Friday, October 16, 2009

When high functioning becomes low functioning

Uhhh. Alright. Where to start with this one.

I am what pretty much anyone would consider a "high-functioning ADHDer". Whatever that means. I mean I really functioning particularly well if I'm coping myself through life with self-destruction? Yeah...not so much. here I am, a person with ADHD who has begun to try to unravel the coping mechanisms that brought her to this point. The stuff that I do that lets me get the work done...but also hurts my health and psychological wellness. I work too much, too long, too often, I overcommit, I mimic OCD, I have no respect for my own boundaries. I have terrible self esteem because I feel out of place, so I don't respect my own boundaries and I only recently have I begun to actually believe, really and truly, that I'm a smart person...too many humiliating timed tests in school when you can't concentrate will do that to a person. But blahblahblah, back here in the present, I am in a very, very weird position, for the first time in my life.

An interesting note about stimulant medication...that will set the stage.

When you have spent your life with a racing, impulsive mind that won't shut off...stimulant medication is both a miracle...and also, I speculate, just like giving a person who has been deaf for a lifetime a hearing aid. Fascinating and painful.

Now that I have had a taste of calm in my mind, I have no tolerance for chaos.

Now that I see the spaces between things, I want to honor instead of accidentally fill them.

When I began this process of treating my ADHD, when people would ask me questions like "are you easily distracted" or "are you bothered by distractions" I would have said no. Because, I now realize, I didn't even know what distractions were! I just thought my environment was filled with magical discoveries all day long! I was pulled to each with equal enthusiasm, and not bothered, not one fucking bit. I loved them, I indulged them, I juggled them with virtuosity (while, um, managing my MUST DO list much less well, yes, I'll be honest). I wasn't bothered by coworkers...I would migrate from office to office all day long, gathering information and sharing my neurotic musings on life on anyone willing to engage me. (Yes...I was THAT coworker. I'll apologize for my cubicle wandering brethren. We really can't help ourselves, but I'm sure you knew that.)

Oh I somehow got my work done...and it was boring as hell...and...I would have to work extra hours to get it done because the shine had worn off after about two months, if that...but I didn't mind. For years I didn't mind, even though it was obvious that my work habits looked nothing like anyone else's in the office no matter what office I worked in. When I needed to work I would bury myself in my office for hours with the lights off, and headphones on, to eliminate these things I did not consider distractions, so I could just focus...and all day...actually THIS was pretty annoying, people would come by and flip the light on going "oh, your light is off" as if it seemed impossible that someone could need the light off to work. I finally trained them to leave the light the frig alone. I knew that I truly could NOT work without the headphones and the low light. I knew that much at least about the light, by the 3rd grade...but still, I did not really know what distractions were. Because to me, it was totally normal to be assaulted by my environment.

I also became that employee that has no boundaries between work and home. You see, my unconventional ways of working made me very self-conscious, and like I always had to say yes...or volunteer, when a boss needed someone to do something early in the morning/late at night/insane. Good stuff. Good for job security, makes bosses more able to see past the fact that you are always late for meetings, and for that matter, always sneaking in late from downstairs in the morning...but bad for a lot of other reasons...but again, all of this, to me, was normal.

Enter Vyvanse. Exit problems with anti-depressants. Enter...enter...holy shit! I see order in the universe! I see space between breaths! I see London, I see France, I see intolerance for distraction...bwahahaha! What the frig?!

No seriously...what the frig?! Oh no, I know that stimulants can cause people to be agitated and angry, and I'm pretty sure that's not what's going on...because I'm not angry. I'm pretty frustrated though...and I really want to simplify my life. I think the problem is this...I can see NORMAL now. And I actually don't mind it. And I actually want to work within it.

The problem is that I chose this life, and all of the people, and things, and evils of the world in it...when I didn't know how to recognize distraction for what it truly is. When I accepted chaos for normal. When I was happy and able to bounce through life like a superball.

Vyvanse helps me slow down...I can sit and work for hours...but I'm fighting with all of these factors that if given the choice now, I would probably never choose, because I would recognize that they are all frickin' nuts.

This made me think two things...1) sometimes high functioning is low functioning. If you have a hard time getting might get some medication and start making what they call progress...toward trying some new things, etcetc... but if you are already flying through life at a quick and dirty speed of light...and have found ways to cope yourself into submission...and you know that if you let go for one second you could lose hold of makes it harder to let go...harder to make progress, perhaps, in a way (or maybe just equally hard)...because you have to let go...and lose control...a let some of the loose pieces fly away...before you can RE-learn your surroundings, and what they are, and what they mean, and write yourself a new map of behaiors to cope.

2) I am going to proceed with the "plan" that I'm on, even though it's uncomfortable right now, and even though it may create total war between me and every other influence in my current life.

For example...I do like my primary job. I do love my ADHD boss. But yesterday, as I just kept trying to finish one particular task, and had spent half the morning looking for a file, and had asked the two other people in the office twice, if they had seen it anywhere, and everyone was talking over everyone, and no file was in sight, and the phone kept ringing, I finally blew a cork. I had selected this task as one that I wasnted to finish and for three hours had battled my environment over it. It sounded something like this, as I stood between the two of them "WHERE THE FUCK IS THE MCCARTHY FILE?!". Silence. Then one of them ran to the other room, found it, and brought it back, and I finished my task. Am I going to have to go work in a cubicle???

Maybe this is just a case of "it gets worse before it gets better". Okay...I'll try a little longer.

No, I swear to god it's not meds induced rage. I have two jobs, two side-businesses, one of which involves managing a herd of artists, two parents who ABSOLUTELY have ADHD, a very public life, I'm a full time grad student, a boss with ADHD, and some relationship issues we are working through. I am also helping my parents with the family business for the next little while because of an unexpected issue. I have had three meds changes in 6 months, some of which have gone VERY badly and made it impossible for me to think to the point where I now have to delay graduation until next semester. In general, I choose quirky environments and quirky people to exist with. And on top of all of this, I am trying to relearn how to "do life".

This life would give anyone rage. Just add Vyvanse, so that I finally have the clarity to distinguish chaos from calm, truth from ADHD bullshitting, the acuity to actually SEE distractions for what they are instead of following them like a trail of candy...and the power to just barely begin to make different choices? Yeah...I'm a little frustrated, SUPER cranky, and popping an occasional cork.

Other than that, I feel great. But never has high functioning felt so, so low functioning.

No comments:

Post a Comment