Turtlenecks & Wool: Yea or Nay?


Are YOU “sensory defensive”
Do YOUR little quirks & preferences (or those of a loved one)
have a brain-based explanation?

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

Sensory sensitivities

Regular readers already know of my intense disregard for summer. I can’t deal with heat.  Not only am I extremely uncomfortable, practically on the verge of passing out from heatstroke, I seem to lose the ability to think.  My brain wilts.

As October is a week old already – Indian Summer begone! – I am practically giddy as I begin to dig out my woolly turtleneck sweaters and the boots last seen before the weather turned beastly hot.

I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of the day when I can put away ALL my summer clothes and start wearing coats and gloves, swaddling my neck in long wool scarves – venturing out once again, in real clothes designed for grown-up bodies!

Seriously, have you ever really looked at summer clothing?

  • Limp and tattered rags of sweat-drenched cotton passing for tops;
  • Belly-button baring pants, whacked off at fanny level;
  • And shoes that are barely more than soles with straps exposing far too many toes in serious need of some grooming attention.

On the other hand . . .

More than a few people I know are practically in mourning, dreading the coming of the “bone-chilling” season that, for them, has absolutely nothing to recommend it.

  • They hate wearing shoes at all, and boots make them feel like a Budweiser Clydesdale.
  • They can barely breath in turtlenecks and neck scarves.
  • Wool makes them scratch themselves practically bloody.

You might be tempted to believe that we have little in common – but you’d be WRONG.  We are each members of the Sensory Defensive club – at the far ends of the spectrum: heat, for me, and cold for them.

But sensory defensiveness is not confined to temperature.
It can show up in any number of arenas, including:
sound, sight, touch, smell and taste —
as well as vestibular/proprioceptive (position, balance & movement)

What most people don’t understand is that these sensory sensitivities are usually the result of “faulty brain-wiring” — a sensory integration issue.

In addition to many individuals born with ADD, anywhere along the autistic-spectrum, or other individuals with attentional challenges, sensory sensitivities can also be a consequence of brain damage [TBI/ABI], and often accompanies PTSD.

Even some professionals who work with PTSD misunderstand the loud noise/startle response. It may well have a psychologically-based component that triggers flashbacks but, at base, it’s frequently a neurological issue. The sensory integration pathways have often been scrambled and must be healed or reconstructed.

But back to my friends and our clothing preferences

In addition to our shared inability to tolerate certain temperatures (comfortably, or at all), some of my summer-loving buddies seem to have an additional issue to contend with: tactile defensiveness – and that is what this particular article is going to address.

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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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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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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.

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The importance of Trigger Warnings


I expect Universities to be places of enlightened thinking
The University of Chicago flunked the test

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

A Trigger Warning is no different from a RATING

A Trigger Warning is NOT content censorship – it is a WARNINGPeriod.  It allows for the use of coping strategies by those students who need them.

It is absolutely insane to put forth some black and white argument expressing fear that supporting its use in ANY circumstance will facilitate its application to all situations where some student might take offense.

  • Few thinking individuals are up in arms about impinging on the rights of people who want to watch certain types of films simply because they are rated X to guide those who do not.
  • Rational people do not insist that the ban on guns in schools be lifted, holding up 2nd Amendment Rights  (the right to bear arms, for my non-American readers).

And yet, The University of Chicago sent out a letter to incoming Freshman outlining their [non] logic as they disclose that they will not support the use of Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces on their campus.

Rather than using this issue as a chance to increase Mental Health Awareness, which is to be expected from any institution claiming education as its purpose, The University of Chicago has chosen to issue what amounts to a gag order.

We have a L-O-N-G way to go where educating people about Mental Health is concerned – but for a University to be so blatantly unaware is both frightening and appalling. I’d yank my kid out of that “educational” environment in a heartbeat!

Why all the fuss?

Regular readers are aware of the reasons for my reluctance to use the WordPress reblog function – so I hope you will jump over to the posts below to read the rest of the excellent points surrounding the words quoted below.

In her introduction, Maisha Z. Johnson explains the issue in terms anybody might easily be able to understand, EVEN the decision-makers at The University of Chicago, especially John Ellison, U of C dean of students (who is declining to respond to emails, etc. by the way).

THAT would mean, of course, that they’d bothered to upgrade their egregious lack of education about mental health issues before responding in what I feel strongly is a cruel and ignorant fashion.

Two college students return to campus after both were present for an act of violence.

One of them was physically injured in the incident. In order to return to class, he asks to have space around his desk to allow him to stretch, because sitting still for too long would aggravate his injury.

How would you feel about his request? Would you understand why such an accommodation would help him heal? Expect his professors to oblige?

Now, the other student’s pain isn’t visible – it’s emotional.

He wasn’t physically hurt, but he lost a loved one, and he’s traumatized. Certain reminders have resulted in panic attacks, and he’d rather not experience that again – especially not when he’s trying to move on with his life and get an education.

So he also makes a request, asking his professors if they can give him a warning before covering material that relates to the type of violence that took away his loved one.

How would you feel about this student’s request?

What he’s asking for is a content warning, also commonly called a trigger warning. And it’s a huge source of debate.

. . . when it comes to an able-bodied person experiencing a temporary injury and needing support to heal, there’s usually not much debate about whether or not they should be allowed in class with crutches, a cast, or extra space around their desk.

The sharp contrast between this acceptance and common attitudes towards trigger warnings reveals something disturbing about our society’s approach to trauma and mental illness.

Read more of this post . . .


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The importance of a diagnosis


Name it to Tame it
“Label Stigma” is very OLD thinking

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

Will this NEVER die?

Do we “label” eyes brown, green or blue?  Would the color of anybody’s eyes change simply because we don’t put a name to that color for fear of subjecting them to preconceived notions about eyes (or color)?

If some narrow-minded person has a prejudice against people with light eyes, does identifying the color of those eyes as “blue” make the slightest difference what-so-ever?

How about height and weight “labels?”

SURELY nobody really believes that as long as we don’t define size by measurement we can pretend everybody is exactly the same — even though we can easily see that they aren’t.

  • Is there some evolutionary advantage to pretending that identifying certain characteristics specifically isn’t relevant – or important?
  • Does it really change anybody’s self-identity or position in the universe to find out exactly how tall they are?
  • Does it change how we think about our role in the world to know how much we weigh?

And yet . . .

Labelling theory, prominent during the 1960s and 70s, with some modified versions still currently popular, has long asserted the exact opposite.

It postulates that, once “labeled,” individuals are stripped of their old identities as new ones are ascribed to them — and that the process usually leads to internalizing this new identity and social status, taking on some kind of assigned role with its associated set of role expectations.

And society seems to like to go along with this BS!!!

When I look around, the most comprehensive internalization I see is the result of the self-identification with STIGMA.

Out of the fear of having their children “labelled” with a mental illness, too many parents avoid taking their kids for diagnosis and treatment – because they don’t want their children to have to suffer the stigma of a diagnosis.

Out of that same fear, many otherwise sensible adults – who would certainly go for treatment if what they suspected was wrong with them were physical – are leading limp-along lives because they refuse to accept diagnosis and treatment for anything that concerns their mental health.  Few realize that they’ve actually internalized the very stigma they think they are avoiding.

MY point of view

As I see it, the reticence to accept mental health “labels” for fear of pigeon-holing or stereotyping allows society as a whole to remain in serious denial about the crying need to stand up and be counted, joining together to sling a few other labels that desperately need to be slung – like intolerant, bigoted, small-minded, parochial and provincial, to name just a few.

And then there’s the label that is my personal favorite to describe a particular kind of tool I’d like to call a spade: BULLY!

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

(unless, of course, you want to label it cowardice)

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When Memory Fails – Part 2


Memory Issues
& Alphabet Disorders
(ADD/HD-EFD-TBI etc.)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
When Memory Fails, Part 2

BlankMemory

According to Psychology Today  –

Memory makes us. If we couldn’t recall the who’s, what’s, where’s, and when’s of our everyday lives, we’d never be able to manage.

We mull over ideas in the present with our short-term (or working) memory, while we store past events and learned meanings in our long-term memory.

What Science Says

Memory is dynamic and malleable – and it doesn’t NEED to decay with age.

Through the miracles made possible through our brain’s ability to build new neural-networks — neuroplasticity! — most of us can expect to remain sharp and efficient, lean, mean learning machines throughout most of our lives.  We can, that is, as long as we take care of ourselves.

However, researchers are quick to point out, just as keeping our “physical apparatus” strong and flexible requires good nutrition and hygiene, remaining well-hydrated, and making sure that we get regular exercise so that our bodies can continue to serve us well . . .

Keeping our BRAINS supple has its own set of nutritional requirements and, to maintain peak performance, our brains need even more water than our bodies.

Were you aware that 80% of your brain is good ole’ H2O??
(In case you were wondering, 60% of the remaining 20% is FAT – which is only one reason why extremely low-fat diets may be great for helping you get into your skinny jeans, but they’re LOUSY for the health of your brain!)

The brain’s need for exercise is frequently summed up in the words of an old platitude: use it or lose it!

Related post: Images for Memory Practice
For some help strengthening visual memory,
check out this post on the blog of a TBI advocate

Losing it ANYWAY

cracked mind-300x300Okay, it’s certainly true that our ability to “remember” weakens if we don’t exercise our brains or take care of our bodies.

BUT EVEN for those of us who are reasonably fit, responsibly fed, well-watered life-long learners, there are times when information seems to fall through the cracks in our minds.

Ask any relatively good student if there was ever a time when, after studying vigorously for a particular exam – and even though they KNEW they “knew” the requested information – they couldn’t supply the answer to one of the questions.

Most students will answer your question affirmatively, yet they are members of the community that “uses it” most deliberately, nearly every single day.

That reality underscores an important point in the understanding of memory dynamics: it’s not enough to focus our energies on keeping our ability to store information strong and vital.  We need to understand how to be able to retrieve the information reliably for our “memory” to be of any use to us.

Getting things OUT

The process of memory storage is an extremely important part of the equation, of course — but if our brain’s librarian can’t locate what we ask it for when it comes time to USE the information, what good is it?

So before we explore the process of moving information into long-term memory storage, 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.

Read more of this post

Sound Sensitivity and Sensory Integration


Too much to process —
too much to THINK through

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
All Rights Reserved
Sensory Defensiveness Series – Part 1

Sound Sensitivity and Sensory Integration: Too much to process – too much to THINK through

“I have been talking and writing about sensory problems for over 20 years, and am still perplexed by many people who do not acknowledge sensory issues and the pain and discomfort they can cause. 

A person doesn’t have to be on the autism spectrum to be affected by sensory issues.”
~
Dr. Temple Grandin, The Way I See It

OURSELVES, growing older

My father “Brandy” was an amazingly healthy man for most of his 90+ years on earth. His mind stayed sharp right up to the end, but his body grew weary as the years went by — little betrayals and injustices to a man who was once strong and active. His once keen eyesight was the first to fade.

When I was just an undergrad, I remember his telling me that “his arms were no longer long enough.”  Now that I am older than the age he was then, I know just what he means: focal length. Presbyopia, they call it.

As the eyes grow older, the cornea becomes less flexible. It can no longer “squeeze down” enough to sharpen close-up focus.

  • I don’t think he ever really made friends with his reading glasses, though I’m sure he was grateful for anything that allowed him to continue to read.
  • I know I am – although I miss the days when I had the sharpest eyesight of anyone anyone knew, near or far.
  • I had no idea of the extent to which my cognition was linked to that sharp eyesight, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

As my father grew older, the world became louder – to everyone around him.

As he aged his hearing began to fade as well, so everything he listened to was LOUD — television, talk-radio, music – anything, really.  Although certainly understandable, it was also certainly annoying to those of us with normal hearing.  The volume he could tolerate hurt my ears, sometimes – even through the phone.

Have you ever been around someone with hearing challenges?

  • If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, go turn on the TV or radio right now — and turn it w-a-y UP.
  • NOW try to concentrate on reading this article.
  • Keep reading, and give it at least a full minute before you turn it off or down to the level of background music.
  • Whew!  That WAS annoying, wasn’t it?  How much do you recall of what you read?

Wouldn’t it be awful if, for some reason, you were unable to turn the sound back down?  How long do you think you would be able to tolerate it calmly?

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Sneaky Grief


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info

the_sneaky_ninja_by_kirilleeWhad’ya Mean Sneaky Grief?

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Grief & Diagnosis Series
– all rights reserved

————————————————————————-
You will get more value out of the articles in this series
if you’ve read Part 1:

The Interplay between Diagnosis and Grief
————————————————————-

occupations_chefOnion

Peeling Grief’s Onion takes the TIME it takes!

Nancy Berns, author of Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us has this to say:

It’s wrong to expect everyone else to follow a
formulaic ‘healing process’ aimed at ‘moving on.’
 . . .
‘You do not need to “close” pain in order to live life again.”

Here, here!  I couldn’t agree more strongly.

We each grieve uniquely, and there are parts of our experience of grieving that will remain in our hearts forever – thank God!

How horrible to think that significant loss might be marked with nothing more dramatic than a nod before moving on forever, thinking no more often about what we have lost than those remnants of a fast-food meal we tossed with last week’s trash.

However, I believe it is equally wrong to avoid handing out a few maps of the territory in our fear of seeming didactic about a process that is one of the most individual of journeys.

  • There are markers that most of us swim by as we navigate the waters of grief, holding our lives above the waterline as best we can.
  • I believe that locating ourselves on our particular pathway is an important first step in our ability to navigate successfully – sometimes at all.

Locating ourselves in the grief process is trickier than it might be otherwise, until we understand the concept I refer to as “sneaky grief.”

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Some HELP for the Grieving


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info

What to DO while we’re peeling the onion

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 2 of a two-part article in the
Grief & Diagnosis Series
– all rights reserved

————————————————————————-
You will get more value out of the articles in this series
if you’ve read Part 1:

The Interplay between Diagnosis and Grief

Click BELOW for Part ONE of this article:
Onions, Diagnosis, Attention and Grief –
Dealing with Grief is like Peeling an Onion 
————————————————————-

In Part One of this article, we talked about some of the ways in which dealing with grief is like peeling an onion, and we discussed the fact that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish grief from depression.

I encouraged you not to automatically discount the idea of pharmaceuticals if you feel you are not able to cope very well at all, and discouraged the impulsive from self-medicating.

I also encouraged you to trust your instincts about what YOU need while you heal.

I went on to give you a few specifics to help explain what that frequently mentioned “trouble sleeping” during a grief phase might look like in your life.

Following some brief information about the benefits of normalizing, I included a bit of self-disclosure about my own recent struggles with grief, to further help normalize what you may be experiencing. I left you with this:

Peeling grief’s onion takes the time it takes.
There ARE no shortcuts.

While it is certainly true that we cannot shorten the process, there are many things we CAN do to avoid lengthening it. That will be the focus of the remainder of this particular 2-part article in the Grief Series.

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Onions, Diagnosis, Attention and Grief


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info
.

Dealing with Grief is like Peeling an Onion

occupations_chefOnion

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 1 of a two-part article in the
Grief & Diagnosis Series
– all rights reserved

————————————————————————-
You will get more value out of the articles in this series
if you’ve read Part 1:

The Interplay between Diagnosis and Grief.
————————————————————-

An article entitled Helpful Tips for Coping with Grief, available on the HealthCommunities Website, asserts that “Grief is a normal response to loss.”

By “normal,” no doubt, they are referring to a state that is to be expected in an emotionally healthy human being.

The ten paragraph, ten part, ten web-pagelet article goes on to say quite a few helpful things about grief, many of which I am going to recontext in this series, along with exploring other assertions about grief and the grieving process that have long been accepted as universally relevant.

Because I think we need to reopen that book!

I’d like to begin by expanding upon the HealthCommunity’s second item today:
Feelings of grief [are] often progress in different stages.
It begins by underscoring an important point
we must all endeavor to keep in mind:
Every person grieves differently. 

“For some people, intense feelings — sometimes called the “throes of grief” — can last quite awhile. People who are grieving may go through 5 stages, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. 

Grief may not involve all of these and they don’t necessarily occur in order.

A number of difficult emotions are associated with grief — from feeling numb, to shock, sorrow, loneliness, fear, guilt and anger.

People who are grieving may be in pain, physically and emotionally, have trouble sleeping, lose interest in eating or activities and have difficulty concentrating and making decisions.”

I especially appreciate their careful use of qualifiers like “often”, “may,” and “don’t necessarily.”

My primary reason for quoting them, however, is to introduce some of my own conclusions about WHY grief seems to involve layers of processing, and WHY we don’t proceed apace from one to the other.

But first, lets talk about that onion for a minute.

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Variations on ADD-ADHD


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Whad’ya mean“Variations?”

FreeVector-Octopus-Doodle

GOOD question!

Here are just a few of the answers:

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Stages of Grief following Diagnosis


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Exploring the Stages of Grief following Diagnosis

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Grief & Diagnosis Series – all rights reserved

It’s A Process

In the previous article, I introduced some of the predictable stages of grief that we cycle through on the way to a Positive Acceptance of a diagnosis.

I use the term “Positive Acceptance” to refer to the developmental stage where we are able to incorporate a vision of the future that can include our diagnosis without allowing it to define our vision for ourselves and our lives.

We have reached the stage of Positive Acceptance when we are able to embrace our potential for incorporating change as development, affirming that healing and growth can, has and will occur in expected and unexpected ways — and that new opportunities will arise for which we have been uniquely prepared by the process of getting to this stage.

Given the tendency in our community to hyperfocus on rumination, when we are presented with a strong stimulus that triggers the release of adrenalin we tend to agonize!  As I said in the introductory article,  “it is only when we become ‘stuck’ in one of the phases of post-diagnosis grief that most of us take the time to stop to wonder what is going on with us and why we can’t ‘just get on with it.’”

What IS Going On?

One of the “problems” with adrenaline release is that it activates our fight-flight-freeze response, with its attendant shut-down of the prefrontal cortex [PFC] centers essential for what are termed the Executive Function.

Many of us with “alphabet disorders” [ADD, EFD, TBI, ASD] seem to have what I call “hair-trigger startle responses.” As a consequence, we often seem to get stuck far more often than our non-ADD peers.

It is my experience that everyone gets stuck when PFC shutdown occurs, it just happens more often and more dramatically to those of us with deficits in the realms of the attentional spectrum.

That’s the good news as well as the bad news, by the way, but let’s explore some brain-basics before we expand on that idea — and before we explore each of the stages of post-diagnostic grief at the end of this article.  (Stay with me here – it will help things make more sense)

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The Interplay between Diagnosis and Grief


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Exploring the Post-Diagnostic Grief Response 

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Grief & Diagnosis Series – all rights reserved

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Question: What do the following expressions
have in common?

  • “Oh thank goodness!  Now I can have a life!”
  • “You think I have what?” “Why didn’t they find this out before?”
  • “Why my child?” 
  • “He’s a perfectly normal BOY! Why do they have to pathologize everything?”
  • “I don’t need medication, I just need to try harder now that I know what I’m dealing with.”
  • “Those @#$% doctors don’t know anything!”
  • “If only I’d known this earlier, my life would have been completely different!”
  • Tell my boss?  Are you nuts?”

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Alphabet Soup


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EFD, ADD, ADHD, HRT, MBD – WTF?

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

Hold onto your hats everybody, there is discussion afoot toward yet another renaming of ADD (currently “officially” ADHD) — and the front-runner seems to be (at the moment, at least), EFD.

I wouldn’t block consensus on EFD.

However, as illuminated in an earlier article on this site [ADD – What’s in a Name?], I don’t have a problem with the acronym “ADD” — as long as we focus on the disorder of THE ATTENDING MECHANISM and the Dynamics of Attending.

In other words, the essential point, for me, is that, for whatever reason, ADD is an impairment in the extent of one’s ability to pay attention, STOP paying attention, and/or to get back on track after an interruption or distraction.

  1. Focusing on the intended object;
  2. Sustaining the focus;
  3. Shifting focus AT WILL

Underlying each of the Dynamics is the same impaired element of cognition common to all of the Executive Functioning Disorders: VOLITION.

That’s INTENTIONALITY, boys and girls – being able to drive your own brain and run your own life, rather than being at the effect of chronic oopses and mishaps.

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ADD Overview V: Red Flag Warnings


CLICK HERE FOR the first article in this series

ADD/ADHD/EFD
Red Flags

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Final article in a 5-Part Series 

NOTE: This is NOT an “Am I dealing with ADD/HD?” list.

These items are not the same thing as diagnostic criteria.

HOWEVER, if you are wondering if ADD or ADHD might be a factor in some of your life-long struggles (or those of a loved one), take a look at this list.

Keep in mind: an instance or three is NOT necessarily an indication of a problem, or a reason to suspect that your preferences (or those of a loved one) are maladaptive.

The presence of more than a few of the Red Flags, or a great many examples of one or more of the items below is, however, a signal to you that looking more closely at the possibility of an ADD/ADHD or EFD diagnosis might be warranted.

Remember 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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Differential Diagnosis – Part 2


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Archery target with arrow in center of bullseye

Differential Diagnosis:
 What is it?

— and why would I care?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part Two of the Differential Dx article
in the Comorbities Series

To answer the first part of the question, click HERE to read the first part of this article.  (Click the link at the end of THAT article to come back here to read why you really need to care.)

The answer to the second part?

In a nutshell: as with everything else in life,
“The Name of the Game™ determines the rules!”

If you don’t have the correct diagnosis, there is NO WAY you will be addressing your problems in a manner that will be successful.

Pretend you are a former college marathon runner in his late 30’s.  Lately you’re having problems completing your morning run.  You can barely breathe after about ten minutes of what used to be an easy warm-up.

Obviously, you’d be headed for trouble if you were treated with asthma medication and the source of your shortness of breath turned out to be a problem with your heart.

Since you aren’t sure what’s going on, you’d want to feel confident that your doctor knows enough about “shortness of breath” conditions to make a referral to the correct specialist, even if your particular doctor specializes in sports medicine, right?

When you’re dealing with a differential diagnosis that has few quantifiable measures to identify it, it becomes all the more important to work with a doctor who has the depth of knowledge it may take to distinguish between a daunting number of possibilities with similar presentations — yet very different treatments.

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Zebras, hoof-beats and Dr. House: Differential Diagnosis


Differential Diagnosis: WHAT is it?

and WHY do I care?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie,
CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
#1 of a 2-parter in the Comorbities Series

(To find out how the Zebras relate, read the article!!) 

differential diagnosis is one which examines all of the possible reasons for a set of symptoms in order to arrive at an identification of the cause (or combination of causes) of a presenting problem.

It’s a fairly simple process of elimination that can become unblievably complex in an eye-blink, “simply” because so many diseases and disorders present with similar symptoms,

Although the term “differential diagnosis” initially referred to issues of physical health, today many doctors in the mental health field also use this system of diagnosis.

Diagnosticians specialize in differential diagnosis.

Everybody’s favorite Diagnostician

And who would that be?

Why, House, of course!

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A Little ADD Lens™ Background


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Looking through The ADD Lens™

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

Magnifying Glass held over a page to make the content appear larger and easier to read.This is part two of the Chapter 1 excerpts of The Boggle Book: How to stop screaming at your spouse, kicking the dog, and losing your cool, finally and forever!  

(Click HERE to go back to Part 1)

This excerpt will give you a little background context and introduce the concept of looking through The ADD Lens™as if every single reader had a full-blown case of diagnostic ADD. Read more of this post

10 Questions to Ask to find a GRRRRreat! ADD Doc


ADD* & Looking for a Doctor?

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

Ten great questions to ask in the initial interview

Cartoon of a Doctor in a white lab coat with clipboard, glasses. and doctor's bag

Most of us are desperate for help by the time we look for it. 

ADD affect combined with a shortage of time and money means we often approach the process as beggars at a banquet, accepting a crust of bread as eagerly as a balanced meal.

If you don’t want to have to “Return to GO” when you find out later that things aren’t working (leaving your $200 on the table with the first doctor!), take some time to think first about what you need, and to find out whether your needs will be met by the care provider you are considering.

—————–

SEE: ADD: What’s in a Name? for why I don’t use the “H” – even though you ADHD-ers are definitely included in the articles you will find here.

© Updated 2011, Madelyn Griffith-Haynie,CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC-orig. on ADDCoach.com – 07/05/95

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