Living at the Extremes – is this you?

People often ask me what the symptoms of AD(H)D are, or indeed the more creative mind. Blank and white thinking is common to creatives & people with AD(H)D and it can regularly manifest in behaviour and feelings. 

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Black/white thinking

Psychologists recognise black-and-white thinking as a symptom of depressionThe high levels of emotional arousal that occur when life is out of control block access to our higher intelligence, or prefrontal cortex. Subtle shades of thought become unavailable.

Interestingly, thinking in such absolute terms without nuance - terms of everything or nothing - is also a trait of AD(H)D. Are you wondering about your own thinking style? Do you incline towards words like ‘always’ and ‘never’, ‘everyone’ and ‘nobody’, ‘terrific’ or ‘terrible’? Referred to as cognitive distortions these words may seem accurate reflections of your strongly felt observations. Once a word is spoken though, it replaces the experience and affects your belief system. The language we use shapes our reality.

Perfectionists too, see life only in terms of success or failure without a middle ground. Such unrealistic expectations inevitably lead to a great many disappointments.

From not Feeling enough to Feeling too much

The everything or nothing thinking style of the AD(H)D mind is also reflected in the relationship he has with his body. His external focus is often disconnected from any (internal) physical sensations. If they are felt, they are commonly overruled until the call becomes too loud to be ignored. Interestingly, periods of ceaseless activity are often alternated by ‘accidents’ or illness. The sudden grinding to a halt may be the body’s way of insisting that enough is enough.

My clients tell me how when at work or otherwise engaged, their energy supply seems endlessly on tap. The moment they switch off, or step through the door at home they feel suddenly shattered or depleted. Too exhausted to undertake anything productive.

So, while it is behaving itself, the poor body is mercilessly taken for granted.  The drive can easily overrule hunger too, but once the eating begins, saturation point might also go by unnoticed.

When I ask of my clients to focus their attention inwards telling things occur. Some people don’t notice anything at all – they have not yet learned to read their bodies. For others the experience can be so uncomfortable and the sudden acute awareness of the subtle sensations so intolerable, that they are reluctant to pursue the activity. After all, the constant habitual drive has proven an excellent way of not heeding the inner call. They lead their lives oscillating from overriding what’s going on inside, to being swept up by fury or panic.

Emotional Highs or Lows

Slightly different, but identical in form, are the wild emotional fluctuations that occur and stop the creative sufferer taking action until things have spiralled out of control. In my younger years I inhabited little terrain between elation and despair. Moods did not creep up on me, I didn’t gradually get more tired, or so I thought; it just happened out of the blue.

The inner life of the AD(H)D experience, or that of the gifted person, can feel as turbulent and unpredictable as the sea itself. Quite without warning a mood can switch, as fast as the blink of an eye.

If any of this describes you and you’d like suggestions on how to take more control, here’s a first step you can make.

  • Pay closer attention to yourself during the next few weeks:
  • Mark your words.  How much do you revert to b/w thinking?
  • Make an energy chart for a few days, starting from when you wake up till bedtime. How many peaks and troughs do you see?
  • Catch your inner mood changing. Notice how fast that can go.

Awareness is the first and most important step to change.

Now, read 3 Simple Ways to End Black and White Thinking in which I’ll be offering some sound advice to lead a more balanced and comfortable life in which you feel more like the driver than a passenger.

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