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.

 

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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?

The Med Factor: Dinner Is Served

We do a lot of hosting at our house, and that means a lot of cooking for me.  I don’t particularly like cooking, but apparently I’m not half bad at it. Rather, I am half bad at it but the half that’s not completely burnt, over-boiled, or otherwise wasted due to negligence usually tastes pretty good, I’m told.

I always joke that most husbands, when they get in the door, call out ‘Honey, I”m home!’ My husband will walk in and automatically call out “Babe, what’s burning?”

Actually, that’s not a joke at all. He says that every single time he comes in the house.  Of course, with the fire alarm blasting (mine speaks English and French: FIRE! FEU! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. FIRE! FEU! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. And sometimes CARBON MONOXIDE! MONOXYDE DE CARBONE! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.) and the kids fighting over the chance to stand on a chair with the broomstick (which we keep against the wall for this exact purpose) and stab the darn thing into silence on it’s elusive sweet spot (HUSH MODE ACTIVATEDMODE HUSH ACTIVÉ), there is no denying what I’ve been up to. Here’s another joke, but not: How do you know when it’s dinner time at my house? 

dinner_will_be_ready
Too obvious?

But I digress…

It’s not entirely accurate that I don’t like cooking. It’s true that I’d rather be…  dunno… writing, reading, hiking, not cooking etc. but I like cooking better than, say, washing dishes or bringing the trash cans in from the curb. Cooking is a chore but not the worst chore. The part I really don’t like is cleaning.  Cooking means cleaning;  it’s inevitable. And when you cook in a mad, hyperfocused frenzy like I do, the mess gets bigger and bigger throughout the process until it almost takes over the counter entirely., and sometimes the floor.  Peelings, wrappers, dirty dishes… I hate them all.  I can cook a four course meal (soup, sides, salads– yes, all plural–  and main) in under two hours but the kitchen is positively ravaged when I’m done.

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Not my kitchen, but close.

I never make desert, though.  Guests are responsible for bringing desert, or else I cut up fruit after I serve the main course when things have calmed down a bit.  I almost never bake. I hate it, and I am terrible at it. When you bake you need to be so careful about measuring and having just the right ingredient  and other dull and unnecessarily uptight details.  And it makes so much more mess.  Not worth it.

When I cook it’s a largely spontaneous experience and always experimental, like an art piece.  I know roughly what I’m making because I shopped for it that morning and it’s in the fridge waiting. But I never know exactly whether the ground beef is going to be meatballs, patties, bolognaise sauce, or lasagna until I start cooking. Herbed? Sweet n’ sour?  You just never know. I might consult a recipe for inspiration, but then I always revert to whatever I think is more fitting or (let’s be honest) whatever method will result in fewer dirty pans.  I have a lot of spices, and I’ve developed a feel for how to make them my own, and how much I can tweak a recipe before it turns the corner from home or exciting  to meh.

Last week I was on the meds while cooking. I’d had a lot to do that day and cooking was just one of the items on the agenda, albeit a large item.  I started cooking earlier than I normally would, which is maybe evidence of the medication serving it’s intended purpose. The meds were still in full effect and my appetite was pretty suppressed.

All of a sudden I realized that I had no idea what spices to use in the dish I was making.  I scanned my spice rack, waiting for the right ones to pop out at me as they usually do, but they all looked the same– bland.  I had to really stop and think about it in a logical fashion; What might taste good in this meat? Cinnamon? No that’s Middle Eastern and not what I’m going for. Garlic? Well yes, obviously but… oregano? Yes, that sounds Italian..  I think I’m going for ‘Italian’…

It may not sound like a big deal, but the experience was  it was kind of freaky and unsettling for me.   I didn’t have any precedent for this kind of feeling, and I was unsure of how to handle it at first.  Imagine trying to paint a ladybug,  looking at a palette of paint colours and not having any point of reference for which puddle to dip your brush into.  You know it should be obvious, but the answer is somehow eluding you, like in a dream.

Well, I’ve been cooking dinners for over a decade now and my inference, if not my instinct, kicked in.  I know ladybugs are red, and so I dipped my  brush into the puddle labeled ‘red’.  I made the food. It wasn’t artistic, but it was good, they tell me.  Essentially, it was formulaic, like baking.

What an unexpected side effect for ADD / ADHD medication;  Regular function might be impaired due to lack of appetite.  More accurately, it was a side effect of a side effect.  I wonder what other side of side effects I’m experiencing that I haven’t yet noticed.  Sometimes I wonder if there are any effects at all.

Before I sign off, I want to include another story about food and my husband, just to redeem his reputation in case you think, based on this post, that he is overly harsh or critical.

When we were engaged, and this was way back before I became the gourmet chef that I am today, it was pumpkin season, and I was taken with the notion of making pumpkin soup.  Working from my gut, I brought the pumpkin home, baked it, peeled it, pureed it, and spiced it, and then served it to my fiancee and a friend of mine for dinner that night. The soup was horrible and not at all what I’d intended.  I couldn’t eat it and neither could my friend. But my darling man tasted it, said “It’s not that bad, maybe I’ll just put some humus in it.” Yes, he ate the whole bowl with humus in it. And that is why I love him.

Notice: No ladybugs were harmed or ingested in the writing of this blog post or ever, really, by the author, to the best of her knowledge.

Twist of Fate

When I last saw my shrink, she was apparently pregnant. She did not bring up the subject and so, according to protocol, I did not bring it up either, though her condition was quite… pronounced.

Well, in addition to ADD-dar, I apparently have preg-dar, because this week I got a call from the hospital informing me that I’d been transferred to a new doctor due to my own psychiatrist going on maternity leave.  I felt it safe to enquire if she’d actually had the baby yet– she hadn’t– and asked the caller to pass on my congratulations for when the time comes.

What my radar didn’t pick up on until just now was that her pregnancy was a graceful solution to a conundrum I’ve been avoiding.

For a while now, I’ve been debating doing a shrink-swap.  Although I am fond of my psychiatrist, I wasnt’ sure she was the best one for my specific needs. I want someone with experience in my specific area — Adult ADD– and I felt, at times, like she was winging it a little bit.  I mean, I’ve been on this road towards intentional correction for close to two years now — or more?  But I am still not 100% sure of my diagnosis.

The appointment they offered me with the new doctor is still two months away.  I guess that lack of availability is one strike against her.  Still, I’m in no rush. I haven’t been updating, but I also haven’t really been taking my medication for over a month now. I took it today for the first time in ages.  The only definite effect was hunger pangs at about 4:00.

If I am brave and strong and play my cards right then this can turn out very well. I tried e-stalking the new doctor, but there isn’t too much online about her, at least on the first couple of google pages.  I’d asked the administrator about her when she called to set up the appointment. I learned that she’s not new; she’s been around for many years. Well, that’s something.  And if I realize that she is not for me, I will be bolder this time and ask to be re-referred. I will.

P.S. If you scroll up and down over the square in the image on top of this post, you’ll see why the two doctor characters are doing the twist.