On Allowing Discomfort

On Allowing Discomfort

Woman sitting on a rock overlooking water.
Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

Except for the lead photo above, this began as an Instagram post. My swyping keyboard finger kept going as if it was a freewriting exercise.

(NB: Excuse any duplicate paragraphs. I’m using the new version of WordPress for the first time and it’s duplicating some. I’ve deleted those I’ve found.)

When I scrolled up to add some words to a previous paragraph, something happened that I’ve never experienced in Instagram:


I know that Instagram should be for captions and not full posts. I’m aware that people rarely read the words beneath the picture.

So, here’s the full post, slightly modified for blog format (links instead of usernames, headings for readability, etc.) and clarity. This might be something for me to do more often: Start an Instagram post with “See more on my blog”.

See the Instagram post here.

The Full Post

(The photos above are all the Instagram post.)

First I did the scheduled Yoga for Couch Potatoes to Adriene Mishler (Yoga with Adriene), then I meditated along with one of Brett Larkin’s videos.

These two are both my favourite YouTube yoga teachers. A few months ago, After a few years with Brett, I decided to switch it up.

I intended to do Couch Potato yesterday because it seemed perfect for a day when a cold made me feel like shit. When I went to bed at night, I realized I hadn’t done yoga at all. 

Yoga is my morning routine so that I don’t forget to do it. Instead, I mostly rested and engaged in “Netflix & chill” yesterday. I also got some work done, but I did as little as possible.

[This is where I had to cut the Instagram post. Upon reflection, I added the highlighted bit and related thoughts.]

I’m sick, and that’s okay

(Stream of consciousness:) l still feel like crap, but that’s okay. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable & get sick on occasion. Our obsession with health is unhealthy when it keeps our bodies from doing what they naturally do.

I believe in living a life of ease as much as possible. I also believe that there are times when we should try to allow the discomfort to exist before grabbing relief.

It’s a good exercise in, excuse the phrase, not being a wuss.

It’s also helpful.

Acknowledging and leaning into the discomfort without rejecting it acknowledges that we have to navigate through the world every day. It takes some power away from the feelings, which is in itself is a relief.

Sometimes what we think is the prevention of discomfort is actually FEAR. Some discomfort does toughen us up.

Yes, seek help

NOT that we shouldn’t seek help when we need it or prevent discomfort when it can be avoided.

What I’m saying is that sometimes in our dislike for discomfort we don’t allow ourselves to deal with issues (whether a cold or an emotional issue) & heal. 

 There’s a difference between “discomfort” and “suffering”, and it’s an important distinction. 

Avoiding discomfort can lead to suffering.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be sick or hurt or experience negative emotions, we go into denial or bypass.

Sometimes we have to acknowledge that life has shitty moments and then decide to do something about it, thoughtfully rather than impulsivity or by habit. I’m not sure I’m communicating this well, but if I’m not and you have questions, I’ll answer.

[Note: I suspect that it’s more clear in the blog version than it was going to be on Instagram.]

Back to that cold

I’ve been taking herbs & other immune boosters.

If I’m still sick tomorrow when I have to work THEN, I’ll medicate for relief and while at work I‘ll take precautions to not spread germs. There’s only so much I can do. It’s the time of year, and this cold is going around. I feel for people who are immune compromised.


How the germs got me

(To be honest, I’m partly including this little paragraph because I like analogies.)

I consumed foods that are known immune suppressants the day before I got that telltale sensation in my throat. My immune system was probably busy tackling that. Like The Night’s Watch, the soldiers of my immune system went to battle White Walkers (sugar — which is not a bad analogy with the “white”!) and left my body vulnerable to attacks by other invaders.

What do you think of this format?

And there you go. Is this format a good idea? My Instagram account gets way more eyes on it than my blog (though I’ll be importing this into Medium), but maybe this is a way to get people to read what I say.

What are your thoughts about living with discomfort?



ADD vs. ADHD dictionary

Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash

Someone asked an ADHD-related question on Quora today and requested my answer. It’s something that I suspect others are curious about too.

Here is this person’s question and my response

Question –

Why do people act like ADD and ADHD are the same things when they’re not?

Answer – ADD vs. ADHD

I understand where you’re coming from if you’re looking at it from the perspective that ADHD includes hyperactivity ADD doesn’t. Yes, the two are used interchangeably despite differences.

ADD used to refer to someone who had trouble focusing but was not hyperactive. However, ADD no longer exists as a medical term.

Doctors have been using the term ADHD to describe both the hyperactive and inattentive subtypes since 1994. When the American Psychiatric Association released the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) in May 2013, they changed the criteria to diagnose someone with ADHD.

Many parents, teachers, and adults continue to use the term ADD when referring to inattentive symptoms and presentations of attention deficit disorder.

There are several types of ADD and ADHD. Symptoms vary from person to person. The presence of an “H” in the term doesn’t mean that hyperactivity is present in a person any more than it means that this person is disorganized, forgetful or has anger issues (all symptoms but again, not everyone has every characteristic).

While you might self-identify as one or the other, technically speaking, ADD doesn’t exist.

Personally, I sometimes write “AD(H)D” to account for people with any of the symptoms and to be inclusive but I also use “ADHD” to account for the current terminology. I like to be correct.

I hope this helps.

Here’s how another person answered:

Because they’re misinformed or being lazy with their use of terminology. It doesn’t help that, like Aspergers being absorbed into the ASD diagnosis, ADD has been combined with ADHD to form the diagnosis of either ADHD or the sub-type ADHD-Primarily Inattentive. Whoever made that call may have been educated but apparently was also ignorant of the different experiences of those with ADD & ADHD.

It’s aggravating, because…

[Her personal experience followed.]

I can’t speak for ASD and Aspergers, but I can say that this is incorrect. Maybe there’s some laziness (or lack of caring about being precise), but the differences are irrelevant considering what I presented in my answer. That said, the writer of that answer identifies as having ADD and ASD, so that’s where she’s coming from. I understand that. We bring our own experiences into our perspectives. I try to answer based on facts and research and sometimes also include my personal story.

The reasons I use the term ADHD on this website and my business cards are twofold:

1. As I mentioned in my answer above, ADHD is currently the correct name for the condition. Technically speaking, ADD doesn’t exist. Using the word that technically does exist helps me look credible.

2. I like to refer to things by their correct name. It annoys me when people mispronounce words because it triggers my sensory perception anxiety. Something about a word sounding wrong. It’s also a little bit anal retentive, I suppose. Calling things by their correct name makes me feel the same way that using proper grammar makes me feel.

Furthemore, using two terms in the same piece of writing sometimes looks clunky.

Admittedly, I occasionally use both words in blog posts for search optimization purposes (this is, to increase the likelihood of people finding my post). Using both “ADD” and “ADHD” helps others get the information they need, and helps me get discovered. It’s beneficial both ways.

As I said above in my answer, sometimes I do type “AD(H)D”, but that term technically doesn’t exist either.

I’d prefer to be inclusive. I also acknowledge, as I said above, that not everyone with ADHD has “hyperactivity” or other common issues. No two people are the same. I have one friend with ADHD who loves to run and hates yoga. I prefer yoga and brisk walking. Some people I know with ADHD are better at focusing than others. Every person is unique. This is one of the dangers of labelling people, ADHD or not. Neurodivergence or not. We all have different genes and environments and experiences.

Questions like this also make me wonder why people ask questions on Quora rather than hitting Google for answers, but I’m happy to answer and happy to help.* Sometimes I google the answers and present facts based on research, sometimes I look to resources I already have, or do blog posts that I’ve written, and sometimes I use the ol’ knowledge bank in my brain.

*(Partly because a need for validation is one of my things.)

ADHD Awareness Month: 3 ADHD book recommendations

ADHD Awareness Month: 3 ADHD book recommendations

When starting your journey of learning about ADHD, you probably head to the internet first, and books second. Here you are on the internet, and here are my ADHD book recommendations.

Below, I include three ADHD-specific books that have influenced me most plus some other influential books about brain health. There are several books about ADHD that I haven’t read but are on my reading list.

The book list below is in the order that I discovered and read them.

This is a long post, so jump to the following books as the titles grab you:

The ADD Nutrition Solution
Finally Focused
The UltraMind Solution

ADHD book recommendations

The ADD Nutrition Solution

ADHD book recommendationsThe ADD Nutrition SolutionThe book The A.D.D. Nutrition Solution by Marcia Zimmerman (published in 1999) was suggested to me along with my ADHD recognition. 20 years later I’m still recommending that book to other people. This book changed my life. Two months into following the plan I noticed myself maintaining eye contact during an interview and thought, “Huh, I can maintain eye contact now.”

The description from Amazon (slightly edited):

The first scientifically proven, effective, all-natural nutritional alternative to the much-prescribed drug Ritalin. Attention Deficit Disorder is a nutritional deficiency, not a psychological condition.

This is the revolutionary discovery Marcia Zimmerman made during her ten years of research as a nutritional biochemist. That conclusion led her to develop a diet that addresses the specific needs of the 17 million adults and children suffering from ADD. Her easy-to-follow thirty-day plan has been proven just as effective as Ritalin in relieving the symptoms of ADD.

– How women should boost their nutrition before conception to prevent ADD in their newborn children.
– Why boys are much likelier to be tagged as ADD than girls
– How to get a reliable ADD diagnosis
– The effects of brain allergies on attention span
– Foods to avoid that may exacerbate ADD
– The dangers of artificial food ingredients
– and much more


This important book will help us curb the epidemic growth of ADD in this country and change the way we treat those who have it now by addressing its source instead of merely treating its symptoms.

From the back of the book:

The A.D.D. Nutrition Solution provides groundbreaking information on the nutritional deficits, food allergies, and hereditary and environmental factors that can cause attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), a condition that affects more than 17 million people in this country today.”

Before I learned of this book, every book about ADD that I found seemed to be written for parents with ADD-identified children. ADHD awareness came around 2000/2001.

You never forget your first

I used to recommend this book a lot. I loaned it to a couple of people – including a parent. However, I recommend it less frequently now because the books below came into my life. As I said up top, The A.D.D. Nutrition Solution changed my life. It introduced me to eating fat for brain health (before people were doing it for weight loss) as well as other nutritional protocols.

The A.D.D. Nutrition Solution came into my life when I needed it, and it changed my life.
Isn’t it great when that happens? It makes me feel warm and fuzzy to think that maybe sometimes I enter someone’s life when they need me.

I think that it’s always good to read the newer books (e.g. the third one on this list) regardless because new research happens and old research gets debunked.

Healing ADD (2013)

ADHD book recommendations: Healing ADHDFull title: Healing ADD Revised Edition: The Breakthrough Program that Allows You to See and Heal the 7 Types of ADD

I love this book. That photo to the left is my copy, with its many bookmarks of pages that I might want to reference later. I found this book fascinating because it gets into the actual physical brain. It talks neuroscience, which has long been an interest of mine.

Healing ADD discusses different types of AD(H)D and how different areas of the brain are affected. If you had AD(H)D you’ll be able to identify which type you have and what’s going on in your brain – how different brain activity is causing symptoms.

The publisher’s description

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a national health crisis that continues to grow—yet it remains one of the most misunderstood and incorrectly treated illnesses today. Neuropsychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD was one of the first to identify that there are multiple types beyond just purely hyperactive or inattentive ADD, each requiring a different treatment. Now, in this all-new, revised edition, Dr. Amen again employs the latest medical advances in the field, including the largest brain imaging study ever completed on patients with ADD, to identify, examine, and demystify the 7 distinct types of ADD and their specific treatments.

With updated recommendations for nutraceuticals and/or medications targeted to brain type, diet, exercise, lifestyle interventions, cognitive reprogramming, parenting and educational strategies, neurofeedback, and more, Dr. Amen’s revolutionary approach provides a treatment program that can lead sufferers of ADD to a normal, peaceful, and fully functional life.

Sufferers from ADD often say, “The harder I try, the worse it gets.” Dr. Amen tells them, for the first time, why, and more importantly how to heal ADD.

Breaking it down

In Part 1 of the book, Dr. Amen presents symptoms of ADD and methodology for assessment, and he introduces the 7 types. Part 2 takes a deeper dive into those 7 types and offers case studies of people of all ages who Dr. Amen has helped. Many individuals assessed for ADHD after their grandchildren get help for symptoms. (ADHD can be hereditary.)

Part 3 discusses interventions that can help ADHD overall and presents strategies for each type of ADHD. Part 4 is about optimization, with the first two chapters about ADHD in children. There’s also a chapter in there about killing Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs), or as I’ve been calling them for years, “inner gremlins” (sometimes I call them my “inner assholes”).

Before there was a bandwagon…

It’s worth mentioning that his dietary protocol for 6 of the 7 types of ADHD calls for “higher protein, lower carb” with one of those mentioning “ketogenic diet”. I often point out the that keto diet was used for brain health long before it was embraced as a weight loss program.

Daniel Amen is a physician, neuroscientist, psychiatrist and a teacher. He is a ten-time New York Times best-selling author who has written over 30 books and authored or coauthored 70 professional articles. Dr. Amen is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is Founder of Amen Clinics. He and his wife Tana, host a podcast called The Brain Warrior’s Way. (Search for it wherever you listen to podcasts, be it iTunes, Stitcher or someplace else.)

Reading his books make me want to get a SPECT (brain) scan so that I can see inside my own brain and also to get a better sense of my type. Sometimes I think I have what Dr. Amen calls Classic ADD. Sometimes I think I have what he calls Limbic ADD because it includes symptoms of depression. Sometimes it feels like Anxious ADD.

Regardless, I try to be self-aware and adjust my life according to whatever symptoms arise. This approach is one of the ways I came up with the PRIMED System for ADHD Management, which I teach. (Contact me if you’d like to work with me.)

If you were to only read one book on this Top 3 list of ADHD book recommendations,  I’d recommend this one because it’s so comprehensive.

Finally Focused

ADHD book recommendations: finally focused(Finally Focused: The Breakthrough Natural Treatment Plan for ADHD That Restores Attention, Minimizes Hyperactivity, and Helps Eliminate Drug Side Effects)

[👈That’s not the best photo, but I’m using my old phone while I wait for a new one after losing my phone. The point of posting it is to show you all the tape flags and Post-It notes.]

The most recently published book on this list, Finally Focused by James Greenblatt, M.D. is for parents of children with ADHD and adults with ADHD, though somewhat more the former. As I wrote in May 2017, my mom told me about this book after she discovered it via her inbox.

The book description:

Dr. James Greenblatt has seen thousands of children and adults struggling with the symptoms of ADHD – hyperactivity, inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and often irritability and combativeness. Rather than simply prescribing medication for their ADHD symptoms, he tailors remedies to his patients’ individual needs, detecting and treating the underlying causes of the disorder.

Finally Focused provides proven natural and medical methods to easily treat problems such as nutritional deficiencies or excesses, dysbiosis (a microbial imbalance inside the body), sleeping difficulties, and food allergies, all of which surprisingly can cause or worsen the symptoms of ADHD. Using Dr. Greenblatt’s effective Plus-Minus Healing Plan, parents will first understand the reasons behind their child’s symptoms, and then be able to eliminate them by addressing the child’s unique pattern of biological weakness. Adults with ADHD can do the same for themselves. And if conventional medication is still necessary, this integrative approach will minimize or even eliminate troublesome side effects. Using Dr. Greenblatt’s expert advice, millions of children and adults with ADHD finally will get the help they need to achieve true wellness.

This book helped me tweak my diet and supplements.

Brain health begins in the gut

Like Dr. Amen in his book, Greenblatt discusses the role of the gut in ADHD. There’s a section of Dr. Greenblatt’s book about candida overgrowth, which I have often experienced. I keep antifungal supplements on hand for candida outbreaks and take probiotics daily for overall health, increasing dosage when needed. Dr. Greenblatt also recommends eating low-carb, high protein. He talks neurotransmitters and their role in ADHD, which is crucial knowledge.

[If you want to read more about the brain-gut connection without leaving this website, I also wrote this seven months ago.]

As these authors agree, ADHD is not a Ritalin deficiency. It’s not an Adderall or Concerta deficiency. It’s also not a weakness nor laziness. There’s real stuff going on in your brain. If you have ADHD, you’re neurodivergent.

Overall, it is a very good book.

Those are my ADHD book recommendations.

Other books about brain health


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