Reply To: Older adults in Australia please

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Hey Penny

Thanks so much for your sharing more of your journey. I hear you!

I too have been on a mission to understand, peeling back layer after layer it seems. And I’m unsure whether this is a common thread for anyone else on this post stream, but it’s within the understanding that I get clarity and acceptance, and something to work with. It’s how my brain works.

I taught myself to play the piano and read music – (i commented on a thread just recently around playing a musical instrument and ADHD) driven by a fascination when I was 5…simply…why is it that when my grandma hits the black and white keys does it make that sound but when I do it, it doesn’t. How does that work. I’ve learnt to love this about my brain – in fact it’s fuelled my career which I’m most grateful for- despite criticising myself for having a ‘bright shiny distraction’ thing constantly getting in the way of achieving all I can be, what I know I’m capable of, if I applied myself better. I tried telling myself the reality that anothers 100% is my 75% and that’s good enough. But it’s not. Not sure I’ll ever be ok with not being ok about this.

This whole search for answers “self-understanding, peace, release from suffering” Ditto on that FYI – also brings about a greater power of self observation (or in context to one who has done the work around meditation, yoga etc as yourself and others…I refer to this as ‘being awake’) It’s a double edge sword in my experience. Knowing is one thing, awareness, observation, centering oneself and then the doing – consistently….well, that’s where the rubber hits the road….and sometimes/often this car goes too fast to pull up at the right time. When you know what you have to do, and you don’t do it FOR YOURSELF – well it just feeds the loop somewhat I suggest.

My anxiety comes from 3 triggers – trapped, overwhelmed, lost (pick a starting point – they’ll all merge and take me to a place I dont want to go to if not checked). I can go on as to how these show up if anyone is interested in knowing….What was going on before this episode/event/release/relief that got me to this/that moment and how do I identify the pattern/theme/experience/sensation in the body, change in breathe (you would know this well I imagine), escalation in speech, smoking more cigarettes…the list goes on relative to each person. I had to learn this in order to build awareness and to give me the understanding I was looking for. For me, and I suggest others….there are so many techniques, theories, practices (in the ‘all good stuff library”) – In my experience and in the observation of others…we (hopefully) find a set of tools, techniques, practices that a) are effective, b) comfortable in doing and c) can be done easily without to much fuss/coordination/procrastination . Its like weight loss….x lost 10kg on the diet but Y gained two kilos on the same plan. And much like weight loss you can loose half your life on trying every diet known to god and man…and still not achieve sustainable and healthy weight. This is due in part to 2 key points in my view.

1) There’s an old saying…when people want help they’ll ask for it. If they don’t ask for it they’ll hit rock bottom and that’s probably where they need to be in order to be fixed.

And look, I applaud those who seemingly live a less challenging life in regards to their mental health…but I’m afraid this is a lived experience, one which has not been shared or come to life up until recently (shame, guilt etc etc etc) and it takes more than a simple option of A or B (above)

The thing about asking for help….to find the right answers, you need to start with knowing what questions to ask….for you…to understand you in order to know where to start, what next – kinda to test,measure, rinse and repeat

Anyone who’s seen more than one therapist/specialist/practitioner will know that they themselves often don’t know when it comes to ADD ADHD in particular. In my ‘bag of all good stuff’, \I went to a highly personalised 1-month integrated health retreat/program, full bloods, western/eastern approach, Equine Therapy (god I love horses – this was a magical experience) psychotherapists, yoga, Hunter Gather/Paleo yada yada, just so I could get a more ‘holistic’ view of my whole body/mind. Their answer (and yes its part of the puzzle) was Kryptopyrroluria – common in anxiety/depression patients FYI – its where the particles in our blood (the ones that get rid of waste elements) also take with them our ability to sustain Zinc/Magnesium and Copper within out blood that our brain requires to moderate things like stress/anxiety (aka cortisole/adrenials/dopamine/seratonin). And hey…after one month of bliss in a cottage nestled in the Hinterland..I was king of the world and had it all worked out. Until, like most humans, you put yourself back into the real world and start conquering it…then good old trapped, overwhelmed and lost creeps in.

2) In part I believe the answers/guide for each of us is within listening to our bodies/minds through awareness. Try a little of this and a little of that…not everything at once. There is no one magic bullet here. Dont think for one second ..great..I’m going to do this course, read this book, do what my friend did and YAY..Thats gonna fix alot of shit.

This is a combo meal deal here people..ya cant just order the fries

My point – No one silver bullet. Listen, stay still, ask more, listen again and try what feels right -test, measure, rinse, repeat or move on.

Someone made a distinction/reframe for me once that I tend to hang onto…never more true for an ADHD brain – Move out of ‘reaction’ and into ‘response’. Meaning don’t jump too soon, take it in, sit on it, breathe, then speak/act – this is where you’ll see the difference between the two. And a very good reframe to look through in order to balance ones emotions/energy and outcome.

Anywho – I just read through the above…Please dont take my comments as ‘preaching’ and apologies for the ramblings – This is one of few times I’ve gotten to share at this level. Thank you for making this far down the article btw. My intention is that in some small way, anyone who’s reading this can find something that may turn on a light.

Let me wrap this up into the point I wanted to make about Schema CBT and this whole anxiety from trapped, overwhelmed and lost.

This has been VERY interesting to discover as it shows up in relationships and in my work. (happy to share on how this shows up in work/relationships if anyone is interested and looking for some questions to ask themselves).

I sat in a therapists office pre-diagnosis and there was a chart on the wall about attachment in parenting. .How a child needs to learn how to soothe themselves, allowed to explore knowing there’s a safe place to come back to, how to organise their feelings – I love the analogy of the child coming crying to their mother, screaming like their arm has been cutoff when in fact they fell off the swing dismount, barely a scrape, the mother kisses the finger, explains what happened and that their arm is still there…in an instant the child stops crying, runs off happy and ready to do it again, Bless.

My first comments were…I dont remenmber my childhood and I certainly can’t recall ‘feeling’ anything like this

When asked…what were you like as a child? My response was…at high school I hid in the library at lunchtime and walked home the long way every day in fear of bullying, I was introverted and socially awkward. I dont remember much of my child hood up until about 4th year. I had dinner with my delightful (kidding) mother a few days later and asked her…what was I like as a young child? Introverted? Her response.,…Oh no Russell, I had to sit on you to calm you down, I used to put a harness on you out in public and the neighbour across the road used to tell her if they ever had a son they would never call him Russell after hearing my mother scream my name all day. I was like WHAT? WAIT…WHAT?

It was in that moment I discovered parts of the ‘why have I always longed for a deeper relationship with my mother (despite her not having the capacity), stayed in relationships where I’ve tried to fix others to the detriment of my own needs, the ‘please disease’, overcommit, love deeply, hurt painfully… oh hang on…this is this trapped, overwhelmed and lost thing. I never learnt how to organise my feelings, soothe myself, had a safe space to come back to and so on..I’m very interested to hear others experience centred around this in their childhood?

When we all grew up there was no such thing as ADHD in children, let-alone adults. I get it, I accept it. BUT my question then turned to….given that I have attachment issues, anxiety, depression, self medication (at times) issues…lets throw in some shame and guilt (coming out gay in late 70’s-early 80’s – disowned by you parents until around mid 80’s when it was more fashionable to have a gay son…didnt help at such a vulnerable time) … what are the stories I told myself to be seemingly ok from an early developmental stage, and how’s is this playing out now?

I get I was an ADHD baby, I know it balanced out in my teens, I then had my heart shattered at 30 (it took 3 years to stop talking about the breakup), my ADHD reignited and boom…hello to 24 years of surviving not thriving.

This is where SCHEMA CBT, as opposed to a more general CBT, I believe is key to unlocking this. (I must emphasise Schema from my research and own experience). It provided me with insights into my core values and beliefs across key aspects of my life, answering questions like…so why dont I do X even though its good and will help me, why I prioritise (or not) somethings/people over others/myself, why I react (and not respond), why my heart shattered so deeply (look up the schema on significant relationships/abandonment for anyone who feels alone/hurt)

More so, an action plan on creating small incremental steps across 5 key areas of my life. If nothing changes, nothing changes, and for someone who does everything NOW (and URGENT) last minute, or forgets – moreso often left feeling stuck (which feeds the Anxiety/Depression loop anyway) it’s sooo dam hard to invest in the long haul stuff…despite how amazing that could be. Likewise for depression…yes it will pass and come back …know this..but whats one small thing I can do during this towards the 5 key areas (check your list Russell!) thats gonna help lift me from the fog just a little earlier, a little softer and a little like I’m getting better at managing this.

We spend our lives trying to move away from what we dont want, what we dont like or even want to accept about ourselves…and at 55 its exhausting. If we all spend more time on moving towards and not away we may find ourselves in places and experiences we could never see before. Towards what you may ask?…for me this starts with the question ..what is the relationship I want to have with myself. Without this everything else is a story with no action or self-accountability. And dam….why couldn’t there be an easier question to ask…but what a great place to start. The difference that makes the difference perhaps?

Thanks for reading, I hope this opens a view to something they may help others in ths forum.