Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Drive v. Hyper Drive

Okay, Jeff hit a nail on the head with this comment on a previous post:

"This is a little bit of the problem when you find "the cure" for our gift. Pre-cure, your anxiety and general psychosis would keep you going. All your crazy coping/survival mechanisms kept you at the top of your game...but it also caused burnt out. Post-cure you are like..."ok dude...I'll get to that whenever...like...ain't life beautiful...let's stop and smell the flowers." You feel much better, a bit mellower, more in control - post-cure. But now a certain edge is gone. The drive is still there but not that continual hyper-drive. The dilemma is that going back to that earlier state - pre-cure - is a bit of hell in and of itself."

Dammit dude...that's exactly the problem. It's been driving me nuts for months. I broke the spell of obsessive drive that was propelling me forward every waking moment...which is good because I initially asked for heeeeelp because I was way burnt out. But I started school and made still other commitments when I was in the grip of the "I'M GOING TO PROVE MYSELF TO MYSELF" psychosis and...well...here I am post-mellow, trying to keep up an obsessive pace in order to simply finish those commitments and get them off of my plate for good. And realizing that I can still get a shitload done without even making myself that crazy again, which makes it even harder to pull off this ridiculousness. Dammit.

So...having to return to that level of mania is...it's painful. It's really and truly horrible feeling. It makes me literally queasy just trying to gear myself up. In fact it infuses large chunks of my recent days with quease, because this is a little bit of an endurance test and I can't just take care of everything I need to take care of overnight. I need about a month...and that month is probably going to suck a wee bit.

I spent a lot of time talking to the therapist about my anxiety the other day...because it was feeling really BIG. After talking to her I realized that I've actually made a ton of progress in the past year (Ex: my personal filing, for example, equals one small bin...not 10 boxes...and I'm way stressed about that one small bin, lol, so I had to enlist an assistant, who will be coming tomorrow to polish it off for me!). So it makes sense that I'm completely freaked out by having to return to pre-sanity levels of motivation.

I guess it was a little startling to read that comment though and realize...yet again...that I'm not the only one. There's millions of us! We're everywhere!

And hey, look...treatment does help! It just becomes obvious sometimes in weird and painful ways :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I should have a meltdown dance...kind of like a touchdown dance. Because like touchdowns, they're inevitable at some point and I may as well celebrate them, though not excessively :)

I'm graduating in May. So this is my last official mid-semester meltdown. Awww...the warm sentimental feelings overcoming me...just kidding, I'm still in hate with my homework. Oh, sorry, need to clarify...this is not a general sort of meltdown, that's not my style...nothing makes me turn to a seething ball of unpleasant like schoolwork. There are several reasons...

School is repetitive, boring and involves jumping through hoops that are sometimes just a little bit arbitrary. I also am not terribly fond of externally imposed structure...which has the capacity to make my brain explode under the right conditions. And after three years, a lot of the assignments, though lovingly crafted by my instructors, are starting to look a leeeettle familiar. It is a Master's degree I'm working on after all, so there are certain components that are inevitable, and certain academic goals that must be included...I suppose. Oh I get it...and even more clearly, I get that this is boring.

Instructors need ways to measure general progress and to measure relative progress within a group of students...however, often meeting proscribed boundaries and expectations does not necessarily involve thinking...or at least challenging or novel thinking. "Prove you're on the same page as the rest of us" is the equivalent to jumping through hoops. And that's...AWESOME. And time consuming. And sometimes crazymaking to the ADHD mind.

I know, I know. My comments are disrespectful to the educational process, and disrespectful to the contributions of my classmates and disrespectful to the preparation that my instructors have put into creating this structure within which to learn. What I'm blogging here is an emotional reaction of my ADHD mind. Most of the semester I can gleefully dive in and just do it. But this semester I am behind...I have loose ends to tie up from last semester because of bumps along the way of this year's mental health journey. Behind the 8-ball is no place for an ADHDer to start from...at least not one in which I'm likely to find myself in a good mood.

Oh...I'm doing what I have to do. My therapist said "it sounds like you know what you need to do and you just need to do it". I'm doing it. But I'm miserable. I just have to keep reminding myself that my only choice is to continue, to push myself, to kick ass, to take names, and to finish.

I know that I have another option: not finishing. And isn't that the stereotypical path of the ADHDer? Aren't we supposed to live lives punctuated by unfinished projects? Some years ago I decided that I disliked the feeling of unfinished business in my life more than I hated pushing past the tough parts, the boring parts, the challenging parts, the parts where I feel like my brain might implode.

But that doesn't make my mental space right now any more enjoyable. I'm completely fecking miserable. Unapologetically miserable. Pretty un-admirably miserable. Negative, pissy and overexplain-ily miserable. I think my only redeeming quality right now is my ability to articulate it, at least on "paper", in a reasonable way, because I'd rather be throwing pies...at...like...cars...or something.

So...let me describe my brain right now. It's a dark place...full of self-pity, anger, annoyance, and desire to throw pies.

I feel a little better, having eaten some delicious, nutritious protein, and even better since having a delicious beer. But...I'm still in hate with this homework reality. So...how am I going to get through this? By employing my ADHD superpower of hyperfocus. I've been working in big ass chunks/spurts. Compelled by my misery...because at least misery is good for something...first it immobilizes me, and then I just ride it to the finish line, after I've fought with myself for long enough that I'm exhausted and crash...and then, voila, I rise like a phoenix from the pity party.

I picked this life after all..nobody pointed a gun at my head and said "you have to go to grad school". I chose this...and only I can finish it. And like I said...I don't consider not-finishing an option. But by the end of this week I'll probably owe a few loved ones a few apologies because I'm seriously unpleasant right now.

I think there are two points I'd like to make here...for the non-ADHDers, when you see us like this, we're not coming from a place of logic, we're coming from a place of mental misfire. Oh I may be articulate about it...but that's the result of years of practice. I started at age 9, learning to express myself with words instead of temper tantrums. That does not means I feel any better and should YOUR ADHDer have the same issue, please just keep that in mind. This is not logic. We know it's not pleasant...actually in the moment we may not care, but we'll be sorry later and in the meantime it's probably best if you don't try to argue logic with us.

To the ADHDers out there: GOD DAMN IT, SHIT GETS ANNOYING SOMETIMES but it's up to us to make whatever choice we need to make to "do the right thing". Regardless of our impairments we can always strive to make "better" choices. Even if it's not easy. Even if you'd rather down a 6-pack...which I would rather do right now even though I'm not a big drinker. Even if you'd rather throw pies at cars. Personally, I've chosen blogging as an awesome outlet. It means admitting my imperfections to a growing readership but...hey, I'm me. I'm done apologizing to myself for being me, so I may as well be done apologizing to the rest of the world too.

Having vented, I'm going back to--oh hey, Sonny Rollins is offering me RingDings. A novel approach, but probably as effective as logic right now. He's sure digging them. Me, I'm going back to my homework hell in progress...