Friday, February 12, 2010

Recession's true victims: ADHDers...

Nod to Jeff for reminding me of this accidentally with his post today...

Please know that the title of this is a joke. But it is true that the recession has changed my life in a way. I have always been a reliable, hard-working employee. However, because of my willingness to be, mmm, shall we shall mobile, I rarely have stayed at a job for more than 2 years. I call it one part young adult self-discovery, two parts ADHD. And maybe another part I'm damned smart and it's hard to find jobs that engage my mind long-term.

But last year, when I found myself in need of a part time job...having left a full time job...thanks to the recession, there were NO jobs available.

In my entire 20 year working life (since age 15) I have never not been able to find employment.

I am actually working part time now, at the full time job I'd left. I still needed work, and they still needed's not an easy position to fill, for various reasons. And so I'm back. But that's not always easy for me. My novelty seeking-mind goes a little stir-crazy sometimes.

And along with the recession, treatment has also caused me nothing but problems. The office is so organized on a regular basis not that it...well, it makes me uncomfortable quite frankly. It stresses me out way more than the chaos did...I think...? I'm forced to deal with things in far more detail and meticulousness than is probably even necessary. We have the closed files catalogued within an inch of their lives. There's no fires to put out. Cases are just ticking along as they shoudl. I'm not wishing for things to be "bad" or to go all nuts. And I don't want to create chaos. In fact I seem to be seeking order...but it doesn't feel natural. I'm good at fixing things in a crisis and um...there's no crisis...and so I'm finding that I'm good at doing stuff when there's no crisis...I just have to work WAY harder to motivate myself.

I'd rather be sticking my face in a box of Twinkie's right now and watching The Girls Next Door, than attending to my itty bitty pile of work.

I'm looking forward to juggling the wee ones with ADHD boy this evening. Children guarantee surprises :) And I baked cookies. With pink and yellow frosting and sprinkles.

So there you have it...the recession has forced me to deal with life the way other people live it. Work seems routine. Kids are fun. And I'm baking cookies.

Wow. Just wow.

Exhibit A: Shoe on Dash Board

Words are not always the best descriptive tool. Most people, and apparently many with ADHD learn best when "shown". And so I give you Exhibit A, above. It's a photo I took this afternoon after a trip to a friends house, when I got into my car, saw the scene on my dashboard and said "this is what people really need to understand about ADHD". It's not about forgetting silly things. It's not about finding things boring. It's not about being lazy.

Let me explain this photo, and perhaps you'll understand what I'm saying. To the right of my steering wheel, there are three items on the dash. A pair of (totally hot, retro, 1940's styled) dancing shoes. A bag of pistachios. And a note to self. The shoes are there to remind me to go to dance class. Exercise is good for the ADHD mind and especially for those of us with a little hyperactivity issue. The pistachios live on my dash because I have to eat frequently, and the only way I will remember, is if I leave food in sight. The note to self says "Jillian!" and "Yankee Cockfight!" I use a lot of exclamation marks because I think in exclamations. I write notes like this so that I don't forget things like "hey, your sister Jillian said she'd cut your hair tonight if you remember to show up!" and "oh hey, Yankee Cockfight, an awesome blues duo is coming through town later!".

To my ex-boyfriend (not to belabor certain points, but he's representative of the class of people we like to call "non-ADHDers!") this was clutter. To me: priceless lifelines to my buried memory. Triggers to connect me to the present...anchors to the day at hand.

Another great example...while driving back to the office I stopped at the gas station.

I took out my credit card, from my pay for the gas. When I got back in the car, my first impulse was to throw the credit card in my bag without putting it back in the wallet.

I used to do things like that all the time...which explains a lot about why my life was so difficult. it is simply not natural to me, to put the "thing" back where I found it. It is still to this day, and probably for my whole life, something that irritates and frustrates me. I have to override the impulse and briefly picture the chaos of thinking my card was missing...or of actually losing it. Take a breath...and put it back in the wallet. There is always a conscious effort in this process. It reminds me of a terrific quote that I can't remember the source of, but I read it in the article "Messy Purse Girls" which incidentally is a great article about what it's like to be a girl with ADHD. The quote is something like "most people have no idea how much work it is for some of us to appear normal".

I am known as an organized, motivated git-er-done kind of gal. And all of those things are true about me...but I spend just as much effort, if not more, on making sure the little routine things that many others take for granted are done.

So I remind myself to put the card back in the wallet. I set the garbage can in the middle of the doorway to remember to take out the garbage. I put the shoes on the dashboard to remember to go to dance class (and I REALLY LOVE dance class, which makes it even funnier that I need a reminder!). I also input all of these things into my iPhone so it reminds me.

Without these anchors I float. I still exist...but without connection to the framework. "The framework"? The framework that to the ADHDer, it seems everyone else exists within. I mean really...there is no framework. But I have to create it for myself or I can't function. What's really funny is that...I bet people whose brains aren't like this don't even need it! People who are able to ride bikes don't need training wheels after all. The important part for me to remember, I suppose, is that my focus should be on the goal...there is no need to question my need for training wheels. My results speak for themselves.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Today's theme: management

Management of clients. Management of pets. Management of households. Management of medications.

I put off calling my NP about my meds earlier this week a) because I had a good day and just wanted to enjoy it and then b) thought my appt with him was this week anyway...realized I was wrong...called him this morning.

He wants to do a grand experiment called...taking me off of anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds entirely just to see what happens. Because I've been having really bad anxiety. (Pause) At least I can laugh :) Because that's funny. It actually makes sense because one of the common side effects of most of the medications that treat anxiety, is of course anxiety. That's a pretty mean reality for those of us with anxiety issues. Trying medications then becomes a process of "hmm, I feel this the same anxiety I usually feel? Is it different? How is it different? What is it making me feel like I want to do or not do? Did I have this feeling last week before he raised the dosage? Will my ADHD even let me remember back that far, lol? Is it possible that my stimulant medication is making me anxious? Where did I put that bottle of Ativan, and do I really even want to take it?

This anxiety I have been feeling really sucks...and feel more like "the old days" than I have for a while. I don't notice it until it's's like someone turned on a tv, and there's nothing but white noise, and then they just kept turning up the volume hoping I wouldn't notice, and I don't for a little while, and then I realize I feel compelled to do annoying repetitive little gestures, I am irritable, and feel jumpy...I have a little butterfly in my stomach (but totally different from the freaking jello butterfly of doom in my stomach when I took the generic Celexa many moons ago...see what I's these subtle differences in types of anxiety that you notice after you've tried several meds...).

I am really coming to understand that it's true: aside from actual serious mental illnesses, of the lesser mental health issues a person could have, it really sucks to treat the combination of ADHD and anxiety. I'm very frustrated...not with my prescriber, but with my brain chemistry. There's just no reason, in my opinion, which is hardly based in medical fact, that I should be having THIS MUCH anxiety, while taking THIS MUCH Remeron...and then having to boost it with thanks. Remeron (Mirtazapine is the generic that I take) was working great for a while. I was loving feeling relaxed.

So he's tapering me off of it, and then wants to see what happens when I just take Concerta, with no anti-anxiety meds. I understand that this will help him figure out another path...but I can't help thinking "um...we already know what happens when I take nothing...I have anxiety!".

I DID start taking dance classes again this week hopefully that will help me burn off a little anxiety while we're undertaking this latest experiment.

I'm just nervous because having seen what it's like to live without anxiety...I'm afraid to go back to my natural state. I really am. It wasn't pleasant, that's why I came to ask for help/diagnosis in the first place!

In the middle of this, of course, life goes on. And I was up until 2AM cleaning because my misbehaving dog and cats had an all-out territory marking war, which ruined one whole couch, peppered the rest of the house with puddles of piss, my female cat got all annoyed that her litterbox had been elevated (to keep the puppy out of it) and decided to stop using it, which resulted in PILES of cat poop...I declared a Holy War in the name of any god that would steop up the the task, quarantined all the animals separately, and cleaned the whole house from top to bottom. I had no choice...not only was it disgusting, but it stank, and my poor roommate shouldn't have to deal with it. Household management is key to domestic tranquility.

This is after they pissed all over my notebook I had put together to keep me organized last week...which I had to start all over again...and my paychecks...and my little notekeeping notebooks that I carry...and my bag that has just the right compartments in it to keep me knowing where my stuff is.

And there's a few clients at the office that...honestly, I wish I could just "disappear" with a magic wand. Why? Because they're totally anxiety cases and they're stressing me out. Sometimes client management really sucks. least managing the dog and cats seems to be working. And as always, I have to remind myself...I get more done dealing with this circus than most people do without...