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Listen up - Mold isn’t innocent & can really impact your brain & body functions - 047

anxiety depression executive function podcast Oct 02, 2017

Hey ADDers!  So glad you could join me for today’s podcast episode.  I shared in the last episode that I was late on the release of episode 46 because of some health challenges last week, and said that I was going to talk about it today.  So, today’s episode is a little different format, however, I trust you will find benefit in the content.

The information I need to share today is relevant whether you have ADHD, executive function deficits, depression, anxiety or physical health challenges.  Why is it important for me to share this?  Because if you aren’t aware of the far-reaching effects of mold (which I wasn’t) and where it can hide and what it can do to your brain and body, you need this information.  And I’m only scratching the surface here.

And it isn’t just water leaks creating mold you need to be thinking of.  Many of the adults I work with have stacks and stacks of papers lying all around because that’s their organizational system.  Dust on papers can contain mold spores; the same with the dust on your walls if you haven’t dusted them recently or ever.  I looked at my walls in that room and then all my rooms and dusted all the walls with something that attracted the dust so it wouldn’t just go flying into the air and make things worse.  And then there are the carpets, rugs, curtains, drapes and any of your fabric furniture, such as a sofa, loveseat, or chair.  I’m lucky there because I only have wood and tile flooring, except for the one or two throw rugs.  And I have very few window coverings because I like the natural light to come in.  I don’t need many window coverings for privacy where I live.  So I didn’t have to get all of those things taken down and cleaned. 

Many of the symptoms of mold exposure can be misdiagnosed as other health conditions and it’s important to know what to look for because it could be a missing piece to your better health and functioning, especially if you experience a foggy brain.

In this episode, I’m going to be talking about mold exposure and it's impact on your mind and body, as well as your canine and feline companions and what you can start to do about it so you can live a healthier, happier and more productive life.

In the ADDventures in Achievement™ program, you’ll benefit from my 30+ years of experience working with adults with ADHD, Executive Function Deficits and many other co-existing conditions in our weekly coaching calls, 2x/month workshops, and a private forum space for deep personal work with other like-minded adults.  You have access to me 6 days a week for support, solutions and accountability.  I don’t believe in Band-Aids that will only disappear down the road.  I believe in helping you move from stuck to unstoppable by getting to the core of whatever you’re missing and need to learn.  We’ve all had a belly full of judgment, criticism and punishment, whether it’s come from others or ourselves.  I encourage you to break free of that life and join us for your ADDventures in Achievement™.  Until then, become part of the Facebook community I created, The Harness Your ADHD Power Community, where I generally go live once a week for Q & A about your most pressing issues as an adult with ADHD.

Developing your Executive Function Skills and shifting your limiting beliefs is the fastest and most effective way to overcome ADHD limitations, find focus, gain confidence, and newfound freedom in your life!

My mission is to put an end to the worldwide needless suffering of adults with ADHD and those with under-developed Executive Function Skills - whether from ADHD, chronic depression or anxiety, trauma, addictions, or chronic illnesses.  And, you don't need a formal diagnosis to know you need help developing these executive function skills in order to greatly reduce your suffering.

 

Full Episode Transcript Hey ADDers! So glad you could join me for today’s podcast episode. I shared in the last episode that I was late on the release of episode 46 because of some health challenges last week, and said that I was going to talk about it today. So, today’s episode is a little different format, however, I trust you will find benefit in the content.

The information I need to share today is relevant whether you have ADHD, executive function deficits, depression, anxiety or physical health challenges. Why is it important for me to share this? Because if you aren’t aware of the far-reaching effects of mold (which I wasn’t) and where it can hide and what it can do to your brain and body, you need this information. And I’m only scratching the surface here.

How much time do we have? Not much. So let’s get to it.

I didn’t know much about mold before this year. I had a brief encounter with mold exposure about 18 years ago when the shower pan in my bathroom adjacent to my bedroom leaked and created a mold problem. It was discovered quickly because it was very obvious, was taken care of and the problem was solved. That was not the case this time.

Months ago when the first rains came, one of my skylights leaked for the first time. The leak wasn’t bad and I didn’t get it looked at right away; kind of forgot about it really. Then it rained again, leaked again and then the rains were over. I knew that I would need to get it looked at before this winter when the rains would come again. But the thought of mold never crossed my mind. My roofer was on my calendar to call to check the entire roof and the skylight to see what needed to be done before the rains came.

Earlier this year, I started to get some odd symptoms here and there. Over time, the symptoms increased and became more severe until I ended up in the emergency room one night with a severe case of hives and itchiness. It was scary because I had experienced this once before about 14 or 15 years ago and the cause was never determined. It took 1½ years to rebuild my body back then, and during that time, I had several trips to the ER for hives and breathing problems. Fast forward to now, and the odd symptoms and trip to the emergency room. I was concerned that what happened years ago could be happening again, and since the cause was never determined, I had to figure this out this time because I just couldn’t go through what I did back then.

I still didn’t know that what I was experiencing was triggered by mold. I thought I smelled mold in my bathroom area or closets but I wasn’t sure. With the labored breathing I had on occasion it felt like I had inhaled something that was in my lungs and it didn’t feel good to me. I could have hired a company to come out and check for mold like I did years ago but I learned there was an alternative test I could do with containers of water. It turns out that my bedroom and bathroom were completely free of mold and it was my client office space that had mold. I might not have looked up and seen what had happened to my ceiling and the untreated wood beams since the little skylight leaks, if it hadn’t been for the water test and discovery. Once I got the results, I did look up and saw how much the spots had grown and spread in such a short period of time.

The skylight was removed and is being replaced today as well as the mold-covered wood in the roof area of that skylight; plus the entire area outside will be treated for the mold contamination. Once the outside work is done, the inside mold areas will be treated and resolved.

I can tell you that I have continued to feel better with each step along this journey. I keep the air filter running 24/7 in that room and especially the day the skylight was removed and mold spores were released into the air with the removal process; couldn’t be helped.

And it isn’t just water leaks creating mold you need to be thinking of. Many of the adults I work with have stacks and stacks of papers lying all around because that’s their organizational system. Dust on papers can contain mold spores; the same with the dust on your walls if you haven’t dusted them recently or ever. I looked at my walls in that room and then all my rooms and dusted all the walls with something that attracted the dust so it wouldn’t just go flying into the air and make things worse. And then there are the carpets, rugs, curtains, drapes and any of your fabric furniture, such as a sofa, loveseat, or chair. I’m lucky there because I only have wood and tile flooring, except for the one or two throw rugs. And I have very few window coverings because I like the natural light to come in. I don’t need many window coverings for privacy where I live. So I didn’t have to get all of those things taken down and cleaned.

Many of the symptoms of mold exposure can be misdiagnosed as other health conditions and it’s important to know what to look for because it could be a missing piece to your better health and functioning, especially if you experience a foggy brain.

After the discovery of the mold just above my head in my office workspace, I started researching online and found several websites about mold-associated illnesses and symptoms. Here’s a partial list of what I found (and I’ve experienced many of these symptoms this year):

· Poor memory or memory loss
· Difficulty recalling or finding words
· Brain fog, confusion, difficulty concentrating or focusing
· Slower processing of information
· Decreased learning of new information
· Mood swings
· Disorientation
· Morning stiffness, joint pain
· Unusual skin sensations, sensitivities, tingling and numbness
· Skin rashes, hives or welts
· Acne or dermatitis
· Fatigue and weakness
· Frequent headaches
· Recurring and unusual shortness of breath
· Recurring respiratory infections or chronic cough
· Recurring sinus congestion or infections
· Appetite swings
· Body temperature regulation issues
· Increased urinary frequency or increased thirst
· Red eyes, blurred vision, tearing, light sensitivity
· Sweats (especially at night)
· Sharp or ice pick pains
· Weight gain
· Frequent flu-like symptoms
· Unusual aches or pain
· Muscle cramps
· Tremors
· Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, constipation
· Metallic taste in mouth
· Static shocks
· Vertigo, feeling lightheaded

Here’s a quick little checklist of questions I found that might indicate mold exposure:

· Do musty odors bother you?
· Have you worked or lived in a building where the air vents or ceiling tiles were discolored?
· Have you noticed water damage or discoloration elsewhere?
· Do you have skylights and have any of them leaked? Any stains around them?
· Has your home been flooded?
· Have you had leaks in the roof?
· Do your symptoms worsen on rainy days?

I learned that it’s important to:

· Remove yourself from the contaminated environment first (before going on to treatments). I had been treating all the odd symptoms but now that I’ve found the source of the problem, I know the current treatment will help me.

· Avoid exposure to porous items (paper, clothing, etc.) from the moldy environment. I’ve continued to purge more and more papers to eliminate that potential problem.

· I read that using activated charcoal or other binders to bind internal toxins can be helpful. Mind you, this is a very individual process, and I’m not recommending that you use or take anything without consulting with a trained professional, just as I have done for myself. You don’t want to make a costly mistake.

· It’s very important to maintain normal bowel function and avoid constipation so the toxins don’t stay in your body.

· Be aware of the common areas of the body that get problems due to mold exposure such as your sinuses, gut, bladder, and lungs.

· Get a high quality air filter in your environments. I already had one from AllerAir and just needed to replace the filters.

· I found many different foods listed that can trigger mold issues; and I already stay away from the majority of them.


And, in case you think you are the only one who might be getting affected by the mold exposure, if you have pets, think again. I read up on mold exposure for dogs and found the following symptoms:

· Excessive itching and scratching
· Fur loss
· Shaking their head and ears
· Chronic ear infections
· Chewing their paws
· Redness and scalyness of their skin
· Thickened and odorous skin
· Hot spots
· Secondary skin infections

And I found that the causes of mold allergies in dogs are lots of airborne mold challenges from plants, decaying vegetation, grasses, leaves, trees and in the soil.

What helps them is, according to what I read is:
· Frequent bathing
· Shampooing with a hypoallergenic product in cool to warm water
· Steroids (not an option unless urgent for Pink)
· Dehumidifier in rooms that are damp
· Omega 3
· Clean A/C and heating ducts regularly
· Clean with products that remove mold and spores

I don’t have any cats, however, I found the symptoms interestingly different in cats than dogs:
· Excessive sleeping
· Hiding (so as not to be disturbed)
· Decreased appetite
· Scratching or licking him or her self
· Fur loss or bald patches
· Coughing or sneezing
· Runny nose or eyes
· Wheezing sound when breathing

Same first step for us, as for dogs and cats – which is to clean the toxins out of the environment!!

Now back to being an adult with ADHD in today’s world.

So, why talk about mold exposure on a podcast about adult ADHD? Because, if your mind is foggy and your thinking isn’t clear, even with seeking treatment for your ADHD symptoms (not your EF deficits, which are skills), then you might want to take a look at your environment and the possibilities of mold exposure. I know that no matter what I tried to do to push myself to think through the podcast episode last week and get it written and produced, I was not able to get it done on time. My mind just wouldn’t get focused or clear and everything was taking so much longer to get done. If you experience anything like this, you just might want to check this out.

I’ve used my real life situation and shared it today as “my story” to also help you to understand that I am definitely still a work in progress, just like you. And years ago I would have been upset with myself for not taking care of the leak and skylight right after it happened, but that’s not how I think or treat myself today. I didn’t and I can’t undo that decision; I can only move forward and take care of the problem now and get healthier as a result.

I’ve talked a lot lately about Executive Function and I want to tie that into this episode as well. First, it’s your pre-frontal cortex that is the area of the brain most often referred to in connection with Executive Function. This is where the information and instructions are processed to tell other parts of your brain what to do and when to do it; provided you know how to perform that function or skill. In order for this part of your brain to do its job, it needs to be clear and functioning well, without any limitations or toxins to slow down its many jobs and responsibilities. Same as if your gut health isn’t optimal and there are toxins being released from your gut into your bloodstream (like with leaky gut) and making you ill, so it is with your environment and air-borne toxins that can impact not only your gut health but your brain health as well. If your brain isn’t supported in a healthy environment, it can’t do it’s best for you. And this is separate from the missing executive function skills that you might still need to learn. If your brain is foggy from gut toxins or air-borne mold exposure, how can you expect it to do its job properly even if you have the skills? I have good skills for organizing, prioritizing, decision-making, focusing, following through, self-management, transitions, planning, scheduling, foresight and my relationship with time and myself within time, and I still couldn’t get my work done on time because of mold exposure. What if you haven’t yet learned the skills I’ve learned? How could you possibly expect yourself to get your work done according to the standards you might have for yourself?

What I think is really important here is to get back to the concept of triage, which means that you prioritize what needs doing in order to restore your health and optimal functioning. I took action immediately with my environment because otherwise I could continue to take the herbs and medications I had been taking forever and never resolve the real problem, which was the mold. Now that the mold is being addressed, I know that I will recover my health completely and then build it up even stronger once the mold is fully addressed.

This experience led me to think about all the years I exercised in my garage, even with the big door opened to let in the fresh air. I’m sure there was plenty of dust and mold spores that I must have been breathing in while I was getting a “good workout” on my treadmill and doing my weight training. That never even crossed my mind as a consideration. I thought I was doing well to have great air flow in the garage while I did my aerobic workout on my treadmill. The airflow wasn’t the issue; it was the dust and mold spores in the dampness of the garage space since I don’t have a dehumidifier in my garage to handle the dampness there. I’ve made note to get that in the near future if I plan on working out again in the garage after I clear out the things for donation.

I’ve talked about that internal sense of urgency before, which is part of the executive function suite of behaviors, and that when we don’t feel that sense of urgency we don’t take action. I didn’t feel a sense of urgency about the skylight issue because it wasn’t raining anymore, and I was going to get to the problem before the rains started again this year. I wasn’t thinking about what had happened twice to the skylight and what that actually meant. If I had and then used my executive function foresight skills, I would have seen this coming, but I didn’t go there in my mind.

In previous episodes, I’ve talked about the neurological levels model of Robert Dilts: environment, behaviors, capabilities, beliefs and values, identity and spirit. I’ve also mentioned that I have gained a lot by starting with spirit and allowing spirit to flow into everything.

What I’ve learned recently is just how critical my environment is to my overall health and no amount of spiritual life changed that fact. I’ve had health challenges recently that just weren’t resolving. As the curious and determined person I am, I’ve changed my foods, my lifestyle, my shampoos, make up, cleaning products, checked my water and A/C and heating systems, removed excess indoor plants because of the soil, and yet I missed something very important that was right there all the time; I just had to look up.

I tell you this story because some of the symptoms of mold exposure are the same as those of ADHD and executive function deficits, and I encourage you to look around your own environment and see if you have anything around you on a daily basis that could be contributing to you not feeling your best and making your ADHD or executive function abilities worse. Again, some of the scary symptoms of mold infection or mold toxicity are: psychological distress such as anxiety or depression, exhaustion, changes in touch or sensation, muscle weakness, aches and pains, vertigo, coordination problems, sinusitis, strange rashes or hives, mental fog, breathing problems, hair loss, sore throat, cold and flu symptoms, headaches, memory loss, headaches, and digestive issues.

I’m looking forward to how I’m going to feel in the next week or two now that the rug is out for cleaning and the skylight and surrounding wood areas is scheduled for repair this week.

In recent podcast episodes I’ve talked about your strengths, talked about what it takes to sustain ongoing success and talked about your executive functioning. If you’re going to leverage any of what you have going for you to help you where you aren’t doing so well right now, you’ve got to get your environment in good shape so it supports you in the creation of a happier and more productive and successful life.

And perhaps you’re going to need to choose just one area of your environment to focus on because your entire environment is in bad shape. If that’s the case, address the one you spend the most amount of time in. If there were two areas in my environment that both had mold and I could only address one at a time, I would take care of the one that was the worst and then the other when I could. Plus, I would do what I could to limit the amount of time I spent in the second environmental space until it was cleared. That’s one of the reasons I have suggested that my students or clients use a sheet to cover over areas in their spaces that are cluttered with papers and stuff. It removes the visual stimulation of the clutter until the clutter is addressed, but it also somewhat contains the dust and mold until it can be addressed. You might be pleasantly surprised what a difference small little steps can make in how you feel.

Please remember that I wasn’t born knowing all of this information or the executive function skills that I’ve learned over the years to move myself from stuck to unstoppable, and neither were you. However, so long as you are “teachable,” and willing to be a student of your own life, you can learn just like I did.

I also want you to remember that you are NOT what you do or don’t do; you are more than that. WE are NOT defective or less than as people – as human beings; we’re just wired differently and the difference doesn’t have to be a limitation once you know what you need for your own success. Even if you’ve let things go and haven’t taken care of very important environmental or other concerns in your life, that doesn’t take away from the fact that you are still not broken or defective or a bad person. It just means you have things to take care of, just like I did.

It wouldn’t be a complete episode if I didn’t ask you about your WINS and encourage you to acknowledge them and celebrate them, so that’s what we’ll do now. I generally ask you about just one thing that’s gone right or is right with you, and I’d like to encourage you to look at more than just one WIN right now. The more I pay attention to the concept of WINS, the more WINS of my own I become aware of. I also experience a lot of gratitude when I celebrate my WINS. Do you? Unless this is your first time listening to my show, you’ve heard lots of examples of what I consider WINS, and I’d like you to take a moment and think about ALL the things that have gone right for you or with you today. If you woke up today, that’s a WIN. If you’re breathing on your own, that’s a WIN. If you have food to eat and you’re able to eat, that’s a WIN. If you have a bed of your own to sleep in, that’s a WIN. If you’re a kind person, that’s a WIN. If you’re able to think about your life with some clarity, that’s a WIN. If you are a compassionate person, that’s a WIN. Perhaps you reach other to others to help them, that’s another WIN. You get the picture; there’s a lot to be grateful for every day and to me these are WINS as well. So whatever you choose to reflect on right now is up to you; and I’d love it if you’d take a moment right now and think about some of the things that you’re grateful for that are WINS for you. That’s right. I know it doesn’t take away all the challenges you also have in your life right now; I get that. However, with a shift in your focus and attitude so many more good things can happen. Whatever really challenging circumstances exist in your life right now doesn’t take away from the fact that you have things to be grateful for and celebrate as WINS. You are a precious child of the universe; and are called a “human being” not a “human doing” for good reason. You don’t have to earn your value; you were born with it. You’re value comes from “who” you are; not what you do. Got it? I hope so because it can make a world of difference.

A Favorite Quote:

Zig Ziglar said, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “Will you take the time today to look at all your WINS and things that you could be grateful for about your circumstances and yourself and celebrate them?” I hope so. It’s totally worth it!!

That’s about it for today’s episode on mold exposure and what it may have to do with your ADHD, EF deficits, depression, anxiety or other challenges right now. I hope you were able to benefit from my story in some way and use what I’ve shared with you today to help yourself or a friend or family member improve the quality of life.

It means a lot to me to know that your life is getting a little bit better every time we get together. I do hope that you will take action on some of the suggestions and information I’ve offered you today, because for things to change, you have to change. And that means taking action, like checking out the episode links so you can benefit from all of the resources I continue to create for you in addition to this podcast show, if that’s of interest to you. Remember, there’s a PDF transcription of this episode in the resources. Plus, I’d love to get to know you in the community group I created on Facebook and interact with you when I go live there.

If you’ve benefited from today’s episode, take action now and share this show with your friends and family; perhaps rate the show or even write up an honest review of the show or this episode. Whatever you’re willing to take action on today will ripple out into the world and impact the course of your life as well as that of others you may never know about. In chance meetings throughout my life, I’ve shared things with people that I’ve later learned made a huge difference in their life. And the same has been true with what people have shared with me. We are not alone in this life of ours! We are all connected in such unique and unknown ways.

Lastly, if you don’t want to have to remember to look for new episodes, just subscribe and the newest episode will be in your feed by 1 am Pacific Time on Mondays and Thursdays.

So thanks for listening… Until the next time… Bye for now…

 

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