ADHD

Done With Consistently Inconsistent: Why I’m treating my ADHD

Over the past six months, I have gone from wondering for years if I have ADD/ADHD to discussing it with my counselor to getting evaluated and diagnosed, and finally to getting treated.

As with everything in my life, the path has been consistently inconsistent. In fact, if there was a catchphrase for everything I have ever done, it would have to be “consistently inconsistent”.

I start things with enthusiasm, only to stall out between 50-90% complete.

I work hard, except when I sink into an abyss of Candy Crushing.

I’m smart and capable, except when I’m a total airhead.

I am compassionate, thoughtful and considerate, except when I blurt the rudest comment possible.

can focus, especially when something is fascinating. Except when I simply cannot.

For many years I would see the signs of ADHD in myself (yes, I have the “H”, even as a fortysomething woman), and add the disclaimer that everyone is like that sometimes. My mom, who is the most dutiful person I know, tends to run late and lose track of time. My sister, who is second only to my mom in that category, has days when she falls into that candy crushing abyss. I suspected that much of it was just the stigma that less-than-organized women suffer just because we don’t fit a stereotype. Yet, the inability to plan and complete projects, the very aspect that caused my failure from the gifted program in middle school kept echoing through my life.

For every diagnostic aspect that I have of ADHD (for the record, I meet diagnostic criteria and severity in all of the characteristics), I can think of someone who has the same thing, at least as bad or worse. What was missing in my equation was threefold.

First, I was thinking of one of the many aspects that I have, and not realizing that it’s the only aspect or one of only two that others have.

Second, those I didn’t recognize that those inconsistencies are the rule instead of the exception for me, and not for the other person in mind.

Most importantly, what has been apparent, especially in hindsight over the years is the fact that these inconsistencies have not only disrupted my life and my goals, they have disrupted my view of myself.

Listening to this webinar recently (not watched, mind you, in order to focus I listened while stacking wood), all of the remaining pieces fell into place perfectly and made sense. If you have ever had the aha! moment of all of recognizing something about yourself that changes your perspective about everything, past present and future, you will relate to this experience. Rather than hearing Dr. Hinshaw, the presenter, expound about girls and women with ADHD, he was telling me about myself.

I have, at several times in my life been diagnosed with depression. I already suspected, but when diagnosed with ADHD, I also met criteria for generalized anxiety, anticipatory anxiety, and social anxiety. Each of these commonly co-occurs with ADHD, especially in women.

***

Running and coffee have been forms of self-medication, unable to run, my struggles have multiplied, thus the diagnosis and treatment.

I took my first dose of Adderall this month.

I have developed many coping skills, and my wonderful husband creates organizational systems for me, makes lists, and reminds me endlessly of things I need to do, but I’m weary. The perpetual backward slide (which I refer to as entropy) has taken too much of a toll for too long. I don’t want to fight anymore, and I’m not even sure I can; I suspect that I don’t have it in me to keep pushing indefinitely at this pace for such paltry results.

Being realistic about the effect on my body, and the need to continue to develop the skills that I need to do life better, medication is a game-changer.

Already, I have gone from feeling like I’m running on ice to getting traction and hitting my stride. Without medicating the anxiety, I have less of that too. It seems that being consistently more consistent makes for a more predictable and less chaotic life, which (for me at least) reduces anxiety. For a few weeks now I have not fallen into bed and suddenly realized what I neglected, but rather, felt a sense of accomplishment and pride.

This is but the start of a new chapter, and with many more to come, I realize that surprises can and will arise, that my approach will likely change, and that this is not a solved problem, but rather a new direction with favorable change, for now at least.

I think I was due.

running

I Never Have Been One To Give Up

Late October of last year I was having a crummy day and took off for a run. I needed the fresh air and movement to calm my mind, and I don’t use the word need lightly. There’s nothing absolutely nothing like a run to organize both my thoughts and my day and give a hefty lift to my spirit.

At the end of my run I limped up the driveway and decided to call the doctor and take a month or so off, just for good measure. The crankiness in my knee was becoming downright ticked off, and running was the obvious culprit.

Fast forward to today, a year later, and I have attempted two runs since then.

Darn.

In August, I decided to quit going for walks too.

I had been beyond worried that it would be a surgical case, that I’d be laid up for several weeks. Instead it’s a complex scenario of bursitis, patellofemoral syndrome and IT band syndrome. None of them are particularly severe, but none are readily treatable.

We tried two different types of injections in two different places, and I’m none the better for them.

What more is there to do but rest? This particular malady, or combination of them, isn’t awful, in fact, when I just sit around, it calms right down.

Alas, that’s easier said than done. Running not only keeps my mind on track, it tones and sculpts my body. It’s my go-to for managing stress, grief, joy, frustration, my ADHD and my weight and health. I have literally been self-medicating every part of my physical and mental health with intense and prolonged exercise. It’s like the snake oil of yesteryear, guaranteed to fix everything from the vapors to sleep.

And now, like dust in the wind, it’s gone.

Not that there is such a thing as good timing, but during the first year after losing our daughter to an overdose, I was in a lousy position for losing my primary coping mechanism.

I prefer to keep a positive attitude, but in this case, I have been just plain pouty. I’ve lost my ability to run in the past, and against the odds, worked my butt off getting back on my feet. I just wonder aloud why me, when there are millions of people who would no sooner run than be swarmed by bees. A knee that only gets cranky with exercise would be no burden to many, why, once again, do I have to suck it up and give up something that I love and that’s good for me in so many ways?!

I won’t BS you and try to say that I understand any of this. But I will tell you that I’m not about to stay down.

Instead I’ve been seeing a counselor and learning new and more coping skills. I’ve developed many new hobbies like collecting maple sap and making syrup and tending chickens, as well as cultivating my largest and most productive garden yet and canning and freezing the bounty.

I’ve enjoyed living the slower pace of homesteading, and it’s indubitaly beneficial to have my pocket full of coping skills to better equip me for whatever life throws at me.

But. . .

I won’t give up on running.

My shoes have moved to the back shelf in the garage, and they’re mighty dusty, yet I’m clinging to them with just a tiny glimmer of hope.

I never have been one to give up on anything.

advocacy · Down syndrome · Uncategorized

Down Syndrome Awareness is Not Just For Little Ones

When my son Alex was first born, I felt compelled to make sure everyone in our lives knew just how precious he was. I enjoyed great success, but in retrospect, Alex made it easy. Babies with Down syndrome are often adorable, and Alex was no exception. He made my advocacy job easy, and after awhile, considering my success, I relaxed a bit on the advocacy. There were IEP meetings, and plenty of parenting tasks to take up my time, so campaigning for the acceptance he already enjoyed seemed somewhat superfluous.

Fast forward 16 years, and Alex has hairy legs and armpits, a deep voice, and is almost my height. As any mother does, I still think he’s the most spectacular child in the world, and as cute as ever. However, when you add in significant speech and social skills delays, compounded by the already interesting early teen phase, he often doesn’t get the warm public reception he once did.

But as Alex’s mom, I want to tell you that he is the most thoughtful young man I know. Every single day he asks young man I know. Every single day he asks me how my day was, and even actually listens to my answer. He loves nothing more than cooking, except eating, and will cheerfully lend a hand to anyone who asks.

Alex is a gamer extraordinaire, and can beat just about everyone he knows in almost any game. He can throw an awesome spiral with a football, and hit a home run in baseball. (He gets his athleticism from his father, not me.)

Alex deserves awareness too, just as much as the older teens and adults do. People with Down syndrome are diverse, interesting and valuable as members of our communities. They have desires and interests, and live full, active, productive lives. More and more they are branching out into careers as actors, models, business owners, and contributing their considerable gifts the the communities where they reside, and their communities are better for it.