Resources for ADHD

If your child was recently diagnosed with ADHD/ADD or you suspect that a diagnosis is on the horizon, let’s begin with information from Statistics Canada:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, and is one of the most common mental health conditions in children.
  • Boys are three times more likely to develop ADHD than girls.
  • Symptoms of ADHD usually arise between the ages of three and five but are typically most prominent in the elementary school grades and often persist throughout adulthood. In fact, approximately 75% of cases will continue to have the diagnosis through adolescence, and over half of the cases continue into adulthood.
  • The most effective treatment for ADHD is currently considered to be a combination of medication with psychotherapy, behavioural therapy, and/or emotional counseling.

Two websites that you may find to be particularly helpful include:

  • The Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada which has a wide variety of topics and resources regarding everything from understanding ADHD, to assessment, best practice, useful tools and techniques, a podcast and so forth.
  • ADDitude – Inside the ADHD Brain is a website that includes just about everything you can think of when it comes to ADHD, including lots of great articles to read.

As with most things, knowledge is power. When we read up on the ins and outs of a topic, we are less likely to be led by fear and assumptions. Instead, we feel validated, supported, and can move with confidence in the decisions we are making for our children. 🙂

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Covid Uncertainty

I was speaking with a client last week who has been working quite effectively with managing her anxiety. She spoke about a situation which had started out quite confidently – heading into a store with her mask on and her list of items; feeling no anxiety. She noted that upon entering the store, she began to notice how many people were there and a quiet unease settled in. She stated that despite her telling herself that protocol was being followed, her unease began to grow until she decided that she needed to leave.

In therapy, she was hard on herself, stating that she has never had social anxiety before and it threw her off. We explored what had happened and it would seem that it really had less to do with social anxiety and we chalked it up to ‘Covid-19 uncertainty.’

With any event that brings uncertainty, we will have some anxiety to manage. Part of that need comes from our survival brain which is always behind the scenes looking for possible danger. We are also creatures of habit who like to plan with some expectation – uncertainty tends to bring a little adventure to the mix 🙂

Covid-19 has brought with it a time of navigating waters unknown – without a captain, we are steering our ship with some instructions from the coast guard but relying mainly on our selves to determine the best course. As a result, we can give ourselves permission to ‘go with our gut’ and do what is comfortable for ourselves and for our families.

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You Never Really Know

There is a belief that a small change can produce a ripple effect; leading to bigger changes in the universe that we may not be aware of. I am certainly a firm believer in the energy we put out into the world; that by focusing on appreciation, kindness and thoughtful intentions, we send out a ripple effect. That when we focus on feeling settled within, we give others around us permission to do the same. I came across a saying by Nikki Banas which speaks to just that:

“You never really know the true impact you have on those around you.

You never know how much someone needed that smile that you gave them.

You never know how much your kindness turned someone’s entire life around.

You never know how much someone needed that long hug or deep talk.

So don’t wait to be kind.

Don’t wait for someone else to be kind first.

Don’t wait for better circumstances or for someone to change.

Just be kind, because you never know how much someone needs it.”

– Nikki Banas

Or for that matter, when you might 🙂

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10 Facts About the Brain

Here are some amazing brain facts from The Nature of Things with David Suzuki:

  1. Your brain contains 100 billion neurons: about 16 times the number of people on earth.
  2. 95% of your decisions take part in the subconscious mind.
  3. The language and consciousness part of the brain (neocortex) accounts for 76% of the brain’s mass.
  4. Your gut, or “second brain,” contains 100,000 neurons.
  5. Your brain keeps developing until your late 40’s.
  6. Our IQ’s have dropped over 13 points since the Victorian era. 🙁
  7. Women have more grey matter and a larger hippocampus (involved in emotional processing) than men.
  8. The brain consumes 20% of the body’s energy production.
  9. The brain is capable of re-wiring, re-engineering itself.
  10. Neuroplasticity is the science behind the “wires that wire together, fire together.”

With the notion that the brain is not fixed; that it can change itself, we can begin to really appreciate what our brains do for us in terms of not only our physical being, but our psychological lives as well. All the more reason to holistically take care of ourselves on a daily basis; it’ll do the brain good!

To listen to an interesting video on “The Brain that Changes Itself/Part 1/The Nature of Things” with David Suzuki and featuring Norman Doidge

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The Relationships We Manage

I like to say that there are three categories of relationships in our lives. There are the healthy ones; those we feed, are invested in, and consciously continue to build. There are the toxic ones; those to which we eventually learn how to strip them of power and in some cases, end the relationship altogether. And then there are those that we manage; relationships that aren’t quite in the healthy category, but we are not ready, or in a position, to remove them entirely from our lives.

We live in a society in which “family means everything,” and “blood is thicker than water;” expressions that certainly ring true for anyone who has grown up in a home that was not touched by dysfunction or abuse. Societal norms can make us feel pressured to continue to try and adjust ourselves within a relationship, simply because they’re family; leaving us at times to wrestle with uncertainty and compromised values.

Perhaps a better solution, is to be able to look at the relationship we are struggling with and ask ourselves, “Are both of us invested in making this healthy?” If the answer is no, and it is pretty clear that only one of you is doing the work, then it really is okay to give ourselves permission to manage that relationship. Sometimes that comes in the form of placing in some much needed boundaries, other times it may mean taking a bit of space to slow things down; in any case, it becomes okay to accept the relationship as one that perhaps needs a bit of regulation and direction from time to time.

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Fretting and the Essence of Time

I have to imagine that at the “pioneer point” in our existence, there was a time for worrying – that we were presented with something we needed to deal with and apart from that, we were pretty busy just trying to till the land, fill the larder, and keep the fire stoked. In times when there was so much work to be done in a day, our worries were immediate and we needed to deal with them accordingly.

It would seem today that our worrying and fretting is no longer balanced with the essence of time. If we are in a position of having too much time to fill, our worries have the ability to take over; we tend to ruminate, overthink and get ourselves worked up. We stew about it.

If we are in a position where we don’t have enough time in our day, our tendency is to push away the niggling thoughts; the worries get set aside as ‘we have no time to deal with them.’ Don’t worry, they will come back with a vengeance, the moment your head hits the pillow or a sense of panic comes out of nowhere.

Perhaps the trick is to deal with the worries as they present themselves. Slow down long enough to give the worry some room, without letting it take over completely. Action being your biggest ally.

Asking yourself:

  • What am I worried about?
  • Is this a true alarm or a false one? (Focus on fact, not on fear)
  • What can I do about it right now?

When we are able to deal with the worry accordingly as it comes up, we also have the essence of time on our side and we can get back to a grounded, take life one day at a time, settled place.

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The Reality of Loss

Loss comes in many forms; in the grief we feel when a loved one passes away, in the sorrow of a break up, in the distress of losing a job. We feel loss when the leaves have all fallen and the trees sit bare, when times as we knew it are gone, when we struggle with a life circumstance that seems overwhelming.

The reality of loss is just that; it is acknowledging that grief is a part of life. It is accepting that in our process of grieving we have also loved.

Here are three quotes about loss that have resonated with me:

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

“I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.”- C.S. Lewis

“Know that I am with you, the only way that I can be. Until you’re in my arms again….remember me.” – Disney’s COCO

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What is Our Window of Tolerance

We all have a window of tolerance. It is that place where we have full access to our Wise Mind, where both our emotions and our logic inform us to make decisions. This is the state in which we are mentally engaged and in a growth mindset. It is here that we function optimally.

When we move out of our window of tolerance, we move into either a hyperarousal state where we can overreact emotionally, or into a hypoarousal state of shutting down. In either case, our emotions are what begin to dictate our behaviours. In a heightened state, we begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious and can have emotional outbursts, triggering our fight-or-flight response. In a dulled state, we begin to feel numb, unmotivated, separate from our feelings; triggering our freeze response.

Our window of tolerance lies in our comfort system; it is the place to which we can self-soothe, think clearly, act accordingly. We can strengthen our window of tolerance by first recognizing our triggers that will lead us away from it – anxiety, feeling frazzled, exhaustion, worry, being emotionally or physically drained. We can use grounding techniques such as deep breathing or a guided meditation to strengthen our familiarity with what our comfort system feels like. We can create an inner dialogue that is supportive and non-critical. We can remind ourselves that taking a break to re-group is okay. We can prioritize self-care.

By expanding our window of tolerance, we move towards feeling more comfortable with our emotions,; we are better able to handle the ups and downs that daily life presents us.

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A Reminder About Choice

I appreciated reading this passage from Walk the Earth:


You are the only one in charge of your destiny. Unfair things may happen to you, unfortunate times may come to you, but you always get to choose how you respond. You can live in frustration and bitterness, or you can be the bigger person and just play the hell out of the cards you are dealt. Because the truth is, in this world, not a single person chooses the cards they receive, but every single person chooses how to play them.

Walk the Earth

We are living right now through an unfortunate time; one that will go down in the history books. We have choices in how to get through it, collectively and individually. We can do our part, act responsibly, focus on our blessings, appreciate the simple things and prioritize self-care. We can decide.

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Before You Say Yes

We tend to over commit. Say yes to things because it feels bad to say no. We just try to squeeze everything in to make people happy, putting our own needs on the back burner. It can be difficult to decide where our responsibilities lie, and everything begins to feels as though it’s a requirement.

Instead of jumping in with both barrels, is it possible to move to a position of balancing our priorities with our demands? Three questions that we can ask ourselves before we say yes:

  1. What is my current energy level? Do I have the time and strength to dedicate to this task?
  2. What amount of help or support will I have if I say yes to this request?
  3. What is my emotional state? Do I feel up to committing to this invitation?

Working through this checklist can give us insight as to what we are capable of agreeing to, at that moment and time in our week; furthering our goal to make ourselves important too 🙂

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