Saturday, November 14, 2009

"We are not what you think we are!"

I am surrounded by an epidemic of people around me choosing to be miserable. I'm not going to waste time on an explanation, but I will say this:


What you want to be at the center of your life will only get there if YOU put it there.

Start putting. NOW.

As for this post what YOU think you are, not what "they" think you are :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

A stranger here myself...

While the ex is moving out, I am trying mightily to just "deal" with my life in exile until he's all moved.

It occurred to me this morning though, that this is really a terrific metaphor for our entire relationship. I have always been in exile in this relationship. Because I have the mental health diagnosis, and because I did not resist I have always been relegated to "the couch", the couch being where the person in the wrong usually has to go, except I haven't done anything wrong. I am NOT minimizing the lesser points of living with someone who has ADHD and anxiety, but I'm working my program dammit.

My ex, however, is miserable and self-flaggelating and spent our relationship blaming me for it in every way possible. For three years I have been with someone who was unreasonably rigid, disapproving and selfish. Every interaction with our home environment became about his misery. My needs in the home were always in exile because they were not traditional. But for him, someone always had to be wrong, and usually that person was me.

This issue of exile hit me hard this morning, suddenly, as I went into my usual, fearful, panicked tidying of my tiny little corner of the livingroom so "disapproving daddy" wouldn't get on my ass when I got home. I was suddenly pissed that I had let myself be turned into this. I live on a couch in my own damn livingroom, because the angry person that has been shitting on my soul for a good couple of years put me in a position of choosing my soul or him...and here I am trying to get to work, already under the stress of my typical ADHDer morning disorganization and I'm desperately trying to clean the livingroom before I leave the house, folding up my blanket that I had been sleeping in, and trying to hide my pillow, and oh no, there's slippers, I better put those away.

I abused my own inner voice with the concessions that I have made in this relationship, and it wasn't even worth it because I'm the one in exile after all of this. My inner voice did not deserve to be abused for refusing to conform to tradition.


There are all kinds of expectations for relationships that make no sense, and that most people in our culture probably take for granted/assume they should be adhered to. My inability to conform to many of those has been increasingly a problem, the older I I have less and less interest in spending that much energy kissing someone else's ass for no payoff. Some may be scandalized by this comment, but there are still many expectations for women, especially in relationships that are ridiculous. The complementary roles for men are not much to write home about either. And I decided long ago that I did not want to live that kind of life, and yet here I am again, because I did not trust myself or trust my needs.

One of the things that I gave in on before we even moved in together, was having my own room. Yes, I wanted my own bedroom, but he thought that was "weird". Instead, he got an office. "We" got a bedroom and he got an office. But you see, it is "normal" for people to want an office, and "not normal" for people to want their own bedroom when they are in a relationship. I should have held out for the bedroom instead of letting an abnormally unhappy person tell me what was "normal".

If it is easier for me to do household straightening in the afternoon, instead of the morning, which is the worst possible time of day for probably most ADHDers to add more to their schedule, then I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING THAT instead of letting someone else's anger bully me.

No matter how many weeks I cleaned the floors, the bathroom, the dining and living rooms, because those, for whatever reason, were things that were easy for me to remember to do in the natural course of my week, why were our lives ruled by his anger about the dishes being done only by him? This was not a matter of a poor non ADHDer being oppressed by one of those terrible, unorganized ADHDer people.

I had taken his needs and wants into account in my days and weeks, I had planned space for his needs in my journey to re-organize my ADHD life...but I'm here on the couch. He's got the office, the bedroom. My filing cabinet was moved, by ME into HIS office, because he made me feel like shit for wanting it in the living room where I could remember to see it and interact with it.

I'll sum up the rest of the minutae with this: nothing was every fucking good enough. And I'm sick of living that way.

The last time I lived with someone I was in a relationship with was ten years before I ever met him...why? Because I decided all those years ago that I did not want to live with an angry person anymore, who was unhappy about themselves, and who was judgmental about me and my needs and wants.

Hmmmm. So who am I more pissed at, him or me?

ME. I am WAY more pissed at me right now. And he, typically, thinks it's all about him, lol.

I'm seriously about to make a list of concessions that I WILL NOT VIOLATE AGAIN. There are certain types of self-abuse that I seriously need to never allow into my life again. After a lifetime of avoiding absolutes, I am ready to commit to something, and THAT, that is what I wish to commit to. If I am going to live in exile, it needs to be on MY TERMS.

Just because my desires are non-traditional does not mean that there is something wrong with them. And just because someone is angry, and more pushy, does not mean they have a more valuable right to be accommodated.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The "rest of your life"...

I am not big on measuring things in absolute terms. I am 34 and have never been married. I do not yet have any children. I love changing my hair color, but will NOT get any tattoos...too permanent!

It's not a fear of commitment...I'm actually often very dedicated and tenacious in projects and relationships. I just don't see the point, generally, in making declarations about "the rest of your life". Until earlier this week.

I went to visit my prescriber and he made a comment about how I probably will need to take a stimulant medication for the rest of my life, but can choose to taper off of the anti-depressant that I take for anxiety at any time I wish. Obviously, the truth of the matter is that I don't HAVE to take either of them, I just feel that I am more effective and happy and calm in my life when I do.

I actually insisted, however, that I had NO interest in discontinuing use of the anti-anxiety med. And I can't even imagine wanting to. Before I started taking it, I knew that I had persistent, ambient anxiety floating around in my body. I was aware of its existence, and frustrated enough that I wanted to "do" something about it, as a side project of my ADHD diagnosis. Only once in my life had I sought treatment specifically for anxiety (ridiculous panic to the point that I thought I might die). Did NOT use meds at that time...I was so used to feeling the nag of a lesser anxiety, all the time, that I did not see it as a problem. Oh I knew other people didn't always feel that way...but to me it was normal, and I was even proud at times that I had learned to work around it. Note that I said around...not with...never with...because that kind of anxiety is never working for you, only always against.

If you are "normal" and do not have constant chemical anxiety, when you DO feel anxious, you can acknowledge it as a real, valid feeling and can learn to explore it and find out what it's trying to tell you. I was proud to walk around ignoring if this was a victory over if it wasn't still slowly killing me. Nothing I did ever made it go away. Yes, practicing ignoring it made me able to function. I self-CBTed myself.

It was killing me with the strain on my physical body, and it was killing me in the sense that, when you spend your life ignoring one emotion, you begin to question them all, even when your logical mind knows that your other emotions are right on the money.

My prescriber wanted me to know my options, and I appreciate that, of course...and I know the uselessness of making declarations that speak to the entire rest of one's life. But I don't want to live like that anymore. Now that I know what relaxation feels like, I really get how bad the anxiety was and I don't want to live like that anymore, ever. I LIKE being able to relax and I like being able to trust my own emotions. I don't have to fight my SELF for emotional validation anymore.

I have no hesitation announcing that I would happily take the drugs for the rest of my life, as directed, if they will continue to give me those two precious things. I said to my prescriber, and it's true, that I do not ever remember a time in my life where I felt relaxed...I was always tense...even as a child. And I have always been very proactive about learning new things about myself. I got to 34 and almost all of the way through a grad degree without medications...but I had to work SO hard to fight my way past ADHD and anxiety to get here, and now I realize even MORE how hard. I don't want to fight that hard anymore. I'm a resourceful person, and I had gotten as far as I was ever going to get on my own with no medication, period. And I don't want to have to fight like that anymore, I just want to feel good, and not like I have to fight myself at every decision or situation from choosing a meal (which makes me VERY anxious) to taking the LSAT.

I could not totally fix this on my own, OR with a good therapist in my corner. That's not to say that I would just roll over and die if meds disappeared and were no longer an option. I would simply have to adjust, but it would not be easy, knowing what I know now.

I have never been happier to acknowledge my own limitations.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nothing but silver linings!

And so I go from posting a couple-few times a day to nothing for three.

It's been a loooong week already. I'm basically living at my office and go home at night to sleep on the sofa while the ex boyfriend works on moving out. Things are amiable enough considering the situation but I have no sense of "home" right now.

Despite that, as I look around my desk, I feel like a pretty lucky lady. I have a big container of General Tsao's Chicken that was FREE. Yes...FREE. Just finished a big bag of Doritos. Gross, but satisfying. I have a nice warm office that nobody minds me spending extra time in. I have INTERWEBS. Thank you interwebs! I found a giant box of gourmet chocolates in the fridge that I forgot that my boss put in there for me (can't figure out why he put them in the fridge but chilly or not they're delicious).

And I hate to say it but I realized today that...I'm actually not totally lost without my assistant. To be sure, there are things I don't want to spend my days doing on a regular basis...but I realized that I had sacrificed too many of my own organizational needs to accommodate space sharing and task sharing. I used to do all of the support work of this office all on my own (I work best under INSANE pressure unfortunately and at that time, it was indeed, insane...). But for the last year I had felt disconnected from the natural progressions of cases and was spending time more time floundering and catching up than I would like to admit. Because I didn't have a good overview grasp of the flow of things in the office. Because things were moved around, because I wasn't using the systems that are most effective for me...because I didn't want to impose MY work style on someone else. Which, I just realized today, completely invalidated the point of having an assistant at all.

I totally accommodate my boss's ADHD work style, and I realized today that it's not unreasonable for me to expect the person that assists ME to do the same. If you're a halfway thinkin' person, you're also picking up on something that I myself just noticed...I am always the person doing the accommodating whether I'm the assistant or the boss, and that often puts me at a disadvantage. And others are not imposing this role upon me, I impose it upon myself. DAMN. I need to stop doing that.

In that spirit, I went into the boss's office and initiated a conversation with him about what kind of newbie we need here in the office. I suggested that we either need to find another me (self-sufficient, intuitive, yet non-territorial and capable of tying case files into knots under pressure with a single pinky finger) OR someone to only answer phones/write letters. I need to either have my own case files to work on, and someone else can have theirs, OR, I need to be the Queen of all of them, and have someone lighten the burden by taking only the most mindless of mindless tasks. Whatever we do, I can't have a situation where every time I'm gone, someone else is working in a case file...argh...and I come back and catch up...every other day...double argh...

He agrees that those are both good options, and wants to think about it for a couple of days. Fine. In the meantime, I re-organized the office within an inch of its life, and changed everything back to the way I used to do things, when I worked alone all the time.

I cannot have files in piles, so I got my stand thingy back out that stands them all up so I can see their label tabs. This eliminates "out of sight out of mind" syndrome. I consolidated all of the office supplies back into the cabinet, and moved the most often used files in the computer back to a smaller number of directories in the network. So I can um...FIND THEM. I also deleted a ton of old shit that was confusing the hell out of me and wasn't even being used anymore. I streamlined the file cabinet, and I cleaned up the closed files processing area, which "the assistant", godblessher, had been avoiding like a plague (and yes, I'd let her get away with that...because I didn't really want to deal with it myself either). I made task specific folders with BIG LABELS on the front again, geez, just like the good old days, it felt so good. Suddenly I could SEE my work again. I could SEE what I needed to do, and it made it so much easier to do it, instead of having to ask the assistant who didn't always know how to answer the questions I was asking. ADHD does not mean that you cannot my case it means that I can be very engaged in organizing when it is helping me see a bigger picture, and this was one of those times. I was setting up visual cues for myself for later, which I REALLY needed.

I LOVED the assistant...she was a really smart girl who actually was having a really hard time with her personal life, which was interfering with work, which is why she had to go. But I learned from this experience that I really need to honor my ways of working more, and if someone is "assisting" me, I need to simply assume that this will be the way of things. I am in the awesome position at this job of not having to ASK for that kind of why the self-torture, geez! My ways of working aren't always conventional and they look like a 4th grader organized me, with big markers and stickers and stuff...but I did these things because they helped me be really, really effective at a job that a lot of people find stressful. Not everyone can just juggle guns, knives, robbers and molesters with such flair and efficiency...and actually enjoy most of it.

Just like we have to create forms on lots of different colors of paper for the ADHD Boss so he knows what's what and makes sure his documentation does in the right spots, I need to have my files kept in a certain way, and I need my task folders, and DO NOT MOVE THEM unless you plan on putting them back in the exact same spot. I felt better after getting the office in order than I have at work for a long time! And now that I had a better overview of my workspace and everything in it...I GOT A TON OF WORK DONE. Which is good because I'm the only one here doing it right now.

See, everything's a silver lining! Even losing a perfectly decent assistant!

The only non-silver lining item today: the greasy Chinese food I just spilled all over a document that is being delivered to the Supreme Court

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hunter, Gatherer, ADHDer

There's a lot of talk about how men and women seek and find everything from information, to food to partners. I often wonder how many people fit into "one" category or "the other". Is it normal for people to truly do one or the other? In many ways I am more hunter than still other ways I've been accused of being "a total dude". But I find myself wondering if the sometimes atypical ways I hunt and gather things have more to do with ADHD than anything gender related.

Let's take shopping for example. I really prefer shopping trips with a specific purpose. Oh, when I was a teenager I enjoyed thrift store vintage clothes shopping...there was no time limit and there was really not a big dollar amount limit because it was before anyone gave a crap about vintage clothing so I would score awesome vintage for insanely low prices. There was also the social purpose of hanging out with friends and THAT probably had more to do with my enjoyment of it than anything.

Because I really kinda hate shopping. Options. Too many. Lights, too bright. People, toooo annoying. I like bringing my sister because she will get impatient with me (can't decide...too hard!) and either try to break down my choices into bite sized bits or simply get so annoyed that her annoyance compels me to decide something. When there's a purpose at least I can go "okay, I'm looking for black pants...oh look there's only two pairs of those..." so I can agonize over only two pairs, what a relief...I notice everything and enjoy nothing and can easily go into a store and have 800 options in the cart and come out with none because I simply get irritated with all of the options and decide that none of them are worth the effort.

It probably good that I feel that way...I mean it keeps me from having the money spending issues that some ADHDers have. It does keep me from enjoying it much though.

One time my sister got really annoyed because I had to mull over every aspect of two pairs of black knee socks...for...oh, probably 45 minutes. Argh. I was thinking about the fiber content...then I was thinking about manufacturing processes. Then I was thinking about whether they would fade. Then I was thinking about if they would slide down--did they have enough elastic? And were they really thin enough to fit under my dress boots? And are the textiles from a renewable resource? And on and on and on...and back around the loop...a few times...while my sister had been around the whole store and was now staring at me with like 8 pairs of socks for herself in her hand...uhhh...then I was looking at her socks and thinking all the same things...and....finally did pick some socks...there were just so many things to think about. I know it sounds kinda OCD but really I just didn't like having all of those options, and none of the options was quite right anyway, which was a problem because then neither of them was really what I I had to decide between them....

I wrote that, and then re-read, that sounds pretty screwed up! But that's how it goes...

So I don't know that I hunt OR gather, it's more like I can't quite do either and get annoyed that the process just isn't that clear for me.

Let those who live in glass houses...

...lately it really sucks to be the person "taking meds". Suddenly, people around you measure your emotions and reactions in terms of "BECAUSE OF YOUR MEDICATION" whether or not that has anything to do with anything. Because you're actually being honest about your transformation experience, people will sometimes use that information to discuss you in terms of "YOU SEEM DIFFERENT, SOMETHING MUST BE WRONG, IT MUST BE THE MEDICATION". A couple of clarifications, this isn't all people, just a handful that I see ALL the time...yes, I am open about this process, so I don't mind people talking about it, but that does not mean that people then have permission to use this information in a manipulative or labeling manner. Also...yes, to readers of my blog, it seems like this must be all I talk about...and I do, when I'm writing this blog! I have a whole other life outside of my "ADHD blog" land.

In that life, I have jobs, projects, friends, family, pets, and actual real feelings that have validity. I have an actual personality that a) has NOTHING to do with ADHD or medication and b) exists regardless of their self-soothing labeling. Yes, some people have problems with medication and don't realize it. Yes, medication can sometimes make people wiggy. I HAVE HAD THAT PROBLEM. I am not having it now. response to this weird recent trend, know that I feel a lot better these days...although you didn't ask, because you were too busy telling me what's going on with me. It's obvious to me, even if it isn't obvious to you, that your discomfort has far more to do with you than it does with me.

It's just paradoxical that by working to become healthier, I have people in my life that were more comfortable with me "sick". Any further explanation would require a novel. My advice to the fellow ADHDer is to be very careful with the feedback that other people will give you when you're working toward a healthier you. Yes, sometimes meds cause problems, and that is not good.

But if you are truly feeling calmer, more focused, motivated and upbeat about your life and a handful of the people who used to enjoy you as a chaos buddy start telling you there's something wrong with you? Steer as compassionately clear as possible, and just keep doin' what yer doin'. Don't let other people's addictions drag you down. They have a right them, just as you have a right to your own choices...but you do not owe them your participation.