Saturday, March 19, 2016

Dear ADHD...

I wrote this about six months after my diagnosis. 

 

Dear ADHD,

 

We've been at odds for most of my adult life and I'm tired, so VERY tired of fighting with you.  I have a proposition.  How about we team up?  I know, I've been trying to ignore you for years, but now I'm starting to realize you're not bad.  You are after all a large part of what made me feel special as a child and you also gave me extra doses creativity, curiosity and wonder, not to mention my awesome power of hyper-focus.  I apologize for allowing outside influences to convince me that being special made me different and that being different meant I was an outcast.  I apologize for pushing you aside and embracing insecurity, fear and frustration instead.  They have been poor companions.

 

So, let's get back together.  If you will allow me to channel your boundless energy toward constructive activities and direct your fearlessness toward appropriate goals, I promise I will allow you time to wander the forests and meadows in search of butterflies, flowers and hummingbirds. 

Honey bee on a rose

I will be patient and let you stop and examine with wonder the beauty, symmetry and mathematical perfection of a simple pinecone.  If you will lend me your time blindness to help me through day to day chores, I will allow you to obsess over silly things like repairing a 25 year old laundry basket that should have been thrown out 15 years ago.

 

I will even let you express your emotions when you need to, but I do request that you allow me to exercise a reasonable level of self-control when you do.  I realize this will be painful and it may take time to find the keys that unlock those doors, but I'm exhausted from holding them in.  In the absence of emotion, my spirit has grown weak and weary and I long to feel whole again.

 

So, what do you say?  I know the road ahead will not be easy and that I will need help along the way.  It may take time to discover the right combination of medication, counseling and strategies to enable us to work together, but I also know that if we can make this alliance work we will be able to conquer any obstacle that stands in our way.

 

Sincerely,

Me

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cognitive Resistance

Imagine that you are holding two strong magnets, one in each hand.  The positive ends are facing each other.  Now, imagine the resistance you feel when you try to touch the positive ends to each other.  As you bring them closer, the force of the like poles pushes them apart.  With persistence and great effort you may succeed in holding them together but it takes constant  vigilance to keep them that way. 

That is what it's like when I'm trying to start a task.  It's not that I lack the skills to accomplish the task, it's that my mind is repelled from the starting point as if an invisible force is pushing it away.  The starting steps are almost within my grasp, just beyond my fingertips but the closer I get, the stronger the resistance is.

My goal is to reverse the polarity of one of those magnets so I can spend all my energy completing the tasks instead of exhausting myself trying to push the magnets together.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Overwhelmed

The other day, I was trying to explain to someone what it's like to live inside my head when I'm faced with too many obligations.  I think I came up with a pretty good description.

Imagine that you are standing still in the center of a tilt-a-whirl.  Each one of your obligations with all of it's corresponding steps are spinning around you and you have to grab all the steps for a given obligation in the correct order.  The more obligations there are, the faster it spins until everything is just a blur. 

That is what it is like to live inside my head.  Faced with that situation, I become paralyzed. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Where to Begin?

That is the question most of us with ADHD find particularly hard to answer.  Beginnings are tough. Where did my journey begin?  I'll spare you the formative years and jump in with a journal entry I wrote shortly before my diagnosis.  To be fair, I was also dealing with un-diagnosed hyperparathyroidism which made my ADHD symptoms even worse.

A Typical Monday Afternoon:

11:30 - I forgot to pack my lunch again so I'm standing in the cafeteria looking at all of the options and can't decide what to get...

12:00 - I resume working on an approval routing project.  Where did I leave off?
I am so tired!  I need coffee so I go downstairs and get some.  That didn't work.  Perhaps I should take a walk.  No... that backfired this morning because I saw an American Kestrel catch a small bird and that's all I could think of when I came back to my desk... I think about the Kestrel for a while,  It was such an awesome sight!
Push paper around, check email, do anything BUT work on the approval routing project.

12:30
FOCUS!!! Where should I start?
I begin making a list of things I still need to do.
An email arrives, so I check email and respond to it.  As usual it takes me 10 minutes to compose my response.

12:45
Back to the making the list.  This is soooo boring!
Another email arrives so I  take care of it.
Back to my list
*Yawn*

1:00
Check the front lawn for bunnies (yes, real bunnies, they are so cute and soooo distracting!)
Finish the list and start working on the first item, which is to research a routing bug.

1:30
This is really boring...
Thoughts from out of the blue: "I was rude to one of my co-workers this morning.  Did he notice the impatient tone in my voice? Should I apologize? Would it be weird to apologize this long after the fact?"
Fret about what I should do for a while.

2:00
Time for eye drops.
Back to work.  I'm making good progress, then the phone rings.  It's a user with a question that requires some research.  I find the answer and call the user back.
Where was I???

2:30
I'm done with the code changes for this section and need to do some testing.
I resist the urge to get up and move around and make a list of the test steps.
I start the test, but forgot the password for my test user account.
Look for password.
Email arrives so I check email and respond.

3:00
LOOK FOR PASSWORD!!!
I finally find the password ... where was I?
Start testing again.  Which account was I using for the Approval step?
Resume testing and have issues with the browser.
Back to testing... wait... which account is the Approver?  Good grief, why didn't I write that down!
Find a post-it and write the account name on it.

3:30
I'm making good progress on testing when I have an issue with one of the test email accounts.  Argh!  I finally got my focus and now this happens!
Fixed issue with email.
Speaking of email... read and respond to email.
Resume testing.

4:00
Time to go home!

Sound familiar, anyone?