To Our Old Friend, Anxiety …

Today, we take a stroll down anxiety lane to talk about how it relates to ADHD and how you might find calm after an anxiety storm.

The relationship between ADHD and anxiety is, in a word, tight. If you’re living with ADHD there is a significant chance you’re living with anxiety, too, even if you’re not genetically predisposed to the later. The research shows that what you need to do to address each condition depends on that very special pairing of your unique circumstances.

Today, we review how the two conditions impact one another, how we live with anxiety in our own lives, and how we can step back, take stock, and find calm.


Episode Transcript

Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon

Pete Wright:
Hello everybody, and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on TruStory FM. I’m Pete Wright, and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello, everyone. Hello, Pete Wright.

Pete Wright:
Hello, Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer:
I had a little bit of an accent there.

Pete Wright:
That was a real, what’s that? Bridgerton? That was a real Bridgerton moment right there.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
I have no idea where that came from.

Pete Wright:
Are you watching that show?

Nikki Kinzer:
No.

Pete Wright:
Apparently, it’s very sexy.

Nikki Kinzer:
Really?

Pete Wright:
That’s what I’ve heard. It was just an excuse for-

Nikki Kinzer:
What show is it?

Pete Wright:
It’s Bridgerton.

Nikki Kinzer:
Bridgerton? I’ve never heard of it.

Pete Wright:
It’s the new Shonda Rhimes. It’s from Shondaland. You’re a Shonda fan, right? Oh, come on, Nikki. Nikki.

Nikki Kinzer:
I don’t know. Am I?

Pete Wright:
Nikki, Shonda Rhimes is in your strike zone. Are you kidding? Oh, I loved Grey’s Anatomy. No?

Nikki Kinzer:
I never was a fan of Grey’s Anatomy. I never watched it.

Pete Wright:
Okay. Well, you’ve got some catch-up.

Nikki Kinzer:
I don’t know.

Pete Wright:
Because it’s been on for like 27 years.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, I think like 27 plus 10. It has to be like the longest running-

Pete Wright:
It is a very long running TV show.

Nikki Kinzer:
… TV show ever.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, yeah. So anyway, this is the new, she’s got this new Netflix series and it’s a period piece. So everybody’s in period costumes and dresses and things. And then, I have not watched a single episode, but what those of my circle have said is, it’s normal episode, normal episode, norm… They swear and stuff. It’s Netflix, they can do whatever they want.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
And then suddenly, there’s just nudity and sex and all this stuff going on.

Nikki Kinzer:
Wow.

Pete Wright:
So again, right in the strike zone. I’m just saying.

Nikki Kinzer:
Like an episode of Shameless.

Pete Wright:
That’s right, right.

Nikki Kinzer:
Back in the time.

Pete Wright:
Back in the day.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, different times.

Pete Wright:
Back in the day.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Anyway, we are here to present this fine ADHD podcast to you today. And we’re going to talk about our old friend, anxiety. It’s kind of a followup to last week. Was that the intention?

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, right. Yes, because last week, we were talking about moving on, and it’s hard to move on when you have anxiety, and anxiety makes it hard to move on.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, right.

Nikki Kinzer:
So that’s kind of where I thought the two connect.

Pete Wright:
Well, I’m interested in, first of all, doing a bit of a review over what do we know about anxiety and ADHD and where are those connections? Because, they’re always surprising. They’re always surprising, especially if you’re living with one or both. And then we can talk a little bit about where we find our peace. Because, we both live with anxiety, too.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yep.

Pete Wright:
So that’ll be something to talk about. It’ll be a real humdinger.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right.

Pete Wright:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com. You can get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website, or subscribe to the mailing list and we’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook @takecontrolADHD.

Pete Wright:
And if this show has ever touched you or helped you make a change in your life for the better, if you’ve ever found that you understand your relationship with ADHD in a new way, we invite you to consider supporting the show directly through Patreon at patreon.com/theADHDpodcast. Patreon is listener-supported podcasting. For a few dollars a month, you can help guarantee that we continue to grow the show, add new features, and invest more heavily in our wonderful community, and you can also join us for our live streams, when we record this show every Monday at 1:00 PM, Pacific, United States Pacific. We would love to have you join us, jump in the chat room and pod along with us. Visit patreon.com/theADHDpodcast, to learn more.

Pete Wright:
You have news.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Pete Wright:
You have some sort of news-

Nikki Kinzer:
I do.

Pete Wright:
… that you have not told me about.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Well, I have a couple of announcements. The first announcement is kind of exciting. I got quoted in The Wall Street Journal.

Pete Wright:
What’s that, now? Quoted?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, yes. My name is in-

Pete Wright:
Have you seen it?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, yes.

Pete Wright:
I didn’t even know to look for it yet.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, it just came out. It came out. So I’ll put a link in the show notes and I’m going to, of course, share it on social media and everything.

Pete Wright:
What?

Nikki Kinzer:
But yeah, it’s pretty cool. I got interviewed by Rachel from The Wall Street Journal. It’s a article about procrastination.

Pete Wright:
I’m looking at it right now.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know. It’s very exciting.

Pete Wright:
What?

Nikki Kinzer:
But one of the reasons that I want to bring this up is not just because it’s exciting to be in The Wall Street Journal, who doesn’t like that, it’s fun, but there’s a specific reason that she reached out to me, and that was because of the Thursday Study Halls that I conduct.

Nikki Kinzer:
So this is how small the world is. I received a email from, and I can’t remember her last name right now, so forgive me, but Rachel, from The Wall Street Journal. At first, I thought it was a joke. I thought, “Oh, this is Pete joking.”

Pete Wright:
You thought it was me? Really?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, I thought. I’m like, “Is this real? Who is this person?” Then I looked her up and I’m like, “Oh wow. She actually is a real person.” She was doing an article on procrastination, and we spoke. She said that the reason that she had heard about me was because of the Study Halls, that there was a coworker or somebody she knew who had attended one of my Study Halls. So she wanted to get more information about it and how it helped with procrastination. So that’s how it all started.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s very exciting, which leads me to tell people about these Study Halls, because they can help with procrastination and getting started on things. We do it Thursday afternoons from 1:00 to 5:00, that’s Pacific, so it’d be 4:00 to 8:00 Eastern time. I lead the group through a Pomodoro. So every 25 minutes we work and then I get on the microphone and say “Five minutes. We’re taking a break.” You can come and go within that four hours and you can tell us what you’re working on. It’s just the whole body-doubling and accountability aspect that really works for people.

Nikki Kinzer:
So it was exciting to talk about that in a big newspaper. But I also want to remind our people that it is available. What’s cool is that, if you are a Supreme Patreon member, you get the Study Halls for free. You will get an email every Thursday morning that you are invited to go to the Study Hall. For the public, it’s a $10 pay-as-you-go, which will probably be, honestly, probably the best $10 you spend all week if you get some stuff done.

Pete Wright:
Right.

Nikki Kinzer:
So, yeah. So that’s exciting news. And then I have another announcement, too, but say anything you want to say about The Wall Street Journal.

Pete Wright:
I want to say that when, now, if you join the Study Hall, because of Nikki, it’s just like you’ve been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, it’s by the transitive property, science and mathematics, say, you could be quoted in The Wall Street Journal because Nikki was just quoted. It’s a long, quoting science thing. Don’t worry about it.

Nikki Kinzer:
It is.

Pete Wright:
But it’s amazing. It’s fantastic.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
I’m a little bit bummed that the, I can’t see it because I’m not behind the paywall, so I only get the first three or four paragraphs. I’ve got to find a way around that. Oh, sometimes you can Google it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, if you have Apple News.

Pete Wright:
Oh, it’s in Apple News.

Nikki Kinzer:
If you have Apple news, yes.

Pete Wright:
I happen to have Apple News. Oh, that’s great news.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, you get the full article in Apple News.

Pete Wright:
Yep, yep, yep. Oh, that’s wonderful. Well, congratulations.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. Thank you.

Pete Wright:
All right. What is your other news?

Nikki Kinzer:
The second thing that I want to bring up that I haven’t talked a lot about on the podcast, but I’ve been doing, is I have this new program called GPS. It’s Guided Planning Sessions and we just started last week. We’re going on to our second week right now. It’s been fabulous, so far. I’m really excited about this program. I’m offering it periodically. It’s in six-week sessions and then I’m going to take a week off and then do another six weeks. If you are looking for some help on planning your week, getting into the habit of planning your week, having some guidance on how to do that, basically what I do is, on Mondays and Thursdays, I go through this step-by-step process, and it gives you time and space to do that planning and ask me questions along the way.

Nikki Kinzer:
It has been really fun. I can’t wait to hear how this first group, I’m already getting such positive feedback, that it’ll be great to see what happens at the end of the six weeks. But I want our listeners to know that it’s here. I have this service. If you are interested, go to my website, check out the page. If you have questions, make sure you let me know, because this is pretty cool. This is something I’ve never done before. It’s a little bit different. It’s more of a workshop. It’s not necessarily a coaching session. But you get to ask me lots of questions, and it’s fun. It’s really great. So I just wanted to throw out that, GPS. Look for GPS at takecontrolADHD.

Pete Wright:
That’s right. It’s right under the Coaching section, and you can have GPS fun too. It’s really great.

Pete Wright:
Okay, Nikki, here we go. Our old friend anxiety. Hello darkness, my old friend.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s so sad.

Pete Wright:
Is that too much? I shouldn’t go there.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s really too much.

Pete Wright:
I should not go there. No, that’s too much. Well, so we’ve been talking about anxiety, and the experience of anxiety. So I thought we might kick off our conversation by talking a little bit about the presence of anxiety in our lives. What does it look like for you, anxiety?

Nikki Kinzer:
I feel it in my stomach and my mind gets really blurry and foggy and it’s hard to think straight. That’s how I know I have it. I’m feeling it right now, actually, as we speak.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
So yeah, it’s present. It’s not always as bad as it is right now. And the only reason why I say it’s bad right now, as I’ve already shared it with Discord, that my father is sick and is in the hospital. So there’s some anxiety around that.

Pete Wright:
Certainly, certainly.

Nikki Kinzer:
But, yeah. But it comes and goes. It certainly is something that can be triggered and sometimes it’s not triggered, and I have no idea why I have that anxious feeling, but it’s there.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Yeah. Me, too. For me, it manifests in terms of repetitive cycles and spirals and so particularly repetitive thought spirals, and I can’t shake them.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, me, too.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. It can be dizzying and panic attacks, not so regularly anymore, now that I figured them out, and so I can kind of get through them. But it is pervasive and it’s all the time, every day and it’s exacerbated by certain other conditions, and one of those is ADHD. So I start looking up, let’s just check the research. Let’s see what professionals are thinking about right now about the sort of, the pairing, the sweet, sweet pairing of anxiety and ADHD. Am I making this up in my head, or is one really making the other worse?

Pete Wright:
So I start searching and I’ve seen numbers reporting as high or as low as 25% people living with ADHD also live with some form of anxiety, to as high as over 50% of people living with ADHD. Think about that. Over half of the people living with ADHD, also living with anxiety disorder, and even higher than that if you happen to be a woman person, you a higher order of magnitude relationship with ADHD and anxiety. I think that is kind of stunning, that relationship. So it’s really important to address and understand, I would submit, what is your ADHD and what is your anxiety and where do the two meet? Because-

Nikki Kinzer:
Gosh, that’s-

Pete Wright:
Right? But I think figuring that out allows you to take steps toward mediating that relationship with yourself.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Right, right. For sure.

Pete Wright:
Ned Hallowell, our dear friend of the show, Ned Hallowell, have we mentioned Ned Hallowell is a dear friend of the show, he actually separates-

Nikki Kinzer:
We pretend like he is, anyway.

Pete Wright:
Let me rephrase that. Ned Hallowell, who knows that we have a show.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right. That’s right, who’s been on it.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, he’s been on it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Once.

Pete Wright:
He actually separates worry from anxiety. He says that worry has a target. One worries about something. Anxiety is this free floating, no clear source of direction. Both of these things are unpleasant, but anxiety may be more so, he says, because the sufferer cannot identify a cause, right? And that’s an important piece, because anxiety can be rudderless. It can just be, “I am anxious about everything. I am sitting here stewing in my own bile because I don’t know what’s going on in the world, and I’m terrified of it.”

Pete Wright:
But I would also add that anxiety can also be highly specifically focused as in specific phobias, right? I mean, you don’t just have needle phobia for nothing, right? That highly specific.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
I’m not worried about my needle phobia. I’m worried that I’m going to pass out and hit my head and bleed out on the floor. And also, there’ll be a needle in my arm as a result of my response to needles.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, dear.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Again, I went into a-

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, that just gave me anxiety, thinking about it. Because I actually visually-

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
I visualized the whole thing happening as you were talking.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
And now I have this vision of Pete with a needle in his arm.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, me, too. Yeah. No, it’s terrible.

Nikki Kinzer:
With his head cracked open on really sterile hospital-

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s me, too. Me, too.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s great.

Pete Wright:
Okay.

Nikki Kinzer:
Thanks. Thanks for that.

Pete Wright:
So I just think it’s important to recognize that the anxiety cannot, doesn’t have to be totally rudderless. And that’s why it’s sort of the overarching condition. And maybe we should do a quick review of the sort of physical experience of ADHD versus anxiety. I say this because of the number of times that I’ve discovered people who say that somebody with repetitive movement trigger, who can’t stop shaking their leg or tapping a pen or something like that as a result of their ADHD experience, and the hyperactivity, must be anxious. They must have anxiety, because they can’t stop moving. That’s not necessarily accurate.

Nikki Kinzer:
No, in fact, I wouldn’t have connected the two, actually, at all.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Well, that’s what I mean.

Nikki Kinzer:
I don’t see them as being-

Pete Wright:
It’s like a street thing.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
It’s like a street thing. Listen to me. You know, what they said on the block.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right, you know.

Pete Wright:
Little Petey on the block.

Nikki Kinzer:
When he looked out on the street?

Pete Wright:
Yeah, when I was on the street.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
So I think it’s important. I heard this characterization that it’s lungs, not limbs, right? When you have anxiety, you get shortness of breath, and shortness of breath causes all kinds of other things to go on in your body. And when you have ADHD, you have, you might have hyperactivity, you might have movement, you might have all kinds of other things with your body that is not characterized by anxiety. And those two things are separate.

Nikki Kinzer:
No, because you may not even notice that you’re doing it.

Pete Wright:
You may not even notice you’re doing it.

Nikki Kinzer:
In fact, you’re probably not, yeah.

Pete Wright:
Right, and likely don’t care. Your stress response is going to be related not to you just existing in this world doing your thing, but it’s going to be a stress response directly related to the world responding to you doing your thing. Right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
We talked about the autism experience last week, right? Do you remember that? Did I talk about that?

Nikki Kinzer:
I don’t remember.

Pete Wright:
It was about the experience of, of living with autism and this woman said, “You have to understand that I am not… I get great joy in my repetitive engagement.” Like, “If I’m sitting in the backseat of a car and somebody makes a turn that I don’t agree with, and I say, ‘You went the wrong way. You went the wrong way,’ I’m not stopping. I can’t stop myself saying, ‘You went the wrong way. You went the wrong way.’ And if I was never challenged on that, I would get great joy out of it, because I’m engaging so deeply in the experience of the moment, that I can’t let it go. I can’t get rid of it. I can’t get it out of my head.”

Pete Wright:
But that becomes a stress anxiety, a stress response, because people get so mad about it, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
They get so mad watching me and experiencing me doing that, and that becomes the stress cycle. I found that really sort of laudatory and I really, I found it so clear, this understanding of what that experience was, that I thought it was important to integrate, that the degree to which you are frustrated with your ADHD repetitive movement issues, or ADHD hyper-focus issues, can be largely influenced, not exclusively, but largely influenced, by the world’s response to you doing it. Right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
The things you forgot to do, the people you let down along the way, if those people did not exist, you’d be fine.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
I know I’m fine. If I’m not letting people down, I’m okay.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right, right. But I also wonder if sometimes you’re not really letting people down, but because you think you are, then it causes what you’re talking about, because-

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Well, and that’s anxiety, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Right, yeah.

Pete Wright:
Because you are creating a repetitive sense, a repetitive thought spiral, about the world that you’re letting down outside of yourself. That’s why there are some people who live with ADHD who don’t have that experience either, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
There are people with ADHD who don’t have anxiety and they can just go right into hyper-focus mode and not be triggered by the external stresses that it may cause.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
I am one of those people who is highly triggered by those external stresses and the stories that I make up about what those people must be doing, like taking my pictures out of photo albums and burning them. It’s just like I just, I go to the darkest of places when I imagine what I’m letting down.

Nikki Kinzer:
And it’s so interesting, because I have a family member who has ADHD and he is the opposite. Like he is so just, “I’ll just figure it out. It will all work out.” Not worried about it. Everything’s last minute, doesn’t care. Like you just know, that’s just how he lives his life. It’s just really interesting. I’m sure that there’s things that I don’t know, that I don’t see.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right? But very carefree attitude. It’s like he’s just, he really lives by his own rules, and he’s okay with that

Pete Wright:
That’s aspirational.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
Aspirational.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
And I think maybe conditioned, because I think, I like to think that when I was 15, I might’ve had a better handle on just being pretty chill about it. Had I known what I was living with, I think I wouldn’t have been at a better place, but I was very confused. Right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
I was confused.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, it is interesting. Because his wife will certainly get frustrated with the messy office.

Pete Wright:
Right.

Nikki Kinzer:
But he really doesn’t care.

Pete Wright:
He doesn’t care. Well, I-

Nikki Kinzer:
Isn’t that interesting?

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, I mean it is, it’s just-

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Well, and-

Nikki Kinzer:
People are different.

Pete Wright:
Don’t forget, the other side of that secondary anxiety is that it’s not just, you take, like letting other people down, but that you are working harder than everyone else to do the same thing.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Which is so true.

Pete Wright:
And that can be letting yourself down, feeling like you’re on this treadmill that’s set in reverse and you constantly have to run just a little bit or a lot faster just to get to the same place.

Nikki Kinzer:
Absolutely.

Pete Wright:
That is-

Nikki Kinzer:
And that’s very true.

Pete Wright:
I feel like that’s the other piece of it. But once again, if there wasn’t that comparative piece, would you be okay?

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Right, you probably would be fine, because you’re not comparing yourself to anybody else or anything. Yeah. The only person you’re comparing yourself is to is you.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
And yeah, you don’t know any different.

Pete Wright:
You don’t know any different. Stephanie Sarkis, Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, writes in Attitude, she says that, that is the piece. You may also have a primary anxiety, she says. And that’s when you inherited genes for anxiety at the same time that you inherited genes for ADHD, right? So you may have anxiety that manifests and is triggered by your experience with ADHD, and it may look exactly like somebody who is genetically predisposed to anxiety. But you also may have ADHD and anxiety, the genetic trait for anxiety, that looks exactly the same. But it’s a separate but equal condition. Right?

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s so interesting.

Pete Wright:
It is really interesting. She says, there’s a 30% chance of having generalized anxiety disorder at the same time you have ADHD. Not anxiety that is triggered by ADHD, but full on anxiety, as a… not as a-

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
Anyway.

Nikki Kinzer:
Just standalone, yeah.

Pete Wright:
I think that’s confusing and frustrating, and it makes me think a lot about myself.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
Everything that I have been reading today are all steps that I would like to take in my own therapeutic journey, because I’m not sure we’ve ever asked the questions quite this way. And I think we can, we might be able to learn some things, and I hope maybe those listening can learn some things.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Doctors, Liji Thomas and Damien Jonas Wilson go pretty far saying that they actually recommend all patients with anxiety, everyone who comes in and presents for anxiety, should be screened for ADHD.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, I think this especially. Because you remember how earlier you said it’s higher in women?

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
I would definitely say that that’s probably true for depression and anxiety, but also being screened for ADHD, because it’s so easily missed.

Pete Wright:
Totally.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. That’s interesting. So why? Why do they say that?

Pete Wright:
Well, this is why. There are two reasons. Number one, anxiety masks ADHD, right? Symptoms of anxiety can be far more apparent than those of ADHD, and addressing anxiety can be the easy, low-hanging fruit, short-term solution to just feeling better immediately. It’s like the microwave oven solution to feeling better, while not addressing the underlying conclusion, or the underlying condition. So it’s not a long-term fix.

Pete Wright:
And conversely addressing ADHD becomes the fastest way to address anxiety for those who are not genetically predisposed for anxiety, right? Because if the anxiety is directly caused by their experience of ADHD, helping them through the ADHD, coaching them through new experiences, will alleviate the anxiety to some degree.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, because they understand.

Pete Wright:
That’s right.

Nikki Kinzer:
They understand how their brain works. There’s an acceptance to how their brain works. And then they’re going to be more open and willing to build the structures and the strategies that they need to do to, to live with the ADHD.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. I can see that.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. I think it’s fascinating.

Nikki Kinzer:
Doesn’t make it go away.

Pete Wright:
No.

Nikki Kinzer:
But I do think it gives you a completely different understanding of what’s really going on.

Pete Wright:
Right, right. That’s why it becomes so important to understand your experience with those genetic indicators, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
We have these tools that can tell us a lot of stuff now.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
If you’re open to it and open to the right sorts of assessments and tests, you can figure out like, “Why am I having, mechanically, chemically, why am I dealing with anxiety, even though I am addressing the ADHD. Why do I still live in these paralyzing thought spirals, even though I’ve got my systems on lock and I’m not letting people down? Why can I not let these things go, even though this part of my life is doing just fine?”

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
And it may be because those things are not connected or maybe you now have a new tool to address anxiety and it’s just, use a daily planner better. Figure out a system to help you reduce stress, and suddenly your anxiety starts to feel a little bit better.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, and something that just came up for me is the anxiety of… I mean, I know that we can, for me anyway, having anxiety can give me anxiety.

Pete Wright:
Yes.

Nikki Kinzer:
But I also wonder if it’s the opposite, too, where, “Okay, I do have this planner. It is working. It’s working pretty well.”

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
And now what I see, in coaching clients anyway, is there’s now this anxiety around, “What if it stops working?” Or, “It shouldn’t be working, because it hasn’t worked before.” So it’s this thought process of, “Is what I’m experiencing really true?”

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Right.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right? Like, is this real? Can I be happy about this? Could I actually get on to the podcast and say, “I have a planner that works.”

Pete Wright:
Yeah. This is ironic that you say that. Another podcast that I do with dear, I will say, dear friend of the show, Tommy Metz, is, What’s That Smell? The Sometimes-Funny Anxiety Podcast. The listener submission that we just did was teleophobia. Do you know what teleophobia is?

Nikki Kinzer:
Telling somebody something?

Pete Wright:
No.

Nikki Kinzer:
No, I don’t know. Telephone?

Pete Wright:
Related. The full definition is the disposition of mind which results in great unwillingness to admit that things tend toward definite ends, or that anything in nature is determined by anything not yet in existence. The practical language is, fear of making plans. Right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, so we have these wonderful people who have delightful planners that are bedecked with stickers and colors and wonderful things, but people who are terrified to open them, people who are terrified to write anything in them, that are terrified to make plans for any number of reasons, right, fear of travel, fear of holidays. I don’t know if this exists, but one of the terms that we’ve sort of coined is chained anxiety, where you’re anxious to commit to that next dentist appointment. You won’t write it in your planner because you know that commits you to anxiety in the future, and you’re terrified of that, right? You’re terrified of going to the dentist because you have a dental phobia or needle phobia, and you don’t want to get a shot or whatever.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
And all of those things are chained together. They’re inextricably linked. So it may manifest for you in teleophobia or teleophobic behavior, where you just, you can’t make any plans at all. You are paralyzed at looking into the future. That’s kind of what this, what you just said. That’s what it makes me think of. If you say something about your planner, you’re committing to a use of it that should allow you to be able to define your success with it later. And what if it doesn’t pay off?

Nikki Kinzer:
And there’s this fear of later that it’s not going to be-

Pete Wright:
Yeah, right.

Nikki Kinzer:
That it’s not going to be the same and not being… Yeah, right, and not accepting that that might be okay that it’s not the same.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
Like, it’s okay to change your mind.

Pete Wright:
Yep.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, and it’s interesting, because I can definitely tell you, especially now that we’re talking about planners, that there is definitely this fear of putting anything, like even starting one, because what if you do it wrong? “What if I change my mind or what if it doesn’t go the way that I think going to go?” Honestly, those are all true things. You’re probably not going to fill it out, right? You probably are going to change your mind. You probably are going to need to adjust it. But it’s getting over the fear of that, but also being okay, accepting that it’s okay if it’s not right.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, that’s right.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s okay if it’s not perfect, right?

Pete Wright:
In terms of planners, a trick that I find particularly grounding is to look at a planner. And when you face that fear, just look at the very last page, and when it says like December 31st, 2021, and think to yourself, “A year from now, this artifact that I am so terrified from, of doing something wrong to, this artifact of time will be trash.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. That’s a really interesting way of looking at it.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
And can I just say another thing? I don’t know how we got into planners, but any parents out there who have children, or not children, teenagers, anybody that would be using a planner at this point in their school life, I bought a planner for my daughter at Christmas time. It’s cute. It’s fun. It has stickers. It has pens, right? It has all that stuff. But I told her when I gave it to her, I said, “If this doesn’t work for you, don’t worry about it.”

Pete Wright:
Yeah, yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
“Just let me know, and we’ll figure out something else.”

Pete Wright:
We’ll figure something else.

Nikki Kinzer:
I set the bar right away that there is no expectation. And I got to tell you, I was so proud. Because yesterday, I went upstairs and I saw her planner. She had her little math assignment on it.

Pete Wright:
That’s adorable.

Nikki Kinzer:
I was like, “Yay.”

Pete Wright:
That’s adorable.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. But anyway, I think just setting, again, the expectation that, it’s okay if it doesn’t work.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
It really is.

Pete Wright:
It really is.

Nikki Kinzer:
Don’t beat yourself up, yeah.

Pete Wright:
Even if the only thing you do to your planner is cross out the days as they go by.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
Just to give yourself a sense of time.

Nikki Kinzer:
At least you know what day it is.

Pete Wright:
You’ll know what day it is. There’s value. There is value right there that is more than trash today, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s absolutely right. I like it.

Pete Wright:
All right.

Nikki Kinzer:
There you go.

Pete Wright:
Just to wrap it up.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
What do you do when you’re in this space, and now we understand a little bit more, and I just want to go back to our dear friend of the show who might not know he’s as much of our friend as we are of his, Ed Hallowell, who has this, what I’m calling his trio of tried and true tools. And he says, “First, never worry alone. When you’re feeling that state of anxiety, make sure you talk with somebody that you love, keep a network with people who do know this about you, that you have been vulnerable with in the past, that recognize that you struggle with this, and talk to them.” This is exactly what we talked about last week, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Right, connections

Pete Wright:
How well are you using this time right now, in the pandemic, to reach out to people who you love and who love you and share your story with them? Because, that can help. That can go a long way, and it’s made particularly difficult now, this week, today, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
It’s hard. Get the facts. He says that, “When you’re in a state of anxiety, it’s usually based on a story that you’ve made up.” It’s rooted in misinformation. So either you believe something that isn’t factually accurate because you’ve internalized that from somewhere else, or you just don’t know, and so you have a story that causes you anxiety. He says, “Don’t take to heart, everything you read. Get the facts from trusted sources.” That’s made challenging today.

Nikki Kinzer:
It is, but I got to tell you something that’s so interesting about that, is that I’m really influenced by other people, and I never knew I was, but especially people that are close to me. I may not think that anything’s an issue, but then if my husband brings it up and thinks it’s an issue, then all of a sudden the anxiety goes up to a 10.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
So I do think it’s interesting, like get the facts. I think it’s important to take a step back and saying, “Okay, is this my anxiety, or is this his anxiety?”

Pete Wright:
God, it’s so contagious.

Nikki Kinzer:
And where do I fit?

Pete Wright:
It is contagious.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
I am 100% with you. I do the same thing with my wife. It is the exact same behavior.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
I get it. It’s really hard.

Nikki Kinzer:
Domino effect, yeah.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Finally, make a plan. Friend of the show, Ned Hallowell says, “Make a plan. When you have a plan, you feel more in control and less vulnerable, which diminishes worry. If the plan doesn’t work, revise it. That’s what life is all about. Roll with the punches.” Hard to do when you’re in the middle of a paper bag breathing panic attack, but you do.

Nikki Kinzer:
You can do it.

Pete Wright:
You can do it.

Nikki Kinzer:
You can do it. And this, I got to go back to this planner. Maybe it’s because we start talking about GPS at the very beginning.

Pete Wright:
Right.

Nikki Kinzer:
And this is where this is going.

Pete Wright:
This is in your head.

Nikki Kinzer:
But this is why I did the GPS program, is because if you have some kind of a plan, then you’re more likely to get the stuff done that you need to get done. But you have no plan, and you’re just going to be out there treading water all day, every week, and reacting to anything that comes your way.It’s not going to be perfect. It is going to need to be revised. Whether it’s a planner, planning your week or any kind of plan that we’re dealing with here, it is important, I think, to at least start with something and have that empowerment back, that control back. Again, knowing that it probably won’t go that way, but that’s okay. That’s what life is, right? Life is not, it doesn’t go as planned. I don’t know if anything has ever really gone as planned.

Pete Wright:
I know. There was no manual.

Nikki Kinzer:
Everything’s always different.

Pete Wright:
Oh, man.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, yeah. Anyway, that’s great.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
Great advice from our dear friend.

Pete Wright:
Dear friend of the show, Ned Hallowell. And he’s got this great book. He wrote this book.

Nikki Kinzer:
New book coming out, too, I think, right?

Pete Wright:
He does.

Nikki Kinzer:
Don’t they have a new book coming out?

Pete Wright:
Is that the worry book? Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition is-

Nikki Kinzer:
We’re going to have to get him back on the show to talk about this.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I think so. I think so.

Nikki Kinzer:
I think so.

Pete Wright:
He’s a good guy.

Nikki Kinzer:
I’m interested in hearing what he has to say.

Pete Wright:
So smart. So there you go. That’s what I had. That’s all right.

Nikki Kinzer:
All right.

Pete Wright:
We did okay, huh?

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, thank you. That’s great.

Pete Wright:
We did good. All right. Well, I don’t feel anxious anymore. We’re done. So thank you everybody.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, we’re done. We did this.

Pete Wright:
We did okay.

Nikki Kinzer:
We feel better.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, we feel fine.

Nikki Kinzer:
I hope you guys feel better.

Pete Wright:
Thank you everybody for downloading and listening to the show. Thank you for your time and your attention. Don’t forget, if you have something to contribute about this conversation, we’re always around in the show talk channel and our Discord server, and you can join us right there by becoming a supporting member at the deluxe level.

Pete Wright:
On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright, and we’ll see you right back here next week on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.