ADHD Awareness Expo

Our stigmatized disorder is well known for its' hyperactivity and attention issues, but there are several lesser known problems that we face on a more silent scale. Many of us ADHDers (that should be in the dictionary!) suffer from mental noise (also called mental chatter). For those of you that do not have this problem, or maybe you do and didn't realize it's a thing, I will explain: Mental chatter is that background noise in your mind that never quite seems to go away. A constant train of uncompleted thoughts, worries, and even musical tunes seems to fill every gap junction within your very brain matter. Separate from normal thoughts, mental noise is more like that ol' t.v. without a signal. It can be distracting, for sure, but it is more often than not simply annoying. It's like having two conversations at one time and let's just admit it, a lot of us folks already have trouble keeping up with one conversation! Everyone is effected differently -- some of us not at all -- but it is safe to say that mental noise is something that should be addressed if it has become a problem to your everyday functioning. A few options are as follows, but not limited to:

-- If your noise contains looping thoughts of the past or worries of the future, try to stop for a moment, take a few deep breathes, and confront the thoughts head on. Maybe giving those thoughts a few moments of their own will help ease the constant chatter and/or resolve the issue behind the noise.

-- Pick a spot or picture and just stare at it. Take control of your mind and focus by intently observing and noting every minor detail you can find. Think out a description as if your were trying to explain this scene or object to a blind person. Continue this process until you feel more peaceful and totally in control of what your mind is saying back.

-- Medication. For those of you whom are already on medications or are considering the option, stimulants used for ADHD often helping push these thoughts away for you (which is their job) and will help you concentrate a bit better. But while medication may help you, never rely on medication alone and practice techniques during these low intensity periods to find what works best for you.

-- Draw your thoughts out and have a little fun with them. Don't be so quick to stress from the distraction and take the opportunity to give yourself a break and turn the negative experience into a fun one.

-- Write down the thoughts. This also works well with re-occuring thoughts and images, but can work for regular chatter too. Don't worry about grammar or form while you are writing, just place that pen or pencil on some paper and write what comes to mind; let the thoughts flow from your head, down your arm, to your hand, and deposit those thoughts onto paper to save for a rainy day.

If you have come up with other creative ways to address mental noise, please share your experiences in the comments. Even if it failed to help you, it may be beneficial to others.

Stay fresh y'all.

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Comment by Susan on August 5, 2014 at 10:56am

Hi Chrissy,

That is it exactly. It is exhausting. The part of the brain that is in charge of organization is the Pre-Frontal Cortex. Dr. Daniel Amen said that when someone has ADD there is less blood flow to that part of the brain. He compared it to driving a car and the more you push the excellorater the SLOWER the car goes. This would be endlessly frustrating. And as someone with adhd it was extremely frustrating for me. I pick one or two things i want to change and focus to those things for a while. When I am ready I add something new. This is a marathon and not a sprint. All of the habits that we build up with our ADHD will not go away overnight. I had to perceiver until the good habits replaced the bad habits. It is exhausting. Not impossible, it just takes time.

Comment by Chrissy on August 4, 2014 at 5:40pm
It exhausts me! Three ring circus til I am depleted! Meds only make my hands try to keep up.
Comment by Ashley on April 21, 2014 at 3:10pm

Well, from a medical standpoint, there is only one diagnose and that is ADHD; you can be primarily hyperactive or primarily attention deficit. i would like to know if there is a difference symptoms wise between these two within the mind and not just from the behavior as well.

Also, I would love to see studies done on those with duel diagnoses because I have actually not ben officially diagnosed with ADHD BECAUSE of the fact that my symptoms could easily be caused by my depression and anxiety (especially). Though, my primary psychologist does not deal with ADHD patients as often. I have had multiple ADHD familiar psychologists suggest I am in fact ADHD. It is all very fluid when it comes to the mind and many of these symptoms spur from a central area within the brain and it is hard to pinpoint a diagnose because of this. 

My noise is often a slight pressure I can feel in my mind and not always thoughts themselves, but when I am anxious, the thoughts are the primary issue with depressive undertone. It is all real confusing. 

Comment by Susan on April 19, 2014 at 8:37pm
I wonder if the noise has anything to do with whether or not someone has ADD rather than ADHD. Perhaps the noise has something to do whether someone's brain is on overdrive due to hyperactivity.
Comment by Asher Shla'in on April 19, 2014 at 7:14pm

I, for one, assume that ADD is sort of explanation for my difficulty to maintain order on my desk, my paperwork, my timetable, or even my activity priorities.    I do have the capability to concentrate on a project, once that it is urgent or I have a fresh urge to do it - but if it is postponed (to which I tend), I may lose the urge, and it may get neglected indefinitely.

Yet - there is no noise! The source of my distraction must be different and not very clear to me - but not noise or continuous chatter.

I met in recent years examples of ADD people who did experience constant noise. In these examples, taking Ritalin brought about a temporary silence. I understood that the absence of the chatter may possibly give an uneasy feeling, but then one can control the medicine and invite the silence just when it is needed.

Being myself different in this respect, invoked in me the idea that this issue may constitute a major division within the ADD population - the "noisy" and the "quiet" ADDs. I think that some research should be conducted on this issue, and maybe will lead to separate treatment practices for each category. If such research has already taken place, I would like very much to be informed about it. BTW, a TOVA test found me not affected favorably by Ritalin; I wonder if in general, Ritalin is less effective in "quiet" ADD.  

Now I want to share some tip that I give to people who complain on recurring thoughts that disturb them, and may interfere with the effort to fall asleep. I have no information on the usefulness of my tip, yet I repeat it here in hope that may help somebody.

You listen to the recurring thought up to 3 time. Then you address this thought and say to it: "Okay, I heard you; you keep repeating the same content - and it is boring! Either you tell me something new, or stop bothering me". Hopefully, the result may be a change in the routine - either some constructive idea on an annoying issue, or some relaxation, may occur.

If someone is going to try this tip, I would appreciate some report on the effect...

Comment by Susan on March 28, 2014 at 7:18am
Thanks for posting this. I have had problems with this. It has caused a great deal of anxiety for me. What helps me is that I do a Buddhist chant in my head and it helps me with calm and focus. I keep time by tapping my finger or foot. I do this in a subtle way that people would not notice. This has been a great way for me to stop the stinking thinking chatter that can derail me.

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