Monday, December 26, 2011

Valde Melancholicus

I was watching a TV show about Oliver Cromwell (yes that Oliver there another one?). Spiritually lusty, murderous, ambitious and wait...what's this? Depression sufferer?

Seems they called it "valde melancholicus" back then. This bears interesting implications:
  • Big pharma didn't invent depression as a means to make more money. Oh, I know...protest all you will, but it's just not true. 
  • Depression has been around probably as long as humans have been. Yes, I know, I'm filling in a lot of holes with my imagination here, but I'm feeling bold.
  • It must have really sucked to be "treated" for depression back then. Because...they probably didn't have a lot of "treatments" that actually worked. And it probably involved things like leeches, bats-wings, and arsenic. Yes, the imagination again...but...I'm guessing I'm not far off (as I spark a new obsession with researching ancient and antique remedies for mental health maladies...)...
And so Oliver...or Cromwell if you prefer...would pester his doctor at all inconvenient hours of the night when the spirit moved him (often it was in the midst of a spiritual crisis of some kind) for some remedy that I'm dying to know the details of (Google ain't cuttin' it here...yet...).

Oliver Cromwell...THAT Oliver Cromwell. Geek trivia.

(To add a little accuracy, articulacy and more geek trivia: apparently Cromwell's depression was religion induced and interestingly, some Protestants during certain time periods seem to have been more susceptible to depression and subsequent suicide...depression...a human companion of many origins...)

Saturday, December 24, 2011


This was going to be a tandem post, but Sonny won't write with me...we each have a french martini in hand and he says that he's "too drunken". This, as he's scurrying about the house, cleaning for Christmas guests.

So I'll tell you a little Christmas story. I'm drunken, but I think it adds to the spark of the narrative. We decided that our 5-year-old should have a lizard. He's obsessed with lizards. Snakes. Turtles. Amphibians and reptiles. He loves them all, and it seems to be a long-term relationship, so we decided that a lizard would be just the thing.

Before you freak out: we know that animals are not toys, we understand that a 5-year-old should not be left unattended with a living creature in his care. So we contacted our state Fish and Game office and asked for advice on a good beginner reptile/amphibian pet...and we know that in reality, we the parents will be caring for the pet.

The timing could not be better. We just moved to the new house, so there's more room, our family is in a better frame of mind, and all of the mammal creatures are well cared for. This includes 3 children, 2 dogs and 2 cats. In the apartment, meeting everyone's needs was more challenging for a variety of, the kids have more space, and the animals have more freedom, and I am able to set things up so that it is much easier to make sure everyone has what they need. The kitties have lovely windows to sit in, the dogs have a routine of going out and in and out again in the morning with what we call "first meal" and then again in the evening with "second meal"'s delightful. And the cat-box has a home that everyone can agree upon, and gets cleaned 1-2 times/day.

And so...we have a new lizard addition to the family. He's a leopard gecko, a good starter-lizard. And...and here's my point...HE IS FUCKING AWESOME. OR SHE. WE DON'T KNOW YET! BUT WE ARE WAAAAAAY TOO EXCITED ABOUT HIM/SHE/HER/IT!!!!!

So excited that if we have unlimited income and lots of time on our hands my husband and I would be bringing more lizards and snakes and stuff home RIGHT NOW! BECAUSE WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!!!

Both Sonny and I are shifting manually right lizard at a time ADHD people, one lizard at a time (and all the cool live food and accessories and stuff....)!!!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ritalin as sedative...

...there's no joke buried in that title. I'm sitting here at my desk struggling to stay awake. About ten minutes ago I took my afternoon methylphenidate...and I cannot keep my eyes open.

On a day when I have gotten enough sleep, this would not be happening. But I haven't been getting enough sleep this week. Stimulants make my body relax, which normally helps me to focus because my attention isn't jagging around all over the joint with extra energy. But if I'm overly tired AND I take a stimulant, let the yawns begin. This would be great if I was anywhere near a bed.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I looked like a drowned ADHD rat

The morning started with me unable to drag myself out of bed. Before I continue I just want to clarify that this is NOT a complaints post, but it will be a post about how the little things can really create a comic failure.

I was unable to drag myself out of bed. Even after I took my Concerta when the alarm went off. My body and mind were both exhausted...and the step-daughter was having the same problem.

What followed was a morning filled with mundane failures that resulted in me getting to work about 45 minutes late.

Animals running around refusing to be corralled...dropping things over and over and over...tripping...losing things...after just finding them...then the kids' mom showed up...then the water heater installer showed up...then I lost my keys again...then I dropped my lunch bag and everything fell out of it...then I run outside with my bags and realize it's raining...and I don't have an umbrella...then I'm wearing a wool suit that smells funny when it gets wet...then I'm walking three blocks in the rain to work with four bags of stuff because my stuff isn't organized this week and then I wonder why I bothered to even dry my hair this morning...then I dropped my lunch bag again getting out of the elevator...

And so it continues...I guess it's just that kind of day.

Solution-oriented thinking

Yesterday, I talked to our facilities manager at work about simply bringing my home laptop into work and working from different spots in the building to get away from the nasty lighting situation and distracting we agreed that would be a good plan and now I have my laptop with me and will probably kick that off at some point today (because in this northern hemi that I live in, it is 11AM and not incredibly bright outside).

This morning, the coworker who needs the light the most brought two lamps in and requested that two more be brought to our office.

Apparently even though we can't all agree on lighting, we CAN all agree to try to be proactive about addressing the situation. Sweet!

But I cannot tell a lie: I am mortified. I'm embarrassed. I don't like asking people to revolve around me and I don't even know what to say. My anxiety level is hovering right about mid-chest level.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I do, I love it. I really love it. And usually I really like the shows that other people think are "ugh" or "disgusting" or "such trash". When I'm at home, multi-tasking my way through an evening, I've got to have that TV soundtrack.

So like, ANYWAY...the cable guy won't be out to hook us up at the new house until the 10th.

I miss Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
I miss Forensic Files.
I miss what I like to call "True Crime Saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" where all the cable stations seem to play stories of murder and mayhem.
I miss Say Yes To The Dress.
I miss Ghost Hunters. YEAH, Ghost Hunters, don't start with me.

You may notice that there are no "fiction" shows on here. I just don't have any right now that I care about. I like mayhem, celebrities, murder, ridiculousness, trashy dating shows (except for the Bachelor...those people are nasty). I DO have a slight preference for non-fiction, which is the same for my reading preferences. I made myself read Anna Karenina a few months ago just to prove that I could actually get through a whole book like I did when I was a kid (when I would hyperfocus on reading until I would pee myself) but though it had its highlights I kind of hated myself afterward - what a crappy ending. Yeah, that's right Tolstoy, you heard me, it's a CRAPPY ENDING.

One notable exception to this is that I CANNOT HANDLE the sound of CHILDREN'S TV SHOWS. Usually, if the kids are watching their shows, I just politely excuse myself to my room. When I'm stuck in the room with sounds I don't like my stress level goes cuckoo real fast. I pride myself on my ability to politely excuse myself in these moments, but one day I lost my cookies for a minute as "Victorious" came on and I shouted "GAH, I CANNOT HANDLE THIS SHOW, BLECH I HAVE TO LEAVE THE ROOM". Probably not a great choice, as we would say to the kids. In fact, a crappy one.

But SPONGEBOB...can we talk about SPONGEBOB. I think that Spongebob Squarepants is the best show on television. Brilliantly funny, irreverent (how could anything relating to the band Ween NOT be irreverently hilarious).

Dear cable guy, please hurry. I have a whole house to unpack, I've run out of my prescriptions (for the moment) and I CANNOT HANDLE THE SILENCE.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Invisible "disability"

I already posted once today but since I'm spending my energy on coping right now anyway, I may as well give myself some language therapy and get this out on e-paper.

Have I blogged before about my shared office and the overhead fluorescent lighting therein? Probably. Well it's back to that then. Right now, there is a tour bus outside of my window idling (grimdgrindgrind) and my coworker who needs the lights on has just arrived and it feels like someone is screaming in my face or like my office a huge, horrible white noise machine...and tears are just barely contained in my eyeballs.

I can't work like this, I really can't. I have gone through the building trying to find a better workspace for myself but there's aren't really other options...ah yes, I DID write about this before, about how I was going to be a real warrior and advocate for myself and ask for a new workspace. Well knowing there's not other location options really dampened my chutzpah.

I am terrified of making people think that I'm high maintenance. I hate being someone who asks for special exceptions, which is why I generally don't. I tolerate until I can get away, far, far away. But I can't get away from this.

When people cannot see your disability it can be harder for them to really understand what your issue is. I'm really angry at my very nice coworker right now but am fully aware that it makes no sense. I'm the one that hasn't been proactive and hasn't spoken up. She's the one that was proactive and spoke up that she couldn't work with the light off. It's a matter of sensory torture but I also don't like the idea of wearing a neon "disability" sign on my chest. That's a totally layered and loaded issue but I think it's mostly a human nature issue: most of us, at our core, do not truly like to be "different", especially in ways that we can't choose.

I have no idea what I am going to do.

The scrambling of routine in the name of better things.

One day, a few months ago, Sonny and I sat down to look for a new apartment, or a house, to rent. The apartment that we were living in was just too small for the five of us to sardine through another winter in. Those of you who have at least three children know what I'm talking about. The combustible energy in a house increases exponentially with the addition of each new human being to the household. Five total inhabitants is where the rails start to feel a little wobbly. The situation was not helped by the fact that for whatever reason, the children only wanted to ever be in ONE room of the apartment, generally whatever room we were in, usually the livingroom, and that livingroom was not large.

Note that I used the word "was". We trawled online for a new place and discovered quickly that a new apartment, of the size that we needed, would increase our rent by about $700/mo and would actually be far more than a mortgage on a house would be. And so...we bought a house.

Most of the houses in our price range were too small and I don't say this lightly, completely disgusting. And we were only willing to entertain possibilities within a limited geographic range, to allow me to bike easily to my most frequent destinations, to eliminate unnecessary driving from my husband's life, and to stand by our conviction that a thriving and inhabited greater downtown area is necessary for a healthy city.

We found one. Just one. And in the end, it all worked out. It's a beautiful 1850 New Englander in mostly terrific condition that was owned by just one family until we bought it. It's in one of the nicest neighborhoods in town. It's two blocks from my parents house, and two blocks from the kids' favorite park.

For the past couple of weeks we have been cleaning, painting and moving, and every time Sonny and I really thought we were at our wits' ends in terms of stress levels and exhaustion a new surprise would spontaneously generate:

1) Some of the friends who said they could help us move, bailed (it is an inevitability of moving, of course...and to be fair, a few others REALLY stepped up).

2) Because of the date that the closing fell on, I am also trying to pull off a major event at the end of it all.

3) The intern that was supposed to be doing the legwork for that event went MIA with personal issues.

4) The house held many secrets. Some of them delightful. A carving left in a door jamb by a little boy who used to live in the house (he lived there in the 1920' old stuff). Some of them tear-inducing. Like the clogged water main backwashing bodily substances out of the downstairs toilet when we would flush the upstairs toilet. Some wallpaper removal, wallpaper covering, wallpaper repairing and plaster patching that should never have taken as long as it did. Oh...and the asbestos contractor...who nearly blew the whole house sale through his, and I swear I am not just playing armchair psychologist here, insanely frustrating obviously untreated ADHD BEHAVIOR that involved him fluctuating between fucking our paperwork and micromanaging things in a really inappropriate way...and then his crew taking out too much ductwork...which then dominoed into the furnace contractor having to create new ductwork...which involved more expense (and me having to beg them to let us set up a payment plan)...oh...and the water heater venting...that exposed a rickety chimney...which incited additional costs of mitigation.

5) And of course...the lice. Last night at dinner, our daughter complained of an itchy head. Checked her hair...sure enough...a THIRD FUCKING ROUND OF LICE in this still young school year. And dealing with lice is the BEST, especially when you don't have a clothing dryer hooked up to help you (ahem, we don't even own a dryer...we use clothing racks).

We are still not unpacked, still working toward executing the event and getting it over with (tinsel and LED snowflakes galore!), my husband is tragically alone at the house delousing as I type here at my desk, and we have no idea how much the plumbing repair is going to cost (they said somewhere between $300 and $2000, that must be paid on the spot, and which we do not possess)...but I still feel we made the right decision.

I managed to get so absorbed in the telling of the story though, that I almost completely forgot the point.

The that because all of our stuff is in boxes, we are even more disoriented than usual in our routines of daily living and THAT...THAT is probably the most difficult factor! It took me waaaay too long to make dinner last night because I, er, couldn't find anything. I have been wearing the same work-inappropriate low-rider jeans to work for three days because even if I've unpacked my work pants I don't know where they went.

Because we are parents and care-takers of animals too, Sonny and I are responsible for maintaining a routine not just for ourselves, but for transitioning and maintaining routines for three children and four animals. Trying to cook dinner, as I said, was quite something in a new kitchen. We all share a bathroom now for the purposes of morning routines and that means newly programming the little boys to clean up after themselves after brushing their teeth (they had more leeway in the apartment where they had their own bathroom...because it took longer for us to notice the mess...we're actually GLAD that the most convenient bathroom in the new house gives us a chance to more closely supervise their hygiene and cleanliness habits). The dogs were moved in before anyone, so they could start to claim a little ownership of their yard and get used to things, and see where their humans were going. The kids rolled in somewhere in the middle...and everyone knows (or SHOULD KNOW) that you always move cats last. You really have to move cats last so that everything they need is in place when they arrive, and people are done opening and closing doors for moving purposes, thus reducing the potential for accidental kitty escapes. Then they were sequestered for two days in our bedroom with their catbox, food and water. And then, when they were really cozy...the rest of the house. These cats have moved before...many, many times...but I always observe the same cat-moving protocol.

While it sounds like we put a lot of logic and thought and care into this whole process...and we DID and we DO...this is a huge ball of wax for our ADHD brains to process.

I also ran out of Concerta last week and can't refill it 'til Friday...stellar.

This too, all of it, shall pass. We made the right decision. We're moving forward. But moments have been overwhelming...and I think that the only reason we have been able to push through without losing it, is that Sonny and I are both people who have a high tolerance for other people's imperfections. Translation: though we are both exhausted, tired, and overwhelmed, we are not eating each other's faces off, for the most part. These are the times in life where you have to really maintain awareness of your quirks and work to not let those quirks run roughshod over your household. It's not easy work, but it's critical to at least try. Critical to at least make the attempt, critical to be able to admit your imperfections, and take a moment to expose your own intentions so that people can recognize your best efforts even if they didn't produce a perfect result. Critical to cry if you need to for 10 minutes (okay in my case it was 3 hours...but it was absolutely necessary). Critical to remember that your partner, in the dicier moments, is usually a really nice person but at the moment they're having a hard time and that that is ok.

Also critical to rememeber to take your ADHD meds when you have them.

And remember that the children and animals will temporarily behave as though they are housing internal firecrackers not to piss you off, but because they too, are beleaguered by transition.

Make sure to eat when you need to so you don't just turn into a big dick.

Or go for a 30 minute jog in your work clothes in the middle of the day because you just can't take another minute of any of it. I felt way better the other day after I tried that one.

Transition calls upon any of us to rise above our best. ADHD adds additional set of criteria to this process that cannot be ignored...haha, that LITERALLY cannot be ignored. Accepting that it is part of the process, and all that entails...completely mandatory for survival.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Practical matters

I am working on scheduling a meeting for 14 people who are impossible to gather in one room at the same time and on the same day.

They're all very busy people. And for whatever reason, it's a group where emails to "the group" elicit no response. This means having to make multiple individual contacts to get the job done. Oh, I will do what I must...but I have to make sure I keep my ADHD brain organized while I'm doing it.

I get out a piece of lined paper. I write the purpose of the list I'm about to make at the top of the list. I list the people I need to contact. I make little columns for the possible meeting dates so I can put little Y's and N's under them.

Then I send a round of individuals emails to each committee member. I make a small black check mark next to each name as I email them.

When I have to send the second round of emails (to confirm additional information or to try again with the folks that didn't respond the first time) I use a RED pen to make little check marks.

I'm about to make a third round of contacts. For that, I will use the BLUE pen to make little check marks.

To make it clear which check mark was first/what order they were made in, I put the check marks in the same order each time.

I like electronic spreadsheets for storing information that will be used later, or for organizing information for people to understand in a certain multi-dimensional way, but for immediate to-do items that I have to stay organized on, I like a simple pad of lined paper and lists...and check marks...and colors.

If people look at the list, they remark that I look very organized. They are correct, but it's funny too...because they don't realize they're looking at a coping strategy.

Coping strategies are powerful tools. They can help you keep up and get done what needs doing...but they can sometimes make you look even MORE capable than someone without ADHD might. That's something to think about in your "ADHD is lame" moments.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Key hunt

I seem to have lost my keys to my office. I seem to have lost them while looking for my glasses. I now have the glasses on my face, but the keys are nowhere. A reminder of the thin line between order and disorder.

I have two sets of keys, one for home, one for work. I was doing a great job of keeping track of them. (Translation: I was only having a couple of moments of panic/day, thinking I'd lost them and scrambling to find them, because I can't remember things like "where I put my keys this morning". THEN we got the new set of keys for the new house.

Chaos I tell you, nothing but chaos since that day.

For about a week I juggled the three sets of keys. It was taking up way too much of my conscious thought, so I finally decided to organize my keys and get myself back to two key rings. I plunked myself down at my desk, and took apart the "home" ring, winnowing the collection (having realized that many of the keys were no longer necessary) and adding the new house keys. The end result was a streamlined and easy-to-use set of keys that lets me into both of my homes. Perfect.

Perfect until 3pm that day, when my stepson's mother called to ask if I was able to get into my house to grab his yoga mat for him. No problem! I ran to my car, drove home, and discovered I had no key on my "home" ring for my apartment. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!

I jumped back into the car, ran back up the stairs of the victorian house that I work in, breathlessly grabbed the apartment key off of the office windowsill (where I'd apparently left it, along with the no-longer-needed keys), hustled back into the car, back to my house...the kids and their mom were there at this point, waiting for me in the driveway. I stick the key in the lock...WRONG FUCKING KEY. AGAIN.

I apologize profusely. I go back to work, feeling like a big dummy.

I did finally determine which key, from the windowsill collection, would open the door.

And then I lost my glasses. Which involved having to come to the office to see if they were here (they weren't) and sometime between when I checked the office for the glasses, and this very moment, the work keys went missing. They're not in my bags...they're not in any of my coats...they're not sitting out in the open at my house...they're not here in my office...they are now truly missing.

THIS is when you know that a) you have ADHD and b) you are beyond your capacity to operate even remotely efficiently. When apples start to fall off of the wagon, one by one, normally that's when I realize that just like my keyring, I need to take some items off of my to-do list. The current challenge to that, of course, is that we are in the middle of necessary home improvement so that we can get ourselves moved into the new house by the end of the month. And there's nothing I can do about it.


I'm super excited about the move of course, and the house, I'm just not super excited to realize that I can't take anything off my plate right now, which probably means that I'll be spending a great deal of time dealing with ridiculous shit like lost keys, missing glasses, and losing my own ass.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

every day is like sunday

Sunday. The day when many (I'd dare to to say most) American families attend to matters of routine that prepare them for the week ahead. In our house, this process is often fraught with a sense of urgency:

a) because we are damned busy most of the time
b) because when the kids aren't here we have to get as much done as we can before they come back and we won't be able to operate as efficiently
c) if the kids ARE here we have to figure out how to get everything done while of course attending to the things kids need, you know eating, homework, behavior modification (...did you just THROW the cat?!)
d) if we don't get a least half of "To-Do Mountain" pounded out before the week officially begins we are screwed...laundry (piles taller than my husband), cleaning AND sanitizing (why is that doorknob sticky?), animal care (who crapped in the laundry room?!), that sort of thing.

And now, with the PURCHASE OF A NEW HOME officially under our belts, we have added, cleaning a second household, shellacking, priming, painting, spackling, plastering, sanding packing and unpacking to our repertoire.

Having completed today's demented obstacle course to the finish line I find myself musing. Here are some of those musings:

1) Why is that I cannot remember to feed the cats at the same time every day, but I CAN remember to remind the girl that it's time for her to feed the cats.

2) Why did my 5-year-old stepson yell "LOOK! It's a MINI PERSON!" after spotting his first "little person" this afternoon? We discussed proper nomenclature for future use.

3) Why do all home improvement tasks take exactly 4 times longer than anticipated and why don't we learn to just factor this into the tasks in advance?

4) Why did the adult with ADHD cross the road? Duh, to...

5) Why do people bother to substitute the phrase "See You Next Tuesday" for that know, THAT word...that word that so many people seem to be offended by that they have to come up with dumb phrases to replace it, and the replacement phrase is so gaudy that it creates more hubbub than the word itself...I'd rather just say cunt and get it over with <-----there, I said it.

6) More people should use words like "f'realsies".

7) Why am I so reassured by lists? I love a good bulleted, numbered list. And I hate outlines.

8) It's not that Sunday is more work-filled than any other day, it's just that certain tasks require attention on that day. Each day of the week is a hamster wheel unto itself.

So let's hear it for unnatural conclusions. Let's hear it for Sunday.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

folders inside of folders inside of folders

I have a Masters degree in Library and Information Science so I'm (or perhaps because I'm) the kind of person who likes to think about how things are organized.

In my workplace I am daily faced with organization systems that, at least for me, do not work at all. I have control over my immediate work space, but I do not have control over how everything is organized in community use on the shared drive on our server.

Folders inside of folders inside of folders...which in a cold, logical way, makes perfect sense. Categories of sub-categories of sub-categories. Logic. Cold hard logic. The problem is that many people's brains don't work logically. They work in the way that makes most sense in relation to a) the information that they need the most b) what they need it for c) the frequency with which they use it.

When the information is there for everyone to access, it makes sense to adopt a system that is "logical", but that does not make it useful to all users, perhaps only to more of them...or none of them, I'm not sure at the moment.

Yesterday I needed a piece of information that was unfortunately buried under about four layers of other information. Because I did not know and had now way of knowing how to unlock those layers (because I NEVER use them and had no need to have memorized them) I had to ask a coworker about it. I will not reproduce that coworkers response, but I will translate its subtext for you: "Are you fucking kidding me? What's WRONG with you, are you lazy? I can't even believe that I have to answer this morally corrupt question for you so I'm just not going to answer it, I'm going to glare at you and hope you go away and magically become able to find this information on your own"

It sure felt great. made no difference in my ability to find the information that I needed, because the information was stored behind layers of other information that my job does not require me to know. My job, like my degree, is one of ultimate generalism. I don't need to memorize great quantities of information (though it's helpful) but I DO need to know where to find information when I need it. When the system of organization makes information destinations clear only to certain classes of employee, you have a problem.

To the credit of the organization that I work for, there has been some attempt at standardizing the language that we use to describe certain that I can guess my way along at times...but then the specialty language kicks in and suddenly I'm required not just to be able to find anything,  but to be able to find it in multiple languages, literally.

On top of that little organization issue and its inherent challenges...I cannot function in a system of folders inside of folders inside of folders. I suspect it's the "ADHD means out of sight out of mind" issue. Because my e-filing system was created before I arrived here, and is sometimes used by other people, I can't move it around because that will take it even further out of synch with the rest of our allegedly organized e-filing system, which would create for someone else the same problem that I have with other people's files.

I have a hard time finding things when I need them. I have to think carefully about where the next tidbit I'm looking for might be. I can find you every thing you need to know in every scientific journal I can get my hands on, but half the time I can't find my own lists in my own folders...

But wait: When I worked in law offices it was very simple because all information pertaining to a particular case was simply filed under that file name and then categorized as needed within that file...folders inside of folders...but they were tangible folders, not e-folders.

That's it...there must be a conspiracy by environmentalists to make my ADHD brain explode by convincing America to move to digital storage formats.


And they're distracting us with talk of global warming!!! GIVE ME BACK MY PAPER FILES YOU GREEN NAZIS!

Depending on the storage format, your ability to "browse" information like we used to browse the shelves of libraries can be seriously hampered. The ability to browse requires either really intense and clever electronic indexing/tagging/etc or someone spending a lot of time scanning things into a computer. We (and by we I mean electronic data storage age humans) are spending all of our time trying to recreate the best features of tangible browsing in the name of saving space and paper.

I don't think I like it.

Yes that's right...I spend most of my time on a computer and social networking and blahblahblah...but sometimes I just want to flip a page instead of mentally backengineering a freaking database to figure out what "language" works best for unlocking electronic secrets that it contains.

Quit making my brain explode, America! Give me books (and trashy celebrity magazines) or give me death!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I just have to trust that she has a place and a purpose.

Some days we work for a breakthrough to appear and some days the breakthrough rises like a sunset upon us that though we should have anticipated, we fretted over the arrival of. Suddenly the feelings in your gut and the images fleeting through your mind all coalesce as the right image lands among them. That image: the goddess Artemis. She is at one with the woods. She has a place and a purpose. She is powerful, but precise, conscientiously targeting her objectives without collateral damage, through archery. She protects animals and children, she greets the newly born.

The image of her, outlined in gold, a similarly luminescent deer at her side, smiling and readying an arrow for a magical purpose has moved a lump of energy through me that really, really needed to move.

And when I had a particularly upsetting moment this morning, she was there to rally and carry me back to a helpful kind of energy, though the sadness remained.

I'd asked a question that needed to be asked...and the receiver distinctly conveyed that I should not be asking it. The assumption was clear that I must only be asking it because of some moral defect...which in proportion to the matter at hand was completely inappropriate. I asked because I needed to, but my intelligence was not trusted, it was insulted.

Why. Why.

I don't even have the emotional fortitude to muster the typing of an actual question mark.

But I DO have the strength to summon the image that appeared in my mind just prior...of a golden goddess with magical arrows.

Monday, October 24, 2011

like popcorn, but the bag's too small

Alternately titled "the urge to flee". Entirely separate from any specific issue relating to my professional or personal life, I am housing a burning urge in my mind to flee. See my earlier post "a drowning nomad" for the more depressed variation on this theme.

On top of the fact that I'm programmed by my life history to be accustomed to a periodic change of scenery, I am pretty sure it's ADHD telling me beautiful things about the greenness of the grass on the other side of the fence - casting visions on the screens behind my eyes.

It's telling me that getting a plane ticket to Las Vegas to visit my sister, work in a diner, and let the desert dessicate my youthful complexion is a stellar idea. It's telling me that I'm most certainly going to have to move to NYC to reignite the playwrighting career that I abandoned on the West Coast six years ago. It's telling me that there must be something luxuriously dark, oily, intriguing and seductive just below the surface of day-to-day if I just look a little harder and tap into the poetry seeping from my guts. It's telling me that the truth might be lurking in the geographic monuments of my homeland and I might have to take a pickaxe to hardened granules in order to reveal it. It's telling me that the bottoms of wells collect secrets that must be found in order to be told.

On the surface I am "managing impulsivity" as I always have...with mostly invisible discomfort, with refocusing my mind repeatedly throughout the day, and of course these days, with medication.

But my heart and soul are writing anarchistic graffiti on the transparent walls of my inner skin. They're talking too loudly and they couldn't care less. The whispers twist me away from the task at hand as I struggle to shut them out for as long as it takes (and that probably means forever).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"reasonable accommodations"

I am considering asking for some "accommodations" at work and I can't tell you how weird/embarrassed/awkward that makes me feel.

I'm a person who insists upon and enjoys a very DIY life, who takes pride in not needing help (to a fault). I have a habit of trying to be very low-maintenance...I don't like to be "that person" who needs pansy shit like painkillers or forklifts. I will push through the pain and I will lift the world onto my shoulders with my own two hands (lifting with my legs, not with my back thank you) if it kills me. In other words I'm a Navy Seal in a tiny woman's body...and I hate to admit when I can't do something for myself and if I can't do it for myself then it's almost not worth doing. Someone should warn my stepchildren NOW that I'm going to be a massive pain in their asses when I'm 85 and they try to take my drivers license away.

At my office, I share an office with two other people. Herein lies the problem, truly. One office mate needs the overhead fluorescent light on at all times. Additionally, there are phones ringing, people coming in and out, meetings at people's desks, and conference calls happening throughout the day. And...there's a little emergency manufacturing that goes on in the office.

Aside from the emergency manufacturing, there's not really anything unreasonable happening here, it's just the things people do in the natural course of a business day. I am not annoyed with my office mate that needs the light on, I mean she needs to be able to see, right? People make phone calls, that's not strange.

None of it is strange but all of it is creating a stressful workspace for me. If I had to pick a "worst" I would say the overhead fluorescent light, which has always been something I can't tolerate. I actually can't tolerate overhead light of any kind for very long. A while ago, I actually went upstairs and got my office mate a desk light (which sounds like a dick thing to do but I assure you in context it made sense...she had noticed that she's the only one that turns the light on and felt badly that she was bothering us so I had asked her if she thought a desk light would be helpful, because I don't expect everybody else to love working in the dark). But she hardly ever used it and the fluorescents would end up on anyway. So I ended up with it back on my desk because at least then I can create some contrast between the overhead light and my desk so my soul doesn't deteriorate quite so quickly.

I've been here nearly a year and I have tried to make the office work for me. We tried problem-solving the light issue...I brought headphones so that I can listen to music instead of other people...but truly it's often inadequate to drown out the sounds. I also can't drown out the sights. 

I'm thinking of asking if I can simply move my work space. I don't know where to though, because there's not a lot of space here. I don't even care if they stick me in a closet, I just need it dark and quiet.

I'm thinking about how to ask...and thinking that this is a swell thing to talk over with my therapist this week. I also need to think over how to react effectively if I meet with a little in not crying in humiliation, since I hate asking for help and it embarrasses me to think about asking.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A demonstration of great mental effort

It was a simple phone call and a reasonable request. I had a meeting scheduled for 11am this morning at a local coffee shop. The person I was supposed to meet called to say that she needed to reschedule, that the transmission on her car had gone out and tomorrow would be better. Public transportation isn't an option here. Not a problem...totally reasonable. We rescheduled for 1pm tomorrow.

I immediately pulled my calendar out of my bag, crossed off today's appointment, and wrote it in again for tomorrow at the correct time. That's only the first layer, however. Because for me, just remembering to open my calendar takes a certain amount of mental effort. Schedule changes can be extremely anxiety provoking. Anything out of the norm on my calendar carries a high risk of being forgotten. I know this well, and as such, I rely on vigilance. Medication can keep me more even and energized, less anxious and overwhelmed so that I'm more likely to open that calendar, but it doesn't make me lift the cover and look inside.

I set this original appointment on Thursday of last week and I spent the entire weekend working to remind myself to make sure I both checked my calendar and didn't miss my 11am meeting. I'm grateful for the ability to remind myself to remind myself but it sure is a lot of work. And it's pressing a little red internal panic button over and over until the obligation is completed because that's the only way to remember.

Even if I was using an electronic calendar I worry that I would shut out or miss the sound of an alarm or reminder.

This is not ungrounded worry, it's a habit of worry acquired over years of forgetting, of having simple meetings feel like they are swirling around my body on bits of paper that swirl like feathers in a wind. It's the kind of worry that can make you narrow your world...generally my enthusiasm for novelty outweighs my fear of forgetting. And when I'm depressed I have sheer will to force myself over the next hedge. If living means showing up for things and meeting your obligations to others, then I clearly have an unsuppressable will to live, such that I will wade through with worry up to my ankles or knees or waist and just keep moving forward. I don't always enjoy it. But solitary confinement seems less appealing.

This time, the worry is extended into tomorrow. I don't enjoy that feeling, but it's an important meeting. Important to me anyway. I'll reach into the air over and over to grab that particular bit of paper and read it to myself, then release my grip on it and let it fly away as I need my hand to grab another bit and read the reminder etched upon it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I thought was prepared for this punch to the stomach

Step-parenting is like running through a beautiful field of flowers and sunshine and then finding out somewhere along the way that it's filled with landmines...and you have to keep running and parenting anyway even as your legs are getting blown off in this beautiful place, and you have no idea where the next mine is coming from, or what part of you might get blown away.

This morning, it was my heart. I'm a tough girl. But this morning I write with tears in my eyes.

When children fight over TV in our house, the TV is simply shut off because as we tell the kids, TV is never more important than people. They fought about the TV (usually the big kids don't want to watch what the little kid wants to watch and they're mean about it). Sonny shut it off.

Later, I walk through the livingroom and the little one complains that he is bored. I suggest that he has the power to choose an activity other than sitting on the couch doing nothing. He replies "when do I get to go back to mommy's house".

Insert land mine explosion here.

Insert photo of stepmother with a leg blown off, placid expression, parenting mode intact. 

I reply "why, does she let you watch all the TV you want at her house?".

Slightly older brother, who was also there, yells and I mean YELLS, with a snarl, and some rage: NO! Because he is clearly pissed that they have been called on some b.s. Probably also mad because he's 7 and might think I'm somehow talking smack about his mother. And you don't talk smack about people's mammas.

I reply "oh...well then I'll have to check the calendar".

There was no more complaining about boredom...they found activities. And two minutes later they were looking for hugs again.

But I was certainly wounded. Not forever...just for today...and in a way it's a relief. As a step-parent, you always know that these moments will come, I just hadn't had to deal with them yet. I guess that's the trick though...keep your parenting wits about you until you can get to a bathroom to cry where they can't see you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A parenting baggage potpourri...

I like reading blogs about parenting ADHD kids...but it also gives me a weird I am being talked about, but not talked to. I'm not mentioning any blogs in particular because I know this is my baggage and it's really just a general discussion of my own shit, not something intended to reflect on anyone else's writing.  I absolutely understand that these sensations have NOTHING to do with the intent of the writers...and I will continue to read them from time to time because the posts and information are interesting.

I find it interesting that very few of the writers of these types of blogs talk about being a person WITH ADHD (or ________) but are always talking about how it manifests in their children. We all know that ADHD for example is highly heritable. It's just chance that I have ADHD and so does my husband and so does at least one stepchild. But I feel like my step-parenting experience is totally connected to my experience as an adult with ADHD. I have to navigate my own ADHD issues ALL THE TIME just to be able to parent as beneficially as possible for everyone involved. I'm sure not all of the writers have the same issues that their children that may be part of it. Some of it may result from the fact that many of the commenters, as parents tend to do, focus on their children primarily. For me there will always be two layers. There will always be "in order for me to be able to be present for my family in the morning in any way, I have a few personal matters to attend to" issues like taking my meds on time the night before, taking meds in the morning, getting enough sleep, and just plain dragging myself out of bed (which for me...are challenges at times). I have to expertly navigate my own frustrations and reactions when children are either acting like children...or perhaps when they're behaving the way a child with ADHD might when absorbed in chaos creation or gratuitous arguing. I have to not only navigate my own stuff, but I have to go that next step and model for them better choices and outcomes. I can't parent without thinking about my own ADHD.

I also have moments of "yeah, I totally have that issue myself" when people post asking if "you" have such and such issue with your child. "Does your child struggle with fitting in socially?" Yes she does...and so do I. "Does your child struggle with picking at their skin?" Yes, and I try to hide it from my step-daughter because we're always telling her not to do the same thing. It's not that it's all about me...but...well keep reading...

Here's my next layer of baggage: step-parenting baggage. I'm not sure that I think of myself as a "real" parent yet, even though I'm parenting children in my home on a regular basis. Will I ever? I read these other blogs and I feel qualified to comment as myself because I am comfortable and confident in discussing my own experience. I only became a parent a year and a half ago...and I worry that I'm good enough. I worry that I'm doing everything I need to...I worry that I'm not supporting my husband enough. I wish there were more hours in the day to devote to everything that we all need. I've had to learn very quickly to parent three children. Because we're a blended family, I've had to adjust to the fact that not everyone involved wants me there. And because I care...that hurts my feelings and sometimes it does make me feel like I'm not "real". At the very least it reminds me that I'm "new". So...I don't always feel confident in speaking "as a parent", though there's no reason I shouldn't. I come upon parenting forums and suddenly feel like an outsider.

I also notice that many of these questions they pose are very grounded in the moment, often a moment of frustration or panic, a very real feeling for parents in general and especially parents of kids with various types of special needs...and if there's one thing I can layer over that as an adult with ADHD it's this: many of these issues you're having in the moment aren't going to go away. Some of them WILL go away. Some of them will improve. Some will continue to be a thorn in their child's side as they become adults and they will need the tools to move forward, not just tools to deal with the moment. In some situations those tools are the other situations they are not. Especially when a parent gets so caught in the moment that they look for the quick fix...instead of the long-term strategy. Again though...I know this isn't people trying to be fact it's great that these forums exist...I just wonder if at times, my own ADHD actually makes it easier for me to NOT panic about certain kinds of things. Little one takes "too long" to get ready for bed? Start him 15 minutes earlier so he doesn't have to rush. Medication change for the older one? Why not, try it, see what happens, if it works, it works, if it doesn't we try something else. If I'm wigged about something parenting related, it's not usually related to a child's special's usually because of MY ADHD or it's simply due to the fact that I'm new at parenting, and parenting is a fucking hard job. The kids will grow. Try your best.

The nexus where parent and child meet, for me, is just one part of a much larger picture. I can't isolate the moments and I can't detach my own ADHD from the discussion when it's so in the mix.

There's a lot to love in these other blogs...but maybe I need more time drilling through some of my own issues before really participating in those online communities overly much. Clearly my heart has some settling out to do...

As we all know, staying on task can be challenging when you are an adult with ADHD. 

But I'll tell you what - it's not the single step tasks that present a problem, it's the multi-step tasks. Specifically the multi-step tasks that I have no interest in completing in the first place. My brain's first reaction to them is a flash in my mind of a GIANT HORRIBLE MOUNTAIN OF TASK. And the second it pops into my head, my brain is immediately looking for a distraction. Unfortunately distractions are very easy to find.

At work, or when I'm at home and trying to get important things done, fortunately I often have many work/important things to do that are smaller and more palatable chunks of "must do". So I can procrastinate and still get work done! Perfect scenario!

Clearly this is only a temporary reprieve tho. I get to a point, eventually, where I must attack the mountain. And I do. Yeah...I do. I break it into smaller chunks...or the urgency of needing to finish it puts it on the top of the pile in a way that is compelling.

I just wish I spent more time with tasks that actually interest me on my plate.

Ho. Hum.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I may never be quite the same.

I realized last night that I have spent the past year and a half hoping that my brain would totally recover from the Great Migraine Disaster of 2010. Last night I also realized...and not unhappily...that it won't. I don't understand why, but even though I have made GREAT progress toward recovery, it's amazing how much my mother and I have had in common with that experience...and not long before my migraine disaster of course, she had a minor head injury and we had a lot of similar fallout, cognitively speaking. Recovering from a head injury is not a quick process, generally. I didn't technically have a "head injury" but my brain or my thinking processes seem to have been permanently affected in some way. Maybe I DID have some kind of injury to some part of my brain...medical science hasn't fully defined the migraine experience after all. It's a hazy territory...fitting I suppose.

Last night I realized my brain may never be the same. I might not ever 100% recover, in fact in a moment, I was willing to accept that it simply won't. It's going to take me a while to really fully and deeply accept that...but somehow just allowing myself to have that realization had a slightly relieving effect...because in the face of that kind of epiphany, you are free to move forward, whatever forward may mean, and for a long time now I have needed to move forward.

On May 11th, the May before last, I was a 34-year-old woman looking forward to completing a graduate degree within the month. I had found my handsome Mr. Rollins, begun to acclimate to the idea of parenting three children, coordinated a move, and was in the process of planning a grand circus of a wedding for 300 guests. In the weeks previous, just a few times, for a few seconds, I'd had the odd sensation that the scene in front of me moved...but it wasn't a big deal. On May 12th, as I sat at my desk, I nearly passed out, I became viciously disoriented to the space and furnishings around me. I felt a spring in my head squeezing and resisting. I called for my boss, I crawled to the floor. I thought I was dying. I made him take me to the hospital because I thought I was having a stroke. Doctors told me I was crazy and sent me home. It happened again...and then it was happening 20-30 times a day. I was crushed by fatigue, and each time the squeezing would begin in my head, thoughts were slapped out of my head, my thinking process died in its tracks, words evaporated and I would stare, unable to communicate. I was conscious, but I was trapped in my head. Friends would visit or call and an hour later I had no recollection of the visit or call.

The neurologists at MGH treated me with dignity, took me seriously, understood I was having a true neurological crisis, and with a little investigating, and a little luck, while they never gave me an official diagnosis, they did find a medication that brought most of me back to myself.

I worry that I will always be dependent on medication.

I worry that it might happen again - and occasionally, it does. A upped dose brings me back.

I see now, that if I don't have a conversation with myself about it, I will be trapped in hoping, instead of actively living.

I am probably 95% "back to normal" but what does that mean? I'm see now that this definition of "normal" is no longer useful to me. No longer a fair comparison.

Am I less than I was? For this past year and a half, I think I thought so. Bits of me still believe it I think. But now I see I just need to move forward. Because whether I am or am not is not the issue...whether I am alive and moving on is.

It's so easy to focus on those pieces that aren't working, when those pieces are a part of your mind...a part of what you have always perceived to define you as you. But maybe something totally new can fill in the picture...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It just seems like so much more...

I dropped my husband off at work for the parent-teacher open house and drove home. On my way home, my mind raced to compile a list of all the magical tasks I would complete and relaxing I would do.

At last, with the car to myself, I would first go home and run through a field of daisies with my ADHDog. Skampering into the sunset together to get the wiggles out, we would maybe grab something tasty and then climb into the auto and make a trip to the bank. After that of course, we would clearly have time to stop at my parents' house, before coming home so I can type up a bunch of information for the packet I need to submit to our loan officer for our mortgage application process...

And then...then I realized that I had exactly one hour before I had to drive back to the parent-teacher open house, talk to the teachers for a few minutes, and then pick up my husband at his classroom.

So instead I walked the dog for 15 minutes, moseyed about Facebook for about 5 minutes and now I'm going to go get ready to go back to the school.

But it made SO MUCH SENSE in my brain. Recalibrating my brain was really painful...I had to go over it in my head a few times to make sure that my thinking wasn't making sense, lol.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's in the genes...

I have a family member who is having some interesting health/mental health issues at the moment. I won't reveal their relationship to me because I don't really want to delve into their personal business online by name without their permission. But I'm totally delving into it anyway, anonymously, because it's interesting. Here's a few facts:

1) This is a fairly close blood relative.

2) This person could EASILY be diagnosed with ADHD (which could probably be said of 75% of my family on either side...just saying...) with significant hyperactive traits, both mental and physical.

3) This person has been suffering from a serious depression for YEARS (again, several candidates in the family probably qualify for that diagnosis) though has probably has smaller bouts with depression in earlier times.

Said relative finally...FINALLY just agreed to try an antidepresant (Zoloft). It has been a couple of months now I would say and it REALLY seems to be working...REALLYREALLY. REALLYREALLYREALLY. REALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYYYYY!

Said relative is now running around town doing all of the things they couldn't do while depressed (there were some other health issues too, the treatment of which has increased their mobility). The question (that a mental health provider is going to have to figure out is of course) the fact that it's working THAT WELL a good thing?!

Well...I don't know. But as a bystander I can tell you that they are suddenly yammering hyperactively, energy bouncing off the walls, appeared in our yard the other day to "fix stuff" at our house (which was actually great, preferable I would say to being stuck in a recliner with depression), and those who share a household with them are finding it hard to sleep because the energy and activity in the house at night is just too much. Other people outside of the family are also finding it a little overwhelming for various reasons.

This, I would say, is a perfect example of "is it ADHD, is it bipolar disorder, it both?".

As I said to another family member "is it possible that they were like this before and this person has been depressed for so long that we forgot they were always this hyperactive?". Or "is it possible that their anti-depressant is triggering bipolar mania and we were just so used to their behavior before the depression that it didn't strike us as odd"? I'm not expert...but knowing what I know about the person and about psych issues in general it's impossible not to speculate.

In the meantime, it IS great to see them up and about, even if the energy is a little WILD. WIIIIIIILD! Though I cannot lie: I love the stuff at my house getting fixed!!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sleep, glorious sleep!

Last night I got my third night of perfectly decent sleep since realizing I was taking my meds at the wrong time.

It was delicious.

I can't tell you how much better I feel. At the risk of sounding sarcastic (which I NEVER AM) I am delighted to report that though I still feel cranky, reactive, impatient, sarcastic (...never...) and would like my office mates to stop talking and shut off the light, it is SO MUCH EASIER to feel all of these things on a good night's sleep!!! Lack of sleep adds an edge of helpless to the whole three cheers and let's hope that progress continues.

In the meantime...I making progress on all of the little details of life that are trying to kill me. I'm lining up father came over to FIX MY CAR...I enacted a flea eradication regimen in our house that involved de-fleaing all four pets ('s been a bad flea season in New England), bathing two of them (picture a cat being washed in a big sink and then sprayed with the sink's veggie sprayer attachment...I can't believe he let me do that...he ripped the caulking out from around the rim of the sink but I came away unshredded), washing a crap ton of laundry just to be thorough, and spraying and vacuuming most of the house. Last week I conquered the disaster of our basement, cleaning up kitty surprises (jerks), airing it out, and organizing things so that we don't lose our minds when we move, and that effort is continuing. Et cetera, et cetera.

One of the things that was really bothering me about my lack of sleep was the fact that I couldn't remember my dreams. What a freaking metaphor, seriously. I have always (and I do mean always) had a very spiritual relationship with my dreams, and I believe that our dreams give us information that can be important when we're awake. I used to journal them every night. Some were hilarious...some serious...some heartbreaking...always they were always interesting. What some people don't realize is that when you journal them, they become easier to remember. Some of them I would write down when half awake and not even remember...but I would wake up and see my journal open to a page and get treated to a surprise, scratched in almost illegible sleep-writing.

With sleep, the dreams are back. I've really spent the last year and a half adding joyful new things to my life but in the process, totally losing connection to some really critical pieces of myself.

And I didn't have the energy to pull myself back together.

Maybe now I will. Just getting my dreams back feels like a great start. Something to think about while I'm decluttering my basement and working from the ground up to find myself again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

...sometimes a smart person can be REALLY DUMB.

For months and months and months now I've been having a terrible time getting to sleep, and now that I have three step-children living with me I really need to be on my game...

When I first started taking nortriptyline, it made me sleepy. This was PERFECT. I would take it at night and voila, in bed by like 11 instead of like 3. Over time it's evened out so that I can get to sleep by like 1...but that's way too late for my current lifestyle. And I've been exhausted...and when I'm exhausted it makes me have cool problems like VERTIGO.

Yeah...well who's a fucking genius? I AM! I AM SUCH A FUCKING GENIUS!

Strangely, I think it's a poor choice to take your psych meds with alcohol...and I don't really metabolize things in a super duper way so I try to space things out, drink lots of I had fallen into a pattern of having a beer around dinner time...and then taking the nortriptyline RIGHT before bed. And for months I haven't been able to get enough sleep.

Are you thinking what I just figured out?

Last week I stopped drinking the nightly alcohol because I felt it was becoming too much of a habit and it clearly wasn't helping me sleep...and I had finally gotten to a point of being so fatigued that I thought the vertigo was going to catch up with for three nights, I took an ativan at bedtime and got a good night's sleep. Then, two nights ago, I skipped the ativan and took my nortriptyline at about 8:00. By 10-ish I was totally ready for bed. Last night, I took it at about 8:30...totally ready for bed by 10-ish again.

Um...for months I have been complaining that it was taking me like, two hours to be ready to sleep. You know, when I was taking my meds RIGHT at bed time.

APPARENTLY it takes about TWO HOURS for the NORTRIPTYLINE to hit me.

I'm going to try it again tonight to see how it goes.

I feel like an idiot.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I keep revisiting the most basic advice of my therapist: think about what is bothering you. Think about what you can change. Make those changes.

Some of them of course, I can't make right away. After acknowledging and mourning that reality, I'm feeling more productive. My mind is actively churning. I feel a glimmer of nameless hope. A glimmer, but that's enough to keep my mind busy.

I also spent an entire evening alone last night...and have spent all of this afternoon and evening so far alone as well. And it feels: GOOD.

As I think of things that, when the time is right, I can change, I begin to feel free. I lighten a bit. I feel my endurance increase. My clarity on my own needs increases, slightly...I need more time either alone, or with the healthier people in my world. I need privacy.  I need some quiet. I need to reaffirm permission to give myself what I need. Well alllllrighty then!

I have been spending the majority of my time in direct contact with some extremely noxious energy, and I have allowed that noxious energy to invade my emotional landscape, and spur me to doubt myself.

Still thinking on that one...and thinking about how I'm not really stuck...but I do need to hang on a little longer, and I'm allowed to dream while I do it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

...okay fine, I'm depressed.

With depression, come my attempts to add levity to the situation. I know I wrote once that depression jokes aren't funny, but sometimes depression induced thinking or situations are.

Exhibit A: Yesterday at my therapist's office I spent several minutes trying to determine what grade of depression I was experiencing. I realized that I was just miserable, but not suicidal, and that I just don't know if it's situational, or if my body chemistry is just out of whack...or both. So I told my therapist that it wasn't so much that I don't see the point of living, but that I don't see the point of life. That's often a good indicator for me of whether or not I'm depressed and to what degree. I always have a little voice in the back of my head that finds life in general odd and sometimes a little pointless, but when I'm not depressed, it's a small voice, and it's generally outweighed by the fact that I don't actually care what the point IS. I am engaged in the adventure enough to just let the question slide.

When I'm depressed, the voice becomes larger and everything looks stark. If it happens in the fall or winter, when everything is dead or dying in my landscape, the point is only driven home harder and it feeds my morose thinking like a bellows. The voice starts saying things like "Jesus Christ. Why the fuck do people even bother to reproduce...we're just creating more people who will grow up and realize that life is pointless and they'll be miserable.". Or Peggy Lee invades my mental soundtrack...asking the question "Is That All There Is?":

Is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing.
Let's break out the booze and have a ball, if that's all there is.

If you know the song, you know that she's not actually suggesting that the dancing or the booze will improve the situation. But you also know, that the song is hilarious. Because depressed thinking is so absurd sometimes, that it's funny shit. At the end, she muses on the possibility that people might wonder why she doesn't just end it all and she says:

Oh no...I'm not ready for that final disappointment.


Clearly, sometimes when you're depressed you still have a sense of humor. Exhibit B: My sister telling a story yesterday about a dominatrix in her class at pastry school, who a) is not a very pleasant person and is sexually invasive even in ordinary daily situations but who also b) looks like Peggy from King of the Hill if Peggy was a man. With eyebrows fully plucked out and drawn back on in...magenta. My sister has taken to calling her: Peggy Steve. Everytime I read the name "Peggy Steve" I just about die laughing (including as I'm trying to type this). It's not because I like to make fun of sexually ambiguous people, but a cumulative effect of the whole story, and my sister's dry Peggy Lee-ish delivery.

So what have we learned here...

1) I'm genuinely depressed but
2) People named Peggy apparently have the ability to throw me into hysterics, even when I'm depressed.
3) I really hope I'm not depressed like this for much longer because I'm really tired of thinking so hard about the meaning of life.

Ima go listen to more Peggy Lee while I attempt to seem "normal" and "socially appropriate".

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Micro-urban renewal

I am absolutely on the verge of some really amazing things but I'll be damned if I have the patience to wait out the psycho crap in the meantime that I have to wait out.

Ever feel like your patience is stretched thinner than a...okay I can't come up with any comparisons there that aren't potentially offensive on at least two levels so let's just say my patience is stretched much further than I thought it capable of, and yet I know I have to hold on just a little longer for my own best interests and for my family's best interests.

Ever been there?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An argument in favor of daily pill reminders...


So my lack of sleep and stress level got the better of me as of yesterday. At the end of the work day, I walked directly home, and I took a whole ativan tablet. I never do that, but I needed nothing more than to sleep. The rest of the evening is a nice, relaxed blur. Unfortunately when I woke this morning, I had no recollection of if I had taken my nortriptyline.

I took my normal dosage this morning.

And then found out the hard way that I HAD already taken it the night before. The most prominent sign was that it made me EXTREMELY the point where I had to leave my weekly event in the middle of the day and I went home and zonked out for four hours. It took nearly two hours to wake back up, and even afterward I was grrrrroggy. Talked to a friend this afternoon and told her how drowsy I was...she said "well you texted me last night and told me you had just taken it". Ha. Didn't remember that either.


I have a pill keeper with the days of the week market on it, but I lost track of it (I'm not sure when). Time to find it - and I highly recommend them to others. With so many details in life to keep track of, why tempt fate?

Friday, September 23, 2011

One big exercise in humility...

Have you ever felt like you needed something to keep you humble? Something to make you realize that you are fallible, human, fragile and imperfect? Let me suggest blogging. Some would argue that bloggers are self-absorbed and a little full of themselves, posting to jerk themselves off and because they really think their words are tres importante.

Few things in my life have ever made me feel less "important". Less "all-knowing". And more human. Than going back and reading my posts from earlier in the yesterday's.

Here at 18 Channels I try to capture the honest day to day experience of living with ADHD as an adult. A lot of moments in my life and the life of my family are hilarious, kooky and fun...but then there's days like yesterday. Yesterday I was nearly eaten live by depression and impatience - by a pile of completely understandable concerns that had taken me apart in pieces, one cell at a time, deconstructed me to the point that at the end of my workday, I no longer recognized myself.

I called and left a message for my prescriber and said my medication wasn't doing shit (in the nicest possible way). I called and left a message for my therapist. I can't tell you how glad I am that the therapist was the one that got to me first.

My therapist really is great. I've been seeing her long enough now that we really have a common language for framing my world and I appreciate that. When I talked to her yesterday I said "for the past year and a half life has been so overwhelming...first I'm depressed, then I'm disabled, then I have a little renaissance and feel better but now I'm anxious, then I'm depressed again, I'm tired of being unhappy and I'm just exhausted and I'm sick of feeling this way".

She said "what can you change"...then "how can you change it".

I know the answers to these questions. I ALWAYS have the power to change my life in any way that I wish. Always. I realize that not everyone is that lucky. Some people have more permanent factors to contend with...but all of us always have choices. So she asked me what I can change, and to identify ways to change it. Of course right now, there are things I cannot change right away. That's the wall I'm up against at the moment.

"Then you have to file it away in your radical acceptance folder."

Sigh. This is nothing new. But she was right. I had to. And at this point it's a matter of survival. I cannot function if I continue to let these things eat away at me. My choice is continue to be miserable, or work to file these things away until they can be handled in another way. Patience of this type has NEVER been easy for me.

Have I blogged about radical acceptance? Probably. It's worth a brief revisit...radical acceptance is the kind of acceptance you have to employ when logic and desire will not get you what you want. It's perfect for all of the unwinnables in life. Crazy parents? They'll always be crazy. Health issue that drives you nuts? Radically accept it. Work with an asshole but can't quit your job? Radically accept that you are choosing to do what's best for you by putting up with that bullshit just a little longer. Have ADHD? Quit beating yourself up. Radically accept it and move on.

In my experience, radical acceptance can be a very rich can feel freeing or it can feel awkward...or it can feel bittersweet. Right now, it feels freeing AND bittersweet. I have a pile of crap driving me crazy that I have to accept or I will lose my mind. But I have that choice available to me, the choice to file it away for a bit. Something about that felt better than letting it continue to drive me crazy. I'm still sad...I'm still frustrated. I'm still dissatisfied...but I am choosing radical acceptance...which then makes it a little easier to see the small sparks of "fight" that I have left (and to then seek ways to feed those sparks). It also helps me step outside of my misery for a moment to see that I was brought to this moment by choices that I MADE. And that those choices were actually really good ones that made a lot of sense.

At that point in the day I still had several hours left in my work day...we had a night-time show coming in. It just so happened that this show featured a band that is really emblematic of everything I love about the music that I love...they're legendary, truly. So I got to enjoy an amazing night of music that triggered all the good stuff in me...that really fed my soul. It breathed a little life back in me.

I am still hovering in a cloud of bittersweet mist but I can hover here a little longer. I'm not asking for my meds to be changed right now. I turned down a beer last night when offered. I didn't sleep any better but hey, what's new. I DID get to climb in bed with my lovely husband, lay there in a warm, safe house, and breathe.

And I wrote it all down in a blog post so I can go back and read it later, and remember how imperfect I really am, but that it's okay.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is when you know it's time to call your prescriber...

For the last few several months I have come more and more to rely on alcohol to make me feel...not even good, just more sane, slightly closer to able to "deal". It's like this...I go to work and barely function...and then I go home and drink a beer to make reality more palatable. Nothing really excites me anymore. I had a little spurt of enthusiasm at the beginning of the summer but it's clearly expired.

Then last week I didn't want to eat. I thought it was because of an antibiotic I was taking. This week it's evolved. I feel a little darker. Like a cloud rolled in. And the self-medication has evolved too. At least it's delicious. Yesterday I chugged a large order of hot and sour soup at my desk (crap, just talking about me makes me NEED IT) and just now I trucked over to the gas station to grab a container of the best fucking Ben and Jerry's I've ever had in my life (Bonaroo Buzz...I can't even tell you what's in it because I'll go get what little is left and finish it). Then I go home and chug a beer.

Aside from that I have no appetite at all.

I feel no joy.

I have zero optimism. I actually keep trying to think of "fun" things to write about but...meh.

I know to a lot of people a beer or two doesn't seem like a lot but I'm an extreme lightweight that actually gets a buzz off a half a beer.

I know my prescriber would have been telling me to take an ativan but I know that you shouldn't take that every day either. If you feel like you need to, something is clearly wrong.

And something really is clearly wrong.

I have been sort of ignoring it because I have genuine "socio-environmental challenges" right now and I've been patiently hoping they would evolve so that I could see if my dis-ease was related to that or related to body chemistry. Truly, I want to take some dynamite to my socio-environmental challenges...I need and deserve a break. But I don't have the luxury right now.

Am I sick? Is my environment sick? Yes to both. Is patience going to kill me? I'm starting to feel like it.

So...yesterday I went to a store that sells Happy Lites. Priced them. Not in the budget for the paycheck but my husband agrees it's worth the investment. And as soon as I'm done typing I'm going to call my prescriber.

Problem is, my anti-depressant (which clearly isn't doing shit for me) is also my migraine vertigo medication. If I stop taking it, I may very well lapse into disability.


GAHHHHHHHHHHHH. But I'm making the call anyway.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yeah so I wrote another post...

...but because I violated one of my own rules, I hid it. I didn't delete it. I put my conviction behind every word, and I really feel the way I do. Anyway, we don't need to get into it, but I violated one of my own rules. When a person reaches a certain point of frustration, it's hard not to sometimes.

Everything in my life right now requires extreme patience. Extreme for me in any case. I have pieces of everything that I can work on, but I ultimately have control over none of them. I just have to wait.

I think the house-buying was what tipped the scale just a little too far for me to handle with ease. Yes, we are working on buying a house. It's a lovely house. An old New England house with lots of cool retro features that we love. Buying it, because of its age, involves coordinating a bunch of contractors to come in and out and give us ginormous numbers that we're trying to finance along with the mortgage. Really, it's all in good shape but a few critical items could use an update...better to do it now than have the ancient furnace kick the bucket in New England in January!

You can't just let anxiety tell you "don't buy a house because it's too hard!". But it does feel like I took on another job on top of the two that I already have. On top of family life. On top of you know, every other damn shebang.

I guess the only thing to do is just keep working on the pieces. I don't anticipate enjoying it. But I'm going to keep working on it.

I talked to my therapist today and she said "remember you are not alone...other people feel these things too in these situations". I'll just go with that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shame Spiral.

My dear friend who for the purposes of this blog we'll call "The Mermaid", talks about the Shame Spiral. Like it's spelled with capital letters. Like it's larger than you and me. Because in the moment, it certainly feels that way.

It's that feeling she gets when her baggage relating to all of her imperfections or perceived imperfections or deep wounds from the past rises up like the tide to try to swallow her alive and drag her out to sea with the rest of the debris. By the time it's around her ankles she feels that she will drown, and then of course the panic sets in. Sometimes that means I get a phone call, which is fine with me really, because as a previous commenter posted: misery loves company and frankly I can often relate.

Yes, I have my various "issues" but I've always been willing to jump in and take challenges and push myself, and have always felt like I was ready to climb the next mountain, because WHY would anyone waste their time with MOLEHILLS. And I'm tenacious...I think it's a result of ADHD actually...even before I was diagnosed I was aware of how easy it was to start and not finish things, and I developed a serious complex about it and it made me feel really lame, so I developed an almost compulsive need to finish everything I started.

Then I attempted my Iron Man Are You Fucking Kidding Me-athlon of 2010...quick recap for the first time reader: I finished grad school, ran a small business, held down a paralegal job, met my now-husband after swearing for 34 years that I would never get married, moved in with him and his children, planned and executed a wedding for 300 guests, got a dog...and got asswhipped by the worst migraine vertigo that my neurologists had likely ever seen. So there I was disabled to varying degrees for...a while. Certainly longer than I ever had been before.

And let me tell you...if I had baggage before about worrying about not finishing things...let me tell you...that hit me in May of last year, a year and a half ago, and I'm still not only literally recovering from the whole thing in that my brain still isn't 100% of what it used to be. It was like recovering from a concussion really...and interestingly since my mother was going through recovering from a mild concussion at the time, it was interesting to note parallels. But I finally just realized tonight, as my husband asked me to make the kids lunches tonight instead of tomorrow morning and I had a minor meltdown...that I am carrying a giant suitcase full of shame with me these days.

Shame is a charged word. Shame is a word that I'm not even sure I can say out loud right now. It's so provocative to me right now that I'm actually trying to get up the nerve to say it out loud because I've clearly really hit on something and I think it's something that's holding me back...or at least something I need to move through in order to continue recovering from that whole experience.

I am ashamed that I have limitations. I am ashamed that I spent most of last year unable to engage regularly in my family's morning routine because it triggered illness on my body. I am ashamed that even now I have to be very careful about how I regulate my activities and my energy to make sure that I'm not pushing myself too hard. I am ashamed that though it would be more helpful to my husband for me to make the lunches at night instead of the morning (it's a long story), I just can't do it right now. And it's like Kate Bush wrote "when you can't tell your sister, when you can't tell the priest, 'cause it's so deep you don't think that you can speak about anyone".

I am ashamed that the coping strategy I have used for years of pushing myself tenaciously through to the finish line in nearly any situation I've seen fit to challenge myself to...can now cognitively and physically disable me.

I do not pity myself...but I AM afraid, and I AM ashamed.

The lunches are just a metaphor. They were my way of dipping my toe into the routine, with the hope of being able to take on more as the school year progressed. Sonny isn't trying to make me feel bad...he's just trying to make a morning happen in a stress-free way. But to my shame suitcase it sounds like "it's still not enough". And it hurts.

To add a layer of the possibly ridiculous but true, I am also ashamed of being ashamed...a classic Shame Spiral. Because then you are ashamed that you're ashamed of your shame...a barber pole of unending shame, rising up in your soul (at least I still have a sense of humor when I'm miserable).

So yeah, my ankles are steeped and I'm carrying a shame suitcase barber pole thing. And worse, I'm mixing some really clanky metaphors (what's new). I'm kind of glad that I that maybe I'm can start unpacking that piece of baggage. I can see the lock's a bit sticky on this one though...