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  • Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done

    Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done

Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done

As a person with ADHD, my mind doesn’t really have an ‘off’ switch. My working memory definitely has an off switch but my thinker is permanently stuck at full throttle. When I take medication for my ADHD symptoms, this is lessened, but even then, ideas are my constant companion. You know what else? Lots of those ideas are really good. I have ideas for things I want to write about, learn about, read about, sing about, and go and do. There are videos to be recorded, books to be written, charts and graphs to be populated with data to be analyzed. There are opportunities for networking, classes to be developed, marketed and taught, and scripts to be polished. I could go on (and on and on and on…) but you get my point. Of course the best time for this outpouring of initiative and creativity is when I finally lay down in my bed at night but it is not reserved solely for that time. When I was in university, my textbooks and research articles were full of notes in the margins pertaining not to the material I was reading but to ideas triggered by what I was reading. This […]

By |May 11th, 2015|Blog, Insight, snippets|Comments Off on Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done
  • Dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    Dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

It is not uncommon for people to refer to their idiosyncratic tendencies as “my OCD”. Youtube comedians Rhett and Link even wrote a hilarious song describing a person’s preference for things to be parallel and clean. While the song and video are funny, they don’t begin to capture the anguish experienced by individuals who actually suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. If you are wondering what it is like, imagine that when things are the way you like them, such as the bed being made just right, or the doors closed and locked, everything is at peace in your mind. However, when a corner of the sheet isn’t flattened out properly, a high-pitched screeching noise pierces your eardrum, causing blinding pain. If the only way to remove the offending noise was to flatten the sheet, it stands to reason that you would be highly motivated to do so. While this isn’t literally what happens in the OCD brain, it is the metaphorical equivalent. One man, suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome, which shares many commonalities with OCD, stated that the compulsion to yell out inappropriate comments or make twitching movements with his shoulders was as strong as the desperation to breathe if someone […]

  • A Control Budget: Picking Your Battles A Control Budget: Picking Your Battles

    A Control Budget: Picking Your Battles

A Control Budget: Picking Your Battles

Here’s an idea: We are all born with an instinct to resist other people’s attempts to control us. This instinct is designed to help us stay safe. To one extent or another, anytime something bad has happened in our lives, it is when we are not in control. The brain learns to associate this state of powerlessness with negative events, such as pain and danger. The greater the pain and danger associated with powerlessness, the greater the brain’s drive to avoid that state. In other words, with an awareness of the origins of this association, we can understand the reflexive statement, “you’re not the boss of me” in a whole new context. Negative events don’t just include instances of physical harm and danger, but also emotional harm and danger. To a young child, few things are as instinctively dangerous as disapproval from a caregiver or trusted loved one. Parental attempts to control, no matter how well intended, are usually rebuffed, especially as the child begins to develop a sense of self somewhere around 18 months old. This is what we refer to as the terrible twos. It’s not a coincidence that as the child learns that they can resist parental […]

  • MY ADHD Story MY ADHD Story

    MY ADHD Story

MY ADHD Story

In 2008, I attended a workshop given by Dr. Gabor Mate. He is a renowned expert in addiction, addiction treatment, and the impact of childhood stress on the developing brain. Needless to say, I learned more than I could write down and ultimately decided to put my pen down and just listen. What I did write down were the names of the books he has written. I then went and bought all four of them and started reading them all at once (hint #1). They were all full of awesome insight and scientific ammunition. Anyway, one of the books was called “Scattered Minds”, and it was a book about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Since so many of my clients have been (or should have been) diagnosed with ADHD as children, I thought I should learn more about it. What I discovered as I madly devoured this book, was that I displayed almost all of the characteristic signs of ADHD and had done so throughout my life. I realize this is a common experience, even the subject of research, called “psych student syndrome” where people tend to over-identify with lists of signs and symptoms and diagnose themselves with every condition […]

  • Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1 Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

    Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

Things won’t get better I’ve experienced darkness in my life. Deep darkness. When I was a kid, I was in boy scouts. One time, on a day trip, our scout leaders took us to an abandoned mine shaft. I know, this story has a very promising beginning, just like the last one. Because we didn’t know anything, and apparently neither did our leaders, we wandered into the mine shaft, deeper and deeper into the mountain. Our way was lighted by an actual torch, not a flashlight or lantern. One of our leaders, who just happened to be the one holding the torch and also happened to have the most severe case of ADHD of the bunch of us, thought it would be a funny trick, once we were several hundred feet into the mine shaft, to knock the torch on the ground, extinguishing the flame. The tunnel that we were exploring had curved to the left, meaning that when the torch was gone, the entrance to the shaft was out of sight around a corner, leaving us with absolutely no light. In review, we were 12 year old kids in an abandoned mine shaft and it was so dark, we […]

By |April 23rd, 2015|Blog, Insight, snippets, things I was wrong about|Comments Off on Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1
  • 10 Favourite Quotes from Dr. Gabor Mate 10 Favourite Quotes from Dr. Gabor Mate

    10 Favourite Quotes from Dr. Gabor Mate

10 Favourite Quotes from Dr. Gabor Mate

In no particular order, I present 10 of my favourite pieces of wisdom from Dr. Gabor Mate, bestselling author of “Scattered Minds“, “When the Body Says No”, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts”, and co-author of “Hold on to Your Kids”. 1. It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour. There is a purpose to all behavior and feelings. We just need to look a little deeper to find it. On the surface, addictive or self-destructive behavior seems illogical but if we focus its benefits, few though they may be, we will be able to unlock the mystery of the behavior and put ourselves in a position to change it. 2. The DSM … defines attention deficit disorder by its external features, not by its emotional meaning in the lives of individual human beings. I’ve noticed this in discussing the symptoms with doctors, even those who specialize in treating the condition. The list of symptoms and signs makes very little room for the emotional impact of poor time management, poor attentional control, lack of follow-through, impulsive behavior, and constant restlessness. The list doesn’t touch […]

By |April 7th, 2015|Blog, Insight, snippets|Comments Off on 10 Favourite Quotes from Dr. Gabor Mate
  • Hard Things Made Easy? Not Quite Hard Things Made Easy? Not Quite

    Hard Things Made Easy? Not Quite

Hard Things Made Easy? Not Quite

As a counsellor, I have been approached for help with a wide variety of issues. Sometimes it is a last-ditch attempt to save a relationship where years of muddy water has passed under the bridge. Sometimes it is eliminating the effects of a life-changing traumatic experience. Sometimes it is rewiring the brain of a child or partner who has special needs or mental illness. Regardless of the specifics, the basic element of many of these problems is the client asking me the following question: How can I do something hard in an easy way?” Predictably, my answer to this question is not always satisfactory. You can’t always clean up the mud, you can’t always erase trauma, you can’t always rewire someone’s brain, and even if any of these things are possible, it is never easy. There are many ingredients to change, but most important to the recipe is time and effort. Education that leads to understanding can certainly help this process, along with the support of the important people in your life, but even these tools can only go so far in the absence of time spent working on the issue. I’m not just referring to time spent on the […]

  • Understanding Self-Harm Understanding Self-Harm

    Understanding Self-Harm

Understanding Self-Harm

“Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by my stupid life, I get the urge to hurt myself. I take anything sharp that I can find and go to the bathroom. I cut myself on my abdomen, where no one can see it. I don’t even really feel the pain, it just feels kind of numb. If my parents ever found out, they would lose it.” Self-harm is not a new phenomenon but it is becoming a more prevalent topic of conversation with the help of social media. As with anything, the more exposure it gets, the more armchair psychologists are willing to authoritatively speculate on its causes and what can be done about it. We hear everything from, “they’re just trying to get attention” to “they’re seriously crazy” to “it’s all just an act”. But what is the truth about self-harm? Why, when a person is already hurting, would they want to hurt themselves even further? The answer is actually much simpler than it seems. If a person is cutting, burning or hitting themselves, it may be a cry for attention, but not if they are doing so in an area that they keep hidden from view. That would defeat the […]

By |November 27th, 2014|Blog, Education, Insight, snippets|Comments Off on Understanding Self-Harm
  • Why Watching the News is Bad for Your Brain Why Watching the News is Bad for Your Brain

    Why Watching the News is Bad for Your Brain

Why Watching the News is Bad for Your Brain

It is a well-established fact that sex sells. When it comes to the news, however, sex is joined by violence, sickness, political unrest, and lawsuits. Anyone who watches or reads the news is aware that the information that is fed to us is overwhelmingly negative. It is so much so that that some news shows have specifically set aside time in their programming to focus on a positive story. However, even those positive stories are framed by negativity, as it usually involves someone rising above unfortunate circumstances such as violence, sickness, or unjust social circumstances. There are many reasons for this attraction to negativity. We can’t just blame the media organizations, since they only feed us what we want to eat. We may be more drawn to negativity because our primitive threat detecting system in the limbic portion of the brain is wired to be on the lookout for threats at all times. As I often say to my clients, if we are living in the jungle and forget to stop and smell the roses, the consequences are much less severe than if we forget which snakes are poisonous. We are wired to be wary. However, in our day and […]

By |November 25th, 2014|Blog, Insight, snippets|Comments Off on Why Watching the News is Bad for Your Brain
  • Three Kinds of Procrastination and What to Do About Them: Part 3 Three Kinds of Procrastination and What to Do About Them: Part 3

    Three Kinds of Procrastination and What to Do About Them: Part 3

Three Kinds of Procrastination and What to Do About Them: Part 3

Truth be told, even though these posts are all being published within a few days of each other, I originally started the series back in July. Don’t worry, three months is hardly even in the ballpark of my all-time record for procrastination. I once went seven years between journal entries. Anyway, I hope you’ve got something so far out of the series. Here’s the final instalment. 3. Defiance and Rebellion (Counterwill) Gordon Neufeld, child psychologist and author of the best-selling book “Hold On to Your Kids”, often refers to a natural, instinctive phenomenon which is known as counterwill. Simply stated, counterwill is the instinct to resist the efforts of others to control us. Neufeld demonstrates this instinct in his lectures by inviting an audience member to hold their hand up. He then pushes gently against their hand. As he does so, it is plain to see that, without any thought, the audience member instinctively pushes back. As I said before, counterwill is an instinctive response. However, it may grow much stronger in unhealthy environments. If you are a child who is overly controlled by a parent or authority figure, you may adapt by acquiescing and completely abandoning your own will […]

By |November 1st, 2014|Blog, Education, Insight|Comments Off on Three Kinds of Procrastination and What to Do About Them: Part 3