Take THAT, Executive Function Disorder.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I qualify for Executive Function Disorder:

(from https://www.additudemag.com/what-is-executive-function-disorder/)

Broadly speaking, executive functions refer to the cognitive and mental abilities that help people engage in goal-directed action. They direct actions, control behavior, and motivate us to achieve our goals and prepare for future events. People with executive function disorder (EFD) struggle to organize and regulate their behavior in ways that will help them accomplish long-term goals.


I remember being in the sixth grade and feeling a shift in my motivation.  I just couldn’t focus on tasks like before.  The simplest of assignments became burdensome and induced major anxiety in me, the likes I’d never felt before.  I didn’t know how to verbalize what I was going through.  I assumed that everyone was right; I was just lazy.  But I wasn’t.  I’m not.  I had so many projects, academic and personal, that I WANTED to complete.  But I had mental roadblocks.  And they were EFFECTIVE, man.  It got to a point where it seemed easier for me to give up rather than continue on my path and meet my deadline.  I STILL suffer from this, but now I understand it and can apply a smorgasbord of strategies to help myself.  Like, my favorite, talk about it to a sympathetic listener.  I happen to be married to the best one in the world, thank you very much.  And, my second favorite, work through the doubt without any judgement as to the results.  You see, I’m a recovering perfectionist.  But I’m the WORST kind of perfectionist:  if I’m not instantly good at something, I tend to not do it.  Recovery is looooong, exhausting, yet liberating.

(from https://www.additudemag.com/what-is-executive-function-disorder/)

The seven major types of self-regulation associated with executive function are as follows:

  1. Self-Awareness: commanding self-directed attention

  2. Self-Restraint: inhibiting yourself

  3. Non-Verbal Working Memory: holding things in your mind to guide behavior

  4. Verbal Working Memory: retaining internal speech

  5. Emotional: using words and images along with self-awareness to alter how you feel about things

  6. Self-Motivation: motivating yourself to do things when no outside consequences exist

  7. Planning and Problem Solving: finding new approaches and solutions




Symptoms of EFD

People with EFD often experience time blindness, or an inability to plan for and keep in mind future events that aren’t in the near-term. They also have difficulty stringing together actions to meet long-term goals. This is not an attention problem in the present tense, but rather a sustained attention problem.

People with EFD have trouble organizing materials and setting schedules. They may often misplace papers, reports, and other materials for school or work. They might have difficulty keeping track of personal items or keeping their home or bedroom organized.

Executive functions allow people to do the following:

  1. Analyze a task

  2. Plan how to address the task

  3. Organize the steps needed to carry out the task

  4. Develop timelines for completing the task

  5. Adjust or shift the steps, if needed, to complete the task

  6. Complete the task in a timely way

When a person’s executive functions fail, he or she has trouble analyzing, planning, organizing, scheduling, and completing tasks. People with EFD commonly lack the ability to handle frustration, start and finish tasks, recall and follow multi-step directions, stay on track, self monitor, and balance tasks (like sports and academic demands). Fixing the area of deficit is key to solving academic or work difficulties.


TIME BLINDNESS????!!!!  Why did I not know about this before??!!!  I’ve been TIME BLIND, guys.  Uggggghhh.  Is this why I’ve never been Executive material?  Yeah, probably not.  Moving on.


The whole point of this post is to say “SUCK IT” to my EFD because I just finished something I’ve been working on for, oh, a few months.  (But a month or two really shouldn’t count because I was on the brink of death).  My Mental Illness Menagerie coloring book is finally ready!  You can see a preview here.

It all began with an off the cuff phrase I heard at a staff meeting at work.  I couldn’t tell you to what it referred because I don’t remember.  All I can reveal is that someone used the phrase “drastic duck,” and my mind was off to the races immediately.  So it started with a duck from work.  Then I had the epiphany of using the alphabet as my anchor and other animals to illustrate (literally) the many ways in which mental illness can manifest itself.  L, K, and Y were real pains in the ass to establish but I’m happy with what I chose.  (I’m particularly smug about my Cliff Clavin Koala.)

I never thought I’d finish this.  Ever.  I thought I’d just keep printing the individual letters as cards (which I intend to continue) and my idea would remain fully realized only in my EFD addled brain.  But somehow I came through for myself.  So enjoy!  Better yet, buy the book and download it today and send me pics of your amazing coloring!!!  Thanks, guys.  I’ll be over here, drinking some wine and hoping this isn’t a colossal embarrassment.

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