Hope’s Up

After what you would have thought was an unthinkable, impossible, can’t-happen-here murder, George Floyd’s death hangs over us all posing, among many other questions, the most important one: what now?

I came of age in the late ‘60’s and early 70’s, an era of protest and reform.  We marched against the Vietnam war, and we protested for civil rights, led by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, both of whom were assassinated.  We made progress, or so we thought, but it turns out the shackles of racism and ignorance are not so easily broken.

I have a friend who emailed me shortly after Floyd’s murder, “When my husband & I immigrated here in 1977 after leaving South Africa because of our anti-apartheid stand, we were looking forward to a new life in a non-racist society.  The long-standing lack of true equality here as reflected in recent events, bring back so many scary reminders of our previous lives with unfettered police violence & police power. Let’s hope that this situation results in some long-standing change & racial justice!”

Let’s hope indeed.  But hope is not a strategy.  Still, the horror we all witnessed as we, so many millions of us, watched one white man wearing a police uniform choke the life out of a hand-cuffed black man as he lay face down on the ground by kneeling on his neck in apparent indifference to the consequences has set off righteous outrage the like of which we desperately need.  We need outrage.  Not violence, not mayhem, not an eye for an eye, but we need outrage. 

And not feckless outrage, the outrage a person might feel over something he or she cannot influence or change.  But outrage that leads us all to take whatever actions we can.  One step I can do is speak through my podcast and write to you all.  Think to yourself what you can do because this is a battle we all need to join.

Start by looking within.  I’ve wondered to myself just exactly what was I thinking when in medical school in New Orleans I would drive by a towering statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle every morning on my way to class.  That it didn’t phase me today makes me feel ashamed.  How could I not have taken exception, if not umbrage, to a statue commemorating a man who led armies whose stated goal was to protect and preserve the most evil, unjust, and shameful institution in our history, slavery?  How could I not have noticed?

But now I, like millions of others, am starting to wake up. Rather than avoid conflict, make peace at any price, I want to stoke and maintain my own outrage, at myself first of all, but at the appalling Doublethink, to use George Orwell’s term, that has allowed me for so many years to look the other way at Lee’s statue, and at the many other bits of racism I commit without even noticing.  It would be hypocritical of me to condemn racism until I root out the racist in myself.

But there’s hope. For me, for you, for this country and the world. I daresay, we may right now in the U.S. be in transformation, ushering in momentous change for the better.  Of course, all the returns are far from in.  But how’s this for an amazing start?  Three bastions of American society, mainstream, universally popular, and as American as proverbial apple pie have stepped up in a major way.

The National Football League has admitted it failed to understand the plight of the black athlete and blacks in America in general. It has endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement.  We wait and hope that an apology to Colin Kaepernick will come next.

NASCAR, as down home and populist an organization as you can find, has banned the Confederate flag from its cars and tracks.

And in country music, Lady Antebellum has dropped Antebellum from its name, becoming just Lady A.

The NFL, NASCAR, and country music—a trifecta at the heart of the American grain.

Here’s, not just hoping, but insisting we keep this movement growing.  How better to give us all what we need most, peace, justice, and love across a nation that’s striving to grow.

I challenge you all to take a risk in the face of injustice. Take a look at what you read, watch on TV,  and listen to on the radio or internet. If they all reside in domains of your own personal makeup, step outside of your bubble and learn from someone or something that looks different from yourself. It’s a small, small step, but a step nonetheless. We all have a responsibility here to:

  • listen,
  • learn, and
  • take action.

So let’s go out and do it.

Warm regards,

Edward “Ned” Hallowell, M.D.

Sharing the following post from our Hallowell Todaro ADHD Centers located in Kirkland, Seattle and Palo, Alto:

Black Lives MatterRacism, Outrage and Grief: Helping Kids Make Sense of it All

By Peggy Gomula and Sally Kidder Davis

The last ten days have been difficult for all of us. Not only are we dealing with the COVID pandemic but we are also witnessing events around the country that are tough to see and talk about.
Children are witnessing scenes on TV and across social media that we have not seen on this scale before. Children are naturally curious and may be asking questions about what they have seen. If finding answers is difficult for adults, imagine what’s going on in the mind of a child.
In our effort to help parents with these difficult conversations we stumbled upon a recent article, “How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism,” in which the authors discuss ways to help children understand the issues of race and racism.

How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism via ParentToolkit.com

There’s no question: talking about race can be sensitive, and yes, even a bit messy.“And “choosing” whether or not to talk to your kids about race is an option many parents, specifically those of color, don’t have; some children may inevitably learn about it by confronting racism in their everyday lives.
This can make the “conversation about race” even trickier, as what is discussed can change depending on a variety of factors, such as a family’s make up, their socioeconomic class, or the community they live in. Therefore, the context will vary, depending on who is talking and what their personal experiences are with race and racism. (Read the full article here.)
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For additional information, check out these resources:

Anti-racism resources

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If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, anger or other issues, The Hallowell Centers are here to help.  We’re offering remote therapy to help you take care of yourself.

Read my blog post on Race and Privilege.

COVID-19 Update HALLOWELL Boston MetroWest

Greetings,

COVID-19 Update – On behalf of all of us here at the Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest, located on Rt. 117 in Sudbury, I want you all to know we are open and fully operational during this pandemic.

Of course, to do this, we’ve had to make some changes. We are “seeing” our patients via Zoom or other virtual platform, or over the telephone. We prefer the virtual platforms as they allow for a deeper connection than the telephone, but if the telephone is all you’ve got, that’s fine.

NEW PATIENTS:

We welcome new patients during this time. We have more flexibility than ever and can accommodate you or your child quickly. Refusing to let the virus prevent us from serving you, we are able to do a full diagnostic assessment of children and adults via Zoom or other platform, without asking the patient to leave home.

If you wish to learn more about becoming a new patient, just send us an email to: hallowellreferralssudbury@gmail.com or fill out the form at the bottom of the page. We’re eager to hear from you and share with you our unique strength-based approach. At the Hallowell Center, we don’t treat disorders or disabilities; we help people of all ages unwrap their gifts!

TESTING:

If testing is deemed necessary, our neuropsychologists follow the full CDC COVID-19 safety protocols for in-person testing, including providing masks if you do not have one. Now would be an opportune time to schedule Neuropsychological Testing for your child. A neuropsychological assessment can help you understand your child’s needs, how much progress he or she has made, and how best to help them learn and make progress over the next 4 months so they are ready for the new school year.

We also test grown-up children, aka, adults. Adults can learn a great deal from a neuropsychological assessment. It’s the closest thing there is to an MRI of your mind, and is especially enlightening in the world of ADHD.

NOTE: Intakes, interviews and feedbacks can be conducted via phone (remotely) and then the in-person testing would be conducted on an extremely efficient basis to minimize time at the center.

Prescriptions

As for prescriptions, we mail them out so you need not come to the office to get them, and we offer remote follow-up on questions regarding all medications.

If you need a prescription or a prior authorization when required, please contact the office at 978-287-0810. Our wonderful office manager, Ellen D’Ambrosia, who is both an RN and an MSW, will assist you in getting exactly what you need. Even the people who are paid to deny services, the minions of the insurance companies, (with the exception of Dr. Ken Duckworth, Medical Director of Blue Cross Blue Shield MA, who has moved mountains to reduce bureaucratic red tape and eliminated the dreaded prior authorization), say Ellen is the best in the business and are always trying to hire her away from us!

ALL OTHER SERVICES

All our services will be provided remotely for the foreseeable future. Each of our clinicians is geared up to work with clients through virtual platforms, or even just the telephone, although having a visual does enhance the experience.

Learn more about Teletherapy HERE.

Call our office to get instructions to arrange a Teletherapy session.

To reach our front desk to schedule testing, a virtual appointment, change an appointment, request a prescription or get other help or information, please call us at: 978-287-0810.

You may also email your request to: hallowellreferralssudbury@gmail.com or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

A FINAL WORD

It’s been said before, but let me say it again: we’re in this together. Together we shall prevail, but not without, sadly, tragedy, pain, and loss.

Being in the tragedy-pain-sadness-and-loss business, we want you to know we are here, ready to listen to you carefully, and respond with whatever assistance and wisdom we can.

Human connection is our core value, knowledge and empathy our main tools. We hope you will visit us via Zoom in the days ahead, and that you will feel the positive energy that emanates from us all when we band together.

Warm Regards,

Edward (NED) Hallowell, M.D., Founder
The Hallowell Center

MISCELLANEOUS RESOURCES

Massachusetts Department of Public Health – COVID-19 UPDATE

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Parenting in a Pandemic

“Parents of children with ADHD we are thinking of you! Dr. Hallowell offers five ways to help you manage your kids while quarantined. These are simple things everyone can employ– like having set breakfast, lunch and dinner times. Furthermore, they’ll work even if your kids don’t have ADHD.  LISTEN NOW!

Boston Patient Consult

  • Disclaimer: We do not sell or share your email with any other list. We promise not to SPAM you.

If You Are Desperate…

Feeling DesperateIf you are feeling desperate, down, or full of pain right now, Dr. Hallowell shares in his podcast, some words of comfort with you through a “letter” he wrote a few years ago, after experiencing his own feelings of desperation.

You can LISTEN HERE or you can read his letter below:

TAKE MY HAND

Take my hand. If you are desperate, just take my hand. You don’t have to believe anything, just take my hand. Listen.

It will all work out. It has before. It will again. It will all work out. It always has. It will again.

Whatever it is that has you feeling desperate, it will pass. Nothing lasts as it is. Everything subsides. Even pain. Especially pain.

Stay with me. Take my hand. That’s what I need when I am desperate, and I’ve had serious moments of desperation in my life, more than a few.

Take my hand. Please stay with me. We are in this life together.

All of us. Has someone betrayed you or threatened you? That happened to me, once really badly. I forgave the person only to have that person betray me again. I know. . . fool me once. . .

Have you done something that’s gotten you into trouble? Who hasn’t!

Are you desperately worried about someone you love? That’s especially hard, because you have so little control.

Whatever your situation, you do have me, this voice, at least right now. You also have everyone else in the world, it’s just pretty hard to feel their presence sometimes. Pain isolates us. But everyone else is out there, in some way pumping positive energy your way. One day science will prove exactly how. They’re all there and they’re with us from the afterworld, too, at least if you ask my opinion, but that’s a totally different topic. Now you don’t need opinions, you need real comfort and reliable relief.

Things will get better. Take that to the bank.

You sure don’t need theories or slogans. I Googled “feeling desperate” and got a lot of sites with solutions (usually for a fee, once you entered and scrolled down a bit), Biblical citations, and literary references to books like The Little Prince or Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Those books are wonderful fables, but you need something more immediate right now.

Like a guarantee. Who doesn’t love a guarantee? I can guarantee you, if you hang in there, things will get better.

Pain passes. Humiliation passes. Loss passes. Death takes, and then subsides. Betrayal passes.

If I knew exactly what was bothering you, maybe I could offer better help. But maybe I don’t need to know, because feeling desperate, at its core, is pretty much the same regardless of the cause.

I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere. Things will get better. Just hang in there.

Get angry at me if you’d like to. When I feel desperate, I often get angry at the people who tell me things will get better. How could they possibly know? It makes me mad.

But it’s also what I want to hear because it’s what I want to believe.

Life is so hard. For us all. The good thing is it’s not hardest on all of us at the same time. So when one of us is more or less ok, we can help offer hope to those who are in the depths. It’s how we get each other through.

The Key Is Each Other

Each other. See, we’re the key. That’s not a theory, it’s a fact. You know it, I know it.

We’ve all been in the depths. If you’re there now, I can tell you, I’ve been there, too. Now, I have your hand. Maybe then, you had mine. So we can’t be all that far apart, if you get what I mean.

Being human keeps us close. We all have to play by the same rotten rules. Age, suffer, and die. Lose everyone and everything.

Maybe not everything. As long as someone has hope, there is hope. And as long as there is hope, desperation will subside.

Hope

Please allow for hope. Don’t block it out. It will come if you don’t block it out.

When I’m desperate, the worst moments are when hope, all of a sudden, vanishes, and all I can see are the very worst outcomes. It’s like a cloud blocks out the sun and my world just goes dark. It’s just a feeling that overcomes me, with no warning, in periods when I am living in fear, sorrow, or danger. My world goes dark.

But, sooner or later, the cloud does move on, thank God, and the sun, such as it is, returns. I say “such as it is” because in those periods even the sun doesn’t restore me completely.

It’s a cliché, but still it’s true: life is all ups and downs. Thank God the downs don’t last forever, and I guess it’s just as well the ups don’t either.

If you’re in a down, please let me be with you. Think of me, a person you don’t know, talking to you right now, a person who’s been very down, but who, right now at least, has hope. Think of me just trying to get next to you in spirit to pump in some of the hope you don’t feel right now.

Hope is a potent force. When I’m desperate what I need more than anything is hope. Desperate basically means out of hope. Full of fear, but no hope.

Take my hand.

Now let me transfuse some of my hope into you. Just hold tight, it comes through naturally, just like it did when you gave it to me, back when.

Even if you can’t hold my physical hand, which you can’t of course because you are reading this and you don’t know me from Adam, even so you can still feel as if you were holding my hand through my words. These are words of hope.

They are hard earned words. I won’t tell you all the troubles I’ve seen, but I’ve seen many, and I’ve been places where I felt nothing but fear, where I felt no hope at all.

Let me hold you now. It will work out. It always has. It always will.

If you are  feeling tired, sad or on edge, listen to Dr. Hallowell’s podcast on “The Side Effects of the New Normal.”

Read Dr. Hallowell’s Blog post on “Managing Toxic Worry.”

Therapy in the Age of Quarantine

At the Hallowell Centers, this damn virus is teaching us a whole new strategy for offering help, and it works like a charm. Thanks to online platforms, in the “Age of Quarantine” we are offering therapy.  We can “see” people remotely, and we’re discovering remote doesn’t feel remote at all. It feels almost like we’re in the same room, but there’s no risk of spreading infection.

Plus, no need to leave home, fight traffic, or park for your therapy session. Just pull up a chair, get a cold drink or a coffee, and sit down in front of your screen and see ME! Or any of the many other clinicians who remain ready from their homes to see YOU. The same services we’re so known for, only done from your home to one of our homes. And once this blasted virus goes away, I believe this new way of offering help will be be here to stay.

Remember my #1 rule “Never Worry Alone.” If you need help managing your mental health during these uncertain times, the Hallowell Centers can help you. Even if you are not a regular client or patient of ours and you’d simply like to have an appointment to check up on your mental health during Covid-19, we’re here to help. Just reach out to the any of The Hallowell Centers to set up an appointment.

HOW THE HALLOWELL CENTERS CAN HELP YOU

The pandemic is affecting the mental health and well being of adults and children. You’re daily routines have been changed and you find yourself grappling with anger, moodiness, and anxiety. Covid-19 is taking a toll on your emotional health and maybe even your relationships. At The Hallowell Centers, our clinicians can offer emotional and social support and provide the tools to help you deal with what you’re going through.

Here is a list of remote services offered remotely by the:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Adults and Children (CBT) is an evidence based treatment for anxiety and we have clinicians who can help you.

If you’re struggling with organizing and managing your work or school load, we have coaches who can help. Getting started is easy.  To inquire about scheduling a remote therapy session, contact the Hallowell Center of your choice.

TELETHERAWorried TeenPY / WORKSHOPS

Anxiety and Attention Issues: (for 12 – 25 year olds) – Dr Alisa Powers and Lisa Cornelio (MSW) are offering group and individual teletherapy for 12-25 year olds who may be struggling with attention or anxiety issues as well as any other challenges coming up at this time.

LEARN MORE HERE!

FOR PARENTS

Parenting in a PandemicParenting in a Pandemic
Dates TBD
This group session presented by Marcia Hochman, LMSW, MPA, will provide parents tips and strategies to reduce fear, anxiety and avoid information overload.

LEARN MORE HERE!

Parenting SupportOVERWHELMED? Parents are experiencing a great deal of stress and emotions right now in this current crisis. You’re trying to manage your own emotional rollercoaster of fear, loss, hope, and frustration while responding to all of your child’s emotions, too. If you are finding your own “cup” empty from filling up everyone else’s, you need support.

LEARN MORE HERE!

Support Group TeenagersFor Teenagers

Claire Golden, Ph.D.is offering a four-week group session for teenagers to connect with other teens for a weekly progress/check in. In her group, you’ll discuss common problems, trouble-shoot with each other, and provide external support and pressure to get those assignments done! Date/Time TBD.
Likewise, individual coaching sessions for teenagers struggling to manage the online learning environment are available with Dr. Golden.

LEARN MORE HERE!

Entrepreneur WorkingCoreFour Coaching for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of our economy, yet the failure rate for new businesses is over 80%!  CoreFour Coaching with Rebecca Shafir helps entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs defy the startup failure rate by strengthening four core skills and routines

Support Groups For Professionals

Are Zoom meetings making it hard to be productive during the day? Do you find yourself struggling to stay on task while working from home? If you answered yes, join our support group for professionals with Claire Golden, Ph.D and connect with other professionals who are new to working from home! Individual Coaching Sessions for Adults / Professionals are also available with Dr. Golden.

LEARN MORE HERE!

 

The Force of Each Other

The Force of Each Other

So here we are, everyone’s stressed out, worried, preoccupied, and otherwise twitched and bewitched by what my friend Ken Duckworth calls “The Thing”. It’s all anyone talks about on TV or radio, and it’s pretty much the driver of most conversations elsewhere. The Thing.

But even before “The Thing” there was life interactive. Back then, BTT, before The Thing, we went to:

  • restaurants,
  • movies,
  • church (well, my wife and I went to church, you may have gone somewhere else),
  • hair salons (how on earth am I going to get my hair cut now?),
  • we milled around in malls, and
  • flew long flights in supersonic jets,
  • we saw dentists and doctors for the now cancelled elective procedures, and
  • lastly, we pretty much elected to do whatever we wanted.

Before The Thing – BTT:

  • we did not fear other people within six feet of us, unless they were malodorous or menacing;
  • likewise we did not fear making a transaction with cash;
  • nor did we fear going to the dry cleaner or the cobbler or the fruit stand;
  • we did not fear aerosols, droplets, or every sneeze and cough, at least most of us did not.
  • finally, BTT we could breathe free.

But now, In the Age of The Thing, ITAOTT, pronounced eye-tah-ott, which rolls off the tongue more trippingly if you pronounce it EYE-dah-yott, now we see the face of things quite changed. The Thing has worked its way into our lives more intimately than any of us could ever have imagined. It’s changed our daily lives far more than 9/11 did. It’s the first global natural disaster most of us have ever lived through.

What to Do?

I wish I could tell you how to squelch The Thing. But I can only tell you what you already know: keep physical (not social!) distance; wash hands; wear a mask if you can find one or create one; and do your best not to leave your house.

It’s difficult to “fight” an invisible enemy against which your most powerful weapon is avoidance. We are accustomed, when we fight, to engage, to confront, and to battle, either physically or verbally. But now the very last thing we want to do is engage physically with this enemy; our verbal engagements only serve for us to blow off steam, fear, and anxiety.

Each day, we read the daily dismal stats. We get angry at policy-makers with whom we disagree, and we get inspired or at least comforted by policy-makers with whom we agree. Of course, we all love Dr. Fauci, so we all thank God that he is on the case. But even Dr. Fauci can’t wave a magic wand and make it all go back to BTT. We are left ITAOTT.

People  Rising to the Occasion

Still, I can’t help but say this has all the makings of our finest hour, as:

  • more and more people rise to the occasion,
  • while more and more people put their lives on the line in high-risk essential jobs,
  • and more and more people stay at home, find ways to secure additional income or make provisions for lost income;
  • they manage to keep peace in the house and food on the table as the days march by, one at a time, with no real notion of an end-date.

We worry over and pray for the people who live in crowded housing who have no choice but to all but be on top of each other, or crowd into the one elevator in the fifteen story building that works. Additionally, we worry over and pray for the people we could normally roll up our sleeves and go help, but who we now have to steer clear of.  Finally, we worry and pray also for our friends, our communities, and ourselves, knowing that even the safest among us is not safe.

What we have is what we’ve always had, only now, ITAOTT, it is different. It is called each other. Friends who do not usually call me or text me have been calling me and texting me. They have no idea what a pick-me-up that gives me. The patients I’ve been seeing remotely still engage with me, only remotely, and we get the work done without missing much of a beat. But it is different, and we both know it. I don’t know how my patients feel for sure, but I think we both feel proud of our ingenuity and glad that we haven’t let the virus stop us dead in our tracks.

Turning to Each Other

Fully mindful that is has stopped an awful lot of people dead, period, I still remind myself that it is each other to whom I turn. To whom we all turn. Imagine, wherever you are, turning your eyes around the world in your imagination, bringing to mind the billions of us who are all rooting together for each other. When was the last time that happened? The collective each other all rooting together for each other?

I don’t know about you, but I think that kind of rooting sets in motion a special kind of therapeutic force, a force of positive energy that can’t but do us all a pack of good. Let’s add to the force of science, the force of each other.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

Status Update Hallowell Center NYC

Dear Clients:

We hope this post finds you healthy and finding ways to manage during this crazy time. Following is a status update for Hallowell Center NYC in April.

The Hallowell Center NYC remains fully operational and ready to meet your needs to the best of our ability.

Remote Sessions 

All appointments in April will be by phone or video platform for the safety of our clinicians, staff, and clients as we all continue to practice physical distancing. Note I did not say social distancing. We, at The Hallowell Center NYC, think connection during this time is more important than ever so we need to practice physical distancing not social distancing. We understand that some of you may be uncomfortable with remote sessions but we have all be surprised and pleased at how connected we still feel. Give it a try!

Medications / Appointments

If a medical provider at the Center is prescribing medication for you then you MUST follow the practice policy of having an appointment with that provider every 3 months. Do not put it off!

Jasmine and Jayda continue to do an amazing job at the frontdesk. If you want to:

  • schedule or change an appointment,
  • have questions about billing,
  • updates regarding video/phone sessions or
  • any other question

please know they are available during our normal business hours. The best way to reach them is through email (frontdesk@hallowellcenter.org). They are checking voicemails during the day but due to working remotely email is far more efficient.

For prescriptions or prior authorizations please email:

Erica (pratt@hallowellcenter.org) or call 212-799-7777 and press #6 to leave a message.

If your pharmacy says you need a PA please be in touch with Erica. Since we are not in the office we are not getting faxes and don’t want to miss anything. Usually the pharmacy will call in addition to sending a fax but during this chaotic time it is best to have a little extra communication

New Patients

Even though we are working remotely we welcome new clients. For any new patient inquiries please email Carey at:

carey@hallowellcenter.org.

Staying Connected

During this challenging time, stay connected and let us know if there are ideas you have about services the Hallowell Center NYC could offer that could make this time a little easier for each of you.

Stay safe, stay connected, and if you can, look for silver linings (no matter how small.)

Warm Regards,

Edward Hallowell, M.D., Founder
Sue Hallowell, LICSW, Clinical Director

The Hallowell Center

Physical Distancing In Dr. Hallowell’s podcast on “Let’s Call It Physical Distancing” Not “Social Distancing,” he encourages us  to remain connected to the people we care about during this time of social isolation. It’s actually good for your immune system! LISTEN HERE!

Read Dr. Hallowell’s blog post for his “Secret Ingredient” to strengthen your immune system.

The Imagination in ADHD

I have ADHD.  That means I have one hell of an imagination.  But is having a potent imagination a blessing or a curse?  Centuries ago Samuel Johnson, who had one hell of an imagination himself and also fit the profile of ADHD, wrote about “that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must always be appeased by some employment.”

Our imagination is hungry, we who have the condition so misleadingly called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.)  I say misleadingly because the last thing we suffer from is a deficit of attention.  To the contrary, we possess an abundance of attention.  Our challenge always is to control it.

The most difficult part of our mind to control is our imagination.

Hungry?  It’s ravenous.  It must be fed. It knows no feeding schedule, but when it feels the need, it lets us know.   If we can then find employment, to use Johnson’s word, for our imagination in some pleasant or constructive project, scheme, or other undertaking, then our imagination becomes our ally, even proof of our genius, our originality, our way of changing the world even.  When suitably employed in creating something of value to us or to others, then we give thanks to our genes and our Creator for this gift called imagination we did nothing to earn but can never abandon.

However, when we cannot find suitable employment for this hungry faculty over which we have so little control, why then it turns on us with a ferocity others can’t understand. It sets about:

  • devouring us,
  • ripping away at our self regard, our
  • feeling of security in the world, our
  • confidence in a bountiful future, and our
  • actual grip on reality, on our own sanity.

What happens when our imagination is not fed?

When not fed by some suitable employment, our imagination turns into an:

  • untamed and vicious beast, an
  • an ugly, salivating monster,
  • our worst enemy, made all the worse and far, far more dangerous by being of us, in us, and always with us.

We can to nothing to dispose of it or rip it out of our minds.  To quiet it we sometimes turn to drugs, alcohol, or compulsive behaviors like gambling, spending, or sexual escapades.  It is the rapacious hunger of imagination, unable to find suitable employment, that turns so many of us who have ADHD into addicts and compulsive people of all kinds.

But is also that hungry, never-satisfied imagination that turns so many of us into:

  • artists,
  • inventors,
  • discoverers,
  • builders, and
  • creators of all stripes and types.

It is that hunger of imagination that drives the man with ADHD always onward in the lifelong search for something “commensurate to his capacity for wonder”.

Were our capacity for wonder not so great, were we not so predisposed to imagine greater than what ordinary life offers up, we would not be driven all but mad by our need to fill that capacity for wonder–to create the perfect song, or swing, or double helix, or arc, or love, or empire.  Had we punier, less intrusive imaginations, we could relax.  But because we can envision the ideal, because we can imagine perfect love, perfect symmetry, perfect prose, or perfect beauty of any kind, then we can never rest easy until we create it.

Which, of course, means we can never rest easy.

So, tell me, does this hell of an imagination create heaven, or hell?  Is it a blessing or a curse?  If you ask me, it’s both.  I have no choice but to live with it, allow it its shabby stall in my mind, feed it best as I can, and try to stay on the sane side of life as it works its way with me.

Watch Dr. Hallowell’s YouTube video on Tapping Into Your Imagination

If you wonder if you have ADHD, click here to learn about the symptoms of ADHD.

Altruism Lives

One of the bright and shining lights in the current dismal viral fog is the beam of human altruism.

During a crisis, and certainly during this crisis, the cynic might expect people to rush toward every-man-woman-for-himself-herself. And sure enough, the toilet-paper hoarders, the face mask price-gougers, the medication squirrellers, the hand sanitizer sudden-capitalists, the food marauders, and the rest who cannot share but prefer to profit at other people’s expense bear out the hypothesis that human nature acts only on self-interest, and that to believe otherwise is naïve if not downright stupid.

Until you meet the rest of humanity.

Until you meet my friend who works in an intensive care unit in Manhattan where he says, “I am 100% certain I will get the virus. I want it to happen soon so I can get it over with.” He is a doctor who could easily quit and immediately get a job in a low-risk area, rather than in his hospital which is the highest risk in the nation. But he chooses to stay.

“I’m no hero,” he said to me, when I told him he was one. A crusty cynic, he said, “Everything I am seeing supports my belief in how stupid most people are,” before launching into a story of how the chairman of his department, “who is way out of his league” sent out a memo that contained orders which, if followed, would put everyone’s life at risk. My friend shot back a note telling him he would quit immediately if the chairman did not retract that memo on the spot. Which he did.

So why does my friend lay his life on the line?

“I’m not falling on any hand grenade, believe me. I’m taking precautions, doing my best to make sure other people do, and then taking care of the patients who need help. There’s nothing noble about it. The situation sucks, that’s all.”

But there is something noble about it. No, noble is the wrong word. There is something human about it. Usually when we refer to something as human, we refer to a frailty, a shortcoming, a weakness. But I see in my friend a quality that I see in most people, an instinctual, natural altruism that emerges under stress. Rather than looking out for himself, my cynical friend who sees the weaknesses in humanity for sure, puts his own life in serious jeopardy by taking care of patients who need him desperately.

Why does he do this?

Why does he not protect himself and leave Manhattan? Why does he keep going into the hospital even though he is “100% certain” he will get infected?

Because he wants to. This is the part that’s so hard to believe until you see it. But we see it over and over again during crises. During 9/11. During Katrina. During fires every day around the country. During wars around the world.

Believe it, there is a streak of altruism, of love for others before love for self, that runs through human nature just as sure as there is a streak of selfishness.

Look around you these days. You will see it. Look into yourself. You will see it there, too.

Take heart from knowing that as bad as we all can be, we can just as much be good. Life-sacrificingly, life-savingly good. To love others, at least sometimes, more than you love yourself, that’s human, believe it or not.

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In this Psychology Today interview, Why Does a Crisis Make Us Want to Connect and Be Kinder? Dr. Hallowell shares his views on why a crisis changes us.

If these times have you feeling anxious and worried, read Dr. Hallowell’s blog post on Managing These Uncertain Times and Figuring Out A System.

Secret Ingredient to Stoke Immune System

What is the secret ingredient to stoke your immune system during this stressful time, or DTST? (During This Stressful Time is a phrase we use so often now I think it deserves its own abbreviation, DTST.)

One of the best steps you can take is to bolster your immune system. It’s your body’s internal defense system. Combined with the inflammatory response, the immune response comes to our rescue every day, 24/7.

Well, DTST, we need our immune system to be in tip-top, best-possible fighting shape. This is obviously a premier, super high, gotta do it priority. Keeping your defenses up against invading microbes has never been more important.

But. . . how do you do it? 

You can probably guess some items on the list already. Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Get regular exercise and good sleep. Don’t smoke. Drink alcohol only in moderation. De-stress.

But there is one magic ingredient that usually doesn’t make the list. I call it a “secret” ingredient because, even though there is a ton of evidence to prove its value—in fact it may be more powerful than all those other steps—it might as well be secret because most people don’t use it nearly enough nor do they know about its titanic healing and life-prolonging powers.

Even better, this ingredient is free and infinite in supply. Plus, it’s fun to use! 

What is this magic factor that’s fun, free, infinite in supply, and incredibly good for you?

In its most concentrated form we call it love. As it spreads out, I call it connection. The force of connection—from love to friendship to a relationship with a song or a cause—the force of connection does us more good, and spares us more ill, than any single force in the universe.

Connection—to people, pets (I adore dogs, but if you’re a cat person, that’s fine), places, ideas, objets d’art, the past, certain activities—connection to anything or anyone you care deeply about, that force does you more good than you likely know. Far more good. It enriches and actually lengthens your life. It provides you with a special satisfaction, with what Aristotle called eudaimon, literally “good spirit”, but much richer than that short term can impart. Aristotle deemed eudaimon as the highest good for human beings, the deepest satisfaction and fulfillment, what Maslow would call self-actualization, the most harmonious and joyful state a person can achieve.

And it all depends upon connection.

Not focusing on yourself, but on the connections your self can make outside of yourself. These are the connections and this is the force that, among other benefits, strengthens your immune system big time.

Since it’s free, fun, good for you, and easy to find, use it. Get and give massive doses of it every day. Even in quarantine or isolation, you do not need to be disconnected or lonely. Being lonely is bad for you. But you can cure loneliness with a:

  • phone call,
  • book,
  • piece of music,
  • dog (the best!),
  • email,
  • text,
  • trip down memory lane,
  • daydream,
  • fantasy

All you have to do is connect outside of yourself to anything, as long as you care deeply about it. Caring mildly is good too, just not as potent as caring deeply. Yes, the effect is dose-dependent, so if you want the really big bang for your connection buck, make it a connection you care deeply about.

This is the secret, the most magical ingredient we have to bolster immune function

And while you’re connecting, don’t forget the best foods*—citrus of all kinds; red bell peppers; Greek yogurt; almonds; broccoli; ginger; garlic’ turmeric; green tea; papaya; spinach; berries; as well as special mushrooms (all available in powder form on Wellevate or Amazon) like Reishi; Lions Mane; Turkey Tail (don’t you love these names?); and cordyceps; as well as shellfish, for the zinc.  And of course, exercise, meditate, pray, and sleep well.

But, above all, use copious amounts of the secret ingredient that should no more be secret DTST, connection. Connection, and its mother, love, drive the very best in life. The vast sea of connections beckons like a beautiful, infinite, shimmering pool. Jump in, have fun, and live long. And these days, stave off those nasty bugs with a super-charged immune system!

Warm wishes,

Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D.

If you want to learn more about living a connected life, read Dr. Hallowell’s book: Connect

or watch his YouTube video on The Power of Vitamin Connect

*Disclaimer: These foods may be helpful in building your immune system, but they DO NOT prevent or protect you from COVID-19.  Here is a link to the CDC guidelines on How to Protect yourself.

Figuring Out A System

Dear Friends,

That’s what we’re all doing now in the corona era, isn’t it?, figuring out a system. Trying to take care of ourselves while making sure our loved ones are taking care of themselves or being well taken care of, wherever they may be. Applying for a loan. Asking landlords for temporary rent reduction. Trying to stay sane and not buy out the store on toilet paper.

Here’s my update from the front.

We’re all on the front, so no matter where you are or where I am, we’re all engaging on the front in this war against an enemy we can’t even see. We’re all trying to figure out a system that works for us and our group, whatever that group, team, family, business, or community may be.

How are you doing on your front? Are you home? Alone? With kids? With dog (I hope!)? I’m still coming into my office, but “seeing” all my patients via phone, face time, or Zoom. Pretty soon I will stop coming into the office altogether and work entirely from home once we figure out a system for how to manage the logistics of scheduling, writing prescriptions, communicating with each other, billing, and making what-if-this-happens contingency plans.

How about this freakin’ contingency? Was the corona virus on anyone’s list of contingencies to plan for last Thanksgiving? It’s like the old joke, How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

Time to Give Thanks

But this is a time to thank God for lots of things, for the Internet, social media, the telephone, and television to name a few. As much as we complain about how these devices preoccupy our children and us, during this crisis they are true life-savers. One piece of advice though: do not over-dose on news. It can poison your system, not as badly as the virus, but it just is not good for you to O.D. on negative energy, which is what too much news does.

But we do need facts, hence some access to news is essential. Then, based on the news, we figure out a plan, a proverbial system.

Here are some tips on figuring out a plan:

  • Consult with others.
  • Be open to all suggestions.
  • Get creative.
  • Prioritize what matters most.

Financial Concerns

In terms of prioritizing, next to our health, the biggest worry most of us share is financial. Whatever out jobs might be, we’re all trying to figure this one out, not just for ourselves, but the people we care about as well as our businesses. My work as a writer can be done anywhere, thank goodness.

But my work as a doctor, and the work all the clinicians who work in my office do, depend upon contact with our patients. Fortunately, 90% of this contact can be gained off-site, remotely, so we’re “figuring out a system” for how to do that most efficiently, but also with the warmth we believe is so important in our work. Right now I am saying, Thank God for Zoom.

Always do what my mother and likely yours taught me and you and look for the blessings.

You are much more productive, useful, and energetic if you stoke up on positive energy. Yes, we are living in a crisis, facing potential disaster, the world temporarily falling into shambles. But we are not without power, resources, and wit. If we keep those wits about us, we will, every day, solve one problem after another and come up with, you got it, a system!

Your system will not appear instantly. It will evolve day by day, minute by minute. We’re forced to grope in the dark these days, bearing with the inner churning uncertainty creates, looking for whatever flashlights or matches we can find to light our way. But the lights are there, paltry though they may be, and every inch of progress we can make makes us feel better, more confident. And feeling more confident—whether the feeling matches up with reality or not—is a super-power these days.

Build Confidence and Maintain a Positive Attitude

Confidence—informed confidence, not ignorant bravado—works wonders in times of crisis and distress. Hand-wringing, moping, and foretelling doom is not only counterproductive, it is bad for you in myriad ways.

So, to build confidence and maintain a positive attitude in these ominous and upsetting times, try the following

  • reach for each other, from a distance;
  • stay in touch with your friends and people you love;
  • call people often, just to buck each other up and hopefully laugh;
  • bake a cake or cook up some goody you really like;
  • remember, we’re all in this together;
  • call whomever you call to get a loan or get food or inquire about a new
  • mortgage now that rates are so low;
  • find humor wherever you can; it’s impossible to worry and laugh at the same time
  • start a new project you can do at home, like start that novel or memoir you’ve been meaning to write or at long last straighten up the basement or attic or both!;
  • read entertaining books of all kinds;
  • don’t read or watch upsetting stuff;
  • watch your favorite movies on TV;
  • try popcorn; it’s a good, low-cal comfort anti-anxiety food
  • play with your dog if you’re lucky enough to have one; if you don’t, remember dogs you’ve known and loved, and if there aren’t any, get a box of Kleenex and read Old Yeller; or rent on Amazon to watch.
  • most people are going to be kinder these days, believe it or not; try to be one of those
  • lend a hand where you can; it is a proven fact that in giving we receive
  • stay in touch

I can promise you, better days await. But, and I can promise you this as well, we can find hidden treasures and make unexpected gains during this time, especially if we buck each other up.

Warm regards,

Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Coronavirus: Myth vs. Fact

How the Hallowell Centers Can Help You: We are all concerned about safety with COVID-19, which is why The Hallowell Centers are closely monitoring the current situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19.) We will remain open, but all sessions will be conducted remotely.

Fortunately, psychiatry does not usually require the professional and the client to meet in-person. To that end, we want you to know at our offices in Boston MetroWestNew York City and San Francisco, are geared up and ready to offer remote sessions to anyone who wants them. READ MORE HERE!

Need help managing your mental health during these uncertain times? Even if you are not a regular client or patient of ours and you’d simply like to have an appointment to check up on your mental health during these stressful times, our clinicians are here to help. Just reach out to the any of The Hallowell Centers  to set up an appointment.

Working From Home? If you don’t want the Coronavirus to Infect Your Productivity, then CoreCoaching is the antidote! Learn more HERE.

Looking for strategies on parenting your ADHD child? Learn how our NYC Parenting Coaches can help you HERE.

Dr. Hallowell Recommends:

During these trying, uncertain times, Dr. Hallowell’s book: Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition, is filled with practical solutions, anecdotes, and insightful guidance on how to manage worry.

Need help managing your stress during these tumultuous times? Then listen to Dr. Hallowell’s podcast on Reducing Anxiety.

Digital Summit

The Live Digital Summit is over. However, you can still get an all access pass to Dr. Hallowell’s session and some of the most recognized thought-leaders from around the globe in the field of ‘Technology and Parenting.’

The Digital Sanity Summit features in-depth interviews with 18+ leading global experts discussing classic issues such as:

  • parent controls
  • cyber-safety
  • using tech to cultivate social relationships
  • talking with kids about tech without conflict

LEARN MORE…

If you think the “right help” for ADHD begins and ends with medication about, read Dr. Hallowell’s blog post on Busting ADHD Myths on Medication!

When tragedies strike or bad news is at your doorstep, you may wonder how you get through this. In Dr. Hallowell’s blog on “How Do We Do It?”, he offers a solution.

Are you struggling with reading or poor attention? Looking for a non-medication treatment for ADHD, learn more about the Zing Performance Program.

Disclosure: I may be an affiliate for products recommended and may earn a commission if you purchase.