Friday, July 22, 2011

Some Thoughts About MCBT and ADHD

As I've mentioned previously, I'm taking a class in mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy. I've learned a couple of things so far:

  1. My mood crashes in the couple of hours before class.  I'm not sure why this is.  Am I thinking about my depression, and how little control I have over it?  Am I thinking about meditation, how hard it is, and how I don't feel like I'm "doing it right"?  Am I thinking about all the homework I've skipped?
  2. Meditation is hard.
  3. Focusing on my breath, which is supposed to be calming, makes me anxious.  Your heart rate naturally increases when you breathe in, so maybe I'm just interpreting the physiological response as an emotional response?
I've also learned that I'm resistant to establishing a practice.  I think this could really help me, and on the one hand I want to do it ... but on the other hand, when it comes to actually listening to the guided meditations on my iPod, my inner teenager emerges.  I don't want to do this!  This is stupid!  You can't tell me what to do!

I suspect this is related to my ADHD.  Obviously that means "paying attention" is difficult for me.  It's inherently stressful to undertake something you know is going to be difficult.

I suspect the bigger issue is all the triggers I have around the issue of "attention".  Like any adult with ADHD, I spent my childhood internalizing messages like "Your problem is that you don't pay attention!" and "Why won't you pay attention?" and "That [bad thing] happened because you weren't paying attention!".  When I know I'm going to listen to a meditation in which I will be told to "pay attention to your breath" and "pay attention to your right knee and note what it feels like" I just start to freak out.

For years, I've been reading that meditation can help people with ADHD.  I've always brushed it aside -- how can I learn to meditate?  How can anyone with ADHD engage in an activity that's all about paying attention?  I've finally decided to engage with it because of my psychotic episodes last fall and winter.  They caught me unawares, and yet there have to be warning signs that I didn't catch because I didn't know what to look for ... and because I wasn't paying attention.  Dammit.

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