Link between Gluten & ADD/ADHD?


Oh PLEASE, not again!
and from a source that I would think
would thoroughly research before reporting

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

Living Gluten-Free to rid yourself of ADD?

I use “ADD” vs. the DSM-5’s official name for the disorder – click HERE to find out why

The quick hit: Despite what you and I can find all over the internet in articles that have not done their research very completely, gluten does NOT cause ADD, so giving it up will NOT make it go away.

It could reduce the severity of a few symptoms, and there are a great many other health benefits you might experience, but if you want a quick fix for ADD (or a preventative), going gluten free is not your answer!

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

The Longer Answer

Regular readers are quite aware that I consider myself the ADD Poster Girl, struggling with practically every symptom in an ADD profile with the exception of reading focus and gross motor hyperactivity.

You also know that I have been studying and working with ADD/EFD (Executive Functioning Disorders) and comorbids for almost THIRTY years now.

So trust me when you read the rest of the article: I have thoroughly checked this out through scientific research that is current, reflecting the bulk of what we know for sure at this particular time, given the state of today’s technology.

If the science changes, you can trust me to tell you all that it turned out we were wrong, but it does not seem, from reading a great many studies, that it is likely that I am going to have to print a retraction any time soon.

Why Gluten – why NOW?

May is Celiac Awareness Month, as I reported in this month’s Mental Health Awareness Calendar, so I am just squeezing in under the deadline with a post about gluten.

There has been so much new information for me to digest, I’m sorry to report that more comprehensive articles informing you of gluten’s effects on the brain and body, Celiac Sprue and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity won’t make it under the wire.  Stay tuned for those in the future.

However, doing the research on gluten sensitivities for those more comprehensive articles, I tripped across more than a few posts that that stunned me – and not in a good way.

In my haste to counter the misinformation during the month where this post is most likely to be found, I decided to share with ADDandSoMuchMORE readers one of the comments I left on only one of those articles that seemed to be in the grip of confirmation bias.

Giving up Gluten

no-gluten-symbolSince listening to the expert scientists around the world at the world’s first Gluten Summit (many of whom have spent life-long careers researching gluten sensitivity and celiac disease), I became convinced that gluten is simply not good for human beings.

NEVER expecting to even consider giving it up when I began listening to the speakers, I began immediately to cut gluten out of my own diet before the Summit had concluded.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Get this straight:
I did NOT go gluten-free to “cure” my ADD,
because ADD is NOT caused by problems with diet.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For anyone who is still unclear,
let me say that in a slightly different manner:
based on a great deal of credible research to date,
neither ADD nor ADHD are caused by problems with diet.

The extent to which food sensitivities EXACERBATE an individual’s ADD symptoms may fool some people in to thinking otherwise, when symptoms become much less troublesome when one eliminates a troublesome food.

However (ONE more time), ADD is NOT caused by problems with diet in the same manner Celiac Sprue IS the result of the body’s autoimmune response to gluten, or gluten sensitivities are activated by gluten.

Don’t take my word for it

In a May 06, 2013 article entitled Celiac Disease and ADHD, Eileen Bailey, former ADD Guide for About.com, subsequently writing for HealthCentral, had the following to add to the conversation, supporting my assertion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Study Negating Association Between ADHD and Celiac Disease

Researchers completing a study at Inonu University in Turkey reported that there is not a link between ADHD and celiac disease.

This study was published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in Feb. 2013. The study looked at 362 children and adolescents with ADHD between the ages of 5 and 15.

Researchers found that the rates of celiac disease in those with ADHD were similar to rates of celiac disease in control groups (without ADHD.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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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

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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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).

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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).

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10 Organizing Principles for the Organizationally Impaired


NOT Your Mama’s Organization

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the Challenges Inventory™ & ADD Coaching Series
my edited reposting of a five year old article

If at first you don’t succeed . . .

I know.  I’m right there with you.  You’ve read all the books and made a good stab at following their advice, and you still live in what might affectionately be called a pig stye if only it were that neat.

Give it up!

Those books were NOT written for you and me.  They were written for fundamentally organized people with relatively reliable follow-through skills and abilities.

They simply needed a little how-to help and advice.

I don’t work their way.
Do YOU work their way?

How DO you work?

If you don’t get real about how you work, you will never be able to determine what YOU need to do to to keep from spending half your life looking for things that were “right here a minute ago” — and the other half tripping over dirt and detritus.

As I began in an even earlier post (ADD & Organized?) . . .

Yea verily, even YOU can learn to be organized
just as soon as you understand
the reasons why you’ve been stopped in the past.  

Those of us who struggle with any of what are referred to as Executive Functions work a bit differently than those neurotypical folks.  We do not have vanilla-flavored brains.  We’re more like the ice cream with the mix-ins.  Our stoppers are not their stoppers.

HERE’S the KICKER: it’s a different mix of stoppers for every single one of us.  

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

That said, I’m going to go w-a-a-y out on a limb by offering my top ten organizing principles that I now call, collectively, The Executive Functioning Organizing Manifesto — a summary of some basic concepts that need to be embraced and understood if you want to have a shot at working out what you need to do for YOU to be organized.

In future posts in this series, I will expand on some of the points below.
For NOW, print ’em out and hang ’em up and follow them!

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Pot Smoking and Developing Brains


Studies may lead to help for PTSD
as well as a greater understanding of addiction
and schizophrenia

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concept of the Intentionality Series
Opinions vs. Facts

Reefer Madness?

Weed, Ganja, MaryJane, Cannabis, Pot, Hemp, Herb, Reefer

Some of my Senior readers may not recognize each of them, but practically any teen can tell you that they are all names for marijuana.

You know, that stuff you can roll into a joint that – except in jest – only the most out-of-it refer to as “a funny cigarette.”

The technical term for marijuana is cannabis – for a very good reason.  Since at least 1967, various chemical constituents of marijuana have been classified as cannabinoids.

They act on cannabinoid receptors in cells throughout our bodies, and alter neurotransmitter release in the brain – but they are NOT all the same.

One toke gets you higher and another makes you well?

THC [delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or Delta-9-THC] is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – the stuff that gets you high – but it is not always the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana.

Depending on the particular plant, cannabidiol can be the most abundant cannabinoid, which has many healing properties that you can read about on almost any Medical Marijuana site.

Cannabidiol is currently one of the most exciting of the 85+ known cannabinoids.

Also known as CBD, it is stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight as a potentially breakthrough nutritional component and treatment.

It occurs naturally in significant quantities in cannabis, and it is extracted relatively easily from the seeds, stalk and flowers of cannabis plants – which include hemp as well as marijuana. (The main functional difference between hemp and marijuana is the level of THC.)

Receptor Sites and Binding

All recent studies have indicated that the behavioral effects of THC are receptor mediated. That means that neurons in the brain are activated when a compound binds to its receptor — a protein typically located on the surface of a particular cell “specialized” to, metaphorically, “speak its language.”

So THC gets you high only after binding to its receptor.  That, in turn, triggers a series of events in the cell that results in a change in the cell’s activity, its gene regulation, or the signals that it sends on to another cell.

Wikipedia – ©Creative Commons

Steven R. Laviolette and his team at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry discovered that directly activating cannabinoid receptors in a region of the brain called the amygdala, can strongly influence the significance of emotional information and memory processing.

PFC implications

Activating cannabinoid receptors also dramatically increased the activity patterns of neurons in a connected region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex [PFC].

That, in turn, controls how the brain perceives the emotional significance of sensory information, and the strength of the memories associated with these emotional experiences.

Regular readers may recall that the PFC has connections to, essentially, every other part of the brain.

It is the part of the cortex that allows us to regulate Executive Functions appropriately – items like planning, problem solving, concentration, mental flexibility, and controlling short-term behavior to achieve long-term goals.

The PFC is a major player for those of us with ADD and other Executive Function Disorders and dysregulations – including those with traumatic and acquired brain injuries [TBI/ABI].

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Mental Health Awareness for March 2017


Special days & weeks in March

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

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

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

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

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

Mark your blogging calendars!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more of this post

Smoking: Additional reasons why it’s SO hard to quit


Nicotine and
self-medication

NOT what you think this post is going to be about!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another post in the Walking A Mile in Another’s Shoes Series

It’s National Cancer Prevention Month!
American Institute for Cancer Research

A relatively new study on nicotine and self medication (linked below in the Related Content) prompted me to revisit the topic of smoking.

Why do so many of us continue to do it?

WHY does it seem to be so difficult to put those smokes down — despite the black-box warnings that now come on every pack sold in the USA?

Science rings in

The link between self-medication and smoking really isn’t news to me, by the way, but some scientific validation is always reassuring.

An article I published early-ish in 2013 can be found HERE – where I discussed the relationship between nicotine’s psycho-stimulation, the brain, and the concept of “core benefits.”

For those of you who enjoy a bit of sarcasm with your information, it’s written in a rah-ther snarky tone toward the self-righteous – who, because of the way the brain responds, actually make it more difficult for people who need to quit with their nags and nudges.

Even if you don’t, you’ve probably never come across this particular point of view anywhere else as an explanation for why it can be such a struggle to quit — especially for those of us who are card-carrying members of Alphabet City.

I’ll give you just a little preview of what I mean by “snarky” below
(along with Cliff Notes™ of most of the info, for those of you with more interest than time).


HOLD YOUR HORSES!!

Sit on your hands if you must, but do your dead-level best to hear me out before you make it your business to burn up the keyboard telling me what I already know, okay?

I PROMISE YOU I have already heard everything
you are going to find it difficult not to flame at me.

There is not a literate human being in the United States (or the world) who hasn’t been made aware of every single argument you might attempt to burn into the retinas of every smoky throated human within any circle of influence you are able to tie down, shout down, argue down or otherwise pontificate toward.

NOW – can you listen for once?  I’m not going to force you to inhale.  I’m not even trying to change your mind. I would like to OPEN it a crack, however.

If you sincerely want to protect your friends and loved ones while you rid the world of the deleterious effects of all that nasty second-hand smoke, wouldn’t it make some sense to understand WHY your arguments continue to fall on deaf ears?

Unless you truly believe that saying the same thing for the two million and twenty-second time is going to suddenly make a difference —

or unless you don’t really care whether people stop smoking
or not as long as you get to rant and rave about it

 — wouldn’t it make some sense to listen for a moment to WHY some of the people are still smoking?

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Mental Health Awareness for February 2017


Special days & weeks in February

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

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

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

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

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

Mark your blogging calendars!

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

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

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

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

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

Google Find – suspicious link to source not included here

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

Read more of this post

The Brain Science Podcast turns TEN!


TEN years and still going strong

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Brain Based Resources Series
with content reblogged from an article back in 2012

“On the Brain Science Podcast we explore how recent scientific discoveries are unraveling age-old mysteries, such as intelligence, emotions, personality, and memory.

We also look at why the brain is much more complex than any computer yet devised.” ~ Dr. Ginger Campbell

The Podcast for Everyone who has a Brain

I have been singing the praises of Dr. Ginger Campbell’s fascinating Brain Science Podcast for years now.

It is one of my very favorite ways of keeping step as science marches on.

Given that she is currently celebrating her Ten Year Anniversary, I decided it was time for me to introduce it anew.

I have many new readers since I wrote my first article urging everyone to check it out.

If you are not already listening, you are missing a fascinating brain-based resource that will make you feel like you have your own neuro-PhD after listening to a few episodes.

In the years since her podcast launched, Ginger has interviewed quite a few leading scientists and writers, many of whom have now become subscribers themselves.  I have described a mere FIVE of these below, hoping to whet your appetite for more.

Woven throughout her interviews are episodes with book summaries and topic-focused informational “lectures” in her own voice, and supporting all is a web-based discussion forum, a FaceBook Group, and her comprehensive website.  Her ShowNotes are top-notch too.

My much earlier unsolicited RAVE offers brief descriptions and links to particular interviews of individuals whose names long-time readers of ADDandSoMuchMORE.com will recognize from articles here.

I hope that you will jump over to skim that post as well – and jump from there to Ginger’s Brain Science Podcast website to give yourselves a real treat.

Click to read: Brain Science Podcast: REALLY Good Stuff!

For ANYONE who has a brain

There are now over 130 interview episodes available, the show has been ranked #1 on iTunes™, and BSP has enjoyed well over 2 million downloads.

  • It’s so popular because she manages somehow to appeal to long time “neuro-geeks” and newbie non-scientists alike.
  • She makes the content easily accessible, not only by adding her own comments to back-fill information that she understands but WE might not – but also by pointing to resources and other podcasts in the series to add additional depth to the conversation for those who want more.

The most recent episodes of the series can be streamed for free, and can also be downloaded to play on another device without charge. Although donations are appreciated, for those who can swing it, you can download several years worth of brain candy for absolutely nothing.

For those of you who prefer to read (or for those who want to do both), a transcript of each episode is available in pdf format for a measly dollar.  I happily pay $1.00 for my pdf downloads — they’re more than worth it!

You can EVEN listen on your smart phone. If you want to stream to your cell, there’s an ap available for an extremely reasonable charge.

Listen while you work, exercise, or relax

While there’s nothing quite like reading the book to add depth to your learning, one of the things I LOVE about this podcast is the intelligence of the interview.

Not only is Ginger a wonderful interviewer, she does her homework before she speaks with each guest. She asks just the right questions to make sure her listeners get the “meat” of the content – and she gives her guests PLENTY of time to develop a thought.

  • She also does everything she can to make sure that everyone in her target audience (“anyone with a brain”) gets full value out of each episode.
  • For interviews of concepts and ideas that might be more complex than new listeners could be expected to grasp on first listening, immediately following the interview itself she returns to summarize, and to cover anything that she feels needs a bit of extra explanation.

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Emotional Mastery to help us move forward


Upgrading how you feel
to help you change what you DO

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

UPDATE: This article was written to support the mood challenges of most readers here.  The blog of one reader reminded me to be SURE to say that some of you are dealing with issues that are more complex, and that other articles I’ve written might be more helpful to you.  Click to the PTSD/TBI LinkList for links to a selection of those.

Riding herd on runaway emotions

I recently found an emotional resiliency blog post by PsychCentral blogger Athena Staik, Ph.D. that fits right in with my focus on change-management in 2017.

She begins with four important points to keep in mind:

  1. Emotion mastery is a built-in capacity, often ignored yet always available.
  2. It is a learned ability to respond in a conscious manner that short-circuits our body’s survival-system to keep it from controlling us and our lives with ineffective automatic reactions and unconscious defensive strategies.
  3. It involves developing an awareness of and connection to our thoughts, emotions and body sensations — so that we are able to, step by step, cultivate a practice, or lifestyle habit of making conscious, informed decisions that will keep us on course toward achieving our goals
  4. In the process of cultivating emotion mastery, we will build the confidence and resilience we need to handle upcoming challenges more effectively.

Emotional Mastery

She continues by using the acronym M-A-S-T-E-R-Y to outline a system she recommends to help us tame our emotional reactivity.

The article seems to have been written from a neuro-typical point of view, so I don’t agree completely with every single thing she has to say about them.

I do agree with her on their importance, however – and I’m sharing in the hopes that her “MASTERY” mnemonic will help us all keep them in mind.

Mnemonic devices are techniques a person can use to help them improve their ability to remember something — a memory technique to help your brain better encode and recall important information.

You can jump over to Staik’s article to see what she has to offer in response to each letter.  My own thoughts will be found in the posts I’ve linked within or below each of her mnemonic assists.

 So lets take a look at them!

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Mental Health Awareness for January 2017


January Mental Health Awareness

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

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

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

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

A bit early for January

I am using the lull between Christmas Day and New Years Eve to post January’s Awareness list.

I’m pretty sure that nobody will be in any kind of shape to pay attention to it on New Year’s Day (nor am I likely to be in any kind of shape to get it up on January first myself!)

Mark your blogging calendars anyway

Every month and many days of the year have been set aside to promote awareness or advocacy of an illness, disability, or other special-needs-related cause. Scroll down to use this January index to make sure you mark those special occasions this month.

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

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

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

Attention Bloggers: If you write (or have written) an article that adds content, feel free to leave a link in the comment section and I will move it into it into the Related Content on this post.

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

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

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Mental Health Awareness in December


A Light Month, Awareness-wise

So let’s take a look at what our
recently elected politicians have in store for healthcare

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Mental Health Awareness series

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

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

For your blogging calendars

Each year is peppered with a great many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about important emotional, physical and psychological health issues.

In addition to a calendar for the current month, each Awareness post usually offers a list highlighting important days and weeks that impact mental health, along with those that remain in place for the entire month.

In December, the only thing I could find remotely related was this:

National Aplastic Anemia Awareness Week — 
December 1-7
Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation

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

Attention Bloggers: As always, if you write (or have written) an article that adds content to this post, feel free to leave a link in the comment section and I will move it into its appropriate category.

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Procrastination’s link to kludgy Executive Functioning


Getting a Round Tuit
CUTE — but not very helpful

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from posts in the Challenges Series

Oh those clever seminar leaders!

We all love the little gifties that are passed out at a great many seminars we have attended, seminars designed to help us fashion lives that are more productive and enlivening.

Most of us have a list of things we intend to do when “we get around to it” — but I can’t imagine how being gifted with a little round reminder that we need to STOP “procrastinating” and “just DO it” is going to make one whit of difference.

In most cases it’s shaming, actually, regardless of how positive the humorous intent – and shame rarely works well as a motivational technique.

Related Post: The Top Ten Reasons to Reframe Procrastination

We need to look clearly at what’s going on

Follow through to completion is a linear process modulated by the prefrontal cortex [PFC], the brain’s “conductor” that keeps us on track and in action, step after step.

Our vanilla-flavored friends rarely appreciate the fact that they have an unconscious advantage in the linear processing department – what is frequently referred to as “declarative memory.”  That makes certain kinds of information retrieval, organization and task completion, and – well, just about everything else – a heck of a lot easier for them.

With the ADD/EFD brain-style (and others with attentional spectrum dysregulations – all of us with Executive Functioning glitches), we seem to process sequential information in a fairly disjointed manner — the pieces somehow jumbled together — sometimes not recorded at all, even when we do our very best to keep our attention on matters at hand.

Too many guests at the EFD Table

Because the brain is soft and sloshes around in fluid inside a hard skull with bony protrusions – especially in the front area where the PFC is most vulnerable – any appreciable hit on the head is likely to result in a few problems with Executive Functioning.

Because the PFC is connected to almost every other part of the brain, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that strokes or medications that affect one one part of the brain are likely to have an effect on PFC connectivity as well.

Implication: any individual with a disorder, stroke or other brain damage affecting the prefrontal cortex is highly likely to experience brain-based executive functioning challenges of one sort or another.

In a nutshell, “Executive Function” is the mental ability to organize, prioritize, and accomplish tasks. It is figuring out what to do first, second, third, and so on, to see a task through to completion. Executive function involves things like being able to realistically determine, in advance, how long and how difficult a particular task will be to accomplish.
~ from a great 1st person article by PTSD advocate Linda Lee/LadyQuixote, Impaired Executive Function, My Invisible Disability

Connectivity challenges are experienced by individuals with mood disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, TBI/ABI, and more than a few neurological conditions such as sensory integration disorders, Parkinson’s, dyslexia — in fact, almost all of what I refer to as the alphabet disorders.

Due to the way the brain ages, even individuals who were born with the neurotypical brain style will begin to notice increasingly more Executive Functioning struggles as they get older.

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Living within the boundaries of TIME


Why TIME can be so hard to track
MOST of us battle it – but some of us lose more often

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

If you want to know the truth about TIME, ask a kid

Kids know that, even on December 24th, the time between now and Christmas morning is MUCH longer than the time between the now of the last day of summer vacation and the first day of school.

How long those “golden rule days” last is open to debate in kid-courts everywhere.

Kids who enjoy learning and have great teachers
are positive that the school-day is short,
as the kids who don’t will swear it is interminable.

On this they can agree

Most kids beg for “just one more minute” to watch TV or play computer games – as if a measly 60 seconds is going to give them what they really want: to continue doing something that engages their attention and avoid doing something they find difficult or don’t want to do.

Science tells us that the perception of time is a function of interest and effort.
I say: only partly.

  • NO extra time eases the transitions, for kids or adults – which is a huge part of the problem for anybody who isn’t strictly neurotypical and linear beyond belief.
  • And it takes a lot of work to learn to work with and around hyperfocus – that “trapped in the NOW” state that brains challenged with attentional struggles use to compensate for kludgy focus.

What’s a poor time traveler to do?

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Almost here: Group Coaching


A Process Designed to Support Clients
with all kinds of minds!

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

Does anything below sound like YOU?

  • Have you ever felt that you are essentially alone in your struggles with time and time-management, focus and follow-through as the result of PTSD, TBI/ABI, ADD/EFD — or brain-based struggles as the result of chemo-therapy or medication side-effects or chronic pain — or even something considered “normal,” such as age-related cognitive decline?
  • Do the people you love fail to really understand your challenges, so their suggestions & nudges don’t really help (and sometimes make things more difficult)?
  • Is there a pet project languishing on a back burner for FAR too long, but you can’t seem to “make” yourself get to it – or can’t find the time to do it amid the distractions of life’s many competing to-dos?
  • Have you accepted the dumb idea that your real problem is chronic procrastination because you have heard it so often it simply must be true – as you continue to struggle on in some attempt to just-DO-it?
  • Do you LIVE with someone who constantly lets you down, despite their assertions that they never intend to do so? Would you LOVE to understand how to “motivate” them and keep them on task to completion – BEFORE you give in to your impulse to strangle them?
  • Is your home or office so cluttered you rarely have the motivation to clean and organize, as day slips into clutter-mounting day?

Do you need help
you don’t think you can afford?

Would you love to hire a Sherpa: a highly-experienced, systems-development professional at the TOP of the field, but can’t fit the fees for one-on-one private coaching into your budget?

IN OTHER WORDS:

Do you need a little brain-based coaching to get to the point where you can afford brain-based coaching?

Have I got a Group for YOU!

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Beyond the Limitations of a Post-It Note™ Brain


 

TIME Perception is a factor of Awareness

The more conscious the process,
the longer it seems to take

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part THREE (Part I HEREPart II HERE)

According to Dr. David Eagleman, we humans are more than passive observers where time is concerned. And he should know. The author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, has studied Time perception for well over a decade.

According to his research, we are not merely watching the river of time flow by as if time happened TO us, or we happened IN time. Science is learning that our brains are actively constructing time.

Re-engineering Brain Resources

In Eagleman’s words, It turns out that it has everything to do with novelty, and with how much energy your brain has to expend.

So, when you can predict something, not only does your consciousness not come online, but [the event] feels like it goes by very fast.

In other words, driving to work may seem relatively fast eventually. The first time you had to do it, however, it seemed to take longer because of the novelty, as well as the amount of brain-power you had to burn the first time you did it — before your brain was able to predict much of anything about the trip.

Essentially prediction means that if it’s something you’re doing repeatedly, you’re actually “rewiring” — reconfiguring the circuitry of the brain.

You’re actually moving things into your sub-conscious circuitry, which gives you speed and efficiency, albeit at the cost of conscious access.

So you have to pay a lot of conscious attention if you’re learning to do something new, like playing golf or driving a car.

After a while it’s not necessary, because you’ve changed the circuitry of your brain — no longer at the effect of the conscious awareness of what you’re doing.

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Sherlocking for Task Completion


Looking at the details
of any problem with follow-through

How do YOU need to proceed?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part TWO (Part I HERE)

Follow my process as you Sherlock your own

As I continue to remind you: ONLY when we take the time to Sherlock the details of how and why we get stuck are we able to figure out what might work to help us get UNstuck!

And I promise you that it is RARELY as simple or straightforward as the self-help books might lead you to believe, neurotypical or otherwise.  Everything depends on how any particular task intersects with your particular Challenges Profile™.

As you examine some of the details of my own particular problem example below, think about some of the areas in your life that might look like one type of problem but are actually the result of something else entirely. 

The Leaning Tower of Crockery

Creative Commons, Wikipedia

Creative Commons, Wikipedia

There is no room for a dishwasher in my current apartment. I’m stuck with the task of washing everything by hand.  As much as I hate it, it’s nothing compared with the struggles I faced in my last apartment.

During a hateful period of several weeks there was a faucet drip, compounded by a sink-drainage problem for at least two.

During this particular period, it could take hours for the sink to drain completely. Increasingly powerful drain cleaners did little to clear the clog effectively. Water backed up in my kitchen sink and my dishes piled up unwashed while I waited for my landlady’s follow-through skills to kick in.

Since water in that particular first-floor dwelling always took several minutes of running before it approached a temperature anyone might consider warmish, the sink filled with cold water before I had a shot at getting water delivery hot enough to clean anything.

It made me increasingly furious to have to boil water like a pioneer before I could wash my dishes, so I stopped.  Cold.

Calming myself down

Getting my shorts in a knot about the drainage problem wasn’t going to make it go away. Emotional upset would only increase the difficulty of getting anything ELSE accomplished.  It made sense to stay busy elsewhere so I wasn’t constantly aware of the problem building in the kitchen.  Some distractions are actually helpful!

Except for nightly applications of drain cleaner and cleaning out the goop in the sink – a process that seemed to be undone by morning – I tried to avoid using the kitchen sink at all. I waited for my landlady to find and fix the problem, calling her every day or so with a reminder message. Day turned into day after day.

Even though the resulting mess was beyond hateful in many ways, and even though I could not FORCE myself to handle it “in real time,” waiting was more of a choice than a problem with procrastination.

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Predicting Time to Manage Tasks


Beating Back Task Anxiety

by understanding your relationship to TIME

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections post from the Time & Task Management Series
Part ONE

What’s YOUR Tendency?

As regular readers already know, I tend to put my faith in what science crowd refers to as “anecdotal evidence”  — learning from what I have observed in my clients, myself, and what I have heard from thousands of ADDers who have attended conferences and participated in my support groups and workshops in the twenty five years I have been in the field.

As I expanded my evidence collection to include the experiences of the other citizens of Alphabet City (TBI, PTSD, OCD, EFD, AS, etc.), I began to mentally record their experiences as well, and factor them in to my techniques and theories.

When the science supports what I see in the population, I quote it.  When it doesn’t, I ignore it or argue with it. It makes no difference if 98 out of 100 people studied tend to do xyz if my client and I happen to be among the 2% who do abc.

It doesn’t matter.  Your job is the same either way: check your gut to see what makes the most sense to you and try it on.  Tweak from there. Check out another tool when something doesn’t work for you.

But hang on to the first!!  Just because you need a hammer NOW doesn’t mean you won’t need a lug-wrench later!

My take on Anecdotal

  • For years I struggled valiantly attempting to adopt “majority rules” norms — with little to no success and a lot of wasted life.
  • It took a long time for me to develop even a rudimentary feeling of entitlement to my own process, learning to close my ears to the words of the “experts” and neurotypical Doubting Thomases who kept telling me that I was only kidding myself or making excuses.

I coach, train and share here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com hoping to help others avoid some of the wilderness-wandering that has characterized much of my own life. And to remind myself of what I’ve learned.

Trying something different

I want to encourage you to find what works, not what is supposed to work

So, in the first part of this multi-part article, let’s take a look together at how people relate to time and tasks, and how that affects our ability to plan our schedules and run our lives.

Let’s examine the real stoppers to OUR forward progress to see if we can figure out how to work around them, independent of the “standard” assumptions and techniques – a process I refer to as Sherlocking.

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TIME to think about Group Coaching


Time Troubles and Coaching
For people who are “ALWAYS” running late and rushing around
— and the people who love them —
(who would like to understand how to change that sad fact)

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

BEFORE  I tell you about the upcoming start of an affordable new Coaching opportunity designed to help you with A-WHOLE-LOT-MORE than time-management, let’s take a moment to chat about time itself.

Time can be MANAGED?

For over a quarter of a century now, I have been fascinated with anything related to the topic of the awareness of the passage of time. It has always been a mystery to me – and I now know that I’m not the only one with that peculiar problem.

Personally, I can’t recall a time when time made sense, except in the context of NOW and not-now.

Even when I explain it to someone who thinks they understand, it seems that nobody gets the implications. I am frustrated beyond belief when they continue to ask me time-based questions.

My secret fascination with the mechanics of time’s awareness began long before I first learned that I seem to be one who was born without that internal tic-tic-tock with which most people DO seem to have been equipped, part of the standard package.

I’ve been told I can’t get one now, even as an after-market upgrade.

Oddly, I have a great sense of rhythm – which is time-based – so I can change time-ING, but predicting how long something will take or how long ago a life landmark occurred is always beyond me.

Back in my acting days, when I had to do a 30-second spot and I was over or under by a few seconds, I understood how to tweak the cadence to end “on time.” But I never could stay tracked attempting to “time” much of anything for much longer than a minute (or “time” a dance number — I simply stayed in step with the music until it stopped).

Are YOU one of the time challenged?

None of us know what we don’t know . . . so how can we frame a question another will understand? It seems like magic when others are able to manage something in arenas where we are totally at sea.

The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with for a lack of time-sense is that it’s like trying to teach the tone-deaf to sing.

Friends who aren’t able to sing on pitch can’t tell when they wander away from the tune, and I have never been able to help them learn to do so.  They simply can’t hear it.

Unlike those who can’t match a pitch, however, I always knew there was some “secret” that others knew and I didn’t (and therapists have had a field day with this, by the way – “Madelyn, I don’t have answers for you!”)

I simply couldn’t imagine how to frame a question beyond, “How do you DO that?” or “What am I missing?” – which, I suppose, seemed more like feigned ignorance or an unwillingness to take personal responsibility to others. So I stopped asking. I hated the look on their faces, even when their responses weren’t cruel, and even though I understood they didn’t MEAN to be cruel.

Making sense of a lack of sense

I found out that there was such a thing as “a sense of time” in the same article I found out about adult ADD, published years ago in the New York Times magazine section – Frank Wolkenberg’s now landmark, “Out of a Darkness.”  I was 38.

My reaction to that particular aha! was, “Well, NO WONDER every one else can get places on time — they’re cheating!” (as if “a sense of time” was like having an exam crib sheet stuffed up their sleeves.)

Once I understood that some inner chronometer allowed others to somehow feel that time was passing (and how much time was passing, for most of them), I understood immediately that I had to stop attempting to “figure it out” and focus on easy-to-set alarms (one to STOP, to get ready for the next thing, another to begin walking out the door — etc.) That’s how I did it — and how I have to do it still.

I found it fascinating to hear that some people LOST their sense of time following a head injury. I know it must be frustrating for them, but at least they know how to explain what’s missing — not that it helps others to understand what they’re talking about or the extent of the resulting struggle one whit better.

Related Post: Lessons from the TBI Community

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Mental Health Awareness in November


November includes N-24 Awareness Day

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

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

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

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

Mark your blogging calendars

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

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

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

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

Attention Bloggers: If you write (or have written) an article that adds content to any of these categories — or other mental health related days in November — please leave us all a link in the comment section. I will move it into its appropriate place on the list in the article, or into the Related Content section.

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

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

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Mental Health Awareness in October


October is ADD/ADHD Awareness Month

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for many other mental health issues

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

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

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

Mark your blogging calendars

Each year is peppered with a great many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about important emotional, physical and psychological health issues. Scroll down for a list highlighting important days and weeks (and for the entire month) that impact mental health.

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

Attention Bloggers: If you write (or have written) an article that adds content to any of these categories, feel free to leave a link in the comment section and I will move it into its appropriate category.

Also included on the list below are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood and attention management.

Read more of this post

Brains Need SYSTEMS to Develop


Learning CHANGES the Structure of the Brain:

Impossible in the face of chaos

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

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

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

Building a Brain

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

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

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

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

Baby brains develop amazingly quickly

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

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

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

Order out of Chaos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A LOT for our brains to learn

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

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

Highways and Byways

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

Except, with the brain, that hasn’t turned out to be exactly true.
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Good news on brain-aging from The Nun Study


Healthy Brains for a Lifetime

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

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

Cognitive decline is NOT inevitable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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You don’t HAVE to lose it as you age


Moving Past Mind-Blips and “Senior Moments”

Maintaining & improving your brain’s vitality as you age

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

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

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


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

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


Our Worst Nightmare

Staying in SHAPE as we age (Source HERE)

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

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

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

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

Prevention is the better part of valor

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

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

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Slow-cooking CHANGE


Metaphors of Mind & Brain Redux
edited excerpt from Our Brains, Crock Pots™ and Microwaves (Jan. 2015)

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

The way in which my brain is rather like a Crock Pot™ frequently comes to mind. I put more than a few things in “slow-cook” mode, figuring that I’ll be better able to handle them later, and that they will still be “digestible” if I forget about them for a while.

By giving ourselves permission to do things our own way on our own timetables, our brain responds with a way to solve problems and work around challenges that works best for us.

I frequently use the term “slow-cook” as a communication short-cut when I coach. It is especially useful when I work with change resistance.

In my many years working with all sorts of individuals I have observed that what trips us up most is a process akin to denial – that just because something works for the rest of the world it darn well should work for us too!

If you want to understand how you work,
you need to pay deliberate attention
to how YOU work! Duh!

Until we begin to observe the unique manner in which we respond and react, we unconsciously defend or attack ourselves from expectations that, somewhere deep inside, we know are unrealistic, given our particular flavor of whatever is going on with us.

That way lies madness!

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

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Attentional struggles? Not ME!


WANNA BET?
Check out a few of the Symptoms of Attentional Struggles

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from an article published June, 2011

NOT just for ADD

MANY people – not just those diagnosed with ADD/EFD (or anything else) – report challenges with procrastination, follow-through, time and transition management, recalling directions, names or what they said they would do, keeping the bills paid on time, beating back the clutter, keeping on top of the laundry or the filing or the mail — or effectively handling any number of pile-ups of house, garage and lawn chores.

More than a few struggle to have much of a life beyond the all-too-familiar “mess it up, clean it up” cycle — in any one of a host of arenas.

DID YOU KNOW that fluctuations in your ability to manage the Attending system are at the root of every single one of them?

Not necessarily diagnostic

If YOU have even more than a few of the characteristics listed in this article, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have diagnostic ADD – or any of the bona-fide Executive Functioning disorders.

It DOES indicate that you’re juggling more balls than you can manage at one time, and one or more of the The Dynamics of Attending is suffering for it.

Room at my Table

I’d like to invite the rest of you to allow yourselves to benefit from the coping techniques I developed for the ADD community over the past 25+ years.

Whichever camp you belong to, ADD/EFD, “Senior Moment” tripsters, or CrazyBusy, I’m fairly certain you will find that employing a few ADD Coaching techniques will help you become more intentional with your attending, life will become a whole lot easier to manage, and your friends and loved ones will be much happier with the way you relate to THEM.

Looking through The ADD Lens™

I have found the idea of looking at things through The ADD Lens™ extremely helpful. In other words, looking at your functioning challenges as if they were a result of Attention Deficit Disorder.

If Challenges like any of those below (or their kissing cousins) keep you from getting things done, pretend you do have ADD/EFD and start to utilize a few of the techniques that have been found to work with people who have been diagnosed with ADD:

See if looking at yourself through The ADD Lens™as if you had full-blown, diagnostic ADD/EFD – gives you a way to approach areas of prior difficulty in a way that you can handle them successfully.

In The Journey toward Optimal Functioning™, we must give ourselves permission to utilize any trick, tool or technique that will help us to achieve it.

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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Productivity: Paying Attention on Purpose


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

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

The Link between Attention and Intention

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s get to it!

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

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

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

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

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

How Come?

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

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

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

Related Post: From Impulsivity to Self-Control

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

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Accountability & Systems on Auto-Pilot


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

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

Treadmill Deja Vu

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hang on – help’s coming!

But wait – there’s MORE!

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