Category Archives: Anxiety

Adult ADHD and Imposter Syndrome

People who aren’t familiar with ADHD sometimes mistakenly believe that people with this disorder have some sort of advantage; whether it might be the supposed super powers of prescription stimulants, being given special needs status, receiving inclusion education status in college, or some sort of magical mental ability to learn things quickly and exhaustively.

When it comes to getting a head in life, being successful, and achieving personal goals, ADHD provides no advantages. None. Those with ADHD, like everyone else have to put in effort, discipline, determination, and consistency in order to accomplish achievements. What having ADHD does mean, is that for some persons with this disorder it takes a lot more effort to accomplish end goals due to this neurodevelopmental disorder.

When anxiety and ADHD decide to work together in your mind it usually means personal disaster for many individuals. Accomplishments are quickly disregarded and downplayed by anxiety that manifests itself as Imposter Syndrome.

First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud. Though the impostor phenomenon isn’t an official diagnosis listed in the DSM, psychologists and others acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt. Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.” American Psychological Association

Be careful not to let anxiety and Imposter Syndrome rob you of the joy of what you have achieved. You worked for what you have, enjoy it. Humbleness is important, but low self-esteem, imposter syndrome, and depression are not the same as having a humble spirit.

If your achievements were earned without stepping on others, dishonest means, or blatant injustice then you have no reason to embrace your accomplishments.

But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.” Colossians 3: 8-10

Give thanks to God for what you accomplish and thank those who helped you along the way. Gratitude is a great way to chip away at imposter syndrome.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

If you’d like to learn more about Imposter Syndrome and how to overcome it, below are a few links to articles on the topic.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2014/04/03/impostor-syndrome/#61d2b31648a9

https://www.verywell.com/adhd-and-imposter-syndrome-3888166

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/your-money/learning-to-deal-with-the-impostor-syndrome.html

 

ADHD: Stop Trying to Prove Yourself

Self-Love-Self-Respect-Self-Worth

This week I was reminded of a very important lesson; STOP trying to prove yourself to others, especially when they DON’T care about you. It was a painful reminder, it wasn’t humbling, it was physically, emotionally, and mentally draining.

A few weeks ago I was feeling more anxiety than usual, I was always on the verge of crying, my sleep was almost non-existent, and I was ready to crawl into bed, cover my head, and ignore the world for a while. Thankfully I have bills to pay, and things to do, so that was a wish rather than an option.

What I was made to remember was this: Trying to prove yourself to others is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. Having to prove yourself to others takes you away from doing the things you love, it takes you away from being yourself, it stops you from loving who you are.

I realized I was spending the majority of my days doing things to prove to a certain group of people that I was skilled, capable, good enough, intelligent, and forgivable. What a waste of my time! I finally accepted this was a group of people who would never admit to my abilities, talents, and skills. They had made up their mind that I wasn’t deserving and were doing whatever they could to knock me down and ensure that I stay there.

My mistakes were all due to classic ADHD traits: overscheduling, taking on more than was necessary for one person to handle, not knowing when to say “no”, working on things late into the night, and forgetting the little things. Throw in anxiety along with lack of sleep and you have a hot mess, named ME! My schedule was go-go-go! I was “going” for everyone except myself.

It you’re ADHD looks anything like mine does, sometimes you spend a lot of time making up for your mistakes by trying to prove yourself to your doubters. If you do this long enough it is no longer about proving what you can “do”, instead, you start trying to prove your worthiness. You start trying to prove that you deserve another chance for having been late, for having forgotten an appointment, for forgetting something and before you realize it, you are trying to prove you are worthy of second chances.

self esteem projected

If you believe you deserve a second chance at something, don’t spend your energy trying to prove your worth. Do what you are good at, do what you love, fulfill your responsibilities because that is who you are, not because you want someone to support you, accept you, or believe you. Even if you are excellent at something, or very dependable, you might never get acknowledged or recognition; but it doesn’t change the fact that you are excellent at what you do and are a dependable person.

I took a break and I changed up my schedule. I decided to spend less time around the group I needed to prove myself to and it made a huge difference in how I felt. I suddenly had more free time for the things I love to do and for people who didn’t require me to “prove myself”; these were people who already knew what I was great at.

My time with them wasn’t spent trying to prove anything, we spent that time together and I was free to be myself. My anxiety decreased because I wasn’t spending all my energy and thoughts on how to prove myself to others. My focus increased because I only had a few things on my plate, and those few things I did because I knew I was good at them, not because I needed to prove to anyone else that I was good at it or capable of handling the work.

never

Take a look at your life, your goals, and how you spend your time. Do you find that a lot of time is spent “proving yourself” to others? Is your self-worth wrapped up in trying to make up for some of your ADHD flaws? Do you spend a lot of time worrying about what others will think of your work?

Spending a lot of time worrying about what others might think or how others view you means you are not spending enough time being you, being yourself. Take time to value yourself. If you have done your best and all that you can or could do or were asked to do; take pride in that and give yourself a pat on the back.

value decrease

ADHD and Permission to Make Mistakes

Gifts of Imperfection and Adult ADHD

Permission: “the right or ability to do something that is given by someone who has the power to decide if it will be allowed or permitted” (Webster’s Dictionary) or in simpler terms, “the approval of a person in authority” (Webster’s Dictionary).

I’m still working through the book and O-Course, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brene Brown. This book study continues through to the beginning of May 2016. I’m thankful the schedule allows us to work our way through her writings and insights slowly, one week at a time.

In the first 48 pages Brene Brown covers the topic of shame and her first art journaling assignment is to have participants create their own permission slips.

In relation to having adult ADHD, I began to think about the amount of shame this disorder has helped to create in my mind. I wasn’t diagnosed until later into adulthood, and by then I had excelled in a number of failures and mistakes resulting in shame becoming a constant part of my identity. My list of shames included constantly being late, forgetting things I had agreed to do, unintentionally blurting out words that ended up causing others hurt feelings, struggling in the workplace, over eating to the point of morbid obesity, and struggling to get through my undergraduate degree which took me much longer to complete than the average student. In addition to ADHD induced shame, I also struggled with an anxiety disorder that prevented me from perceiving my mistakes and failures in a healthy manner.

What I’ve finally learned is that we cannot manage our ADHD properly if we do not give ourselves permission to make mistakes and learn from them. Shame is a powerful emotion. It is powerful enough to prevent us from living a more successful life as persons with ADHD. Shame can cause the following problems:

  • An inability to accept responsibility for the hurts we have caused others due to embarrassment
  • Fear of trying new things due to a fear of not being “good enough” or worthy
  • Anger towards our self and others; this sometimes presents itself by blaming others for our mistakes or perceived failure
  • Symptoms of depression or increased depression for those who already have it
  • Anxiety or increased anxiety in those who have this disorder
  • Self imposed isolation because of not wanting to be around others due to moodiness, blame, fear, or embarrassment

This list is not exhaustive, but it certainly shows the emotional harm caused by shame.

I am still adding to my list of permission slips as I increasingly realize the areas of my life where I haven’t given myself permission to be a flawed person. Even if you haven’t read Brown’s book I encourage you to try her assignment where you create your own permission slips. It doesn’t have to be specifically ADHD related, that was my decision after realizing the strong connection, impact, and association   shame had on this disorder. However, I do think it would be a great learning experience for you to write some slips that are specific to your experiences with ADHD.

For further information on shame and adult ADHD, I recommend reading the following links:

http://marlacummins.com/adhd-shame/

http://www.drhallowell.com/avoid-the-s-p-i-n-cycle-of-adhd/

Remember, you are God’s creation. He loves you exactly as you are and where you are in life. His love is not influenced or determined by our earthly achievements; as He has reminded us, His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We have been given the ability to search our hearts and minds to know when we have wronged others and have been wronged. Embrace God’s daily grace and mercy knowing we always have the opportunity to get back up, dust ourselves off, and carry on stronger and wiser than before.

No Failure, Just Postponing Success

Below is a generic permission slip for you to print and sign, granting yourself permission to make mistakes without it leading to self-sabotage and self defeat.

Here is the permission slip assignment from Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection O-Course

“What do you have to give yourself permission to do when you’re doing something scary? Draw permission slips in your journal or simply write them down as a list. I give myself permission to __________.
Decorate the page by using colored pens or markers and watercolors to create the permission slips or list.”

 

ADHD and Lessons from The Gifts of Imperfection

 

Gifts of Imperfection and Adult ADHD

A few weeks ago I joined a small group book club where we are going through The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W. I had originally read the book on my own over a year ago. I signed up for the OCourse on Oprah.com and lasted less than a week. I read through the book, but skipped the videos and the art journaling assignments. I had decided it wasn’t for me because I wasn’t ‘an artist’. I now know I missed out on a lot of learning and potential for personal growth.

This week’s Guidepost #3 is “Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting God of Numbing and Powerlessness”. Resilience is, “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” (Webster’s Dictionary).

Levels of pain

Brown defines numbing as behaviours that we engage in to take, “the edge off of vulnerability, pain, and discomfort”. Numbing behaviour differs from person to person and can include doing things such as substance abuse, watching t.v., spending a lot of time on Facebook or other forms of social media, shopping, spending money, exercise, sex, and many other things.

As I was reading through this chapter, watching Brene’s video, and beginning the corresponding assignment, I began to wonder if some of the habits and behaviours we attribute exclusively to ADHD, might actually be a form of numbing. I wouldn’t say that this has to be either or, but sometimes it is easy to attribute certain emotionally based behaviours to ADHD when it might not actually be the case. Is watching hours of television per day a habit of ADHD, or could it be a result of numbing? I don’t have a medical answer, but I am curious about how numbing and ADHD effect our lives.

adhd and comorbid disorders

If you have a co-morbid diagnosis such as ADHD and an anxiety disorder or ADHD and depression, I think it is important to learn about and recognize which symptoms can be attributed to each disorder.

I personally know that when I procrastinate it is usually a combination of anxiety and ADHD. Thankfully, the anxiety increases enough to give me the kick in the pants that I need to do what needs to be done. Nothing gets me going more than a tight deadline. Of course, the down side to this is the depleted energy, the crash, the damaging self-criticism, and whatever numbing behaviour I am engaging in.

Brisk walking has always been a numbing activity for me, but I was not always conscious of this. Brisk walking gets my heart pumping, provides cardio exercise, and helps me to physically release built up tension. Numbing is not considered healthy, at least not according to Brene Brown, but for right now, I’m not ready to give that up. My doctor has stressed the importance of getting exercise for helping to manage anxiety, and so far it has been working. I look forward to the end of winter and the darkness that it brings so I can return to my daily 5k brisk walks free of ice and snow.

I’ll share with you the questions Brene Brown gave students for Guidepost 3. I think these are important things to consider and evaluate in your life. Take these questions a bit further by seeing how ADHD plays a role in these behaviours. Which of your behaviours are ADHD, which are numbing, and which may be both?

Part 1: Lesson 4/Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

We can’t selectively numb just the bad and feel the joy at the same time. Think about the things you use to numb yourself when you’re feeling pain or sadness.” Brene Brown.

  • What leads you to numbing?
  • How do you numb?
  • Know the difference between numbing and comfort.
  • What brings you comfort (refuels you)?

 

ADHD and Releasing Physical Tension

Source: Nailone Deviant Art
Source: Nailone Deviant Art

With adult ADHD, it can sometimes feel as if both our mind and body never stop moving. Not all people have hyperactivity as a symptom of their ADHD, however, it doesn’t mean your body isn’t free from some of the physical tolls of this disorder. Even quiet people who often seem like they are off in dream land can find themselves holding a lot of physical tension.

I have struggled most of my adult life with muscle tension, migraines, and tension headaches. I have often been told by doctors, physical therapists, and other health professionals that for me, these have been caused by anxiety and stress. I believe this could be true for others as well.

 

From the American Psychological Association, “When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders. For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head.”

One of the ways that I know I am being emotionally and physically consumed by stress or worry is by evaluating my dreams. I rarely get a good night’s sleep, but when I internalize stress I tend to have very vivid dreams. For example, I don’t often speak up at work, where I do as much as I can to avoid saying things that I believe will upset people.

Somehow I believed that if I was cool and calm on the outside, I was not truly bothered by something and I was handling situations like a good Christian woman. Don’t’ speak up, remain silent, be a “yes” person; and this will help you to remain a good woman. If I wasn’t fidgeting, or day dreaming when I should be paying attention, then that meant, to me at least, that my ADHD symptoms were under control. Boy was I wrong. The truth was in my increased muscle tension, and pain in my neck and shoulders, and the headaches that left me in need of few long afternoon naps.

Scripture advises us not to let the day end with us being angry and upset with others or the trials that life brings us. God knows that stress and worry are bad for our mind and hard on our bodies. His son tells us to cast all our cares onto him and lighten our loads.

1 peter 5 7 Cast your cares on him

Maybe you’re not sure if you have been carrying around the physical stress of having ADHD and a dual diagnosis (e.g. Depression, Anxiety Disorder, OCD), check out some of these symptoms and see how often they occur for you.

Symptoms of physical tension caused by stress:

-Headaches (often starts in the back of the head and above the eyebrows)

-Muscle tension in the neck and shoulders

-Lower back pain

-Muscle spasms and ticks

-Clenched jaw

-Grinding of teeth

Although I engage in different practices to prevent or decrease stressors in my life, I still have times when stress takes a toll on my body. For me personally, the best methods for managing the symptoms have been tension releasing stretches throughout the day time, secular yoga movements, meditating on God’s word, and short leisurely walks in the afternoon during breaks or immediately after work. It’s important to find methods that work for you.

Some easy ways to ease and release muscle tension include:

-Having an Epsom salt bath in warm water

-Deep breathing exercises

-Basic yoga moves (or yoga alternatives)

-Going for a non-brisk, leisurely walk (remember to stretch afterwards)

-Prayer

-Finding a quiet place to sit and relax without engaging in any activity

-Simple stretches

-Going for weekly massages

stress relieving stretches

Ephesian 4:26-32

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil…. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

 

Colour Away Your ADHD Frustrations and Anxiety

biodiversity Psalm 104: 24-25 I am an art lover. I love looking at beautiful works of art in a variety of formats: painting, photography, drawing, film, mixed art, you name it. I admire those who have the talent to create works of arts inspired by nature. The closest I will ever get to being an artist is colouring.

I am glad the publishing word has realized there are plenty of adults such as myself who find colouring to be relaxing. If you find yourself needing to unwind and release all the stress, anxiety, frustrations, boredom, and unreleased energy that has built up during the day; colouring is a great way to do so.

If you need some inspiration, try going for a walk while summer is still hanging on. When Fall arrives, take another motivating walk and get inspired by the gold, browns, yellows, and reds of the season. If you feel even more creative, why not colour pictures with shades you wish were represented in nature. Who says a tree can’t be purple, and the sky turquoise?

adult colouring book

Colouring for the purpose of relaxation and stress release allows for something you don’t get to experience during your daily routine; it offers you creative freedom. There is no competition, no judgement – unless you invite it, no limits, and no expectations. The colouring is completed by you and is done only for you.

The story of creations’ beginning always fascinated me as a child. The story books I was exposed to often started with a blank page and ended with beautiful colour and artistry. I can’t even begin to imagine what the world looked like before God brought the beauty of creation into existence. Imagine a world void of colour, various textures, and patterns.

As with most years, Winter weather will arrive alongside Fall. We will spend 8 months in a dark, cold, winter void of any colour other than white. For some people Seasonal Affective Disorder (link) leads to negative mood changes which last until longer hours of sunlight return during the Spring. Even those who are not affected by this mood disorder become more depressed due to decreased sunlight and more time spent in the cold weather, and decreased activity.

For myself, colouring bright pictures of spring and mandalas help to remind me of what I have to look forward to once Winter is over. If you don’t like the idea of colouring pictures of nature and mandalas, there are a variety of objects for you to colour: human anatomy, animals, science fiction/fantasy themes, and a host of other topics. Pick the themes you love and know will provide a sense of calm and relaxation.

animal colouring book

Where To Start

Blogger Bette Fetter lists a few of her recommendations for adult colouring books at her website (link).

There are also a good selection of adult coloring books to be found on amazon.com (link)

If you don’t want to purchase a colouring book you can find websites with free colouring pages such as colourpix.com (link)

To save money you can also purchase colouring books at places like dollar stores, Wal-Mart and Target for under $5.00

 

 

ADHD Sleep Zombies

exhausted at work

Sleep is one of those amazing things that our bodies do in order to keep us healthy. There are varying arguments among researchers as to how much sleep humans need per day in order to function. I’m not so much concerned with what researchers believe is the right amount of required sleep because I already know how many hours my body needs in order for my mind to function fully. That magic number is 9hrs. Yup, 9hrs. It seems like a lot of time to spend sleeping, but over the past couple of years that has been the magic number.

sleep-deprivation-effects

It is not uncommon for people with ADHD to encounter issues with sleep deprivation. There are problems falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting quality sleep while sleeping. When we include those who also have restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or narcolepsy, sleep deprivation sounds like an understatement.  All these sleep problems result in people with ADHD spending the day on the verge of snapping at people or almost daydreaming one’s self to sleep. Lack of sleep leads to issues with not being able to think clearly, memory problems, and emotional sensitivity. None of this sounds like the makings of a pleasant and productive work day.

The relationship between sleep and ADHD is not a new one. At one time, sleep disturbances were included in the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, but due to a lack of demonstrable evidence, sleep disturbances were removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, when its Third Revised Edition was published in 1980.14” (Help4adhd.org)

This is the goal!
This is the goal! Except for the creepy man watching while you sleep.

 

Sleepy Time

Try to maintain a consistent time for going to bed during weekdays.

If you have a lot on your mind, try doing some simple meditation or mindfulness techniques to allow your mind and body to be ready for sleep.

Ear plugs are helpful if you are a light sleeper.

If you co-sleep with your children, consider having them sleep in their own bed. (If this is causing sleep issues for you.)

Check the temperature in your room, if it’s too hot or too cool, adjust it or sleep with bedding that make you warmer or cooler.

Avoid taking any stimulant medication late in the afternoon.

Pray

“Pray” is not a cliche, this is an action that makes a huge difference in our lives. Prayer will help those with a mind full of thoughts slow down. There was a reason why the early Jewish community practiced night time prayer; it was to ease their minds and allow them to sleep. Those in antiquity were vulnerable to night time attacks from others, wild animals, the elements, and more. They knew that if they did not hand their worries over to God each night, they would get no sleep and be unproductive during the daytime. Prayer eases the mind.

We (North Americans) are not facing threats to our lives that others around the world still encounter during the night time, our battle is of the mind. We can do something about our sleepless nights. It won’t be an overnight change, it will take some time. The mind is set in its ways, and often there is a lot of trial and error before we find peace.

Each night, hand over your troubles to God in prayer and let His presence and promises provide you with restful sleep.

Here is a night time from the United States Navy that I hope will be of some help to you.


 

PRAYER BEFORE SLEEP

Dear God, as I lay me down to sleep,
relax the tension of my body;
calm the restlessness of my mind;
still the thoughts which worry and perplex me.
Help me to rest myself and all my problems in your
strong and loving arms.
Let your Spirit speak to my mind and heart while I am asleep, so that, when I wake up in the morning,
I may find that I have received in the night-time,
light for my way;
strength for my tasks;
peace for my worries;
forgiveness for my sins.
Grant me sleep tonight, and tomorrow power to live.

Amen.

 

 

The worry of ADHD

Anxiety

For many people with ADHD anxiety is not a stranger, “In fact, about 30 to 40 percent of people with ADHD have an anxiety disorder, which includes “obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, social anxiety and panic disorder,” according to Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America even estimates the figure to be almost 50 percent.” (source: psychcentral.com 05/2014) 

For Christians with ADHD worry is an additional problem because we are told by God not to worry, He provides comfort by inviting us to hand over our worries and anxieties to Him. The process of bringing our anxious thoughts to God is not an easy one. After so many years of a life filled with anxiety it becomes second nature that our automatic thoughts are to worry rather than turn to God with our fears.

God is not sitting by in anger, He is there waiting patiently with open arms repeatedly asking us to trust Him with our thoughts of fear. He wants to ease our mind. It’s difficult for us to have a peaceful mind if we don’t invite God to ease our worries.

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Feeling powerless
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry (Source: Mayo Clinic Online 05/2014)

anxiety looks like

If chronic anxiety and stress isn’t dealt with properly, the following can occur:

  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Digestive disorders
  • Muscle tension
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Premature coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack (Source: WebMD 05/2014)

There are a variety of ways and methods for dealing with anxiety and reducing stress. For a short  list of suggestions visit the following link at WebMD.

One of our best spiritual responses to anxiety is to ease the mind with prayer. When we pray, the cause of our fear may not go away, but prayer does decrease anxiety.  The following is prayer for anxiety, may this bring some peace and comfort to you.

prayer against anxiety

anxiety prayer