Archive for the ‘ADHD’ Category

Misophonia: People who have misophonia are most commonly annoyed, or even enraged, by such ordinary sounds as other people eating, breathing, sniffing, or coughing; certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. Intense anxiety and avoidant behavior may develop, which can lead to decreased socialization. Some people may feel the compulsion to mimic what they hear

I had no idea this was a *thing*. Apparently I’ve got it. Somehow I doubt that pushing the guy’s face into his bowl of crunchy cereal (so he can *really* get a good taste of it) is a viable prescription.

(Still, it’s a good thought)

People – too many it seems – are completely unaware of their sounds.   The smack-smack-smacking of lips as folk chow down on their copious amounts of popcorn are just so damned unavoidable.  But that’s okay – I enjoy popcorn too, and find a need to chew carefully when I eat it.  Wouldn’t want to inadvertently be the catalyst for a homicidal episode from an overly annoyed fellow patron.

The occupant one stall over in the cubicle farm is completely ignorant of his sounds.  And he has so VERY VERY many of them, and they all start around 10:00 a.m. every day.  The guy starts out with some sort of crunchy cereal – which he consumes with a metal spoon from a ceramic bowl.  I know because I recognize the sounds clearly: the spoon as well as the damned clanky bowl.

When he’s done he apparently has a problem with some of the foodstuffs that don’t make it down his massive gullet – which seem obvious because he suddenly starts up with the teeth-sucking.  Have you ever heard someone sucking their teeth?  It’s amazingly disgusting.   Pfft! Pffffffffffffft!

Then there’s a myriad of other sounds.  Throat-clearing, heavy breathing, coughing.  (I’m guessing he doesn’t swallow normally either – hence the need to clear all of his passages of errant food stuffs.)

Once done, you’d think that would be it wouldn’t you?

Oh but you’d be so very very wrong.  Because you know he has to phone someone.

Home boy doesn’t have a normal voice.  No, his voice is unnecessarily loud.  I don’t mean normal loud.  I mean vibrantly dramatically loud.   And God help us if he hears a joke because boy oh boy – he’s going to LAUGH.  Not a gentle dignified laugh or chuckle either.  An outright guffaw that would raise the dead and cause sheep and cows to snort in alarm.  It’s not a laugh you share either – it’s a laugh that makes you piss yourself and run in fear.

One morning he was so bad that I honestly felt myself going insane.  I wanted to call my boss and talk with him but he was offline.  I wanted to talk with anyone but there was no one around.  I could visualize myself picking up my laptop and throwing it hard across the room.  Honestly – I’ve never felt that way before.

Someone offered me this advice:  “when he starts up, just take a break and go to the washroom.”

My sincere response: “I’m not allowed to spend six hours in the washroom.”

****

You know – there have been many times I’ve found myself hyper-aware of annoying sounds.  Maybe they’re only annoying to me though.  My dad – back when he was still alive – used to hack and cack in the washroom every morning.  He’d do this long dramatic throat clearing, and it would sound as if he was fixin’ to throw up the contents of his cavernous stomach.  Only he’d get so far and then not actually do it.  It was worse than hearing a cat coughing up a hairball.   “HACK HACK *cough* HACK HAAAAAAACK!!!!!”   – long 20 second count – then: “*spit*”

Used to make me almost offer up a sympathy barf.

(Sorry.   I know that’ s disgusting.  Now you know how I feel.)

Just a guess here but….I’ll just bet that this “misophonia” thing is exasperated if you have ADHD.  In that you’re so easily distracted by anything or everything.   So obviously if certain noises unduly annoy you it’s a fair bet that such noises are naturally going to catch your attention at the most inopportune of times.

For a while I was on ADHD meds and these noises didn’t annoy me nearly so much.  I was aware of them – but I was able to concentrate at the task at hand, so the noises became background white noise.  Time passed and I found a need to stop the meds – and the annoyances came back.

What about you?  Is this topic completely new to you – or do you too suffer from this social noise pollution?

Whirling and whirling

Posted: January 24, 2012 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

*thinking*  “Shoot, I’m late.  Better call a cab.”

“Wait.  I’m not nearly ready and if I rush I’m going to forget something.  Better get everything together first, then when I’m about five minutes from being ready – THEN call.”

“Good.”  I nodded to myself.  “Smart thinking”

I ignored the brightly coloured fairy lights flitting around in my brain and set to work. 

Lunch?  “Don’t need it – I’m buying a sandwich when meeting with a friend today.  So… check.”

Boots?  “It’s cold out.  Got ’em right here”  *Slips boots on.*

Coat? “Right here”

Gloves? “Check”

Hat?  “Check”

Anything else?  “Wait.  iPad.  Can’t forget the love of my life.”

Laptop for work?  “Got it in the laptop bag.  I’ll put the iPad in with it.”

iPhone?  “Got it.”

Call the cab.  “Ok.  I’ll connect up with my bluetooth earpiece and talk to them while doing a last minute check around the place.”

*Calls cab.*

I go out.  Lock both locks on the door and walk down the hallway to the elevator.  An older woman smiles at me.  I nod back and say “hi there.”

I hear the elevator.  *Ding!*

The door opens.  Something twigs in my brain – so I ignore the elevator and go back to my apartment.   Unlock both locks and walk through the apartment with my boots on.  Grab the new combination lock so I can head to the gym today.  (Lost my last one on my trip to Tofino).

Re-lock the apartment and, as the elevator opens, my phone rings.  I tap the bluetooth earpiece and hear “hi there.  You called for a taxi?”

“Yup.  On my way down now.”

I jump in the cab and,  just as it leaves the on-ramp and hits the highway, I realize that I forgot my security card for work.   So I think “nevermind.   I’ll just have to find a public washroom if I need it, and make sure that I don’t leave the building after 4:30 (unless going home) because I won’t be able to get back in.”   Good.  It sucks, but at least it’s a plan.  I’m not spending the money to tell the cab to go back.

And…just as I get in the door at work I realize that my security card is safe in my laptop back.  I forgot it was there.   “Oh good.” I think.  ” Serendipity.  Thank God for small blessings.”

I get to my desk, plug in the laptop, secure it to the locking cable and turn it on.

I sit back and, after waiting for it to boot up, I finally see the login screen. 

Sort of.  It’s kind of hard to read.

Ah.  I need my glasses.   I reach into my pocket.  Earphones, iPhone….. no glasses.   “I wonder where they are?”   

They’re sitting on the counter at home.  Right where I left them.

I think “what the fuck is WRONG with me?” 

“Why is my brain such a massive blur today?

“Did I take my ADHD meds?”

I did.  It was almost the first thing I did today.

Good thing I have an doctor appointment for tomorrow – because it looks as though they’re not working anymore.

I think “well, I’ll have to buy some reading glasses from the pharmacy across the street.” 

So I do.  Bring them back and sit back down to the computer. 

Uh oh.  There’s a plastic thing securing them – I’ll have to cut it off. 

I get the scissors,  cut the tag and put them on. 

My vision is blurry. 

So I take them off, clean them, put them back on. 

Still blurry. 

Take them off and look at them.  There’s a big scratch across one of the lens.  Apparently when I cut the tag, I was way too impatient.  Pretty much madly assaulted the $35.00 glasses during my haste to use them – and now they’re worth nothing.

Put them back on and decide to use them for the rest of the day.

Later, I meet my friend for lunch.  She says about seven things in the space of a paragraph, and as she says EACH.INDIVIDUAL.THING – my brain captures a relating thought, all of which I want to say to her.  When she stops speaking, I can’t remember a single one of them.

Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.

If you could write a letter to yourself when you were sixteen, what would you say?

Joseph Galliano, an editor, has compiled a list of letters from people many of us know, and has created a book from that collection, entitled “Dear Me.  A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self”.

So…..

What would I say?

It would go something like this:

—————————–

Hi there.  There’s some stuff you should know.

First off:  trust your instincts.  Remember how troubled you felt when that guy came to pick up your sister for a date?  Remember how normal he seemed, and yet you couldn’t shake off a feeling of danger?  Well, sadly, you were right.  Your sis was OK and everything, but it got pretty dicey for a while there.  The man was dangerous and you were right to be afraid for her.   You have an instinct that borders on ESP.  Don’t worry that it sounds all airy-fairy – just go with it.  Trust yourself.  It doesn’t mean you should quickly judge everyone.  You’ll get older and wiser and soon you’ll be able to differentiate between prejudice and empathy.   You have the empathic spark though – don’t forget it.

Oh, and to help you along:  here’s one indicator of the difference.  Empathic awareness is insistent and relentless and often has no bearing on perceived logic at the time.   Prejudice on the other hand, isn’t nearly as urgent, and it tends to rationalize – usually based upon someone else’s opinion, presented as fact.  It’s almost a form of laziness.  You’ll understand.  It’s just a matter of time and unending curiosity.

Which brings me to another point.  Remember how your dad criticized you for thinking all the time?  Remember how weird that seemed?  Well he was wrong.  This is actually one of your best qualities, and it will serve you well.  Though you’re not great at school (and by the way, forget about trying to memorize names and dates – I’ll tell you why in a minute), your curiosity will take you through life in an amazing way.  You’ll learn so much, just because you thought to question.  And you know what else?   This is a side benefit of your curiosity:  people love to talk.  Especially about themselves.  So ask them, and just enjoy their experience.  It’s sort of what makes you tick.

Which brings me to another point.   If you’re curious enough, and ask the right people, you can probably avoid a lot of years of spinning your wheels in frustration.  Start slowly, but work on it constantly.  Ask questions from people who don’t share your religious beliefs.  Get to know what life is like for people who don’t go to your church. It’s important.  Read some of the great philosophers (if you can – I know how hard it is to get into intricately detailed books.  There’s a reason for that.  More later.).

There is such a great value and such pleasure available to you when you learn to open your mind up a bit.

Oh, and something else:  remember how you sought out the advice of a school counsellor during those times when your father was creating a living hell on earth at home?  Remember how you sat in her office and told her about how he would get so drunk and so angry, and everyone was afraid – and about how you called the cops on him?

Well that was a good starting point for you, but it wasn’t the end.   In between all of that crap you sort of got lost.  You thought your identity was with the church, because people there were really nice, and they welcomed you so gladly.  Their hearts were real, and they really did like you, but you made a tiny little mistake:  you thought you had to be like them.  I mean, exactly like them.  You mimicked them so closely that you really had no idea who you were.  Oh, I know you think you did, but trust me, you didn’t.  You tried so hard to be the social chameleon out of habit:  you knew that in order to survive in that hellish house, you had to figure out what The Beast wanted at any given time, and manoeuvre yourself accordingly.  You learned how to placate and accommodate, as this is what your eight year old self figured out, to survive.  You knew if you did this, maybe The Beast wouldn’t hurt anyone.  You had no idea back then, that what you did didn’t really matter.   He was looking for an excuse to lash out.

I think you should take the time to see a doctor and get yourself sorted out.   You lack one major thing right now – self awareness.  Once you have that, you’ll be on your way.

When you’re talking with the doc, also share with him about how much you hate school projects, and why.  Tell him too about all of your clumsiness and accidents.  It’s important.  Tell him about how you daydream all the time, and forget so many things.  Tell  him about those comments in your report cards, where the teacher says “could do better if he applied himself”.  About how you’re always late, and always always ALWAYS have to run to school every morning to get to band class, because you’re just not able to ever leave on time.   What you’re going through is not normal – and hopefully the doc will pick up on that.

Pay attention to what you like in school, and what you don’t like.  Indulge your love of music and dramatic arts.   It’s part of who you are.  Find ways to get more involved.  Forget about what others tell you that you *should* do, relative to class courses.  Take up the drama class, and join the drama club too.  There’s a brilliant teacher there – get to know him, even though he’s a little frightening, because he’s abrupt and cold, and because he’s really big, like your dad.

Even though your history teacher is amazing – because he brings history to life so well, – you’re going to find yourself hating it in Grade 13.   The new teacher will want the class to memorize names and dates for everything – and you’d rather get into a fight with a school bully than do that.  The daydreaming at this point will be your downfall and you’ll want to give up.  And maybe you should.  But not for long.   Being a kid, you think that you should be able to do everything, or nothing.  You’re kind of black and white like that.  It won’t occur to you (which is why I’m telling you now) that everyone has strengths in certain things, while they suck at others.  You’re never going to be an academic – you’re intelligent enough, but it’s just not who you are.   You won’t work in the trades either.  You don’t know it, but your strength is in people, and in entertainment, and in the arts.  This is not a bad thing.  These are the things that excite you, and get your heart racing.

There are other things to tell you but they should be a surprise.  You’re going to go through some heavy stuff, but if you follow all of the above advice, you’ll at least establish a firm and trustworthy foundation for dealing with them.  Some of the harsh stuff will bring some interesting surprises that you’ll love.

One last thought: some of the best plans never work out.  What is true for you today might not be true tomorrow.    Trust yourself, and trust your instincts.  The one seed for your tree of life never changes:  you must live.  Not just survive, and not just tolerate.  You probably have no idea what I mean by this, so search out a book, called “Jitterbug Perfume”.  Read it one time so that you satisfy your curiosity about the plot.  And when it’s done, read it again.

—————————–

So.  What would you write to yourself?  Better yet – if you feel like it, write a blog, and provide a link to it in the comments here.

“You’re having trouble urinating? Here’s a script for OxyContin.  Won’t help the problem, but you won’t care anymore.”

You wouldn’t trust a doctor who treated you this way, and neither would I.  Some patients are looking for just such treatment though – and for them, a doctor who did this would be a god-send.  There are likely as many different motivations for a visit to the doctor’s office as there are patients.

Unfortunately, the first visit to the doctor’s office about a single symptom (or usually, a combination) might not be as simple as one would hope.

A friend of mine – who happens to be a medical doctor – has been branching out into the alternative medicine area.  Normally, this is forbidden territory for doctors, as there are a great many quacks out there, touting their substandard snake oil remedies.  However, in amongst the frauds are those folk who have re-discovered traditional remedies from other cultures, notably Indian and Chinese, some of which appear to work.

The cynic would suggest that maybe some of these remedies work because of their placebo effect, and I would tend to agree.  Then the question is:  what’s wrong with placebos, if the patient gets better, or his symptoms begin to subside?  It doesn’t necessarily suggest he was psychosomatic, or was faking his illness.  It speaks to a fundamental truth (well I think it’s a truth, though really it’s just a good guess or opinion) that the body has an amazing ability to heal itself.

Full disclosure:  though not a cynic, I tend to lean that direction.  People who complain about illness all the time bore me, mostly because I have a hard time believing their ailments are real.  I know that sometimes they are, but I know that for every person with a legitimate complaint, there’s another one right behind him who is subconsciously looking for attention.   I’ve been privy to their conversations too, which go something like this:

“I’ve got a headache”

“Oh yeah?  Well I’ve got a headache and a backache. ”

“Well that’s too bad, but guess what?  I’ve had my headache for two weeks.”

“I know what you mean.  I’ve had this backache since I was born.”

“Really?  And the doctors haven’t figured out why?”

“No.  I’m supposed to go in for an MRI next week.”

“Wow.  Yeah.  The doctors haven’t figured out why I have so many headaches either.  My great-grandfather had them so it’s probably genetic.  My kids will probably have them too.  I keep asking little Cindy if her head hurts.”

“You shouldn’t do that.  You’ll get her thinking she should have a headache.  That she’s not normal unless she has one.”

“I’m not worried.  I do see her putting her hand to her head sometimes though.  Just like I do.  It’s why I ask her.”

“Well I—OWW!”

“What?”

“My back.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, see you later.  I’ve got to get some pills into me.”

“Oh?  What kind?”

“Demerol”

“That’s kid stuff.  You should get your doc to prescribe Oxy.  It’s the BOMB, man.”

“Huh.  Maybe I will.”

(a.k.a. Dance of the Aching Fairies)

My doctor friend, in pursing the road less travelled, is exhibiting all kinds of courage, I think.  She has given credence to the fact that modern medicine doesn’t have all of the answers (though it often pretends to), and that some alternative remedies have been proven to work, above and beyond the placebos effect.   Her belief is that modern medicine has its place, and that non-traditional medicine should not be so easily dismissed.  I believe her, actually, even though I don’t always agree with what she has to say about some things.  More on that later.     Her blog, by the way is here:   http://www.bloomingwellness.com/

Today, she wrote a status update on her Facebook page – http://facebook.com/BloomingWellness – which pointed to an article about how some bizarre behaviours might be indicative of internal organic issues, rather than mental problems.    She had this to say:

I just finished an interview for Alternative Mental Health with Attorney Beth Maloney, who was recently featured on this segment of The Doctors and author of the book, Saving Sammy. We talked about how her son was misdiagnosed with OCD, put on SSRIs, when in fact he had PANDAS- an autoimmune disease caused by an antibody to Strep. Pneumo. that attacks the basal ganglia in the brain. Parents should be aware of PANDAS, a disease we don’t really learn about in medical school ( we don’t) , because certain behavioral issues in kids ( like ADHD ones, OCD, Tourettes, etc…) can actually be due to PANDAS, and doctors miss it all the time. A simple blood test may differentiate a true psychiatric issue from an autoimmune one so your child can receive the right treatment instead of a mess of drugs that are wrong.

It seems to me that the root of the issue – not about such an innocuously named condition called PANDAS, but about the initial wrong conclusion – has its basis on a culture which likes to speed everything up.  Got a problem? See a doc and get a diagnosis so that you can get some pills and get rid of it.   Most of us want that – though some would prefer a prescription of exercise or a change in diet over taking pills.  Not many of us consciously wish to remain bound by a condition or disease which limits us.  Even those who subconsciously enjoy the attention, really are miserable, and know they’d be better off if they were well.

I’ve heard stories from a few doctors about patients who come to their office, pretty much demanding antibiotics because of a scratchy throat.   In addition to a fast-paced society which can’t tolerate downtime due to illness, this presents yet another problem:  patients who think they’re doctors.  We can probably blame the internet for this, and sites like Google and mayoclinic.com .

We have all heard stories about teachers with imagined qualifications in psychiatry who diagnose ADHD in their children.   Many people use this abhorrent behaviour to cast doubt on ADHD altogether.  I can’t tell you how many times – since receiving my own diagnosis – people have said “oh EVERYONE has ADHD” – by which they mean that no one does.  My doctor friend and I have disagreed publicly about a lot concerning ADHD but to be fair:  she’s a medical doctor and I’m not; and some of her objections are I think quite valid.

She worries that too many people are looking to medications to resolve their issues with ADHD, and she wonders about the motivation of drug companies in this respect.  The same could be said of cancer and drug companies for that matter – and I’ve already heard a repeated cynical comment about this:  “the cure for cancer is already out there but isn’t being shared because too many organizations will lose money.”   I’m not sure I completely disagree.  I truly believe everyone has a motive for what they do, and that no one spends money building products without expecting some kind of return at the end of the day.

This does not equate to non-altruistic motivations though.  A doctor needs to make a living and gets paid accordingly, yet many often come close to burnout in doing so.  The extra mile they take often has nothing to do with money, and has everything to do with patient care.  Ditto those doctors who travel to remote parts of the earth to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders (or Médecins Sans Frontières).   I have to believe the same kind of ethic holds true for many in the drug companies too.

Some doctors and drug officials are of course totally in it for the money.  I’m just not convinced the paint brush is that wide.

When it comes to mental issues, there’s a harder diagnostic road to travel.  Unlike cancer or an enlarged prostate, you can’t open the brain and say “oh there’s the problem.  This part of the brain is green while the rest is gray and so that’s why this patient is schizophrenic.”  Instead, doctors must look at a whole host of reference material, which includes but isn’t limited to patient behaviours.   In my case, the hours of testing included looked at my childhood, genetic factors, and behaviours that everyone has experienced on one occasion or another.   The testing was designed to eliminate other factors or conditions or medical problems, in order to come to a robust conclusion.    This was NOT a case of my family physician hearing my complaint in one session and then coming to a diagnosis.

Much had to do with my own motivation as well.  The first surprise was realizing that everything I thought was normal – and something that everyone struggled with – was not normal.  Until then, I was convinced that my problem was a combination of laziness and even early onset of Alzheimer’s.   I had no idea why others in school progressed so quickly and retained so much, while I struggled along, barely making it.  I knew I was intelligent but you know – for a while there I thought I was incredibly stupid.   I learned how to work around my symptoms, and found creative ways to avoid circumstances and work that would highlight my deficiencies.   Really creative – which is how I figured out I wasn’t stupid.

Ultimately, it was the body of behaviours that indicated a deviation from the norm.  Whether we call it ADHD or “Yellow Pickle” is immaterial.  The issues are:  what’s the cause; and then, what’s the treatment?

Even this seems to vary, depending upon the patient.  Some fellow ADHDers swear by increased exercise, copious amounts of coffee and stern attention to diet.  Others have taken the behaviour therapy route, which goes like this:

  • I have trouble focusing, which means:
  • I often lose my keys; or
  • I am late for appointments; or
  • I forget I even have appointments; or
  • I can’t remember important details in a work project; or
  • I often look for stimulants, like illegal drugs; or
  • I put myself in harm’s way too often, because I need the rush; or
  • ….any number of other behaviours (there’s quite a list, actually)

Any of these can be mitigated by any of the treatments mentioned above.  Some of the behaviours might be rooted in causes other than ADHD.  There could be chemical issues.  The science on this is not yet perfected.  About the only thing doctors seem to agree is the body of behaviours.  Thank God for that.

The bottom line is what I told my doctor friend:  the path to diagnosis and treatment is neither as quick or as easy as patients (and occasionally doctors) would like it to be.  It’s not simple, and much depends upon the expertise and experience of the doctor (which is why my own GP didn’t want to treat me – she had neither), and upon the willingness of the patient to wait until all of the facts were in.

Your comments are invited:  have you or anyone you know (no names please, let’s keep it anonymous) struggled with getting a diagnosis about anything?   What are you thoughts about people who diagnose themselves?  What about alternative medicines – what are your thoughts on that?

Sneaky Bastards

Posted: May 15, 2011 in ADHD, writing
Tags: , , ,

It’s funny:  when you take pride in being unique, there are little things that poke you in the back to prove you are not.  That you’re just another variation on a common theme.

Like words, for example.  I like words a lot, even though I find myself sometimes frustrated at the dearth of just the *right* words required to make a point, or to paint a picture.  In writing my book, I’ve taken inspiration from my favourite author, Tom Robbins, who can paint vast majestic vistas with a paucity of Just The Right Words (if you’ve read Jitterbug Perfume you’ll know what I mean).

I like words so much that I pretty much inhale books.  Give me a good book one day and I’ll hand it back to you the next.  Boring words, like those found in manuals, or in a long treatise will only serve to pinch out the flame of whatever desire I had for the object being discussed.  I can rarely finish those.

I get bored way too easily for my own good.  (Yes, that is part of the ADD curse/blessing, in case you were wondering)

It wasn’t all that surprising to discover the appeal of Twitter.  Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, which is ideal because there’s no chance to get bored.  You have time to read (or post) one thought only.  This is good exercise for writers because you have to find creative ways to make your point with as few words as possible.  The bane of every writer, believe it or not, is too many words.  “In order to” is an example of a poor choice.  I took out the garbage in order to make the place smell better would make an editor get out his red pen.  So you turn it around, creatively, to make a more compelling point without losing the essence of what you said:

The kitchen’s ambience caused my eyes to water, and my nose to run.  Not in joy or sickness but in abject horror.  The wallpaper frowned and threatened to peel.  The laughing nemesis was that rotten carton of milk that my darling mate (She Who Must Be Forgiven Everything Just Because)  had deposited into the bin.  My stomach took a hairball hint from the cat, and began its dark dance, up against my oesophagus.   Chest heaving, I grabbed the bag.  There was no time to search for a twist-tie – I just took it and ran down the hall to my symbiotic saviour – the garbage chute, with its sticky handle, crusted with god-knows-what.  Opening it quickly, I vomited the hellish bag of death down its dark gullet.

So, OK – more words were used but at least we eliminated the dreaded “in order to”, didn’t we?

Lately, through my tweets, I’ve discovered a worrisome thing:  it appears that some common expressions have found their way into my lexicon.  Some are obvious, and therefore easy to spot, while others are elusive and subtle.  “Apparently” – is a word used as a comic device in many tweets, usually expressed after making an outrageous comment.  After commenting on that guy’s shoes, I suddenly realized I left my testicles in my other coat pocket.  Apparently.

It’s ok when used one or two times, but when everyone on Twitter starts using it, it gets old fast.

(It gets old fast, is another example of a too-often used phrase.  Time to retire it.)

Another sneaky word is “totally”.  A recent tweet from yours truly, based upon an event at work:

Hot Jamaican babe microwaves some oatmeal.

Me: “are you putting some brown sugar on that?”

*awkward silence*

Then we totally made out.


Once again, “totally” is being used as an expression of emphasis, like a question mark.  In using it, I unconsciously followed the pack instead of going for a unique stance.

Time to declare war on these little bastards.  We must remain vigilant.

That is all.

(Damn.  Another one)

The Cats of Creative Invention

Posted: February 21, 2011 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , ,

Curious kitty

 

“I’m just calling to tell you that you’ve got the job”

The female voice on the other end of the line waited for the exhalation of joy.  She didn’t wait long.

The recipient could barely contain himself.   “I did?  Awesome!”

Awesome?  Kids use that word, not grown men.  “I mean, that’s great.  Amazing.”

She laughed.  “Yes, I did a blind evaluation of the submissions, by asking my assistant to number them without telling me who submit what.  I didn’t want to inadvertently favour anyone.  Yours was definitely the one that stood out.”

He nodded, momentarily unaware that she couldn’t see his body language.  Then he shook his head with a smile.  “I see.”

“Right” she said.  “I mean, I recognized some of the ideas you proposed as coming from you.  Still – you seemed to have the best grasp of what’s needed for the position.”

He was never any good at accepting praise.  Getting the job and the additional praise was almost too much to handle.

“Well thank you.  I appreciate this…..all of it.  I can’t wait to start.”

Enthusiasm.  That’s what the voice was waiting for.

“Great!  So you’ll start in two weeks time.  Does that work for you? I mean I spoke with your current boss, and that’s the date he wanted.  Give you time to hand off your duties to a subordinate.”

“It works for me.  And thanks again!”  He grinned, as they ended the call.

It was a promotion.  He was no longer a supervisor; he was now a manager.   In the large bureaucracy, this was a significant step up.  What’s more – it was a brand new position, and as such there were no employees in his group.  Just him.  He was, effectively, a manager of new ideas for the Information Technology organization.   Basically, he was in charge of accepting new ideas, and then linking the right groups together to work on them.  With the downturn in the economy, many organizations needed to find ways to automate their work, so that they could provide more service while using less capital.  He was tasked with making that happen.

The great news kept him smiling – right up until the flow of work came in.   In his excitement, he had forgotten about the historical effects of his ADD.

One by one, the ideas sauntered in, on unobtrusive cat’s paws, sniffing around the room, checking underneath the cupboards, and then settling at his feet, meowing plaintively for attention and food.   It wasn’t long until opportunity’s door opened wider, and suddenly there was a flood of ideas, each clamouring for attention.

His ADD mind struggled with the competing thoughts.  Almost all of the ideas were bright and shiny and deserving of attention.  He could feel his neck tightening in anticipation of the work involved in vetting them all.  His boss pointed out one major one and merely added to the weight.

The weekend showed up at his door, hands in its pockets, and he sighed with relief.   At his home on Friday night, he battled the tension; he breathed out and tried to fill his chest with air.  The cascade of ideas was still there, waiting patiently for Monday morning.  Some of the ideas even tried to sneak into his mind while he was trying to enjoy the time off.  He slammed the door on them each time.   Monday would come soon enough.  This was the weekend, and he adamantly refused to deal with any of them.

Monday morning blew the trumpet directly in his ear.  He thought he recognized the tune:  “March of the Bureaucrats”.   He sat at his desk, tired, grumpy and a little frightened.  The now hordes of thoughts crowded his feet, all meowing; a triumphant caterwaul of noise.   He thought of a caption for his Facebook page:  The orderly garden of the mind suffers violence when the cats of creative invention come to play.

Certain that he was going mad, he closed his eyes, there at the desk.  Then, he breathed in.  Then out.  Then in again.  Then out.   He kept this up, each time concentrating on his breath, and working to increase the length of time each inhale and exhale took.  It was a meditation technique taught to him months ago by someone he loved.  He knew it would work.  It had to.

He felt the tension leave his neck and shoulders.   The idea-felines were still crowding him, but their incessant roar had mellowed somewhat.   He opened up a new document and started typing some of them in.   He noticed that as each idea made it to the page, the roar lessened, just a bit.   And so the day progressed.

His boss spoke with him later in the day.   When she told him of one of her suggestions – that at some point he might want to get into project management – he felt the tension return.  This time he confronted it.

“I don’t tell this to many people” he said.  “But you need to know.”

“What’s that?” she said.

He knew that there was always the possibility that what he would tell her would rattle her.  He had already figured out that the worst thing that could happen would be that he got bumped back to his old position.  And he knew that this wasn’t a bad thing.  Not at al.

“I’ve recently been diagnosed as having ADD”, he began.

“Oh really? ” she asked.  “I guess it must have been a surprise, finding that out as an adult”

“Yes” he said.  “It did explain a heck of a lot though.   I always wondered why so many people were able to do seemingly simple things while I struggled.”   He paused, thinking.  “Anyway, when you grow up with it, you just learn to cope, and to find workarounds to handle all of the millions of thoughts that compete for attention.   So projects and project management has never been my strong suit at all. ”  He laughed.  “I guess I’m just not a fan.”

She laughed too.  Music to his ears. “Well, I don’t know if I can help you do what you need to do, but maybe we can meet often, at a scheduled time, or whenever you need to meet.”

He felt relief.  “That would be great.  Actually, I have access to your calendar so for now, maybe I’ll just schedule myself in whenever the time is right.”

“Sounds good to me” she said.

It sounded good to him too.  And after exchanging a few more administrative details, they ended the call.

There was lots of work to do, and he knew his ADD mind wanted it all done right now.   He had to remind himself that it was only day two of his assignment.

He walked out of the offices that day, much lighter than when he walked in.

For a Monday – it wasn’t too bad at all.

There is something a little satisfying about meeting a group of people who have something in common with you.  I realized the joy of that when I attended an ADD support group recently.

Having been formerly diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder a few weeks ago, I’ve made up my mind to do something about it.  Contrary to popular belief, the answer is *not* drugs.  Or rather not *just* drugs.  No, the psychiatrist who gave me the diagnosis said “wolf, you need to get to the point where you have more control over your impulses and focus.”

He grabbed a pen and pretended he was writing something.  “Basically, when you do anything at all, you’ll want to be in the moment.  When you pick up the pen like this, you’ll want to be aware of how it feels in your hand.  What part of your fingers are touching it?  Is it rough or smooth?  And when you put it to the paper, you’ll want to be aware of the pressure your hand has to exert to write anything at all.”

I nodded, even as I acknowledged that, with the exception of the rent cheque each month, I NEVER write anything.  And that got me thinking about what day it was and whether the rent was due soon.

The doc brought me back on track.  “So…you won’t be able to do that right out of the gate.  So you’ll need meds initially to get you to that point.  But, the goal is to come to the place where you won’t need the meds anymore.”

I nodded.  This sounded just about, oh I don’t know, pretty much perfect to me.

“You told me you long suspected you had ADD.  What have you done about it so far?”

I looked at him.  “Well, I’ve attended a couple of workshops and….”  I thought for a moment.  “Oh yes!  I joined a support group.”

“You did?  What is it?”

“It’s a group that meets at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health every couple of weeks.”

“Oh yes.  I’m aware of that group.  Good.  Keep going.  And see your family doctor for the meds.”

With that, I thanked him and left.

The other night I met with the support group, and a few of us “newbies” split off into a separate group, where we were encouraged to tell our stories.   When it got around to me, I had so many different things to say, and I wanted to say them all at once, that I got stuck.

“Sorry – there’s about a million thoughts going on right now.”

They all nodded knowingly.  Every last one of them.  They knew.   They knew exactly what it was all about.

Awesome.

Earlier, we had discussed Executive Function – that process in everyone’s brain that allows you to consider several things, categorize them, and put them on various shelves in your mind, so that you can pick them up at will and work with each one individually, until completion.   The classic ADDer doesn’t have a fully functioning system.  We take all of those things and we want to process them all at the same time.   Executive function allows you to start and stop actions, anticipate stuff and adapt to changing situations.   The lack of it can really mess you up.

Here’s the thing:  when you grow up in this state, you have no idea anything’s wrong.  You watch other people complete projects fairly easily, and you think that maybe you’re just not smart enough (because you know you’re *lousy* at doing projects).  I used to truly truly HATE it when the teacher assigned projects to us.

Then, later on you realize that you really do “get” a lot of concepts, and often you’re leaps and bounds beyond others.  So you know you’re not stupid.  So you conclude maybe you’re just too lazy.  Input from others (teachers, parents, friends) seems to confirm this self-analysis.

You discover you have a penchant for seeing “the big picture” in any situation.  You realize that you’re well suited to managing conflicts, mostly because you can simultaneously see various viewpoints at once.  You understand how they got there – and you understand almost instantaneously.  Seems like a wonderful trait to have.  And by God you’ll accept that one, since you’re such a miserable failure at other things.

You often do hilarious things too.  Like turning on the tap to fill up the sink so you can do the dishes, then sitting down at the computer to work on something, only to realize twenty minutes later (if you’re lucky) that you left the tap running.  This unfortunate circumstance is confirmed as you walked out into the hallway, straight into a mini-lake.

Or you come home from buying groceries, some of which are frozen foods.   You put them down to get the key out of the door.  You realize there’s a program on TV that you wanted to see, so you put the keys down and go turn the TV on.  Then you remember an email that you wanted to send, so you go into your office and bang it out.   Then something else, then something else and then it’s time for bed so you brush your teeth and hit the sack.

The next morning you come out the kitchen and you see the now-smelly “frozen food” that you left out the day before.

This is my life, folks.

There are a lot of positives about the ADD life:  there’s an incredible creativity that comes with the “gift”.  A lot of actors and comedians get into the entertainment business because of this knack they have.  I’ve done improv comedy and I have to tell you:  that was one of the highlights of my adult existence.  It takes you back to the time when you were a kid, and anything was possible.  “What if I was an old man, with a young trophy wife who wanted me dead?  Or what if I was a pimp, with a stripper girlfriend and a four year old child?”

You get to play all these parts (the stripper/pimp thing was played out in real life on a crowded bus one day, to an unsuspecting audience.), and you have so much FUN.

The downside:  you take on projects and never complete them.  Not without some prompting.  Also – you can barely stand linear conversations.  You get so *bored*.  So easily bored.  It’s one reason I hate telephones.

There’s one personal project I’ve had on the back burner for quite some time.  There’s a book I want to write.  I have several concepts that I really want to share in it.  When I say “quite some time” – we’re talking a few years here.  And I’ve started it several times.  Each time I got distracted and lost momentum.

A good friend of mine mentioned a once a year event, called NaNoWriMo.  That’s a kind of awkward acronym for “National Novel Writing Month”.  It’s a trans-continental event that takes place mostly on the net.  The shared goal of writers everywhere is this:  we have to write 50,000 words in thirty days.  Entirely do-able – and this is evident by the fact that so many writers manage to do it every year.  It’s been in existence for I think twelve years, and each year there’s an exponentially larger list of participants.

The other night I attended the local Toronto NaNoWriMo kick-off party.  We had a ball!   There’s going to be an all-night event where some of the participants get together at a large house, specifically to write as much as possible during the night.  I frankly can’t wait for that one.

There’s another event, where we get on the subway at one end of the system, and we ride it for as long as possible, just writing away.

This is the aspiring writer’s ADD dream:  to have input and a goad to get this particular goal accomplished.

I am *so* grateful to my friend Katy for having introduced this to me.   She’s done NaNoWriMo herself, with great success.

I will too.  Part of the method for getting this done involves making myself accountable to others.  Telling as many people as possible about it.  Potential embarrassment is a killer motivator.

So….this begins tomorrow.  November 1.

You likely won’t see much of me during the month.   I get emails when you leave comments on my blog though.

So here’s the deal:  if you’re so inclined, please drop me a comment here at the bottom of this blog, now and then.  Ask me how I’m doing.

I promise to answer.  And I will tell you the truth.

Oh man.  This is going to be good.