Unloading. Warning: Not a funny post.

This is just a status update on my life. A bit of taking stock, a bit of letting off steam. These are good descriptors: My life right now feels like a big soup— all kinds of ingredients thrown into a pot together. Hope it’s a healthy one.
I’ve been going to bed at 2 a.m. every single night lately.  It’s a bad pattern.  What’s worse is that I wake up with a sense of panic… what do I need to get done today? I don’t usually feel this way,  but I guess I have a lot on my plate right now.
I’m definitely overloading myself.  I think that the new business I’m starting up can really do well, but I am simply not putting the time in that I need to be. I am not following up leads, not advertising, not updating the website, hardly putting in any development time at all.
I’ve also got my bookkeeping which, wouldn’t you know,  I’m really behind on.  I’m trying to pursue all of my different writing projects: There’s my blog and my other blog, my editing work which I really enjoy and might also be able to grow into a business, and of course the amazing books that I’ve been planning putting out there since I was a ‘tween.  Have you heard of Judy Moody? When I was about eleven years old I started writing a book called Moody Judy. I was beaten to the punch… it wasn’t hard.
My husband keeps asking me if I want to drop the report writing that I do for him. I wouldn’t mind, but it’ll be so expensive to replace me.  He could do it himself, but it takes him forever.
There’s another startup someone has just asked me to participate in. I agreed, because it sounds like fun, but now I’m really nervous about committing the time.  I spent an entire workday with him last week, and it was a tremendous sacrifice. Most of it was spent driving to and from the meeting site.  I hope this is worth it. The benefit of this particular project is that I’m doing it with another person, which is what I think I’m missing from many of my other endeavors. I need another person  to hold me accountable. Somebody  I can’t let down and somebody who will be accountable to me as well.
The reno is still dragging on. If you walk in to my house you won’t realize that it’s not completely done, but there are 100 tiny things that people keep coming in and out of my house to take care of, and it almost always means altering my schedule.
I got caught up in a pretty huge family matter that took up a good chunk of my day today and yesterday.  It looks like it’s not going to be over anytime soon. In fact, I am struggling very hard to not let it take over my life.
Did I mention that it’s tax season?

Then there is just Life and Parenthood and housekeeping and all the mundane stuff that also kind of gets jilted.
I know it’s all a matter of prioritizing. I know I need to choose one or two things and do them well. There are a bunch of things that I already have dropped, for better or for worse.
On the plus side, I invested one half day last week cleaning up my office. It was in a real state, and things had been piling up and piling up since before winter break.  I finally got everything sorted out. So even though I haven’t gotten through all the stuff I must do, at least I have a reasonable idea of what needs to get done now, and I got some of the more urgent stuff off the table. Literally.
Here’s the part where I outsource the blame for my predicament:
Last week we had a guest from out of town. She wasn’t even staying at my place but she relied heavily on me for about a day and a half of my week. I only have about three working days worth of time in a week so a day and a half is a big sacrifice. In that same week, a friend of mine asked if I could pick up her kids from the airport. I agreed, but on the morning of the flight, I got a little panicked.  For one thing, it was another half day of my time, because it’s 40-minute drive there and a 40 minute drive back.  I would have still done it for this friend because I know that if she asked me, she probably didn’t have a ton of options.  Then I realized that the flight might be delayed and that I might not get back in time to pick up my own kids from school.  I guess I really did not think this through before I agreed to it, but I really wanted to be able to help out.  The irony is that this friend is the one who taught me to turn things down and just say no to people.  Further irony: She taught me this value with regards to the friend from out of town who I mentioned earlier in this poaragraph.  Life.
I texted airport mom with my concerns. She was a bit taken aback, but it all got sorted out in the end.  I called to apologize. When I call to apologize and don’t just send a text… you know it’s serious.
Before that, it was the week after winter break. I spent most of the time just running the errands I couldn’t run when the kids weren’t around. I did have one milestone– I ran a program for my afore-mentioned business, and it went really really well. But prepping for that meant most of whatever hours I wasn’t running errands. Of course, nothing got done at all during the school vacation– I mean, nothing work-wise.
Of course, vacation means that I don’t go into the studio for the ‘doing my own stuff’ day that is the arrangement I have with my husband. It’s the day he picks up the kids and I get to work as late as I need to from a work-conducive environment.  On top of that, the kid’s after-school schedules got switched around so there is no longer an ideal day for him to do pickup. Today he had to leave work early– but I’m holding my ground. I have to. This keeps me sane.
When’s the last time I got to the gym? I may be sane, but I’m not really fit right now.
I feel like there’s more…
There’s more.
And more.
Advertisements

My Default Capsule Wardrobe

Even though the word ‘Capsule’ is in the title of this post, it is not a Drupdate. It is not about medication. I have a Drupdate planned, though. So stay tuned.

When we moved in to our current house, the first furniture I sourced was a pair of sturdy chairs.  They were not for the kitchen, and they were not for the dining room. They were not even meant for sitting on. The chairs were positioned on either side of the master bedroom; one on His side, one on Hers. To this day they serve but one function: Dumping our clothes.

The clothes chair is one of my (and now my DH’s) ADD strategies.  What do you do with the in-between clothes– the ones that are no longer fresh, but which are not really dirty enough to wash?  I am no germphobe nor, clearly, am I a neat freak — as you can tell from this post— but there is something off-putting about folding up a t-shirt I’ve already worn and sticking it back in my drawer. As if it’s somehow going to ‘infect’ my other clothes with it’s worn-ness. Clothes can be worn over and over and even over again, but before returning to the closet, they need to go through a wash cycle.

This rule does not apply to all manner of garment.  Sweaters — which I always wear on top of another shirt or dress–  and skirts, if they’re somehow not stained by the time I’m through with them, can get hung back up or folded away.  Things that I wear on my skin pretty much never go back to the closet without being washed unless it’s, for example, a tube top that I’ve worn just to give me a little more coverage when I wear a shorter shirt (it’s a great hack!). Something that is unlikely to come in contact with the more aromatic sweat glands.

To be clear, just because something is eligible for return to the closet, doesn’t mean I’m going to actually put it there.

Hence, the Clothes Chair.

when I’m choosing clothes, especially for day-to-day, non-special occasions, I will prioritize the clothing that is already on the chair. That’s how I keep the pile from getting too big.  Once a month or so, I’ll sort through everything that is accumulated and decide what gets put away, what deserves to be laundered, and sometimes what will be put in the giveaway bag.

At this point, it’s probably been more than a month since I last did a chair purge.  I know that the time is drawing near when I need to dump the entire collection on to the floor and sort through it to find a piece that I’m looking for.  As I was doing that, it occurred to me that the system I have going on here is the same one– or at least a variation of the one– that has mombloggers (guilty as charged) and the like all in a tizzy for the past three or four years:  I am the proud cultivator of a Capsule Wardrobe.

If you have not yet heard of the capsule wardrobe, don’t bother looking it up at this point. The capsule wardrobe is so 2017. It goes hand in hand with that other maximally offensive trend, minimalism, which urges us to pare our possessions down to the point where we could fit everything we own on to the surface of our kitchen table… which also happens to double as an ironing board, a room divider, and a stepstool… because you’ve thrown away all of your other furniture in a fit of minimalist frenzy (why do we need chairs when we can just sit on our rugless floor? Who needs lamps? We have the sun! Who needs clothes? We have each other!)

Back to the capsule wardrobe.  The idea is that we choose a small number of garments that you love and which suit your figure  (33 seems to be the prevailing wisdom). They should be suited to your lifestyle needs, and should be suitable for mixing and matching.  This number includes shoes and sometimes accessories. Underwear, pajamas, and workout gear don’t count towards the total.  Everything else gets either stored away or given away.  Many proponents of the capsule wardrobe will swap out their clothes three or four times a year… are you seeing any parallels yet?

My clothes chair is a default capsule wardrobe! It usually holds between 15 and twenty items — highly CURATED items that I love and which fit me well.  It does not usually hold my pajamas (these get thrown on the bed), and my socks and underwear go straight to the laundry at the end of the day. I periodically sort through my clothes chair and restock it with more items that are suitable for the weather or my current activities, at which point the items previously included in the clothing capsule are returned to storage… in m closet.  As for accessories, I hardly wear any jewelry, but when I do, it becomes part of my capsule as I leave it on my night table when I’m going to sleep instead of putting it away. Any other jewelry is stored away.

I’m pretty much Mari Kondo. I’m not. But my capsule wardrobe works for me.

 

Funny thing. I get a weekly Friday Funnies e-mail from TotallyADD.com . I find that their memes often really hit the nail on the head.  Here’s one they sent out recently. I guess I’m not the only one with a clothes chair.  The difference, is, I totally embrace it! clothes chair

Drupdate: The Pillbox Strategy

I had to scroll back through my blog before writing this post to try and figure out how long I’ve officially been medicated. According to the earliest reference I can find, it’s only been about a year.  I was sure it was at least two.

(If you’re new to my blog, the post I’m referring to above is really a good one to read to get to know a little bit about me and where I’m at.)

Since getting the prescription at that time, I’ve never really managed to take the pills faithfully. The problem is partly intentional; I don’t really want to take it on weekends or days when I’m not meant to be putting any emphasis on focus. Partly, it’s a matter of organization; did I remember to take them early enough in the day? When I remember to take them, do I have them close at hand? Am I in a place where it’s appropriate or where I feel comfortable  popping a couple of pills? I tried to resolve this issue by keeping a pillbox in my purse which, ostensibly, is always nearby.

Remember this little guy?
Remember this little guy?

This back-up plan worked to an extent, but I would still occasionally forget or not find the opportunity to take them until later in the day, and anyway, I managed to somehow lose this little pillbox a few weeks ago.  Shame.

Part of this problem was resolved as of my last shrink visit.  I got a prescription for short-acting medication which I could take later in the day in case I forgot to take my pill earlier.  In fact, I took one just a few hours ago.  I was given the option to take a single pill or to double it, according to need. Because it’s my first time trying this particular format of this particular medication, I took the smaller dose.  Upon reflection, however,  perhaps I should have taken the bigger dose. Today is my one weekly dedicated work-on-my-own stuff day and, assuming this medication works, it’s a waste of time to underdose.

I have promised my shrink and my temp shrink that I would make an effort to take the meds regularly and to try and track the results. Tracking is not an easy thing to do, as I have no regular workday expectations to measure myself against.  Tracking is the reason I started the ‘Drupdate’ series on this blog– to document my progress relative to the drugs.  After a year, I am still not sure that the medication is having any positive effect on my life. I don’t know whether it’s worth my trouble to take them or to try and switch to another formula. I need a better strategy.

I recently had an idea that might help to resolve the tracking issue, if not actually remind me to take my medication. It’s this:

20171201_120221

This, as you can plainly see, is a pill box. I did not intend to buy such a fancy one with a folder-style case, but that is what the local dollar store had to offer me in the pill box department.  The feature I was looking for was a grid layout which, as you can see, this pill box possesses. I thought to myself that if I laid out the medication in labeled boxes, one for each day of the month minus weekends, it would be easy to see which days I’d taken them, just by checking to see which boxes are missing pills. In other words, I don’t have to take action on keeping track (except for when I sit down to fill and label the boxes). Rather, I take stock retroactively.

If you think that it’s not hard to keep track of a simple thing like how often I take my medication, you’re right.  You probably also think it’s not such a big deal to remember to take my medication on a daily basis. You’re right again.  None of these things are hard for most people, but for ADD types, knowing to do something is easy. Actually doing it is hard.  That is what happens when certain elements of your executive function are stunted or underdeveloped.  Sucks for me.

Luckily, I’m creative and motivated. Luckily, I’ve learned to identify my weaknesses and to build structures around me in my daily life which keep the essentials in place and help me to get things, people, and ideas to the places they need to be.

That being said, I’ve been sitting on this pill folder idea about a month. I actually thought it up a couple of weeks prior to that.  I found some white circle labels and put the days of the week on them, as you can see in the picture, but that is as far as I’ve gotten so far.  You may notice that one of the coloured boxes is missing as well. I used that for a different project. So we’re off to a slow start. But that’s better than no start.

Also, if I had started the pillbox project when I’d first bought the box, it would have been relatively simple. Now that I have these new set of ‘backup’ pills, I will have to rethink my strategy.  Definitely, this post needs a followup. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and ideas.

 

Living At The Limit

I live at the limit. Can’t help it;  It’s the kind of person I am.

On any other ADHD blog, this statement could, and probably should, be taken to mean that the writer enjoys extreme activities such as cliff diving, bungee jumping, or roller coasters (basically anything involving throwing oneself off great heights).  Those are the people who put the ‘H’ in ADHD.  I, however, am not the hyperactive type. My ADD leans toward inattention. Tetris is my idea of thrilling.

In my particular case, living at the limit is actually a strategy I employ in order to curb the negative expression of an underdeveloped executive function.  In other words, limits help me get stuff done.

In my previous post (which started out as an intro to this post but quickly went in another direction), I mentioned how I, as a youth, resented having limitations imposed on me.  I still think that a lot of the limitations people choose to live by are either silly or unnecessary.  I consider myself to be a highly creative person. However, in my life, I’ve learned that limitations are not necessarily obstacles. Rather, they can be viewed as structures upon which –and inside of which– we can layer our own inspired visions.

Also, limits are a way to fuel productivity. You know that you’ll work harder when there is a deadline looming. In fact, perhaps you, like I, have stayed up all night just to get that paper in before the due date. A due date is a limit.   Junk food manufacturers understand this concept.  Today you can buy sweets that are packaged in calorie-controlled units.  Presumably, they help you eat only a limited portion of forbidden fruits.

In my life I have consciously and subconsciously created limits as well– though I couldn’t tell you for sure which ones I took on intentionally and which ones I discovered in hindsight.  I think that I’ve been at this ADD life architecture for so long that I don’t know what structures are standard code and which are new.

For example: I used to play DOTS on my phone.  DOTS is a highly engaging game in which the object is to connect dots of the same colour.  I used to play DOTS, but my relationship with it was borderline obsessive. The game was definitely taking up too much of my life and so I deleted it. I am definitely mature enough to discard things that are damaging to me.  It didn’t hurt that I was also in the process of switching to a new phone just then.

Now I have a much more ADD-friendly game on my phone which I play all the time, but not without limits. That game is TWO DOTS and yes, the object of the game is to connect dots of the same colour. It is also highly engaging.  The difference between DOTS, which I (OK, inadvertently)  rid myself of and TWO DOTS is that TWO DOTS only has five lives, and those lives don’t regenerate for twenty minutes after you’ve lost them. In other words, TWO DOTS has natural limits.  Unless I am having a particularly lucky streak, I can not play the game for more than about ten minutes at a time before I lose all my lives and am drawn– nay, COMPELLED to return to the task at hand. (there is always a Task At Hand [TAH] that I need to return to. I rarely feel truly free to recreate.)

Have you ever listened to a good radio show in the car and found yourself at your destination before the show is over? I listen to a lot of talk and public radio, so this happens to me quite frequently. Well, sometimes the topic is particularly relevant or useful for me.  In these cases, which are not all that frequent, I will sit in the car with the power running until the conclusion of the program.  However, in cases when I am merely interested in the program, but where I am unlikely to put that information to practical use in the foreseeable future, I turn off the car.  I know that the radio will keep playing for a minute or two, so I don’t need to quit the show right away. However, when the battery switches off, that’s when I know I’ve reached the limit. I can’t spend any more time loitering in the car, and I need to get on to the TAH.

I learned about limit setting and how it would help me move my goals forward when I worked at an educational center in my early 20s.  I was struggling to find dates to run my programming at the institutions I was affiliated with and to whom I had an obligation.  My boss at the time coached me to set up meetings with each affiliate and plot out the next few months AND the next meeting date.  Perhaps this is an obvious and well known strategy, but as I was just starting out, this was news to me.  I took his recommendation and found that setting up programs well in advance forced me to work forwards towards deadlines, and created a two-way obligation between myself and the affiliate to fulfill the goal we’d set out for ourselves.  Whereas prior to taking on this job, when I was still in school, I’d always relied on teachers or school policy to set limitations for me.  Out in the real world, I learned, I was responsible for setting my own.

Life without limits might sound like fun to many folks, but I’ve definitely come to appreciate that limits can be my friend.  When applied judiciously, limits are the walls that keep my time and my creativity from escaping me.

Reno Zone

I mentioned in a previous post that there are things I really should be blogging about, such as our home reno. I wrote that post back in July.  Right now it’s the end of October, and we’re nearing the end of the reno. I’ve taken lots of pictures, sent lots of text and e-mails but blogged zero times about the process.  I missed an opportunity to build up a follower / fanbase in the reno blog market. Another big idea bites the dust.

The bigger problem, as I realized when I took a look at my most recent blog post  (to catch up on who I am and where I’ve been, since it’s been so long since I’ve logged in here), is that my family and I are living in some alternate universe compared to the life I was living just over three months ago when I wrote it.

At this stage, our lives- or at least our material objects, the spaces where they’re kept, and all of the routines that are associated with those things and places —  are completely off balance.

From an ADD perspective, this is akin to waking up in the centre of a corn maze.  You know that there is an end goal, and you know that you can get there, even though each path you have the option of taking looks equally promising. It’s dizzying. It’s disorienting. Oh, and there are unicorns in the maze and they are so pretty that you know you must follow them even though they lead you crashing through the undergrowth and then when they disappear into a cloud of cotton-candy scented powder, you have to retrace your steps to the last place you were on the path and ultimately, you’re just looking for your prankster friends who led you into the corn maze, blindfolded, in the first place. And last you checked, your friends are not unicorns.

It’s just like that.

I should explain here that, early in August, the entire contents of my main floor got moved to my bedroom in tote bags and boxes, including art and kitchenware but not including the large furniture. The big pieces were all squished up on top of each other in what was formerly my dining room while the rest of the house got ‘done’.  The garage, which was also getting worked on, had been packed with junk which all got moved to enormous and impenetrable piles all through the basement, so you can’t really move around down there either.

Now that the flooring is done in the main parts of the house, we were able to release the furniture from it’s sardine-like positioning in the former dining room and distribute it in the newly opened space on the same floor so that at least we have some couches to sit on— but still no kitchen.  Our fridge has remained plugged in throughout this process and we’ve been keeping everything in there including paper plates (don’t hate me– I can’t keep washinhg gross oily foods in the bathroom because the grease will clog up the pipes!) and napkins and plastic grocery bags that currently have no home.

All of this contributes to ample confusion and general disorganization.

The incident that inspired this post happened this morning. I was all ready to take the kids to school and, for once, we were on time.  The kids were outside waiting for me, and all I had to do was grab my keys and go… and that’s when I realized that my keys were missing.

It’s a stretch to say that they were ‘missing’. For something to be missing, it has to have a place where it belongs. There has to be a spot where it should be, but isn’t. Right now, there is no natural or contrived place to put my keys when I walk in the door. My key hook, which I am fairly religious about employing, had been sitting on the floor of my office ever since the demolition stage of the reno. I got sick of looking at it last week and it’s currently atop a pile of candlesticks in my bedroom.  In short, I no longer have a default place for my keys to be. Somehow, I’ve managed with this handicap until now, but yesterday morning we’d gone so far as to call an Uber to get us out the door when I finally found the keys– under the cushion of our newly accessible couch. I guess I’d been sitting there last night prior to my DS bouncing on it as he ate his post-bedtime snack. I also found my hat and a pair of socks.

Routine is central to the functioning of an ADD individual. Take away the routine, and we need reinvent the passageway from thought to action.  It takes so long to form a habit, and when the rug gets pulled out from under you (in this case, literally as well as figuratively, what with the awful old carpets getting ripped out and thrown away), it’s difficult to find your footing again.

Take, for instance, the making of school lunches.  Pre-reno,  this was also a fraught process. Find the lunch bags, negotiate sandwich contents and snacks, find missing sandwich bags (why can’t they just STAY where they BELONG)?  Sometimes I get distracted, but ultimately, lunches are one of the three tasks I need to get myself and the kids through in the morning, so I’ll get there.  But when there is no kitchen and not even any plumbing on the same floor as the fridge, putting baby tomatoes in a baggie* can take half an hour when I need to take them to the upstairs bathroom to wash them off first…  and I’m back in the corn maze. Distractions abound.  The side roads are numerous.  Here! Is a girl beating her sibling that I need to attend to. Here! Is the bottom of the pajamas I’ve been searching for. There! Is a pile of library books that is out of control and need stacking. Now, What! Was I up to? Why did I come upstairs again? I’d better go back down and try to figure it out.

In the meantime, the box of tomatoes is sitting forlornly on my dresser, all but camouflaged amongst the scarves and hats that I’ve somehow, miraculously managed to dig out of Basement Mountain now that the weather has grown colder, but which I have no place to put.

Yesterday I discovered a bowl of soup that I’d heated up for DH in the microwave. The microwave is on a chair in my bedroom. I had nowhere to pour out the soup in that moment so the bowl went on my dresser.  Of course, I forgot about it and it was still there this morning. Gross, I know, but at least it’s nice and cool and it didn’t rot or attract flies because of the windows we had to leave open to release the smell of plaster drying on the ceiling downstairs.

Oh, how I miss my plumbing. What do you do with all of the sparkling flavoured water that’s been poured  into cups by kids with eyes bigger than their bladders and left on the table? You open the door and pour it on the ground. What do you do with a bowl of soup that is probably edible but you don’t want to find out?  You can’t spill it out a window. In retrospect, I should have flushed it (yes, we have toilets), but I ended up just dumping it in a garbage bag and hoping for the best.

Speaking of drinks, I have been attempting and forgetting to bring the (compostable!) plastic cups up from the basement for three days.  I just keep on forgetting what I originally went down for.

In my last post, I mention being able to drink an espresso before the kid’s bedtime to prevent myself from falling asleep. The espresso machine is now buried somewhere in my garage— I think . So if I want to stay up late, it’s instant coffee for me (downstairs for the milk, upstairs for the sugar, down again for the coffee and hot water…)

Oh, and then there’s the laundry. Normally, we just throw our laundry right down the sitars to the basement (there’s a straight drop) where it accumulates in a pile in the curve of the staircase. It is an extremely convenient practice for me, though it can be alarming for a visitor to see a pair of pants flying past them from the upper landing. There are a number of reasons we can’t do this anymore until the reno is over. First of all, there are people in and out of my house all the time.  I don’t need them seeing (or smelling) our underthings. They see enough of my messy life as it is.  Second of all, there is the dust and all of the debris that, although, bless them, the Guys are really careful and clean, I can’t imagine that it would be in good taste for anyone to have to shake the wood shavings out of my dirty clothing at the end of the workday.  Did I mention that my old laundry machine broke and we can’t get our new laundry machine to work?  Piles of laundry behind every door is just one more layer of confusion we have to wade through every day.

I’ve been asked why I we don’t just move out for the duration of the reno.  In fact, we were out of town for more than three weeks of it and when we returned, we had to stay with my mom for about four more weeks because the house wasn’t safe enough for the kids.  My mom’s was relatively comfortable– at least I could cook macaroni instead of microwaving veggie dogs, however I found it incredibly difficult to be living in two worlds at once. Here, I can’t cook eggs but there I just didn’t have the basic things I needed. Like my office. And my desk chair. And my desk drawers. You get the point.

So this is our life for now. We’re managing, but I am really, really looking forward to being able to come home, now that the reality of what a home is has changed for me.  It means being able to hang up my keys , sit on my couch, and empty leftover cereal bowls without having to worry about if I’d ever make it back.

*normally I use reusable tupperwares for this purpose, but my dishwashing mojo is off when I don’t have a kitchen so DON’T THROW RESUABLE DIPER LINERS AT ME!

 

 

 

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.

 

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

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.

8_YouCompleteMe.gif
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.’

WhatsApp Image 2017-05-15 at 1.44.52 PM
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.

12_Messy Kitchen
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.

Drive Inspired

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?’

I asked:

“Is this Arbonne?”

It was.

Who has a great skin care routine? THIS GUY!
Aaaay. Who has a great skin care routine? THIS GUY!

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?”