As I have spoken with many of you about your struggles I have found that I am very been blessed. I say that I’m blessed because I’ve never been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. However, that does not mean that I haven’t gone through times in my life when I don’t feel those symptoms. I also know that many who struggle with ADHD (as well as other mental health conditions) also suffer from symptoms of anxiety. That being said today I’ll be discussing the way that I have dealt with this.
Disclaimer: Before I go any further I want to make it clear: I am not a doctor. Nothing I say is meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition. I am only speaking from my own observations and experiences. If you believe you are suffering from anxiety or depression I highly recommend you seek the advice of a qualified medical professional. Furthermore, please don’t take any advice on here as a replacement for treatment by a physician.
That being said if you read My Story you’ll know that I have been through some fairly dark times in dealing with my own ADHD. As I think back to those days and even other times in my life I often do see times where I have been anxious without even realizing it. Often it would start with a single thought, maybe a scenario would play out in my head where I am accused of doing something wrong (even if I were innocent.) and I’d try to explain what happened in this fictitious scenario. Often as is the case with ADHD I’d then move on to another thought, which might be a slightly more troubling scenario, and then another situation that is even worse. Suddenly I would start to look at whatever I was doing at the time and start to 2nd guess and question my actions. I’d think of all these horrible scenarios and not be able to make decisions. When I did make decisions they would often be foolish and hard to explain.
Other times I would look at my actions and beat myself up over the smallest of errors. For instance, forgetting to do something and then having to go back and do it, or leaving an item at work.
RED ALERT: Anxiety, The Brain’s Alarm System
Why does a fire alarm exist? When one goes off do we ignore it? What are the consequences of not tending to a fire alarm? In the worst case scenario our world burns down around us, in the best case scenario the alarm keeps going off. It is important for us to find the source of this alarm whether it’s caused by a raging inferno or bratty child.
A little while back I was talking to me about her anxiety and described it as stupid. She was talking about how she didn’t know if it was worth it to break things off with her significant other, if she should look for an apartment, and was uncertain about the future of their child and then explained it as stupid little things. I already knew that her ideal dream was to get married and have 3 kids. So basically she was saying that everything she based her identity on was going to change…she was literally considering rewriting her life’s script. That’s pretty big and yet she was calling it stupid.
My point is when you have anxiety don’t ignore the alarm, find the source of it.
Conduct a Risk Assessment
When I was in the military and later in the oil industry we conducted risk assessments for everything we did. We checked our vehicles before going out the gate, look up hazard recognitions that others had done etc. We had the best possible idea of what we were going to deal with before starting that job. We’ve already talked about how anxiety can be your mind’s way of sounding the alarm and how you should figure out what thing is, now you need to look at how it can affect your world? If left unattended what damage can it cause?
Many times focusing on this can be painful. This can exist for a number of reasons. I’ve often found that talking with a trusted friend, family member or therapist can be helpful. If they don’t seem to understand your problem or belittle it find someone else to talk to. There is nothing wrong with seeking wisdom and council.
Stop it in it’s Tracks
In my own experience I have found that this destructive torrent of thoughts often starts as a trickle and slowly increases in an innocuous way and slowly increases. Often this “flow” isn’t continuous, but none the less will build in intensity. Before I know it I am reacting from fear instead of acting based on logical thought. Often the key to dealing with problems we face lies in the very first step which is acknowledging it exist. Once we acknowledge its’ existence it’s important that we congratulate ourselves as this reinforces good habits and also helps counter negative thoughts. Think about your brain like a piggy bank, for every negative thought you need a positive thought. This will keep us from having a negative balance in our mental bank accounts.
There are a number of techniques for stopping anxiety. One that I have found is after identifying the problem and deciding it’s risk factor is to devise a plan to fix it. If for some reason it isn’t worth focusing on (example: I can’t fix it) then I imagine myself balling the problem up like a piece of paper and throwing it away. I may have to do this multiple times before the problem doesn’t bother me anymore.
Note: I had to do this when writing the disclaimer for this article.
Give Yourself Credit
If stopping the anxious thoughts in their tracks (and congratulating yourself for doing so) is keeping a neutral balance in your mental bank account, then giving yourself credit when you
do something right is making a deposit. If we only focus on our failures, then it only makes sense that anxiety and depression are soon to follow. Don’t limit your pats on the back to “big accomplishments” either. I have found that even if I set a small goal for myself and I accomplish it then it is praise worthy.
How do you deal with anxiety?
Do you often have anxious thoughts? Have you devised methods for dealing with it? Do you take medication and want to discuss your experiences with it? Please feel free to use the comments below to talk about your anxiety or other mental health related issue.
Once again I don’t want to belittle anyone who takes medication or in any way suggest you don’t need it. There are a number of anxiety disorders that are diagnosable and can be treated with varying combinations of medication and therapy. If you believe that you may be suffering from one of these please speak with a qualified physician.
Other Articles that might interest you:
Learn the raw and unedited story about my diagnosis, struggles, and how I came to start this blog.
Mindfulness has helped many who deal with ADHD as well as anxiety and depression. Click here to see how it can help you.