PNES and ADHD

I’m brand new to the forum and have an overwhelming last couple of years. Im really looking for help where I can. In November of 2019 I had my first seizure. Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizure, or PNES. They thought I actually had a stroke. However, my stress levels only increased to a very high level. In March of last year I was so stressed out with work, failures, and fear of letting people down I had a panic attack that lasted 6 full days. It was like being a kid watching poltergeist at the scariest part for 6 days. Never being able to calm down. Finally, on June 30, I had a major PNES and continued having them for days. I went to UAB Hospital where I was diagnosed with PNES. PNES is caused by stress, anxiety, and past events that were never resolved. I soon started seeing psychologists and psychiatrists. I was almost automatically diagnosed with ADHD. I have an exceptional fear of failure. But its not the failure that bothers me as much as the fear of upsetting others, that I love and respect. I’ve had seizures now for almost a year and am unable to work because the stress I put on myself at work or even anywhere could cause a seizure. I forget most things. It’s embarrassing when I have a seizure in public not just for myself but for my family as well. It causes extreme depression which I’ve had for years but has only gotten worse. I’ve lost so much of who I was I don’t know who I want to be anymore. People will give me compliments and I almost get angry with them because I find it repulsive that they would even suggest it. I’m trying to move forward but find it so so hard when the slightest failure happens I relive all my past failures at once. So I guess what I’m saying is, Help! I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know that I can. I’m afraid one day I won’t want to. I have 2 children and a wife I love. I’m here because of them. I don’t know what else to do. I’m sorry if this is the wrong place.

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Well the important thing is . . . you are here!

No need to apologize. We are all here because we are searching, learning, and supporting each other. While I do not have concrete answers to offer you . . . I know that I speak for all of us in saying WELCOME. Stick around, look around, and see what makes sense to you. Don’t hesitate to speak your mind, ask questions, provide opinions and in other words . . . join this family of “brains” (as we call ourselves on this forum).

:sunglasses:

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I was reading other posts and saw your reply. Thank you. I’m honestly looking for something I can hold on to. I’m looking forward to more interaction and learning. But out of curiosity do you know of anyone with such an intense fear of failure? No matter how small it is. It sets them off and you simply can’t control your emotions? And are they angry? Not at anyone but just themselves? If so how do you fix it?

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Found this . . . I did not know that there was a name for “Fear of Failure”. Like I previously said, I don’t have answers . . . but perhaps this article will be helpful to you, in some small way.

Good luck to you!

:sunglasses:

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Welcome to the HowToADHD forums, @Charley_chrlywd!

I hope they we are able to be of some help. At the very least, many of us can identify with the struggles that you have been going through, if not the PNES.

I’ve gone through this same type of “fear of failure” and “fear of upsetting others that I love and respect.” For me, this has caused a lot of anxiety. While I definitely haven’t experienced anything as serious as seizures, I do think that I’ve come to the brink of a panic attack on numerous occasions. What I normally experience is getting into a cycle like this:

  • I get stuck on a problem, so I’ll put all my efforts for about 20-times the length of time that I estimate it should have taken to resolve.
  • Then I decide to take a break and come back to it. I’ll procrastinate revisiting the problem, and leave it alone for days, instead of getting back to it while it is fresh in my mind, so that it takes a while just to figure out where I was at with the issue.
  • Or, my mind may not be able to let go of the issue, with nagging thoughts of it not leaving me alone, so my other work suffers, compounding my difficulties at work.
  • (Repeat…)

I had experienced a lot of work-related stress for a few years in a row, which built up over all that time.
A year ago, I finally decided to do something about it, so first I started therapy with a licensed counselor, and then I also scheduled an appointment with my doctor. I was diagnosed by the counselor with anxiety and ADHD, and my doctor confirmed both diagnoses.
Meanwhile, I’d started a new job in a work role that I’d never been in before. I was untested, didn’t get adequate training or support, didn’t ask for enough help and didn’t follow through with regular check-ins as requested…

  • So now I’ve been informed they my work contract won’t be renewed (thus I’ll be out of a job soon), but was told that it’s “non-disciplinary”,
  • And I’ve been put on administrative leave (which certainly feels like it’s disciplinary).

How this all makes me feel is that “I let them down”,… my customers, team, leadership, and my family. The fear of failure in one little thing after another resulted in actual, big-time failure.

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The irony is that the training I needed by last fall, which would could have prevented all of this trouble, will be starting in less than two weeks from now.

  • I think that my persistence in asking for it is a big part of the reason the service provider finally made the training available.

My last words to my manager when I had to turn in my computer and office key were, “make sure that SOMEBODY goes through that training.”

(I still care. I still want my peers and the organization to benefit. I’m not bitter. I feel like I let them down by not doing the job well-enough. But I also feel like they failed me by not providing me with the training and support that would have helped me to do the job better.)

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@Charley_chrlywd, we all need help. That’s what brings us here, so that we can support and encourage each other. Just the fact that you’re here, that you’re actively seeking help, is evidence that you are a fighter!

I shared my recent work struggles (probably a bit too in-depth) to give you some idea that I can relate to your struggles a bit.

I realize that my response to tricky work problems can be described as the classic fear responses: Fight, Flight, or Freeze
My reaction to fear of failure is first to double-down on my effort (Fight), and then to stop working on the problem altogether (Freeze). When it seems that there is no way forward, I’ll withdraw myself altogether (Flight).

  • For many years I’ve recognized that when the stresser is a person or a particular interaction with a person, I go right to avoidance (Flee).
  • When it comes to non-person stresses, such as not being able to find a solution to a problem in the time that I expected to, the analogy in my thoughts was that I would “vapor-lock” (aka Freeze…can you tell that I started out driving old carbureted cars?).
  • For most of my life, I described myself so “not a fighter”. However, in recent years I’ve come to realize that I am a fighter when it comes to helping other people solve their problems. My attitude when I worked in Tech Support was that I was “willing to go to hell and back” to help my customers. It has taken going through a series of bad things in my career to spur me to actually fight for myself.

So, as one fighter to another, @Charley_chrlywd, thanks for stepping into the wrestling ring with us! Think of this as a Tag Team match. Whether we’re going to toe with the difficulties of ADHD itself, or the co-morbidities that can come along with it (anxiety, depression, and apparently also including PNES), we’re all here to stand together and give each other a hand getting back up when we’re knocked down.

Welcome to the Tribe!

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BRAVO!!

Such a great metaphor and encouraging comment j_d . . .

:sunglasses:

That and a vegetable cart and junk-pick-up cart used to come down my street . . . drawn by a :horse: . . . and in all places New York City . . . Of course i.e. BROOKLYN, NY, ( Brooklyn became a borough of New York City on January 1, 1898)

image

GO DODGERS!!

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Thank you so much because before I started having seizures I went through a lot of the same things. I had been placed in a job where the area had been completely gutted. All new people were placed in that division. I would procrastinate and forget things over and over. I had a million sticky notes all over my computer and reminders in my email just to remember my everyday duties. I was easily on my way out the door. So I completely understand where you’re coming from. I appreciate everyone who had answered my initial post. I’m seeing multiple therapists who specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s supposed to help with the constant fear and anxiety. I’ve been doing that since July of last year. Just out of curiosity though, does anyone fight it? Like it’s so ingrained to just say, “it’s my fault,” that you’re unsure of so much that you push any help away? I do this all the time. And although I know it’s wrong I can’t help but push it away. This is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. Again I appreciate your help and I’m off to read the article you posted earlier. Thank you

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Since I hadn’t learned of PNES before, I’ve been learning more about it today.

You mentioned CBT as your treatment, which I’ve found mentioned in a few places. While the success rate is high (I think one article said 84%), I read about other treatments being used.

One is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is touted to have a high success rate (how high, I’m not sure) for patients who have PNES and PTSD.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cpp.525

And the Wikipedia article about PNES cited a study with children (pediatric patients) with PNES who had great success with a treatment called Retraining and Control Therapy (ReACT).

Lately, I’ve been finding lots of references to EMDR and it’s success in treating trauma-related conditions (especially PTSD, but also anxiety). I’ve also heard of a PTSD-like condition called Complex Trauma, which I believe is caused by a longtime buildup of smaller life stresses, which has the same net result as a major traumatic episode causing PTSD.


@Charley_chrlywd - if the CBT isn’t as effective as you need it to be, perhaps you can ask about EMDR. However, I think it involves recalling specific traumatic memories during the treatment.

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I accept help gratefully if it is offered. It’s more likely that I will offer assistance to others, than for them to offer it to me. (I don’t do anything so that people will owe me favors. I do it genuinely to provide help when it’s needed, asking nothing in return.)

However, too often I resist asking for help. At work, it’s always because I reason, “this is my area of expertise, so I should be able to do this myself”. I only end up asking without guilt when it’s truly something beyond my capability (i.e. lacking access) or specialized knowledge that I hadn’t been trained on yet.

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Yeah! GO DODGERS!!!

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Wow :clap: I’m going to ask about that. I have another appointment next week. I’ll read up about that as well. Y’all have been wonderful I can’t thank you enough.

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I’m kind the same and opposite at the same time. While I say to myself, I can do this no problem, as I work on things I start to lose confidence in myself. But I hate asking for help when I need it because I feel like all I’m doing is creating a burden for others. So I’ll continue doing said project and will have worked myself to death on it but it will have holes in it because I didn’t ask for the help I needed.

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As someone who has been on both sides of the equation, I appreciate help when I need it and I feel good giving someone else help when they need. With the right people it’s a win-win relationship.

:sunglasses:

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This is how it often goes with me.

  1. I can conceptualize the end-goal, and I think I understand how to go about the work, so I start working on my own… The longer it takes, due to whatever difficulties come along, the more I lose confidence in myself…
  2. Then, I’ll feel like I shouldn’t ask for help, because I chose to take ownership of the task/project/assignment, and because I don’t want to keep others from their work (as you put it, “creating a burden on others”).
  3. So, I plow on, either systematically but with a loss of enthusiasm, or haphazardly with the same enthusiasm that I started with. (My purpose either way is to “leave no stone unturned” in pursuit of the goal.)
  4. I’m a perfectionist about my own work (while very forgiving/accomodating when it comes to others’ work), and so it really bothers me to leave holes in my work; I prefer to complete it as thoroughly as possible as I go, but then I end up missing deadlines. There have been times that I got something over 90% finished before coming to a standstill, asking for help to finish, and then gave most of the credit to the person who helped me limp across the finish line (even though I did 95% of the work overall) out of gratefulness for their assistance.
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So I do most of that same thing as well however I will have missed details about said project daydreaming about the things I plan to do. Therefore the holes. Then the help then the giving credit. When I do projects that were my own idea, they are perfect and done proficiently. However, the opposite happens when others tell me how I should do something because I already have it in my head how I’m going to do it. It’s kind of a backwards thinking I suppose.

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Very interesting. When I was still working (as the Performance Improvement Administrator in a non-profit, community mental health agency) I was the “go-to person” when it came to writing, editing, and reviewing policies and policies. It was always easy for me to write these from beginning to end . . . but very difficult to review and “clean-up” someone else’s writing. Instead of tweaking or editing someone else’s work, I would wind up rewriting the whole thing more often than not. I think this was a function of my brain. I just KNEW what looked correct . . . And what did not! Some would call me “rigid” . . . “stubborn” . . . even “arrogant” . . . and people would avoid asking me to “review” their written work.

Sometimes it’s just a :brain: thing!

:sunglasses:

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I’m the reverse. I’ve found it hard to write procedural documentation from beginning to end. I’ve always found it much easier to edit or update existing documentation.

Sometimes I can do the majority of the writing when I’m collaborating with someone else, if they’re in the room for me to bounce wording off of them (they don’t even need to respond verbally, I just need to see the expression on their face).

  • I have a tendency to be too wordy, and write the way I often speak . . . in long, run-on sentences which might be more clear if broken up into a paragraph composed of a few shorter sentences (because I have ADHD and sometimes cannot edit as I go when I am hyperfocused on conveying something.)
  • I am also prone to interrupting myself to inject various details or special cases, or to edit as I go because I’m being nitpicky about wording or grammar (because I have ADHD and random things spontaneously come to mind), when I ought to write out the main idea first. A
  • And, of course, I’ll often lose my train of tho~ . . . umm . . . uhh . . . What was I saying? (because I have ADHD and so I’m easily distracted).
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Interesting how we are opposites in some things and yet so aligned with others!

:sunglasses:

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