Mental Wellness Challenge
Checking in with last weeks challenge.
Last week I challenged to take some time, to check in with yourself regarding “things desired”. I sincerely hope that you were able to do this – to take some quiet time to look at what you need, where you are and if there are things you need to address. Introspection is of great value.
For this week, I’m going to roll up my month of ADHD pieces.
My ADHD has certainly challenged me. The fact that I have lived most of my life with the condition un-diagnosed has taken me through some tough spots. Extra tough spots. I’m not suggesting that a diagnosis would have made it substantially easier – but I would have gone through my life with a better understanding of what made me tick. The other side of that coin is that I have had to develop some “operational” plans to manage the differences between the way my brain works and the way I interface with the norms of society. Successful and sometimes not – I’ve made it to where I am.
The diagnosis was a thorough process. There were lots of questions and questionnaires, observed interviews, written work and all sorts of behavior mapping. As I have said in the previous pieces, at first – I didn’t believe the diagnosis… I didn’t want to. Over some time and with counselling, coaching, CBT, medication trials and just plain exposure – I came to realize that it fits. It makes sense. In truth, this can be said about any mental health diagnosis. They all take time, thoroughness. I learned that self advocacy and “getting a second opinion” are essential.
Learning about my disorder was important too. I read articles, books, blogs, white papers. Sometimes the information I was reading was WAY OVER MY HEAD and I had to ask my medical professionals to explain what it was I was reading to me. Most of the time they were happy to do so, although – honestly – there were times when they/he/she seemed uninterested in answering my question. I still pressed for an understanding.
One of the biggest pieces of ADHD’s presence in my life isn’t so much the ADHD itself, but the shame I have lived with because of the end result of the forgetfulness, the wandering attention, the lack of impulse control, the “emotions on my sleeve”… the embarrassment of my spouse with comments I have blurted out or her frustration with me over a lack of impulse control. I identify now that the shame that I felt was so very caustic. It burned up my self esteem and was another reason to feel poorly about myself. This shame was really the result of ignorance. My ignorance of my disorder. Some might say – “Well, you can’t know what you don’t know.” And there’s some truth in that. Ignorance – the lack of understanding of something – is an incredibly inimical thing.
This ignorance piece is part of the reason that I have been doing what I have. In shedding the light on mental health disorders, I have been trying to bring a basic understanding of them out of the darkness and into the light. I’ve said this before. As humans, we have fear of things we don’t understand or that are in the darkness, when we bring them into the light, when we educated ourselves that fear disappears as we gain an understanding.
Further, the understanding of a thing, of a mental health disorder, will then lead to an acceptance of the disorder as something that happens but of which we must not be afraid of. Fear lives in ignorance. Acceptance lives in knowledge and understanding.
My challenge for the week:
- Take an intentional step to learn something about a mental health disorder. It doesn’t matter which disorder, but learn something about it. Take the responsibility to ensure that the source you are learning from is credible. There’s lots of “junk” on the internet…
Once you have done that piece of learning, share that light with someone you love, someone you work with and a friend. Take a purposeful step in shining a light on mental health.
- Perform a random act of kindness. Anything – Buy a food hamper bag at the grocery store, pay for the coffee for the person behind you in line, shovel the snow from a neighbors walk or pick up the leaves from their tree, help someone to their car with their groceries. Just do one little thing.
I am convinced that you will benefit as much or more from your act of kindness than the person that received it.
- Do something totally special for yourself. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Just treat yourself. Have a nice warm bubble bath, or treat yourself to a few minutes of quiet JUST FOR YOU!, or maybe make that special dinner or desert that you haven’t had in years – complete with the fine china, candles or the rest.
Treat yourself because you deserve it. Show yourself you “love yourself”!
I challenge you!