Friday, October 9, 2009

Dammit...I new it all along...

I have read about how ADHDers "can do well when an external structure exists". This is allegedly why girls can do well in school but still have ADHD...because someone else is making the rules.

Well I just had an epiphany. I always date control freaks. And I don't like living with messy people. I HATE living with messy people. I like living with neatnicks who have to always put things back in the same place all the time. Hmmm.

The epiphany was precipitated by the fact that for the 18 GOD-DAMNTH time in the last week my water glass has been MISSING when I went to find it. I have a THING about my water glasses being left in the same spot. Don't ever let anyone tell you that ADHDers can't be organized. Some of us overcompensate for the lack of organization in our brains, in our rigidly controlling our physical environment. Oh I may be cluttery...but I lose my shit if my water glass is moved. Just as I will lost my shit if you move my purse, or my keys, or my slippers (which have also been moved SEVERAL times this week).

I only live with one other person so unless my cats have grown opposable thumbs, or have become suicidal (and they seem very happy) that leaves only the option boyfriend, MR. FUCKING TIDYBOWL has been moving my shit.

So...when I notived for the 18th GODDAMN time that my water glass was moved, I looked for it, and I found it in the kitchen, with the dirty dishes. (WATER GLASSES DO NOT NEED TO BE WASHED EVERY EFFING TIME YOU USE THEM. YES, I know it was MY glass.) No, I'm not having ADHD forgetting issues here...I did not, would not, will not, and HAVE NEVER not put my water glass in one of two very specific places in this apartment, because I try to do certain things the same way, all the time, to minimize the amount of time I have to spend re-inventing the wheel on everyday tasks, because everyday tasks are so DAMNED overwhelming for me. Recall that I cannot handle a ten minute shower without a little panic first because I freak out about all the "steps"...etcetcetc...can't stop thinking it's taking time away from other things I have to do...etcetcetc....

I then waited in the kitchen...and yes, this it totally evil and I don't care...and yelled into the livingroom "Where's my water glass, it seems to be missing again?". He came into the kitchen to help me look for it and I yelled "OH LOOK, IT'S RIGHT THERE WHERE YOU PUT IT WHEN YOU WERE MOVING SOMETHING YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE MOVED BECAUSE IT MAKES ME IRATE AND YOU KNOW THAT I HAVE CERTAIN THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD LEAVE THE HELL ALONE!".

I don't think it will be getting moved again.

But then I'm sitting here going "SHIT. I always pick these tidy people! SHITSHITSHIT!". And so...yet again, I have chosen one of them. I chose this. I chose this; this is what I chose with my "power". And as I grow more confident in my right to assert certain kinds of reasonable rigidity in my environment, certain kinds of organization methods that may not make sense to him, but make it so that my day doesn't get overly cluttered with the desperation of trying to keep up with simple daily tasks...I am just not able to mask it anymore when he "organizes" me in such a way that it throws off my precarious world order. I know that my "order" is never going to be perfect. But I am learning to make it work in ways that help me get through my day. There's nothing wrong with that. So is that me saying "hey...I don't necessarily need someone else to create order for me"? THAT, the therapist will want to hear about. I mean really, what that means is that...for the first time in my life I am willing to let myself fail from time to time. Do you have any idea what a big step that is for a self-destructively perfectionistic person such as myself? This calls for more than Holy Cows. Perhaps...Holy...Grails? Heh!

Now that I am beginning to gain that kind of confidence...and respect my unique organizational needs I need to continue to choose neat freaks to live with? Well...okay, maybe I do actually, because the thought of someone else's clutter mixed with mine is heartstoppingly terrifying, haha, but it's different to choose them because of that, than because you can't trust yourself to organize anything yourself, in your own unique way.

I have already explained to him...1,000,000 times, the reasons that I need to do certain things in a certain way. And there's really only a handful of them. For balance, lest you form the opinion that this is really lopsided, me expecting all of this...I have totally modified my paper organization methods, and have retrained myself not to leave my "reminders" in certain areas, for HIM, not for me. It is actually a gift to him that I reuse the same glass over and over because he is "the dishwasher". And I am the one that keeps the bathroom neat and tidy. because he doesn't like cleaning bathrooms and I don't mind it for whatever our household is not the sad story of a neat person being abused by an evil clutterbug.

Is it ADHD impatience, or just the regular old kind, that is making me not give a shit about what he thinks about my routines (I'm too young for menopause so it's definitely not that)...and if that impatience, wherever it is coming from sticks with me...will domestic harmony become elusive even as my ability to keep myself organized a good portion of the time improves? Because I'll tell you what, I have spent my whole life bowing down to expectations that others have had of me, and molding myself and my actions to please their needs rather than my own, and shooting my ability to be productive in the ass because I didn't honor my own needs. And I'm done with that nasty tango. I'm not going to be my own prison guard anymore, I'm on strike.

The water glass goes next to the refrigerator OR on the coffee table. The green sponge stays on the bathroom counter, behind the tootbrushes so that I will remember to wipe the sink area down from time to time. The slippers stay under the coffee table.


Thursday, October 8, 2009


I've decided that the list of potential ADHD co-morbidities is just damned depressing. Anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression...all of these mental health conditions and more can co-exist with ADHD. My own personal co-morbidity side-car is anxiety. Officially, we're still trying to sort out if it's caused by the ADHD or if it's inherent within me in and of itself. Personally...I don't think it's just the ADHD causing it. When I take my Vyvanse, I actually feel a lot of my mental anxiety just whoosh away as my mind settles...but there's still that ambient anxiety in my body...

Anyway...there are so many other things that "co-exist" in my life alongside my ADHD that I am compiling a new list of ADHD co-morbidities.

Style...there's nothing saying ADHD can't co-exist with style/design/artistry. I could be the Holly Becker of ADHD! (Holly Becker is the blogger/force behind decor8, a most fabulous design blog...). I can give advice on how to dress yourself by pulling clothes out of piles on the floor, and without ironing, but while still managing to look uber chic. I do it everyday after all (*pose* *pose* *pose*). Special section would include helpful hints, like how to radiate confidence after you realize you're not wearing any deodorant because you forgot that it even existed that morning (because your boyfriend insisted on putting it "away" does that even mean "away", to me it may as well mean "on motherf*cking Jupiter".)

Cooking: I'll write the ADHD cookbook. If I started it THIS month it would be all about how to make the best stoner munchies when your Remeron makes you wanna sautée your own leg because you're so hungry. This would also involve a special section about convincing your significant other to make a run to the store for you...because you might die if you don't get your hands on a jumbo bag of Doritos and a jar of liquid cheese to dip them in...and you can't drive because your new meds are making you dizzy. If this book had been started LAST month, however, it would be all about "the ADHD Diet". That involves getting up in the morning, taking your stimulant meds and then forgetting to eat for the next 8 hours...and playing catch up after work with a bowl of ice cream and every topping you can think of, in the name of keeping your weight in the triple digits.

Cats...yeah, ADHD and cats. Um. Cats.

Fabric: ADHD made me buy enough that it's worth having its own category for.

Oh here's a good one...sleep...ADHD and sleep...because my yawn just kicked in because the Remeron I took a little while ago is working its magic...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Wouldn't I Give for a Beer, Right Now...

I would love a nice cold beer in a bottle, right now. There's about 24 of them in my fridge. But I'm in the middle of TESTING OUT NEW PSYCH MEDS HELL right now so I really would actually have to be nuts to try a beer at the moment.

I am not only in psych meds hell, I am also in "exceptionally bad time finding the right psych meds" hell.

It all started with Strattera. Not enough consistency, and the weighty feeling was a little unnerving., great stuff. For a few days...then not anymore...then a higher dose...same thing, great for a few days and then...not so much...then a higher dose and nope, doesn't seem to--oh it that the Vyvanse isn't working or is it just that I feel COMPLETELY NUTS because this new antidepressant has made me into a HOT MESS?!

Hmm. Not sure. Hard to tell. Hard to tell anything really, when you are alternating between so doped off your ass you feel like you just smoked about 3 joints by yourself...and so drugged that you are slurring and can't walk straight and can't hold up your own head...and so irritable that if you didn't really love the cat you'd sort of like to throw it out the window because you can't stand the sounds it's making (no actual cat throwing has occurred, or will occur! I am simply using figurative language to achieve a literary goal!)...and so nervous you can't think straight...and so paranoid that every time you talk to someone (because until you left the house you didn't realize how socially inappropriate you were) you worry that they think you are crazy, because you know you seem kinda crazy, and you have to stop yourself from explaining your self and then actually, in fact, acting crazy. Just really hard to tell ANYTHING about your very straightforward stimulant when the anti-depressant is making your anxiety 18 times worse than anything you're even in treatment for. And that's just the last 24 hours! And, might I add...only 15 mg of anti-depressant. Did I mention that I'm med sensitive? Well I WAS NOT JOKING. Sheesh. And did I mention that I can't drive, at all, like this? I shouldn't be operating a toothbrush, nevermind driving a piece of machinery.

And this is after the great citalopram experiment...where 10 mg was we moved up to 20mg...and I had horrifying anxiety, which I waded through because I knew that I needed to get past that side-effect to see if there would be any benefit for me from the drug. At about week four things were GREAT. Wow. That's how I know the Vyvanse wasn't screwing with me. I was taking both, and I felt focused, CALM, and for the first time in my entire life, FREE of anxiety. It was amazing. Then of course I refilled the prescription from another pharmacy whose supply came from a different manufacturer...the debilitating anxiety came back. My prescriber and I discussed whether or not I wanted to try to get back to that good point, by reducing the dosage, or trying to get the drug from the original manufacturer again...until I showed him the huge, disgusting bruises all over my legs, that had appeared during the time I was taking the citalopram. That put my prescriber over the edge (and also meant he had to ask me some questions that would have been really embarrassing to have to answer if I wasn't me, and didn't have the boring, normal life that I have). I believe the quote was "give me back the prescriptions, now". He wrote me a new one.

So here I am in the throes of the great Remeron experiment. And all I can really say, 15mg and 24 hours later is: HOLY SHIT. No...seriously...if you've read this blog for five minutes, you know I'm an articulate person but...HOLY SHIT. I described the effect above, and it is no exaggeration. Within ONE hour I was a slurring, stumbling, giggling, hungry, passing-out disaster. Some people would pay big money for this payoff, me, I just want to escape from it. In addition to the above described wackness, I also spent my entire day completely unable to stop myself from fidgeting...tapping, moving constantly, worryworryworrying, making a ton of unnecessary phone calls, totally OCD-ing out...I felt like a prisoner in my own mind. Misery.

Now addition to my prescriptions, my prescriber said to me...because I SUCK at asking for help or identifying when to ask for help, even when I'm having something bad happen...said "YOU MUST CALL ME IF ANYTHING HAPPENS that is bothering you". Okay. I considered this an additional prescription because I am so lame about admitting that I need help. Usually when I call to tell him something I am unable to say "I feel bad and need help"...I say "oh that's okay, I'm okay, I'll just talk to him later" and other such stupid, self-effacing things. And they always say "we can have one of the other prescribers give you a call back, are you sure?" and I always refuse. And then he gets upset with me because I didn't tell him how bad things were. Well NOT ANYMORE I said.

So tonight, terrified (bordering on hysterical) to take another full 15 mg of this insanity I called the mental health center...and they said "he's not here, he can call you tomorrow or someone else can call you back today" and I said "okay, let's do both because I'm feeling pretty bad". Good job Miss K! Good job! call because I am an overwrought mess because of the meds and I'm terrified. Waited longer. Agonized. Finally called again...and got a person who apparently forgot to screw their own head on this morning before they went to work to answer a phone at a mental health center. Here's an approximate transcript of our phonecall:

"Hello, XYZ Mental Health Center, how can I (not) help you?"
"Hi...I called earlier and really needed someone to call me back but didn't get a call."
"Oh. Who are you trying to reach?"
"Mr. Potatohead, but he won't be in until morning."
"OH! Cool, you can talk to him then!". Clearly she thought this was a sufficient response.
Me says "Right...and I will...but I'm having a problem now...and it's really hard for me to admit when I might be having a problem and call, so...can you just tell me, is there anyone in who is legally authorized to prescribe meds because I really need to talk to someone."
"Oh...hold on. (LONG PAUSE) Nope, sorry, Dr. Soandso isn't in."
"Right...I'm not even a patient of Dr. Soandso...look, is anyone there that can answer a meds question?"
"No. Just call your pharmacy." (Picture me taking phone away from ear and staring at it.)
"Right.'s the deal. I'm taking psychiatric medication and I'm afraid because it's doing really bad things to me, and I'm actually SO afraid of my medication, that I am simply not going to take my medication if I can't talk to a medical professional--is there no other number I can call?".

Wait for it...wait for it...what do you suppose the genius...that just told a psych meds patient threatening non-compliance to just get over it and wait until morning...what do you suppose this genius said?



What you should know reader is that I was sitting there in front of my computer screen LOOKING AT THEIR EMERGENCY HOTLINE NUMBER. Why didn't I just call it? I said...I am the WORST at being able to tell when I'm having an emergency and I will put up with far too much before I will ask for help...and thinking processes were so scrambled a few hours ago, when I had this conversation, that I could barely think, nevermind exercise decent judgement. I was in no position to help myself...and clearly, neither was this idiot, who didn't bother to mention the emergency number...and who incidentally, I hope is fired after I talk to my prescriber tomorrow. I'm not so annoyed about how she treated ME per se...I'm terrified that if I had been actually psychotic, or suicidal, or harmful to myself or other people...all possibilities when someone is calling a freaking mental health center...that she would have done exactly what she did to me. This woman had no idea what it took for me to even call in the first idea what a struggle it is for me to ask for help...and none of that matters, because no matter what, if you are answering the phone at a mental health center, at any time of day, you should NEVER say to someone what she said to me. (To be totally, totally clear...this is not normal when you call this center...they are usually much more professional.)

I cried hysterically for a while...then called a pharmacist to ask some questions. He assured me that this is apparently TOTALLY NORMAL when you first start this drug. And that typically this drug is prescribed to people who have sleep issues in addition to anxiety (which I don't have) or could stand to gain some weight (and I could definitely stand to add some pounds to my fact I would LOVE to). This shit gives you the munchies like none other. I've been eating Doritos and nacho cheese all day... at least I wasn't hungry while I was feeling awful in every other way.

So I asked the pharmacist "sir...I know you're not a prescriber...and you're not my prescriber...but honestly, I don't want to take the full dose of this medication, it freaks me out. Will I turn into a pumpkin if I split the dose in half tonight before I get to talk to my prescriber?". He said "Sounds like a plan. Then talk to your guy in the morning.".


So...if only I could wash that half a tablet down with a beer. But I can't. And I won't. But the ice cold beer in my imagination right now tastes soooooo goooooood.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

This is not the Staycation I was promised (by myself)...

I am of course, taking the week off. Then how did life get so busy, even though it's only Tuesday?

Well I did take the week off from work. And I am in the middle of working out a new school schedule, so this week, I'm not really doing school either. So far, so terrific.

However...however...I did indicate that I am in a state of total overwhelm right now. And that I need a break. On a regular basis, even on a day when I feel great, I am overwhelmed by the little details. Like...uh...wait, what do normal people do everyday and not think about but I have a really hard time with...when it even occurs to me that people do them...OH YES...personal grooming. That takes takes planning. Stop laughing, I'm not joking. By the time I wake up in the morning, my brain is already on speed (and not the "speed" I take to slow it down, I'm talking about my natural, god-given freight-train-brain). I am thinking of 800 then I go into the bathroom and have to think about a shower...which might involve washing my hair...which will also involved drying it, and styling it, the time I get this far, I am a mess because every additional thing that I think about in terms of grooming seems to be competing with all of these other things that I am thinking about, that I will NOT COMPLETE TODAY if I take 5 minutes to take a shower and another 5 to dry my hair and OMGOMGOMGOMG!

At some point I get to total brain fry and go uhhhh....just get in the shower and see what happens...but I'm still thinking about all of these things. So to get through this, I have a routine. Yes, that's right. For probably the last 15 years I have showered in the same sequence...because if I do things differently I forget things. You know like...rinsing the shampoo off my head. I'm sure someone at some point will read this post and think I'm frigging joking and I AM NOT, OKAY!? I am totally serious! I know how ridiculous it seems, but it's all true. Any ADHDer reading this will know exactly what I am talking about.

Then I get out of the shower. And dry off, again, in a nice, reassuring pattern (just to be totally clear, if you haven't read my previous post about routine, and how hard it is for me to create one, this is NOT something I concocted overnight, it takes ages...doesn't just happen like "that"). Then, I do that stuff I hate like dry my hair and style it and whatever else...uh...OH look some moisturizer that sits right on the counter so I don't forget, and I have makeup? How about mascara...sounds good. Okay, I'm ready. Wait? Am I? Yes, okay, I'm ready.

This entire process probably took...10 minutes. Sounds good right? But it's because I am so worried about being late, even on a morning when I may not be actually running too late, that I can't really let myself get too involved in a grooming routine. Usually I am running a little late though.

Then I fly through the kitchen, noticing that I might need to eat something...shitshitshit, if I stop to eat something...uhhhh, wait, what is there to eat? cupboards...overwhelmed by food...uhhh...prepare food, do people do that? Uhhhhh...freight train is still running through my head about what I need to do today, AND I've devised a plan for world domination of some kind in the shower and I really need to write this to livingroom to grab my notebook, write it down, oh damn, there's my meds, right where I left them (THANK YOU FOR SMALL ROUTINES THAT WORK) so I better take those but I better eat first...GRRR...back to the kitchen...wait, what time is it? Wait, did I brush my teeth? At some point during the day (this happened several times last week until I mentioned to the gentleman that my deodorant needs to live on the counter) I realized I hadn't put on deodorant...because I couldn't see it, because it was in the cupboard because it makes perfect sense to my boyfriend to put it there...but not to me.

Yes, this is how my days roll. Even if you remove the "big stuff" there are still the ordinary details of daily living, and truly, sometimes making space in my life makes these dilemmas WORSE, because of my overactive mind...make more space and my wildly overactive brain can will the space like THAT. With more ideas, more plans, more worries about details...and I DO NOT have control over this. Oh there are things I can do that help...for sure...but overall, this is not something I can just flip a switch on.

On top of the daily living detail avalanche...I actually do have a few things I need to do. Go register my car...go to a couple docs appts...pick up my paycheck. Finish coordinating a speaker for an event that I actually can't bail on because it's this Friday so it was too late to hand it off. And I'm already overwhelmed just thinking about it all, even though it's only half of what I usually do. least I don't have to go to work or school this week!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Blanket Fort Gallery

This week I am hiding out at Camp 18 Channels.

Partially because of intense, screwed-up-generic-meds-induced anxiety, and partially because I am totally overwhelmed at the behavioral crossroads I have found myself at (I am leaving behind what's not working, but haven't yet mastered what WILL work, yet I still have to keep living my life day to day and am looking around going HOLY SHIT) I am taking the week off.

And I think what I'm going to do, is some silk-screening.

I like doing it the old fashioned way, no fancy machines. You take frames stretched with special fabric, pencil in your design, then apply screen filler to block out the parts you don't want to print with...let it dry. And then take that squeegee and pull the ink through the screen onto a fabric surface.

I have a cool idea for a three step design that I want to try. And so I'm going to probably try it this week. I'm going to hide in my house, and enjoy the silence, and silk screen. And make a blanket fort and eat ice cream. And give all of my obligations the big middle finger.

Thinking about silk-screening makes me happy. And that's all I'm really caring about this week. Things that make me happy. In the real way.

Real life details ARE incredibly boring...

As I work to gather a little more consistency in my life I find myself thinking about really funny things that most people probably just gloss over in the course of their day.

This morning, my inner monologue as I scurried around the house "organizing" suddenly became "oh...I think I'll clean out my wallet". I pick up the wallet, and am filled with disgust at the collection of receipts I pull out of it. My friend was sitting nearby working on helping me set up my bookkeeping systems. Boyfriend off on his own tangents of organizing. I say to them "hey, is that something that people do? organize their wallets?". They look at me like they kinda think I'm joking or being a smart ass. I say "no, I'm serious, do people do that? I'm trying to figure out what other people regularly do to keep themselves organized.". My friend replies, smiling "Yes, people do clean out their wallets. Or just take out the receipts as they go along.". I know it was amusing to them, but I really, TRULY have never thought about details like this. Knowing that "other people do this" was very important information for me. Now to remind myself regularly to even think of it!

So I took the receipts out of the wallet and found proper homes for them. At the boyfriend's prodding I also got rid of a couple of old credit cards and store incentive cards that I was never going to use, and my account numbers from my former bank (yes, I know you shouldn't put them in your wallet anyway, don't start with me...I already trained myself out of wallet-losing so it's all good).

I AM fully aware that yes, totally normal everyday folks also sometimes have clutter and disorganization...but apparently everyone else doesn't have a life where suddenly, three years later you open your trunk and realize you have an archeological dig on your hands (which you should have known about because you hadn't been able to fit anything in there for almost that long, but the shame and lack of ability to deal with it was too much)? A life where you suddenly can't fit your wallet in your pocket anymore because of all the stuff in it (and you periodically shove the receipts away in "safe places" that you find a year later because you know that some of the receipts might be business-related and you will need them)? A life where your grade school desk became humiliatingly infested with fruit flies because you forgot you even ate a banana recently, nevermind remembering that you had shoved half of it back in your desk (and you didn't even realize they were coming from your desk until it was too late...because they rest of the inside of the desk was sooooo messy...argh...)?

Then I sat down to do something I've been attempting, fairly successfully, to integrate into my regular weekly out my bags and notebooks and sorting the papers and things inside. I was able to sit and do it...but can't pretend it was interesting. In fact, it was god-damned shockingly boring, and I found myself saying "wow guys...regular routine organizing tasks are REALLY FREAKING BORING". They laughed. They agreed, but seemed to find it amusing that I was just discovering this. Correction, was finally tolerating it.

I know it's important for me to find ways to do some regular organizing, so I am doing them as I find the ways that work for me, and make decisions about which tasks are important and which are not but damn...I asked to be able to experience more depth in life, not to be bored to death. Oh wait...that's what depth means. All these little details...that's it. That's what I asked for. Merry ADHD Diagnosis!

Dare I type...meh? I just have to console myself with the fact that the actual outcome feels pretty good? (pause) Okay. It does feel damn good. Not as good as a brand new creative idea, but WAY more fun than that sick feeling of turning in your taxes late because you just realized the day before they're due that you have no idea where all those receipts are that you stuck in all of those "safe places".

I'm going to picture a little scale in my head with those two realities on either side from now on, when I have to do this boring stuff...and imagine the side with the "boring stuff" on one side, weighty and meaningful, outperforming the "junk food" of fast living on the other side.