Posts Tagged ‘ADD’

ADHD Drugs.  Tried them.  Worked as advertised but also had some interesting side effects.  I’m not sure I can ever get used to the second head that grew out of my shoulders, but whatever….

I think I went a little nuts when the doctor sat me down, showed me a chart and announced that his findings of my symptoms were almost off of the charts.   “Here’s where normal people are” he said (or words to that effect) as he pointed to a line across a graph.   Then he pointed to a line near the top of the page that went from left to right in a kind of a zigzag pattern “and here’s where you are.”   I was more than pleased; I was ecstatic.

squirrel-dog

There are so many more symptoms to ADHD than just the propensity toward distraction.  Many of us – especially ones with a more severe case of ADHD – become debilitated throughout our lives.  A great many can’t hold a job, a marriage or maintain our health.  Many of us have addiction problems.  I don’t mean just drugs; I mean anything under the sun: sexual addictions, problems with booze, problems with almost anything.  And so many of us hop from one addiction to another.  My dad was an alcoholic, so I was fortunate enough (long before the diagnosis) to recognize that I may have inherited his fascination with booze.  So although I enjoy wine, I was smart enough to occasionally go through dry periods “just to make sure”.   Then I realized that I was beginning to enjoy pot too much (this was years ago, officer), so I stopped taking any of that for a while.  There were a number of other ones – I won’t bother to list them here.

Many of us become adrenaline junkies, often taking horrible chances with our lives while looking for that “high”.   Scratch the skin of a person who gets into way too many car accidents and you may find a person with ADHD.

Socially, we are often just a bunch of misfits.  I never realized it until my daughter and I started comparing notes.  “Dad” she would say “I feel guilty about getting so bored with conversations sometimes”.  I would reply “I KNOW, RIGHT?  It’s like they’re all ‘blah blah my vacation blah blah” and I’m like ‘what time is it? Oh I’ve got to go'”.

Sometimes I even blogged about it.   Like the blog I posted about a guy who was into some of the same types of books I was interested in – only in a kind of steroidal way:  it was all he could talk about, and it bored me to tears.   I eventually realized that the problem wasn’t him, it was me.  (“Sure it was” I hear you say.  “That’s so cliché, man”.  And okay – so it is.  Happens to be true).  Normal people – however “normal” is defined – can carry on linear conversations that have beginning, middle and conclusion points.   I realized that wasn’t the case with me or my daughter:  our conversations were more like exploring birds, hopping from tree branch to tree branch, never landing on the same one twice.   A bouquet of non sequiturs, if you will.   We eventually realized that we were annoying others who wanted to get in on the conversation but felt they couldn’t.   “Can you not stay on the point???” they’d exclaim, exasperated.   “What point?” would be our innocent response.

Our conversations often frustrated ourselves as well, but only for brief moments.  It kind of went like this:  “um, what was I talking about?”  “I dunno” *shrug*   Whatever it was seemed important; it was a point I was trying to get to, only I was too excited by the process of the conversation and so, as usual, the conversational car left the track and flipped end over end into a field of much more interesting thoughts.  Crash and burn.

“Were you aware that there’s an eclipse of the moon tonight?”

“Oh really?  I’d love to see that.  I can’t stay up late though, I have a test in the morning.”

“Well maybe you don’t have to stay up to watch it.  Maybe you could….”

“Oh my God Dad.  I remember the last time I saw the Northern Lights.  They were so beautiful…”

“Was that when you were on that camping trip?”

“With Pete?”

“How is Pete?”

“He’s married now and he’s running his own shoe store.”

(Then I’d think: shoes, running, Nike, “just do it”)

“Hey I’m going to finish the next chapter of my book tonight.”

“Really?  That’s so good, Dad.”

(And she would think “books, Kindle, Amazon”)

“Do you know that Amazon delivers to Canada?”

(And I would think “old news, news, newspaper, columnists, Conrad Black)

“I knew that.  Hey have you ever read any of Conrad Black’s stuff?  The man’s a wordsmith!”

(And she would think “wordsmith, clowns, elephants, circus”)

“No I never have.   That reminds me: Cirque du Soleil is coming to town.  I’ve got tickets!”

And on it would go.  You can just picture other “normal” people saying “okay – just what the FUCK are you guys talking about?”

We’d both look at each other and smile.

I think even my writing gets affected and infected by this type of meandering.  For example: I meant to tell you about my foray into the ADHD drug world.

So the first one was a long-term drug that you have to take every day.  It’s supposed to get into your bloodstream as a constant presence and affect what’s called “executive function” – whereby you retain the ability to not only focus, but keep all of the balls in the air at the same time.  Most people aren’t aware of it: they put their current thought on a shelf – NOT FORGOTTEN, just placed aside for a moment – while they deal with a more pressing thought.  Then when they’re done, they go back to the shelf, bring down the thought and work with it again.  With ADHD folk it’s more like we hoof that thought into the outer stratosphere, completely forgotten and rarely ever seen again.  It’s not deliberate; it’s just the way our minds tend to work and process.   This drug was designed to help patients gain a measure of control.

I have no idea whether it worked or not; I didn’t stay on it long enough.  Just a week.  Just long enough to notice that I was having a very hard time trying to pee (among other things).  It was horrible.  I got worried that maybe my body was going through an unwanted change, until I got onto the net and started reading about the side effects.   So I dropped that drug like it was a flaming bag of dog poop – and I felt better almost immediately.

I went back to the doc who prescribed another ADHD medication that he promised wouldn’t mess me up so badly.  The side effects were minimal and as long as my blood pressure remained under control there wouldn’t be any problem.  I went on it for a few weeks and didn’t notice any change in my ADHD symptoms so went back to him.  He increased the dosage.  I tried it for a few more weeks; still no change.  I went back – and this can get boring so let me just say it took a few more visits until we got the dosage right.   And then, presto!  The required effects kicked in.

I was able to focus; I was able to complete projects; I was able to go places and not leave my iPhone or iPad sitting somewhere for someone to pick up and adopt as their own.  (Can’t tell you how many times I’d done that before).

There were other noticeable effects too.   I started boring the hell out of myself.  Anything I wrote was tedious and long – and complete.   I hated my writing.  My creativity took a noticeable hit.  I figured it was worth the price of being able to be just a little bit linear in thinking again.

Then one day I started having pains in my chest.  Severe pains.  I went to a walk-in clinic and the doctor said my blood pressure was through the roof.  She ordered an EKG (my heart was fine), and then prescribed some nitro.  I quickly realized the culprit:  the high doses of the ADHD drug was affecting my blood pressure.

So I went off it.  Completely.  Cold-turkey.

My blood pressure’s back to normal, and my creativity is back.

In talking with a good friend of mine who is also an MD, we seemed to agree that maybe, just maybe, people are designed to be different from each other, and maybe there’s no real need to alter our behaviour (or as we called it, get into “social engineering”).

I only know I’m enjoying the crap out of life right now, and it’s doubtful that I’ll ever seek help for my ADHD again.  (Never say never though).

Final note:  I hear you saying “dude, your creativity can’t be all that great.  You rarely write a new blog.”   You would be correct:  my blogs are too few and far between and I’m planning to change that.   But – and this is a huge thing – I’m still writing.  I’ve been employed for a few months as a critic for the popular site TVFanatic.com – and I write a weekly review of two shows:  Criminal Minds and NCIS.   Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to interview two of the Criminal Minds stars too:  Matthew Gray Gubler (who plays Dr. Reid) and Joe Mantegna (who plays Agent Rossi).   If you want to check it out – no pressure! – you’ll find the reviews at Criminal Minds and NCIS.  (My name on there is Douglas Wolfe.)

In the meantime, maybe I’ll just keep playing at life and forget about the ADHD meds.  Frankly I’m having too much fun without them.

Whirling and whirling

Posted: January 24, 2012 in ADHD, Life
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*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.

Sneaky Bastards

Posted: May 15, 2011 in ADHD, writing
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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.

Fickle Butterflies

Posted: June 28, 2010 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , ,

“My thoughts are like butterflies”, he said.  “They’re beautiful.  But they fly away.”

It was a lament offered up a little boy, and quoted in the book “Delivered from Distraction”.

I nodded furiously.

Kind of stupid isn’t it?  Nodding at something you read in a book.  Sort of like clapping at the end of a movie, when you know none of the production folk or actors are there to appreciate it.

All of my life I’ve heard about ADD and the favourite companion topic: Ritalin.  Usually, Ritalin is said with a slight hesitation, or in some circles, a gasp.  It was the go-to drug for every unruly child (or so the legend goes).  It became the excuse drug, the alternative to discipline as an answer to bad behaviour.

ADD has been relegated to the annals of mental illness.  A disorder if you will.  Something We Don’t Talk About.

Not surprising, then, given its history, that some people get annoyed by the topic.

I was aware of this ambience around ADD all my life.  Aware but disinterested, really.  I couldn’t have cared less.  I know my sisters were on Ritalin for a while, but didn’t know why.  I knew they didn’t exhibit bad behaviour.  Being a kid myself at the time, I just didn’t pay attention. (Did you know that ADD only affects about 4% of the population, on average?  Not quite the catch-all most people have assumed over the years).

I was not an unruly kid either.  I mean, well I was at first, before hitting kindergarten.  I ran away a lot.  Not because I was angry at Mom.  It was because, like most little boys, I was curious.  Probably a little more curious than most, because I wasn’t really running AWAY so much as running TO – whatever it was that caught my eye.  One of the earliest memories was of riding my tricycle down the street and into a construction zone.  I remember my Mom being so very angry (read: worried), and I recall getting a spanking out of that deal.  The first of many, actually.

They say that ADD is the comedian/actor’s disorder.  There’s a reason for that.  The same condition that provides a lack of concentration in so many of us actually promotes creativity.  It’s not that we can’t focus, it’s that we focus only on bright spots.  For many of us (me included) it’s actually a plus, in so many ways.  A lot of ADD folk don’t like the idea of taking any kind of meds for it, because they’re worried they won’t get those bright ideas anymore.  Rick Green, who is a producer and comedian and an actor – said that the meds actually don’t stifle his creativity at all.  It allows him to corral those same ideas and follow them to completion.

Another myth:  people who have ADD can never focus.  In fact, the opposite is true.  We either lose focus easily, or we hyperfocus, to the exclusion of all else.  We can be so heavily focused on something that we won’t notice that there’s a fire in the house.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been late for an appointment, or forgot something really important, mostly because I was hyperfocused on something.

There’s another aspect of ADD that you may find to be of interest (and we’ll make this the last one for this blog).

Over the years, both here and on MySpace, I’ve spoken about my various forays into activities that turned out to be suspiciously addictive.

The other day, when I sold my doctor on the idea of buying an iPad (mentioned in the last blog), I asked for a refill of a narcotic prescription to alleviate migraines.

She said (as she tends to say every time this prescription is refilled):  “when’s the last time I gave you this?  Don’t want you getting addicted to them again.”   

Every time she says this, it irritates me.   She makes it sound like I could so easily become addicted and need to go into rehab or something.   So, this time I addressed it.

“Doctor, I wonder if we could spend a few minutes talking about addictions and ADD?”

She leaned back, and peered at me over her glasses.  “Sure.”

“Years ago, I developed a dependency on this medication….”

She interrupted with “yes you did.”

I continued.  “But I weaned myself off of it, gradually.”  I wanted her to know that back then, that *I* took control of the addictive behaviour and did something about it.  That the change in behaviour wasn’t forced on me; it was something I chose to do, on my own.

“I then got into drinking wine, actually quite a bit.  So much that it scared me, so I stopped drinking it at all for quite a while, just to make sure I wasn’t an alcoholic.”

She gave me her rapt attention, and I could tell she was actually listening.

“I got into pot, with the same results, and with the same concerns, and took myself off of it, just to make sure I didn’t actually need it.   And I’ve done the same with fatty foods and chocolate.”

“So” I said “I’m aware that people with ADD have a tendency towards addictions and addictive behaviour….”

“That’s right” she said.  “And it’s good that you’re able to recognize it and do something about it.”

I nodded, satisfied that I’d made my point, and so we sat there, silent for a while.

“Doc I really don’t know what I’m asking, here.”  In truth, I wasn’t asking anything. I just wanted her to acknowledge that I’m fully aware of all the dangers of narcotic medicines and am therefore armed against abusing them.

She said “maybe you’re wondering about the science of it all?”

I nodded.

“Well, people with ADD are lacking stimulation, so they tend to self-medicate where possible.  That’s what that’s all about.”

She was silent for a moment.  “In fact,” she said “for all the talk about alcoholism and drug addictions being an illness, I don’t buy it at all.  If it was truly an illness, you wouldn’t be able to control yourself.”

I agreed with her.  “Yes, even when I was heavily into wine, I can tell you that I wouldn’t have sat in front of my boss with a bottle in my hand.   So there has to be some measure of control.”

She nodded, and we finished the appointment.

The bottom line is that addictive behaviour, while not in itself indicative of ADD, it is one of the many factors.  In fact, when a person displays any of the individual factors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that person has ADD.   It’s the combination of those factors in overwhelming numbers that may indicate it.

And it’s not always a bad thing.  In fact, with a bit of control (read: cognitive therapy and meds), ADD can be the best thing in the world.  I certainly see it that way and am looking forward to exercising some of my creative ideas to completion.

I mean – I really like the shiny butterflies, and would rather see them stick around a little longer than they typically do.

In Search of Logic

Posted: June 9, 2010 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , ,

They finally caught up to me.

It feels like months ago that I learned that the ADHD doc who was supposed to see me in July died.  At least a month ago.  I wondered back when I heard the news whether I would show up on the scheduled date, only to be met at the door by a clerk, dabbing her tearful eyes as she informed me the doctor was OUT and would, barring a miraculous resurrection, never quite be back in.

It was with some surprise that I picked up the ringing phone today to hear the subdued voice of that same clerk, who was finally getting around to letting me know the good doctor had joined the howling chorus of angels.   That he had shuffled off his uncaring mortal coil, and that he had slithered into eternity with his bright aviator sunglasses on.    That he had pondered his last thought, and had instead pushed his soul past the clamouring ants and worms, on his way to the Ultimate Zenith.

“He’s dead”

“I know.”

“Oh”

*silence*

“Well, we have another doctor who might be able to see you.  Would it be OK if we got back to you before the end of the month with an appointment?”

Such a weird question.  Would it be all right?

All right….. what?  All right that they would get back to me?

Or all right that I had to wait until the end of the month?

How the FUCK does any office run that way?  Where they have to consult with each other to figure out an appointment time?  Or figure out if they really want to see you at all?

What office do you know takes the time to call up prospective clients or patients, to ask them if it’s OK that they get back to you later on this century with an appointment time?  They took the time to call you this time – why not save on time and make the appointment right now?

I don’t get it.

Maybe it’s an elaborate screening process.  Maybe you gotta REALLY want an appointment.  Maybe only the whiners will get to see the good doctor.  Maybe the nice ones will get left out, deemed “not really in need” by virtue of their kind niceness.

You know what?

I made a mistake.

I said “sure”.

I should have said “FUCK NO!  It’s not all right!  I’ve been waiting for months to see someone, and now you’re taking the time to give me a fucking phone call asking me if it’s fucking ok for me to get a call from you later?  What the FUCK is this?  Romper Room?   Do you see me through your magic tennis racket?”

Yeah.  I know.

I didn’t want to be “that guy”.  You know the one – makes everyone uncomfortable with his anger and his disgustingly bad language.

*sighs*

Well…..this time I was nice.

I’ll give them two weeks and when I call back……

I won’t even remember what “nice” feels like.  And neither will they.

Fuckers.