ADHD, Anxiety & Executive Functions

My diagnosis was the greatest gift I could have ever received. I’m not saying that ADHD is a gift, I’m saying that knowing that I have ADHD and finally being able to have an explanation is the gift.

Starting coaching school was the smartest thing I have ever done for myself. I am learning so much about how my brain works!!

I have had a few revelations this week. Slash this week has been one humongous set back.

Revelation #1
My ADHD is what causes my anxiety. How do I know? When my executive functions aren’t working the way that I would like THAT is what causes my anxiety. As an example: yesterday in class I wanted to speak up and share my thoughts. Then I was waiting to speak because someone else was speaking. What was I doing while I was waiting? I was repeating the question over and over and over in my head because I was scared that I was going to forget what I wanted to ask. And then I was scared that while I would be speaking I would forget what I wanted to say. This is where Memory #5 on the Brown scale comes into play (see below). These anxious thoughts, caused by lack of memory, activates my anxiety; my heart starts to palpitate, my body starts to shake and I “black out”. I can only half tell you what I even said. I really don’t know of a solution for this. If you come up with something, please let me know!

Revelation #2

Yesterday in class we learnt about executive functions and Brown’s scale. Here is it:

The whole idea is that Activation, Focus, Effort, Emotion, Memory and Action combined form your executive functions.

So today is Friday and on Wednesday night I found out that a loved one of mine is going to have to get 4 rounds of chemo and get her bladder removed. I had just arrived home from dinner with a friend when I got the news so my bucket was full and the blow of the news didn’t hit me quite as hard as if my bucket was low. I think that it is important to point out that my body thinks that I am getting my period (my doctor and I agreed that I would skip my periods because my ADHD would become so intense otherwise). WELL, yes I am skipping my period but I can definitely tell you that my ADHD is in full force and my body still thinks that I am about to get it. I have been “haywire” all week; my thoughts (brain) run off on negative tangents and it takes my mind so much effort to bring me back to reality. Activation is incredibly hard, focusing is tough because of the negative tangents, the effort required for all activities I am doing is so frustrating, my memory is effectively not working and honestly, at least I think I am doing okay with the self-regulating. This is what is saving me from going into a total Netflix binge and shutting myself off from the world. Do you see how this can look like depression?!

So yesterday (Thursday) in the early afternoon, my loved ones got home from another doctors appointment and received more bad news. My loved one is going to have to go and see a specialist regarding her results from a test that could hint towards cervical cancer. BOOM. I lost all control of my executive functions. I could not stop crying, I was supposed to do work, I had a day of to-dos and I didn’t accomplish anything. My body basically went numb. I went to visit my loved one and it really helped to see her and to see that her spirits were incredibly high and she was going on with her life as normal. We also had a discussion about me living with her to help her out (enter anxiety because I realized everything that would change in my life; how much added responsibilities and how much harder things would be for me).

And now, today, Friday, I am extremely upset with myself because I did not do the work yesterday that I committed to doing. It is now a holiday and I am really hoping that it won’t get in the way of communicating with others since they will be “turned off” and in vacation mode.

I know all of this doesn’t seem like a revelation but it SO IS!! I now understand what the heck is going on. I used to think that I was depressed when this would happen; I would have no control over what I wanted to be doing and my body would shut down and I would want to go and curl up in bed and shut myself off from the world.

The solution

Pause, pause, pause and pause some more. I really have to be mindful and catch my thoughts before they head down a negative spiral. I have something to add to the pause since I am super visual. Do you watch “Friends”? There is an episode where Phoebe’s beeper keeps ringing and a friend of hers is calling that she doesn’t want to speak with. She ends up taking the beeper, putting it into a pot, closing the pot and putting it into the oven. That’s what i do with my negative thoughts! Yes, my loved one is sick. Yes, I want to fix it for her. The reality is that I can’t. So what do I do? I put my thoughts in the pot, close up the pot and throw it in the oven!

I would love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences with the brown scale & executive functions. Have a happy easter weekend! 🙂


3 thoughts on “ADHD, Anxiety & Executive Functions

  1. First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about your loved one. 🙁
    i do the same thing, with repeating what I want to say over and over. I even do this one on one sometimes. Usually I’m a great and active listenee but when it hits me that I have something that could be helpful or important to add to the conversation, I have a hard time concentrating on what the other person continues to say because if I don’t “hold on” to what I was going to say, I’ll lose it! I’ve found visualizing putting it somewhere to “retrieve” when it’s my turn helps create a path my brain can return down and remember.

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