Executive Functioning Systems


EF Management Tips and Tricks – Part III
Time, Memory & Organization Systems
to Develop into Habits

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
PART THREE: In support of The Executive Functioning Series

The Quick Review:

In the introduction to this 4-part article, I went over some of the concepts underlying the systems approach and why it works.

Essentially, systems and habits help us conserve cognitive resources for when they are really needed.

I added the caveat that nothing works for everyone any more than ONE SIZE FITS ALL very well.  For those of you who have the motivation and time to figure out how to make an “off the rack” outfit fit you perfectly, be sure to skip past the literal interpretation to read for the sense of the underlying principles.

For the REST of you: if you can’t “sew” and are disinclined to take the time to learn (since most of us have trouble keeping up with what we are already trying to squeeze into our days), remember that I offer systems development coaching, and would love to put my shoulder to your wheel.

The quick warning:

I want to warn everyone yet again that few of my clients ever really hear me the first dozen times, so don’t be too surprised when the importance of some of these Basics float past you a time or two as well.

The sooner you make friends with the concepts I’m sharing – and put them into place in a way that works for you – the sooner life gets easier, more intentional, and a lot more fun.

FIVE Underlying System Basics

Found in Part-2:
1.
Feed Your Head
2. Structure is your FRIEND
3. Nothing takes a minute

In this section:
4. Write it down (any “it”)

Concluding in Part-4 with:
5. PAD your schedule
PAD-ing: Planning Aware of Details™

Remember to remember as you read the principles to come:

MOST of you will probably need to tweak to fit as you incorporate the principles into your life (and/or take a second look at systems and work-arounds you already have in place that have now become habitual). If you really want to begin to experience the level of personal effectiveness you say you want, take a close and open-minded look at principles that have a 25-year track record of helping.

If you start to feel resistance,
let ’em simmer in your brain’s slow-cooker for a while.

As long as you don’t actively resist (as if YOU are the exception, fighting the ideas or ruminating over the thoughts that yet another person simply doesn’t get it), you will be one step closer to getting a handle on that systematizing to follow-through thing.

So let’s get right back to it!

 

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Overcoming the bad to get to the GOOD



The Power of Positive Thinking
Moving past WHAT & WHY to get to HOW

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the Executive Functioning Series

Memory and Energy Management

Visiting a few blogs as I begin to populate a brand new Pinterest Board [Our TBR Lists], I clicked over to add one of  D.G. Kaye’s books, “Words We Carry.”  (Some of you may already know that D.G. Kaye is the name under which blogger Debby Gies pens her many books)

I jumped over to read and “like” a few reviews on the Amazon site for this book, and my eyes took note of something that read like what is often referred to as the publisher’s blurb.

Sharing her journey toward overcoming the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself, Kaye’s book allows us to see clearly how hurtful events in our lives can linger, and set the tone for our lives.

I was instantly reminded of an article I posted over three years ago now, on a topic I believe it’s time to revisit: our tendency to collect and carry every stick and stone that has ever broken our bones.  [Are we hard-wired to focus on the bad news?].

I began that article with a question that I think is an important one:
“How come the bad stuff sticks and the good stuff fades??” 

On the way to answering that question I asked another, in response to a comment from one of my virtual friends, essentially this:

I have lived 365 days times my years on this earth.
They can’t all be keepers — and this one wasn’t.

While that’s a wonderful lens through which to look at our occasional experiences of one of those days,  my brain immediately popped in another question:

Why CAN’T all the days be keepers?

I mean, why don’t we just filter out the crummy parts and file away what was good about the day so that ALL of our memories are pleasant and uplifting?

I’m aware, I went on to say, that Pollyanna isn’t exactly everybody’s idea of their favorite role model, but WHY NOT?

I believe I did a good job explaining why our brains tend to hang on to the “warnings” – a memory technique that was extremely pro-survival.

It’s helpful to understand why whenever we are agonizing over yet another of those negative thoughts inspired by some of our earliest experiences.

However, I don’t believe that it is exactly pro-LIFE to allow our brain to continue to have its way with us – especially when we can retrain it.

Life-lessons from my clients

As I continue to say, my clients bring more than a few “juggling struggles” to their coaching calls. They frequently call for their appointments with resolve and hope tarnished by the latest disaster . . . which reminds them of an earlier one, and off we go.

We spend the session in another way entirely, as I practically drag them over to reliving their successes. They hang up with a much better view of themselves — one that empowers them to “get back on the horse” to gallop full speed ahead once more — until the next time something stops them cold and we revisit the process.

We all do it until we train ourselves not to.
And those “positivity” reminders don’t help until we do.
Wrong technique.

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PTSD Awareness Post 2017 – Part II


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

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

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

~  Joseph LeDoux

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

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

Identifying PTSD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statistics explored in Part I

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

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

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

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

Inadequate understanding & treatment

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

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

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

Brain-based research

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

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

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

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

Greater size indicates a greater ability to recover from trauma.

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

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

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

So perhaps PTSD is hormonal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But maybe not cortisol alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we think we know for sure

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

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

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

Blocking human fear memory with the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor doxycycline

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

The value of information

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

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

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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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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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Memory Glitches and Executive Functioning


MEMORY ISSUES:

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

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

BlankMemoryMEMORY: Movin’ it IN – Movin’ it OUT

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

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

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

 

USB_memorystick 64x64

Human Memory vs. Computer Memory

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

Unfortunately, it isn’t.

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

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

  • recognition
  • recall, and
  • recall on demand

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

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Recent study shows ADD *IS* brain-based


Not really “news” but . . .
FINALLY convincing evidence

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

Researchers show that critical areas of the brain are smaller in ADDers, proving that the oft-marginalized and scoffed at condition is indeed a brain-based disorder.

Imaging Study Shows Structural Brain Differences

According to a new report funded by The National Institutes of Health [NIH], MRIs of more than 3,000 individuals provide further evidence that those with ADD/ADHD have structurally different brains than those with “vanilla” brains (no ADD/ADHD/EFD ‘mix-ins’)

The differences were more pronounced in children than in adults, but they clearly support the assertions that ADD/ADHD is a developmental brain disorder, NOT simply a “label.”

Related Post: ADD or ADHD: What’s in a NAME?

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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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Can Eating Grapes Improve Your Memory?


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

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

Brand New Study suggests Good News!

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

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

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

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

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

Study implications for EFD

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

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

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

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Friday Fun: Memory


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

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

Quick Intro before we get to the Funnies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related ComicWinter Food Storage

All is not lost

Source: Wrong Hands

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

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

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

Oh, and after today, Funnies post only occasionally

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

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

YOU PLAY TOO

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

AND NOW for some more humor . . .

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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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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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When your Sleep Clock is Broken


N-24 Awareness Day –

November 24

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

Because I was not able to make it home in time to make sure this article posted automatically before November 24, 2014, primarily due to the ramifications of my own sleep disorder, it didn’t (groan!)

No matter, really, because the information remains relevant, if not exactly “timely,” posting one day following the official N-24 Awareness Day.

ABOUT Chronorhythm Disorders

As I said in the 2013 article about N-24 Awareness Day, chronorhythm disorders – the various disorders of sleep timing – have long been the unloved step-child of sleep medicine.

ALL OVER THE WEB, and in the sleep disorder literature itself, you will read that “the most common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy.

That information is only partially correct.

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PROGRESS, not Perfection


The Long Road Back:
Learning patience – Recovering Resilience

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Self-Health & Walking a Mile in Another’s Shoes Series

A Little Background

wallpaperweb.org: click picture to visit source

wallpaperweb.org: click picture to visit source

“The journey toward resilience is the great moral quest of our age.”
~ Andrew Zolli, co-author of
Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back.

Bouncing back myself

Regular readers know already that, between Christmas and New Years, I was mugged at gunpoint getting out of my van in front of my house, and that the thugs shattered my dominant hand. 

That left me pretty much helpless – and unable to work – until the cast came off in the second week of March. 

Since I work for myself there is no regular paycheck if I can’t do the work, so it’s been a scary time.

Only once my cast came off, about 75 days later, am I finally able to really concentrate on jumping through all the hoops necessary to put things back together – a DAUNTING idea! (See When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic for just HOW daunting!)

Not only do I need to recover my sense of safety and security in my world and get back to work, I need to recover my STUFF!

  • The band of thugs made away with my purse, containing my make-up and favorite hairbrush, my brand new iPhone, the keys to house, car and storage space, and a-whole-lot-more, and my wallet (with all forms of identification, the plastic cards one uses for money these days, and all the merchant cards one shows to buy much of anything anymore).
  • They also grabbed my tote containing a number of things, the most devastating to my ongoing functioning being my datebook and address book.
  • It ALL needs to be replaced – starting with figuring out who and what I call to DO that – along with everything that expired while I was incapacitated (like my car insurance and tags, for example), and making sure all my regular bills are paid through the end of March.

If you’re one of my few neurotypical readers, you’re probably not envying my process, but my ADDers (etc) r-e-a-l-l-y get what a terrifying process that is!!

Spending a few weeks with my friends in Little Rock has been very healing, and getting back at least partial use of my dominant hand has made a huge difference.

Yet, I still have a long way to go before I will be able to say that I have climbed out of the hole I found myself in rather unexpectedly, almost three intermidable months ago.

I feel SO far behind, wondering if I will EVER be able to catch up!!

Since I promised to let you know what I am doing to continue to heal and how its going, I’ll check in every week or so with an article that will be a bit like a diary of my progress, coupled with any related insights, thoughts or ideas about executive functioning as I step back from the PTSD edge.

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When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic


Chronic Anxiety & PTSD
Understanding Fear & Anxiety – Part 2

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

When what happened leaves marks

broken-legIf you broke your leg, you’d go get it set, right?

Whether it was a little break or something catastrophic that required an operation and pins, you would feel “entitled” to go for professional help and would have no doubt that you needed it, right?

While you were in a cast, you’d probably have the good sense not to try to walk on that broken leg. Most of the people around you would be able to understand without explanation that you needed crutches to get around.  Right? It would go without saying that you had to take it easy while you healed.

EVEN if you broke your leg doing something stupid that was entirely your own fault, you would probably feel very little shame about having a broken leg – a little embarrassed, perhaps, but you’d still allow yourself to get what you needed to heal.

YET, when the problem is mental, we tend to try to soldier on alone. 

  • Maybe we think things are not “bad enough” that we are entitled to professional help.
  • Maybe the stigma still associated with the term “mental illness” stops us cold.
  • We probably find ourselves struggling with the concern that others might believe we are weak or over-reacting if we can’t seem to pull things back together alone.
  • Perhaps we have collapsed psychological difficulties with “crazy,” and we certainly don’t want to believe we are crazy!

The only thing that is CRAZY is denying ourselves the help it would take to manage whatever it is that we are struggling with so that we can get back to being our own best selves – and most of us are a little bit crazy in that way.  I know I am, in any case.

In one masterful stroke of unconscious black and white thinking, we label ourselves powerless when we are unable to continue on without help, struggling against impossible situations sometimes, as things continue to worsen — if we’re lucky.

  • Because when things continue to get worse, it will eventually become obvious that we are clearly not okay.
  • We’ll eventually reach a place where it will be impossible to deny ourselves the help we need to heal.
  • If we’re not lucky, we are able to continue living life at half mast: limp-along lives that could be SO much healthier and happier.
  • If we’re not lucky, our mental reserves will be worn out by limping along, and we are likely to reach a place where it seems as if our dominant emotion is anger, or we will slide into chronic, low-level depression – or worse.

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Understanding Fear & Anxiety


Moving Beyond the Fears
and Anxieties that Keep us STUCK (Part 1)

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

FEAR: The primal emotion most studied in neuroscience

fear

The study of fear has consumed many hundreds of researchers for decades. The events following 9/11 and the war in Iraq has only bolstered this field of research. 

Finding new molecules that erase traumatic memories (or enable soldiers to keep from feeling fear) are research priorities in the United States.

~ Dream Life of Rats: Pure Science Specials (season one, episode six;
originally aired on 5/29/2013)

 

Platitudes Begone!

Troll the internet – or browse the shelves of your local library – and you will find a blue-million self-help offerings with advice to help you conquer “fear.” The majority of them hold out the promise that they can teach you to “feel the fear and do it anyway” or “stop fearing change to change your fear,” and other related blather. 

These ways of working may help with lack of activation or with task anxiety but they will rarely make much of a dent in fear.

They’re lightweights, those offerings – their authors really don’t understand the extent to which many people experience FEAR. Most of them are, metaphorically, pushing anti-heartburn remedies to help with heart attacks. They’re talking about situationally-induced moments of anxiety that our self-help culture mislabels “fear.”

If you are one of the many who are periodically frozen by anxiety disorders, reeling from a recent and dramatic accident, suffering from flashbacks related to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and other more extreme situations that prompted more extreme emotional responses, pouring through those offerings looking for HELP will only increase your feelings of helplessness, which will very likely increase your feelings of fear.

  • Throwing those simplistic offerings in the garbage is the first step toward real healing.
  • Understanding what’s going on is the second step.
  • Allowing yourself to reach out to professionals who specialize in PTSD or TBI is certainly worth considering seriously, and
  • Patience is the fourth key: giving your nervous system time to heal as you reframe your approach to life and de-condition your fear response.

By the way, if you are among the majority of folks who are currently stopped by one of those “situationally-induced moments of anxiety that our self-help culture mislabels ‘fear,'” the information in this article can help you, too (but you might want to hang on to those other offerings to read later).

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Up all Nite? Sleep away the Day?


by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
ABOUT Chronorhythm Sleep Disorders – Part I

lazyMaryVictorianLazy Mary Will You Get Up?

You’ve probably heard that old nursery rhyme where the first sing-song verse admonishes Mary for being “lazy” because she is still abed, then sing-song Mary responds that, “No, no Mother she won’t get up. She won’t get up today.”

Um, just A BIT black and white perhaps?

As reflected in that early childhood ditty, from the point of view of a great many of the world’s larks, once they themselves are up-and-at-em, not only do they consider those of us still asleep lazy, their assumption seems to be that we intend to remain slug-a-beds FOR THE ENTIRE DAY!

At least that seems to the [lack-of] thinking behind the many ways in which they state their expectations to those of us who “refuse” to toe their normative expectation lines, demonstrated by bounding out of bed with the first rays of the sun, bright-eyed and ready-for-bear.

A little empathy and understanding, please

I’m wondering if their tune might change – even a little bit – if they understood that going to sleep and waking up at an hour the “majority-rules” universe considers decent isn’t as simple as it sounds for those of us with sleep TIMING disorders.

For many of us, adjusting our sleep timing to fit
majority-rules norms is a CAN’T, not a won’t.

Flip things around for a moment

Regardless of how many of you out-vote us on the “decent hours” referendum, we have as much difficulty adjusting to your sleep schedule as many of you seem to have adjusting to ours.

  • Many of you say you get too sleepy to remain awake at hours where many of us are highly alert, getting things done, or finally getting into the flow.

Unless it’s New Year’s Eve when you insist on keeping to your truncate-tonight to rise-early-tomorrow schedule, we do our best not to call you names and judge your party-pooper sleep preferences.

I promise it’s no fun, night after night, to be the only person you know who is wide awake once the rest of what seems to be the entire world anywhere near your timezone has toddled off to bed. Life get’s lonely.

And mean. The expectation that we will be awake and alert once YOU have had sufficient sleep is annoyingly inconsiderate, actually.

It’s worse at the other end of the day as you tut-tut-tut yourselves off to bed when we are finally wide-awake and fully alert.

  • The rest of you put yourselves to bed “early” with the realistic expectation that you will be able to fall asleep once you get there.

You seem to believe in your heart-of-hearts that little trick would work for us too, with seemingly no awareness of the reality that most of us have failed at our attempts at it many, many, MANY times.

Our brains and bodies are telling us that it is simply the wrong time to sleep!

  • What if we insisted that you go to bed in the early afternoon,
    hours before you feel the call to sleep?

A time or two to resolve your sleep-debt might be nice, but beyond that, I’ll bet you wouldn’t fall asleep, stay asleep or get restorative sleep either.

And I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t respond positively to our insistence that you stop in the middle of whatever you are doing to go lie down in a dark room with your eyes closed.

I suppose we could force you to lie there quietly for a solid eight hours —  but you still wouldn’t get a solid eight hours of restorative SLEEP.

Your brains and bodies would insist that it was the wrong time for it!

THEN how would you feel?

How would you feel about life and about us when you opened your eyes in the wee hours of the next day to our scowling faces?  What could you have done wrong in your SLEEP, right?

Would your groggy mind understand this logic? We are angry with you simply because you are not eager to bound happily out of bed when our clock insists that it is time for you to get up!

Would it make you feel any better, about life and about us, if we were to remind you forcefully that you WOULD have had enough sleep if you’d simply shut your eyes and counted sheep or something when we put you to BED!?

If you really tried to imagine yourselves into the scenario above, you’d have to admit that we’re a lot nicer to you about the sleep-timing mismatch than you’d be to us if the shoe were on the other foot!

The sleep-timing mismatch truth to tell, we’re a lot nicer to you than you are to us as it stands NOW – any chance we could improve on that sorry state of affairs?

Maybe if we take a closer look at what’s going on here . . .

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November 24 is N-24 Awareness Day



A SHOT at Fixing Broken Sleep Clocks

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Sleep Series

Nov24~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Too many people don’t care what happens

so long as it doesn’t happen to them.”
~ William Howard Taft

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

Your chance to step up and make a difference

We have known for DECADES that as many as three quartersof those of us here in “Alphabet City ~ 75% ~ have chronic problems with sleep and sleep timing.

Many of us have trouble falling asleep almost every night — until and unless we are, literally, exhausted.

Some of us continue to have trouble letting go of the day even then.

Almost all of us, EVEN when we are well rested, struggle to come to alertness when we awaken, regardless of what time of day that might be — frequently for well over an hour or more after first opening our eyes.

Our eyes may be open, but our brains are still half-asleep
— almost every single “morning” of our lives —

Were you aware that, for longer than the Baby-Boomer generation has been ALIVE, there has been only asmall pocket of concerned individuals — dismissed as mavericks, complainers, enablers, alarmists, incalcitrant slug-a-beds, fringe-scientists — who have been interested enough in the quality of the LIVES of those who were so affected to lobby for efforts to understand why?

As I wrote in materials for the world’s first ADD-specific coach trainingback in 1994, almost 20 years ago now with numbers like 75%, if this were heart disease (or any other population), I’ll bet you that MOST of the scientific and medical community would have been ON it!

By supporting the recently formed non-profit, Circadian Sleep Disorders Network, together we can finally CHANGE that sad reality.

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Life, Death, Mental Health & Sleep


by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Another Article in the Sleep Series – Video below

liftarn_A_person_sleeping_90x90

I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead . . .

That’s how I began Sleep and Cognition,
an earlier article in the Sleep Series.

I went on to say:

In my hurry-up-there’s-so-much-more-to-DO experience of living, almost everything auxiliary to my current attempt to focus frequently seems like a necessary but unwelcomed interruption to what I liked to think of as “life” — as annoying as ants at a picnic.

But I know better now where SLEEP is concerned!

WHY we need sleep

Yes, sleep deprivation makes us drowsy and unable to concentrate.  It feels lousy when we struggle to keep our eyes open. But that’s not the half of it!

A LOT happens during that prone period where it seems to us that nothing at all is going on. We need adequate, high-quality sleep for our nervous systems to work properly.

As science conducts increasingly more sleep studies, it has become clear that sleep deprivation leads to impairment of our memory processes, physical performance, and intellectual prowess (leading, for example, to a proven reduction in the ability to carry out mathematical calculations).

Extreme sleep deprivation leads to hallucinations and an impaired ability to regulate mood.

But that’s not ALL

Animal studies have shown that sleep is necessary to remain physically healthy and, in some cases, to remain alive.

  • A rat’s average life span is 2 to 3 years; rats deprived of sleep live for only about 3 weeks.
  • They also develop abnormally low body temperatures, along with sores on paws and tails, most likely developed as a result of impairment of the rats’ immune systems.

In humans, it has been demonstrated that the metabolic activity of the brain decreases significantly after 24 hours without sleep. Sleep deprivation results in:

  • a decrease in body temperature and an increase in heart rate variability
  • a decrease in white blood cell count, which correlates to a decrease in immune system function
  • a decrease in the release of growth hormone which, in children and young adults, takes place during deep sleep — and, among other problems,
  • a disturbance in the production and breakdown of proteins (in most bodily cells) – normally carried out during the deep sleep phase.

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This is your Brain on Sleep – Stages of Sleep


Cycling through the Sleep Stages
Part of the Sleep Series

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

“Sleep is not a luxury or an indulgence but a
fundamental biological need, enhancing 
creativity,
productivity, mood, and the ability to interact with others.”

~ Russell G. Foster, a leading expert on chronobiology

zzzzz_in bed_blue 298x232Gettin’ those Zzzz’s

Until the mid-twentieth century, most scientists believed that we were asleep for approximately a third of our lives — experienced, primarily, in a uniform block of time that was the opposite of wakefulness.

THAT was pretty much it.

Their assumption was that sleep was a homogeneous state.  It’s most salient feature was considered to be the fact that you were NOT AWAKE.  Duh.

The main side-effect of sleep deprivation, so it was believed at the time, was that you got sleepyOh my.

  • It was assumed that we needed some sort of down-time to recharge our batteries somehow.
  • There was so little curiosity about sleep, very few scientists felt that it was worthy of the time or money for research.

In the 1950s, the breaking news from one of the few sleep labs was that sleep actually consisted of two distinct states:

  1. Rapid eye movement sleep [REM], which distinguished dreaming sleep, according to what they knew at the time
  2. AND . . . the rest of it!
    (imaginatively referred to as “non-rapid eye movement sleep” [NREM])

You probably already know that REM sleep was so named because it was noticed that the eyes moved quickly back and forth under closed eyelids – rather like they might if the sleeper were speed-reading a teeny-tiny English-language book.

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Are we hard-wired to focus on the bad news?



How come the bad stuff sticks
and the good stuff fades??

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Linking and Learning

Musings on the Machinations of Memory

FacebookLikeAwakening early today, I had time to justify a rare jaunt through FaceBook to catch up on whatever was going on with my life-long friends.  I was struck by how very many are struggling with emotional reactions to losing loved-ones to death and dementia.

We are at that stage of life, I suppose, where loss will become something that we must learn to live with more and more.

My thoughts began to take a right turn as I gazed at all of the black and white memorial photos of mothers and aunts and fathers and uncles from days gone by.

Unlined, full of hope, long before brows became furrowed with memories of struggle.  How would they have looked in those photos, I wondered, if they could have known what the next five or more decades would hold?

Moving along, “liking” here, commenting there, I came upon a another of those “getting my frustrating day off my chest” posts by one of my FaceBook Friends that began with an interesting reframe, essentially this: I have lived 365 days times my years on this earth.  They can’t all be keepers — and this one wasn’t.

While that’s a wonderful lens through which to look at our occasional experiences of one of those days,  why CAN’T all the days be keepers?

Why don’t we just cut out the crummy parts and file away what was good about the day?

Why are we so drawn to discussing the dark and dismissing the lighter as fluffy or something?  I mean, I’m aware that Pollyanna isn’t exactly everybody’s idea of their favorite role model, but why NOT?

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Non-Profit Supporting Fractured Sleep Clocks


Chronorhythm Sleep Disorders are SERIOUSLY understudied – overlooked
PLEASE help spread the word about CSDN — reblog, link, talk about it on chatlists ~ thanks!

Stepping into the Void:
The Circadian Sleep Disorders Network

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Sleep Series

Broken ClockBroken Sleep Clocks

As many as three quarters — 75% — of those of us here in “Alphabet City” have chronic problems with sleep and sleep timing.

Most of us have trouble falling asleep at night unless we are, literally, exhausted. For some of us, not even then. Almost all of us struggle to come to alertness when we awaken.

Are you aware that, until now, there has been
no concerted effort to understand WHY?

Chronorhythm disorders – the disorders of sleep timing – have long been the unloved step-child of sleep medicine.

A relatively new Non-Profit organization, the
Circadian Sleep Disorders Network
has been formed to change that sad reality.

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HIGH Interest Charges on Sleep Debt


You don’t wanna’ have to pay
the interest on Sleep Debt!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Sleep Series

According to the authors of the website Talk About Sleep:

BigYawn“At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems.

These disorders and the resulting sleep deprivation interfere with work, driving, and social activities.

They also account for an estimated $16 BILLION in medical costs each year, while the indirect costs due to lost productivity and other factors are probably much greater.”

They go on to say that “the most common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy,” which is an indication of how LITTLE research has been done on chronorhythm disorders.

But you don’t have to have a diagnostic sleep disorder of any kind to experience the negative effects of sleep debt. In fact, most of us in industrialized society are chronically under-slept, which means that most of us have racked up sleep debt to a significant degree.

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Sleep Basics affecting Sleep TIMING


Sleep is a many splendored thing

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part I of a three-part article in the Sleep Series

Courtesy of artist-educator Phillip Martin

Courtesy of artist-educator Phillip Martin

For most of the history of mankind, human beings divided life itself into two parts  — awake and asleep.

Other than cultures who were into dream interpretation in a big way, most people didn’t think much about sleep beyond that idea.

Most of us still don’t think about it much, unless we are forced to do so because we are having trouble sleeping or trouble staying awake.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

Until the widespread availability of the electric light bulb, only beginning to come to public awareness around the dawn of the 20th century, most humans set their sleep-wake schedules in reaction to the availability of light, truly believing that they had made a pragmatic decision.

Oh sure, way back in the day somebody had to stay awake to protect the sleeping tribe, and many warring tribes chose to attack under cover of darkness, but there wasn’t a whole lot that the others could DO once darkness descended.

So they went to bed.

If they thought about it at all, most people probably believed they fell asleep quickly because they were exhausted from the demands of life in the primarily agrarian lifestyle of most of the human race for centuries. Little did they suspect that the reason sleep came so easily was a factor of what we call “entrainment to the light/dark cycle,” aided by the structure of their regular schedules.

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Open Loops, Distractions and Attentional Dysregulation


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

The Importance of Closing Open Loops


© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Part of the Intentionality & Memory Series

photo credit: Matthieu Aubry via Flikr - (c) Creative Commons

photo credit: Matthieu Aubry via Flikr – ©Creative Commons


An
“open loop” is my term referring to a step to be accomplished before an activity or thought process can be “put away.”

Only once a task has been “put away” does the Prefrontal Cortex [PFC] voluntarily let it go.

Until then, it continues to “ping” the stored reminder of where we were in the process —
to keep it “active” in our working memory banks, even when we are not “actively”
thinking about it.

Completions are “closed loops” – whether we have completed an entire task or an identified portion – a “chunk” that we have set before ourselves – fulfilling our expectation that we will take the step or accomplish the task or activity, which “closes” the loop.

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Health, Success and Successful Sleeping


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

Like Driving on Empty

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

liftarn_A_person_sleeping_90x90I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead . . .
That’s how I began Sleep and Cognition, the article before this one. I went on to say:

In my hurry-up-there’s-so-much-more-to-DO experience of living, almost everything auxiliary to my current attempt to focus frequently seems like a necessary but unwelcomed interuption to what I liked to think of as “life” — as annoying as ants at a picnic. 

But I know better now where SLEEP is concerned!

The graphic below, illustrating the effects of sleep deprevation,
takes a closer look at what I meant by that assertion.

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Sleep and Cognition


Learning, Attention
& Sleep Struggles

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
From the Sleep Series

liftarn_A_person_sleeping_90x90I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead . . .

That’s how I used to think about sleeping when I was a young adult: a huge waste of time in my busy, interesting, already too little time to fit it all in LIFE.

To tell the truth, that’s how I sometimes still think about eating, bathing, going to the bathroom, in fact all of the “maintenance” activities of living.

In my hurry-up-there’s-so-much-more-to-DO experience of living, almost everything auxiliary to my current attempt to focus frequently seems like a necessary but unwelcomed interuption to what I liked to think of as “life” — as annoying as ants at a picnic.

But I know better now where SLEEP is concerned!

Sleep is a very ACTIVE state

While it seems logical to consider sleep some kind of “down time” recovery break — a time-out from our daily activities — research has shown that adequate, high-quality sleep is vital not only to optimize our daily functioning, but also to make sense of our daily activities.

Neural-housekeeping can’t be done until our brains slip into the sleep state.

  • That’s when memory consolidation takes place
  • That’s when our brains form the links to the information we need to be able to access on demand — to effectively carry out our waking tasks and determine appropriate emotional reactions to the events of our lives.

I like to think of it as the time when our brain’s sleep technicians repair shorts in our “wiring” so that we are ABLE to process effectively in our waking hours.

In an article from the National Science Foundation, neuroscientist Ken Paller says, “I think it’s fair to say that the person you are when you’re awake is partly a function of what your brain does when you’re asleep.”

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The Link Between Attention and ACTION


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Awareness is a factor of ATTENTION!

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

Black and white drawing of a womans staring intently at something slightly to her right - eyes and eybrows onlyIn order to be able to take ACTION in response to information, a person must
retain an awareness of the information.

You can’t act on information you don’t recall – and you can’t possibly remember information about which you had no conscious awareness in the first place.

Nobody can ACT on information they don’t have.

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ABOUT Executive Functions


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 by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 1 in a Series 

Executive Functions

Sorry, no trophy wife gets a new gown for these functions.  Execs, you’re off the hook too; no need to get the tux cleaned.

We’re referring to cognitive abilities that most adults take for granted as products of intelligence, education and maturity — items like planning, problem solving, concentration, mental flexibility, and controlling short-term behavior to achieve long-term goals.

If that list of mental abilities looks a tad familiar, it’s because it is incredibly similar to a list of traits with which those of us with Attentional Spectrum Disorders experience big-time problems!

Sound like your experience with ADD?  Oh yeah! ADD is a front-runner in the Executive Functioning Disorders relay race. Individuals with TBI find that many of their post-brain injury impairments fall in this arena as well. Read more of this post

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