Friday, September 18, 2009

Why I LOVE My Job

Yeah, that's right, I'm an ADHDer that actually loves their job.

First of all, I highly (and admiringly) suspect that my boss, who is a great boss, is also an ADHDer. We work well together, I think, precisely because we "get" each others idiosyncracies. I have unusual work methods, so does he. I am an out of the box thinker, so is he. I basically like and am forgiving of other human beings, so is he. And ADHDers are FUN right? We have a lot of fun. The motto around here is definitely "work hard, play harder...after you get the work part done, and don't forget to write yourself a note to remember to do that work part first, haha". I am allowed a LOT of flexibility, because I get the job done, and to me, that is invaluable, not only because of my ADHD, but because I simply have a lot of other stuff going on in life and sometimes need to go deal with those things.

I have gotten upset before when we've hired someone new for the office to help us...I am very clear with the candidates about the reality of working in our office. I say things like this in interviews "okay, so you understand that we do criminal defense and that some of our clients are in fact guilty of disgusting crimes like child molestation and do you feel about that?". The other thing I have to be blunt about is the boss and our office work climate, about which I say "the boss works the way he works. You will need to, within reason, accommodate his idiosyncratic work will need to be VERY self-directed...some days it's like a freight train comes into the office and you have to either get on that train, or get run over. Are you able to be VERY hands on and keep the workflow very organized, but also be willing to be totally flexible at the drop of a hat?" You get the's the reality of both working in criminal defense AND working with TWO ADHDers, and people SAY these things are okay with them because they want a job, but then they start working and I see them get disgusted with that fact that yes, oh yes, ALL of these realities and more are true about our office. But their superiority will get them nowhere here, because superiority doesn't get the job done. Our wacky ADHD adventure? It DOES get the job done. Not without a little suspense sometimes, but it gets done.

It bears repeating that we're both ADHDers, big time, so if you can't handle working with BOTH of us...haha...tough shit :) We make up for the unconventionality by being friendly, funny, forgiving, very enthusiastic and hands-on teachers and regularly and clearly expressing our gratitude for a job well done...and right now we have an AMAZING "junior" paralegal, who is smart, and funny and capable, and just "fits" here at our office. A keeper!

So...I'm just grateful to have a place to work where I "fit". And where I'm actually able to apply my personal insight on ADHD to actually help someone else be productive and have a good day!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

WOW. Vyvanse. WOW.

I can't even believe what happened in my brain today. Seriously.

For the first time in my life, my mind felt totally relaxed, and yet totally naturally so. The fists gripping my consciousness released, the air blew through, and I felt energetic as usual, but totally relaxed. I felt creative, I worked on window displays all day but my thoughts did not race. My thoughts did not race. For those who don't know, stimulant medications are fun for non-ADHDers to abuse because they're apparently fun to get high on. I wouldn't know what that's like though because ADHDers do not get high on them...we get relaxed, calm, and focused. Theoretically they boost our dopamine levels back up to wherever they're supposed to be and stimulate the part of our brain that is doesn't light up on a brain scan like it's supposed to. With stimulant meds we can experience that nice, relaxed feeling that the rest of you take for granted. I'm also going to be trying Yoga as an avenue to peace and relaxation, but right now, I'm trying Vyvanse.

I had started on 30 mg of Vyvanse, and at first it was great...but it seems I acclimated to it very quickly, so after that I was a little jittery...undermedicated it turns out, because now, 50mg is pure heaven.

I hope that this is what continues to happen...I know some people just acclimate to stimulant medication and they have to "take breaks" to maintain its effectiveness, or sometimes just stop taking it all together because it won't work anymore. Right now I'm not going to worry about that, I'm just going to see where this goes.

I know medication doesn't make us perfect. I know it's not something that works for everyone. I know that "pills don't teach skills". But I'm a grownup. I'm in therapy. I'm working on my stuff. And I'm a willing guinea pig. And this guinea pig likes this medication so far and is at least incredibly grateful for the full day of peace that I experienced, for the first time in my life.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This is just too good not to share... today I got up, was running late for work, called the boss to let him know (he was running late too, thank you big ol' Jesus), survived a flurry of paperwork, left to go let my therapist run me through a meat grinder for an hour.

Through tears, to said therapist I say "you make people cry all day for a living, do you actually feel good about yourself when you go home at night"? It was that good. She just smiled.

Got back in the car, munching my way onto the freeway with one hand, driving with the other...oh no, I can see where you think this is going and it's not there, no ADHD car crashes today.

Finished with munching I call my boyfriend because I forgot to tell him that I was going to class for the afternoon. Oh, apparently I DID tell him. Hm, no matter at least HE remembered. Then, like a flash from the heavens...I realize. I don't have class tonight. Wait, do I? Wait...hey boyfriend, can you please look it up on your computer because I have already driven 40 MILES FROM HOME on my way to this class that I have no idea if I'm supposed to be at!?

He looked it up. No face-to-face class until October.

Arrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh. Stupidest Smart Girl In The World strikes again. Did I mention I have a 3.8 GPA? Yeah baby...wait, how do I get out of this paper bag???

Re Writing the Tapes in the Brain

I suffer from terrible intellectual self-esteem for no good reason.

If I had to speculate, I would say it's the effects of years of being the out of the box thinker in the room. I don't know if that kind of thinking is about having ADHD or if it's just unique to my brain...whatever the case, as a kid, I was often told by my totally awesome peers that I was "odd". Oh I had friends, they just all thought I was an oddball.

After a while, when people keep reinforcing for you that you don't think "like them" you start to question yourself.

Doesn't help (and this is where ADHD comes into play) that spontaneous decisions and impulsivity have made my intellectual path less than linear. And I had average grades in high school and terrible grades as an undergrad...that's another story.

But here I am, 34 years old, and in grad school (with a 3.8 thank you very much that I have had to battle every ADHD impulse in my body to achieve) and my department chair wrote to me yesterday and asked me to join a committee to help shape the goals of the department and...she said wanted my "incisive intelligence" on her team.

I cried. Yeah...I did. Was she kissing my ass? I don't know. I don't care. I felt it in my heart and I cried, and the weird little kid in my brain cried too.
I don't even know why I'm bothering to post today because honestly, this post at Jeff's ADD Mind says it all. This is my life. Esta es mi vida.

I just tried to come up with some witty response, some kind of reflection to add to what I read on his post but...feckit, DELETE, I got nothing, and I'm late for work.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Piles. The Damn Piles.

I am seriously considering hiring someone to take out a few of my 'piles' for me.

I can't stand it anymore. I'm working really hard at not making new piles, having time to dig through the old ones on top of that is hell on earth. Fuck you tidy people and your tidy fucking lives!!!! This pirate don't give a shit!

Okay I really do give a shit, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this in the first place.

This is one of those times where I'm like "hmmm...this is why I should have had children like 10 years ago"...except those kids would probably have ADHD too and be not naturally inclined to linear living.

Maybe all I need is a fire pit and a few boy scouts to cart the crap outside.

In the shrieky but true words of Kate Bush "mmmm yesssssss".

Honestly, I don't want to know what's in those piles anyway. Maybe the world is better off not knowing. Maybe life will be worse if I know what's in them. Maybe avoidance IS all it's cracked up to be.

Note to self: add avoidance and tracking down Boy Scouts and lighter fluid to personal to-do list....

I'm going to burn in hell for saying it...

...but it's true. I get really annoyed with other ADHDers sometimes. Why? Because they do the same annoying stuff that I do when I annoy other people, but I don't like being the recipient.

Actually it's really anyone who starts interrupting, acting without thinking, drifting off, or you know, other ADHD-ish stuff. For example, I can be reactive and just start telling my non-ADHD boyfriend what to do about something like a steam roller rolling through the living room, but on the rare occasion that he returns the favor I flip my lid and give him the "don't tell me what to do!" line. I know, I'm a total a-hole, and I assure you he loves it (insert sarc here). Often this elicits a "YOU ARE THE BOSSIEST LADY ON THE PLANET!!!" from him as he points out my asshatiness...yet another of the reasons I sought treatment...blahblah, ongoing journey, blah.

I have another great friend who I adore who is also an officially diagnosed ADHDer. She's fantastic...but when she drifts off and interrupts me when I'm talking, it does annoy me. Again...I know, I get it, I do these things all the time too, and I'm not angry about it and she's still my friend. Part of the reason I flip (in my head, in silence, screaming) is because I'm expending so much energy trying to focus on the conversation that her tangent on top of my own is just a little slice of hell for my ability to focus. This is a reason I like medication...makes it easier for me to listen and easier for me to not get annoyed when other people do these things. I always like to hear what she's saying, heck, I like to hear what people are saying all the time, my problem is I like it too much and my brain starts building castles on top of whatever they said and then I'm desperately trying to halt castle construction so I can respond appropriately.

Also...I work as a paralegal at a criminal defense office. Now...I'm not saying all criminals have ADHD or that all ADHDers have the potential to be criminals. But there are indeed studies out there pointing to the fact that many people in jail and prison populations have various mental issues, including ADHD. Lots of our clients are actually super to talk to. They're funny, they have great senses of humor, and many have VERY entertaining stories. Some of them actually have very sad stories, or are just sad people because of the predicaments their behavior gets them in. Sometimes their impulsivity and interruptiness though, again, can really make my day go from placid to angry-brain. Sometimes we work really hard to make their lives easier and they just make bad decisions over and over again bacause they don't know how not to...some will interrupt me on the phone when I'm trying to help them and I just want to yell "SHUUUUT UUUUP!". A couple of times, I have had to find ways to rein them in, while remaining within the bounds of professional behavior. "I am doing my best to help you, but you are being so abusive to me right now that you are making that difficult, and you need to listen." Usually works well. Usually elicits an apology. What I'm really thinking is "SHUT THE EFF UP, I'm the one that's out and you're the one that's in jail asshat!". Then I have to have a silent, internal "There but for the grace of God" moment with myself and proceed. I gotta say, I do wonder how many of these guys, 15 years ago, were the kid bouncing off the walls in the back of the classroom, in trouble, and getting sent to the elementary school principle's office. I was the quiet girl that always got put next to them, but it backfired because it unleashed my chattiness. Then the boys would get blamed for "turning me bad" when really I was perfectly happy back there chatting with them. The bad boys were funny after all. Maybe that's why I always like bad-boys :)

Anyway...I guess that's just a funny irony of being an Adult ADHDer. Having to learn to have patience with other people who are at times, just as annoying as YOU are at times. After I'm done being annoyed in the moment, it does make me chuckle.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Abnormally Fantastic!

For like three days in a row now I have actually been wanting to go to sleep at a normal hour, and am sleeping REALLY extra well. I generally do stay asleep once I'm asleep, but getting myself to go to bed is a trick and a half. My brain is usually going and going and going, and there's things to read and do, and ideas, and tv. Often I get this funny anxious feeling when I think about going and getting in my bed, nothing traumatic, it's more like "oh, if I go to bed, then I will miss all the great stuff happening in the world that I can't stop thinking about!". Sometimes there's "oh, I should do this cool thing and I'll do it now so I don't have to do it tomorrow or worry about forgetting it" which let's me justify working on it instead of going to bed. At least I'm enthusiastic about the world, if not well-rested.

I also seem to be able to get back to sleep if woken up. Sometimes, to trick myself into "going to sleep" I will just lay where I am on the couch, and fall asleep...but then when my sweetie wakes me up to stick me in the bed I get in the bed and just lay there awake. Last night, at a nice normal hour I just went to sleep on the couch and he came to wake me up and I crawled in bed and stayed there snoozing deeply until 9:30 am.

It's really nice, what a luxury! I just feel slightly more relaxed than usual, in my brain and in my body. I hope this is something that might continue. I don't know if it's the Celexa finally kicking in or what...I hope so. I don't know when I'll enact all my awesome late night ideas now, but I still think this is a trade up :)

Medication Sensitivity

I want to highly recommend to others who may consider trying medication for ADHD (or anything, really) that it's a good idea to learn a more about medication sensitivity, or at least be aware that it exists and can be a problem.

Now, not everyone is "medication sensitive", but a fair amount are, for various reasons. In my case, I am 5'4" and weigh 110 lbs, so it makes sense that in many cases, a dosage that is appropriate for a 200 lb person is not going to be appropriate for fact it may knock me on my ass, basically incapacitate me, or ensure that I have INSANE side effects. It blows my mind that drugs are classified in terms of "child" or "adult". There are 12-year olds larger than me and I'm 34 (as I am eerily reminded when I see Missing Children posters and the missing kids are bigger than I am...). My liver can't be huge. I actually can't even drink caffeine without it seriously screwing with me in an "oh shit I think I'm gonna panic" kind of way (this has actually ended a few times with me literally on the floor incapacitated for several hours thinking i'm going to die). Isn't that fun, an ADHDer who can't drink caffeine? You think that's mind blowing, pair that with the fact that stimulant meds seem to, indeed, calm me down. I don't know what the eff is up with that...

Anyway, when I started on the Strattera, my prescriber (who I generally consider to be pretty astute, educated and thoughtful) decided that maybe putting me on 40 mg right up front would be a good idea. In earlier posts I've talked a little about what happened so no need to go there but wow... prescriber considered the lesson learned after that (after retiring my relationship with Strattera for lack of consistency) and put me on a small starting dose of Vyvanse and an utterly microscopic amount of Celexa.

The Vyvanse truly made me want to iron clothes, sort and stain-stick my laundry and dedicate my morning to mindless, calm productivity. It made it much easier for me to give and take in conversations in a relaxed but energized way, instead of anxiously pretending to be listening. YES.

Celexa, even in a teeny tiny dose, gave me some weird side effects including a very rare side effect, though all of them had far less impact on me than the Strattera side-effects did. So I am happy with having tried smaller dosages to start...I think it's more appropriate to who I am and how my body works.

Anyway, just something to be aware of...age, gender, metabolism, size and more can have an impact on how you metabolize meds. Don't be afraid to gather your own information, or at least ask lots and lots of questions when you visit your "support team". It's your body, it's your health, it's your life not theirs.


  • Ask questions!
  • If you can, do your own research, or ask a friend to help you find info about your medications.
  • If you need a helper to help you express your concerns to your medical providers, grab a trusted friend or family member to come in with you. I have had some helpers on call before, for in case I needed them to help me with that.
  • I have mentioned it before but I have a small notebook that I carry around with me everywhere. I write notes in it all the time. That way all I have to do when I go to the therapist I can flip through to find my thoughts I had over the week. Or when I go to see my prescriber I can recall my experiences with the meds (I'm usually pretty good about this but really sucked at it this last time...haha...oh well, try, try again...).