This post about neurodiversity, neurodivergent, and other related terms is sort of an addendum to the post I wrote called “I am not neurotypical“, in which I explained why I don't like the terms neurotypical and atypical. The idea for that post first came to me at least five months ago, after I watched the show Atypical. I wrote the post in my head and then forgot about it until I sat down to write the piece that I intended to publish this week. That one will be up next.
My usual approach to blogging is to write to educate. This mission has been my approach for well over a decade, through every blog. Even if I'm ranting, I want you to get something out of it that's not just about me.
I didn't do any research for my Neurotypical post at all, I just let my fingers type, so forgive me if you read it and thought I was talking about of my ass. Often, I research the heck out of my posts.
After I'd finished that post, and while I was in the process of grabbing images for it, I came across two other terms, closely related to one another:
According to Autistic author Nick Walker, who knows way more about the terminology than I do, Neurodiversity is the diversity of human brains and minds. He called neurodiversity a biological fact. People are neurologically diverse.
I like this. It doesn't imply normal/abnormal, right or wrong; it says that we're all different, and we are. I know I said in my previous post that I don't like to classify people in ways that marginalize them, but this at least makes sense to me.
I like this one less.
Neurodivergent means having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”
Yes, some brains do.
After some examples he says,
…neurodivergence is not intrinsically positive or negative, desirable or undesirable – it all depends on what sort of neurodivergence one is talking about.
I think my issue is with the word “normal”, like “typical”.
Note, I do not disagree with Walker, at all. I'm expressing how I feel about the words. Words don't just have meaning; we have emotional connections to the words themselves. We also have reactions to the way words sound out loud. (You know what I'm talking about.)
Maybe it's my baggage from being bullied as a child or not feeling normal as a kid with undiagnosed ADD/ADHD (I got the diagnosis when I was in my 20s). Maybe it's that feeling of being marginalized that has stayed with me. We interpret the world and situations based on our experiences so far and so it makes sense that my experience up until now affects my current perception of words and concepts. I have experienced the world for 42 years as of next week.
Also, see this post from Un-boxed Brain. I found this one first, and it took me to Walker.
“I am not neurotypical.”
If my memory is correct, I first heard the term “neurotypical” while watching the TV show Atypical*, about a family with a teenage some who has Asperger's. Although I understood what the word meant, I looked up the definition for the sake of this post.
Google said, “not displaying or characterized by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior.”
Urban Dictionary told me that it's a word “used to describe a person who has a typical brain. This not only includes non-autistic people, but also people without mental illnesses, intellectual disabilities or any other neurological illness or disorder such as epilepsy or brain tumours.”
Between first being exposed to the term “neurotypical” and googling it, I saw it used in older articles about ADD and ADHD and other brain health conditions.
I quickly decided that I don't like the word. To me, classifying people as “neurotypical” or “atypical” indicates individuals either have a “normal” (neurotypical) brain or an abnormal one. While there is such a thing as a “healthy brain” and brain health is one of my primary areas of focus these days, I've always been bothered by classifying people in ways that marginalize them. We are all different, yes, and I believe in embracing those differences, but “neurotypical” and “atypical” make me uncomfortable.
However, humans see the world through words and classification, and I understand that it's easier to make sense of the world that way.
If a healthy brain is neurotypical and AD(H)D, depression, Alzheimer's, dementia, anxiety are all brain health issues, then people with those conditions are atypical.
Mental health=brain health
Mental health and brain health are not the same, but they are interconnected, and people often miss the “brain health” part of the picture.
I created this image in May 2017:
Labels and self-identifying
Perception is interesting. I was contacted, twice, by someone who noted that I write about disabilities. My reaction was to recoil and think, “Has this person read my website? I don't write about disabilities.” It's possible that she didn't read my website (as a longtime blogger I can tell you that it's common to receive offers from people who haven't). However, it's also possible that some people could perceive it that way.
It's not how I define myself. I don't consider myself disabled because I have ADHD. I have a different brain. That said, if I had a brain scan that was compared to the scans of others, my brain activity would differ. Of this, I have no doubt.
I was born this way, and symptoms may have been intensified by activities such as antibiotic use when I was a child (though antibiotics were probably necessary, we didn't know about probiotics), eating foods that aren't good for my gut, and other factors. The mind and body are one, which I'll discuss in my next post.
I have what I call ADD “flare-ups” when the symptoms are predominantly active, and then there are times when the symptoms are dormant. I created my PRIMED system of AD(H)D management based on what makes mine flare up and what keeps it dormant.
My different brain also contributes to anxiety and depression as well as candida flare-ups, which are common in people with AD(H)D. Fungal infections and yeast overgrowth affect the brain. Clearing that stuff up can go a long way to reduce or eliminate symptoms of ADD, depression, anxiety and other brain/mental health issues. Again, brain-body connection.
When I use the phrase “brain health” I'm talking about the physical brain. It's neurological. It involves neurotransmitters. When I talk about “mental health” it's less tangible. It's more the affect of stress, which can be environmental, social or physical.
A healthy brain relies on the right nutrition, feeding it what it needs both in the form of whole foods and supplements, and water. It relies on physical exercise. A healthy mind is aided by thoughts, brain exercises, meditation, routines and the right environment. Both a healthy brain and a healthy mind rely on downtime and rest.
You'll learn more about this from me over time. Without intending to, I've just described my PRIMED system for bringing your life into balance so that you can achieve harmony.
There's more to come.
Taking it back to the term “neurotypical”
As I was finishing this post I came across a term that I do like. I will save that for another day.
*Find it. Watch it. I don't know how realistic it portrays Asperger's because I don't have experience with it, but by the end, I saw it as a show about a family. Asperger's was secondary.
As you know if you've spent more than 5 minutes online looking for information to change your life, there is a lot of “stuff” out there.
Much of it is theoretical, processes and ideas that sound good, but at the end of the day, they don't produce RESULTS for you.
EFT, aka Tapping, does.
“EFT” stands for “Emotional Freedom Technique”. Tapping is a scientifically proven technique that works to rewire the brain by sending calming signals to the amygdala, the stress center of the brain, allowing both the body and brain to release limitations from negative experiences, emotions, thoughts and much more that hold us back from creating the life we want.
It is mind-blowing in its effectiveness for creating change. I've known about it for nearly 20 years, before “all” the health coaches did (thanks, mom!). Awareness has grown exponentially, partly because of the Tapping World Summit.
In this event, you'll get online access to 25 free, 100% content, presentations on a variety of topics (listed on the page below) from some of the world's leading experts that show YOU how to use this technique to rewire your brain and improve your life.
I highly recommend checking out this page to learn all about it, so that you can get free access to the 25 audio presentations.
This isn't just an informational event, it's an experience.
Attendees don't just leave with ideas or theories on how to make their life better, they leave actually feeling better.
- They leave with less stress, anxiety, overwhelm, anger, sadness, and other negative emotions.
- They leave having cleared limiting beliefs around money, health, relationships and more.
- They leave having cleared childhood traumas.
- They leave the event better than when they went in.
- And you, yes YOU… will leave this event better than when you enter it.
It has been going on for 10 years, with over 2 million people having attended previous events. It has a reputation for getting results for attendees, year after year after year. 🙂
Whether you want to deal with emotional blocks, anxiety, anger, past traumas or phobias, or you want to release physical pain or lose those extra inches, this technique is a gateway to making that happen for you.
And my personal favorite: it can help you, in a big way, attract what you want into your life by clearing out the negative and limiting beliefs you may be holding.
It's been responsible for helping me get out of my own way.
And, when you sign up to get free access to the event you actually get two really cool audios to listen to right away, so that you can learn the basics of Tapping and see the results for yourself… immediately.
Find out more about the Tapping World Summit.
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I have a lot of books. A lot. I don't read them all, but I have them. When I was growing up in the olden days before Internet and streaming service for TV/movies I read nearly every night – after watching primetime TV, having a snack and crawling into bed. I carried books everywhere. I still like to read, though I don't devote as much time to it.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
Books can be expensive, and they're not a financial priority for me. If they were, my shelves would be even more overflowing.
I felt motivated today to share how I acquire/read books on the cheap:
1. The library
I have a library card. I use it. I'm currently reading The UltraMind Solution (2009) by Mark Hyman, a pioneer of functional medicine*. When I own books, I bookmark pages with interesting information. Sometimes I highlight. With library books I take notes. It makes the book longer to read.
The UltraMind Solution is due back today and I still have 100 pages left. I couldn't renew it because someone else has it on hold. I had mixed feelings when I discovered this: 1. YAY, people use the library! 2. YAY! People want to learn about fixing the brain by fixing the body! 2. Boo! I really do have a hard deadline for return.
Sometimes I keep books late without renewing them. Truth be told, library fines are the opposite of a deterrent for me. 35 cents per day? I'm happy to pay that to help out the library. I should probably make a donation instead, but this way I get to keep the book a little longer. In today's case, I will try to finish the book though because I don't want to be a selfish asshole by keeping the book from the next person. 🙂
Another cool thing about the library: Digital downloads. And speaking of e-books…
2. Kindle sales alerts
I tend to buy books for my Kindle/Kindle app when they're cheap. The app alerts me to today's deals. Some great books I've bought on sale just in the last six months include Year of Yes by Shonda Rhines, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Wild by Cheryl Strayed (loved the book, keep forgetting to finish the movie), and Anna Kendrick's autobiography Scrappy Little Nobody.
If you have the Kindle app on your phone, allow it to alert you of sales. You'll know that alert notifications are on when you go into your settings and check “Push Notifications sent to this device”.
Watch for sales from favourite online and offline retailers. Currently, and for the entire month of February, Hay House is having their “Finding Your Life Purpose & Advancing Your Career Book sale” with 50% off books. Some books like I've read and loved are there including The Universe Has Your Back (print version) by Gabrielle Bernstein (while not part of this sale, the supplemental card deck is 10% off) and the audio version of her book Miracles Now.
I've read, listened to and watched a bunch of stuff by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer but not Find Your Life Purpose, 2-hour audio download so I might check that out, and I'm considering buying The Oracle of E (A 52-Card Deck and Guidebook) by Pam Grout, Colette Baron-Reid. I've read some of their books. A book called F**k It – Do What You Love sounds compelling, doesn't it?
If you want to get more done, lead others better, develop a skill faster, or dramatically increase your sense of joy and confidence, check out Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits audiobook. If you're gearing up for the Tapping World Summit, start with Nick Ortner's The Tapping Solution paperback (currently $8.50) and/or Tapping Into Ultimate Success by Jack Canfield & Pamela Bruner ($8.48)
4. Other methods
There's also secondhand stores, thrift shops (Goodwill etc.), garage sales in the spring, book exchanges, library sales and more, but I have a library a few minutes away from me, and ordering books online is easy.
Tell me about how you like to acquire books.
P.S. Check out this interview about three things that are critical for healing that Dr. Hyman gave for this year's Tapping World Summit.
I have a date written down on a piece of paper slipped into my journal:
August 28: Deadline to start coaching and become a teacher.
It's something that came through in a therapy/coaching/healing session on January 28. My cards were read, guides were spoken to intuition was listened to, encouragement was given.
…If this is too “woo woo” for you, indulge me for a moment. My coach's methods are both rooted in the spiritual and in common psychotherapy practices. (She's taken me through exercises that a therapist who was very process-oriented and scientific took me through.)
The message: “You're so close to easy”. She sees me potentially, eventually, being a full time healer/coach. She envisioned me becoming a teacher in the next six months.
So, on a slip of paper I wrote the date that it would be in 6 months.
I then removed the banner “Forge Your Own Path” from my home page. It's still relevant but lacks clarity. Originally, it was “Forge your own path” to wellness, because there's no one-sized-fits-all approach to wellness. However, there are some common principles.
I've had so many false starts in the last 9 months but I can and will do this. Those ideas in my head and on paper have become progress. I've had images in my head for years, like pieces of a puzzle. They started forming more clearly last May.
This website has become, and will be, very much brain health/mental health focused (with other topics that I'm passionate about, such as cannabis for wellness, sprinkled in). My 6-pillar system, which I called “PRIMED” is designed to relieve ADHD symptoms and also works to relieve depression (your mileage may vary) and overall mental wellness. It's also not an exhaustive approach, and there are way more facets that I need to shoehorn in.
Another recent source of renewed inspiration:
My grandmother died nearly two weeks ago. She would have turned 99 in April. She was my last remaining grandparent. Her and my grandfather, who died 22 years earlier – within a week – were pillars of the community. They were philanthropic. They helped build communities through donations. My grandmother volunteered while raising four daughters. He was a doctor in the Canadian army during WWII.
That's inspiration to give back. To be someone. It's time to shit or get off the pot.
For now, I alone am doing the website and graphics, so it might not be the prettiest. I'm a WordPress pro, a copywriter and an SEO expert, but I'm not a designer. I have a voice. I have an angle. I have a desire to heal the world.
I hate saying “I'll do x and y” and not do them so I won't make more proclamations, I'll just do it.
I'm priming myself to teach people to Get PRIMED.
I'm healing others and myself.
I'm contributing to the world.
Let's Talk: What is Bell Let's Talk?
Bell Let's Talk Day is an awareness and fundraising day. This year it is today, January 31.
How Bell Let's Talk Day works
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates money towards mental health initiatives in Canada by contributing 5¢ for every applicable text (sent by Bell customers), call (also sent by Bell customers), tweet, social media video view and use of their Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. Every interaction counts, so you can combine these methods – or send several texts if you're a Bell customer – and each will be worth 5¢.
And it gets people talking about mental health – and Bell.
From the Bell Let's Talk website:
In September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk began a new conversation about Canada’s mental health. At that time, most people were not talking about mental illness. But the numbers spoke volumes about the urgent need for action. Millions of Canadians, including leading personalities, engaged in an open discussion about mental illness, offering new ideas and hope for those who struggle, with numbers growing every year.
As a result, institutions and organizations large and small in every region received new funding for access, care and research from Bell Let’s Talk and from governments and corporations that have joined the cause. Bell's total donation to mental health programs now stands at $86,504,429.05, and we are well on our way to donating at least $100 million through 2020.
Let's Talk: The Good
$86,504,429.05 is a lot of money. As a concept for social media awareness, it's FANTASTIC. People are talking about mental health. Any time people share their own stories, others realize that they're not alone. Every time we raise awareness we have the opportunity to reduce the stigma. I myself discuss my mental health issues in part because I want others to know that they're not alone and to see that if others are talking about it, they can too.
And, people are talking about Bell. I'm an analytics nerd and so that part of me marvels at the media impressions and social media impressions.
(I want to see their social listening report to compare positive, neutral and negative sentiments.)
Let's Talk: The Bad and the Ugly
Every year on Bell Let's Talk Day I read stories on Facebook and news sites about Bell and its subsidiaries disregarding employees' mental health. Employees and former employees come forward with their experiences. I read about how their jobs negatively affect their mental health and send them on stress leave. I read stories such as this one, in which a former Business News Network discusses the mistreatment of contract workers (more on this below) and this one, about a radio host who alleges that she was fired because of her mental health issues. This article in the CBC, Bell's ‘Let's Talk' campaign rings hollow for employees suffering panic attacks, vomiting, and anxiety, describes toxic environments. Even if it's not common, no one should have these experiences.
This morning when I handed my partner his coffee and told him that I was going to go finish a blog post I started last night about Bell Let's Talk Day his response was, “You mean about how they're an evil company who use this day to assuage their guilt?” (Okay, “assuage” was my word, but in the 10 minutes that have passed I've forgotten his exact words.) The fact that we share these views is why we're friends and partners (we were friends before we partnered). He reminded me that he was a contractor for Bell for a decade and knows things, and he spoke of Bell preying on elderly customers (one of his relatives) to sell them services they don't need in order to meet quotas.
Let's Talk about what I think
We need to talk about mental health year-round. This isn't a one-day “holiday”, especially to those dealing with mental and brain health issues. Reducing it to a one day “hashtag holiday” puts it in association with “National Taco Day”. January 31 is also “National Hot Chocolate Day”. It's not completely comparable, but the comparison is one day, hashtag.
Hashtag activism (aka “slacktivism”) is not enough! I often wonder if companies who tweet about issues for awareness (mental health and others) on one day of the year address it year-round. How do they treat their employees? What programs do they have in place? You already know that Bell has problems in this area. They're not the only big corporation. I wrote about this in October in a post about World Mental Health Awareness Day in which I discussed my experience at my day job that day.
At the time, I was a contractor for a big financial services company through a staffing agency. The job quickly took a toll on my mental health.
I had mornings when I sobbed while walking my dog, telling myself that I really didn't want to go to work. The environment was wrong for me. My ADHD and sensory issues were exacerbating my stress and depression. I finally told my boss about it because it was affecting my work performance and because of how unwell I felt. The red zone of my suicide spectrum (I just came up with that phrase now) isn't attempted suicide, it's me reminding myself, like a mantra that I repeat, “Suicide is not an option” and I remind myself why. That's the point I was at.
I had never told a manager about my issues before but I had to admit that I needed help and I wanted to give a reason why I wasn't doing my best work nor acting like someone with the decades of experience that I have. My boss was sympathetic and tried to advocate for me – for which I'm extremely grateful – but the administrator told him that they couldn't accommodate my health issues because I wasn't one of their employees, I was a staffing agency employee and I had to go through the agency if I wanted accommodation such as a quiet space.
Reading the account of the former Business News Network (link above) rang familiar with me:
My contract did not grant me access to Bell Media’s Employee Assistance Plan, meaning I had no access to mental health care through Bell.
He gave other examples of Bell contract workers being unable to access the Employee Assistance Plan because they weren’t permanent staff.
The company I worked for has two levels of staffing agencies – the one that I associated with, and a second one that they associated with. The two agencies worked together. My job was stressful enough and I had little energy to take it to my agency to go through the process. Thinking about it was disheartening. When I did talk to my recruiter, her advice to me was “think positively” (she said that) and “suck it up” (that one I'm paraphrasing). These are not things that should be said to someone who's depressed. Conversations with this recruiter were the inspiration for this blog post, Never Say This to a Person With ADD. (She also said #4 on that list, “You'd hate working here…”)
Often times, being contract staff feels like being a second-class citizen. Need to take a sick day? A doctor's appointment, a religious holiday that's not a statutory holiday/day off? No pay. That's the sytem. Being encouraged to stay home when I'm sick is great, but it's a day of pay lost. Being told “If you stay late to get your work done, we can't pay you overtime, and so you're saying late voluntarily” when the environment isn't conducive to productivity feels shitty, but that's a systemic issue. What, was I supposed to leave tasks unfinished or done poorly? Sometimes I've been happy to stay late. Other times, unhappy.
Corporate advocacy and interest
Corporate advocacy for mental health is only valuable if each and every employee is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
There's also the fact that it's a publicity campaign for Bell with good ROI. They get to tap into existing customers and existing advertising deals. They are a media company after all. Altruistic? Not so much. They get both paid and free advertising. Lots of user-generated content (a marketing technique known as “UGC”).
Another thing to consider, from this article called All the #BellLetsTalk messages on social media don’t actually make much of a financial difference (from 2015): “According to the numbers released by Bell, only three per cent of the cash haul was the result of social media activity, despite more than 3 million tweets and 300,000 Facebook shares.”
Corporate interest and profit is always top of mind.
Will I support Bell Let's Talk Day?
Sure. When I'm done this post I'll tweet it out with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. I'll also retweet other tweets, positive and neutral. The more the hashtag appears, the more people are reminded of mental health – at least for today. The more we share our stories, the more we feel heard, less alone, less stigmatized, more hopeful.
We need to keep the conversation going today, and always. We need to support ourselves and our loved ones. If you are a team manager, be aware of your team members' needs. If you are an employee, speak up if you need to. Don't be afraid of your mental health issues. Don't be afraid that they exist, don't be afraid if you need help, don't be afraid to seek the treatment that works for you.
Take care of yourselves and know that you are not alone.
My to-do list currently has “blog January brain dump” on it.
I've been wanting to write, but had writer's block and, if I'm being honest, so many other excuses. It hasn't been about time. It's been about lack of motivation, lack of discipline, or putting too much pressure on myself to have something to say. Does that happen to you? Habits are easy to make and easy to break.
The new year is usually full of content ideas, mostly involving self-improvement. However, I've decided that this year I'm NOT going to focus on self-improvement in January. It's felt freeing to delete emails without reading them when the subject line indicates that it's a variation on “new year, new you”. Delete. No courses. No challenges. No webinars. Few self-improvement commitments. I feel lighter for not over-committing and not reading every offer. My daily meditation practice is back on track and my yoga is near-daily now but they don't feel like obligations. They're self-care.
2018 Focus words
A couple of weeks into 2018 created my focus words for the year, and they have stuck: “Ease & flow” (two words, presented as one concept) and “surrender”. “Surrender” to me means doing things rather than avoiding them out of fear – not letting the fear of looking silly or fear of lacking approval stop me. When I meditate, I'll chant the loudest “sat nam”. When I'm out someplace people are dancing, I'll dance like no one is watching. When a song comes on, I'll sing a little louder than under my breath. The other day at Walmart, another woman walked by me singing along to the song that was playing. It's not just me that sings in public.
Some years the focus words come easily to me, some years they take longer. This year it took a couple of meditation sessions before they spoke to me.
I can talk about gratitude, introspection and my path for 2018 but I feel that's been done year after year. I can talk about what I did or didn't do in the past year. Regrets, what I'm looking forward to. I don't want to rehash. I don't want to judge myself. I want to live like each moment is full of possibility and each day is a reset.
2018 will be a year of change and it might be the year I distribute all of the educational materials that I've created. It will be the year I start filling my client roster. It will be the year of making dreams come true.
I've been finding inspiration in podcasts. Not in self-improvement podcasts, but podcast hosts who successfully work on several projects. I listen to a lot of nerdy entertainment podcasts. For years I've listened to The Nerdist – celebrity interviews but not in a fluffy sort of way. These are the sorts of conversations that anyone would have with a friend that they're getting to know. What inspires me: A lot of working actors create their own projects and opportunities. I do a lot of contract work. TV and film projects are like contract work (granted – some run for many years but it's never guaranteed). It's another perspective and another kick in the pants to create my own opportunities.
Some more updates…
Products I've discovered recently (contains affiliate links):
- Genuine Health fermented organic gut superfoods+. Prebiotics help to improve gut health and this formula is made from 21 fermented organic plant-based superfoods. A word of caution: While it didn't cause bloating (as the packaging boasts), the first few times I used it I had wicked flatulence.
- Roasted chicory root. We recently moved and bought a coffee maker, and we've been making coffee at home every day. After hearing my partner suggest adding chicory root to our coffee, I included some with my last iHerborder. Chicory root contains inulin – a prebiotic, polyphenols – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, among other benefits. After trying chicory root in coffee and then on its own with cream (like a coffee substitute), I'm wondering where it's been my whole life. It tastes roasty and chocolatey. Maybe this will work for my chocolate cravings.
- Not a new discovery, but this winter, in particular, I'm appreciating my Living Libations Rose Glow face cream. It's on sale right now, which I didn't know until I went to their website to get the product link.
What I've been reading, what I'm currently reading and what's next on my reading list
(Contains affiliate links):
- Finding My Virginity by Richard Branson. I enjoy memoirs and autobiographies because I like to get inside people's heads (or in the case of autobiographies, the version they want to present). I like to learn about people. Human psychology fascinates me. Branson interests me because he has dyslexia and ADD and he's built what he's built. I had a copy from the library and had to return it before I was done, but will be giving it another read in the upcoming months and perhaps I'll share some nuggets of wisdom.
- Year of Yes by Shona Rhimes. I downloaded this to my Kindle recently. The current Kindle price is $1.99. It's one of my next reads.
- The UltraMind Solution by Mark Hyman. I picked it up from the library this week and I'm going to try a new method of taking notes as I read. I highlight and flag books I own but I can't highlight a library book.
- Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs That Hold You Back from Living A Better Life by Gabrielle Bernstein. I thought that this is the one book by Bernstein that I didn't need until I decided that I do want to read it. It's one of the next books on my reading list.
What I've been watching (not wellness related):
- I recently watched the show 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. It's too dark to binge too much at a time but I found that watching 2 episodes at a time was perfect.
- Also on Netflix: The new season of Grace and Frankie was released last week. This season's cast includes Talia Shire and Lisa Kudrow.
- If you're not watching The Good Place (NBC), you should. Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. Need I say more? Some episodes are better than others, but that's TV for you. Is there anything Bell can't do?
- Not recent, but I watched the award-winning mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows from 2014 last year and was pleased with this week's announcement that it's being turned into a series. I don't like horror, but I'm down with comedy horror and vampires in a Real World setting end up being hilarious when written and performed well. It sounds like a concept that could have begun with a stand-up comedy routine. Watch the movie trailer.
- The movie Ingrid Goes West, starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen and Wyatt Russell is a good commentary on social media fame. The premise sounds like the movie could be the latest Single White Female plot, but it's not at all. It won a Screenwriting award at last year's Sundance Film Festival and has been nominated for a bunch of other awards. Hulu is currently streaming it. I don't watch a lot of movies.
What I've been listening to:
- In November I became hooked on two musicals: Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away. The latter originated in Canada. For about 6 weeks I listened to them regularly.
- Podcasts, wellness-related: Sivana podcast and YogaHacks, both hosted by yoga teacher Brett Larkin, whom I adore. The Yogahealer podcast hosted bt Cate Stillman. Balanced Bites with Diane Sanfillipo. The Brain Warrior's Way with Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen. These are just a few of the podcasts I'm subscribed to and I don't listen to every episode. Generally, I listen while I'm walking my dog and sometimes while making dinner.
- Podcasts, business: Sometimes I listen to The Fizzle Show, The Tim Ferriss Show, Side Hustle School (hosted by Chris Guillebeau, author of Side Hustle, The $100 Startup and other books) and the Foundr Magazine Podcast
- Podcast, entertainment: I recently discovered Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum, another podcast with an actor interviewing actors. I was going to share my favourite interviews from this one but when I looked at the list I realized that there were a half dozen or so. I haven't listened to every episode.
If you're reading this, give me your recommendations of movies, TV, podcasts and books.
This is a slightly modified version of a status message that I put on Facebook earlier this evening:
I have mixed feelings during awareness days & months such as today's World Mental Health Awareness Day. An awareness day is good – I enjoy the decision – but you know what's better? Ongoing discussion, year-round. When I see companies using awareness hashtags it often feels disingenuous, like they're doing it for the sentiment metrics. Awareness days are good, as long as the discussion is ongoing beyond the campaign. Awareness days are a conversation starter. It's up to us to keep that discussion going.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, in any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem and by the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness.
Here's how my mental health affected me today: The noisy team that I sit next to were extra noisy, with phone meetings and chatter among themselves. I have sensory issues (related to ADHD). I stayed at work an extra hour and a half to get something done and emailed by “end of day”, because my brain wasn't working in top form because SENSORY OVERLOAD. I did spend an hour in a “focus pod” until my laptop battery died (I didn't think I'd need to bring the charger in with me for a couple of hours), but even in the absence of noise, the pods are small rooms with fluorescent lighting. I get anxious and claustrophobic. I get distracted when people walk past.
By the end of the day, I felt that I was losing my shit. I left work feeling exhausted. I was mentally and emotionally spent.
And now I want to hide in bed, but laundry must be done and I want to do some writing.
(P.S. This is the writing.)
I teach (or will teach – it's in beta testing) an ADHD management tool that I created called PRIME – the PRIME ADHD Management System. Each letter stands for an element of wellness. If one if out of balance it can derail you. The more in balance you are, the more letters in PRIME describe your lifestyle, the more managed your ADHD is.
The “E” stands for environment, as in physical environment.
My sensory issues, related to ADHD, make me sensitive to light and noise and sound. The sound of boisterous laughter, while joyful and making my heart happy, can irritate me a lot.
I don't know if it's a coincidence or not that World Mental Health Awareness Day happens during ADHD Awareness Month, but both are brain health issues.
Hello, friends, and happy October!
Hope you had a great summer.
As my summer business goes on hiatus, I'm gearing up to add much more content to this website, and finally get to those coaching programs. Watch for more blog posts this month.
And please, if you're an adult with ADD/ADHD, let me know what I can help you with. It will help me put together my coaching programs.
Send me a quick message and let me know what your challenges are and whether you prefer group coaching or 1:1 coaching, a short 5-6 week program, something mid-range like 3-4 months, or a long-term/year-round program. I'll set up a survey in the next couple of days but at this moment it's late and I'm tired.
Be well, and keep in touch.
1. “Just tune it/her/him/them out”
If only it were that easy. Those of us with ADD/ADHD can tune people out when we're hyperfocusing (those of us who hyperfocus) but day-to-day, chatty people are a distraction. I get anxious and frustrated when multiple conversations are going on around me or more than one person is talking to me at the same time.
Another trigger: The sound of people speaking with vocal fry. You know, that croaky, vibrating voice that makes it easy to imagine the speaker's larynx vibrating. Sometimes I speak in vocal fry, and then immediately feel the need to apologize, even though not everyone is triggered by it.
This is the photo I'm using because it's licensed for reuse.
This is the photo I wanted to use, but I don't have a Shutterstock account.
2. “Just focus” or “Just do it”
(“It” being the task.)
Focus is not the result of willpower. You can't simply tell yourself to focus and be done with it. Focus is controlled by brain chemistry. The brain of a person with ADD or ADHD triggers fewer neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which control focus and mood. ADD is a neurological disorder.
3. “Think positively”
Positive thinking and talking it out are only parts of the solution. It's way more complex than that. There are neurotransmitters and brain health involved in those automatic negative thoughts. You don't tell an obese person to “eat less”. You don't tell a person with ADD or depression to “be happy”. I have done a shitload of meditating. I've talked to angels. I've had heart-to-heart conversations with the child version of myself as if I've time-travelled to see her. I've interrogated my inner guide, who's one smart woman, by the way. Your inner guide is too. “Think happy thoughts” may have worked for Wendy in Peter Pan, but it's not enough. Those inner gremlins are evil sons of bitches and although it is necessary to squash them, it's not as easy as flipping a switch. It takes patience, training (sometimes), time and conscious self-love.
4.”You'd hate [place + environmental trigger]”
- “You'd hate that restaurant. It's always crowded”.
- “You'd hate that store. It's so loud.”
- “You'd hate my office. There's no privacy.”
There's an element of hate in there – yes, people hate crowds – but the word misses the point because it's not about hate, it's about discomfort.
I am sometimes physically unable to function in a way that feels normal when I'm overstimulated. Sometimes loud bars trigger me. Sometimes I'm triggered when the music – or talk radio – is just quiet enough that it sounds like a whisper. Sometimes it's a crowded subway. Or the music that a store is playing. When I used to go to clubs I hated when people touched me with their sweaty bodies. When smoking was allowed in clubs and bars (and everywhere else) I was less bothered by the smell if I lit up too.
Sensory overload is real. I hate the feeling. Loud sneezes startle me. One time, my partner woke me up by turning on the light and the TV. The light and sound sent me into sensory overload. I ran to the bathroom, closed the door (which I never do when it's just us at home) and sat on the floor in the dark hyperventilating and trying to catch my breath. I felt like a child having a freakout. He never did it again.
The above refers to autism but sometimes people with ADD experience this.
5. “Must be able to multitask”
Even in non-ADDers, multitasking results in poor productivity. Employers are finally realizing this.
Some multitasking can be done but it needs to be active and passive, like reading while listening to wordless music. Some passive activities can be combined with active activities, but I don't recommend combining active activities.
Interestingly, it recently occurred to me that one of the reasons I don't like to drive is that I don't like the focus it takes or the multitasking.
I eagerly got my drivers license at the age of 16 and renew it every time I get a renewal notice, but I mostly stopped driving a few years later, except when it was required by a job. After a few minor scrapes (I knocked the mirror off a Jaguar and left a note, for starters) I thought I was a bad driver. I didn't really need to drive because I've only lived in cities with good public transit.
I've been learning to drive stick shift. Remembering to press the clutch while shifting or remembering which pedal to use when (I'm not talking break vs. gas) takes practice. I think that ADDers can make poor drivers or excellent ones. It is amazing how muscle memory kicked in on my second lesson. I had a few panicked moments (“OMG we're coming up to a steep hill, WHAT DO I DO??”) but I was fine. Until I stalled getting into a parking spot. 🙂 I appreciate the focus it takes. It takes a lot of focus. Because my muscle memory isn't fluent yet, I have to focus on the inside of the car as well as the outside. With an automatic transmission, it's mostly the outside you have to think about.
What would you add to this list?