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.

Uncategorized

Sitting on the Porch Swing

The life-affirming heat of the sun is scorching on this otherwise chilly morning.

My to-do list unrolls like a cartoon scroll in front of me. I'm choosing to look the other way for a moment, but the moment keeps stretching out in front of me.

There are so many tasks demanding my headspace that I feel guilty for indulging in this extended pause of my day.

I shove the guilt back into the box it emerged from and sit on it. I feel it shaking and protesting beneath me, as I stubbornly stay put.

Once set into motion this day will continue on it's own momentum. Phone calls and housework and the care and keeping of young ones. I'm certain it will spill over into tomorrow and endless days following.

I'm ignoring all those tasks screaming for attention and being. Just being.

Somewhere in this being I recognize someone I love. Someone I neglect. Someone worthy. I nod a silent greeting to her, wink, and toss that box of guilt off the porch rail to the ground below, out of sight. We decide to sit and catch up for a few more minutes. It seems like this impromptu connection deserves coffee; alas, if I move to perform even that one task, the spell will be broken and the to-do list will unfurl and demand to be reckoned with.

So I sit on the porch swing with my beloved and we commune for awhile longer.

And she is lovely.

And she is me.

Uncategorized

10 Things That Happen When You Have An Unusual Name

Picture this:  

It’s March of 1973 and a couple is expecting their third child.   Deciding on a name in case of another girl proves fruitless (they already have two well-named girls), and mom has been trying to convince dad to name this one after her grandfather (and it’s going over like a lead balloon). 

They sit down to watch the show “King Fu”, (about a Buddhist monk in the old west) and Jodie Foster is playing a girl named “Alethea”. Mom slyly sees an opportunity to nickname the baby “Lee” after her grandfather and both parents agree to the name (and hope for a boy). 

Having an unusual name has it’s ups and downs. For example:

  1. I’ve never had to deal with being one of two or three people with the same name in any situation ever. 
  2. In fact I’ve never met another person with my exact name. I’ve seen Aletha’s and Althea’s, but never another Alethea. (Though I know they exist!)
  3. I’ve never had my name on any item, ever (unless you count “World’s Greatest Mom”.)
  4. I get nicknamed, whether I want it or not. 
  5. Mispronunciations can be comical. I’ve been called everything from Athena to Ophelia!  (It’s pronounced Uh-Lee-Thi-Uh). 
  6. Spelling it every time. Except to the few people who know Greek. In fact clergy always get my name right!
  7. It’s just about magical when someone gets it right, especially when combined with my last name, which is equally challenging. 
  8. It’s so exotic people ask me what country I’m from. (I’m Dutch/German from Michigan, for what it’s worth). 
  9. I feel loved when people use it preferentially (my husband often does and my dad nearly always). 
  10. I turned out to be just as unusual as my moniker, so it’s utterly apt. 
parenting · special needs parenting

Those Flipping Conversation Hearts…

It was an impulse buy.

A “mama’s been sick for 10 days and craves comfort food” buy.

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It was a 2 lb bag of Brach’s Conversation Hearts.  Yup, 2 pounds.  32 ounces.  When I grabbed the bag from the shelf I imagined the lumpy candy on my butt, and bought it anyway.  Take that crummy sickness.

Of course when impulse buying comfort food you dive in before the key is in the ignition on the way home, and dive I did.

They sucked.

Like completely crappy, not worth bothering sucked.

I bought the Brach’s so they’d be good.  Didn’t they used to be good?

Yes, they did.  I’m sure of it.

Then it occurred to me that the last time I had conversation hearts was in 2008 when I was filing tax paperwork for my mother-in-law.  I couldn’t keep my hands off of them, they were scrumptious.

I kept trying different color combinations, sure that I would discover my initial disappointment to be misguided, but I’ll be dinged if they didn’t all suck.  Every last one of those buggers.

But I kept eating them.  Still picturing 32 ounces of lumpy sugar on my butt, I kept stuffing my face, completely convinced that the next handful would be a perfect utopia of sugary bliss.

But I didn’t need candy.  I didn’t need food.  I felt empty, but nothing in that bag would fill me.  (Believe me, if it would have I would have gotten there, I tackled that baby with fierce persistence).  I needed something I couldn’t get, and I settled for a pathetic substitute.

I needed sleep.  I needed quiet time alone at home.  I needed a break from running everyone to the doctor and making phone calls when I was running on triple E. More than anything else, I needed my youngest to sleep through the freaking night.  Man did I need that.

It’s 3 days later.  Ben slept through 2 nights, it’s sunny today, and I’m home alone.  I didn’t have a single appointment or phone call to make today.  I spent time with my husband, I ran, I walked, I put my feet up, and I took advantage of a Pokemon Go update.

And those dang conversation hearts no longer have a hold over me.

 

 

 

dog · running

The Top 10 Reasons I Absolutely Love Being a Runner Girl

“Runner Girl” is a title I wear with pride.  I have nothing but love and respect for the phenomenal women with whom I share the name.  I love being a runner girl for many reasons, but here are the top 10.

  1. This feels incredible.  There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing the finish line of a race.
    Crossing the finish line of a half marathon.
    Crossing the finish line of a half marathon.

     

  2. I love to eat, and I do mean love.                                                                    pexels-photo-99606
  3. My 72-year-old mom is a long-time runner girl, and she can still run, jump, and play monster tag with her grandkids and great grandkids, and still loves going for hikes in the mountains!  I want to be like my mom!

    My mom, ziplinging in Vermont at the age of 70.
    My mom, ziplining in Vermont at the age of 70.
  4. I have the best running buddy ever!
    Abbi, my German Shorthaired Pointer loves to run with me.
    Abbi, my German Shorthaired Pointer loves to run with me.

     

  5. I’m a glutton for punishment.
    Running in Michigan in the winter means some pretty grueling conditions.
    Running in Michigan in the winter means some pretty grueling conditions.

     

  6. I want to be a healthy role model for my kids.

    Out for a run with my son, Alex.
    Out for a run with my son, Alex.
  7. I’m a happier, more productive wife and mother when I take the time to workout.
    Me "hanging" with my boys.
    Me “hanging” with my boys.

     

  8. I love me some endocannabinoids!
  9. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, running is a major survival skill!                           night-camp-vhs-zomibie-8958
  10. It’s good for my marriage.  Not only is running great self care, and good physical fitness, it’s a way for my husband to tangibly show me he cares by taking over the house and kids for an hour or two so I can get my run in.  He knows that my primary love language is sending me out for a run!

Being a runner girl is one of the greatest aspects of my life.   Taking up the sport has been a game changer for me in every way.  I am thankful for my mother as a role model, and thankful for the chance to be a role model for my kids, as well as keep myself healthy and strong, mentally, physically, spiritually and relationally.

cancer · parenting · special needs parenting

High Need Parenting and The Hierarchy of Needs

maslowpyramid

My thought train runs wild from time to time, and today I puzzled over the hierarchy of needs, developed by Maslow, which I learned about in high school psychology.  My thoughts were more like pop ups, the biggest conundrum being about how people like me, who care for children whose needs often trump our own, can pursue personal development and self-care, and the obstacles we must overcome in so doing.  Yet, many of the parents whose children have complex developmental and/or medical needs are some of the most self-actualized people I have the privilege of knowing.

How is this so?

According to the diagram, we should be stuck in the lower levels, with concerns about such things as sleep, safety and health being all we have energy to pursue.  Often, we become isolated, missing out on a sense of love and belonging, but yet, despite the obvious deficits in the lower levels, many of us are diligent about exercise, healthy diet, self-care, and are actively engaged in self-esteem and self-actualization levels.

It doesn’t make sense.

When you lack sleep, fear for the well-being of a family member, and struggle with employment and socialization because of your life situation, how do you focus on confidence, acheivement, morality, creativity, and inner potential?

Yet people are doing it.  Many of us.

Are we an exception to the rule, or does a certain amount of moderate, ongoing crisis lend itself to a resilience and persistence that promotes self-development?

I believe the latter.

This is all based on subjective observation, anecdotal evidence, if you will, which is essentially bunk in the scientific world.  Yet, I’m inclined to believe that we’ve entered a new evolutionary stage.  We have, in just the last hundred or so years, advanced to the point where we can keep children born with significant medical diagnoses alive for longer than we ever have before.  We are a new breed of parents in the grand scheme of things, parents that history and psychology has not had significant time to study and understand.

And I wonder if there is something about complex medical or developmental parenting that brings out the best in people.

If you met me friends who parent these children, I am certain you would agree.

 

 

 

writing

I Never Make New Years Resolutions, and This is Why

It’s been years since I have bothered with New Years Resolutions. Or goals or a focus word for that matter. 

It’s not that I’m against resolutions, goals or focus, though I must confess that focus isn’t my strong suit.  Rather, choosing one time a year to suddenly concentrate on personal development doesn’t resonate with me. And choosing one thing or a list of things to spend a year working on?  Fuggedabahdit. It might work for others, but as for me, I choose serendipity. 

ser·en·dip·i·ty

ˌserənˈdipədē/

noun

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

“a fortunate stroke of serendipity”

synonyms: (happy) chance, (happy) accident, fluke;

Serendipity I believe is putting yourself into the world in a benevolent fashion and receiving what comes back to you.  It’s how I roll. 

But I also believe strongly in constant, deliberate personal development. I believe in continuously creating and evolving goals.  I believe there are many wonderful words worthy of focus, but have long since chosen my life focus as Micah 6:8 in the Bible. 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

    And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

    and to walk humbly with your God.

As long as I have breath in my body my focus will be the trifecta of justice, mercy and humility. 

Alas, with the year ending and another one emerging, I will simply continue to put one foot in front of the other on my ever-changing path.