Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Taking care of self too

#1

I have read in this forum that we also need to take care of ourselves as well… A situation came up this past weekend that made me realize this… I have mentioned on here before that I have untreated ADHD… I am thinking that it can’t stay that way… I have been thinking I can manage it on my own but maybe that is not the case…

I have noticed an increased emotional sensitivity where I can overreact to situation. This past weekend I reacted to a situation in such a way that upset both of my daughters and made my wife mad at me… the situation did get quickly resolved but it made me wonder about my own mental health… why do I respond this way sometimes?

Did some research and found out that this is often an aspect of ADHD… a kind of emotional hyperactivity…

I am thinking that I have to do something for my ADHD in some way or another… whether by medication or whatever… I was diagnosed as a child and was taking meds for it but they thought I outgrew it by high school. I realized several years ago I hadn’t but always thought I could manage on my own…
Not sure how to get started on this so now also I joined an online support for adult ADHD to get me started.

If I am going to take care of my MI daughter I need to take care of myself too

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#2

I’m definitely not any sort of authority on mental health, so don’t take anything I say too literally;

Doing research is a good start.
You might want to investigate healthy habits that contribute to better management of symptoms.
It goes without saying, but diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle make a world of difference in physical and mental health. But beyond that, each person needs to tailor their lifestyle to fit their own personal needs.
You can research and make lifestyle adjustments before, during or after consulting with a doctor.
Personally, I prefer to do those things simultaneously when I have issues. Though, it is really difficult to do it on my own.
So, I’d recommend that you reach out to family and friends to talk about things you would like to improve in addition to talking to a doctor.
It might seem like impulsive thoughts, emotions or behavior is unrelated; but there is a degree of impact that a very positive self image and daily goals have on a person’s mode of thinking.

Therapy and medication can (and quite possibly would) help, but those things don’t do the whole job alone. As many of our Sz / SzA loved ones are experiencing (or avoiding), there is a lot of benefit to be gained from actively working toward a healthy and structured lifestyle.

To me, it helps to equate a disorder to a physical ailment;
A broken leg takes time to heal,
but it also requires changes in daily tasks, setting reasonable goals (like walking before you run, literally), doctor follow-up, and medication. It takes work, too. A broken bone must be rested for a while, but it eventually needs to be put through rehabilitation and exercise.

If I look at a disorder in that way, it seems like there are a lot of similarities. Just like with a broken leg, you aren’t expecting to never feel symptoms from it again. Instead, you’re working to restore what independence you can and hopefully you would eventually only have to feel symptoms when it’s going to rain soon.
Or, more plainly worded,
You aren’t working toward a cure for ADHD (obviously). But, it is reasonable to expect that you can learn warning signs that you have symptoms occuring. You can mitigate the impact of those symptoms. You can do things in such a way that reduces the likelihood of symptoms interrupting your day, or affecting your family. And you can certainly expect that, with time and work, your symptoms might become subtle and occasional.

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#3

Reaching out to my family is a good place to start… Just like when my daughter reached out to us when she started to realized she might need help… my family is aware of my ADHD… disorganization, attention problems, memory issues, etc… but to reach out and say I want to do something about it…

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#4

If it’s easier, break it down into an easy starting point.
Maybe something like, “I think I might be sort of stressed lately. Do you think we could start meeting for a weekly morning walk?”
Or
“I feel like I’m disorganized pretty often. It’s difficult for me to remember all the errands I need to do over the weekends. Could you help me figure out how to use the calendar app on my phone to create a to-do list with reminders?”

I have literally done both of those (and plenty more) with multiple people at different eras of my life. Most recently, with my girlfriend.

My best advice is to pick one thing you want to work on at a time. Then, break it down to the most basic, easy to accomplish task.
Almost all of these types of goals involve a lifestyle change. Changing lifestyle is the hardest thing!
It requires reorganization of your day-to-day. It requires planning. It requires enough consistency and time to begin having an impact.
So, make easy goal to achieve. Evaluate the impact of the changes you’ve made often. Adjust the size of your goals and the timeline you expect to accomplish them within often.
For example:
I want to make more time to visit tourist destinations near me (a real goal I am working on right now).
So, I brought the idea up with my girlfriend:
“I’d like to visit the national forest here and a few other touristy things around town. Would you be interested in doing that on the weekends?”
She was enthusiastic about the idea, so we started planning what challenges might be in the way:

  1. Lots of errands and house chores on weekends.
  2. Not sure how to buy tickets for tours of historic sites.
    Then we came up with ideas to overcome those hurdles:
  3. Shuffle some chores to happen after work during the week.
  4. Do meal prep at night, instead of during the day.
  5. Pick spots we want to visit soon.
  6. Print out tour times, contact phone numbers, and directions for parking.
  7. Set calendar reminders to call ahead for tour reservations.

Perfect example right there!
A seemingly small goal is packed with challenging little hurdles and even some lifestyle changes!
I sure as heck don’t want to scrub down the shower and toilet after work on a Wednesday! But, if I want to free up time on the weekend to do a ghost tour, or a picnic, I will need to give it an honest effort.

Of course, if I end up absolutely failing at cleaning the bathroom during the work week, I will just need to come up with a different way to reach the same goal of saving time on the weekend. Maybe try doing laundry a couple of days mid-week instead.
But the most helpful thing will be that I have a teammate who is enthusiastic about the plan, who has something to gain from my success, and who is willing to help me if I struggle.

I think you are absolutely pointed in the right direction, @Windyhill63
Talk about it.
Pick out the things that are most important to you, or the most desirable outcomes.
Set small, easy goals.
Celebrate the small victories!

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#5

I did find a online magazine called ADDitude and there was a sample article that had brain hacks for ADHD… including using the 4-7-8 breathing technique… I believe someone else mentioned this in a different tread…also healthy eating… focusing on similar nuttients similar to those beneficial for those with schizophrenia… fatty omega acids, vitamin B6, zinc… makes sense since these nutrients help the mind in general… I take many of those for migraines… (which I also read is common for people with ADHD)… going for short walks… and other things… think I am going to subscribe to this magazine…

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#6

That’s a good idea.
Worst case scenario, the magazine reiterates a lot of information you already know. But it could end up being a really good resource.
I’m not familiar with that breathing technique, could you explain it?

I definitely advocate getting in tune with physical and dietary needs as part of mental and emotional health.
It can take a little trial and error, but it’s worth the effort.
Personally, I found that vitamin B12 has a big impact on my mood, energy level and mental sharpness. Even moreso than caffeine.
I can normally get enough through a balanced diet (especially now that my girlfriend has me on a fruit and veggie smoothie in the morning). But, I can also take a B12 supplement when I’m feeling unusually drowsy and scatter-brained.
It’s often not so simple as one vitamin, though.
There is a lot of chemistry and biology surrounding intake, absorbtion, metabolism and usage of all foods and supplements.
B12 works in combination with lots of other things, like magnesium (how, I have no idea).
But the biggest factor is helping your body to absorb and use the vitamin at the cellular level. For most substances, that means a bit of exercise.
For example;
Calcium is a common one for people to struggle to use enough when it comes to low bone density. Some people are genetically prone to poor bone density. They take calcium supplements and add calcium sources to their diet, but their bodies don’t absorb and use enough to build bone.
This can be helped with regular exercise, especially weightlifting. The act of putting weight and pressure on bone nudges your body into absorbing and using calcium to repair microscopic damage to bone cells, then reinforce those cells against future damage by making them more compact and heavier.

Genetics plays a big role in mental and physical state, but it isn’t the only determining factor.
Identifying what your mind and your body need, then building a lifestyle that promotes those things in many different ways can offset genetic bias.

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#7

To quote the article:

“ You may have heard of the 4-7-8 technique, which comes from the ancient practice of yoga. But it’s got plenty of 21st-century scientific support for reducing stress: You breathe in deeply through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts, then slowly release your breath through your pursed lips for eight counts. Repeat three times and you will achieve what’s called heart rate variability. You’re now be able to do something ADHDers are rarely able to do: Pause and Plan—think clearly and calmly about what you’re doing and what you can/should do next.”

Basically, stop and take a deep breath…

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