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 in an unprovoked attack and left for dead in an alley.  The 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

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

 

But wait! There’s more . . .

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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 . . .

Read more of this post

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.

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Don’t Drink the Kool-ade


Choice vs. Fear-mongered Reaction

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another Reflections post

 

“Ritalin, like all medications,
can be useful when used properly
and dangerous when used improperly. 

Why is it so difficult for so many people
to hold to that middle ground?”

~ Dr. Edward Hallowell

As I wrote in a prior article, in response to one of the far too many opinion pieces made popular by the soundbite press:

  • You don’t have to believe in medication.
  • You don’t have to take it.
  • You don’t have to give it to your kids.

You don’t EVEN have to do unbiased research before you ring in with an opinion on medication or anything else having to do with ADD/ADHD/EFD.

HOWEVER, when you’re writing a piece to be published in a widely-read paper of some stature, or a book that presents itself as containing credible expertise, it is simply unprofessional — of the writer, the editors, and the publications themselves — to publish personal OPINION in a manner that will lead many to conclude that the pieces quote the sum total of scientific fact

It is also incredibly harmful.

Read more of this post

Balance Balls for On-Task Classroom Focus?


Does sitting on a balance ball help children with ADHD in the classroom?

Guestpost from David Rabiner, Ph.D.
Dept. of Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University
©
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE; September 21, 2016

Let’s NOT discount the science

Could sitting on a balance ball help children with ADD/ADHD/EFD be more focused and on-task in the classroom?

While the idea may strike many as implausible, several small but interesting studies conducted since 2003 suggests there may be something to this.

Really?

Dr. Rabiner recently received a question from a long-time subscriber and teacher about whether there was any research to support a practice in her school of having children with ADHD sit on fidget cushions when seated on the floor or chair.

The idea behind this approach is that children with ADHD may benefit from more movement in the classroom because being in motion allows their brains to be more fully engaged.

He was not immediately aware of any research on this issue, and it initially struck him as a bit far fetched. When he searched the literature, however, he came across several small but interesting studies that yielded promising results.

Scroll DOWN for his excellent summary
of this small body of work.


Please feel free to forward this content to others you know who may be interested. If you would like to receive Attention Research Update on a regular basis, visit http://www.helpforadd.com for a no-charge subscription.

ABOUT:  I have been a huge fan of Dr. David Rabiner’s ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE since its inception in 1997. Not only do I count on his comprehensive, plain-English explanations of up-to-date research trends and developments as key resources in my drive to keep my information base current, I also archive them for future reference.

I urge any professional working with individuals with Attentional Spectrum deficits and struggles — whether teachers, counselors, coaches, therapists or physicans — to sign yourself up before the idea falls through the cracks.  (Parents and ADD/EFDers themselves can benefit too!)

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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)

Read more of this post

Brains Need SYSTEMS to Develop


Learning CHANGES the Structure of the Brain:

Impossible in the face of chaos

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

“You don’t cure a different organization of the brain;
you find ways and strategies of helping that brain learn [. . .] in a different way.
It’s not about cure, it’s about teaching different ways.

~ Maryanne Wolf
reading expert & author of Proust and the Squid

Building a Brain

While it is true that no two brains develop in a manner that is exactly the same, babies come into this world with a brain specialized for learning – a pattern-recognition device designed to bootstrap learning into a structure of additional patterns.

The brain develops in a manner not dissimilar to the way in which a computer uses certain hardwired sub-routines to locate and activate still more code that allows for the loading and interpretation of additional programs — which facilitates their use for creating new ideas.

The human brain builds the new structures and networks it needs to allow it to continue to learn.  The process by which it does that work is known as neuroplasticity.

Not all that long ago, most of the science-crowd mistakenly believed that there was a relatively early window in which neuroplasticity operated. It was once thought that all of the neurons our brains were ever going to have developed within that window, and the systems the brain used to learn were set after a particular point in childhood.

Baby brains develop amazingly quickly

If you’ve ever spent any time at all around an infant, you might recall their unfocused stare and their unselfconscious movements and facial expressions.

It may not be immediately apparent to parents who spend day to day time with the baby, but adults who visit only occasionally are usually amazed at how much more that child is able to interact with the world each time.

Suddenly, it seems, that tiny child is able to focus on an object of fascination.  S/he responds to the direction of a particular sound and reaches for things. The baby exhibits what adults recognize as curiosity about the world around them and develops preferences.

Order out of Chaos

Babies come into a world of seeming chaos: sights, sounds, temperature, texture and more, with little in place to help them make sense of it all. They have to build the brain that will help them learn for the rest of their lives.

The task of their amazingly neuroplastic infant brains is to learn to recognize the constants that help them to derive meaning from a cacophony of stimulation that the majority of us learn to filter out – eventually.

And it is the task of the adults around them
to provide those constants.

As infants learn to recognize the simplest thing, as far as adult sensibilities are concerned, their brains grow and change their structures. As the baby’s brain learns that certain types of vibrations need to be visually interpreted, others audially, and so forth, it reorganizes its pathways for the most efficient recognition and interpretation of incoming data. It condenses the complexities of sensory awareness to comprehend “meaning.”

Assimilation of the basic concept of Mom, for example, requires a complex network of connections that, very quickly, allows the baby to understand that the source of his or her food is mother, and that she is one single element:

  • those hands are part of my mother,
  • those arms are part of my mother
  • that face is my mother smiling
  • that other face is still my mother, frowning
  • those sounds make up my mother’s voice
  • and I have a voice too

A lot of brain-based learning must take place before the baby assigns emotional or intellectual meaning to what s/he observes, eventually able to extrapolate expectations of sensory awareness to form new ideas about his or her world like, “I have a voice too.”

A LOT for our brains to learn

It makes sense that it might have seemed that brain-development is essentially a childhood task. Because young children have so much to learn so quickly, brain growth and change seems, by comparison, to stop in adulthood.

It has been postulated that, because of the size limitations of the birth canal in an upright-walking human being, our babies are born essentially nine months premature.  The increase in size of the infant’s brain after birth is phenomenal, compared to the growth in an adult brain. A baby’s brain doubles in size in their first year alone. By age three it has reached 80 percent of its adult volume.

Highways and Byways

It is a logical extrapolation that after a certain point, the brain would use what it has built in a manner similar to the way in which a city uses it’s roads to connect grocery store to neighborhood to a particular location in the center of town. There may be a hundred ways to drive from place to place, but nobody sober cuts through yards to form new roads that were never there before.

Except, with the brain, that hasn’t turned out to be exactly true.
Read more of this post

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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Good news on brain-aging from The Nun Study


Healthy Brains for a Lifetime

We really DON’T have to lose it as we age

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Protection

Cognitive decline is NOT inevitable

A quick review before some data that will bring smiles to a lot of worried faces (especially for writers!):

There is still a lot to learn from School Sisters of Notre Dame “Nun” Study — the longitudinal scientific exploration of aging and Alzheimer’s disease originally funded by the National Institute on Aging.  Data, tissue, and genetic material collected in this landmark study will, no doubt, prove invaluable to a great many meta-studies long into the future.

Thanks to the Sisters’ unprecedented generosity of spirit, however, we now know a lot more about how the brain ages than we did, even a few years ago.  We also know more about dementia and what factors seem to be neuro-protective.

The oft-cited study centers on a group of a relatively homogeneous order of 678 Roman Catholic sisters (American, no drug use, little or no alcohol or tobacco, similar housing and reproductive histories, etc.) — which minimizes extraneous variables that may confound other similar research.

Along with, ultimately, hundreds of others in their order, a few brave nuns agreed to volunteer for a long-term study of aging and Alzheimer’s disease, hoping to provide evidence that might be used to teach the rest of us how to escape the worst ravages of this heartbreaking illness.

To repeat a comment from my last article [You don’t HAVE to lose it as you age: Moving Past Mind-Blips and “Senior Moments”]:

Upon autopsy, even some of the individuals discovered to have what used to be accepted as “positive Alzheimer’s identifiers” (senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles), managed to escape the behavioral devastation of the disease.

Others had only recently begun to exhibit signs of mental decline in the year or two before their deaths (at 80 and beyond), despite brains that would have predicted a significantly earlier onset of dementia.

Read more of this post

You don’t HAVE to lose it as you age


Moving Past Mind-Blips and “Senior Moments”

Maintaining & improving your brain’s vitality as you age

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Protection

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

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


Along with suggestions designed to help, this article begins to debunk the myth of “to be expected” age-related cognitive decline — as it explains the mechanics of memory and outlines the functional trajectory of the healthy brain as time marches on.

In the Memory Issues Series, anyone currently struggling to fit into a neurotypical mold, even if you are GenX or younger, will find a lot of information that will help you develop effective you-specific strategies to work around some of the things that give you fits and shut you down.


Our Worst Nightmare

Staying in SHAPE as we age (Source HERE)

Most people who have lived with cognitive decline in an up close and personal fashion (in particular, the ravages of any of the dementias in a loved one), frequently report a back-of-the-mind concern that they are looking into a mirror of their future selves.

Time marches on, and we’re all getting older. The first wave of Baby Boomers – that spike in the population statistics once Johnny came marching home from World War II – turned 65 in 2012.

With the third-act aging of more and more of the Boomers, this conversation will become increasingly frequent, as those back-of-the-mind concerns rise to conscious awareness and become the worries of a greater portion of our population.

Take a D-E-E-P breath — you don’t HAVE to lose it as you age!!

Prevention is the better part of valor

You wouldn’t wait until the day before the marathon to train for it, would you? Same thing with healthy brain aging! Don’t wait until decline begins to start doing something about it — if you want to experience the rosy finish you can expect if you begin to employ neuro-protective techniques NOW

Good news for most Boomers –
it’s not too late to start turning things around!

Read more of this post

Coaching for those Senior Moments


ADD/EFD or
Age-related Mind Blips?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on memory before moving on with help

When your mind is like a steel sieve

It’s bad enough when we can’t recall a name in the middle of an introduction. It’s worse when we can’t remember where we put our keys when we’re running late — and so embarrassing when our minds drive right by birthdays and anniversaries.

We feel scatterbrained when we have to go back into the house several times to check that we turned off the lights, locked the back door, or unplugged the iron.

We feel stupid when we forget a basic fact we haven’t pulled out of our mental databases for a while – like how to divide fractions or figure percentages, or the spelling of a common word, for example.

We worry that we might be getting SENILE when we can’t recall entire events – like going to see a specific film with a certain person who is absolutely positive we were there with them, perplexed when we still don’t remember once they supply details to support their case.

If we don’t remember seeing the film at all, we begin to worry about incipient Alzheimer’s!

Memory lapses are not limited to those middle-aged mind-blips science sometimes calls “age-related cognitive decline.” It’s also awful when a student’s mind goes blank when s/he’s taking an exam after studying diligently for several nights in a row.

Question Mark in red circle; magnifying glass attempting to make it clearer.While the kids might substitute a different word for the last letter in the acronym, we all find it unbelievably frustrating when we have a CRS episode – those times when we simply . . .

        Can’t Remember Stuff !

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My way IS the Highway?


ALL Kinds of Solutions
for ALL Kinds of Minds

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from posts from January 2012 and March 2015

Get up Early … Exercise to FOCUS! … Bite the Bullet … Eat that Frog
Give it your ALL … Connect with the Pain … Clean out your Closet
Throw out your ClutterAccelerate your willingness . . .

WHY won’t everybody else do what they should?

Yep! So many people think that everybody else needs to do everything their way. It’s as if they believe that exactly the same techniques that have been effective in their own lives would transfer equally well to anyone else’s situationif those slackers would only DO IT RIGHT!

Everyone’s problems would magically disappear with “simple” solutions, IF ONLY everybody else would:

 — or really wanted a solution and not simply a chance to complain!

As if everybody needed to do the same thing – right?

I know what works for you – uhuh, uhuh-uhuh

More than a few Success Gurus approach the subject of productivity and goal fulfillment from a paradigm that not only is unlikely to work for everyone on the planet, I believe that much of what they suggest does not work very well at all for citizens of Alphabet CityIn fact, it shuts many of us down.

These “experts” certainly don’t mean to shut anybody down – and many find it difficult to impossible to believe that they do.  Still, they speak in soundbites that encapsulate the cornerstones of their systems.

They tend to promote techniques in alignment with the claim that increasing commitment to change, demonstrated by “giving up your resistance” to whatever it is they are suggesting, is the single most important step that turns the tide for many of their clients, students and seminar attendees – and that it would work for you too, if you’d only give it a try.

Different folks and different strokes

  • Tortoises and Hares
  • Linears and Holographics
  • Detailers and Concepters
  • Prioritize First or Do it NOW propronents
  • DECIDE and Do or Follow the Flow

Does anybody REALLY believe that the same “success techniques” are likely to work effectively for each of the examples above?  Their ways of approaching life is at opposite ends of the spectrum.  Who’s to say that one style is the “right” approach and the other is not?

Taking different routes to work

How you get to a particular location in your town, for example, depends upon a great many variables: where you are coming from, the amount of gas in your tank, the time of day, what else you are trying to accomplish on the same trip — even the type of vehicle you are driving and the state of your tires.

I can recommend the way I travel as the most direct route, or the one with the fewest stop lights, or the most scenic.  But it’s not true that one or the other is “the best,” or that the recipient of my suggestion is intractable or doesn’t really want to get where they are going if they choose another route.

In a manner similar to how a city’s network of roads determines how various people travel to the same destination, the connections that make up the networks in our brains determine how our brains operate. Variations in the way we navigate our world – physically or mentally – are a product of our “equipment” and how life tends to work best for us.

Still, we all like to give advice, and it makes us feel great when people take it.  But it doesn’t mean that we know “better.”

During my 25+ year coaching career, I have worked very hard to jettison “I know better” thinking. I have been relatively successful moving beyond the temptation to spread judgment like a schmear on a bagel, but I still defend my right (and yours) to offer advice, raising our voices of experience to offer information and suggest solutions.

It’s not the advice that is the problem – it’s the misguided expectation that others need to take it!

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Reflections: a new idea for ADD/EFD content


500 Posts – really?
Time Flies when You’re Having Fun!

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

Good news/bad news

I recently received a notification from the WordPress Fairies congratulating me on the publication of my 500th blogpost – not even counting the over-100 blog pages I’ve put together since that fateful day when I decided to publish the fruits of my 25 years of  ADD/EFD experience, information and coaching techniques online for free.

Regular readers are well aware that only a handful of these posts
are what anyone would consider brief!

THANK YOU to everyone who has let me know through likes, stars and comments that the time I spent meandering to this bodacious accomplishment has been worth it!

If not for you, I might have spent that time agonizing over the sorry state of my all-too-messy abode – or given up coaching and training altogether and signed on for an actual job!

While attending to either would have undoubtedly delighted my friends and family, I am personally grateful that I haven’t been forced to take such desperate measures so far.

So What’s the BAD News?

It has taken more time than expected for a number of you to find your way here. Many of my newer readers have probably missed more than a few foundational concepts and work-arounds.

Although I continue to link to older-but-still-relevant posts like a mad thing, I certainly understand the time-crunch that inspires those decisions to investigate later.

So rather than creating brand new content for some of my upcoming articles, I have decided to recycle. I plan to cobble together portions of my personal favorites that, judging by the dearth of comments and likes, have been languishing in undeserved obscurity.

I suppose I could conclude that nobody really liked them the first time around, but I have chosen not to go there.  I believe they deserve a second chance in front of the blogging footlights, and that they will be brand new and helpful offerings for the majority of my current readers.

I hope that decision turns out to be good news for YOU.

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Productivity: Paying Attention on Purpose


Keeping our Attention on Intention
Accountability check-ins for purposeful follow-through

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

The Link between Attention and Intention

Many qualities and skills combine to produce successful follow-through. Today, we are going to focus on the importance of attention.

If you ever hope to stop scratching your head or beating yourself up over your struggles with staying on track and getting things done, understanding the implications of the concept of attention is foundational.

Every single technique I have developed, coached and taught over the last 25+ years has been structured with the underlying goal of strengthening  the attentional muscles – or compensating for them when they are weak.

No matter what your most frustrating problem is: clutter-management or up-front organization, making yourself start or procrastinating at the back end, time or mood management  — and a whole host of other challengesunderneath them all is a problem with attention allocation and management.

If you don’t understand how to work with yourself to focus your attention on what you want, when you want and for as long as you must, you’re going to have problems in some or all of those arenas.

So let’s get to it!

As I said in Brain Waves, Scans and ATTENTION —  One of the goals of comprehensive brain-based ADD Coaching is to identify areas where our clients can improve on the intentional direction of attentive awareness.  Nobody gets much done if they can’t focus very well on what they’re attempting to DO.

HOWEVER, without supportive follow-through structures in place, whether professional, partner or peer, the self-discipline to stay focused and in action for as long as it takes, is rare.

As our attention meanders from distraction to competing priority our willpower seems to drain away, leaving us wanting nothing so much as a vacation or a nap!

And then we turn on ourselves, beating ourselves up with negative thoughts and comments we’d never say to another living soul.

Related Posts: How to STOP Chasing your Tail
Productivity, Focus & Follow-through

How Come?

In case you missed it in Why Accountability Leads to Follow Through, it’s not that we’re lazy or lack sufficient motivation, even though many of us have been accused of exactly that, far too many times.

It’s that few of us realize that, no matter how strong our initial commitment, will-power requires cognitive bandwidth that is limited in supply. Just like a a muscle, it can only be exercised for so long – and handle so much – before it gives out.

We see the negative effects most dramatically in the citizens of Alphabet City, whose attentional “muscles” aren’t as strong to begin with. However, we can ALL use a little wind beneath our wings to help us keep on keepin’ on.

Related Post: From Impulsivity to Self-Control

Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to impossible to reach that happy state of managing our attention with intentionality until we understand what it is, exactly, that we are attempting to manage.

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Accountability & Systems on Auto-Pilot


Systems Development is Part ONE
It’s that consistent follow-through part that’s the killer!

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

Treadmill Deja Vu

As I explained in Keeping Up with the Treadmill Tasks, published over 2-1/2 years ago, Treadmill Tasks are those things that are never really done. No sooner do we put a task behind us than its evil twin materializes in front.

If we expect to eat every day, somebody has to fix the food. Then somebody has to deal with the dishes at least once a day or so, and wipe spills off the counters and the floor (at least well enough to keep the Board of Health away from our door).

Oops, let’s not forget to take out the garbage – and how about that grocery shopping?

Then there’s the general digging out: policing the living rooms and the bedrooms, the kitchens and the bathrooms . . . not to mention those home office to-dos, even for those of us who work for wages somewhere else.

SOME-body has to attend to all of those items or everybody must live with the consequences of mounting disorder and disarray that eventually makes life practically unlivable.

When YOU are that somebody – especially if you are one of the citizens of Alphabet City – I’ll bet you frequently feel like your life is little more than one rapidly revolving to-do list, and that you will never be able to cross off anything anywhere near the bottom.

Hang on – help’s coming!

But wait – there’s MORE!

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Why Accountability Leads to Follow-through


Keepin’ on Keepin’ ON
Accountability check-ins for follow-through

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

Structures for Accountability

Have you ever gone on a weight loss diet?  Even if you are one of the few people in America who have no personal experience with that particular follow-though struggle, I’ll bet you are familiar with somebody else’s on again/off again attempts at “losing a few pounds and getting into shape.”

Psychologist Dan Ariely, author, professor and Duke University’s founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight has made a comprehensive study of self-regulation abilities.

He’s noted that people can promise themselves they will stick to a plan (as with a weight-loss diet), and have all the motivation in the world (like a serious health concern, for example) but, without external controls, most people are unlikely to follow through on their commitments to themselves.

Why else do you think so many people trying to lose weight turn to Weight Watchers and other organizations that use an accountability/motivational check-in format?

Related Post: Productivity, Focus & Follow-through

Without support and check-in structures in place, having the self-discipline to follow through for as long as it takes is rare.

  • Haven’t you noticed that you have a better shot at staying on task when someone is watching?
  • Didn’t you study more diligently when you knew a test was coming up?
  • When your follow-through energy begins to flag and you start to get discouraged, doesn’t having somebody in your corner who reminds you of how well you’ve been doing make a difference?
  • When your will-power wilts, doesn’t it help to have a champion in your corner?

It’s not that we’re lazy or lack motivation — it’s that we don’t realize that no matter how strong our initial commitment, will-power requires cognitive bandwidth that is limited in supply.

Just like a a muscle, it can only be exercised for so long – and handle so much – before it gives out.  We need a little wind beneath our wings to help us keep on keepin’ on.

Related Post: Can This ADDer be Saved?

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SHAME on the nasties who pirate Intellectual Property


Grumpy again today
– another [unfortunate] addition to the languishing Series
Monday Grumpy Monday –

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

AGAIN – Discouraged, Weary and Worried

Our world seems to be rapidly going to hell in a handbag, as they say.

I just read an article put together by Daily (w)rite author Damyanti Biswas.

In it, she takes on the topic of “pirating” in a courageous and thought-provoking article: Are Readers Entitled to Read Books for Free?

Damyanti is one of the many writers who follow and support what I do here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com. It’s my turn to support back, even though this is sort-of “off-topic” when you consider the usual scope of my articles.

Calling out all pirates

It has come to my attention that the beyond nasty practice of “eBook pirating” (let’s call a spade a spade: STEALING) seems to be getting increasingly worse — to the point where more than a few of us are inspired to spend even more of the precious minutes of our lives to call out the perpetrators, adding to the hours we spend to make it possible for us to publish what we write for the benefit and enjoyment of all.

In addition to linking to a site that helps you find out if anyone is pirating your work, Damyanti cites and links to Sarah Madison‘s article taking on the eBook piracy topic as well, in an even more strongly worded fashion: Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing Me.

There is NO justification for stealing an author’s work. Ever!

As Megan Lembach reminds everyone in her comment on Sarah’s article:

The cost of an eBook is 1-2 cups of coffee at Starbucks and often books are much less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Damyanti nicely handles the “too broke to buy” lame excuses within her article:

“There are various ways of reading books for free or for small change: libraries, Bookbub, Kindle Unlimited to name but a few”

Even if you don’t have time to actually read these posts, I would consider it a personal favor if every single one of you who has ever benefited from anything I post here for free would take a minute to click the links above, then click “like” or leave a quick comment to show support for the respect that article and book creation deserves.

Because, believe it or not, those scummy thieves seem to be receiving more support than the hard-working authors! Internet Trolls have banded together to actually defend the practice, attacking the authors in a number of truly nasty ways.

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Full Recovery after “No Hope” Concussion


There’s ALWAYS Hope

The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life
and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back

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

Don’t Miss this Post!

If you (or those you love) are struggling with the results of a physical or blast-related TBI, acquired brain injury, stroke, problems with balance, life-long attentional challenges, learning disorders, sensory defensiveness, MS . . .

If you have been to numerous doctors and failed to respond completely to what you have been told is every available therapy or intervention  . . .

If you have ever wondered if you will ever find a way to function with the ease that the rest of the world seems to be able to take for granted . . .

Take the time to read this short post and listen to the video embedded.
Trust me on this – just read and listen.

When Life Changes Overnight

“You know outside we look pretty much the same,
and if we’re not taxing our brains,
we can even interact in a pretty normal way.
But inside, in so many hundreds of small ways,
we have just been completely changed.”

~ Clark Elliott, author of The Ghost in My Brain

One fateful day in 1999, on his way to teach a class at DePaul University, Ph.D. Clark Elliott’s car was rear-ended while he was waiting for the stoplight to turn green.

It seemed like such a minor injury at the time — but there was nothing minor about his resulting concussion.

Suddenly, everything was different.

Once a cutting-edge professor with a teaching/research career in artificial intelligence, he rapidly found himself struggling to get through the most basic of activities, almost every single day for the next eight years.

The world no longer made sense in many ways. At times he couldn’t walk across a room, get out of a chair, unlock his office door, or even name his five children.  In addition to his problems with cognition, he had balance problems and debilitating headaches that would stop only when he applied a bag of ice while sitting in a bathtub of cold water.

He learned that he had to be extremely careful with resource allocation:

  • How much of what kind of mental tasks he could attempt to do each day;
  • How long he could sustain energy on cognitive struggles, and for how many times; and
  • How much simple walking and standing before he could no longer expect his brain to sustain communication with his body well enough for him to remain upright.

Feeling like an alien in his own skin, he sought treatment after treatment from doctor after doctor. One specialist after another told him that they weren’t even sure exactly what was wrong with him – his brain scans didn’t look that bad.

They all seemed to have come to the same conclusion: there was nothing more to be done but to learn to live with it.  Things might improve a bit more over time, he was told, but he could never expect to recover fully from this kind of damage.  Nobody ever has.

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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The Virtues of Lowering your Standards


Consider this a “Track-back Tuesday” post

Late last night (or early this morning, depending on where you are and how you track time), I received a comment from an extremely frustrated ADDer struggling with cellphone and I-pad impulsivity. Most of us can relate, huh?

You can read her comment HERE (my coaching response follows).

Double-checking one of my older articles that I suggested she read, I notice that it received fewer “likes” or comments than I thought it would when I wrote it. It struck me that MANY of you who read ADDandSoMuchMore.com only occasionally probably missed it, and it’s a goodie. It contains more than a couple foundational concepts that create issues that most people find problematic, and those of us in Alphabet City frequently find debilitating.

SO . . . I am reblogging my own post,
hoping it will provide a few keys to turn a few of YOUR locked doors.

If you want to add velocity to your self-coaching efforts, take the time to read the articles linked within that post as well. They will open in new tabs/windows, so you can click them as you come to them and keep on reading.

Enjoy!

ADD . . . and-so-much-more

click image for sourceclick image for source

 When “Good enough” is Good ENOUGH!

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

Let’s delve deeper into a couple of foundational problems,
particularly for those of us with Executive Functioning dysregulations:

* struggles with activation,and
* the perils of falling victim to black and white thinking.

Hand in hand, each exacerbates the other,
until it’s truly a miracle we ever get anything done at all!

To the neurodiverse AND the neurotypical

On a very different kind of blog, post-production supervisor and self-professed Edit Geek Dylan Reeve shared his thoughts on the very topic I planned to write about today (the image above is his). He began and ended his relatively brief article with a wonderful synopsis of exactly what I am about to tackle in this article.

In Defense Of ‘Good Enough’

For many people . . . ‘good enough’ is a dirty word…

View original post 2,887 more words

From Impulsivity to Self-Control


Self-Control increases as the brain develops

(but science isn’t exactly sure HOW)

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

Self-control is a developmental process.

Self Control — none of us are born with it, and very few of us are able to banish acting on impulse completely. A percentage of us struggle to manage our faster-than-a-speeding-bullet emotional responses for our entire lives: those who retain high levels of what is termed impulsivity.

Not surprisingly, some of the most comprehensive understanding of impulsivity comes from the study of children and teens.

Laurence Steinberg of Temple University, the neuroscientist who led the team testifying during the Supreme Court case that abolished the death penalty for juveniles [Roper v. Simmons], is well known for his research that has illuminated some of the underlying causes of reckless behavior in teens and young adults.

He explains impulsivity as an imbalance in the development of two linked brain systems that he describes in the following manner:

  • the incentive processing system, regulating the anticipation and processing of rewards and punishments, as well as the emotional processing of society’s behavioral expectations, and
  • the cognitive control system, orchestrating logical reasoning and impulse regulation – two important skills that make up what is termed our Executive Functions, which depend on neurotypical development of the PreFrontal Cortex [PFC]

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Low-grade Impulsivity Ruins Lives Too


Identifying “Garden Variety” Impulsivity

The first step on the road to change

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

Garden-Variety Impulsives

Serious Impulse Control issues cannot be resolved by attempting to follow advice gleaned from a quick trip around the internet — or any Series of articles written to help you improve your level of self-control and accountability.

If you suspect that your problem with impulsivity is severe enough to need professional help beyond ADD Coaching, THAT is one impulse I encourage you to act on immediately!

But that is NOT what this article is designed to help you identify.

I want to encourage those of you whom I call the “garden-variety impulsives,” to stop comparing what you do to the far end of the impulsivity spectrum.

I’m hoping to be able to convince at least some of you to stop fooling yourselves into believing that you don’t really have a problem, as the joys of life that could be yours remain forever out of reach.

Because “low-grade impulsivity” is something that can be changed relatively easily in a “self-help” fashion or with some focused work with a private ADD Coach or in a Coaching Group.

Life looks up when you do the work.

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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.

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for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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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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Stroke & Attentional Disorders


May is Stroke Awareness Month
Time to talk about the link between Stroke and ADD/EFD

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

Not all attentional deficits are genetic

As I began in Types of Attentional Deficits, attentional problems are accompanied by specific markers, regardless of origin or age of onset:

  • 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.

The attentional problems you will most frequently hear or read about are exhibited by individuals diagnosed with one of the ADD/ADHD varietals, usually associated with a genetic component.

Related Post: ADD/EFD Overview-101

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

In addition to the attentional issues 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.

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