ADD · adhd · anxiety · depression · help · men · mental health · reading · stigma

What is ADHD?

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So I have ADHD… it’s new and confusing but its official I have it, but what is it exactly?

Overview
Here is a quick overview of ADHD…
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition with symptoms such as inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. The symptoms differ from person to person. ADHD was formerly called ADD, or attention deficit disorder. Both children and adults can have ADHD, but the symptoms always begin in childhood.

The neurobiological basis of ADHD

What I found fascinating is ADHD is a neurologically based condition!

So a quick science lesson for you here… Image result for neurology adhd

* ADHD seems to involve impaired neurotransmitter activity in four functional regions of the brain:

Frontal cortex – This region orchestrates high-level functioning: maintaining attention, organization, and executive function. A deficiency of norepinephrine within this brain region might cause inattention, problems with organization, and/or impaired executive functioning.

Limbic system – This region, located deeper in the brain, regulates our emotions. A deficiency in this region might result in restlessness, inattention, or emotional volatility.

Basal ganglia – These neural circuits regulate communication within the brain. Information from all regions of the brain enters the basal ganglia, and is then relayed to the correct sites in the brain. A deficiency in the basal ganglia can cause information to “short-circuit,” resulting in inattention or impulsivity.

Reticular activating system – This is the major relay system among the many pathways that enter and leave the brain. A deficiency in the RAS can cause inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity.

These four regions interact with one another, so a deficiency in one region may cause a problem in one or more of the other regions. ADHD may be the result of problems in one or more of these regions.

Symptoms

Now the science part is over let’s talk about symptoms.

I am going to focus on the symptoms of adults with ADHD and here are the basic ones.

Adult ADHD symptoms may include:Image result for adhd symptoms

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • People pleasing
  • Depression
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress
  • Bad memory

    Click here for more info on ADHD symptoms.

Now almost everyone has some symptoms similar to ADHD at some point in their lives. If your difficulties are recent or occurred only occasionally in the past, you probably don’t have ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed only when symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in more than one area of your life.

ADHD can also occur with other disorders as well some of these include:

Mood disorders – Many adults with ADHD also have depression, bipolar disorder or another mood disorder. While mood problems aren’t necessarily due directly to ADHD, a repeated pattern of failures and frustrations due to ADHD can worsen depression.

Anxiety disorders – Anxiety disorders occur fairly often in adults with ADHD. Anxiety disorders may cause overwhelming worry, nervousness and other symptoms. Anxiety can be made worse by the challenges and setbacks caused by ADHD.

Other psychiatric disorders – Adults with ADHD are at increased risk of other psychiatric disorders, such as personality disorders, intermittent explosive disorder and substance abuse.

Learning disabilities – Adults with ADHD may score lower on academic testing than would be expected for their age, intelligence and education. Learning disabilities can include problems with understanding and communicating.

So there you have it a quick summary of ADHD!

I have yet to discuss my journey into this diagnosis, but here are some facts on the disorder most of which I had NO idea about! I am still learning how all this affects me personally, but that’s another story for another day. For now I hope you come away reading this with a better understanding of what ADHD is and the realisation that it’s not all just about hyperactive boys in school but something that still affects many men and women into their adult life.

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ADD · adhd · anxiety · depression · help · mental health · stigma · support

The First Step.

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How to start? Where to start?

From the very beginning?

No. As recently a new beginning has started for me…

A BPD diagnosis was a big part of my journey so far. Vicious cycles of meds, depression, self destruction, pain, confusion, CBT therapy, Group Therapy and Council Support.
But it always ended where it began, at the edge of a mental cliff.

So when another ‘bad period’ caught me somewhat off-guard I ended up having to take 5 weeks off work just to go through the system and be told by the NHS that there was a massive waiting list to see a councillor or a therapist, well due to this the conclusion was the time had come to go privately.

I chose someone local who specialised in a few things one being BPD, so to cut a long story short within 30 mins of the session I was asked ‘Has anyone ever told you that you might be ADHD?’
My initial reaction was to laugh, I mean isn’t that what mostly little boys had in childhood? I remember knowing a boy who had it and they were known to be the class clown or the trouble makers, I didn’t know girls could have it? Let alone in adulthood!?

From too young an age I have never had an ‘official’ diagnosis so Harley Street psychiatrist here we come! Another discussion of going over my past and eventually the conclusion? Signs of ADD mainly and ADHD. Who knew!?
I was started on meds which would confirm once and for all if this was my diagnosis. (How this works is the ‘fast release’ ADHD meds I was given only work on the brain of someone who does in fact have ADD.)
Well they worked, not miracles yet but they worked!

All this time, all this wondering, all this confusion and not feeling like I fit in… turns out all this time I was ADD??? 

This was not a diagnosis I took on lightly! I researched loads and turns out most symptoms of BPD are the same for ADHD, and the signs can be different in women. The more I learnt the more it all made sense!

So here starteth the new journey!

My therapist helped get me on this path, I worried it would be like all the ones before, but this time it’s not, it’s right, I can feel it. How can you work with or treat an illness when either you don’t know it’s there or you have been told you have something completely different?

So here is my new journey of the mind, you’ve read of my past, my research, my pain, my hope, my relationships, my fears and part of my story, but not of my future…

Now I believe I truly have a future join me in discovering and stepping forward for what feels like the first time in a long time in the right direction.

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anxiety · bipolar · bpd · depression · help · mental health · paranoia · schizophrenia · stigma · suicide

What a difference a day makes.

Suffering from mental health challenges can sometimes mean one day makes all the difference. One day life is full of hope and possibilities, next it’s a struggle to even get out of bed let alone through the whole day. relatedmedia

One moment you don’t have a care in the world, then in a matter of seconds these thoughts and memories creep into your head! Plaguing your mind and causing you to question the very meaning of life, or to remember every wrong thing you’ve ever done.

A film starts to play of all the worse moments of your life again and again on repeat. Your mind searching for a reason to justify this sudden overwhelming and suffocating emotional pain. Anger and adrenaline swells up from nowhere causing you to be mentally and physically exhausted without having done a thing.

Then the next day all gone… you’re just left having confused everyone including yourself. Consumed on and off with irrational thoughts and emotions often not knowing why or how. Constantly trying to think of reasons why you feel this way, or if feeling desperate even creating them.

An exhausting roller-coaster of not knowing what kind of day you’re going to have.

depression-rollercoaster

There’s a massive frustration that no matter how hard you try to be happy when this cloud envelopes your mind it’s so hard talking, moving, even getting out of bed can feel daunting. 
Did I do this to myself? Am I incapable of happiness? Questions that spin around and a feeling of guilt that while others battle these emotions due to events and life circumstances I battle it for none.

Why do you feel depressed? What has happened? What triggered this?
All questions that cannot be answered.

It’s just a waiting game.

So be patient with those who are trying to explain their mental health is getting them down as there is no telling what kind of day they are having.

charity · help · mental health · news · stigma · support

Goodbye Hair

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Though this is a delayed post (considering I officially finished this fundraising on the 1st of July) for those still following I wanted to show that I was true to my word! I declared if I ended up rasing £2000 or more I would cut off most of my hair and seen as we came to an amazing total of £2,375 on Saturday the 1st of July I went to get the chop!

It’s a big change but I also feel like this journey has made a big change in me, so out with the old and in with the new! My first drink of the year was experienced with family having a celebratory meal and though going back to drinking has been odd it’s great to notice how I don’t feel the need to fall back into old habits and I’m building a new more healthy relationship with drinking and socialising. 

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So now onto the next big adventure, becoming a qualified level 3 personal trainer in 10 weeks!

anxiety · bpd · depression · help · mental health · paranoia · stigma · suicide

Think before you speak!

think-speak

I have tried to be as subjective as possible in regards to a lot of the posts I write on here. Both considering those who are new to understanding mental health and those who are very educated and clued up on the matter, as well as being mindful of those who suffer.

However as a BPD (borderline personality disorder) sufferer I wanted to write a post entirely on what it is like experiencing relationships and friendships from my view or rather ‘our’ view (for those out there who also suffer from emotional unstable disorders). 

What inspired me to write this was going on to Google and typing in ‘how to communicate in relationships/friendships when you suffer from BPD?’ And the majority of results that came up were links stating things such as ‘Why BPD relationships are so tough’ or ‘How to love someone with BPD’.  All these links providing reasons why other non-sufferers struggle to be friends with ‘us’, or how it is hard on them to handle ‘us’, and why many break from their relationships or friendships due to the turbulence of the experience of being close to this said person with BPD.

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I must admit this does boil my blood a bit, and lets not now suggest that this reaction in itself is due to my ‘disorder’ and having a BIG reaction to something seemingly small.
No it makes me angry as the sufferer seems to be portrayed as some sort of villain. As the question is often put across as, ‘how does it make YOU feel that your partner has a mental health disorder?’ Or how it makes YOU feel that your mum has BPD or even your best friend?

Now I’m not attempting to take away from this importance in the slightest as it is important how this makes YOU feel, as the education you receive on the subject will help you better understand and know how to communicate and cope with the sufferer. But don’t be fooled to believe that this text book education or small insight tells you or even begins to touch on what it’s like in the head of that sufferer, and I can guarantee to you most of the time they want to spare you the description of that daily battle.

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So how about how it makes US feel? Having friends who expect too much of you emotionally? Or partners who leave you over a condition you cannot control? Or parents who look at you in those dark times as if they have no idea who is standing in front of them? How it feels having strangers call us attention seeking or mental?
Well I can tell you it’s not good that’s for sure!

How about why WE want to distance ourselves from friends who judge us? Who get angry at us? Who put unnecessary pressure on us? All again because of an illness that due to them not being able to see they therefore cannot seem to understand? 
Or why we don’t want to, or are scared to enter relationships? Because we fight this pain and negativity and self-criticism in our heads daily, and believe me we know and already feel guilty towards any pain it may cause you! We can see and feel it affecting you, but just as someone in a wheelchair cannot get up and walk we cannot just switch this off.

No reminder needs to be said of how hard it is for you, how difficult it is for you, how painful it is for you etc. etc. as we have already gone through all of that in our own heads, hence why so many stay silent.

So before you speak to someone with a mental health disorder THINK about your words as they often only confirm our scars, only validate our constant self-criticism and lack of self-worth and ultimately only push us closer to that edge.

Think before you speak to someone with BPD, THINK!!!
As it often does far more damage than you can even imagine.

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charity · help · mental health · stigma · support

Month No. 6

Month Numbero Six

6 months today!!!

That’s it I have officially been sober for half a year, thanks to all the very generous donations you have all made to this wonderful charity Mind!

This experience has been life changing, what started as a decision to simply raise some money while addressing my relationship with drinking and the effects it has on my mental health has turned into something far greater than I could have ever imagined!
A journey where I re-discovered my self-value and that in itself is a realisation I had long forgotten.

So to keep it simple and sweet for all those who have followed me through this journey, if you don’t know much about mental health please discover more and help break the stigma by educating yourself and others, as you can make such a difference in so many people’s lives! And to all those who suffer with mental difficulties, if I can make this journey to recovery so can you! You’re never too far gone, reach a hand out, speak out and though the world doesn’t always reach out a helping hand or listening ear straight away there are people out there who will prove you wrong and want to help and support you, but most of all please know you are worth recovery, you are worth something and you are NEVER truly alone.

Youre-not-alone-again

 

The last thing I shall leave you with are a few words that I wrote roughly 4 years ago but still remain very true today…

If you’re reading this and you have ever felt completely alone, or you have felt at times you have fallen short of people’s expectations, if you have ever hated yourself or lacked self-worth or self-belief, if you have lost someone you loved even if its someone you just had to let go of, if you have had a million things you have wanted to say and not one willing ear to listen to you, if you have held back the tears for ages then burst when there is no one there to hug you, well I love you.

Not because I pity you, and not just because I relate, but because I truly believe everyone is worthy of love and no one should feel alone. I care because yes I’ve been there and I would never wish that upon anyone. People don’t understand that power of love…

This may just be my interpretation of love but I once read love was not selfish, so therefore love is selfless, so you can forget yourself and your fears, your problems to focus on that person and just be there, even if they don’t do the same for you in return.
So yes I love you because I want you to know you’re never alone.

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charity · depression · mental health · stigma · suicide

Stigma

stigma-5

Seen as one of the main reasons I started this blog was to help prevent stigma I thought it would be a good topic to address. So what exactly do we mean when we associate stigma towards mental health?

stigma-1

Though statistics show that over 450 million people world-wide have a mental health problem, there is still a strong social stigma attached to mental health, and people with mental health problems can experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives.
Nearly nine out of ten people with mental health problems say that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives.

We know that people with mental health problems are amongst the least likely of any group with a long-term health condition or disability to:

  • find work
  • be in a steady, long-term relationship
  • live in decent housing 
  • be socially included in mainstream society.

This is believed to occur because society in general has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people. Many people believe that people with mental ill health are violent and dangerous, when in fact they are more at risk of being attacked or harming themselves than harming other people.

Media doesn’t help at times often portraying those who can suffer with mental health difficulties to be dangerous, aggressive, criminal, evil, or very disabled and unable to live normal, fulfilled lives. Which is far more often than not very far from the case.

Stigma_FI

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That is why campaigns such as Time to Change tackling stigma towards this subject are so important! Below they address some forms of stigma towards mental health…

There are lots of myths about mental health. Knowing a few facts can help us to challenge any negative thoughts and actions. 

Here are some to think about:

  • Myth: Mental health problems are very rare.
  • Fact: 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • Myth: People with mental illness aren’t able to work.
  • Fact: We probably all work with someone experiencing a mental health problem.
  • Myth: Young people just go through ups and downs as part of puberty, it’s nothing.
  • Fact: 1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem.
  • Myth: People with mental health illnesses are usually violent and unpredictable.
  • Fact: People with a mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violence. 
  • Myth: People with mental health problems don’t experience discrimination
  • Fact: 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination.
  • Myth: It’s easy for young people to talk to friends about their feelings.
  • Fact: Nearly three in four young people fear the reactions of friends when they talk about their mental health problems.

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Mental health stigma and discrimination has become such a talked about subject that many including the royal family are looking at addressing it and tackling it as no one should ever be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone that they experience mental health problems.


The more we focus on educating others on mental health and the more that sufferers feel happy to speak up and speak out the more we can change peoples attitudes and lives. 

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