I recently interviewed Jamie Roberts, a licensed marriage and family counselor. Jamie works with teens and young adults providing individual and group therapy. She has written a new book called Mindfulness for Teen Anxiety
Jamie is autistic and ADHD herself. She understands because she's living and breathing what this is all about.
Here is a portion of our interview. You can also listen to the whole thing here.
Chat about Anxiety
Especially with neurodivergent people, it's really important to figure out what's at the core. There's a lot of us who experience what we call anxiety, but it's sensory overload. It's overstimulation or we've run out of "spoons" for the day. If we can identify those pieces, it's easier to figure out what the coping mechanism is or what our threshold is; that it's not necessarily that I'm anxious, but I'm overstimulated.
Okay, so when I'm overstimulated, where do I need to go to decompress or reduce the stimulation in my environment? What's the other driving factor and that can help us kind of differentiate what we're experiencing. That it's not all a nervousness or panic but there may be something under there that's upsetting me. It can just be there's too much happening. I think as we understand that it's easier to categorize and cope with and then it's not as triggering.
Responses to Anxiety
Our nervous system and our "animal "brain are the parts that automatically respond to threats in the environment and that's where it comes in with fight, flight, freeze and fawn. Those are the automatic responses, we don't really have control over that response and we can't really predict what our response is going to be.
If I am triggered, my body's natural response is to go into hyper-arousal and have that anxiety or anger response or go into hypo-arousal which is the freeze response or it can look like depression and then fawning is in that area too. So, if we can naturally see where our regulation is going if we're triggering and disregulated in either of these categories: fight, flight, freeze or fawn versus our okay zone. (listen to interview for more on this and masking)
Jamie's Recommendations for Finding a Therapist
There is a great database called ndtherapist.com. . I think one of the criteria is you have to be neuro divergent yourself and be a therapist to be in the directory.
Psychology Today is the biggest database, but anybody can check a box and say, yes, I'm confirming or yeah, I work with ADHD.
How to find out if therapist is right for you
When you call a therapist, ask very specific questions. You're interviewing the therapist as much as they're interviewing you.
Some questions: what is your view on neurodivergence or self-diagnosis? How do you approach this? What are your interventions? You can look for a good fit. Will this affirm my neurodivergence or will this increase some of my neurotypical masking or trauma responses?
Mindfulness and Anxiety
The basis of mindfulness comes from Buddhism and being in the present moment. When we're getting overstimulated, we learn how to re-center. So, paying attention to what serves me, when I feel most comfortable, when I feel most neutral, when I feel myself. It doesn't have to be like a silent, like non-moving meditation for an hour. I can't sit still that long!
They've done scans of the brain and they show that when you're just coloring in an adult coloring book, it highlights the same part of the brain as meditation. There's lots of different activities we can do that can help rest the brain and be in the present moment.
I can control right here right now, just this moment.
One of the activities in my new book is puppy mindfulness. When you're talking to yourself, when you have that internal dialogue, do you speak in the same way you would speak to a puppy?
Do you call them lazy or no good? It sounds silly, but we're swinging it to the other extreme. I talk about a pendulum a lot with clients. I might be living over here, but in order to get to the middle, I've got to swing to the other side. And then I'll find the sweet spot. So it might sound silly at first to talk to yourself like a puppy. But you know what? Maybe then you fall in the middle of like just having a little bit of kinder words to yourself.
Topics in my Jamie Roberts' Interview:
.*How to get through college and grad school.
*Why anxiety doesn't control her life anymore.
*More on Fight, Freeze, Flee, Fawn
*Differentiating between anxiety & over-stimulation
*Self Diagnosis and the neurodivergent community during Covid.
*How mindfulness helps with negativity and anxiety.
Jamie works in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
Her contact information:
You can receive a signed copy of Jamie's book at here. It is also available at most booksellers and Target.