Thursday, August 5, 2010

Can you identify the ADHDer... the mental health center waiting room?

I accidentally arrived a full hour early for my appointment with my therapist. Arriving early is WAY more stressful to me than being late, which gives me great insight into some of the reasons that it may take me a while to get out of the house in the morning. I walked up to the check-in counter, and was cheerily informed that I was early, as though it was an early Christmas present. The receptionist looked disappointed that my face fell and I said...a little desperately... "what?!".

With all that time, what was I going to do. I hadn't planned to be early, so I didn't bring any "activities" and it was the end of the day so I was tired and didn't want to go for a walk. This, then, is how you identify the ADHDer in the mental health center waiting room:

A look of tension on my face thanks to the BRIGHT overhead fluorescents and the music that somehow is always slightly too loud...but I don't want to ask them to turn it down because it's making me so irritable that I'm too embarrassed to talk to anyone. As I settle into my fate for the hour, I end up juggling a bag of chips that I didn't need but was eating anyway as an activity, a magazine that, thanks to my anxious state I couldn't stop thinking about all the fingerprints on as I flipped through it...and using my occasionally free chip-eating hand to flip around on the internet and post stuff on Facebook about how I was really in ADHD hell sitting there in that waiting room. All the while, I'm fidgeting and moving around trying to get "comfortable" and it isn't working. Sonny texts to me "at least you have time to relax". ARGGGGH! This is where we see that he is "inattentive" and I am "hyperactive" and how different that can be at times, because that's the whole problem...when I'm in that state of mind, relaxation is an impossibility. And the nice ladies behind the desk kept asking "do you want to check IN now?". I think they were trying to be helpful, but it was flipping me out a little bit, because I know that when I'm feeling that way the last thing I want is for people to be "poking" at me. And those LIGHTS, did I mention the lights? can ID the hyperactive ADHDer when you see someone multi-tasking at fidgeting while they have to sit there in the waiting room. Sometimes when I'm just a few minutes early I wander around a little...that's another good indication.

I survived...but I didn't like it! Gah.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Why Can't You Just Focus!?"

This has got to be the defining question in the compromised self-esteem of every adult ADHDer out there. Followed quickly by various accusations we've all heard about being lazy, or unintelligent or willfully difficult in various other ways.

The fatal flaw in this question is not in its accusation. Clearly, many of us are not totally focused all the time. You can't deny that. The error lays in the use of the word focus. What does that even MEAN?

There are dictionary definitions...there are common usage definitions. Anyone who speaks the English language over the age of 12 can give you some kind of definition for the word focus. But as for the actual sensation of being focused...why would one ask an ADHDer why they can't DO that? We don't even know that it means.

What does focus feel like? What color is it? Where does it live in the body? What color is it? What is the mechanism by which you achieve this thing called focus? When you ask us this question, we THINK we know what it means and we'll really TRY to make it happen, but we actually have no idea what the end point looks or feels like. How do you set your mind to a goal when you don't even know what the goal looks like, what its parameters are?

I have a similar experience of the word "relax". My whole life, people have told me that I need to relax. I have tried self-hypnosis, and deep breathing, and yoga, and exercise and biofeedback...but how do you know when you have achieved the sought after "relaxation".

I can honestly say that until I tried medication for both ADHD and anxiety, I had NO clue what either of those words felt like. They were words, existing in two dimensions on paper. Focus was something I tried to pretend I was doing like other people, and relaxing was something I simply could not comprehend, nevermind achieve. I was superficially attentive while on the inside of my skull my thoughts popped like popcorn and anxiety moved its way through me, decomposing and generating heat in the fibers of my muscles, creating twitches in fingers and toes and further cluttering my mind with the ill feeling of not being able to stop.

Now that medication has helped me to experience what others take for granted, even if I don't take the medication, at least I know what to mechanically work toward achieving, and I can now measure the degrees of my success, instead of going through life wondering "Was THAT it? Did I do it? Those people look like THEY did it, do I look like I did it?".

The first time I felt true relaxation was when I was trying out Remeron. I can't really describe the feeling except to tell you that I had never had that feeling before. Ever. The tension in my body was gone, tension that had defined my relationship with myself for the duration of my conscious memory. And the first time I took Vyvanse? I ironed clothes for 45 minutes. My mind was a clean, welcoming room, sparsely decorated, but friendly. A space I could work in. Never before had I felt that.

Now that I know what to work for, the work can, and has, begun.

Meds are not a cure, or a perfect solution, and some people can't really tolerate them at all. But many of us can benefit from the perspective that filling in the blanks can bring. This is why it makes me bluntly angry when I hear people universally pan ADHD medications, or meds for other psychiatric issues.

Turn Around Three Times, Knock 10 Times, Then Give Us the Magic Password!

I don't know about the rest of you chumps with ADHD, but people, I think we have a serious problem out there, a threat to the sanity of ADHDers everywhere. It's a hell created by movement through the cyber world, and the need for's the daily reality of living online with ADHD: remembering all of your fucking passwords.

What really drives me insane is that every friggin' website I go to demands that you meet different guidelines for the password for that site. I know that this is for my "safety", but its driving me insane, and I would prefer to be allowed to compromise my cyber safety rather than my sanity. Because right now, I'm so fucking cyber safe that I can't remember any of my passwords.

Oh I know...there's an EASY solution to this problem, right? I should just write them all down, it's that easy!!! 'cause you know, people with ADHD need MORE SHIT to write down on little notes that you have to stick somewhere that you'll remember that you put them. That's exactly what I need in my life, more notes and other things to help me remember to remember stuff. Awesome.

I can have a list of all the things I need to do each day, and a list of all the things I need to remember that relate to other people in my house, and then the things we need to do around the house, and notes to remember to do all of the out of sight out of mind things that ADHDers forget, and notes to stick to my steering wheel to remind me to do stuff in the morning, and notes to remind me to go to the basement and scoop the cat litter and notes to remind me to wash my underwear so I can get dressed in the morning because I seem to be out of them, and notes to remind me that there are veggies in the crisper because otherwise they don't exist in my mind, and notes to remind me to walk my dog because I actually forget things like that sometimes until the dog is running around on my head (he's small enough to do that) and notes to remind me to pay the bills that I forgot to pay last week and notes to remind me to go to the store to get things I forgot the last time I was there, and notes to remind me to write other notes to remind myself of other stuff AND...I can be THIS LUCKY...NOTES TO REMIND MYSELF OF EVERY INTERNET PASSWORD THAT I HAVE TO REMEMBER BECAUSE I CAN'T JUST REVOLVE A LIMITED AMOUNT OF THEM BECAUSE THEY DON'T MEET THE REQS FOR EVERY EFFIN' SITE I VISIT!

Because what I really need, and what every adult ADHDer REALLY, REALLY NEEDS, is MORE FUCKING REMINDER NOTES. I really don't think I have enough of those world, PLEASE send me another situation in life that requires MORE reminders and MORE notes, because that's what I want for Christmas more than ANYTHING ELSE! PLEEEEEEEEASEPLEASEPLEASE!!!!

Sonny Rollins is tickling my feet now. He knows I'm writing a grumpy blog post about passwords and he doesn't care, he just thought he might tickle my feet.

This is why this relationship works.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Moving in with Sonny and the kids has shown me one true thing: we have a crap-ton of laundry. Two adults and five children go through a lot of clothing, towels and washcloths in a week. Our home has two floors with one bathroom on each floor. I have color-coded the bathrooms, and YOU should too! In order to keep myself sane, because my ADHD brain explodes under the twists of inefficiency (for a variety of reasons that perhaps I should blog about another time) I decided that the upstairs bathroom (the kids' bathroom) gets towels in bright, rainbow colors and the downstairs bathroom (for big people) gets the neutrals.

When we finish the laundry, I sort the bright towels into one pile, and the neutrals into another pile, and simply deliver them to their respective bathroom. This may sound silly, but to me it seemed overwhelming to have to even gather or inventory the information concerning how many towels or washcloths might be currently existing in each bathroom. The bathrooms are both heavily trafficked so the only thing that really matters is that each one has a nice stack at all times.

With an ADHD brain, I really need to work to simplify life in ways like this, in order to free up RAM for more important tasks. Running up and down the stairs and remembering which bathroom needs what is antithetical to that goal.

So there. I had to really think about what bathroom to put the white towels in, but who in their right mind gives small children white towels to use? As such, in our home, the whites go with the neutrals :)