Is it ADHD, anxiety, or nervous system dysregulation?

What if we are having the wrong conversations?

There is a question that began plaguing me several months ago: 

Is it ADHD, anxiety, or nervous system dysregulation? 

As I have openly shared, my daughter and I were diagnosed three years ago with anxiety and ADHD, respectively, and since then I have been diving deep into the research of the brain so as to best support each of us. 

Fast forward to the present…there has been an incredible amount of progress. Our symptoms are both under control, infrequently rearing their ugly heads. But…I can’t unsee the patterns of what had worked.

We both needed the same medicine…listening to what our nervous system was asking for from us.

While we were navigating this in our personal lives, in my professional life I was diving deeply into the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and bodies. When I began my coaching practice, I mostly coached my clients cognitively, but the more that we entered conversations through the lens of the body and the feelings it wanted to process, the more their results sky rocketed. This led me down the rabbit hole of understanding how our nervous system works. 

A regulated nervous system doesn’t mean calm and chill. That’s not life. It means that you have the BANDWIDTH to move through the emotional roller coaster easily. The more regulated your nervous system is, the less likely you are to go into fight or flight in a stressful moment (ex: yelling at someone or shutting down). 

If you are skeptical of what I am suggesting, PLEASE do the deep dive for yourself. Research the lifestyle changes that are recommended to help with ADHD, help with anxiety, and help regulate your nervous system. The Venn Diagram overlap is staggering. Here are JUST A FEW of the recommendations that find their way onto all the lists:

  • Get a full night’s rest
  • Breath work
  • Exercise one hour or more a day
  • Manage the things in your life that make you feel overstimulated
    • Think 5 senses…some people are triggered by loud noises, clutter, certain textures, etc. 
  • Food changes (learning what your body uniquely needs)
  • Reduce stress
  • Feel your feelings rather than suppressing them 

Am I suggesting that I don’t have ADHD and am rescinding my diagnosis? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Funny enough, I actually have come to LOVE the label. The more I understand how my brain works, the more I understand how to meet my own needs and play to my own strengths. It’s been one of the most unexpected gifts in my life. 

Here is the question I have been wrestling with: 

What if we are having the wrong conversations? What if the conversations should really be dominated by everyone doing their own personal work in regards to of what it uniquely means for them to have a regulated nervous system? And what if, when we are dysregulated, we each respond in our own ways? 

My dysregulation looks like scattered thoughts, overwhelm, inability to focus, procrastination and avoidance (all things typically associated with ADHD). My daughter’s dysregulation looks like having less control over the thoughts in her mind and an escalation of emotions (aka anxiety). 

I’ve been asking these questions for some time now, and at this point, it’s become my new worldview, which is why I was finally ready to talk about it on my podcast. If this is something that interests you, the most helpful resource I have found is the work of neuroscientist and occupational therapist Dr. Brooke Weinstein. 

I recorded a more in-depth podcast episode that goes into detail on: 

  • how our nervous system works
  • what it means to have a regulated vs. dysregulated nervous system
  • A PLETHORA of ideas on how to regulate yours

I cannot pack into a single blog post the amount of content I was able to share in a 45 minute episode, so if this interests you, I recommend listening here.

If you want to explore working with me 1:1 to discover what a more regulated version of you could look like, the first step is to schedule a Roadmap session.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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