Mental Wellness Challenge – 2021, May 28

Mental Wellness Challenge – 2021, May 28

Well… I hope that last month or so was just a frame narrative or story within a story rather than the chorus to a really bad song… I certainly do not want to go through the poo that I experienced over this last little while ever again – or at least – any time real soon again… I hope my experience over the past month has had it’s climax – and that I am done with it – can write (live) the denouement and turn the page as it where…

I know I have shared that I have been having a bad time with my guts/tummy.  Well, I finally got the diagnosis of colitis and I started working on changing directions with my medications in order to address the diagnosis… basically – I “cold turkied” my antidepressant meds… (at the direction and on the advice of my specialist).  Now, I had been titrating off the meds already, and I know that I have to titrate very, very slowly or I get all sorts of really negative consequences… things like brain zapps, buzzes, the spins, dizziness (like vertigo), cold sweats, insomnia (ya – even worse than I usually have), and on and on… it’s a gnarly, thorny, yucky, nasty experience… but I am feeling like I am out of that poo tunnel and am on the other side of the withdrawal.  (If you are wondering what it’s like to titrate quickly or cold turkey off a lot of antidepressants – there are tons of folks on the web of things that share their daily experiences on YouTube.  You can have a watch there… )

In the middle of my latest experience I was like “NO WAY”, not going to ever go there again.  I mean to say – never going to take that stuff again… but that’s not my truth… that was my reaction to symptoms of withdrawal from the medicine… that was too quick for me.  My truth is this… I know that the antidepressant medications are a game changer for me when I am headed into the darkness.  My truth is that I know I would take them again if I needed them – just like I started taking them this time… I needed the support and I used it.  The reality that I experienced negative symptoms from going cold turkey won’t change the fact that I know that I may, and likely will, need the support of the medicine again… I also know that I have to be better at saying “Nope – not going to quit that stuff abruptly – cuz I know the hell that I go through when I do…”

I suppose this time was a little different because I NEEDED to get this tummy stuff in check… and that was one of the steps to getting me there/here.

Am I all better now… no..  Honestly NO.  But I have a whole lot more hope for a real resolution to this gut stuff – now that I know what it is…  I have to take some steroids for three months or so – that – truthfully, seem to be starting to work already… but I still have lots and lots of discomfort with my guts…



Enough of that… I know I didn’t post last week because – sincerely – my eyes would not let me focus on the words on the screen and my fingers wouldn’t work the keys of my PC…  I won’t apologize for not posting… I will say thanks to those that messaged and emailed me with “Are you OK?”… some of which went unanswered for the same reasons that I didn’t post.  To those folks, sorry for not getting back to you… sincerely – sorry for not responding…

Two weeks ago I challenged you to:

  1. Check in with your heart. Check in with how you are really feeling.  Wash off the busy, the hustle and the day to day and touch base with what is going on in your mind and your heart.  Two distinctly different things for sure… but that’s part of the point here.
  2. Get hydrated. Drink at least 4 8oz glasses of water each day.
  3. Give yourself a pat on the back for something you have done. Worked hard all week, or took time to pamper yourself a little, took time to bandage a bumped up heart of a friend or child, take a look at the things you do and give yourself some self appreciation for it.  (This is one of those things that I am learning to be better at.  Growing up I was taught that this was a sin… to have self pride or to self acknowledge a good deed was wrong… so this is a piece of my experience that I have to work on…)

I did OK – given the constraints of my experience the past couple of weeks.

 

On checking in with my heart – how I was doing – I can honestly say that this was something that I was doing moment by moment for a lot of the last couple of weeks or so… My head was telling me – “This shit is nuts… NO WAY!!” but my heart was holding me fast – telling me that I had what it would take to get out the other side – and – well, my heart was right… I’m here.  (I know that paragraph might sound “intense”, I know I was never in a place where I would have been any danger to myself… its funny that I would consider having to share that –its the truth… I wasn’t at any risk.)  I certainly did not want to continue experiencing the crap that I was going through – but I had to… I experienced lots of inner dialog and conflict in dealing with how I was physically feeling…

 

This is actually part of the third part of my challenge – acknowledging that I “done good”.  The truth is – I kept my head up as best I could – and that’s all that anyone can ever expect of themselves… that we do our best.  My best and your best are likely two different things…. My tolerance for pain and discomfort are – well mine – your tolerances are yours…  This is a piece of my experience, my life that I am just now really beginning to appreciate… I am really working at just being me… and I’m proud of that too…

 

On staying/being hydrated… this is a part of my routine now… I drink far more water than I used to… likely because of my nasty guts – but I have experienced that staying hydrated helps me with headaches, body aches, and all that stuff… so – I have a big glass that ‘lives’ beside the sink – and I gulp down lots of water… luckily, our tap water is just fine in my view… I actually prefer it to bottled water.. most of the time… LOL…


This week I want to share a bit more about my ADHDisms… My challenges and some solutions to some of the ADHD things I experience.

My “normal” mind is like the ball inside a pinball machine… A large part of my mental experience involves my thoughts bouncing off of bumpers, rails, loops, “hit here for bonus scores”.  In lots of ways, the only time I have control of my the stuff in my head is when the ball is in the launcher after its gone down the drain, or when I am holding it on a flipper, waiting for the right moment to fire it back up to the bonus spinner or into the fray of all the bumpers… ting – ting – ting – whirl – spin – flash – ting – flipper – bump – bump – whir – sewer… (good thing I scored that extra ball…).

Maybe that’s a truth for everyone… I don’t know – I’m not everyone… I do know that there are lots and lots of “actions” outside of my direct control that influence how my mind bounces around… and yes – it can be exhausting trying to keep the my mental ball in play on the table… and its really hard when my mental pinball game seems to operate at a speed that is crazy fast… I used to play pinball games on rainy days when I was younger… I had my favorites… they were usually the ones that most other folks didn’t really like because they were the super fast, lots of action, multiple balls in play kind of games… There were other games that were slower, the flippers didn’t shoot the ball as fast and well – those games just weren’t as interesting to me… There’s an analogy in there…  Maybe – it was the similarity between my mind bouncing between interests like that ball did…

I had a habit – that I have since broken – of asking my girlfriend – (now my K) – what are you thinking about?  And she would almost always reply – ‘nuthin’… to which I would say – “What do you mean you aren’t thinking about anything – you have to be thinking about something – it’s just not possible to have your brain just not think about something…” and that was an everyday – multiple times a day kind of thing…  I sincerely wanted to know what was going on – on her mind… I wasn’t being nosey, curious maybe, but not nosey… I was just more amazed that she could be just not thinking… “idling her thoughts” as it was… and that is something that I have never, ever been able to do.  (I suppose that should have been some sort of clue to me – ADD/ADHD wise – growing up…).

My brain doesn’t stop… if I don’t shepherd it in a specific direction – I will end up in a pinball game – trying to defeat “GORGAR!” (This was likely my most fav game. – Playing it – I would score lots of bonus points or earn free plays [usually lots of free plays that I would leave for others to play when I got bored] or free balls – and this machine would say in its sinister voice ‘You hurt GORGAR, GORGAR hurt you!’ and then it would release like 5 balls at one time and I would have to play all 5… good times).

So – what do I do to try and keep all this “movement”  – “inside the lines”?  I force myself to focus on a certain topic… now – this topic has to be something that I am interested in… NOT necessarily the lesson that is or was on the board in math class or social studies – but something that I was/am interested in.  If I can’t draw a link between the subject matter and some interest I have – there’s no way I am going to be able to focus on the subject long enough to do anything…

Man OH Man how I wish I would have been able to figure that out when I was a kid… draw a link between the English lesson that I was supposed to be paying attention to and the need that I would have for those skills later in my life… I just couldn’t… and didn’t… so my mind wandered to things that did matter…

This brings me to MY ADHD.  My ADHD is of the inattentive sort… as I have been outlining above – I can’t keep my mind still…  Certainly – if I am too bored – or if I am feeling too much mental distraction – I get physically hyperactive.  I will fidget – or pace – or bounce… but my “hyper” is my mind…

This is where my wellness model has helped me so much…  I’ll talk about my model in more detail again in a while – but my model is an octahedron – and 8 sided shape where each of the eight sides is an equilateral triangle – a very stable shape.  The octahedron is also an incredibly stable shape and can withstand compression, tension, torsion etc.  Each of the eight sides are no more or less important than the other… and the eight sides are Values/Action/Acceptance and Understanding/Purpose/Awareness and Vigilance/Connections/Supports/Vigilance and Perseverance.  My model gives me a tangible tool – a path that I can, and do, use to help me find links between the eight facets of my model and the things I need to do to have congruency between my model and my experience… Hope that makes sense…

Like everyone – there are things that I need to do – to move my experience forward… to enjoy some modicum of success.  My ADHD is a barrier to success for me in lots of ways and its also beneficial in lots of ways… I use my model to help me build links or bridges between the things that I have to do and the interest in doing it…  Recall – that I sincerely find it pretty much impossible to focus on something I can’t see any interest in…  This can come right down to things as clear as – “If this doesn’t get done – you can’t move forward.”  If I can’t make and maintain a link to purpose, values, or other facets of my model – the “this” simply won’t get done and I won’t move forward…  and that’s the barrier…  “The Devil’s in the details…” and this is a piece I know all too well.  If I’ve built the bridge and have interest – I can and am super detail oriented… organized, lined up, ready to go… My work is a lot like this… I have a passion for what I do and I have a need to do a good job of it… so I get into the details and away I go…   This isn’t a truth for everything though… I have friends that are super detail oriented for pretty much everything they do… even if they are basically bored by the task – they can focus on the required details… Not me… straight up – if I can’t build that bridge or create some link to a personal interest or reason – not going to happen.

There is NO WAY – I could do a job like an accountant – NOPE… not because I don’t have the mental capacity – but because I simply couldn’t focus…

The focus piece is an ADHDism for me too… You see – if I stumble across something that I am interested in or grow an interest in – well – I tend to HYPERFOCUS… to the extent that I ignore pieces of my experience that need tending to – like eating and sleeping and family and connections and exercise… OH YA… – in comes my model again – I use my model to moderate this focus piece… to temper it…   There’s a saying that goes something like “The strongest blades are forged under the hottest fires.”  This simply isn’t true.  If a knife maker uses too much heat – the steel will be brittle and the blade will shatter… so the blade is tempered… and certainly tempering involves keeping the blade in moderate heat (for the given steel) for a period of time…. But this tempering actually draws back the brittleness of the structure of the steel… My point is – I have to temper my hyperfocus… because  – If I don’t – I will end up breaking connections to family or health or success… the other piece of my hyperfocus is – well – I’ll simply expend all of the fuel for my forge… and then – I go cold… and that gets me – nowhere.

I hope me sharing a little more about what some of my mind racing ADHD is like – has helped you see a little of what my experience with the disorder can be and is like.  I have to FORCE myself to slow my brain down and to try to “Think of nuthin’”… all that trying to keep track of all of the balls bouncing around in my mind burns up tons of energy… If I don’t work at being at flipper buttons… inevitably – my pinball game doesn’t turn out so well… OR… I’ll end up with a brittle blade and that’s not good either.


This week my challenge is:

  1. Eat a meal of something that you wouldn’t normally eat. Make an intentional decision to step outside your “ordinary”.
  2. Pick a warm day. Go outside. Take off your shoes.  Wiggle your toes in the grass.  Connect with the earth.. feel the grass on your feet, feel it tickle your toes… enjoy this really simple means of grounding yourself to the earth.
  3. Pick up a pen and some paper and journal a little – or write a little on your computer – either way… get your thoughts out of your head, your feelings out of your heart and put them down on some paper. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar or any of that stuff, unless you wan to… this is for you.  Get the inside – out.  I know, from my own experience, how powerful this little exercise is.

That’s it, I challenge you!

Please be kind, be considerate of others needs and please be patient with yourself and with everyone else.

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