Friday, September 25, 2009

Masturbation and delegation...

Tonight is a night of big, magical ideas...the kind that light my soul on fire. Yes, just my soul...yes, the title is only metaphorical.

Many ADHDers, I know, can relate to this feeling. Your mind floats outside of the box, high above the clouds...into nothing less than outer space...crossing paths with comets, recalling ancient, alien languages and speaking them just as easily, breathing anti-air and loving it like chocolate...the freedom of this kind of thinking and this lack of oxygen will get you way high.

Tonight I am planning a act of artistic worship.

The difference just now, is that instead of exploding ideas into existence, burying myself under the masonry of the building pile, burning out, freaking out, pulling myself together and somehow magically getting a result while endangering my health and sanity (even if I'm the only one who realizes the peril, because I'm surreally good at hiding it)...this time here, and for the last month or so, I have been delegating. Collaborating. Slowly finding joy in the freedom, now, of trusting others to help me.

Instead of proving something to myself my trying to be perfect. (An apparently classic tactic of many women with ADHD, in trying to control what seems uncontrollable...)

Instead of deploying motivational anxiety as an army against myself in service to the cause, when I've taken on too much. (Damn...that's one dense sentence. Sorry. I'd rewrite it but it's a perfect offering on the altar of what not to do as a writer!)

There's so many layers of transformation at play here I don't even want to get into it right now because that would be such a buzz kill.

But I'm dreaming of colors and dancing, I'm imagining my way toward and past Saturn, thinking gratefully on the image of my capable and equally inspired collaborator AND...imagining who else we will charm into helping me enact this latest and greatest act of artistic worship and community building!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A consensual death by drowning...

"Lovers leave traces of where they've been.
The wailing of broken hearts
is the doorway to God."

Thanks Rumi, old buddy old pal.

A Forum post by Dana at ADHDer world got me thinking about love.

Actually it didn't get me thinking about love. It got me thinking about how many times I thought I was in love when I was really seeking stimulation--because I didn't know how to sit still long enough to formulate a better plan. Part of the ADHD curse is the pull of the novel, the lure of whatever siren seems most beautiful just then.

For me, this was no metaphor. No love affair with rock climbing or skydiving, no drug-fueled binges, no impulsive vacations to far away glamorous destinations. (Okay maybe just a few impulsive vacations). This was literal response to the magnet call of lust--far easier than incubating any long-term plan. Beautiful voices, and faces, and bodies, and art and passion and adventure. The wailing of broken hearts and the doorway to God. The seemingly easy way out. The only path that seemed to make any sense because I couldn't think past it to another possibility.

Using the romance of other peoples' baggage to draw focus from my own. A consensual death by drowning. An overdose of the psychological dramas of others because it was easier than having to acknowledge mine. It was easy to feel normal by comparison to the drama I chose to allow into my life...

I re-read this and my pride takes a beating. Curious pit in my stomach as I admit to you, and to myself, my own failings. Ouch.

I still struggle to formulate alternatives. I am still lured by the shiny. I have all of the same impulses that drove me all those years. Duh, ADHD. But...I work to ignore them. And it is work, and I can only assume that it always will be. But each time I resist, I hope that I form some new pathway in my brain...around the ADHD dead spot of course...that can lead me closer to the new visions for my life. (And I have MANY! SHINYSHINY!!!)

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love." Again, Rumi...and more relevant to my present. Where I struggle to create the space, and time, and just enough quiet for me to hear the voices of what I really love, and want and need, over the call of the sirens.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

F*ck the FDA

I don't think my med sensitive brain and the FDA have the same "acceptability range" for generic medication equivalence. Because I sure as shit am not having the "benefit" from this particular generic citalopram that I was having from the last batch.

This tidbit from Wikipedia has got me swearing right now. That and the fact that my jaw is clenching again, and that massive wave of anxiety I thought I had left behind weeks ago (the one caused by the Celexa, NOT the one that usually lives in my brain in a totally different way) is back.

The FDA's liberal definition of "bioequivalence" and "legal" interpretations of what identical means to them have literally screwed up my brain chemistry. Thanks a-holes. I'm so glad that my jobs and grad school, and the community organizing that I do are just so easy and don't really demand my attention or time at all because I've got nothing better to do right now than sit on my couch in a sickening ball of tension wanting to hide from the world. Because the effectiveness of what they're dispensing at one pharmacy, from one manufacturer, isn't the same as the next.

I signed up to be a guinea pig people...not your bitch. It's already a big experiment adding new chemicals to my brain...without your asshattery and generally sloppy oversight giving me a middle finger right in the central nervous system.

Embarrassing Confession

I'm a grad student. Have I ever mentioned in this blog what I am getting a Masters Degree in?


Probably not. Maybe, can't remember (haha).

Well here goes. I am about to graduate with a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science.

Oh's true. I am getting a whole graduate degree in ORGANIZING.

More specifically organizing information and how to find it/research. You won't be surprised to learn that my emphasis in all of this is on the research/teaching people to find information part, because I enjoy the problem solving and teaching, rather than actually sitting around cataloging things. But I will say this...I am not bad at concocting systems for organizing things, I am not a crappy "cataloger" as they say in the biz, and I do understand systems of organizing just fine.

I know where my strengths lay though...and on a daily basis, I truly am not capable of sitting as a desk putting little bits of information into little boxes all day. Oh hell no. I am much more effective in working with others, seeking information and acting as a guide to others who are seeking it.

When I tell people what I'm getting a degree in, who don't know me in that context their reaction is generally surprise.

Of course ;) An ADHDer getting a degree in organizing. And yet I can't get my brain wrapped around all kinds of routine daily tasks. Yep...that's me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When My Mind Grinds To a Halt

Writing the last post actually sparked a whole other train of thought for me...and I realized it needed its own room to grow.

Because it's so hard to explain to people why perfectly smart individuals with ADHD do some of the things that they do. If we're not just lazy, or stubborn, or contrary, or trying to be annoying, then what are we?

Consider this. I'm betting that this is something that other people with either ADHD or learning disabilities can relate to. There are many things that I just "get", effortlessly. There are other times when it literally feels like my thinking is stuck in molasses. Except I'm moving really fast, and stuck in molasses all at the same time, which makes it impossible to synch all relevant pieces of thought to one another in the present, immediate moment...because my energy is being spent on trying to pull myself out of the molasses, and trying to listen to people talking to me, and trying to rein in my racing thoughts...all at the same time.

These contradictions actually make the ways in which my mind is impaired seem even more obvious to me. Anything language related, I'm golden. Breathing air...golden. Haha. Anything math related. Oy vey. Oh I know a lot of people in general have a little trouble with math. That doesn't even cover it. I fully believe that I am "diagnosable" with some kind of mathematical learning disability. I took Algebra THREE TIMES after all, and that's as far as I meaningfully got. Geometry...forget it. And it's okay, I mean not everyone is great at everything. It's just that I literally can feel my thinking grind to a halt when faced with mathematical concepts, to the point where people are speaking English to me and it's like the words gets all mixed up in my head and I can't process it. my adult life I became, at one point an Algebra tutor. WHAAAT? True story. The perspective of having to figure out how to teach it to someone else helped the concepts stick...and I had a boyfriend in my twenties who was an absolute math genius, and a good teacher...and he and I would actually talk about math all the time. His take on this: you're not math stupid, you're just math slow. He would say "you need to forgive yourself for the fact that it just takes you longer to's okay.". Once I did, I realized that I could, in fact, learn math, and furthermore, I could TEACH math, but it did indeed take me a longer time and a different route to learn the material, and time and flexiblity were not often offered in my math classes growing up.

But anyway, the math example is just a model for you to consider...for there are other times I feel my mind grind to a halt, just like that. Often when I'm trying to do one of those seemingly innocuous things that seems like it should be easy to do. My Time Sheet. The Laundry.'s those moment where it feel like I am trapped, flailing in molasses and I'm desperately trying to cull the most important part out of what someone is asking me so that I can respond, and release myself from the moment, so I can try to remember what the heck I was doing, or wait, then there's that other thing I was about to do but, oh everything's cascading in my brain and I can't pull my arms out of the molasses...ack! You see? I hope so. As I'm moving a million miles an hour with a smile on my face, hoping I didn't just accidentally make you feel like I was brushing you off.

I just wish there was a way to make people understand.

This is why my trusty tiny notebook and pen are so important to me, it's my lifeline to remembering, and to relaxing, so that I don't have to carry the anxiety of remembering around with me too. Or the anxiety of forgetting...

It's why I am very honest with people that if they ever need anything from me, they need to write it down because I simply won't remember, and it's me, not them.

It's why I am blunt with people about the fact that I cannot remember names. Faces I'm much better with, but if I don't remember your name, don't take it personally, again it's me, not you. When I am simultaneously working to pull together so many factors in my own brain, maybe you can see then why remembering those kinds of things, the things that make people think that you are interested in them...are harder to imprint on the mind, and not out of lack of caring.

I can feel the line between my mind "working", as it sometimes does, and my mind "not working". Sometimes, it is directly related to the concept at hand, like a math concept...and the fact that I am not processing it well. And sometimes...sometimes it's just that the energy in my mind is literally on a tangent of some kind...all ramped up on enthusiasm and nowhere to go right that second...

That line is so clear to me, and I just wish there was a foolproof way to make it clear to other people.

Establishing Routine

Establishing Routine.

It's something that everyone has to commit a little conscious effort too. For me though, and I suspect other adults (and kids actually too) with ADHD, this can be a MAJOR undertaking.

Even when I create systems to organize myself I have to commit effort to remembering that I even created the system. For example...I'm trying to get myself to use Google Calendar. Seems simple right, especially for me, since I'm always on the damn computer...but remember: if I don't see it, it doesn't exist. I forget the calendar is even there, nevermind remembering to look at it. It's just one more hidden layer of reality. Not sure if this is a good long-term solution for me as a result but we'll see.

To those without ADHD, who are naturally organized, this may seem improbable. It may seem "lazy". It may seem " stubborn". It may seem "flighty". And I can't tell you how much it pains me, the awareness that people think that. Think of it this way...I am an extremely intelligent person who spends a great deal of time trying to think of ways to make myself more efficient, and how to be more respectful to other people. I am actually REALLY good at coming up with systems for executing new ideas. I KNOW these things are illogical and that's my point...if I didn't have ADHD, I am actually the kind of person that simply would make more efficient choices, because I am aware that they exist and I do not enjoy the results of this in my life. And I DO try to make more efficient choices all the time...and will continue to do so...but I assure you, it's not laziness. This is hard work, and I'm a damn hard worker.

Establishing a routine often takes me months and months of repeated failures before I'm able to find a way to "trick" myself into remembering or doing something regularly. And when my routine gets disrupted...after all of that effort.'s breathtakingly awful, and shocking how it blows the routine all to hell. Talk about stress, no wonder I have anxiety up the kazoo.

Let me give you some examples that stun even myself, and they're part of my life.

Prior to the job I have now, I always had jobs where you had either a time-clock, or a salary and a set number of hours to work, so I never had to track my time and turn it in to get paid. Well...I'm a paralegal now. Paralegals can often have erratic work schedules depending on the area of law they work in. They also, whether they are salaried or not, or keep regular hours, often have to track the amount of time they spend on each case, so that clients can be "billed" accurately. This involves taking constant notes about how your time is spent...instead of just "doing". Well...constant interruption is difficult for me to tolerate once I get going because once I'm interrupted it takes forever to get going again. And when I'm really on a roll it is more of a challenge to remember to write every little thing down. So I use little post it notes to write everything down and stick them everywhere, and that helps...

But the problem is, I still have to turn in my hours to get paid. So my notes in the client files about various tasks may be correct...the work is done...the post its are everywhere. But sitting down to fill out the little blanks in the time sheet? Mother....fucker. That kills me. My brain literally goes into hyper-flying-around-the-room-mode. That is, if I even remember to do it. Our bookkeeper at the office "gets" me, so even though she's annoyed, she knows I'm not just trying to drive her crazy...but after three years of dealing with me and my late time-sheet-itis, I'd be annoyed too if I was her.

Now, I finally got into a routine earlier this year where I would turn it in FOUR DAYS ahead of time, which took the time pressure off, and made it easier for me to do. But then there was a holiday weekend or something and it threw me out of my routine and I haven't recovered yet. This past week, instead of being willing to run back to the computer to just print out my check, she was like "tough noogies, I'll get it to you next week". I don't blame her, and I'm not mad about it. I'm just annoyed that it's so hard for me to just BE routine.

Another example. I know how to do laundry. I know how to fold laundry. But I can't stand tasks that are neverending. You know, the ones where you do it, and it's done and you feel great. And then two days later you have to do it all over again. Oh god. Just thinking about it makes my tummy flip flop. Again, I'm a hard worker...I can work until the cows come home...on ideas, and plans, and concepts, and people-centered problems. But my clothes live in two piles.

Yeah, seriously. The clean pile and the dirty pile. That's as far as I get. There really is a little bit of skewed logic in my panic somewhere...I mean it IS annoying to have to do something AGAIN when you already did it before. Argh. My boyfriend hates it, he has all of his clothes organized, and folded, and even ironed. The two pile system is actually an improvement, when I was a teenager it was all ONE pile...yeah. Nice. Sort of disgusting to admit, but...this blog isn't about keeping my pride intact, if it was, I wouldn't be writing it in the first place. And anyway, I'm a grown up now, and I have TWO!

The boyfriend is helping me little by little. All the stuff that's not daily wear, we have in a pile ready to hang up. A third pile. We were going to do it a couple months ago but after I went and bought hangers for all the clothes I realized I needed hangers for another project and um...stole them from the clothing project for that other project. Oops. Again, annoyed boyfriend. I wasn't trying to sabotage it, I just really needed like 50 hangers for something else, and they were there and I needed them and...and then was too busy to replace them right away. And he thinks I'm trying to be annoying...oh well.

When I think about these kinds of tasks...I wish I could show you a picture of the inside of my brain. Actually it would probably be hilarious to do a scan on my brain when I'm in that moment, either you would see the classic ADHD dead spot, like a black hole in my frontal lobe, sucking out all reason into a far unreachable corner of the galaxy, or you would see my brain ON FIRE. No literally...ON FIRE...hahaha. Burning with the frustration of living the same innocuous nightmare over and over and over and over and over and over and over for 34 years. 34 years of being frustrated with myself because it seems like a smart, proactive person shouldn't have such a hard time figuring these things out.

This is why I LOVE my stimulant medication. I don't feel like it blunts my creativity, or my spark, or my drive. It just seems to shut off the extra, weird layers of "ARRGGHGHGHHHGHGHR CRAP ARRRGGHGHGHGH!" when I can't get my brain to just settle down and focus on something that shouldn't be taking over my life with anxiety. It lets me just get past the routine stuff a little I can get to the good stuff a little faster.

I know, and accept, that this will ALWAYS be a struggle for me. I guess it's just my lot in life. It's the genes I's the brain I have, and brain does totally awesome stuff all the time, it's not alllll Groundhog Day and black holes...

I sure hope I get my paycheck soon though! Lol....

Monday, September 21, 2009

One of these generics is not like the other... after feeling pretty darned stellar for a couple-few weeks now I felt like crap today. A mess of anxiety. Extreme difficulty thinking, nevermind focusing. Had to wait until later in the day to really get anything done.

I was sitting there this afternoon thinking "oh, maybe my hormones are doing something funny to my drugs". It can happen. Women with ADHD can have some pretty miserable experiences from what I hear, when hormones and medications just aren't getting along.

However, tonight when I went to take my Celexa (with Buspar chaser) I suddenly remembered something my cousin told me months ago...

Her boyfriend takes generic Celexa, Citalopram, for OCD. I also take a generic of the same drug, but for general anxiety. She was telling me about how when they get his prescriptions at different pharmacies, that the different pharmacies stock different version of the generic Citalopram, and that some of those generics DO NOT WORK for her boyfriend and his symptoms get worse when he takes them. So they now will only go to certain of those pharmacies apparently changed their supplier recently because they got into a "thing" with them about them giving them the wrong generic...sigh. So they feel like junkies now, going from dealer to dealer just trying to score the "good" Citalopram.

Well...last night was the first night that I took the first pill from my new batch of Citalopram, and it is definitely from a different manufacturer. The pills aren't even the same size or color as the last batch.

So now...I don't know. Are my hormones doing some kind of pharma-thwarting cartwheels, or am I all screwed up because this version of Citalopram sucks for me?

I guess I'll just take notes and see if a pattern emerges and go from there. I am seriously praying that tomorrow doesn't suck as much as today did thought, because I was feeling SO's disappointing to feel this crappy all of a sudden...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What it is, and what it isn't...

...and who we are.

Here is a link to an article about Iris Chang, a very accomplished young writer who committed suicide a handful of years ago. I post this because I think there are many interesting points to be taken from Iris' story, and from the article itself.

Iris is believed to have had some variety of bipolar disorder. She was also apparently bright, driven, perfectionistic, meticulous, dedicated to her work and her family, compassionate, strong, forceful...and unfortunately the effects of mental illness overshadowed all of these in the end.

While I have never been diagnosed as bipolar, and probably never will be (I would have to land my thoughts long enough to last all the way through a manic episode, HAHA...just joking, and yes, I know that they can co-exist, but that's not my point...), there is so much of Iris, according to this article, that I see in myself, and that others see in me. And look at that...two people with DIFFERENT mental health issues, with similar personality mean personality and mental illness are not the same thing? Whaaaa? Okay, sorry, turning the sarcasm flame to low...

I am a perfectionist. My family and friends regularly refer to me as "driven". I have a surprising knack for hiding real problems from other even while I'm shooting myself in the ass with my impulses. I am a very hard-worker, and often a very effective one. I am smart. I am meticulous in my logic even when my mind moves too fast. I am ridiculously over-responsible. I am compassionate and work to help other people. I am very passionate about ideas. And so was Iris.

When I think about, or read the ridiculous stereotypes about ADHD (and other mental health issues) it really knocks me in the gut. Okay sometimes it also hits me in the funny bone, I mean seriously, according to the stereotypes, I should be first of all male, which I am not, a child, since the current psychiatric diagnosis manual doesn't even include a definition for adults (and I do not climb on furniture, LOLOL), I am only disorganized or messy about certain kinds of things. I also regularly make decisions for myself that are GOOD ones. Psychiatry is not perfect, but to go to the the other extremes that some go to is just as imperfect.

And there are certain things that, when you are truly impaired by a mental health issue, you KNOW, and I don't know how else to say this but: Here, in my mind, in my consciousness, the line between my personality and intelligence, and the imparing symptoms of mental-health-issues that I experience could not be clearer to me. Reading about Iris only confirms this for me further.

And what I take from reading about Iris is that her mania was not her drive...her mania merely served her drive and allowed her to act on it in a way that many would not be able to, for better or worse. Her depression did not "make" her compassionate or sensitive...but possibly made her experience of those traits more intense than was necessary. ADHD allows my already intelligent mind to do some amazing things, but also acts as an obstacle. And just as Iris's illness got the better of her intelligence, drive, and compassion...I do not wish to allow mine to continue to get the better of me, as it has many times over my lifetime.

That's why I'm so interested in applying my drive and intelligence to seeking the best solutions for my mental health issues.

And it's why I get so annoyed by some of the opinions out there about my particular mental health issue. I don't really care if you think that ADHD is a gift from God. I don't really care if you think that it's a figment of "Big Pharma's" imagination. I really only care that the line between personality and impairment is clear to me in my life, and I am only interested in what works. I am what I am, and we are what WE are, regardless of stereotypes and opinions.