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The Down & Dirty on Anxiety & ADHD

I hope you all had a good week. To be honest, I did not. I'll spare you the details, but for one reason or another, my neurochemicals have been slacking and it hasn't been fun. The resulting anxiety from this imbalance has been at times crippling, at times annoying, at times just hard and at times tolerable. Panic attacks - now there's a fun way to spend an evening! While this was by no means my first brush with anxiety, it was my first panic attack, and my heart goes out to any of you who suffer from them too. I'm still riding out the anxiety wave, but do have options that will get me back in balance soon.

Why am I telling you this? At the risk of possibly over-sharing, I want to drive home a point about the way we view mental health. And coincidently (or not?), it's apparently Mental Health Awareness month now.

What Needs to Change

At one point this week, I had to cancel some things. I agonized over the decision beforehand but knew it was the right decision once I did it. It got me thinking how wrong it is that I wouldn't hesitate at all to cancel if I had purely physical chest pains; or if I had other debilitating pains. Yet when it's "mental discomfort" we suffer from, we hide it, feel ashamed and unjustified in doing what we need to do to regain balance.

Anxiety and ADHD

Unfortunately, anxiety and depression often go hand in hand with untreated ADHD. The anxiety for ADHDers develops early - partly due to the stress of trying to keep up in classrooms designed for neurotypical brains. Partly it's the mental load of trying to hide that you don't have your sh*t together. Or the continuous wondering of: "This is not rocket science! Why does it seem so simple for everyone else but me?" Not to mention the constant stress and worry of day-to-day living with a disorganized brain. Here is a good article if you want to read more on the connection between ADHD, anxiety and depression.

I share my experience with you now in the hope that it can help you handle your experience of anxiety. You can find a million ways on the internet about how to lower anxiety. Ironically, a lot of them require the consistency that ADHDers sorely lack. That's where accountability can help.

First Aid for Anxiety

Below are not anxiety "cures", but they are some less common things that I found helpful to bring the volume of anxiety down from panic-attack level this past week:

  • Social interaction, and I mean face -to -face real live friends or family that I don't have to hide anything from.

  • Modern Family reruns - watching and laughing together with family.

  • Walking outside.

  • My beloved infinity cube fidget toy. Google it. (And I know a guy that can 3D print you one in a few hours if you're near Modiin! With door-to-door delivery, I guess you could call him my dealer :)

  • Online puzzles at Jigsaw Planet.

  • EFT tapping on myself.

  • Sipping hot tea slowly.

  • Chewing gum.

  • Self-compassion about getting less sh*t done than I planned.

  • And when the panic about "how am I going to get through another 24 hours of this until my doctor appointment?" took hold, I set at 10 min countdown and kept telling myself that I don't have to get through 24 hours of this, I just have to get through the next 10 minutes. That one really helped.

Making the Invisible Visible Thank you for reading until now. My hope is that some of you might feel a little less isolated and a lot more validated with your own mental health struggles. ADHD being an "invisible" condition does not make it any less debilitating or difficult at times than something visible like a sprained wrist or a bad cold. Coaching is not therapy, and I am not a qualified therapist, but I want you to know that I get you and that I celebrate your bravery at navigating not only ADHD, but also various levels of anxiety and/or depression. As always, I invite you to hit reply with your thoughts.

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