Thursday, December 3, 2009

Treatment has turned me into a slacker

Michele's comment on my previous post reminded me that I wanted to talk about this issue...I am a big slacker since I started ADHD treatment. While I suck at doing anything in a routine way, I am very rigid and uncompromising in getting my "work" done, because I know if I slack off, that I will likely not finish things. Well, treatment is making me way more laid back. The drugs calm and focus me, and the anxiety of my unfocused mind (combined with a little extra helping of anxiety that I seem to naturally harbor) were the horses driving my engine.

If I can't stop thinking about doing a particular project, I will stay up however late to get it done, even if I will feel like crap the next day, because I fear the not-finishing so much. I still do this but not to the same degree.

This just cracks me up because so many of us go to treatment because we want to be "more productive". However, I am realizing that this elusive "being more productive" was not really a good treatment goal for me. And honestly, when my therapist made me try to verbalise my treatment goal, I didn't say I wanted to be more productive, I said that I wanted to learn new skills to live my life, to replace some of the ones that weren't working.

If you measured me pre-treatment in terms of output, my life was working. If you measured me in terms of true mental health, probably not so much...I mean can you really say your life is working when you're fueled by desperation, fear and anxiety...even if the outcome is a lot of output? And I won't claim that I was working efficiently.

If I had to say what I am getting from treatment, I would say that yes, I am learning to be healthier, yes, I am learning to live my life in better ways, but am I more productive? I don't really feel like I am. Is this a problem? I don't know yet. I mean due to the fact that I was able to accomplish as much as I was unmedicated, it's possible (okay okay, it's TRUE) that my expectations for what a person should be able to produce are a little off. A little unrealistic...and over time, probably a little suicidal. But the fact remains that I can't DO as much as I did before and yes, that bothers me.

I don't feel that I am being impaired though...just that I had (and still have) no true grasp of what is a reasonable amount to pack into one day. I still don't know what that looks like.

Here's how I know that I am making "progress". I went to class yesterday for the first time in person since starting this medication combo. (Online class, meets infrequently in person.). Sitting there was absolutely a different experience. I was able to sit there a LOT longer without feeling like I needed to leave the room. The presentation we were watching was objectively boring so I know that the "normal" brains in the room were struggling as much as I was. There's a certain urgency, irritability and frustration that I always feel when I'm stuck at a desk in a classroom and I did NOT have that feeling. It was SO peaceful. I have the same experience in meetings and I LOVE it. I love being able to tolerate normal life situations without the well of anxiety building up in my body and mind because I just can't stand it anymore.

I am buzzing around less because I'm wasting less time on the jackassery of ADHD disorganization. I spend 10 minutes a week cleaning out my purse, which saves me a lot of time later that would have been spent looking for lost stuff in it, or cleaning a bigger mess out a year from now.

Most of my "piles" are gone and have not rebuilt themselves--and I had at least ten years worth of high-quality "WTF!?" built up in those piles.

I got some portable DRAWERS to put my clothes in. Don't worry, I haven't lost my mind, I'm not going to you know, fold laundry or anything but I found some that are wide, and CLEAR so I can see what's in them and they are portable so I can move them around if I want to.

It is easier to not overcommit myself. This will be an ongoing struggle but I just don't have to fight as hard to say no it seems.

And in regard to saying no, I did NOT engage in any "extracurricular" activities with said "date" last night, at ALL. Hey now...I'm not saying I'm usually a big town bicycle or anything...just that ADHD impulsivity has aided me in many a romantic misadventure in the past.

So while treatment has given me nothing but progress, progress for me just looks a lot different than one might expect. I like it, but it takes some getting used to. Makes it really easy to see how someone with certain manifestations of ADHD could be mistaken for bipolar at a first glance...happens all the time.

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