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There has been a lot of talk about mental health in the media lately. Mostly because of people with extreme circumstances. I really don’t want to get in to the politics of it all but I believe there should be more that is done for people with mental health problems. Helping to break down the taboos is, as far as I can tell, the best way for me to help the situation. Among my friends and family I speak very openly about my mental health status and sometimes I’m criticized for it. For the most part, however, the reception has been warm.
What’s Going On In My Head?
So what is my mental health status? I have been diagnosed with ADD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was in 5th grade and Anxiety only a few years ago in 2005. I was treated for ADD as school age kid but quit taking Ritalin when I graduated from high school in 1994. For most of my adult life I have had no problems. I studied film in college and most of the teaching was very hands on. As a visual learner this was the best way for me to learn. What wasn’t hands on, I worked very hard at. I got through college with very good grades and began a career. It wasn’t long before I married my wife and was a husband and step-dad.
It is quite common for guys (and probably girls) like me to have a lot of success without treatment until we settle in to life and then have problems. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of success finding good treatment (until recently) so I gave up for a while.
The Problems I Had
So why do I need treatment? An ADD brain craves stimulation. There are certain instances where I thrive but this need for stimulation can cause problems. I can be very impulsive and unpleasant to be around when I get stressed and feel the need to “vent”. The anxiety side of me created a different set of problems. I would become very defensive in public situations, especially when confronting conflict. Many times I just stayed home when I didn’t think I could handle the task. I often feared what would happen if, for example, my bank card didn’t work, I needed more documentation or showed up at the wrong time. Honestly, I felt as if I was withdrawing from life. I hardly ever get out of the house unless I’m with my wife and kids or I’m going to work. My mental health was definitely affecting my life.
And Then I Got Treatment
I finally found an excellent doctor who is helping me. She considers all of my reservations about taking certain medications and has prescribed just what I needed to improve my quality of life. Some would say I’m dependent on drugs to be able to handle life. I’d say with a wife, three kids and a great career that I’ve handled life very well.
What’s This Guy On?
I also want to share with you what I’m taking. Not because I simply want to talk about what I take but because it demonstrates that you can get an effective treatment without having troubles like side effects or becoming addicted to drugs.
The first medication I am on is Xanax. I’m sure there are mixed feelings about Xanax but I take a very low dosage. When I have problems with my anxiety or am going to be in a situation where my anxiety typically hinders me, I take a half of a .25 milligram pill. It doesn’t cause me to zone out or anything like that, it simply takes away my fears and helps me to feel normal.
The second medication I take is called Adderall. Adderall is a stimulant used for treating ADD. I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago who said she decided she doesn’t believe in ADD. She was surprised that I am on medication for my ADD and asked if it makes me feel like a zombie. With so much misinformation out there about ADD and the medications used for treating it people have just decided that they will ignore the problem in order to just remain normal. Let me tell you, I am completely the same with Adderall as I am without it except for the fact that I can focus on tasks better and don’t feel so impulsive and stressed out. I’m still a very creative person, and I’m still good at multitasking. I’m also enjoying life more.
Full disclosure, Adderall is the third medication I tried. The first didn’t work enough, the second made me feel like I was in fast forward. I communicated with my doctor and she worked with me until we got it right.
How This Helps Others
Sharing my story with friends has helped others as well. I’ve had people come to me and ask me questions about my condition. A condition, by the way, that doesn’t define who I am, just something I deal with. Sharing my story may open me up to occasional (slight) criticism but it has opened up a dialog with people to share their struggles with me and we have been able to learn from each other. In this context it has enhanced my perspective on life. It has also done the same for those I’ve encountered.
Mental health is a taboo subject. It shouldn’t be. You should share your mental health struggles with those around you and seek treatment. You will also find that your courage will encourage those around you to seek treatment. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re improved your quality of life and the life of others.
Click here to see my 7 Point Plan To Fitness Success
This phase is one of the most subjective phases in my 7 Point Plan. In fact, I may not be able to list all the ways in which you can accomplish this phase but this is something that is very important for so many reasons.
When I started this blog in late May 2012 I did so with the intention of using it to track my workouts. I figured eventually people would read it so I made my posts narrative. This is mostly because I love writing. I like to share my experiences with other people. A blog may not be for everyone. Regardless of whether you start a blog or choose some other method of tracking your workouts you want to think about a couple of different things while you’re writing.
The first thing you want to do is write down how many reps you did and how many sets of each rep. A rep, or repetition, is you doing the exercise one time. So for example, one push up, one sit up or one squat. A set is a group of reps. So if you drop down and do 5 push ups before getting up, that is one set of 5 reps. Throughout the day you may do 4 or 5 (or more) sets of 5 reps. Track them all and write the total at the end. If you do 4 sets of 5 reps then write your total (20) at the end of your journal entry.
The journal phase will continue for the duration of your journey. It will overlap with the action phase and will drive the success phase. You will refer back to your previous entries in order to see how far you’ve come. Most people have fitness goals that seem so far away. Using a journal to track your short term successes is one of the best ways, I’ve found, to stay motivated to keep going. Celebrating your short term successes also makes you feel good about what you’re doing and moves you closer to self-efficacy.
Here is a quick list of ways you can use to journal:
- Start a blog! Some good places are WordPress, Blogger or LiveJournal
- Pen and a notebook!
- Excel or Google Docs Spreadsheet.
- Just write it on your calendar.
- Make up your own method!
This phase is really up to you but you should be doing it daily (even if you write in that you did a rest day) and should include what you did and how many of it. Whatever way works best for you is the way you should do it.
No one could forget, but we love to talk about not forgetting. It would be impossible to ever forget watching two buildings collapse live on television.
Sometimes you can’t stop terrible things from happening but you can always take the opportunity to make something new out of it. While we’d all rather 9/11 didn’t happen, they’re building a beautiful new building in New York City.
Today I’m thankful for the innocence of my kids who don’t realize what kind of bad things are in the world and have a positive attitude. This gives them the ambition to try new things. My 4 year old believes she can glue pictures to the wall, which she can, but she may not.
I’m thankful for my wife who daily encourages me to be more positive. After all, it’s hard to smile when you see the negative in everything.
This week has been very tiring for me. I’ve been sick, worked an overnight shift and have had very little sleep. Still, I took my kids to the park and let them feed the ducks, lost a few more pounds and enjoyed the company of a friend who unexpectedly stopped by.
New shaving razors are a wonderful thing. I’m not sure what I like better, new socks or new razors.
I’m going to go do something that gets my blood flowing. I hope today is a wonderful day for you.
Again, I don’t want to argue politics on my blog. But I’m going to comment on the Democratic National Convention. If you’d like to tell me how wrong I am then please follow me on twitter and we’ll battle it out there. I am a more conservative leaning guy but I am not a democrat or a republican. I enjoyed very inspirational stories from the republican side and decided to give the democrats equal attention. It’s only fair.
I tend to be very critical of President Obama but he is our president and we should support him and give him credit whenever possible. Last night, if you missed his speech, you missed one that was well delivered and very inspiring. Barak Obama is a great public speaker. He has a way of firing up the troops and making you feel as if everything is going to be ok. To me, the speech was great.
I believe that there are good things and bad things happening to us at any given moment. What we choose to focus on becomes our reality. I went in to this speech with a positive focus. I told myself it was going to be great. He didn’t disappoint. In fact, I listened to the speech twice. He gave me a sense of optimism by telling us all the ways in which, he believes, the country is better and how it will only get better. When someone like me can see that in a speech by someone they rarely agree with politically then this proves my theory. Focus on positive things today and your reality will be positive. If you choose to focus on the negative and complain then bad things will happen in your life.
I know I sound like a hippie but this is something that fits in to the self-efficacy theories I’ve been reading about. Start your day by brushing your teeth and smiling to yourself in the mirror. You will be amazed at how good this can make you feel. If it is weird to smile at yourself in the mirror then keep doing it every day until it feels better. That feeling of weirdness is you changing something that isn’t working. Keep it up!