Reply To: ADHD + Masking Anxiety


Hello Cluttered —

First I want to acknowledge your struggles and the magnitude of what you’ve been up against all these years. I was diagnosed at the age of 45, which is hard enough! You have suffered an awful lot.

Is it correct for me to infer from what you say that you are not seeing a Psychiatrist but rather a personal physician? Given the severity of your ADHD, your anxiety, and spending “compulsion,” it seems that it would be perhaps crucial to be seeing a specialist in these areas and for being on the best medications at the optimum doses to take priority over who is prescribing. It seems that more specialized support is in order here.

Saying that men are “not supposed” to have ADD or depression and anxiety is a negative self-judgment. Is it really true? What informed person says those things? It’s a fact that millions of men have ADD and the anxiety and depression that often comes along with that. It’s a physiological, genetically influenced condition like being tall or good at playing a musical instrument. We have a choices about how to deal with the condition and we have choices about how we feel about ourselves, but not whether or not we have ADHD. I happen to love my brain. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good at a lot of things and it’s also the only one I’ve got! If someone wants to try and judge or stigmatize me because of my brain, well I won’t let them do that. They don’t control how I feel about myself. I do.

I can share a little about my experience with the thoughts in my head and how I was able to get my very active “stream of consciousness” to settle down a lot. First, I learned that I am not the thoughts in my head. I am more like the Consciousness that can observe all those thoughts. Second, I stopped identifying with the content of those thoughts, which for me and many people are highly self-critical, ego-driven, judgmental, repetitive, and fear-based. We think in words, and our thoughts in our heads cause emotions — and anxiety — in our bodies. It gets to be a vicious cycle — critical and fearful thoughts lead to anxiety which leads to more thoughts and on and on. The trick is to disrupt this pattern. When I stopped identifying with the thoughts and paid attention to what I was telling myself and how untrue the chatter was, that helped. Then, I started choosing to think positive and affirming thoughts. I started to feel better. Another thing, I got in the habit of observing my mind work — and over-work. Through mindfulness and meditation, I practiced slowing and temporarily stopping the flow of thoughts. After a while, my mind stopped racing and settled. I found that for myself mindful observation is an irreversible process — once I caught on to it, it was like a light went on and a process started that helped me a lot. So, by becoming observant, more self-aware, dropping self-judgments, and adopting self-nurturing and affirming habits of mind, life got a lot better. I hope this is helpful. Andrew