What is going on in there? My brain without ADHD

Okay, first of all, let’s get one thing straight— I have a diagnosis of an attention disorder, which is, according to the DSM-5 labeled as “Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,” or ADHD. I do not think that anyone would have ever classified me as “hyperactive.” I am sure that I drove adults crazy at times, but I was not the child who bounced off the walls. I was, however, the child who could make a single page of math homework take hours because I was making up stories about each problem, or “doesn’t this pencil need to be a little bit sharper,” and then, “oh, look…Hello Kitty stationary.” Yep. Inattentive.That’s me. No matter how many systems I have tried to set up, I could never seem to to keep myself organized.

In my profession, umm…working with the “spies in training,” I work with many people who have ADHD diagnoses— both hyperactive and inattentive. Some are taking medication, and some are not. I also work with many adults, diagnosed, and self-diagnosed (either by themselves, or by me) who have an attention disorder. I only know a couple of other people my age who take medication for their conditions. Others feel that they cope just fine, or were on medication as children and adolescents and decided to stop taking it as adults.

I always thought that it was perfectly normal to have my mind racing from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. I thought it was normal to think about five or more things at the same time or to constantly jump between disconnected thoughts. I thought that I was supposed to try to solve one problem while I was working on another task. I thought that asking myself repeatedly, “What am I supposed to be doing right now?” was normal. Whether this is normal or not, it is EXHAUSTING! If you combine this with a propensity toward depression and anxiety, during the bad times, it is unbearable.

I am not sure that I would have been diagnosed with an attention disorder if I had not been falling to pieces when I went to Dr. Head Doctor (the neurologist). Although all I wanted was a cure for my migraines, he recognized that something was not right in the way I was communicating and what I was telling him. The primary medication that he prescribed for me is Vyvanse. I also take a low dose Adderall “booster” in the afternoons if I am going to have to work in the evenings (because the job of a “future spy trainer” is never done). I am not saying this to endorse any medication, but because different medications have different effects. If you are reading this, I am giving no medical advice. Talk to your own Dr. Head Doctor!

The benefits of the medications I am taking are quite profound. First of all, the very fact that I am writing this is something that I could not do two weeks ago. Not to brag, but I am an intelligent woman, but it was always very difficult for me to focus my thoughts. Friends have told me that I have a voice and need to write, but I just could not organize my thoughts. It was difficult for me to complete tasks that required focused time because I was so easily distracted. A task like cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry would not get done until company was coming because I would get distracted or frustrated (oh, let’s face it— the laundry ended up in a pile in my bedroom). Even when I did finish a task, I felt no sense of accomplishment because I felt that more was looming over me. EXHAUSTING!

At work, I have found that I am able to focus my attention on one thing at a time. The young spies are very demanding, but I am able to set limits and tell them when I need a moment to deal with one issue before moving on to another. Just like at home, I am slowly getting my work space cleaned up. Now, it makes sense that I do not have to hold onto every paper that I have ever received. It is okay to throw things away because not everything is important. It is also becoming easier to tell how I need to prioritize tasks.

It would be great if everything was hunky-dory and my life was fixed with one or two magic beans…I mean pills. Along with the positives, there are some potential pitfalls to the medications I am on. I am perfectly happy that they suppress my appetite and reduce food cravings because it definitely makes it easier to lose weight (which I need to). That being said, the body needs fuel and I sometimes have to eat whether I want to or not. I also really have to pay attention and listen when my body is hungry. Also, because I am currently fighting a lot of emotional turmoil at the moment, I find that it is a lot easier to throw myself into work, and go flat-out, until I melt-down. Melt-down ain’t pretty, people (pass the tissues). I have to find the balance, figure out how to take care of myself, and heal from being hurt.

I did not develop an attention disorder at thirty-eight years old. I have always had it, but I was really good at coping and figuring things out. However, having this has made my life much more challenging. There were tasks that seemed so simple for other people, like using a to-do list, or keeping their desk neat, that just seemed impossible for me. I am curious to see how this new understanding will change the way I function. I do not think that everyone with an attention disorder needs to take medication. However, for me, I like the quiet and calm in my brain that I am experiencing now.

What should you be doing right now?

Rosie

 

“Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens…”

Favorite ThingsI do like roses. When someone graces you with a flower name, you kind of have to go with it.I don’t really have a tremendous affection for kitten whiskers, but, each to her own.

One thing that has never been my favorite is today’s holiday. Especially with my current state of mind, I have avoided network television for the past month because I cannot be bombarded with lovey-dovey, diamond-encrusted, perfume-scented, chocolate-coated commercials. I will be very happy to see Easter take over the aisles of Target (they don’t pay me to sponsor them, but I am thinking they should). Even in a lousy state of mind, I wanted to make an attempt at something positive today. So, here we go, here are a a few of my favorite things:

Warm socks and slippers- When my feet get cold, the get so cold. One of the side effects I am experiencing from my ADHD medication is cold hands and feet. It seems that in the afternoon and evening, I am just chilled to the bone. I need my fuzzy slippers.

Baby elephants-  Or really, most large baby animals, but I especially love baby elephants. They make me happy. One of my best days ever was going to the zoo and the baby elephant was trumpeting. Cuteness overload, people! Cuteness overload! Baby giraffes are pretty awesome as well.

Jelly Belly jelly beans- Yup, one day I will be a rich and famous blogger and Jelly Belly will ask me to endorse their product. That will be a red letter day!

New Orleans- I love that city. That place has a magic to it. More than once in my life I have been there when things were low and something about that city makes me right…at least for a little while. Every year my girlfriends and I go there for a long weekend. That weekend is sacred, it is holy. Don’t mess with NOLA weekend, people.

Roses- I do love roses. They are my favorite flower. However, I really don’t like red roses very much. I prefer the other colors— especially yellows, or oranges, or corals. I can’t grow the things to save my life.

Red nail polish- My dad loves the 1939 classic, The Women (I don’t ask questions- the man likes a campy movie). Getting a manicure with Jungle Red nail polish is all the rage and starts quite a the turmoil in the movie. There is something about bright red nails that I just love. I also love red shoes, but that is another story.

Coffee- I come from a coffee family. I think that my blood may be at least 1/4 coffee. I have had to cut back since I started taking ADHD medication (though probably not as much as my doctor would like). I don’t “need” more caffeine throughout the day, but I find myself wishing that I could drink more than I do. Decaf is not an acceptable substitute. Blech!

Pens- This is a bit of a problem. I am always in search of the perfect pen. Also, when I find it, the manufacturer always seems to discontinue it. I am one of the odd people who actually prefers ball point pens to other varieties. I also find black ink highly preferable to blue.

Well, as far as the brown paper packages tied up with string, I guess that Amazon has those covered. Sometimes dogs bite, bees sting, and sometimes life is just plain shitty. I wish that the perfect favorite things could make the “sads” go away. I did find myself going to Target for a new lamp, toothpaste, and deodorant this morning, thinking, “Maybe I will find something that will make me happy.” Yeah, nope*. At least remembering that there are things that make me smile, makes me remember that I will smile.

*I could have bought a huge bag of Jelly Bellys, but I didn’t put it on my list, so I forgot.

What should you be doing right now?

Rosie

 

 

 

 

Liars

“Invitation” by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean-buyer…
If your’e a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends: The Poems & Drawings of Shel Silverstein. New York: Harper and Row, 1974.

LIarI come from a long line of liars. My dad is a liar. My grandpa was a liar. My great-grandmother was the biggest liar of them all. My sisters can be liars. I think that my niece and nephew might be liars, but they are young and only time will tell. The kind of liars I am talking about are story-tellers. If you read my “About” page, I claim to be a trainer of spies, named Rosie. Yeah, that is a mostly-lie, so I am part of that club too.

There is a huge difference between being a liar and being a good yarn-spinner, memory-keeper, truth-embellisher, leg-puller. The kind of liars I am talking about are the people who can tell a good story. Interestingly, the best storytellers I have known are also some of the most honest people. I think that when everything you come across has the potential to be an interesting story, there is no need to falsify the record. The facts are what make the story so amazing.

Why is this important? I have spent the day reading stories the “future-spies” wrote. It is 6:00 and I am about half done (Yes, these are one page stories. No, even with medication, I am not particularly focused today). Some of them are doing a great job writing stories and I have had some laughs, though it has not been a great day for me. For the past few days, I have been thinking about the difference between the truth and lies we tell ourselves.

I don’t tell everyone I meet everything about myself, but I consider myself to be an open and honest person. I try to present myself as I really am, without embellishment or excessive dramatics. I hope that when you know me, you don’t have to guess what I really mean or if I am engaging in some kind of manipulation. I was in one relationship with a man who would joke about “those games women play.” Among other things, that was one of the many nails in that relationship coffin. It may take time to get to know me, but you will never have to guess if you know “the real me.” Most of the time I have a good sense of who is a like-minded person, and therefore, trustworthy. I am put-off by those who strike me as false and avoid interaction with them as much as possible.

In previous posts, I have alluded to the “emotional stomach-virus.” The germ that started it was a very small lie that someone who seemed trustworthy told me. That lie turned into a bigger deception which could not be sustained. When those lies fell apart, his world came apart, and consequently, my world crashed down around me. Because I was being honest and transparent, I expected that he was too. I believed what I was told because I had no reason not to. When someone breaks trust with a genuinely honest person, the damage they do can be monumental.

There is a fine line between truth and fiction in real life. There are times to keep things to yourself. Trust me— there are times that people give me more information about themselves than I ever wanted. I suppose that this is just to say to those who are like me, be cautious. I am painfully reminded how tender the trusting heart is. To those who create a persona that is different from reality, is everyone involve in agreement about the charade? Can it be sustained? What damage will it do when it falls apart?

Now that I have expressed that warning, I am not going to stop telling stories. I hope that at some point I will be able to see the ridiculousness in life again and tell the story. Right now, the best I have in me is a chuckle every now and again. Maybe I will even figure out how to write some real lies— we call that fiction, right?

Now that I have killed another hour of my sweet time, I suppose I will go back to reading the young “spies” lies… since that is what I should be doing right now.

What should you be doing right now?

Rosie