S3 E11 - 6:3:21, 4.34 PM
8:36PM Jun 3, 2021
Lee Skallerup Bessette
Hey everyone, and welcome to this episode of the all the things ADHD podcast. Oh yeah, you're it's funny. It's funny. I
have a different microphone. I know I'm just gonna have to get a new microphone and it's gonna be like the only thing I need it for is for my once per episode, hilarious wailing. Not getting sound corrected by my apple earbuds. pay for that? Yeah, yeah.
I'm sure or you can raise write it off. I just, I've just rewriting this all off on my taxes. I was like bottom microphone. That's a business business expense expense. airpod pros business expense.
Well, you know, the businesses Lee, it's telling everybody our business.
Yeah, that's that's pretty much our business. I mean, yeah. So I'm, I'm one of your co hosts, Lee Skallerup Bessette.
And I'm another one of your co hosts, Amy Morrison. And we're so happy to be here.
We are very happy to be here. So we spent the last two episodes talking about largely, although ADHD. So there were some digressions obviously, talking about food and eating. And we mentioned that we wanted to get into the moving an exercise, and we didn't get a chance. So we thought that this would be a good chance to start talking about that. So that's, for me, I struggle. We talked a little bit about this when it comes to transitions, right? That like the idea of, you know, once I'm in the water and swimming, I'm actually pretty happy doing it. But the the steps it takes to get ready to swim, and then the thought of them getting out of the water. And again, to have white hair enough, I'm going to have to take off a white Speedo bathing suit, which if you've ever done that is not the funnest thing in the world.
difficult and humiliating some
Yeah. And and then and then I'm gonna have to try and put on my bra and I'm still sort of wax for you. All you may listeners, you have no idea what the struggle is so real with that is like it,
because it's supposed to be tight. Right? But you can't like and you can't do it up behind you usually. So you have to put it in front of you and do it up and then spin it around.
Yeah, like even wear sports bras that you have to like pull
it all tangled
up all the way down to that. Yeah, like help me.
Yeah, you're like stuck. It's like, it's just, well, all the ladies are nodding. And all the guys are like, we don't understand anything about this. And that's okay. But, but yeah, so all of those sorts of transitions. For me never my,
my difficult transition was about the running bra, right was about trying to get my running clothes on because they're not the same as my street clothes. And yeah, some of those clothes are tight and difficult to put on. And I'm like, Yeah, I can spend half an hour trying to motivate myself to spend 10 minutes putting my clothes on to go for a 20 minute run. Yeah, so Exactly. started thinking about movement in the ways that we resist movement practices that we enjoy, because the barriers to starting them are just too high. Yeah, yeah.
If I could just put on my swimsuit first thing in the morning like when I was a kid, right in the summers, you put on your swimsuit first thing in the morning, you work all day, and you took it off at night. And that was that was it like it was
a whole story. We it's essentially put your bathing suit on the day after school and and don't get off Labor Day. Okay, right. Yeah,
pretty much. Yes. They show up interesting. cabac that was the official start of summer June 24. And then yeah, you pretty much took it off Labor Day and that was that was the end of it. Like it was a T
shirt on for formal like coming for supper. Okay, put a T shirt. Yeah.
Maybe I'll put shorts on.
But of course we move Why do we move we What is it about movement? Why are we talking about movement? On an ADHD podcast?
What a lot of cases like one of the one of the things about ADHD is that we never for certain types of ADHD you never you've never really stopped moving. That's right, right. Like you're always sort of moving like I'm again I'm picking as we're doing this or we're tapping or we're like we're fidgeting but it's like constant movement, is it a kind we have hyper activity is a kind of hyper activity
there it is in the name of the disorder, right? Attention Deficit and hyperactivity disorder or like attention deficit and or hyper activity disorder right so the classical the the sort of classical image that comes to mind for people like who haven't given the matter much thought is like small boys right? Can't stop moving right bouncing off the walls, right kicking things accidentally destructive, you know, taking risks on the bike and you know, riding into trees jumping off the garage roof just for the hell of it, right. So they kind of the classical stereotypical image of ADHD is a childhood disorder that attaches to boys who cannot be made to sit still. So there is some way in which the movement patterns that we associate with ADHD are always already pathologized. So we do too much with that many children who are flagged for diagnosis tend to be the hyperactive type, and they tend to it is their patterns of movement being deemed by others to be excessive, that flagged them for diagnosis and treatment, because their movement is deemed to be too much, right? It's disruptive to others,
the wrong kind of movement,
it's too much movement. It's the wrong kind of movement at the wrong time. And it's not controlled.
But why we do those children moves so much.
Because we have to, it's just like, it's true. You
can't control it. Mm hmm.
Right. It really is. You know, the, the idea I saw, I saw a meme and it was basically about kids. But it was sort of like how kids sit. And it was pictures of kids doing everything with a chair except sitting on it. Right, right, properly with your, you know, back straight, you know, hips all the way to the back feet on the floor arms, and, you know, it just it but it's uncomfortable. I mean, I think that that's the other thing that that comes through is that she's just not comfortable. Mm hmm. You know, there's this very much discomfort we talked about, you know, what was the word that I love so much, and I always forget being the one with our body awareness.
There's proprioception, and proprioception.
It's, I'm never comfortable. Right? Right, I'm never comfortable.
So you have to shift. So you have a feeling of dis ease in your body, something is pressing in a weird way or your elbow feels too bony, on the arm of the chair, or something is poking in your back. Or when you sit like this, your belt digs into your stomach. And so you're always trying to shift your body around to find a position that's more comfortable. And I think actually, that's very common with ADHD people, it's part of the sensory issues. And it is I think you're right part of a proprioception difficulty is that we're never quite sure where our bodies exist in space. And we always have a vague sense of unease or discomfort from that, that requires constant shifting, right. But another reason that these kids move around so much, is because it is a self regulatory behavior. It looks like a lack of control to adults who are witnessing this and flagging this child for diagnosis, but the child who cannot stop moving, feels better when they are moving. And they do when they are not. Right. Yeah. You know, the child, like who has to, like bounce their legs up and down, or who likes to sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair at school says like, I can't do math, unless I'm like, kind of also bouncing, right? That's sort of a similar thing to like, people who, you know, can't focus at a meeting unless they're also doodling at the same time, right? It is a way of managing a kind of excess of attention by directing some of it to something else, right, yeah, or too much energy. And you can't turn that entire bit of energy towards the thing that people want you to. So you have to turn a bit of it elsewhere. Otherwise, you're just going to explode, right? So in the same way that autistic people in engage in STEM behavior, right, like the hand flapping, or the rocking, or the noisemaking, or the chirping, or the tapping or whatever it is that they do. It's a way of achieving both bodily, cognitive, and emotional self regulation, right? These are behaviors that look pathological to neurotypical people, but are actually self care strategies, right? for neurodivergent people. So there are certain ways in which our patterns of movement are ways that we treat our own neurological dysfunctions. Right? So we should probably say that first that many ADHD people move all the time in ways that don't look like exercise, and that look irritating to other people. They don't look like wellness, and they don't look like self care. They look like you're not paying attention. Yeah. Or, like, if you don't stop whacking that pen against the desk, I'm going to punch you in the face. Right? Can't you just sit still? And the answer is no. Right? So no movement and cognitive function are deeply linked and emotional regulation are deeply linked for people with ADHD.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And, like, it really is this idea. And I mean, I'm, I'm inattentive. And so I fidget. And I'm always moving, but not in that kind of hyperactive stereotypical way that we think of and I think that that's, um, and I like my son was never like, he's not the hyperactive ADHD, right. He's totally an attentive. And so, you know, we were having challenges with him, but it was never a question of you know, when when we got the ADHD diagnosis, or it was suggested to us ADHD, you know, we were like, no, that's not possible. And I even mentioned him but I have a friend who has been recently diagnosed finally. And I largely think he was diagnosed because a ti and it wasn't hyperactive, right? It was inattentive, and presented more like that we stereotypically think, or totally dizziness. Yeah, have a have a girl, right? Or a female or whatever. Um, so there is there is this and I think that there's you know, so you have the, the two sides of that. And then so what kinds of I mean, other than the activities that would kind of do as self care in that movement that we do is self care, even if it drives everybody else insane or distracts the rest of the class, which is problematic, not not gonna lie. Because you also have the students who are neurotypical, and it's like, this person is very distracting.
Oh, absolutely. Right. Like, I recognize people's need to fidget. But I also recognize my need to sit in front of them so that I cannot see them fidgeting. Yeah. Right. Because otherwise, I can't focus on anything. Yeah. That's called mutual accommodation. Yep.
Exactly. Yes. When also delete, like, just, like, a self awareness. Right. Like, there's just sort of the the idea of, of being more aware. And I think that that's one thing that the ADHD diagnosis has done for me is just made me more aware of these things, right? Where I'm, you know, if I know that my fidgeting is probably going to bother person x. So I'm going to make sure that I don't sit next to them. Right. Or, you know, I know that this person for whatever reason, I don't know why also sits there and fidgets and so I'm going to sit over there with them. You know, because we're just going to did a fidget or doodle in our own way together or, and not bother each other, because we're focusing on our stuff. So it's, you know, it's it's, it's being more observance of those kinds of things in everyday situations.
Yeah. So those are the movements that that we may be prayed to, because of our neurological difference, that our movements that we have to make in the course of doing other things in order so that we can do those other things. And they are movements that maybe neurotypical people do not need to make. Yeah. In in the process of doing those things that we are sort of sharing a task together, right. And so there are other ways that we can can use movement, right. So I wanted to flag that first one as being like, you know, we move because that's part of the disorder, right? Yeah, he has this this business about the proprioception and the kind of regulation of attention, and the self stimulatory behaviors either to rid yourself of an excess kind of energy, or it's like, literally self stimulating, in the sense of like, I'm just going to keep fidgeting, because that way, I'm going to stay awake, right? while I'm doing this. Yeah. So to build energy, right. So movement, in that sort, of course of everyday life, that's, that's part of your self regulation strategy. Other types of movement would be like, organized sports, right, or going for walks or having like a one of those treadmills that you put at your desk that you can type walking, or, you know, other types of patterns of movements, some of the movements that we we might engage in, that allow us to rid ourselves of kind of build up of anxious energy, like, you know, playing sports, or my husband has, has a heavy bag in the basement, and he's walking workouts every day that I have to put like, he's in the basement, and I'm two floors up from him. But I still have to put my noise cancelling headphones on because he hits up eggs so hard, that it's scary. It sounds like somebody is trying to demolish my house from the right. And I do yoga, which is like sort of the opposite. I'm trying to forge a mind body connection that takes my nervous energy and shifts it down into something greater, right. So movement, I think can be really important not just as a sort of like thing that you do while you're doing the thing you don't want to do but as a practice that, that you can and many of us do engage in as an activity unto itself but does have either pleasures in and of itself or that produces a benefit that helps us manage our disorder. Like I walk a lot I walk probably my step count usually does not go below 12,000 a day. Wow. And 12 to 15,000 i mean i will say I have a lot of geographical privilege here because I live at the confluence of three bourbon trails on former rail lines right so it's like just a multi use like pedestrian bicycle skateboard, baby carriage path with trees all over the place. It gets very pleasant. I'm not walking alongside like, you know, a giant urban route or something. So I'm it's very easy for me to get outside and walk. But if I don't, I can't think straight, honestly, right. And I run because that rhythmic pattern of moving my limbs until I get tired, but it's a very sort of metronomic sort of beat helps calm my anxiety. I don't think it would be fun for me to go down stairs into a boxing workout. Right? That's not the my joints probably can't handle that I would dislocate something and get injured. Oh gosh. Yes. Very anxious, and it would trigger my fight or flight response. So I have found some movements, right? That I enjoy intrinsically, I'm in an environment where I can engage in them, but which do help me sleep better at night, which do reduce my sort of ambient level of anxiety, not when I'm trying to pay the bills, right that I'm fidgeting. But, you know, before I sit down to pay the bills, I'm already kind of calm because I've done a five kilometer walk first thing in the morning that looked around to Starbucks to get my coffee after Yeah, right. So what are your some of your movement patterns that you sort of enjoy for themselves, but which would benefit?
I honestly don't have any right now. Like, it's no, it is so bad, because so I, you know, I was we were talking about transitions. And here's the other thing, and I don't know if this is just because of like a sensory thing, or if this is because I swam for way too many years. I don't like to sweat. I really don't like to sweat. Like, I don't like being sticky. Right? Um, you know, when I sleep, I cannot have any piece of my skin touch another piece of my skin because they'll sweat and stay like, it's distracting. I can't take it. Yeah. And so like, I'll walk the dog at night. And this is also you know, we've sort of, you know, the dog is technically the kids dogs. And so this is the part of their responsibilities that they're supposed to walk the dog, right. So I, I've gotten out of it. But now that my daughter just had surgery on her ankle, so she can't walk the dog. So I've started walking the dog in the evenings again. And that's been nice. And I coach swimming three times a week. And some of which are not in the pool. We know No, but I did do you know, on my Apple Watch, I did do it as exercise like I started, it doesn't read it as exercise, because I'm not really going that fast. But I do walk up and down the pool. Because I'm coaching, I'm coaching the younger kids where you're giving them feedback, right after every lap or every two laps, and you're walking and watching them as they go. And you have to like, you know, stay on the wall, standard wall, stay on the wall, if you have to, like a lot of coaching, a lot of coaching where you have to be there and it's allowed pool and while I can yell I'd rather just be in front of them. And so I did it and I'm at the pool, usually for two to two and a half hours. And on a really good day where I'm going or good day one a day where I'm doing a lot. I end up walking two miles.
Yeah. So I went I end up walking two miles. But it's over two hours. And it's sort of back and forth. And it's not high impact. And it's not you know, my I'm not breathing heavily. My my heart rate doesn't really go up. But I do get a good one and a half to two miles. And usually well that's something. Yeah, no, it is. It's something and what I have now that I'm reflecting on it, is that I like doing that because I am exercising and doing something,
If I walk I would be like, you're going to Starbucks. I'm like, Yes, I wish I had a Starbucks that wasn't directly across the street and only took me 50 steps to get to
Starbucks is like that though.
Yeah, well, it's a it's a Starbucks that's in a in a grocery store. So there's only one poor person working in there. And it takes like three hours for them to get your order because it's well meaning but like they're only one person and they're trying to take orders and make orders and anyway. But but like if I have someplace to walk, like I biked everywhere when I was growing up, you know, I grew up in the suburbs, good bike, or I biked everywhere. I can't really just go on a bike ride.
No, you can't
write and write. Yeah, I'm not what but even if I lived in a place like that, like, I just like, Okay, well, where am I going? Why am I doing this bike ride? Like there's got to be some sort of other purpose than to just be like, because you're going on a bike
ride. In the before times, I used to ride my bike to work.
Yeah. And and for a while I was close enough to work. Where I did ride the bike for about two years, I was able to ride my bike to work. And then like when we lived within, we always tried to live within walking distance of where we worked. And so I would walk to work every day. And now where we live. That's just not possible. Yeah, I'm biking to work. I would. Oh my gosh, I would not bike on these with Northern Virginia DC drivers down to chance. The smog some people do but that's not magic.
Yeah, that's not me either. Like when I biked to work again, it's all on trails, like I think I have to cross one street. Otherwise, it's all on like multi use recreational trails. And again, that's a tremendous amount of geographical privilege. So like we're seeing a distinction right now between the things that you do and the things that I do. So it's very easy for me to hit like 12 to 15,000 steps a day very pleasantly because I don't have to commute anywhere by car. I'm not going anywhere by car. I live at the confluence of several trails and I have a destination that's slightly far enough away that I will go And do it and also things that like to go to the store, I would do that on my bicycle because it's easier than trying to get parking, right. So there are there are fewer barriers in my day that would prevent me from doing that kind of like helpful activity, a walking movement activity that's not like, I don't need to change my outfit to put on like a sports bra, or wearing a specific pair of shoes or put elbow pads on or anything, I can just walk out the front door of my house and either like cycle somewhere, it's not that far, or I can go for a walk. As far as I want to make it, you don't have that many opportunities in your environment or your to do that. And that's one of the things I think that that culture at large fails to take into account when it's always pushing like you should get a Fitbit and walk 10,000 steps a day, because for some people, the things that they have to do require them to drive places, which also takes up a lot of time. And also they live in neighborhoods where which are not so pleasant to walk in, or they're like, I'm not just going to go walk around for the sake of walking around, I would like to have somewhere to walk to but there's nothing to walk to, that they want to do. Right? And so, like that's true of everybody, but like what's particularly true for our neurodivergent listeners is that movement activities that take a lot of planning.
yeah, we don't want to do like it's too hard. It's too many steps is too many steps it like it's it's okay. And now I have to get dressed and I have to get in the car. And then I have to get to a place and I have to get out of the car. And then I got to get on, like, you know, as opposed to just if I could just walk out the door. Yeah, you know, yeah, I live in. I live in a nice complex where you can you can do a nice loop. It's probably about a half mile. quarter mile. I don't know, I should measure it one of these days. But again, it's like after I do it twice. I'm like, now you're just going in circles. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, right now. We're just going in circles. Yeah. And, but I'm hoping and so like, so the coaching, I always usually say like coaching is really good. Like I said, because it's not just the walking, right? I'm engaged. I'm engaged on multiple levels. I'm physically engaged, because I'm standing up, I'm walking around. But I'm also mentally engaged. Because I'm watching kids swim. I'm making sure that everyone's safe. I'm trying to come up with practices and drills for them to do. I'm reacting in that moment to like, Who is there and what's going on? So there's there's a lot of that other activity,
right. So what I've noticed experience for you.
Yes, exactly. And I mean, I think I talked about this before how swimming now is really difficult for me because I get so bored. Yes. Because I always I mean, as much as swimming was an individual sport, right? You compete as an individual growing up, you train on a team? Yeah. Right. So it's not just about I'm going to go in and work really hard, I get to go see my friends, we get to talk, we get to like, hang out before and after practice, which makes the transitions easier, right? Or, you know, if you get really good at telling stories in five seconds snippets as you like, on the wall for the five seconds during breaks and, and so there was there's always other things to do. And there's also a lot of other things to kind of, in my mind to keep track of right. What pace Do I need to go figuring out all the intervals? What order Do we need to go in? What pace Do I have to keep what happens if so and so and I also have to like, you know, because we're swimming like seven kids a lane so you always had to be careful everyone behind you as you're crossing people, the people next to you in the lane so you didn't bash arms, right and get kick. So there was a lot of other things going on that like my brain had to pay attention to on top of
you know, arm arm arm,
you know, like, like, like, like Breathe, breathe, you know 123 breathe 123 breathe 123 breathe. There's a lot of other stuff that you really had to had to be engaged with. And then just for me to get in the pool by myself I'm like, stroke stroke breed stroke stroke three through my done yet. Yeah, exactly. I'm like, so that's it, like I can't, you know, um, and so that I think for me a lot of the times is that there's, there's a social aspect to it that I really miss. And it because of my coaching, I don't have time to join a master swim team. Because when a Masters swim, take me taking places when I'm coaching, you know, I'm, you know, and other times, it's like, we're depending on where I've where I've coached before, it's often been at a sports complex, and so it'll be like, the other parents will drop off the kids and then I'll go workout together afterwards. And I'm like, bye. Bye, bye. Not sure why they really want to do it. But like, it's just sort of thinking about like, when coach. Now I'm three times a week, four times a week before it was like five nights a week I would coach. Um, you know, it also makes it hard those and then it's like, get up earlier in the morning and I'm like, No,
I'm not gonna do that. I'm absolutely not going to do that and more Suppose you're not going to do that like, so you're describing one of the barriers, another barrier to like a movement practice. And that is that is boring. Yeah, right. So swimming by yourself is boring. There are lots of activities that I like to do. By myself, I like to go for bike rides that I call putts. And putts are like, pretty much I can run faster than my putt, putt pace. But the goal is to sit upright, feel the wind in my hair and look at the dandelions. As I go past them. It's about consciously relaxing without really getting my heart rate up so high that I'm hoping for or that your legs hurt, right. That's my putt. But and sometimes I wanted it to be perfectly quiet when I'm doing that, so I can just decompress. But I was talking about this with my running coach that my long runs had been getting kind of like worse and worse. And then once Tom came with me, but he rode his bicycle beside me while I was doing my long run. And I had like one of my fastest times and the lowest perceived effort I had in a long time. And I was like, You know what, Julie, I think I'm bored. Right? I think that my athletic performance is suffering because to run 18 kilometers by myself with nobody to talk to even if it's just a bunch of podcasts, I'm listening to them. But like at a certain point, like I got, I got bored. And as I got bored, I felt sore. And as I felt sore, I felt tired, and I slowed down. And the more I slowed down, the longer it took him the more boring and God but somehow just having, you know, my husband, like he's my support crew, he's got a water bottle. And it's like, just because he'd already done his run. But he's like, well, I'll go with you, you can go whatever pace you want, I'll just like ride the bicycle beside you. And it was the novelty of having him there and made my body not become tired, right. So there's this kind of like Mind Body connection that for some of us, you know, sport activities, or doing yoga or punching the heavy bag like we're just neurologically not suited to it because we either get overly anxious from the amount of noise and stress and sociability or we get too bored. From the lack of those things in it feels like our bodies are not working. But again, it's the ADHD brain sort of undermining our sporting goals because our brains are either overstimulated or under stimulated. So I would say like two people, you know, trying to think about incorporating more movement into their lives as part of their sort of therapy, or part of their wellness agenda, or their happiness agenda, or whatever it happens to be their post pandemic re entry agendas to say, like, you know, doing stuff on a team for Lee, where there's like, lots of chitchat and buisiness. And constant change of activity is really good for Leah. That's the kind of activity that Lea enjoys doing and finds suitably stimulating, and I can't, I lift I want, I want to do rhythmic routines where nobody's gonna touch me, for I don't have to change my pace where it's going to be almost the same thing every time but I can listen to a podcast or talk to to one person. So you know, some of us really like to do yoga because it's slow and it's meditative. And others of us want to just peel our own skin off with nail scissors because it is so excruciating. To hold a pose, lightly uncomfortable for six entire seconds and not talk to people for an entire hour is just like, No, you want to be on a curling team so you can yell at everybody. You're sliding, like up and down the ice, right, like Canadian reference ever
for all of our American listeners, or international listeners curling is anyways, you know,
it's an injury. Yeah, it is. It's
so related to shuffleboard. Li
You know what?
I actually looked up the history of curling the other day. I don't really Oh, yes. Because I was talking about the ice surface. Because my husband was like, blah, blah, blah. Zamboni. I'm like you don't Zamboni the curling rake it has to control the curl of the Rockhopper. Yeah, that's the friction. Yeah. He was like, What the hell are you talking about? So I looked up history of curling, because that's who I am. And that's why it's it's top of mind, right? Yeah. So there's nothing wrong with your body. If you find that you can't play sports ball on a team because you want to murder everybody, including yourself. It might just be your brain is not ready for that kind of activity. Right? If you find doing yoga does not make you feel calm, it makes you feel incredibly agitated. Don't try harder, right? Maybe Yoga is not the activity for you. It's okay to try to find a movement practice that makes your brain feel happy. Right? Why not? Like why do we have to be miserable when we're exercising? We don't Oh, yeah.
And that concludes part one of our conversation around exercise and movement seems like a good place to start is or end at the very least, and pick up again next week about choosing what makes you feel good and not what people tell you should feel good or not what you think should make you feel good, but what actually makes you feel good. Next week, we will continue on that conversation. And we hope that you join us next week. I am as always ready writing on Twitter. Amy is did you want on Twitter? You can always email us at all the things firstname.lastname@example.org or visit and comment on our website. All the things ADHD calm that I say, the email address. I don't think I said it. Right. All the things email@example.com All right. I don't know if I got that right. I'll see that in the transcript. So, have a great day. You know, get out there and move in a way that makes you feel good. And we'll see you next week. Thanks, everyone.