Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fix the Brain or Fix the Environment?

During my usual morning "creative convolutions" (actually, while preparing breakfast), I got to thinking a bit more about how we-- as humans; as a society-- deal with those who don't fit the prescribed norm of... normal.

I should preface this by saying that I have never made any secret of the fact that I have a fairly strong dislike for pharmeceutical interventions in people's lives except when it is completely evident and clear that they are inhibited from enjoying a decent quality of life. Even then, I believe pharmaceuticals are best used to create a "bridge of sanity" we can temporarily use while we establish a new way of life that allows us to become function without meds.

Why do I feel this way?

Well, there's a long list... so I'll just stick to a couple of main points.

Here is the west, we tend to "treat" conditions rather than heal people. That is, we throw medication at symptoms to get rid of them, and then pretend that people are "well" because they are now "functional" and yet? Nothing has actually been done to assess and address the underlying causes responsible for the issue.

My biggest issue, however, is that most pharmaceuticals and other courses of treatment are are centered around a rather mechanistic paradigm of "adjusting people to suit their environment," rather than adjusting the environment to suit people.

Think about it, for a moment:

When we decide to medicate Bob, what are we really doing? It's a pretty good bet that the underlying idea is "How can be make Bob 'normal' so he can fit into society?"

Similarly, when we medicate kids with ADHD, what we are (in many-- or most-- cases) really doing is trying to "normalize" them so they will fit into a school system where they get to learn to take "standardized" tests that serve little more purpose than to churn out a bunch of trained monkeys incapable of engaging in independent critical thought. From where I am sitting... there's a disturbing element of disrespect for individuality and differences inherent within such an approach.

Naturally, there's a whole flock of doctors, psychologists and ADHD "experts" ready to crucify me for holding such beliefs... and they will viciously defend themselves.

To be honest, I can't blame doctors as they are the product of a medical and psychological establishment that teaches that "medical success" walks hand in hand with healthy patients being compliant with the defined "norms" of the moment.

It all makes me think of that rather famous quote by thinker and author Jiddu Krishnamurti:

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

Isn't that what we are promoting, here? Or at least some variation thereof?

Again, don't get me wrong-- I believe medications have their place, and they can be part of the solution. But they are not THE solution. And unless I am out there endangering myself or pulling the ears off baby bunnies, am I not better off creating an environment that suits me, rather than trying to shoehorn myself into a box labeled "normal," in order to fit the environment?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Unfinished Projects and Angry Intolerance

Maybe it's just part and parcel of being human that many people walk through life with a deep rooted sense of fear and dis-ease that primarily bubbles to the surface whenever they are faced with people, ideas, concepts and situations that are "not like them."

I've spent a good 30 years in the self-development, psychology and consciousness "industries" and there often seems to be this subtle subtext of "exclusion" in many places... ostensibly created in the spirit of healing.

It's hard to explain, but I experience this in many places. People (especially "doctors") specializing in ADHD are often prejudiced against those who opt for "natural management" of their symptoms... and seem outright threatened if those choosing that natural path are actually succeeding.

In the consciousness field, there's a deep rooted suspicion of those who come "into realization" without first suffering for twenty years. They are not to be "taken seriously" because they saw fit to jump out of the "fires of pain" quickly, rather than sit and burn for decades. It's almost like there is a "nobility" in pain.

In the field of spirituality, there are prejudices against those who don't eschew all things material in the pursuit of a spiritual path. It's almost shades of the old "self-flagellation with birch branches" from times of old.

It's probably just part of being human, as I said.

What I find ironic is that most of these fields want to "welcome" you, an help you "heal," but it turns out that newcomers (or even late comers) are only truly welcome if they neatly fit into a bunch of neat and tidy boxes... or are willing to take them on.

For example, I am also a "Highly Sensitive Person" (or HSP) but in many cases I have been "rejected" because I don't fit a certain stereotypical mold... and than I have the "gall" to speak up and state that there are multiple ways sensitivities and traits can manifest.

I find this sort of baffling-- on an overall scale-- because I am failing to "get" how my mere existence can be a perceived "threat" to someone whose perception is different from mine.

I mean, if I come across someone who experiences ADHD differently from me, and manages their life differently from me... I don't experience that as any kind of threat to my belief system... if anything, I might learn something from them that can improve my own life. I don't quite understand this type of intellectual myopia.

As always, this very post is an example of how ADHD sometimes rules my life. I actually came here to write about something completely different... and got sidetracked. In fact, I was going to write on a different blog altogether-- so I have changed directions three time already. Yes, there are times when I genuinely wish I could have an idea and follow a train of thought from conceptualization to final outcome, without having to do "47 things" in between. But on the whole I do OK, and manage to fumble my way through life on my own terms.

Now, where was I?

Oh yeah... angry intolerance. I don't get it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

ADHD and Randomness in my Brain

I don't remember where or when it was that I read a blog post by someone who coined the phrase "Too Many Interests Syndrome." All I remember is that I read those words and immediately related to them.

Seems like I have always had "too many interests," but none (or very, very few) of those interests have actually been interesting enough to hold my attention for any period of time. As such, I have struggled immensely to develop any level of "expertise" at anything.

This morning I was-- as I often am-- thinking about "things to write about" while I was cooking breakfast. It's that thing I have mentioned before, that I call "Bacon Creativity."

Anyway, as I was jotting down several quite interesting and insightful ideas for articles, I got to thinking about the small ocean of loose scraps of paper floating around on my desk... all of them with various "ideas for articles" and "ideas for blog posts" and even "ideas for web sites." Most of the time, they just "sit there," and never get developed into anything.

On one hand, it makes me feel a little bit sad because there actually some very worthy ideas there. On the other hand, I feel a certain sense of peace at knowing that I did take the time to develop these ideas far enough to put them on scraps of paper... and by the mere fact that they have been written down, I gain the "therapeutic benefit" of no longer needing to store them inside my head. Because that's what happens to me, with ideas: If I don't take some kind of "action" on them, they stay inside my head, dancing around and taking up valuable space in parts of my brain I really need to use to deal with the daily business of Earning A Living™.

Somewhere in the middle of my flurry of committing ideas to scraps of paper-- while simultaneously making sure that the bacon didn't burn-- I got to think about my college daze.

In a sense, college was no different from my life now.

My ADHD was just as evident back then (early 1980s), even though I had no idea what "ADHD" was. nor that I was having any kind of "problem."

I mean, after all, I got a degree, right? And I even graduated with a 3.8 GPA. You can't "do that," if your brain is malfunctioning, right? Right?

Of course, the "dirty little secret" underlying that very fine college degree from a major university is that (a) it took me five years to graduate and I had 180+ credit hours at a school where most undergraduate degrees required 120-128 credit hours... and (b) I didn't actually decide on a final major until the beginning of the semester in which I graduated.

Yes, I just said that...

After 4 1/2 years of taking an assortment of classes that (mostly) seemed "interesting" I went to see a Degree Advisor and we plugged my completed courses into probably 50 different degree programs to eventually determine that I was closest to a degree in Finance with a minor in English... and if I took three more course, I could graduate.

So I did.

Maybe more people go through college that way than I give them credit for... but it always feel like the Degree Advisor regarded me with a mixture of amusement and the sort of fear/disdain typically reserved for lepers.

Looking back a bit further... when I was a kid, I was no good at the whole "What do you want to do when you grow up?" game. I had no idea-- there were so MANY things. 18 years later-- armed with my freshly baked college degree-- I had no more idea of "what I wanted to do when I grow up" than when I was seven.

The only things I could come up with was "something enjoyable and meaningful."

Which is about as specific as saying someone is "nice" and that you like to "have fun" in your spare time.

Now-- at 55-- I am not really any closer to having become "specific." Most of my life has actually been very UN-specific.

What I have learned in the course of those years is the the more I have placed myself in positions of "doing what society thinks people should do" the more UN-happy I have been, and the more I have "walked my own very random path" the happier I have been.

But unfortunately, there has been a rub; a conundrum: The more I have followed my own path, the poorer I have been; the more I have followed society's path, the wealthier I have been.

Which suggests to me that there must be something terribly wrong with the way we "measure people" and their successes and accomplishments... what does it truly say about our world if "doing what you love" means you get to live on food stamps and doing something you don't like earns you a McMansion and a new Mercedes? Don't we have it completely backwards?

I realize that the whole "Capitalism vs. Contentment" discussion is far beyond the scope of this article... I am mostly interested in exploring the role ADHD has played (if any?) in my pursuit of a "random" life... and the potential "price tag" associated therewith. Is ADHD even "a thing?" I am also exploring the interconnectedness of being an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) with ADHD... how the HSPs tendency to process and experience deeply may be part of what leads me to eternally study and analyze myself and how I operate in the world.

What do YOU think? Leave me a comment!