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.
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.
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.’
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?
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 ACTIVATED. MODE 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?
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.
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.
I had a phone call the other day from what I guess I’d call a friend-once-removed (an FOR), by which I mean she is a person who is friends with another friend of mine, and who, consequently, I see several times a year but don’t really have anything else to do with. I like her fine. I’m just not particularly close with her. An FOR.
Although I was initially surprised to hear from her, her motives became clear as soon as she said the words ‘hoping you can help me with a little venture I’m working on.’ My suspicions were confirmed when her schpiel ended with ‘can I meet you for coffee?’
“Is this Arbonne?”
Arbonne is a line of products whose marketing scheme is word-of-mouth and rhymes with “Fonzie.”
“I’m not buying anything– you should know.” I didn’t want to mislead her, though clearly she was trying to mislead me by making it sound like she cared for my actual companionship.
It’s fine, she told me. Even if I didn’t buy anything I’d still be helping her firm up her pitch and it would be good practice. I was being asked to help. I was flattered. We made a date.
I don’t necessarily disrespect people who choose to chase the dream and make ‘a little money in their spare time,’ as it were. In fact, I was totally impressed by FOR’s verve , get-go, drive, or whatever you want to call it. It takes some serious cajones to call people out of the blue when you barely know them and try to get them to open their hearts, schedules, and wallets to you. Of course, it makes it easier if you’ve already destroyed relationships with all your original friends, but it’s all worth it, I think, when the Arbonne people show up at your door with a thank-you gift in the form of a white Mercedes. No, really, they promise you a Benz if you sell enough body lotion and shampoo. Whooooa. Happy days!
I was trying to avoid sarcasm in this post and now look at me. I blame the Fonz but the Fonz doesn’t care. Aaaaay!
So I met with this FOR at one afternoon at a popular coffee place which I will not name but rhymes with Spar… Bucks… and I brought my Little One, who happened to have a day off. He was excited for the hot chocolate aspect of the meeting, and I was excited to do my friend of a friend a good turn as she began her journey to purported financial freedom.
I should mention that I’ve already been accosted by friends in the past who got on the Arbonne train. In fact, I’d won an entire gift basket worth of merchandise from a trade show and through some internal political hierarchies having to do with geography and/or nepotism, the person assigned to my followup telephone call was a girl not-removed from me, but an actual friend. An actual friend that I had to listen to as she rambled on about the products for fifty minutes until I managed to find some reason to excuse myself from the conversation. So I know a little bit about Arbonne. I’m still friends with that girl, by the way, but we’ve never ever spoken about what I’ve come to think of as The Horrible Arbonne Incident.
I scheduled FOR’s coffee date for the end of the school day just in case it… uh… didn’t have a natural end. I figured 45 minutes was enough time for her to practice her shpiel, drink a coffee, try some products, and get out. To make a long story short, I learned about Arbonne all over again, even though I told her, in nicer terms, about my previous education in the same department. I had the complete presentation including power point, demo booklet, and a little trial kit of toiletries — six products!! — that I was meant to use daily and return to her after three days. Six products? I feel proud if I have the energy to brush my teeth at the end of the day! I can’t even remember to take my ADD meds three day in a row!
Of course, I ended up taking it all home in a tote bag embossed with enormous company logos. I somehow followed the skincare routine for three full days (though I used up the little squirt of night cream on DD’s dry hands when we couldn’t find her regular lotion). I even met her on the morning of day 4, though I forgot the tote bag which I’ll have to get to her at a later date. I did not remember to take my pills during this time.
To add insult to injury, turns out the FOR is not new to Arbonne. She did not need to practice her pitch on me because she has been doing it for over two years. My efforts at do-goodism were for naught. I’m such a sucker.
But I digress.
Seeing FOR in action, even though the action was being taken against me, in a way, was somehow inspiring. The girl has a goal: to supplement her income (which I would describe as steady but limited). She has a means: The Fonz. She has a market: Other FOR. She has a modus operandi: Call, cajole, coffee, call again. And she does it. It sounds easy, but know how difficult it can be to tear oneself away from a good game of candy crush and make even a single sales call. I know it’s hard to put oneself out there and present oneself with confidence, even if you believe that the rewards are great and have optional seat warmers.
So even though I don’t think I’ll be peddling beauty products anytime soon, I can take a lesson from my FOR and push myself to write one more blog post or send out that promo package.
Because as she, and so many zombie-like and glowy-cheeked Benz hopefuls before her remind us: Don’t think “what if it doesn’t work?” Think “what if it does?”
I saw my Shrink again last week, and here’s what I had to report:
When I first got this new round of prescription after our last appointment and I started taking the medication, it was the week before winter break. I took it the first day and the second day, but on the third day I felt all cloudy and disoriented. I think I skipped that day– or the next. I had started a list so that I could keep track and maybe chart the effects of the medication on my productivity– because, ultimately, increased productivity is my goal. At least, I think I started a list. I have one attached to my pill bottle with an elastic band but it has some very random dates on it. Seems I haven’t been keeping track very well.
Strike one against the effectiveness of medication, I guess.
I wasn’t sure if the cloudiness was due to some side effect of the medication or a withdrawal from it. All I knew is that I was barely functional. I could hardly prepare school lunches– something that is usually rote for me and doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking (though I still hate doing it and it sill takes me waaay too in the morning.)
On the other hand, i also had a cold, and this could have led to the cloudy feeling as well. Coffee helped. Napping too, though how much of an opportunity do I really get for that?
For me, the problem with being in a fog goes even deeper than zombie-like, purposeless wandering. It reinforces a deep fear of mine, which is that I will become dependent on meds in the way that people are dependent on glasses, or that they will permanently dull that region of my brain because I’m not using the muscle behind it.
I decided at some point that week– I believe I’d had 3 out of 5 of the intended doses, to postpone the big experiment until after winter break. I still had work to do in the intervening weeks– I was preparing for a new business initiative I’m hoping to get off the ground, not to mention all of my regular duties. But I didn’t want to do this medication thing haphazardly– because then what would be the point? I want to know if the stuff is working and if it’s worth all the soul searching and departure from my long-standing resistance to medication. As I had discussed with the shrink at or last encounter, I need to stick it it consistently for long enough to figure out whether it’s worth sticking with at all.
I started taking the medication regularly – Concerta– when the kids went back to school after winter break when my routine, theoretically resumed.
As I mentioned above, I am working on a new program that I hope I can develop in to a business. I am hesitant to mention it here or even tell people around me about it because it seems that every few months I embark on a new project with great enthusiasm, and sometimes at great expense or personal investment, only to abandon it a little while later — always with a different excuse ultimately forming a pattern of failure associated with ADHD. I guess it’s important that I keep trying to find success– but the process can be disheartening.
In this case, however, I gave myself a deadline. I set up a date to present my project to a local organization, and that date was last week. Even though I so far have only that date and two subsequent ones (it’s a series) booked at the same venue, I put a ton of work into it, hoping that the investment will pay off with further bookings and that, by the end, I’d have a program I could market more broadly.
As it happened, my weekly ‘protected time’– the one day each that I arranged with my husband would be my own time to work on my own projects without interruption when he’s responsible for picking up the kids and being with them late into the evenings– got compromised the first week after winter break because of a job-related commitment that there was no way for him to get out of. I tried to put in time that day anyway, but then my DS called home sick from school , so that day got cut short.
On the second week’s protected time, DH was desperate for me to help him out with a few projects that he regularly relies on me for, and they also really couldn’t wait. So last week I also lost a good half day from my protected time. I did manage to get a lot done in the late afternoon and evening, however, so it wasn’t a total loss.
Throughout the past two weeks I have been taking my meds pretty faithfully. One exception was last Thursday when I did my presentation. I find that the medication can make me shaky, depending on what other elements are happening (whether I’ve eaten, slept well, etc) and just today I noticed that they actually make me a little emotional the way that Adderol did– not to the point of being crazy, but enough to cry over some sad and/or heartwarming articles I read during my brain-warm up this morning (aka acceptable procrastination time– but that’s another blog post for another time.)
I guess that the pattern I’ve found so far with these meds is that the benifit– the drive– that is (most likely) supplied by the meds, is accompanied by a degree of stress. With this med it is to a lesser degree than the last, though I don’t remember feeling it at all before last week. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that they say it can take several weeks to start working. Is it going to get worse now? Or is this as bad as it gets, because I can handle it at this level.
There was also another day the week before that I forgot or neglected to take the meds. Let’s say I took them for 8 our of the 10 intended days. I was supposed to only take a break from them on Saturdays but I haven’t been taking on Sundays either.
For me, a deadline is the best motivation to get working, and I really pushed myself to get all everything done on time, and done well. It’s hard to say whether the pills were working or not, but I felt very motivated, and I spent a lot less time ‘getting into’ the work, and a lot more time actually working on it. When I got distracted, it was a lot easier for me to get back on track, whereas sometimes it can take me half an hour or more to ease back in.
Also, this is work that I really love to do, and I know that I’m good at it because I have done it for years, though not lately. So again– hard to say if it’s because of the drugs.
My program went well, though I only got through about half of the materials we’d prepared. I thought the participants really enjoyed it and that it got their wheels spinning. I’ll find out when I get back the evaluations.
After telling the doctor all this, I was surprised to hear her say that she was concerned about the fact that I was feeling cloudy. The meds are supposed to make you more functional, not less, she said. With regards to that, and also to my fears of long-term damage, though, she didn’t tell me to stop. She just said again that I need to do a risk/benefit analysis. Are the meds helping me meet my goals, overall? If so, are the risks and/or side effects tolerable?
The idea behind the medication, she reminded me, is not to provide a cure, but to provide a higher level of function.
Also, we discussed how I’m effectively doing three jobs at once if I take on this new venture. Mothering, working the equivalent of part-time for DH, and now this. Honestly, I don’t mind putting the work in to see if I can get this started, even if it means a couple more late nights. Granted, it also means I’m pushing off some of the mothering stuff (nothing significant) and also some of the paperwork I’d otherwise be doing, which means it’s building up faster than usual. I guess I’m ok with that too.
Despite all my ramblings about how I came to the decision to start medicating, I still feel like I need to justify my decision. The featured image of this post is a set of scales. As you can see, it’s already been tipped to reflect my decision, but it does not reveal the rationale by showing you what factors are weighing it down– mostly because I am still a little fresh at Photoshop (actually this image was crafted in MS Paint bc sometimes it’s just the easy way out) and the image started getting a bit confusing when I started adding stuff in.
By way of affirmation, I will deposit one justification marble in this blog– you can also call it a badge I’m awarding myself– every time I remember one of the reasons I am sky-high on Concerta*.
This badge, Responsibility For Others, reminds me that my failures, my lack of accomplishment, my procrastinating, my difficulties in self regulation** all have an effect on the people I love the most and for whom I have a great responsibility. This, if you recall, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s the reason that tipped the scales.
* Ok I’m not sky high. In fact, I am not really sure if it’s having any effect on me at all.
** I’m not THAT bad. But I could use improvement, hence the drugs.
In a recent post, I wrote about a library card fine that wouldn’t go away.
… with a huge pile of books in front of me (my kids are book junkies) and wer’re already five minutes later for a piano lesson, I get a loud error message from the self-checkout machine at the library. After consulting with the human librarian and her more informed computer, it turned out that the fine had not been paid, though I knew for sure that I’d put it through. We managed to check out the books on one of the kids’ cards attached to my file and once again the issue of the library fine was pushed to the back of my mind.
I thought this story deserved a closer look. How did this event come to pass, what happened after, and what does ADD have to do with it?
Here is a timeline of a person with ADHD visiting a library.
4:30pm – Arrival
You go in thinking you’ll find a couple of new night-table books. The kids scatter but you never even make it to the shelves. You cull from the displays that start at the front entrance and continue for the first thirty feet of the floor plan and your hands are full by the time you get to the actual stacks. Add in the requests that have come in and are waiting for me to pick them up, and you’ve got enough paper to kindle a winter’s worth of hearth fires (in theory. I don’t burn books in real life). Fortunately, the library provides convenient little shopping baskets with handles and wheels.
You urge children off the computers where they’ve been playing ‘educational games’ since their arrival (most of which involve choosing outfits for Dora the Explorer). They complain that they haven’t had any time to get books and so you give them a five minute extension.
You look up from the magazine you’ve been flipping through to find the kids back at the computers. Each one has a basket full of books and DVDs they’re planning on checking out. You now have enough books to build a house for one of the three little pigs.
You’re trying to check out but find that your library card is blocked, as in the scenario described above. The librarian informs you that there are currently 68 books checked out on your account, out of a maximum allowance of 100. You pay the $20 fine, whittle down the kid’s book selections to an acceptable number, and get out, each of you lugging a tote bag with your selections. Yours contains a hodgepodge of everything that caught your eye from the moment you walked into the library. There’s leisure reading, get-rich-quick books, and enormous volumes on interior design, most of which will not get read, and many of which you will lose for longer than the 10 permitted renewals at two week intervals- and that’s if you’re lucky.
Two weeks later
You have read only the leisure books, mostly on stolen time when you should have been getting the kids ready for school in the morning or late at night when you should have been sleeping. The library sends you a text message reminding you to renew. You text back RA for Renew All but in their response, the library sends you a list of two books that can not be renewed because a request has been made for them by someone else in the system and one (from a library trip some months ago) that can’t be renewed because it’s already overdue.
You set out to find the non-renewable books. You start by looking under the bed and behind the couch. You can also take a look through the play room where the kids may have borrowed a hardcover or ten to create a terraced landscape for their hot wheels tracks. You check the bookcase where a well meaning spouse or housekeeper has been known to shelve the books you left strewn on the courch amongst the books you actually own- sometimes with the spine facing the wall. Lost kid’s books are the worst because there are hundreds of picture books at home, which are kept in four different locations around the house. Junior Fiction serials like Geronimo Stiltons are also annoying because, to you, they all look the same and the titles are all equally punny and you can’t remember which ones the kids told you not to return.
A Week Later
After driving around with the non-renewable books in your car for a week– at least, with the two out of three that you can find, you finally remember to stop at the library and put them in the drop box.
A Week or So After That
You round up all of the library books you can find in your house and drop them in the drop box because you are going away on vacation and you don’t want to be stuck with any fines.
First Day of Vacation
You get a text saying that one DVD is overdue. You know you returned everything you had… and you specifically remember that DVD.
A Couple of Months Later
You haven’t been to the library in a while. You were away and then you got busy with other things. You get a letter in the mail from the library, which you lose. You then get another letter in the mail from a collections agency, demanding payment for the library fine and the lost DVD.
You find the missing DVD in your car. The actual disk is in the player, and the case is wedged between two seats. You drop it in the library drop box after dark so that the staff will not recognize you. Shamefacedly, you skulk away, restricting your reading material to ad-bogged truthy-like internet news that requires you to click through seventeen different images, each accompanied by several words of leading text, before you discover Why You Should Never Make Your Own Kombucha At Home.
The Breakdown (of why this is ADD related. Not the breakdown you suffer as a result of your lack of librarical skills.):
- In terms of being an advantage or a disadvantage, the lack of inhibition in people with ADHD is a grey zone. On one hand, you struggle to control your impulses and not dominate polite dinner table conversation, and on the other hand you are not afraid to jump in, try new things, and get dirty. Wayne Gretzky said that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but he never said when you take 100% of the shots that come your way. That’s me.
The way this all plays out in the library is that you choose waaaay too many books. More than you will be likely to read, more than you can keep track of, and more than you can carry in one trip to the car.
- There are some tasks that just don’t seem big enough to put on the to-do list. ‘Return Library Books’ is one of them, because it’s right on your way to pick up the kids, so you’ll definitely remember when you pass by– right? No, because when you drive by the library you’ll probably be late for pickup, or else your multitasking mind will have switched to some other topic, even though you intended to make the stop when you set out from your house three minutes before.
- You might have even put it on a to-do list, and even brought the list with you, but you neglected to check it after your last errand and, since you have trouble prioritizing, some other task, such as remembering to buy milk for tomorrow, has taken precedence in your head and all you can think about is getting to the grocery store, though that particular task is two slots down the list you carefully laid out that morning.
- You may have systems in place, such as keeping library books on a particular shelf or setting time limits for your kids’ activities, but there are limits to how far these practices can take you. Unless everyone in your home is on board, it’s hard to reinforce the guidelines you’ve put in place, and it’s even harder to enforce them when you’re the one with ADD because of the extra effort you’re busy putting in to other areas of your life, just to keep things moving more or less smoothly for the family.
I am not actually embarrassed to use my local library, but most of the scenario above is pretty accurate. I am pretty good at getting most of my — and my kid’s and my husband’s– library materials back to the library– most of the time. I’ve learned to file this issue under the ‘Molehill’ section in The Greater Scheme Of Things when it comes to my life.
I have a friend whose entire family is medicated. Georgia tells me that whenever they travel they require a small carry-on just for the pharmaceuticals. Two parents (now divorced), four kids, all on assorted forms of prescription stimulants in addition to a hodgepodge of other pills that the doctor ordered.
Not long ago, I would have balked at this scenario. Can it really be that a family of six otherwise healthy people need to tote around a small drug store in order to get through the day? For Georgia, she jokes, it’s a ‘no brainer.’
“If I didn’t take my medication in the morning, nothing would happen in the house. Nothing. I would sit around for hours at a time staring into space. I’d have a coffee and a smoke and check my whatsapp and my day would be done.”
Georgia’s got it bad.
On the other hand, freshly single, she gets four kids plus lunches, homework and all the outerwear that the day requires out of the house and to assorted carpools on time every single morning– we’re talking four separate carpools, at least one of which she is the driver for. That is no small accomplishment.
I happen to know that in her pre-mom life, Georgia was something of a delinquent, or at least a very nice and kind but brash and rule-resistant, boundary-testing individual if not an actual criminal. Today she is a self-supporting parent of four awesome, if unruly, kids.
For Georgia, a person I respect and admire, medication really does make all the difference. As far as she is concerned, her kids need to be medicated so that they don’t have to go through the hardships that she went through as a child. She hopes that they will be able to realize their potentials with all of the usual struggles that kids go through, but with a minimum of impediment from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. In the case of one of her kids, it’s the only way she was allowed to remain in the classroom.
I may or may not have made the same decisions as Georgia, were I in her shoes. However, I accept her reasoning.
Also, I look at Georgia and see how far she has come, and how she is able to carry her family thanks to her diligence and her commitment to mental health.
I find myself asking if there are measures I can take – measures which I have not yet tried– to curb the oppression that ADD has on my professional fulfillment.
Back when I was an environmental educator, we would sometimes have field days when we’d have do dispense lunchtime medication to kids who required it. At the end of one such week of programming, when the bus-full of kids had already been returned to their parents in their hometown, I reached into my pocket to find a small envelope containing one dose of Ritalin that I’d neglected to hand out.
Once we discovered the error, I was supposed to have disposed of the pill but instead I hung on to it for reasons I didn’t quite understand. In a very uncharacteristic move, I took it one afternoon a few months later when I was back at school and trying to get through an assignment.
Partly, I wanted a boost to get me to the end of the project. Partly, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. To hear it described, Ritalin was some sort of a wonder drug that won you good grades and job promotions.
As it happened, neither of those outcomes materialized, as far as I could tell. I didn’t feel like the tablet had had any effect on me at all; neither positive nor negative.
Had the pill created some drastic or even noticeable change in focus, perhaps it would have opened me up to the possibility of medication as a realistic option for me at that time. But since I did not register any response, probably due to a dosage meant for a fifth-grader, my position as a staunch anti-drug hippie (the rarest of specimens) was reinforced once again.
Fast forward about fifteen years. If your read my post from a couple of weeks ago, you’d know how I finally came to a decision about medication. I have a lot more life experience today than I did in my twenties, and a whole different perspective on what’s important.
In fact, I remember consulting with my dentist about a year ago with regards to a particular tooth that I’ve had many problems with over the years. To cap or not to cap was the question, and if so, then when. The cost was high but the need was not dire. Turning the idea over in my mind, I drifted into an investment mindframe, and tried to assess the value of this procedure over time.
“How much is this tooth worth considering the number of years I could potentially get out of it? Will I be using this tooth for another 40 years? 50? 60? Maybe more… ”
I hadn’t intended to be morbid and my mind snapped back to the present when I realized how shocking my thoughts had been. The idea of my ever-diminishing potential was now rooted in my mind however. I stopped thinking in terms of dental work but continued on the theme of age. It’s hard to project how many productive years I have left in my life, but I can give you a fair estimate of how many I’ve wasted. How much more time am I going to waste trying to figure out how to get where I want to go?
As the Indigo Girls so aptly put it, ‘How long ’till my soul gets it right?’
Georgia made a choice not to blunder and not to wait and see. Maybe she doesn’t know where medication will take her, but she does know where she and her family would be without it.
As for me, I know that I haven’t been able to climb to the heights I’d always thought I’d reach. Maybe medication is the final tool in my toolkit. Can it be what I’ve been missing all these years?