
  2. So that I could honor September 11th – another anniversary of loss and sorrow, as many Americans mourn the missing.

The extent of the mental health problem

Nearly 44 million American adults alone, along with millions more children and adults worldwide, struggle with “mental health” conditions each year, ranging from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ASD, OCD, PTSD, TBI to ADD/EFD and more.

One in five of those of us living in first-world countries will be diagnosed with a mental illness during our lifetimes.  It is estimated that more than double that number will continue to suffer undiagnosed.

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.

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One kind comment can be life-saving, just as a single shaming, cruel, unthinking remark can be enough to push somebody over the suicide edge.
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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” — and every single person who passes on mental health stigma, makes fun of mental health problems, or fails to call out similar behavior as bad, wrong and awful when they witness it has locked them into prisons of despair.

We can do better – and we need to.

According to the World Health Organization, 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.”

This is STIGMA, and this needs 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)

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Complex PTSD Awareness


C-PTSD Awareness
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Trauma

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

One of the factors of PTSD is that some people seem to have severe cases while others do not — that some soldiers were more vulnerable to extreme trauma and stress than others.

As an explanation for some of these complications it has been suggested and researched that there is a form of PTSD that is called DESNOS [Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified]. Another term is C-PTSD or Complex-PTSD. ~  Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D

 

Relatively Recent Distinction & Debate

Many traumatic events that result in PTSD are of time-delimited duration — for example, short term military combat exposure, rape or other violent crimes, earthquakes and other natural disasters, fire, etc.  However, some individuals experience chronic trauma that continues or repeats for months or years at a time.

There is currently a debate in the Mental Health community that centers around the proposed need for an additional diagnosis. Proponents assert that the current PTSD diagnosis does not fully capture the core characteristics of a more complex form – symptoms of the severe psychological harm that occurs with prolonged, repeated trauma.

Let’s DO It

One of the longest-standing proponents is Dr. Judith Herman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School. She is well respected for her unique understanding of trauma and its victims, and has repeatedly suggested that a new diagnosis of Complex PTSD [C-PTSD] is needed to distinguish and detail the symptoms of the result of exposure to long-term trauma.

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PTSD Overview – Awareness Post


June is PTSD Awareness Month
PTSD Signs and Symptoms

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

“Emotions are very good at activating thoughts,
but thoughts are not very good at controlling emotions.

~  Joseph LeDoux

Responding in the present to threats from the past

Life itself required the development of the ability to detect and respond to danger – so our nervous system evolved to greatly increase the chances that we will remain alive in the presence of threats to safety and security.

When our lives are threatened, a survival response automatically kicks in — before the brain circuits that control our conscious awareness have had time to interpret that physiological response occurring “under the radar.” Initially, there is no emotion attached to our automatic response to threat.  Fear is a cognitive construct.

Our individual perceptions of the extent of the danger we just witnessed or experienced personally is what adds velocity to the development of fearful emotions, even if our feeling response follows only a moment behind.

Some of us are able to process those perfectly appropriate fearful responses and move forward. Others of us, for a great many different reasons, are not.

Many of those who are not able to process and move forward are likely to develop one or more of the anxiety disorders, while others will develop a particular type of anxiety disorder doctors call PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Related articles:
When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic
Understanding Fear and Anxiety

An Equal Opportunity Destroyer

While we hear most about the challenges of PTSD in soldiers, it is not limited to those returning from combat.

Individuals have been diagnosed with PTSD as the result of a great many different traumas: accidents, assaults, natural disasters, serious illnesses and more. It can develop in the wake of almost any traumatic event. (Situations in which a person feels intense fear, helplessness, or horror are considered traumatic.)

Trauma is especially common in women; 50% – five out of every ten women – will experience a traumatic event at some point during their lifetime, according to the The National Center for PTSD, a division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to VA research and experience, approximately eight million Americans will experience PTSD in a given year, including both civilian and military populations.  That number is quite likely to be low, since many people never seek treatment for PTSD, or even admit to themselves that PTSD is what they are experiencing.

Related Post: Interesting PTSD Statistics

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, individuals likely to develop PTSD include:

  • Victims of violent crime (including victims of physical and sexual assaults, sexual abuse, as well as witnesses of murders, riots, terrorist attacks);
  • Members of professions where violence is likely, experienced, or witnessed often or regularly, especially first-responders (for example, anyone in the armed forces, policemen and women, journalists in certain niches, prison workers, fire, ambulance and emergency personnel), including those who are no longer in service, by the way;
  • Victims of war, torture, state-sanctioned violence or terrorism, and refugees;
  • Survivors of serious accidents and/or natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, etc.);
  • Women following traumatic childbirth, individuals diagnosed with a life-threatening illnesses;
  • Anything resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI), leaving you struggling with the ongoing trauma of trying to live a life without the cognitive or physical capabilities you thought you would always be able to count on.

Sufferers may also develop further, secondary psychological disorders as complications of PTSD.  At its base, however, we are talking about individuals stuck in a particular type of FEAR response.
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The Unique Loneliness of the Military Family


…. and the isolation of returning vets
Loneliness & disconnection that can overtake entire families

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
adding to the Loneliness Series

“We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan – [putting] wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives — and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own lives in peace.”
~ Colin Powell – 65th U.S. Secretary of State

It was difficult to decide on a title for this particular article in the Loneliness and Isolation Series, since I hope to explore more than a few of the challenges of the particular feelings of alienation faced by servicemen and women and their families – only some of which will apply to other readers.

In answer to a comment on her comprehensive Military Wife and Mom blog, Lauren Tamm speaks to only one of the many challenges: “Anytime your spouse is gone away for work, it’s tough. Military or non-military, parenting alone presents many challenges.” 

While she certainly makes a valid point, many challenges are compounded when frequent moves are “business as usual,” deployment is actual or looming and, for a variety of reasons, returning spouses may well be substantially different than they were before.

How do you reach out for authentic connection when friends and family may not really understand your struggles?

How do you explain to others what you are struggling to understand yourself?

Related Post: What 9/11 means to a veteran’s family –
about being married to a veteran

When few can really understand

To restate something I wrote in Sliding into Loneliness, an earlier article on this topic, loneliness is more than the feeling of wanting company or wanting to do something with another person. It’s not merely a feeling of sadness at finding oneself alone.

Frequently considered the feeling of being alienated or disconnected, loneliness is also described as a subjective sense of feelings of profound separation from the rest of the people in your world.

Loneliness is a longing for KIND, not company.
~ Original Source Unknown

A search of the internet for any permutation of “military family,” “challenges” and “loneliness” will return many pages of titles addressing one or the other of the many issues faced by Service personnel and their families.  I won’t even try to pretend that a single article here can do more than introduce some of their unique challenges, along with providing a few links to articles that cover them in more depth.

Yet any Series about isolation and loneliness would be incomplete without including the particular flavor tasted by the brave men and women who step up to keep us safe at home – and the strain their service puts on their friendships, families, partners and children.
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Rarely Proud to be an American Anymore


How did our country become so selfish?
An interaction that left me Grumpy – and it’s not even Monday!

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
in the Monday Grumpy Monday Series

Walkin’ my Dog

As someone who moved around a lot throughout my life, I am currently living a considerably more isolated life than I would prefer because I have landed in a town I can’t really understand – Cincinnati, Ohio.

From my experience, at least, Cincinnati seems to be one of those towns I’ve come to call “passport towns.”

An introduction from somebody who’s grown up here – or lived here for most of his or her life – seems to be a prerequisite for even so much as a welcoming smile many days, and certainly the passport needed to develop a community of true friends. Since my move here several years ago, I have found myself quite lonely as a result.

True friends share each others’ lives, not merely conversations in passing or occasional calls for help or understanding in times of trouble. Most of my friends are scattered across the nation, so I frequently get a hankering for a a bit of face-to-face interaction, even though, since Kate Kelly’s passing, I no longer know anyone in Cincinnati I could count among my true friends.

Enforced isolation is something I have not experienced since, many years ago now, I first moved to New Orleans, Louisiana for grad school – another passport town. That surprised me, by the way. I’ve always made friends easily, and it’s extremely rare to need a passport in the South. But I think I finally figured it out.

Commonalities

I’ve observed that the two towns I mentioned are alike in this way: people who grow up there tend to stay put or move back “home,” perhaps because they finally tire of living in some other passport town where they couldn’t develop a community of friends either. In any case, a great many of the residents of these towns seem disinclined to widen their circles to include a stranger without the requisite introduction from a local.

Taking my own advice (from the Series I have been writing on loneliness and isolation), my little dog TinkerToy and I get out several times a day – and I smile warmly at everyone I pass on our walks around the neighborhood (even if they don’t return my smile). I engage anyone who seems the least bit friendly in a passing conversation.

“Hi, how are you?”
“Don’t you just love (or hate) this weather?”

When I notice an expression on a face that seems to indicate that they are about to bring our little chat to a close, I wave them on and tell them I hope they have a nice day.

Related posts:
The Importance of Community to Health
When You’re Longing for Connection

But passport towns are not the central point of today’s post.
Walking my dog is how I came to meet Staff Sergeant Brown.

Some actual connection

My little Shih Tzu TinkerToy and I frequently pass a small cigarettes-snacks-and-beer store that serves the many college students in this section of the walking neighborhood I currently call home. Staff Sergeant Brown was sitting on a stoop out in front, keeping watch on two large garbage bags bulging with cans.

Do you know what he can get for those cans these days?  A whole thirty cents – per pound.

And that’s how this courageous, 63 year old veteran of FOUR wars is currently supporting himself – because he is too proud to beg.

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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When You’re Longing for Connection


Lonely is not Needy – or alone
Mood menders: history, empathy, and support

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
adding to the Loneliness Series – Part 3 of 3

Being alone is solitude; feeling alone is loneliness.
~ Psychologist & noted Leadership expert Manfred Kets de Vries

We are by nature storytellers
who must recount our days and our lives
in order to make sense of them.
For this we need listeners…
but listeners who are genuinely interested in us as people.

~ from Healing Loneliness, a sermon by Reverend Brian J. Kiely,
Unitarian Church of Edmonton,September 19,2012

About the longing for connection

In an article on everydayhealth.com, Dr. Sanjay Gupta suggests that we need to Treat Loneliness as a Chronic Illness.  He includes a couple of paragraphs that summarize the points made in Part II of this article, Sliding Into Loneliness:

There’s nothing unusual about feeling lonely. “It’s perfectly common for people to experience loneliness when their social networks are changing, like going off to college or moving to a new city,” says Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.

The death of a loved one or marital discord can also trigger feelings of isolation. But there’s a difference between temporary “state” and chronic “trait” loneliness.

“Many of the patients we see have had situational loneliness that becomes chronic. They have been unable to rebuild after a loss or a move or retirement,” says psychiatrist Richard S. Schwartz, MD, co-author of The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century.

“One of the ways that situational loneliness can become chronic is precisely because of the shame we feel about our loneliness — the sense we have of being a loser.”

Jo Coughlin has written an interesting article about avoiding loneliness in retirement in which she neatly distinguishes loneliness from solitude:

In most cases, solitude is a temporary state that is usually voluntary. The ability to be happy in the absence of the company of others is seen as a sign of good mental health.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is involuntary – an unhealthy state that creeps up on us over time, often accompanied by depression, a feeling of helplessness and isolation.

Successful engagement, according to Coughlin, hinges on gaining self awareness and focusing on empathy for others. She admits that these are traits often in short supply in those who have spent a great deal of their lives escaping into work to suppress their loneliness.  However, she goes on to say, those traits can be worked on and developed later in life, especially with the help of a therapist, a coach or with guidance from a loved one.

Both of the articles mentioned above include the assurance that it’s never too late to change things — that it’s possible to learn the social skills of engagement and connection at any stage of life, even if you’ve been lonely for much of it.
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