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 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.

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.


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.




More on More on Drugs

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.2016-12-05_1944

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?





Stuck In The Muck and It’s All Your Fault

It’s the end of the week or the beginning of a new one. I’m scrolling through my to-do list and my flagged and pinned e-mails.  Out of sixteen to-do items, I’ve ‘done’ at least half, but I’m frustrated because I can’t take them off my list.  I’ve sent out the e-mail that I’d promised to write, I’ve initiated that meeting, and I’ve called the office I was supposed to contact; I’ve put in the initial work. . I’ve done my part, but the other party hasn’t done theirs.  The office hasn’t called me back for an appointment or the accountant hasn’t answered the question I put to him.

It makes me feel like I’m in a void.  Hello? Is anyone out there?

Usually I am hesitant to blame other people for my problems, but I think this is one of the rare cases where blame is justified.

Sometimes I think that a task has been completed when in truth it has only gone into hiding. For example, last month I had a couple of unusual bills to pay– a fine on my library card which I’d ignored for so long that it had gone to a collections agency, and a second fine from the same collection agency on a charge I’d been disputing (a battle which, clearly, I’d lost).  Let it be known that I do not often have collection agencies on my back. I make every effort to pay my bills on time, and I’m pretty organized about it. Somehow, though, these two  yellow  papers arrived in my mailbox the same week.

I called the agency to settle up and they asked me how I’d like to pay.

“What are the options?” I asked them.

I chose e-transfer over credit card because because my purse was downstairs and I didn’t feel like getting up from my desk to get it.  Also, I tend to get distracted when I step away from my workstation, no matter how purposefully I set out, and so I decided that I’d just take care of the transfers then and there without leaving my computer.  The woman on the phone gave me all the details– the e-mail address, the password I was to use, and what to write in the memo line so that the payment would be attributed to the right source. I followed her directions, stamped the bills as PIF — Paid In Full– and wrote the date, because I’m organized that way. Then I put the bills in my To Be Filed box and forgot about them.

A few days later, with a huge pile of books in front of me  (my kids are book junkies) and already five minutes away from 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 is pushed to the back of my mind.

Not long after that, I get a call from the collection agency. The confused agent apologizes and tells me that there is a note on my file saying I’d paid, but that no payment had been made.

I told her about my last call with the agency. She stopped me halfway, not quite comprehending.

“But we don’t accept e-transfers,” she said.

Welcome to my absurdist life. She did not know who I’d spoken with or why that person had given me incorrect information.  Apparently, the fine, a task I’d acted on and followed through to completion, had in fact  been unpaid for so long that it had  already affected my credit rating.

The frustration in this scenario and in episodes like it is twofold when you have ADHD.forehead-smack

First is the expected reaction- the forehead smacking, the eye rolling, the regret over time  wasted in the initial act, and the extra time it will take to correct the blunder or follow up on the tardy respondent.  There is also the emotional quotient– depending on the relationship you have with the person or the company you are dealing with, how many times, is it acceptable to nudge, pester, call or write back, and how often?

The second level, which is invisible unless you are on the inside of the ADD mind, is that  you are going to have to once again muster up all the extra effort it took you to carry out this seemingly lightweight task in the first place.  It takes so much effort to do mundane tasks. I could happily do many other tasks all day long, but the stuff that feels mundane to me, even if it’s the simplest of actions, requires a huge mental leap for me to get around to them.

Blame, I think, is only fair, though I recognize that it’s not going to get me anywhere.

Also, each element of followup is another item on your to-do list, and, after you’ve congratulated yourself on a (teensy tinsey, mundane) task well done, you don’t want to have to disappoint yourself and do it all over again.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked if I had any baby clothes that would fit her son. Pleased, I told her that I did, and that she was more than welcome to them, but that they were waaay in the back of my storage closet under piles of bigger, more recently outgrown clothes.  I told her, however, that I was determined to get them out for her on the spot because I knew that if I didn’t do it right away, I’d never quite get around to it– at least, not while the baby was still wearing that size, and then I’d miss my chance. I did good here. I was coasting on the motivation to show my friend good will, and I took advantage of that momentum to get the job done at once.

I decided at the same time that I would finally get rid of all the other clothes I was almost certain to not need again unless I have another baby, because I’m not going to be so presumptuous as to think my kids are going to want them for their own children. My mom did that for us (though we had waaay fewer clothes) and not only has fashion changed, but the materials are completely different from 30 years ago or so.  I would never put my kids in something so scratchy.   Who knows what trends in baby raising and fashion will be taking place by the time my kids become parents?

It took a little while, but over the course of the next few days I pulled out all the excess clothes boxes and grouped them in my basement by age and gender. They were already boxed by size.  I didn’t go through the boxes because I knew that I’d get too sentimental and want to keep everything.  Then I posted the clothes online in a mommy group I’m part of. Free clothes: Yours to pick up.

I got several responses, and I had promised out all the clothes within a day.  The problem was, and this is something that has happened to me before in situations like these, that people ask you to save things for them, and then they don’t show up to take them.  It was so much work trying to coordinate all of the people in order of who asked for which boxes, and after about a week of doing this, I still had most of the boxes sitting in my basement.

That’s when I made the mistake of opening up a box full of 2T-3T sized girl’s clothes, just to see what kind of stuff I was actually giving away.  OMG. I dumped them out  to ‘sort them,’ but ended up making a ‘to keep’ and a ‘to give away’ pile.  What was I going to do with the ‘too keep ones?’ Honestly, I was just going to put them in a box somewhere and take them out and look at them every few months… and maybe save them for my own kids.  Cringe worthy– I know.

Eventually, I forced myself to select a single dress that brought back a great many memories, and which my daughter also still remembers fondly.  I put everything back in the box and stacked all the other boxes on top of it.

And that is where the boxes still are… in the hall of my basement, with various garments peeking out of them, waiting to find new homes.  It’s been about two months since I first pulled them out.  I feel guilty every time I pass by there, but really it is the women who answered my ad that didn’t show up to pick up clothes that should feel guilty. It’s their fault for making promises they don’t keep, isn’t it?

Sometimes, a whole bunch of tasks on my list are dependent on one task getting done, and until that task is done, I’m stuck. I need to hear back from the bank before I can complete my budget. I need to complete my budget before I can purchase that new appliance. I need to purchase that new appliance before I can get rid of this accumulated mess… and so on and so forth.

In a curious turn of events I was trying to reach my psychiatrist recently– the one who prescribes my ADD meds.  I haven’t seen her for months because I’ve just been too busy, and in the meantime I’ve run out. I called her office and it took them three business days- that’s five actual days– to get back to me.  They told me I needed to reach her directly on another number.  I left her a message and didn’t hear back for two days, so I called and left a second message. A day after that, she finally called me back and I was able to schedule an appointment for the following week.  In this case, I wasn’t shy about pursuing the reply that I needed. However, it’s not everyday that the stars collide and that I am in a position to take care of every element of my to do list.

I know– it’s ironic to write a whole post about blaming others for my lack of productivity because I’m always lamenting my own lack of focus and discipline. However, i have a keen sense of responsibility to other people. It would be false to say that I am never late or that I am on top of every communication that comes my way.  However, I am conscious of making other people wait, and I will almost always at least provide an interim message to let them know I haven’t forgotten.  I think it’s just common courtesy to keep other people from getting stuck in your muck.

Do Not Disturb: A Room of One’s Own

I have been especially  pressed for time lately.  Without going into detail I will say that, for once, I don’t have any secret guilt about really having had the time but not using it well.  This time, my excuse is that I was just plain old booked solid  I firmly, truly, utterly did not have time to attend to my creative endeavors for the past month or so. The two months before that could have used some improvement in the time-management department, but October was overwhelmed with things other than writing.


I wasn’t planning on getting any writing done about a fortnight ago but I was trying to get through a bit of bookkeeping that had piled up and that the big boss (AKA DH) had been inquiring about for a few weeks with increasing panic. I’d picked up one of the kidlets early from school and he was planted in front of a DVD (yes, they still have the magic). I had, oh, half an hour or maybe forty good minutes left to finish the task at hand before I had to head out and pick up the rest of the clan, and I might have gotten there when


I did a bit of yogic low-level swear-muttering, clenched and unclenched just my fingertips a few times, and, with great difficulty, tore my hard-won hyperfocus away from the accounting software on my screen.  Moments later, and smiling brightly, I opened the door to a person I like and would have, under many other circumstances, been happy to see. And her dog.

It was just a friendly visit. She happened to be walking by and thought it would be nice to stop by and say hi. And it would have been if not, like I said, for the timing. Also I’m not crazy about dog hair on my carpets.

The obvious thing to do here would have been to politely say ‘I’ve got only a few minutes left to finish something I’m working on, but it’s nice to see you and let’s do this some other time.’ Honestly, I think I may have said something to that effect, but not effectively enough, if I remember correctly (because, as I mentioned, I have been so busy since then that I really did not have time to sit down and write out the details). I may have said ‘Oh hey, Siobhan, what’s up? It’s good to see you. I’ve got to go out and get the kids soon.’  Because I have overly hospitable instincts– hospitable, historically speaking, to the point of near self-destruction– I did not express my circumstances clearly enough. I did not make it abundantly clear that this was work time for me, not play time. When someone comes to my door it’s like  a switch is flicked in my brain which leaves it screaming ‘Brew some hot water! Defrost the babka!’ Madness. In my defense, people tend to stop by because they know I will always be welcoming and hospitable. And I hate hurting people’s feelings.

Have I mentioned in this blog before that I am prone to these kinds of interruptions, inasmuch as a person can be prone, involuntarily and unknowingly to the actions of another person? As you can see, I bring it upon myself to some degree by not being straightforward. (I blame my overly-hospitable mother for setting a bad example but that’s a whole other for a whole other blog).  However, many times the interruptions are just random– the local handyman checking in after yet another six-week period of having been completely AWOL in my time of need, neighbors seeking eggs, sugar, advice, or some neighborly dialogue (gossip), deliveries, the tax man, it’s astounding.

And so I decided to take matters into my own hands in my signature passive-aggressive style.  It’s a foolproof method that I have used before with resounding success, and one which does not require me to confront my tea-brewing and cake-serving demons. The next day, I opened a fresh Word document and changed the layout from Portrait to Landscape. I centered the justification and enlarged the font to movie poster proportions.   Using a pretty script, so as not to appear too harsh, I write the word Please. On the next line, this time in block letters, several points larger I type: DO NOT followed by DISTURB immediately underneath. I slide my chair back to analyze; It’s too harsh. Hastily, in script again, add ‘I’m hard at work inside.’


It’s such a little thing, but it says so much. I attach it to my front door with kitchen magnets and enjoy an interruption-free afternoon.

When my husband comes home later he sees the sign, which is by this time handily mounted and  ready for reuse inside the house on the back of the front door.

‘You can’t do this.’ he says. ‘I know you, and I know you mean well but I also know that you don’t realize when you’re being too harsh.’

I wince. That was harsh.

‘But it works!’ I protest. It had worked, hadn’t it? I hate being told that I’m insensitive.

‘It might work, but you are going to hurt a lot of feelings. Just explain to people that you are busy and don’t have time to spend with them. They’ll understand. Just do it face to face.’

I know he’s right on many counts but also wrong on every count. I consider his advice in light of what may be politically correct versus what I know to be feasible and realistic.  I consider the people whose feelings might be hurt. This is what I come up with:

Imagine a neighbor coming to my door. I stop my work, I go downstairs, I open it and either spend time with them or else turn them away using polite and friendly dialogue. Even if I can find the wherewithal to do so, and even if they are in fact not insulted by the new closed-door policy, they will probably feel bad for having knocked at my door and disturbed me. Additionally , I still have to stop whatever I’m working on and then re-find my focus once I return to my desk , or to whatever project I happen to be working on. It’s a lose-lose.

On the other hand, if someone comes to my door and finds my sign, harsh as it is, they have the opportunity to refrain from knocking, thereby invoking a feel-good situation where, of their own accord, they have chosen to let me work, even though they were eager to see me, share a conversation, or borrow some butter.  I will be none the wiser (until five minutes later when they text me to find out what I’m so busy working on that I can’t answer the door — a text which I will obviously ignore until I am done my work).

On the other other hand, I hope people will be smart enough to actually ignore my sign and knock on the door if the situation is urgent enough. I don’t want the fed-ex man to take off with my deliveries and cause me to drive out to the truck depot to pick up my Amazon orders. I don’t want Ed McMahon to turn away with my one million dollars. There needs to be a happy medium.

Obviously, some adjustments are called for. This is what I came up with.


Let me know what you think.









ADD-dar Part 2: Cross Cultural

I was hanging out downtown, posing for my friend’s new camera.  Someone had left a magazine on the stone steps where I sat Attempting to appear casual and unposed for the shot I started flipping through it.  It was a Vietnamese publication but I skimmed through anyway, pausing on images that caught my eye including a few fashion and decor shots and, astonishingly, an article on ADHD!  I then noticed that half  the publication was written in English and half in Vietnamese, the goal being to bring together the two cultures.

I was so surprised to find an article on ADHD in a magazine like this.  A quick internet search revealed several reliable-looking sources that confirmed my suspicion of ADHD not really being prevalent in East Asian cultures– not because it does not exist, but because there is generally less tolerance for ADD-like behaviour in those places.

The article, “Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children: How to Check For Symptoms” was introductory in nature, and the title speaks volumes.  I would venture that most anyone who was a child or who had a child in the school system in North America last 20 years or so has encountered the diagnosis in some way Either they learned from a distance, having read about it in an article or hearing (or taking part in) debates about whether it’s over-diagnosed or whether kids should be medicated, or they saw it up close, in a child of a friend or in one’s own family or oneself.  They probably even went so far as to compare the ADHD symptoms to their own quirks and personalities — which is how so many people form opinions on the matter.

Yet, the target population of Culture Magazin (sic) appears to require some hand-holding on the topic. The existence of this article points to the fact that the Vietnamese community isn’t really in touch with this beast called ADD or the conversation that has sprung up around it.  The article, at the end, promises to ‘discuss more ways to help a child with ADD’ in the next issue. How many readers eagerly awaited the followup?

Even though I believe that it’s best to recognise an issue– no matter what is– and come to terms with it so that you can surmount it, I also see value in a culture that does not create the space for people to turn their faults into excuses. How many times have you heard yourself say ‘well, I didn’t get the assignment done, but it’s only because I am SO ADD.’  In this specific disorder, it’s ultimately discipline, structure, and rigidity that is going to get you to be your best, most functional self– regardless of what dreams you are pursuing. I wonder how the influence of East Asian culture would affect people with other diagnoses, such as depression or oppositional defiance disorder.

Perhaps immigrant parents or those who were brought up in a home that is less welcoming to Western attitudes towards personal freedom and expression did not have the same exposure to ADD/ADHD over the years. Perhaps they need this kind of article in a cross-cultural magazine to open their eyes to ro show to their own parents.  ‘See? This is why it was so hard for me to sit still in class! I knew i was different!’

I would be super impressed if they pushed the topic even further– to introduce the concept of adult ADD.  From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that such an article would require an even bigger leap of faith than this one did.  But I’m willing to be told that I’m altogether wrong.

I’d love to hear about how different cultures are ‘exposed’ to ADD/ADHD and your personal stories about the way it, or the idea of it, was experienced in your home.  Please leave your comments below!