Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Concerta Vacation

I decided not to take the Concerta today, since after 10 days of holiday mayhem, I have two days where I literally have no place I HAVE to be and nothing I HAVE to do.

As such, my mind is having a wild day. I thought I'd share the content of my brain today with you, in no particular order...and should also mention that even while just writing this far, my brain has wandered off to Jupiter, is contemplating running over to grab a marketing book to read about marketing plans, has taken portraits of both the girl-cat AND the puppy, has stopped to think about the song that's on, is wondering where my room-mate is, thinking about dinner, gotten up to put something in the get the idea. Just gets better as I try to flip back through the mental activities of my day.

Woke up this morning in ADHD-boy's arms after a lovely late night spent next to a wood stove, listening to him playing music, snug in a northern New England hangout, with good people, while fluffy snowflakes swirled around outside the windows.


So then I came home to clean the house and it took a looong time. Not because hosting brunch yesterday was particularly mess-inducing, but because when my brain is like this it's a weird exercise in working to keep myself focused, but also working to not focus too much. Creating external order is compulsively engaging to me when my mind feels disordered. When my mind is feeling more linear (ahem, medicated) I also enjoy organizing and cleaning, but it's different...the compulsion isn't what's driving me, I can simply finish some whole tasks and I'm simple less likely to be distractable. When my mind is doing it's natural thing, I can easily get stuck on a cycle of make mess-clean-mess-repeat, and get little else done, or just get really cranky. Today I had to set a limit for myself or I would have kept cleaning (or rather, darting around starting and starting and starting, and sometimes finishing) until the house was clean.

One of the most pronounced issues that arises when I am not taking the ADHD medication is the frequency and potency of my creative thoughts.

Which is why I just took an hour long break while writing this blog go write a story, eat some cheese and crackers, wander around looking lost, check out the action on Facebook, grab a book to not-read, bug the cats, and the like.

Today I thought that I might make some patchwork fabric...then got off on the topic of protest quilting...then thought of a great idea for a play...and another one..ironed some fabric to cut out but only cut a little of it...each idea was THE BEST...

And you know what, I'm ready for a nap.

And you know what else, I'm going to let this ridiculous post exist as is because the fact that it has no point and I haven't the ability to go back and remedy that fact is, actually, the whole point.

Nap commencing...feckit, bedtime here on the couch, pigpiled with the three animals, and suspecting that God hates New England based on the sound of the wind outside.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I can't believe I forgot that!

Yes, I realize that the title of this blog post answers itself with a: duh, you have ADHD. But I really, REALLY can't believe I forgot this.

I just found my iPod. It's been missing least a year? But that's not the amazing re-discovery (although it was pretty funny that I couldn't find it and the whole time it was in its box). I charged it up and brought it to work and re-discovered that I get TONS of work done while listening to music in headphones.

Damn. It's better than drugs, seriously. Immediate, fast acting, effective. Hot damn.

Back when I worked at my advertising sales job I used to come in every morning, leave the light off, crank the space heater, and then put on my headphones. (And of course, all day long, co-workers would walk in going "Oh, you forgot to turn your light on!" flipping on the frickin' light...but that's another story...).

I would sit there for hours, fulfilling contracts, scheduling inventory, making sales calls...

And here I am again, sitting at my desk at the law office...feeling focused, effective, and DELIGHTED that I accidentally rediscovered the power of music on my ability to focus.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ADHD plus MLIS = slowest inventory ever

I work a couple of days per week at a fantastic retail specialty store that I love. Locally owned and operated too, another plus. Now that we've emerged from the madness of Christmas shopping season it's time to do inventory...and we do things the old fashioned way, counting by hand.

Well I have never done this before so this was a new process, therefore I did not have a clear picture of the overview. When I don't have a clear picture of the overview of a task or project, I tend to err on the side of overly detailed, for a couple of reasons, and usually this turns out to be a good thing...which is why I do it. Unfortunately this was not one of those times.

You see, one of my ADHD coping mechanisms is making sure I pay careful, methodical attention to EVERY detail. If I don't attack a task like this with a very specific process and do each thing the same way each time, I easily (INSTANTLY) lose track of where I left off. Memory issues are not awesome in a situation like this either...I can pick up an object to read one specific piece of information off of it, and by the time I look to my paper to immediately write it down, I have forgotten it.

Well apparently (being the new girl this year) I didn't grasp the "feel" of this project right away and because I didn't know the endpoint I wasn't sure what I was working toward. We were supposed to just fly like the wind, grabbing, counting, writing, grabbing, counting writing...and here I was methodically accounting for every detail. And when I finally noticed that others had gotten far more done, and asked what I was doing wrong, they told me to just "go" faster.

Ugh...I felt the impairment of my mind big time. It made me see, boldly and clearly, why I do these things the way I do. I would fly right through a few items, and then suddenly panic, realizing that I had no idea where I'd left off, or realized that I'd missed entire chunks of stuff on racks...frickin' hell! I was eventually able to strike a balance between lightning speed and honoring my need for methodical care but at no point was this fun.

I also have to remind myself that it's not just my brain I'm contending with, it's my training...I'm a hairsbreadth from finishing a degree in librarianship, a whole discipline that only benefits from the kind of methodical process that I use to organize my own thinking.

I spent the whole day battling my training AND my brain chemistry just to try to be a good retail elf and keep up with the rest of the girls, and I really just had to admit to myself that while I made improvement, I couldn't keep up. I actually am VERY fast at certain kinds of tasks...checking stock IN and keeping it organized? I'm really fast. Organizing and building displays? I'm really good at that. But we can't all be good at anything. Each time I finished a shelf and had to start another one I could feel the stress rise in my stomach, because it all just looked like a big jumble of overwhelm and it was MY job to figure out how to sort it all out.

By the end of the day, I finally had the overview that would have helped me to at least understand the need for speed earlier in the day and begin to address it I know. No self-flagellation allowed.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Drowning Dream

I was born here, in this state that I now live in. I'm technically a native - but I grew up 3,000 miles away.

I have many memories of very early childhood. My earliest identifiable memories are from age two. On my second birthday I got a fishing pole and a doll cradle with Holly Hobby cushions in it. I had a walking doll and I colored on her face. I would hide and play under the kitchen table and I was little enough that I could stand up under it...that same table is now my sewing table.

I still remember recurring dreams that I had in that apartment. One of them was of a man with a big dog, chasing me, and each time in my dream I would hide under that table. He wore a striped shirt, like a French sailor. The dog was a collie.

My mother was in college and my father worked, so various relatives cared for me during the day. Aunts and uncles mostly, and sometimes grandparents. I still love the smell of leather sporting goods, thanks to days spent in my playpen at my uncle's sports shop, with him and the guys. And I remember a box of Sugar Twin at eye level on an aunt's dinette table. I knew what sugar was and I knew what a twin was, but I couldn't figure out what a Sugar Twin was (in BIG BOLD BLUE LETTERS).

I spent my toddlerhood surrounded and loved by family. I write about my family a lot, and often the terms are not glowing...I don't intend to create a gloomy or overly critical picture, it's just that often the things worth blogging about are the elbows: the points of contact and conflict, the points that, when crushed, cause the most pain. As a baby I had none of these conflicts, although the roots of some of them were already forming among the gorgeous twining greeneries of family.

One of the advantages of having a family like mine, is that I did not stand out as particularly unusual in my neurochemical nature as I might have in another family. My family, in many ways, on both sides, embraces its eccentricity. It's a "may as well" situation,'s not like we have a choice. In a family, where genetics trace paths through generations, the possible fates presented by those genetics lay the groundwork for free will...but the existence of certain genes makes certain outcomes more likely.

So as a dear family member of mine always says "there's a lot of love there". Among the poetry and the arguments and the late night manifestations of the neuroses we struggle to hide all day, the art, the language, the curiosity, the gardens, the warm homes, the drinking, the abuses, the intelligences, the clam shells that pave our driveways, the memories we walk upon when remembering the things we'd rather forget...among them all, there's a lot of love, and that's what I remember from my early childhood.

When I was four years old, we moved. We left our large net of family behind to move, so that my father could work. I had never flown on an airplane before, so when my parents told me that we were leaving on an airplane and going to Uncle Dave's house, I thought we would land in his yard, and was very confused by the arrival at the airport. Though I was confused, I do not remember being upset, or afraid. My subconscious was having a different experience however...and this process of leaving family behind sparked one of the most tenacious recurring dreams of my childhood.

In the drowning dream, I stood on the shore of a lake, wearing my favorite red dress, the one that my grandmother bought for me to fly on the plane, red, with little flowers, and smocked on the front. In photos of me in this dress, I always look happy. My grandmother most assuredly loved me.

The transition in this dream, from shore to water is not quite clear in my mind, but two things are...I begin, standing on the shore with my family, and I end up underwater, slowly, peacefully drifting downward. Unafraid, just as I was in my waking...but falling further and further from family, cartoon seaweed all around me. Sometimes an ambulance would pull up to the shore, and its lights highlighted the borders of my family's shadows as they looked down at me, concerned, but unable to rescue me.

I truly believe that while life went on, and I saw family each summer, and I grew and changed and became who I am now...I never really recovered from that experience. The little girl in the red dress has been struggling in many ways, ever since, to surface.

Returning to this place, to live, is bittersweet. I love being surrounded again by family...but I am confronted all at once by the things that the rest of them had the luxury of accepting slowly. And because I did not grow up in the middle of it all, there are some dysfunctions I will never, ever accept.

I will always be the little girl in the red dress. In a way, that distance protected me, even as I felt lost...that distance allows me to see what is before me more broadly. Because I am often alone in that water, free of encumbrances, I have learned to swim in my own way...and sometimes, though they resist, I ask them to join me there...

Merry ADHD-mas!

Oh boy...I'm going to steer entirely clear of any ADHD gift-metaphors because Jeff has really outdone himself in that department time and time again, but ADHD did, of course impact Christmas, as it does every other aspect of my life!

As much as there were lovely moments spent with my family, for much of the day I felt like I was sitting in a room full of screaming people. Oh wait...that's because I was!

I can't believe I used to jump right into the middle of that fray. A salad of talking, yelling, arguing, laughing and a conspicuous lack of listening, observing or gentleness. I know, what was I thinking, family gatherings are for out-louding each other, not quiet! At one point, I was so exhausted from all of the noise, and all of the conversations I couldn't follow, that I jumped ship and took a nap in the guest room. After a nap I felt refreshed and better able to cope with the energy afoot, but I still felt like I was the eye of hurricane, but failing in maintaining the integrity of my borders, despite great effort.

I shared this observation with my ADHD gentleman friend and he said, of his own family, "oh yes, sounds familiar".

I used to just pick a conversation and jump into it at full volume, joining in the madness with sword and shield in hand. The problem now, you see, is that I'm not interested in doing battle. I'm not interested in having no boundaries between myself and others. And I'm very upset when I state a reasonable limit and it and my energy are corroded, over and over and over by the action of repeated assaults. I'm not into telling others what to do...but when, in the course of five minutes, your family drunkenly pesters you over and over and over about the fact that you just want to sit among them and read, rather than jump into the madness, it's frustrating. I'm demonstrating my desire to be there by sitting, and listening and participating in it really necessary that I be drunk and screaming as well? I simply ask for respect for MY limits, they can do what they wish with their own.

Sometimes, even when I try to go upstairs for twenty minutes to air my brain out, my parents will scream from downstairs for me to join cousin saved me from that fate this time by peacefully knocking to let me know it was time for presents. It's a small thing, but I was grateful for it.

I am most interested in honoring my inner voice and that is the gift that I have given myself this year. I have learned that I need to respect my own limits, and choose to populate my life with people who will also respect them. But you can't choose family, and you can't change them. Nothing like the holidays to remind one of that. I have received many gifts from my family, including my awesome brain chemistry. Many, many gifts. But those gifts bear no relation to my right to have my borders honored.