My goal for this blog post is simply to write it and publish it. I could end it here but I won’t. My last post was over a year and a half ago! Eeek! I… More
Sometimes you need to be grateful for your own challenges.
I was reading through my blog post notes– the ones I send myself from my dictation app as I talked about a couple of posts ago. I have been really hesitant to put this up because it’s quite personal and really exposes my vulnerability. I’ve been told that, as a writer, I am not open enough and that I would benefit from showing more of myself. Also, since I’m documenting a journey here, scenes like this are a very real part of it, though thankfully, they don’t happen too often. With that in mind, I’ll go ahead and post this:
Was I more focused as a result of the meds? Hard to say. I didn’t feel the meds kicking in, as many people describe feeling when they take them. I didn’t feel them wearing off, so I don’t know if they ever did. They may or may not have curbed my appetite; I was sucking on a coffee the whole time I was in the store, so that might have masked it. Also, it ‘s difficult to measure my productivity in the grocery store. I wasn’t wasting any time, but then again, it did take me five times as long as I thought it would. If I’d been sitting at my desk after I took it or at any point while I was still supposed to be ‘on’ it, I might have a better point of reference of the drug’s effectiveness.
In some ways, seeing everyone and their grandmother walk around with a phone glued to their head is a turn-off and a rather ugly part of our social landscape today. Then again, how many of us would deny the benefit that these devices bring to our lives?
Here is a case in point: On one hand, I am spending waaaaay too much time on Instagram. I have three accounts, and I am constantly flipping between one and the other. I recently stopped following a lot of streams in order to cut down on the amount of content tempting me to indulge. On the other hand, I downloaded an app a few weeks ago which has changed the way I blog— and I consider blogging (here and on another site) to be a very positive activity in my life.
One trait of ADD is rapidly cycling thoughts. I think I have more ‘great ideas’ in a day than many people have in their lifetime. Many of them probably really are great, but of course it’s impossible to act on each one in order to find out. I’ve learned to let ideas go to a certain extent but I am always disappointed when I neglect to take down an idea for one of my blogs. I use this blog to document my journey through life as an adult with ADD, and I would like to try and stay faithful to this task.
In order to accomplish this, I finally had the great idea of downloading a dictation app to my phone. When a blog thought starts parading through my brain– and I often compose them all the way through before I commit them to paper– or the cloud, as it were– I can just speak the blog in to my phone. The app is not perfect. It definitely changes some words that it doesn’t understand, and sometimes I notice that it has not taken down an entire sentence or more. However, if I am able to get the idea and sequence down then I can always go over it and fill in the blanks where necessary.
Once I’m done, I e-mail the document to myself with the word ‘Blog’ and the date in the subject line. This way, I have a veritable storehouse of material. When I get the chance to sit down and type it in here, it’s already begun. The next few posts I put up here will probably be from this stash of half-baked ideas. I’ve been collecting for a while because I haven’t had an opportunity to write. I’m very excited to see how it. goes.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what a wonderful cook I am. This week I’m going to write about what makes me such an incredible mother.
I think I’m kind of the opposite of a helicopter mom. More of an earthworm mom. The kind that stays burrowed under the sheets early in the morning while telling you where to find the cereal and milk on your own. I foster independence in my children by not doing things for them that they can do alone, or which I think they can probably do on their own if they tried.
When I feel it’s appropriate, I raise my expectations of them. For example, once upon a time, setting the table meant the kids had to lay out plates, cups, and cutlery. But today they need to clear the table off, find the tablecloth, lay it out straight and even, bring the dishes out of the cupboards, carry them over to the table, and make sure everything is on it that we’ll be needing for the meal: The right number of settings, salt, trivets, napkins, the works.
Kids don’t need as much help as we think they do. They just need space and time to explore and build, develop friendships, make mistakes, and learn from them. A lot of parenting, I think, is trying to figure out when to interfere, when to offer corrections and advice, when to let them figure it out on their own, and when to just let it go.
Perhaps you now understand what makes me such a good mother. Or perhaps, knowing me, you’re waiting for the self-deprecating part of this blog post. Well, here it comes.
I have to admit– or at least I have to wonder— how much of my parenting style is due to my ‘phillsophy’ and how much is due to sheer laziness or– you guessed it– ADD.
I am distracted. I am lazy. I hate cooking. I hate cleaning. I would rather be writing. I’d rather someone else folded the laundry.
Of course, I do the housework that I need to do. I just feel a lot of guilt for not going above and beyond. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even covering the basics. I don’t have a healthy snack waiting for the kids when they get home. I tell them to wait until dinner, but is that a fair demand when I haven’t even started making the meal? I feel bad that the kids are late for school so often. Getting them there on time would require me to be a lot more strict on things like bed times and wake times — theirs and mine. These things all require the type of discipline that does not come easily to me — and that’s what really at the heart of the problem.
I am constantly struggling to stay on top of things that seem to come so easily to other people. Our house gets super messy super quickly. I feel compelled to apologize when people come in. (Some of those people even have the audacity to tell me that I need to put my kids to work cleaning up after themselves. Do they think I haven’t figured out for myself that I need to tell the kids to hang up their coats instead of dumping them in the front hall?) Keeping the kitchen in a relative state of order takes HOURS for me. I know this because, when our reno was done, I became hyper aware of the mess, and I tried keeping it perfect for a couple of weeks. This resulted in my evening activities being limited to just cleaning the kitchen. Just the kitchen. Every night. All this on top of trying to keep up with the mess throughout the day. Of course, it seems that as soon as you have one area of the house sorted out, another one has exploded into disorder, and you need to start sorting out that section.
Actually, cleanup is a great example of this grey line between good and bad motherhood. I believe strongly in giving my kids responsibility and having them take ownership for the state of the house. Every week, they are responsible for certain chores, from sorting the laundry to cleaning the bathroom, to helping in the kitchen. The problem is that enforcing these chores is a full-time chore in itself. If I am busy cooking ( I do cook; I just don’t claim to enjoy it) or working or occupied in whatever way with a time-bound task, it is not always possible for me to sit over the kids and make sure that they are plugging away at their jobs. Yes, there are consequences. Yes, there are rewards. But guess what– sometimes these methods just don’t work. Sometimes the tasks are not completed, consequences kick in, and nobody is happy. Now what?
On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I’m not too much of a deadbeat parent. My brother heard DH and I discussing DS the other day. He commented that he wonders if other parents spend as much time as we do talking in-depth about their kids as we do. I know that, for all the bickering that goes on in the house between the kids, they’re well mannered and kind out in the ‘real world’. People tell me so all the time. I worry that my kids get too much screen time — though I realize that they get relatively little, based on conversations I’ve had with peers. And while I sometimes have to drag them away from the TV, I also quite often have to urge them in from outside for dinner or bedtime when they are organizing street-wide soccer games or trading Pokemon cards with one another. I consider all of these activities to be parenting ‘wins’.
Upon reflection, because that’s what this blog is for, I guess I am not the best mom out there. I could be more efficient in making lunches. I could be more insistent on them learning to touch-type. But on the other hand, by some will and grace, they somehow seem to be turning out OK. I can burrow down in my bed without too much guilt– in fact, If I did that more often, and at a normal hour, it might result in some of our other problems being resolved.
Even though the word ‘Capsule’ is in the title of this post, it is not a Drupdate. It is not about medication. I have a Drupdate planned, though. So stay tuned.
When we moved in to our current house, the first furniture I sourced was a pair of sturdy chairs. They were not for the kitchen, and they were not for the dining room. They were not even meant for sitting on. The chairs were positioned on either side of the master bedroom; one on His side, one on Hers. To this day they serve but one function: Dumping our clothes.
The clothes chair is one of my (and now my DH’s) ADD strategies. What do you do with the in-between clothes– the ones that are no longer fresh, but which are not really dirty enough to wash? I am no germphobe nor, clearly, am I a neat freak — as you can tell from this post— but there is something off-putting about folding up a t-shirt I’ve already worn and sticking it back in my drawer. As if it’s somehow going to ‘infect’ my other clothes with it’s worn-ness. Clothes can be worn over and over and even over again, but before returning to the closet, they need to go through a wash cycle.
This rule does not apply to all manner of garment. Sweaters — which I always wear on top of another shirt or dress– and skirts, if they’re somehow not stained by the time I’m through with them, can get hung back up or folded away. Things that I wear on my skin pretty much never go back to the closet without being washed unless it’s, for example, a tube top that I’ve worn just to give me a little more coverage when I wear a shorter shirt (it’s a great hack!). Something that is unlikely to come in contact with the more aromatic sweat glands.
To be clear, just because something is eligible for return to the closet, doesn’t mean I’m going to actually put it there.
Hence, the Clothes Chair.
when I’m choosing clothes, especially for day-to-day, non-special occasions, I will prioritize the clothing that is already on the chair. That’s how I keep the pile from getting too big. Once a month or so, I’ll sort through everything that is accumulated and decide what gets put away, what deserves to be laundered, and sometimes what will be put in the giveaway bag.
At this point, it’s probably been more than a month since I last did a chair purge. I know that the time is drawing near when I need to dump the entire collection on to the floor and sort through it to find a piece that I’m looking for. As I was doing that, it occurred to me that the system I have going on here is the same one– or at least a variation of the one– that has mombloggers (guilty as charged) and the like all in a tizzy for the past three or four years: I am the proud cultivator of a Capsule Wardrobe.
If you have not yet heard of the capsule wardrobe, don’t bother looking it up at this point. The capsule wardrobe is so 2017. It goes hand in hand with that other maximally offensive trend, minimalism, which urges us to pare our possessions down to the point where we could fit everything we own on to the surface of our kitchen table… which also happens to double as an ironing board, a room divider, and a stepstool… because you’ve thrown away all of your other furniture in a fit of minimalist frenzy (why do we need chairs when we can just sit on our rugless floor? Who needs lamps? We have the sun! Who needs clothes? We have each other!)
Back to the capsule wardrobe. The idea is that we choose a small number of garments that you love and which suit your figure (33 seems to be the prevailing wisdom). They should be suited to your lifestyle needs, and should be suitable for mixing and matching. This number includes shoes and sometimes accessories. Underwear, pajamas, and workout gear don’t count towards the total. Everything else gets either stored away or given away. Many proponents of the capsule wardrobe will swap out their clothes three or four times a year… are you seeing any parallels yet?
My clothes chair is a default capsule wardrobe! It usually holds between 15 and twenty items — highly CURATED items that I love and which fit me well. It does not usually hold my pajamas (these get thrown on the bed), and my socks and underwear go straight to the laundry at the end of the day. I periodically sort through my clothes chair and restock it with more items that are suitable for the weather or my current activities, at which point the items previously included in the clothing capsule are returned to storage… in m closet. As for accessories, I hardly wear any jewelry, but when I do, it becomes part of my capsule as I leave it on my night table when I’m going to sleep instead of putting it away. Any other jewelry is stored away.
I’m pretty much Mari Kondo. I’m not. But my capsule wardrobe works for me.
Funny thing. I get a weekly Friday Funnies e-mail from TotallyADD.com . I find that their memes often really hit the nail on the head. Here’s one they sent out recently. I guess I’m not the only one with a clothes chair. The difference, is, I totally embrace it!
I had to scroll back through my blog before writing this post to try and figure out how long I’ve officially been medicated. According to the earliest reference I can find, it’s only been about a year. I was sure it was at least two.
(If you’re new to my blog, the post I’m referring to above is really a good one to read to get to know a little bit about me and where I’m at.)
Since getting the prescription at that time, I’ve never really managed to take the pills faithfully. The problem is partly intentional; I don’t really want to take it on weekends or days when I’m not meant to be putting any emphasis on focus. Partly, it’s a matter of organization; did I remember to take them early enough in the day? When I remember to take them, do I have them close at hand? Am I in a place where it’s appropriate or where I feel comfortable popping a couple of pills? I tried to resolve this issue by keeping a pillbox in my purse which, ostensibly, is always nearby.
This back-up plan worked to an extent, but I would still occasionally forget or not find the opportunity to take them until later in the day, and anyway, I managed to somehow lose this little pillbox a few weeks ago. Shame.
Part of this problem was resolved as of my last shrink visit. I got a prescription for short-acting medication which I could take later in the day in case I forgot to take my pill earlier. In fact, I took one just a few hours ago. I was given the option to take a single pill or to double it, according to need. Because it’s my first time trying this particular format of this particular medication, I took the smaller dose. Upon reflection, however, perhaps I should have taken the bigger dose. Today is my one weekly dedicated work-on-my-own stuff day and, assuming this medication works, it’s a waste of time to underdose.
I have promised my shrink and my temp shrink that I would make an effort to take the meds regularly and to try and track the results. Tracking is not an easy thing to do, as I have no regular workday expectations to measure myself against. Tracking is the reason I started the ‘Drupdate’ series on this blog– to document my progress relative to the drugs. After a year, I am still not sure that the medication is having any positive effect on my life. I don’t know whether it’s worth my trouble to take them or to try and switch to another formula. I need a better strategy.
I recently had an idea that might help to resolve the tracking issue, if not actually remind me to take my medication. It’s this:
This, as you can plainly see, is a pill box. I did not intend to buy such a fancy one with a folder-style case, but that is what the local dollar store had to offer me in the pill box department. The feature I was looking for was a grid layout which, as you can see, this pill box possesses. I thought to myself that if I laid out the medication in labeled boxes, one for each day of the month minus weekends, it would be easy to see which days I’d taken them, just by checking to see which boxes are missing pills. In other words, I don’t have to take action on keeping track (except for when I sit down to fill and label the boxes). Rather, I take stock retroactively.
If you think that it’s not hard to keep track of a simple thing like how often I take my medication, you’re right. You probably also think it’s not such a big deal to remember to take my medication on a daily basis. You’re right again. None of these things are hard for most people, but for ADD types, knowing to do something is easy. Actually doing it is hard. That is what happens when certain elements of your executive function are stunted or underdeveloped. Sucks for me.
Luckily, I’m creative and motivated. Luckily, I’ve learned to identify my weaknesses and to build structures around me in my daily life which keep the essentials in place and help me to get things, people, and ideas to the places they need to be.
That being said, I’ve been sitting on this pill folder idea about a month. I actually thought it up a couple of weeks prior to that. I found some white circle labels and put the days of the week on them, as you can see in the picture, but that is as far as I’ve gotten so far. You may notice that one of the coloured boxes is missing as well. I used that for a different project. So we’re off to a slow start. But that’s better than no start.
Also, if I had started the pillbox project when I’d first bought the box, it would have been relatively simple. Now that I have these new set of ‘backup’ pills, I will have to rethink my strategy. Definitely, this post needs a followup. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and ideas.
I visited my ‘temp’ psychiatrist today.
As a reminder, my usual shrink is on maternity leave, and it appears that she has not yet returned, though I thought she’d be back by now. I hope she is well.
I first visited this temp doctor more than six months ago. I had a second visit scheduled which completely forgot about– though I don’t understand how. At our last visit, I’d asked her about being transferred to an altogether new psychiatrist, because I think it’s time I saw someone who specializes in ADHD. At that time, she gave me some instruction about how to go about it– calling one office or another to set up the referral, but my well intentioned efforts did not pan out. Nobody in the department answers phones. Nobody returns phone calls. When I finally do manage to catch a real, live person, they give me yet another number to call. It’s extremely frustrating, especially when you have a neurological problem with remembering to make phone calls and follow up on them. In this case, I must have aced the test because I finally managed to come full circle, back to Temp Shrink’s office where I told her this story pretty much as I just told it to you, but without all the back-links.
She completely agreed with me and apologized. But isn’t my regular doc back from her maternity leave yet, she asked.
“Not according to her voice mail,” I replied.
The System. Sigh.
I also told her that the reason I finally felt motivated to push my way back to the system and find her is that I realized that maybe, because I am terrible at remembering to take my meds in the morning, I need a shorter acting medication that I can take later in the day. The later I take a stimulant, the longer into the day it lasts. The effect already carries over into the evening, sometimes past 10pm. I don’t want to risk having it mess with my sleep, so I won’t take it after around 10:30 am. Many days, I won’t remember to pop the pill until that time or later, and so I don’t take one at all. If I had a short acting pill, I could probably take it as late as 3pm if I needed to.
Temp doc found this predicament amusing. How ironic that the very pill you need to remember to take your pills wears off before the time you need to take it. I like this woman.
She did give me the scrip I asked for, as a stop-gap measure. I went on and on about how setting an alarm to help me remember to take the meds won’t really work for me because it means I will drop whatever else I am doing and just forget about the medication before I even get to the room where I keep it. Then I’ll find some other purpose that needs fulfilling and, basically, it’s all a landslide from there and my kids are half an hour late for school again.
She eventually uncovered the fact that I have never actually tried the phone alarm system, and asked me to try it, even if it meant just snoozing the buzzer until me, my phone, and the meds are all harmoniously in the same room together. If that happens after the hour when it’s practical for me to take the slow-release formula, I’ll just take the short acting one. I agreed.
She also spoke about starting me on strattera (sp?), but I don’t think I’m ready to start a new medication yet. I’ve been taking this one on a slightly more regular basis lately– I still have never managed to take it regularly enough to establish a baseline, though I do have an idea that I will write up in a future post if I ever get around to it. Anyway, I’m pretty familiar with it’s effects on me, though I still can’t say for certain that it’s working. I HAVE had quite a productive couple of weeks, though. Maybe that says something.
I’m a wee bit nervous about taking this short acting drug. The dosing might take some getting used to or adjusting, but I guess that’s just part of the game now.
And that’s my drupdate for now.
I live at the limit. Can’t help it; It’s the kind of person I am.
On any other ADHD blog, this statement could, and probably should, be taken to mean that the writer enjoys extreme activities such as cliff diving, bungee jumping, or roller coasters (basically anything involving throwing oneself off great heights). Those are the people who put the ‘H’ in ADHD. I, however, am not the hyperactive type. My ADD leans toward inattention. Tetris is my idea of thrilling.
In my particular case, living at the limit is actually a strategy I employ in order to curb the negative expression of an underdeveloped executive function. In other words, limits help me get stuff done.
In my previous post (which started out as an intro to this post but quickly went in another direction), I mentioned how I, as a youth, resented having limitations imposed on me. I still think that a lot of the limitations people choose to live by are either silly or unnecessary. I consider myself to be a highly creative person. However, in my life, I’ve learned that limitations are not necessarily obstacles. Rather, they can be viewed as structures upon which –and inside of which– we can layer our own inspired visions.
Also, limits are a way to fuel productivity. You know that you’ll work harder when there is a deadline looming. In fact, perhaps you, like I, have stayed up all night just to get that paper in before the due date. A due date is a limit. Junk food manufacturers understand this concept. Today you can buy sweets that are packaged in calorie-controlled units. Presumably, they help you eat only a limited portion of forbidden fruits.
In my life I have consciously and subconsciously created limits as well– though I couldn’t tell you for sure which ones I took on intentionally and which ones I discovered in hindsight. I think that I’ve been at this ADD life architecture for so long that I don’t know what structures are standard code and which are new.
For example: I used to play DOTS on my phone. DOTS is a highly engaging game in which the object is to connect dots of the same colour. I used to play DOTS, but my relationship with it was borderline obsessive. The game was definitely taking up too much of my life and so I deleted it. I am definitely mature enough to discard things that are damaging to me. It didn’t hurt that I was also in the process of switching to a new phone just then.
Now I have a much more ADD-friendly game on my phone which I play all the time, but not without limits. That game is TWO DOTS and yes, the object of the game is to connect dots of the same colour. It is also highly engaging. The difference between DOTS, which I (OK, inadvertently) rid myself of and TWO DOTS is that TWO DOTS only has five lives, and those lives don’t regenerate for twenty minutes after you’ve lost them. In other words, TWO DOTS has natural limits. Unless I am having a particularly lucky streak, I can not play the game for more than about ten minutes at a time before I lose all my lives and am drawn– nay, COMPELLED to return to the task at hand. (there is always a Task At Hand [TAH] that I need to return to. I rarely feel truly free to recreate.)
Have you ever listened to a good radio show in the car and found yourself at your destination before the show is over? I listen to a lot of talk and public radio, so this happens to me quite frequently. Well, sometimes the topic is particularly relevant or useful for me. In these cases, which are not all that frequent, I will sit in the car with the power running until the conclusion of the program. However, in cases when I am merely interested in the program, but where I am unlikely to put that information to practical use in the foreseeable future, I turn off the car. I know that the radio will keep playing for a minute or two, so I don’t need to quit the show right away. However, when the battery switches off, that’s when I know I’ve reached the limit. I can’t spend any more time loitering in the car, and I need to get on to the TAH.
I learned about limit setting and how it would help me move my goals forward when I worked at an educational center in my early 20s. I was struggling to find dates to run my programming at the institutions I was affiliated with and to whom I had an obligation. My boss at the time coached me to set up meetings with each affiliate and plot out the next few months AND the next meeting date. Perhaps this is an obvious and well known strategy, but as I was just starting out, this was news to me. I took his recommendation and found that setting up programs well in advance forced me to work forwards towards deadlines, and created a two-way obligation between myself and the affiliate to fulfill the goal we’d set out for ourselves. Whereas prior to taking on this job, when I was still in school, I’d always relied on teachers or school policy to set limitations for me. Out in the real world, I learned, I was responsible for setting my own.
Life without limits might sound like fun to many folks, but I’ve definitely come to appreciate that limits can be my friend. When applied judiciously, limits are the walls that keep my time and my creativity from escaping me.
When I was in junior high school, I was something of a rebel. Looking back, I realize that I did not know that I could like people that I disagreed with. Naturally, many of the people I disagreed with were teachers or other people who had a presumed right to tell me how to do things that I thought I already knew how to do.
Today, as an adult, I am capable of recognizing my limits, and I am open to learning from people who know more than I do. In other words, everyone – large and small, old and young, has got something to teach me.
If there is anything I can teach my kids, it’s knowing how to look for the gem that each person has to offer– whether it be in their actions, their words, their passion, or their silence.