PTSD Awareness Post 2017 – Part II


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

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

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

~  Joseph LeDoux

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

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

Identifying PTSD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statistics explored in Part I

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

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

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

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

Inadequate understanding & treatment

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

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

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

Brain-based research

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

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

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

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

Greater size indicates a greater ability to recover from trauma.

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

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

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

So perhaps PTSD is hormonal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But maybe not cortisol alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we think we know for sure

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

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

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

Blocking human fear memory with the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor doxycycline

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

The value of information

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

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

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July 2017 Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in July

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

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

July is Fire Cracker Month in America

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

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

Addendum from a comment from Ray’s dad Colin:

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

Mark your blogging calendars!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday Fun: More about SLEEP


Love/hate relationship with sleep?
Me too, so …
Let’s laugh the whole thing off

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

Since my Sleep Awareness post somehow jumped the queue and posted itself at the same time as Part-1 of my PTSD Awareness article, I decided to wait a bit to give readers a break before posting PTSD Awareness Part-2 (as well as a shot at catching up for those of you who want to have time to at least attempt to get a decent night’s sleep).

My apologies for seeming to inundate with info – certainly not intentional.

Here’s hoping that something light and humorous on one of the topics will make up for it: our mixed feelings about sleep.

We need to contribute just a bit of levity to National Sleep Awareness Week anyway, doncha’ think? (first week in June every year, btw – and it is STILL June)

By the by, if this one leaves you wanting still more (when you can’t sleep tonight either), check out my first post poking fun at sleep –  NAPLand.

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head?

YOU PLAY TOO

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

AND NOW for some more humor TODAY . . .

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2017 PTSD Awareness Post – Part I


June is PTSD Awareness Month
Adding to our awareness and understanding

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

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

~  Joseph LeDoux

What We’ve Learned from LeDoux: Mechanisms of Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How traumatic events intensify the threat response

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trauma upsets the brain’s chemical balance

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

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

Synchronization is a balancing act

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

The greater the imbalance,
the more serious the symptoms.

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

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

Responding to threats of danger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Fathers Day Reblog


Homage to Brandy – the most amazing man I never knew

Happy Fathers Day!

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

The quick intro

I wrote the following post about a year after my father’s death, honoring what was inarguably a most incredible life.  I just wish I’d known more about it!

Interestingly, I have had reason to refer to this post several times in the past month alone, so I’m taking the nudge to reblog it for anyone else interested.

I’m hoping that it will encourage any of you lucky enough to still be able to speak with your parents to pester them for answers to those questions that still remain.

PARENTS: If your adult children do not really know you
– and you, them – what on earth on you waiting for?


 

My father was born today . . .

Although he was a difficult man to know, and a very tough man to grow up with, I adored him every bit as much as I railed against many of his actions and decisions throughout my life.

And I never doubted for a minute that he loved me very much.

It’s just that he had such an unusual way of showing love – almost as if the most loving thing he believed he could do was to protect those he loved from the cares and responsibilities that he thought were his alone to bear.

And, to Brandy, life itself was a responsibility. So his life seemed always cloaked in secrecy.

He made his world debut on November 20th, in Toledo, Ohio – approximately 90 years before his swan song. He shuffled off his mortal coil in October, 2012, the third loss of someone close to me that I was forced to find some way to deal with in that month.

  • Coming to closure has been a particularly difficult task – for a few reasons besides the grief that most of us experience after the death of our last remaining parent.
  • I’m still attempting to come to grips with the fact that
    I no longer have a shot at ever getting to know the man.

I believe I can now relate to the adoptee urge to locate their birth-parents. We all seem to have an innate yearning to know our roots, and most of us want to know and understand our own personal histories.

  • My sister was into genealogy.
  • I would be more than content to know the truthful and even minimally fleshed-out stories of the members of my immediate family circle.

Since my father’s death, I’m coming to believe that I am nowhere close to fulfilling that desire.

Remembering what I know

“Brandy,” the man who died about a year ago as I write, was a retired military scientist. He may or may not have had undiagnosed, extremely high-functioning Asbergers.

He most certainly was a man who was incredibly gifted intellectually with, shall we say, less than top-notch intimacy and connection skills – even though he was otherwise one of the most universally competent individuals I’ve ever met, and fairly universally liked.

  • His Ph.D. project, under the advisorship of Albert Einstein and Edwin H. Land, was to develop a camera with a lens that had a shutter speed capable of photographing the first atomic bomb flash.
  • At least that’s how the story was told to me.
  • I was also told that somewhere among the photographs I have requested as one of the few things I wanted my brother to send me from my father’s “estate,” is a photo of me as a baby: that particular camera’s first human subject.

Amazing, right?

It was quite an outside-the-box feat of engineering to solve that concentrated flash-of-light problem, given what the intensity of the bomb flash was likely to do to any film stock possible with the technology of the time.

A sequence of rapidly rotating polarized lenses, anyone?

Those who are paying attention have probably also suspected that, even as a Ph.D. candidate, he must have held one of our country’s highest security clearances to know there was going to BE a “first atomic bomb flash.”

He did.

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If I should die . . .


For The Second Time Around

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post in the Whimsy Series

Six years ago now, I reblogged my own humorous article from a posting on the personal blog I maintained on a now defunct ADD site.  Here ’tis again, this time in it’s entirety, with just a few edits.

I hope it gives new readers a giggle as you get an up-close-and-personal look into the quirky way the ADD mind tends to work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You know the prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Even I know the prayer, though I was not raised in a particularly religious household as I remember – which is always an iffy thing since I am the poster girl for a-historic.

I’m famous for the comment, “I didn’t see that movie,” to the very people who are in the position to say, “Yes you did. We saw it together!”

Now, wouldn’t you think they’d ALSO give me a clue about the occasion, their presence or the plot? But then again, why ruin a funny story?

But back to the prayer. Were you aware that most little kids are terrified by that prayer?

“But I don’t want to ask God to die!”
is a response many remember having, chins quivering.

ADD kids aren’t the ones with that response, however.

What terrifies ADDers . . .

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Surviving Cancer – a celebration


30th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day
June 4th, 2017 — 1st Sunday in June

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

Just a quickie to honor fellow survivors

Although I recently made the decision to post only twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, I couldn’t let today pass without some sort of announcement that might serve as encouragement to anyone still fighting.

Cancer is not always fatal.

My own 5-year clear was decades ago now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From my June Mental Health Awareness Calendar:

30th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day
Sunday, June 4th, 2017  (First Sunday in June)
The Official Website: National Cancer Survivors Day
Improving Cancer Survivors’ Mental Health

As a melanoma survivor myself  — several decades clear now and one of America’s more than 15.5 million cancer survivors — this is indeed a day to celebrate (and pray that lives & research funding will NOT fall victim to short-sighted budget cuts)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As an American, I plan to celebrate today by writing to the policy-makers and members of the Appropriations Committee advocating that the budget for medical research and health-related concerns be increased — in strong opposition to the $billions$ of dollars the current administration includes as cuts in their proposed budget.

Won’t you join me?

It is unconscionable to attempt to balance the budget by putting the lives and health of MANY MILLIONS of American citizens at risk.

Making Sense of Remission

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June 2017 Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in June

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

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

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

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

Mark your blogging calendars!

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

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post attempts to offer a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact and intersect with mental health challenges — reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create additional problems with cognition, mood, memory, follow-through and attention management.

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

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

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

Read more of this post

Friday Fun: Writers Redux


Writing is your passion –
your obsession or addiction?
I feel your pain, so …

Let’s laugh the whole thing off

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

There are so many memes and funnies about writers that I think somebody could do an entire blog featuring nothing else.

I am not that somebody – check out Debbie Ridpath Ohi and Will Write for Chocolate, for that one – but I do have a bit more to share on the topic.

So today we are revisiting the writers for a bit more Friday Fun, as promised (or threatened, depending on how you felt about the first one.)

I’m hoping to brighten the day for some poor writer who is reading my blog instead of getting back to his story.

Stuck, huh?

It happens to all of us – why do you think I do these funnies?

Science tells us that taking breaks enhances creativity, by the way — and I’m choosing to believe that study, replicated or not!

So lets get on with the break dance.

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head?

YOU PLAY TOO

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

AND NOW for some more humor TODAY . . .

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My Computer has ADD


Stranger than fiction
But maybe more amusing?

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

Madelyn’s Believe it or Not

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

Or is it just me?

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

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

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

It’s those OTHER times . . .

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

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

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

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

I need to use his phone, of course.

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

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

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

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

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

Stuff like that.  Like I said, flaky!  

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

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TinkerToy’s Trip to the Woods


Getting away is REALLY FUN!
but getting Mom to do it is tricky

Guest blogger: TinkerToy

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

Everybody needs to get away – and so do their Shih Tzus!

Mom’s friend Sam decided that unless he kidnapped us, she would never stop writing stuff to help people and step away from her darned computer, and I would never get to see the rest of the world!

So he drove up from Knoxville, Tennessee and we all headed off to Cumberland Falls State Park in Corbin Kentucky – in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  Mom says it’s known as The Niagara of the South.

You can’t really tell from this picture – only how beautiful it is – but the waterfall forms a 125-foot-wide curtain that plunges 7 stories into a gorge through the rocks of the Cumberland Plateau.  The river is sided by big flat rocks like you see in the background, too, and strewn with huge boulders.

It’s magical in person; even the two-legses talk about the wonderful smells in the air. And there are more trees than I have ever seen in my whole life – even in the park or around the little lake we visit on our walks at home.

And wait ’til you read about the special rainbows.

The mist of the falls creates the magic of the moonbow, only visible on a clear night during a full moon. And, guess what?  An earthquake spoiled the one at Victoria Falls, so if you want to see a moonbow, this is the only place you can!

ALSO, it’s one of the few places in the world where you can see spray rainbows at the base of the falls on every sunny day.

First, a great car trip

We stopped a lot on the drive so that Sammy and I could stretch, Mom could go to the bathroom, and I could mark the territory so all the other 4-legses would know I was there, but we finally we started seeing signs that we were almost where we were going.

Roads got bumpier, for one thing – and the trees were a lot closer together and closer to the roads.

But, I meant that we REALLY started seeing signs that we were almost there.

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Stimulant BASICS: Ritalin and Adderall


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

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

How much do you really KNOW?

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

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

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

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

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

Stimulant Basics

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

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

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

On to those basics . . .

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction and Abuse

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

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

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

How they are the same?

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

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

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

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

WHY they might be necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting the Brakes

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

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

NOT SO – that’s not how they work!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So WHICH medication is better?
Read more of this post

May 2017: Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in May

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

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

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

It takes a village to transform a world. ~ mgh

Mark your blogging calendars!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more of this post

Do YOU have the Sense of a Goose?


© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections: edited reposting

Click HERE for Part One: ABOUT Values and the Goose Story

A wonderful model for living

In 1994 I founded The Optimal Functioning Institute™ – the company that presented the world’s first comprehensive ADD-specific coaching curriculum, and the only one for many years (OFI’s certification compliant A.C.T.), a curriculum I developed and delivered personally for years.

OFI was founded according to the principles that Dr. Harry Clarke Noyes articulates in The Goose Story, an extremely short free-verse poem (below) about the importance of community.

For well over a decade it was featured prominently on my first website, ADDCoach.com, built to focus on promoting the existence of ADD Coaching and the importance of brain-based, ADD-specific, Coach Training — and one of the first ADD sites on the web.

I first shared it here on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com in 2011. Over the years, it has become a touchstone and a talisman for myself and, I hope, many of the students who trained with me.

In The Goose Story, Noyes compares and contrasts human behaviors to those of a flock of geese, starting with an impressive explanation as to why you always see them flying in V-formation.

The reason I was so taken with this story is a story of its own: how I became aware of the importance of a strong personal foundation and of values-based goals.

After my recent three-part empathy story [Part I here], which you’ll also find in the Related Contents at the bottom of this post, I decided it was time to share it again with many new readers who might never have seen it.

Part I of this post attempts to give you a little bit of background.
This post shares Noyes’ wise words.


The Goose Story
by Dr. Harry Clarke Noyes

Next fall,
when you see Geese
heading South for the Winter,
flying along in V formation,
you might consider
what science has discovered
as to why they fly that way:

Read more of this post

Friday Fun: Fashion and Shopping


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

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

Quick Review before we get to the Funnies

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

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

Epigenetics and Fashion Week?

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

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

Here’s the Good News

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

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

Changing anything is healthy-brain-aging friendly.

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

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

Here’s the bad news: it works both ways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making friends with CHANGE as we change our clothes

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

YOU PLAY TOO

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

Read more of this post

Change your Clothes, Change your Brain?


Fashionistas & their Opposites
A brain-based look

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

Fashionistas First

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

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

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

And we’d be wrong.

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

Frozen Fashionitas

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

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

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

Another example is “Sensible Susie.”

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

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

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

Make way for “Matching Molly”

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

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

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

Read more of this post

10 Simple Coaching Questions to Consider


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more of this post

Friday Fun: One for the Writers


Writing for a Living?
or merely dreaming of the day
there are trials & travails we all hate, so …

Let’s laugh the whole thing off

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

I spent so much time pouring through funnies about writers, I finally concluded that writers either have the best senses of self-depricating humor in the universe, or they all have writer’s block and are creating memes while they await the return of their respective muses.

I have too much material for a single post, so ere long I’ll put together Part II – Return of the Writers.

Meanwhile, I hope all you writers who visit here from time to time will enjoy a bit of levity at your expense.

Everybody else:  by the time you get to the end, I think your own job won’t seem like such a bad fit after all.

Bloggers — let me know where you fit in.

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head?

YOU PLAY TOO

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

AND NOW for some more humor TODAY . . .

Read more of this post

Empathy finale: Part III


A LOT of Help — from friends
both near and far

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series – Part III, conclusion
Part I HERE; and Part II HERE

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

We each have the power to change the world for someone

Our society has become very self-focused in the 30 years between my first and last experience with broken bones and lack of autonomy. I may not be able to do much to change it, but I am driven to name it and to speak out against it, especially in today’s political climate.

Perhaps the posting of this 3-part article will turn out to be the silver lining to the cloud of an unbelievably challenging several years of my already challenging life.

Perhaps the world will be just a little bit softer and more supportive, thanks to the efforts of those of you who have taken time from your lives to read it — in any number of arenas, but certainly in that of reaching out to help someone alone and in need.

Time creeps for those awaiting attention or help, especially once autonomy has been stripped.

I hope that reading my story will encourage ALL of you to set aside a moment to pay a bit of kind attention to anyone in your lives who has been waiting for someone to have time for them.

Attempt to cheer them up without making them wrong for needing cheering. Simply listening (without “up-languaging”) is a very kind thing to do and easy to extend, even if you are unable to manage more practical assistance.

As I have said in each of the three parts of this article, I am posting it NOW to put a human face on the reality that we all need to increase our willingness to get involved, before the next DSM is forced to add a new category: EDD – Empathy Deficiency Disorder.

My second experience is coming to a close, thanks to a dear couple several states away, more disposed to empathy than sympathy. They insisted on making the TEN HOUR drive to bring me back home with them — to help me heal emotionally as much as physically.

Again, as you read, I want you to keep in mind that, as disturbing as my experience certainly was, it pales in comparison to what many folks must overcome every day of their lives, and what many of our neighbors may shortly be facing unless enough of us step up and sing out.
Read more of this post

April 2017: Mental Health Awareness


Special days & weeks in April

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

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

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

It takes a village to transform a world. ~ mgh

Mark your blogging calendars!

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

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

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

Awareness Helps

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more of this post

Friday Fun: Exercise and Diet


Trying to get healthy?
Since nobody really likes
paying attention to diet and exercise …

Let’s laugh the whole thing off

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

My previous weight-themed Friday Funny was so well-received, I think I’ll see if we can get a bit more smileage by revisiting the topic from a slightly different perspective: exercise and diet.  Groan!

Running, jogging, power walking, treadmills, weights and more.

Handball, Zumba, spinning or gymnastics — boxing, hiking, climbing.

Soccer, softball, swimming, skiing, tennis, even volleyball . . .

um, skate-boarding anyone?

As one female comic put it, quite a few years ago now:

“Call it anything you like.
I call it GYM.
I don’t have to go anymore and I don’t.”

Let’s take a look at the perspective of a few more diet and exercise-averse comics that I tripped across on Pinterest.

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head?

YOU PLAY TOO

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

AND NOW for some more humor TODAY . . .

Read more of this post

Sorry for the Inconvenience Part II


dynv_warning_sign_1

PTSD Trigger Warning

Not my problem,
not my business?

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

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

What kind of world do YOU want?

As I began in Part I of this article, our society seems to be rapidly moving to a state where it is empathy-averse. This article is my attempt at trying to change that sad reality in some small fashion by telling my personal story.

The power of true stories

Sometimes hearing the stories of people you know, even a little, makes a greater impact than any urging to speak out, step up, and make a difference ever could. So I have written a three-part article sharing two personal experiences, several years past now, the first of which I shared in Part I.

My second experience is more disturbing, yet perhaps more important to my quest to foster empathy in those who seem to be more disposed to offer sympathy.  Not to post a spoiler, but the end of the story, Part III returns to a more upbeat tone that so many commented that they appreciated about Part I.

However, anyone who has never experienced needing help and not being able to get it has probably never thought about what a lack of empathy means in the life of someone they know. This part of the article gives everybody just a little taste.

Everybody wins – or loses

Science is unconflicted in their assertions that community is important to physical and mental health – both to those who give and to those who receive support — as well as about the dangers of remaining apart on either side of the equation.

I want to repeat another bit of text from Part I:

Sympathy is not the same as Empathy

Sympathy is “feeling sorry for” a person in a particular situation. It is a feeling that allows us to be grateful that we are not the ones going through the experience personally.

But it also fosters a pull to allow ourselves to sit back and do nothing to ease the burden for another.

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

OR, as Bernadette from HaddonsMusings, host of the Senior Salon commented after Part I:

Sympathy is sitting on the sidelines;
empathy is getting in the game.

And now for the disclosure of some of the details of my more recent experience – even though it is now several years behind me.

As you read, I want you to keep in mind that, as disturbing as my experience certainly was, it pales in comparison to what many of our neighbors may shortly be facing unless enough of us step up and sing out.

Read more of this post

Do you have a minute? Sorry for the Inconvenience.


Tough Love Lessons
from an Empathy Deficit Society

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

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

Not my problem, not my business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Value of Personal Stories

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

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

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

Sympathy vs. Empathy

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

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

Talk and Timing

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

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

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

This is my story

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

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

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

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Take Me Out to the BALLGAME!


Life gets GOOD

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

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

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

Late to the Party

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

Maybe some of you missed it too?

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

As the New York Times article began:

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

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

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

And blossom he most certainly did!

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

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

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

Ring me in

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

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

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For all my Grumpy friends


I told you it wouldn’t be long
before another Grumpy Monday came your way

It’s NO coincidence that I was forced to play with the clocks last night!
(Whose Daylight are they saving again?)

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

I never dreamed this Series would be missed

I have gotten a few comments on Monday posts from other Series wondering what happened to the Grumpy ones.

I’ve also gotten [only] a few from readers whose comments seemed as if they believe I need an “attitude adjustment,” not so fond of my intended-to-be-slightly-humorous “negativity.”

Regular readers know that my mood varies, but that most of my posts are clearly on the positive side of the ledger.

They have also gotten used to the idea that nothing has a permanent slot on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com, no doubt — much to Guest-Bloggin’ TinkerToy‘s chagrin.

Content rotates between the many Series here – kinda’ like a timeshare.

Life has kept me pretty slammed of late, so documenting my disgruntlements didn’t seem like a wise use of time.  But here’s something that keeps popping up, all the more annoying on Mondays.

Cookie Banners

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know it’s the law in some places, and I know that, for a lot of bloggers, the placement is set through a WordPress widget you can’t adjust.

But which WordPress wizard had the screwy idea to make it cover up the WordPress follow button?

Here’s an idea, all you WordPress coders who clearly never blog but think you might know better what we need than we do anyway: how about placing it at the very TOP of the site, and letting us scroll past it?

I KNOW, btw — I can make it go away by clicking on it. But did you ever read the words on those banners?  Close and ACCEPT.

  • Accept cookies?
  • Give my permission to track me all over the internet?
  • Never gonna’ happen – unless you also promise me a lifetime supply of the Girl Scout kind of cookies. (wait – I can’t eat them now that I’m gluten free)
  • Correction: NEVER gonna’ happen!

Did YOU know that you can change the setting “backstage” somewhere to make that banner go away on its own after 30 seconds? (maybe in “widgets” in the Appearance category?)

Do that, okay?
It’s a really annoying chronic distraction otherwise.

NEWSFLASH!  The always supportive and informative Chris, the Story Reading Ape, just posted an extremely clear ‘how-to’ on his blog – and you can even make it go away after TEN seconds.  Click below to read it and DO it!

EU Cookie Law Banner Timed Appearance…

But speaking of really annoying . . .

‘Sup with these nuisance laws anyway? A bunch of middle-aged white guys get together over a legislative lunch to figure out a way NOT to solve the underlying problem?

It’s not like sites are gonna’ STOP using cookies if we don’t click, right?

Well, I may not be able to stop the beatings,
but you’ll never get me to say, “Beat me, Daddy!”

Related Post: What’s the Deal with Cookie Consent Notice

What makes anybody think this is a good idea?

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Friday Fun: Napland!


Trouble falling asleep?
staying asleep?
waking up on time – or napping?
I feel your pain, so …
Let’s laugh the whole thing off

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

National Sleep Awareness Week  — March 2 – 9

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

I think I struck a chord with my recent Sleep Awareness Post on the napping studies.  Opinions and experiences were varied, and some comments from a few folks seemed a tad frustrated or misunderstood.

So today, even though National Sleep Awareness Week ended yesterday, Thursday the 9th, we are lightening up for a bit of Friday Fun as we continue to think about sleep.

After all, sleep is supposed to comprise a third of our lives – for most of us, anyway.

So the topic is worth at least
an extra day of blog time,
doncha’ think?

Scientists tell us that taking naps enhances creativity, by the way — and I’m choosing to believe them!

So lets get to it.

How many of the situations below make YOU nod your head?

YOU PLAY TOO

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

AND NOW for some more humor TODAY . . .

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Naps help Memory


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

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

National Sleep Awareness Week PostMarch 2 – 9

Sleep is more important than you think

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

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

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

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

Naps appear to help memory and learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mental Health Awareness for March 2017


Special days & weeks in March

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

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

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

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

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

Mark your blogging calendars!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TWO important messages from TinkerToy


Spotlight STAR-dom arrives!
as Dog Appreciation & Awareness Days slide right by
Guest blogger: TinkerToy

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

#1 – My episode is finally up and going!

TinkerToy here again (and remember, only Mom calls me that to my face).

Remember too that I told you in my last guest-post that my good friend Bacon was going to make me a star? Well, I am sooooo excited. My SpotLight Thursday interview is finally online!

You can even read a sneak preview below, just as soon as I make you aware of something that might be even more important.

#2 – I’m worried that Mom might be losing her marbles!

Did anybody else notice that her monthly
Awareness Calendars
have been leaving off the most IMPORTANT days?

I really don’t care much if nobody remembers that February is National Pet Dental Health Month. I mean, I don’t think many of my bloggin’ buds want to get their teeth brushed more often anyway.

But I do think it’s pretty darned important to know that
February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, don’t you?

I think even Mom agrees, but is it on her calendar anywhere this month?  No it is not.

AND – ahem!National Love Your Pet Day was this past Monday, February 20 – an important day for ALL of us. I sure don’t remember getting a bunch of extra cuddles and treats at the beginning of this week, do you guys?

And TODAY is February 23,
and I’ll bet nobody knows what that means.

It’s National Dog Biscuit Day!
(no kidding – Google it)

How is everybody supposed to remember to stock up
if Mom can’t remember to list it in that calendar?

Even if it’s too late to go buy some, there are online videos showing two-legses everywhere how to cook the kind you make at home. But has Mom set FOOT ONE in that kitchen all day?  No she has not!

I don’t think she even knows what day it is.

Do what she says, not what she does

She constantly checks those Mental Health Awareness calendars to keep her on track (no worries there, she never had a sense of time, my Mom) – but how is she going to remember these really important days if she doesn’t even put them in her calendars?

She’s always telling clients and students, “If it’s not in your book, it’s not in your life.”  Harumph! (I checked, by the way – and there’s nothing really important to ME in even one of them.)

What could be better for mental health than a happy little dog by your side?  (OR cat or pig or rabbit and all – but it IS National Dog Biscuit Day, ya’ know).

I don’t know about you, but snacks make me a pretty happy little dog.  And as long as she’s forkin’ ’em over, I’m gonna’ be RIGHT by her side.

And guess what else she didn’t remember to list?

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Learning to Work Around “Spacing Out”


Honey, you’re not listening
ADDvanced Listening & Languaging

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

Spacing out – when attention wanders

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

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

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

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

Awareness is a factor of ATTENTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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