Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer, what's that?

I have been having a very challenging summer. Let me see...I have two part-time jobs. Oh and I'm a full-time grad student and was working at an internship. I coordinate a local weekly event that involved juggling a ton of details and people each week. I have a sewing studio that involves another type of "work". And I do a ton of networking in support of my various projects. OH...and I almost forgot (not bloody likely) I was just diagnosed with ADHD this summer. So I've had to figure out how to manage each of these things...while starting medication, changing my brain chemistry, and learning some new behavior patterns. Piece of cake!

The number one most obvious thing that the medication and therapy helped me realize was "oh GEEZ, I need to stop doing so much". But what to do when you've already made the commitments, right? Right. As my therapist said "YOU MUST FOLLOW THROUGH ON THESE COMMITMENTS". And despite ADHD I'm the kind of obsessive that really likes to see things through anyway, even if I have to have a miserable tug of war with myself first (perfect example of conscious overcompensating for the natural ADHD impulse to run screaming...I just scream on the inside and beat that voice down with an invisible bat...).

The biggest asskicker, aside from the sheer horror of staring that kind of overcommitment in the face...was the particular nature of some of these challenges.

Let me set the stage...two of these projects, and I shall not name them, required me, an adult with ADHD, to sit still, in silence, for hours at a time, several days a week, quietly completing valuable yet repetitive tasks. Uhhhhhhhh. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I'm sure you can imagine how pleasant that was for me. Oh, I've developed the ability to pretend that I am conforming to the situation. On the inside, for these few months, my mind has been silently screaming like a caged animal. Even with the aid of medication this was simply too much to bear at times. It's like having a really bad itch and you cannot scratch it, you cannot reach it, you cannot do a thing about it. Except sit there...and try to focus, but it's one thing to hold your body still...and quite another to hold your mind still. And unfortunately, when stretched to this kind of extreme, it makes it that much harder to keep my mind still. I understand that it is my obligation as a person with ADHD to work as hard as I can to "take care of business" and conform as much as possible if that's what the situation commands. I've been doing it for most of my life. But like I said...just because I look like everything's okay doesn't mean it is...and some situations put you SO far past your limit that it's just unfair.

It has actually impaired my ability to effectively assess how well my medication is working compared to where I started out. I started out with a hyperactive mind...and then threw myself into a situation that is the absolute perfect hell for a hyperactive mind...gave myself a mild medication that under normal circumstances would calm me just enough that it's a little easier to think things through...but under these extremes might as well be water. Very frustrating. And I know the medication IS helping because under other circumstances it's been very calming and helpful. This type of extreme situation wouldn't be good for me ever. You could give me a ton of stimulants and it wouldn't have helped, you could probably put a gun to my head and it would be more comfortable.

I hope that all makes clear sense...I think it does. I write about this now because some of the summer projects are coming to a close right now and I feel like I've survived a major battle of some kind. I feel spent but relieved. I certainly reinforced for myself what kinds of situations I need to seek out for myself in order to thrive. And now that these projects are biggest project will be to turn down new projects. Because I don't want my life to be one big chain of overcommitment and stress. It's one of the major reasons I sought treatment, because my life felt like a runaway train.

Now, I struggle to make sense of all of this, and to narrow my focus in a positive way...I need to make choices that let my strengths thrive and serve me well, instead of ones that only remind me of my shortcomings.

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