Sleep Guilt

I can’t sleep.

I can sleep.  I can fall asleep as soon as I get in to bed. I can lie down, roll on to my side, and cross the threshold into Dream Land in a way that many people would envy. I can fall asleep within a surprisingly short duration after having drunk an espresso. Like many parents, I can fall asleep faster than my kids– at their bedtime. Which is dinnertime for most adults.   But I don’t.

But I do. I fall asleep before the bedtime story is over. I can sleep-read. I want to sleep. I am so tired. I tell myself that I need to stay awake because there are so many things to get done that I didn’t get around to during the day.  I’ll just take a ten minute nap.

But I don’t. I wrench myself out of the twin bed and untangle myself from pudgy little arms because there is laundry to catch up on, exercise to catch up on, blogging to catch up on… are we seeing a pattern here? OK, I admit, sometimes it’s just Netflix I want to catch up on, though Netflix is often combined with laundry folding or exercise for me.

The kids like us to lie down with them, and I comply.  If I am really really tired at 7pm , I’ll have an espresso first, because I know how very hard it can be to get up again.  Despite this, I will still fall asleep with them sometimes.  My day can’t end at 9 pm  (which is when they actually fall asleep, not when they’re meant to fall asleep).  There is always too much to catch up on.

You don’t need to tell me that I would be more productive after a good night’s sleep. I know that I should have a steady bedtime, and that it would lead to an earlier morning and a better start to our days.  I know, from those days when I fall asleep at a normal hour, without forcing myself to stay up until some or all of my intended tasks are done, that I can rise without having to battle the sandman for the right.

Certainly, I am more functional in the morning. The quality of my work, when I can get right to it, is fueled by fresh ideas and the potential of a fulfilling day before me.  So why don’t I just shut everything down at 11 and turn the lights off at 11:30? I’d be able to get up at 6 or 6:30 with no problem and, at the very least, I’d

It’s something of a vicious cycle, this staying-awake business, and I am certain that it has to do with ADD.  I did some reading on ADD and sleep, and, on the surface, it seems like it’s not ADD that is preventing me from getting into bed. Rather, it’s this self-diagnosed disease called Sleep Guilt,  discovered by none other than the author of this blog.   Sleep Guilt is a condition which causes an otherwise sane person to remain awake out of a sense of obligation to complete a task, and remain awake either until the task is completed or until moments before the otherwise sane person can no longer physically sustain a state of consciousness and must drag her (or him)self up to bed.  When suffering from sleep guilt, the otherwise sane party might never even get around to starting said task, often because she (or he) is just too tired to really sustain any meaningful momentum, or sometimes because they get distracted by other, less obligatory but more entertaining things.

The type of sleep disturbances associated with ADD aren’t really in line with the sleep guilt diagnoses.   People with ADD often have a hard time falling asleep because their minds are racing, and they have trouble staying asleep because even though their bodies have fallen asleep, their minds are still churning.  Their restful period of sleep starts late, making it extremely difficult for them to wake up in the morning, because when their alarms go off, they are still going through the deepest part of their sleep cycle.  Interestingly, people with ADD are known to actually fall asleep when forced to engage in an activity they are not interested in. I remember feeling very sleepy in class throughout my childhood, and needing to put my head down on my desk.  Now I understand why.

The thing is, I have rarely, in my life, had any trouble falling asleep. As I mentioned above, if I’m tired, I’m sleepy. When I’m sleepy, I sleep. However, I wonder if what I call Sleep Guilt is really just a derivation– a unique manifestation, if you will, of the first two kinds of sleep disturbances I mention above. Perhaps I go through the mind-racing and the sleep-falling stages before I even get in to bed.  By the time I lie down, poof! I’m done. It’s an efficient system, if you ask me.  Also, when I look at it that way, I feel less guilty.

Now I wonder if I can train myself to stick to an 11:30 bedtime.  Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No. Beneficial? Very likely so. I might have to unsubscribe from my Netflix account.

 

Crazy Or What

I remember the first time I walked into my psychiatrist’s office.  There was a huge sign on the wall with an arrow: Psychiatric Ward.  Am I crazy, or is that a demoralizing introduction to adult mental health?

As I’ve mentioned, my shrink is currently on maternity leave. As I haven’t mentioned, because I haven’t gotten around to writing about it, my replacement shrink is too far away and also I missed my last appointment with but anyway, she’s not the type of shrink I want to be seeing. I want to see a shrink who knows ADD like I know the inside of my closet.  I want an expert.

Such an expert does exist within the same department as my temp-shrink but in the same building as my shrink-on-leave, which is much closer, and cheaper for parking.

A few months ago  I wrote a (very good, I think) post on how hard it is to accomplish things when people don’t get back to you, especially when you have ADD.

I want to switch doctors. I very, very badly want to switch doctors, and I have been taking action towards that goal. I have been calling the department of mental health (that’s the true name, and not the one on the sign. Clearly, the clinic needs some updating) every week but to no avail. I simply can not  get in touch with anyone in my department.  That is, I couldn’t get in touch with anyone until a few days ago when I tried all the numbers that they had listed and actually got to speak with the secretary (who sits, I kid you not, in an office with a sliding window like in a Boston gas station, presumably to protect her from psych cases like me.)

Well, she remembered me from my previous visits and sympathized with my plight, though of course she was not able to help me.  The best thing to do, she advised me, would be to call my temporary shrink and ask her for a referral to the desired shrink.

So I called, and guess what? NOTHING HAPPENED. Nobody called me back. I had no response whatsoever.  Am I crazy, or is it completely irresponsible for a medical clinic to completely ignore the calls of it’s patients?  Especially, dare I say, if it’s a psych ward.

NB: I stand corrected. The temp-shrink’s office did reach out to me. By snail mail.  They sent me a bill charging me for my missed appointment.

 

 

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/users/Counselling-440107/ 

Isn’t it a good one? My compliments to the photographer.

 

 

 

Sensitive Me

I think of myself as a relatively insensitive person.  That is, I am resilient and I let a lot of things just slide off me like teflon*.  However, there are some things, sensory things, that just drive me batty. For example, here I am sitting in the studio (it’s my friend’s work space that she lets me use when it’s empty so I can have some privacy and uninterrupted work time).  I realize that I am feeling tense, and that the source of my tension is music coming in through the wall that is shared with a auto-body shop next door.  Although it would probably have to be blasting in there for me to be able to hear it, It’s not overly loud in here– I can recognize the songs though I can’t necessarily hear all the words. And it’s not the type music I hate  — it sounds like a top 40s radio station. Yet, there is something about it; the tone? the background-ness of it? The bass? That was causing me low-grade distress.

Sometimes, when I sit in the home office I share with my husband, he’ll have something playing in the background. He likes to listen to music while he works.  I can’t handle it, not even if it’s on the very lowest volume.  I simply can’t focus on whatever is in front of me. It’s different if I’m in a coffee shop or a library or a mall– places where there is a relatively uniform amount of ambient noise and familiar sounds.  But at home at night with the kids sleeping, and the only other noise being the one on his computer–  it’s so distracting.

ADD is often associated with sensitivity disorders. I hesitate to call my irritation a disorder, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it’s linked to the ADD.

My solution to this problem is to pull out a set of headphones and turn on an online white noise app.  His music, assuming it’s quiet enough, disappears, and I am in a Zone of My Own.  Really, it’s like being transported.  I think it’s even better for me than medication.  I’ve had very poor sleep for the past couple of nights (partly work, partly Netflix), which carries with it it’s own level of stress.  Add that to the tension I get from background music, and my stress level goes from a 2 to a 5 without my even being aware of it until I’m suffering from the symptoms.  Just now, I put on the white noise app (with a pink noise app playing on top of it for good measure) and as soon as the sound started coming out of the speakers, I felt a huge sense of relief.  It’s like my head had been in a bind and I did not even realize it until it came off.  I was all clenched up, but wasn’t even aware of the need to relax.  It’s a crazy sensation, but very satisfying.

When the bothersome background noise is done, I can turn off the white noise and get a secondary sense of relief from that.

Here  are some other things I am sensitive about:  I hate fans blowing  on me.  I don’t mind them too much if they’re the swivel kind, but I can’t stand the constant breeze on any one part of my body.  I’d rather be sweaty than have a fan pointed directly at me. On the subject of fans, I hate the way they make the light pulsate, depending on where they are positioned. I once worked in an office where the ceiling fan was positioned under the pot lights and directly above my desk. Also,  it was a windowless space I shared with about 7 other people– all of whom really really needed that fan.  Of course, I had to concede, but I always worried that I’d have a seizure.  I hate having my stomach touched. It actually makes me recoil, even if it’s my kids doing it.  That particular sensitivity started around the time of my last pregnancy, so maybe there is a physiological aspect to it.

On the other hand, I love to run fabrics between my fingers, just for the feel. Love having my hair brushed– even though it’s quit tangly, it never hurts.  I dislike shoes and love to feel the ground under my feet.  Sensitivity, I suppose, goes both ways.

Here is a link to my favorite online noise generator.  I am not getting compensated in any way for this endorsement. Just passing along a good tip.

*In no other way would I compare myself to teflon. I no longer own any more teflon or nonstick cookware except for my beloved waffle iron, and that’s on it’s way out too.

 

Featured image from pixabay.com by Pexels

The Blogs In My Head

One of my biggest and most frustrating symptoms of ADD is that I start projects and then don’t finish them. Notice I don’t say that I never finish them. I sometimes do finish them, but their completion has no noticeable correlation to financial pressure, spousal aggravation, time constraints, or any other logical element.  If I had to choose one thing that ‘triggers’ the eventual completion of a project for me, I would have to say that it’s mess. When there is a mess, I will eventually clean it up.

And when there is a clean spot, all other members of my family will gravitate there and fill it right up again with beloved yet misplaced objects. That’s my life, but I digress.

All of the above does not apply exclusively to tangible projects. If I make space and time in my life to work on, say, the business I’ve been trying to get off the ground for a few months now, or the course I was taking which cost us several thousand dollars, or the business BEFORE that which I have abandoned and actually whose web address seems to have been scooped up as I neglected to pay for the web hosting; somehow, the time I set aside for those things will get nipped and nibbled at, if not entirely chewed away by the needs of the people around me.

If I sound resentful, I sometimes am. And sometimes I’m not. Them’s the shakes when you’ve got a family. It’s also what happens when people know you to be nice and giving and know that you work from home, which makes you perpetually available.  Right now I experiencing heightened feelings of bitterness because it’s been weeks since I’ve had my ‘day on’ where I am granted an entire day with no interruption at the studio to work exclusively towards my own endeavors.

But I digress. Not the name of my blog, but it should be.

In addition to ideas for work, home decor, social events, etc, I also have ideas for blogs.  I suppose that I could write about any topic on this blog here, but I feel like I need to limit the posts here strictly to ADHD-related material.

I feel like a blog is a timeline, and if I keep my thoughts on different ideas in separate blogs, then I can reference them more easily.  If, in May of 2026, I want to find out how I felt about the month of May in 2017, I will be able to just look it up.  Things like this are important to Present me. Not sure if Future me will give a hoot. Sometimes I am afraid of this ego of mine which causes me to behave as though there will one day be enormous value to the ever-accumulating archive of my life.  Like I’m van Gogh.  Maybe it comes from my life in academia where specialists are always arguing about whether a body of work is attributed to the correct author, or where every tiny detail we discover about the life of a composer is paraded through headlines like it was a cure for cancer.

For example, I would like to have a blog about the weather. I would like to have a blog about the weather in the same way as most people would like to have a cottage in cottage country. Or the way my husband wants a farm. I want a place where I can spend time puttering around with no goals but the pursuit of serenity, and where I can look back and see the impact I’ve had on the place over, or how I’ve changed because of it. That’s the weather blog.  Pure, gentle ego.

I want to do a blog about my upcoming home reno.  Maybe it’s because, in this day and age when you do anything that requires research, you start out online and you get caught up in the figurative web of information.  You can spend all day jumping from site to site as the different ideas pop into your head — or is that just ADD me? Just today I ran a new idea for the kitchen past the contractor. Which gave me a great idea about the bathroom, which led me to do a google search for that feature, which led me to Pinterest, which is it’s own hellish wormhole.  I took a look on Etsy to see if I could find some parts, and then on Craigslist and Kijiji to find some coordinating furniture. I never got around to looking at all of the correspondence between me and the contractor and consolidating it into a usable document as I’d meant to do this morning.   . A blog is a good way to document all this, and it’s also very interesting, I think, to read about other people’s processes. For example, it took us years of hemming and hawing to even start getting quotes. Once we settled on a contractor, it took me six months to get back to HIM (as opposed to the other way around, which is usually the case. This is not, by the way, a DIY kind of reno that we’re talking about.  When you’re ADD, there are some projects that are better left in the capable hands of other people.  First we had to get good and tired of washing crumbling particle board out of our pots and finding creative ways to cover the holes where there used to be cupboard doors (but where the particle board is too busy high-diving into my cookware to adequately reattach the missing pieces).

I also have ideas for this blog which I never get around to writing.  It’s now almost 1:30 am. It’s finally quiet and nobody is interrupting me. I’m letting the laundry wait.  This is how I get real productive time.  I haven’t posted in weeks and my last post is not really meant to be read.

Sometimes I think about making a blog about my backyard birds, which are the best pets ever.  I also, while I’m cooking, entertain grandiose thoughts of a cooking blog featuring all the crazy recipes that I make crazy fast. I might also turn that one into a book. Another project. Will it happen? There’s no mess involved but the one in my head. Will it be enough?

 

 

 

Drupdate #3

I’m giving myself 10 minutes to write this post. I’ve been sitting here in the quiet privacy of my friend’s studio but I’ve been working for hours straight… hmm… is this an indication of the drug working…?

Hard to say. That seems to be my theme when it comes to medication.

So in my last post– rather, the one before last  I mentioned that I was going to try taking the meds consistently for two weeks. I think I’ll just do this in bullet form, for the sake of brevity and also bc these Drupdates are really just logs.

Sunday, May 14 – ON I think. I hosted a huge party.  Like, 100 ppl. But these things are old hat for me now.

Monday, May 15 – ON.  I get mad at DH when he reminds me to take my pill. It’s a sore point. I think he thinks it’s much more effective than it really is. He was working from home, which I find to be difficult.

Tuesday, May 16- ON. Really hard to work with hubby home. Tried to get through ‘desk pile’. Didn’t get through much. I think I might have started work on my brochure this day…

Wednesday, May 17 – ON. Midday meeting. Put in lots of time at my desk in the morning and then wasted the rest of the day at the mall, where the meeting was. Sometimes you just need to get out.

Thursday, May 18 – ON.  Yoga, dentist, worked on brochure.  I think I took it after Yoga… I think. Incidentally, I had a filling without anesthesia. Are you impressed? I am.

Friday, May 19 – ON. Grocery shopping and frenzied cooking in between three different school pickups. I was hoping to get some work done but instead made 70+ pieces of schnitzel. I did get some feedback from friends on the brochures I’d been preparing.  I wrote it all down in the grocery store on the notebook I keep in my purse.  Schnitzel is a LOT Of work, so when I do it. I just do a lot.  Also I had to prepare extra for a friend who had a baby. It was my turn to bring dinner. I had the same experience as I did last time— that I couldn’t figure out how to spice the food properly. I think that my schnitzels were not quite as good this time. It’s really hard to cook when your appetite is suppressed.  I rely on instinct but that part of the brain is suppressed as well. I wonder if it’s actually NOT connected to appetite suppression, but more to impulse control??? This is definitely something to explore.

Saturday, May 20 – OFF.  Lots of reading, some cleaning.

Sunday, May 21 – ON. Pretty sure.  It was a rainy day.  Woke up late, watched some TV with the kids, bought gardening supplies, went shopping for reno supplies but everything was closed. Went swimming. Ate Mac N Cheese

Monday, May 22 – OFF. I’m pretty sure.  I was out all day on a long-weekend excursion and didn’t feel like I needed them.  Which I realize is besides the point because I’m going for consistency here.

Tuesday, May 23 – ON.  Spent all day in waiting rooms, tried to read some work material but there were too many stops and starts and people to look after and pay attention to.

Wednesday, May 24 – ON.  Took late– about noon. Spent all afternoon at studio, finishing the brochures.  What a lot of work they’ve been, but I enjoy it.

C(K)eeping Up With The Concertas

I saw my new shrink last week.  She was nice, friendly, positive, and generally affirmative (affirmational? She affirmed what I said) but, as she pointed out before we even sat down, it was a bit of a mismatch.  She deals with palliative care patients, and not at all with ADD.  She was only handed my file* because they needed people to take over for my regular shrink, who is now on maternity leave.

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Not My Shrink.                         …ok now tear your eyes away and go back to the blog post…

I was a bit disappointed because I had been imagining this new doctor-patient relationship as the one that would complete me, mental health-wise.  Alas.  I need a Tinder for psychiatrists.

She asked me, at one point, probably because I was rambling at high speed and holding a Grande Pike Place, whether I was self-medicating with coffee. I am not, and I told her as much. I usually have one coffee in the morning and one, if I am desperate to stay awake, around the kid’s bedtime.

She also told me, as my last shrink told me, and probably everyone in the medical profession will tell me, that I need to get on the meds and just stay on them if I want to have a good idea of whether or not they’re having any effect. As you may recall, this is one of the great questions that surround my decision to medicate.

Since taking them intermittently, as I have been doing (sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally)  for more than a year, is not a viable option for me at this point, I have a problem.  Even if I ‘set an alarm on my phone’  (which everyone thinks is the answer to everything ADD), taking them on a regular basis has proven to be much more difficult  than it would seem.  It’s not that I don’t remember to take them. It’s that if I remember, and I am not seated at my desk (where I keep the bottle) or in a position to get the ‘travel pack’ out of my purse immediately, then the task will get put on an indefinite ‘snooze.’

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The Elusive Travel Pack              Writing About it made me remember to refill it!

At the behest of Dr. Affirmational, I decided to try once again. She asked if I could commit to two weeks straight and I told her, without much confidence, that I would surely try.  My appointment was on a Thursday, and I decided that the following Monday would be my first day. I took a pill on Monday. I took one on Tuesday. I took one on Wednesday. I forgot them on Thursday and Friday and then didn’t bother over the weekend.

Correction: I did not forget them on Thursday and Friday, Rather, I remembered on Thursday but I was in the car, driving. And I remembered on Friday but I was in the supermarket, and I  was in a rush to get out.

Today is Monday, the start of a fresh new week.  I took one this morning. It made me jittery after an hour. I calmed down. I am finishing my blog post that I’ve been meaning to write for 11 days.  Thanks to the shakes, I know it’s having an effect on me, but I don’t know if it’s actually fulfilling the intended purpose.  Hopefully, if I can keep up with the Concertas,  I’ll be able to tell you in two weeks. Wish me luck.

 

*Interestingly, she was actually NOT handed my file.  So most of my visit consisted of me recounting all the things I do and the things I don’t get around to doing and how I feel about it all. What else would we have talked about, really?

Book Review: Hyper

Book Review: Hyper: a personal story of ADD                                                                              Timothy Denevi,  Simon & Schuster, 2014      

Timothy Denevi introduces all of his characters– historical and contemporary — with a description based on memory, jacket cover, or photograph image and also on his personal impressions of the person. I’ll do the same for him.

Denevi looks out at you from the back flap of his book with a gaze that belies his tenacious relationship with authority.  The three-quarter view of his face, with a neat beard softening his  tight-lipped smile,  sharp nose, and trendily ‘squinching’ eyes, is a story in itself;  a hard-won adulthood emerging from a long battle with mental health and self confidence.  His forward-facing torso, draped in a bookish professor jacket, leans casually against a wall as if to invite either challenge or earnest inquiry.

Part memoir, part review and critique of the history of ADHD, Hyper is ambitious in trying to intersperse Denevi’s personal experience with the story of ADHD’s changing and expanding scientific, medical, and pharmaceutical paradigms.

Denevi’s recounting of life from toddlerhood to university is compelling. He is as successful as one can be in helping the reader understand what is going on in the mind of a child who, at various points throughout history, might have been institutionalized, imprisoned or otherwise segregated, corporeally punished, and called repressed, hyperkenetic, or minimally brain damaged.  One early thinker, we learn, might have even threatened him with execution.

Denevi takes no hostages, and calls out those who helped and hurt him along the way– an act that also reveals how crucial  good mentors and friendships were to him and to those whose growth and development are similarly tumultuous.   His parents, though they struggled alongside him, were ultimately his biggest advocates and supporters as he went from being Goomba to Timmy to Tim. His psychologists were trustworthy and nonjudgmental, and a teacher’s cooperation, understanding, or lack thereof was highly correlative to the degree of academic and social success that Denevi would achieve throughout his years in school.

The nearly 120-year-old history of ADHD as described by Denevi, and the development of associated treatments and medications, does not exactly parallel Denevi’s experiences. However, the information in the book is well researched and interesting in it’s own right. Along the way, we encounter the jerky and meandering trajectory of research, and the confluence of psychology, educational philosophy, and pharmacy which have brought us to today’s standard of diagnosis and care for people with ADHD.

As a mother, what struck me the most as I read this book was how much time energy Tim’s mom devoted to the wellbeing of her eldest.  While, on one hand, devotion and motherhood tend to go hand in hand,  I can tell you, based on my own experience, that Mrs. Denevi’s standard of care went above and beyond. Perhaps it’s the ADD in me talking, but the commitment to weekly psychiatry sessions and teacher correspondence, monitoring, and medicating, not to mention her perseverance through some of Timothy’s more rueful behavior as a young adult, on top of the usual homework and extracurricular duties and taking care of her other two children, working a full time job, and keeping house, is an amazing accomplishment.  Even when suffering from her own newly diagnosed and debilitating arthritis while Timothy is in middle school, Mrs. Denevi is a pillar and a guide to her child.  Denevi also describes his father as being supportive and loving throughout the challenges they faced as a family.

Of course, the degree to which it was necessary for Denevi’s parents to persist in advocating for him also reinforces the degree to which Denevi is affected by ADHD, and how severe his condition was. One shudders to think what happens to children whose parents or teachers do not have the resources to deal with the disorder,  especially in a form as extreme as Denevi seems to have experienced.

I also felt connected to Denevi for the fact that he and I are just about the same age.  Although I did not seek a diagnosis until adulthood, I was aware of my differences in the same way as Denevi describes. I remember the growing awareness of ADD in the school system from the time I first became conscious of it and until today when at least half the families I know are affected by it.  As an educator, I have learned so much about it.  I hope that books such as Hyper will help policymakers, educators, parents, and society at large understand Attention Deficit Disorder and develop strategies to maximize the potential of those with ADHD while minimizing the detrimental effects it can have.