The Return of the ADHD Review

I came across a podcast I just had to listen to because it was about the relationship between exercise and the brain, exercise as treatment for ADHD.  I have had an ongoing series in this blog about wellness and the struggle to maintain fitness and I try to throw in there from time to time how my mental health is affected.

Justine Ruotolo talks with Dr John Ratey about exercise and how it improves the Neuroplasticity  of our minds.  Justine and Dr. Ratey talk about rigorous exercise of the body as well as meditation (exercise of the mind) and how our brain is similar to a muscle.  Activities such as dance, martial arts, gymnastics, soccer… exercise that requires constant change of position, all help with brain health.  Dr. Ratey starts by talking about a patient he had in 1981 who had been a marathon runner.  The runner suffered an injury and subsequent depression, and began exhibiting signs of ADD.  His whole life he had essentially been self medicating with exercise.  They also talk about exercise to manage behavior in children by activating their brains instead of putting them on time out.  Exercise is great for all ages and for many disorders or dysfunctions, exercise could help with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

 

Treating with exercise is what I want to do. Exercise increases receptors of dopamine and norepinephrine, and is good for all of us, not just for treating mental of physical illness but for applying our brain and body the way they are designed to be used.  Too easily we get sucked into other dopamine triggers like video games, alcohol, etc., which can damage our brains instead of strengthen them.  Exercise is great for treating aggression, depression, self discipline, self respect, as well as developing our neuroplasticity.

If you want to listen to the podcast, you can find it here.  For more about Justine Ruotolo, click here.

Recommended reading related to this topic:

Spark

 

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Mental Illness

Recently I have been dealing with a lot of anger, depression, and anxiety.  I used to say that I don’t agree with the term “mental illness” because I think of illness and disease as triggered by a virus, fungus, mold, etc. I think of contagions.  But when asked what I have to be angry, depressed, or anxious about; all I could say is that it wasn’t something I could control.  

It just happens.  Like the flu. In that aspect I can see more that mental illness kinda fits.  And a lot of mental illnesses are passed on, through genetics or our environment. So I guess my stance has changed.  Much like a sickness, my issues are often unexpected, and they don’t just go away.  It often takes effort and treatment.

I try to use exercise as treatment, but it might be time to seek medicinal options.

Wellness wagon: week 29.5

I’m finally starting to come out of my holiday slump. I had the day off today, so I went for a run this morning and finally took down my Christmas tree.  It’s only been up for 3 months…

I am heavier now than I was this time last year but it is already starting to come off again. I am still cigarette free.  Maybe this is the start of my tough mudder/ 13.1 training?

I just have to say that getting off my ass and getting stuff done today felt good.  I cleaned a bit, ran some errands, took down the Christmas tree, finished packing my Christmas package to my mom,  ran, played some video games, and right now I’m baking sriracha bacon tuna balls.  After that it’s swai filets in cream of mushroom sauce that’s goin in the oven for dinner, and while that’s being eaten, an apple crisp will go in for dessert.  

It’s been a good day.

Sloth

One of the most difficult stuggles of having ADHD is the temptation of the quick and easy.  I need something to do.  I could go for a run.  But then I have to put on my layers of winter running clothes. My music device is touchy in the cold so I don’t even want to deal with that. Then there’s coming back. Peeling off all the clothes; and it’s practically a whole load of laundry by itself!  Or, there’s the Playstation 3. All I have to do is turn it on.

Don’t even get me started on food.  Home made meals are better for us but require so much work. And then there’s the clean up.  The dishes are already piled up and making food is going to take time and make more dirty dishes. Taco Bell doesn’t require dishes, though.  And it’s so good.  

Then there’s the kids.  They trash the house.  It’s like Toys R Us threw up in my living room.  At that point I just shut down. Its too easy to just avoid or ignore there mess than to deal with the anxiety of trying to clean it all up.  I end up couch bound more often than not.  Its depressing and its like any motivation I have is literally sucked out of me.  My mind shuts off and I shut down. 

Its involuntary and it sucks and eventually I will snap and go for an angry run and feel better. Until then its a battle to keep from drinking my problems away. This time of year I purposely stay away from alcohol more often than not because it’s too much of a temptation.  This blog took me 3 days to write. I am just drained.

Wellness wagon: falling off

Week 25ish.  I am still cigarette free.  Otherwise I’m not doing so well.  I know, I know.  How am I supposed to motivate and inspire…? Tell me about it.  I’m at a point where that’s going to be tough.  So many people with and without ADHD experience seasonal depression.  I haven’t been diagnosed with it, myself,but I wouldn’t be surprised.  

I know that if I go out and run a couple miles every morning.  I even tell myself this all day every day.  To those people who say to me “Andrew, you don’t understand. It’s not that easy,”  I say to you “I do understand. I haven’t run more than 1 day per week for almost 2 months. In fact I’ve gone several weeks at a time without a single run.”  That doesn’t make it any less true that a run will make me feel better.  

So right now I’m drinking and eating my way through the winter blahs along with so many people; feeling like crappy about it, and knowing that I can escape the fog anytime with healthy food anytime and exercise, yet no motivation to do either.

Wellness Wagon: Week 20

Monday.  The most productive day of my week, except when it comes to running.  I’m still recovering from being sick, and this morning’s run didn’t happen.  I set all my clothes out last night, I went to bed thinking about how nice it will be to get a run in at the beginning of my day and be balanced and focused.  But this morning, my body had different plans

I went to bed at a decent time, got 7 hours of sleep, but when that alarm went off at 4, I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I opted for the extra 90 minutes of sleep and now I feel a lot better.  I will have to see about running tonight.

But now that I am thinking about it, do I have to run?  Right now, I’m just trying to exercise and be healthier.  I know I’ve been talking about cardio and stuff but I mostly run (if I do anything at all).  Maybe it’s time to change that up.  Maybe tonight I’ll play Dance Dance Revolution with my kids, or Just Dance; and get some movement in that way… I think I need some variety.

Cigarettes.  A fellow quitter started back up last week and I was really put to the test as we spend quite a bit of time together and he smelled like cigarettes.  I am happy to report, however, that I still have not smoked, and it’s now been 20 weeks.  I’ve been drinking pretty heavily, and with some recent family drama regarding alcohol, this might be a good time to revisit my alcohol policy.

Food.  Boy have I upped my sugar game.  I have been eating so much candy.  So. Much. Candy.  That has to stop!   I really feel awful too, when I go too long without decent food.  So this week I’m back to home made Paleo chicken salad for lunch, and back to watching my carbs and getting more protein in my breakfast.

 

Is it ADHD, or am I just angry?

My favorite blogger, Tom Nardone, once wrote about the idea that sometimes it’s not ADHD, it’s just a bad day.

I imagine it is probably easy for those around me to associate every time that I get angry with Tantrum, and dismiss the validity of my frustration. Admittedly, I often do not direct my frustration at the source. I generally just get testy and take it out on anyone or anything around me; so its easy to miss that I might actually have a valid reason to be upset.  Right now, my anxiety is at an all time high, because I’m starting a new role at work.  So, while nothing about work has made me angry or upset, I’m still uptight.  I am nervous and trying to learn new things all day, and so when I get home, I’m tired or annoyed.  One might say that if my temper is harder to control at this stage, that it’s my ADHD.  Maybe it is…

Here’s the thing: regardless of why I’m freaking out, in my mind it is valid in the moment. Its me against the world.  These days, I will shut myself off from the world and from whatever has triggered me so I can calm down. Some people call this “sulking.  Whatever.  When I’m “sulking” you have to leave me the hell alone.  That’s all there is to it.  The worst possible thing you could do is nag at me about how I “always walk away.”  I do always walk away.  There’s a reason for that.  I either have shut down mentally and cannot hold a conversation due to my temper, or I recognize my temper is a thing, and I’ve walked away to talk myself down without negatively impacting my family.  I may always walk away, but when I’ve calmed down, I always come back and the conversation is always better than if someone stops me and forces me into confrontation.

I know it seems childish, or immature, but seriously consider, when someone is at their melting point, just leaving them alone to stew a bit.