Sunday, October 30, 2016

*Dumb Doll

I used to make jokes about me having ADD. But they were just jokes. I’d follow it up with something like, “Oh, but I’m not really! Just forgetful! Hahah. Hah.”

In retrospect, it should have been so OBVIOUS.

(Okay, sorry, I know I talk about this a lot lately, but a friend's blog post reminded me of this, and I decided I had to write about this)

Since I started meds, it’s like I’m looking down from a high mountain onto my life. I can see it all spread out before me, and it’s like I missed the Great Salt Lake sitting right in the middle. I’m finding out that all kinds of weird things are a symptom of ADHD (not just the attention issues). Things like inability to handle criticism (people-pleasing in general, really). I just crumble inside when someone criticizes me. I know it’s my thing, and so I try not to show it outwardly, but I’ll go cry in the bathroom if I’m given a chance. And I don’t cry all that easily over things like people dying or extreme pain. Now, it’s not all bad. I like a lot of the ways it’s made me who I am (sense of humor, creativity, my ability to when it’s down to the wire). I think in a different type of society, a lot of the “problems” of ADHD could be assets. If I belonged to a tribe of nomads, for instance, I would hear every single suspicious noise in the middle of the night.

But, with this newfound clarity has come a bit of cockiness. “I am medicated, so I can do this! and this! and this! and why not schedule this one other thing while we’re at it!”

Well, I overextended myself the last couple weeks. A lot of it was out of my control. But a substantial portion of it was not.

I’m the church secretary. Surprisingly, I’m at least somewhat competent. I tend to forgot minor things, but that’s why I have lists and routines for everything. If I were an artist, I would make an exhibit called, “My Life in Post-Its,” and it would take up all the walls in my home. Last week, I had a lot on my plate, but I was feeling so great about how well I was doing. I left the house Friday morning with everything I needed for the day. I got to church after the gym (did NOT forget underwear or a towel!) and set to work.

I got so much done so quickly. It was amazing. I was on top of the world. We have an annual thing we do, and I had to send out letters for that. I took the time to personally start each letter with, “Dear [LastName] Family,” before printing them out one by one. We have a small church, so that’s not quite as amaaaaazing as it sounds, but I was still pleased. I got everything sealed, stamped, and addressed, and then I realized, oh no, I had not printed on the church letterhead like my pastor had asked me to.

Thirty-four years of forgetting stupid crap and being scolded for it came rushing back to me. I’m really glad I was alone at church because all I could do for a minute was sit there with my cheeks burning, trying not to cry.

(He was really nice about it, and I did not have to go back and redo everything.)

The rest of the day was like a domino effect. I forgot one thing after another after another after another. My brain had decided to mutiny. I felt like such a dumb child again.

One of the other things I had to deal with last week was Emmy’s book report. While I was helping her work through and understand her book, the word “evaporation” came up; she didn’t know what it meant. I showed her how if you pour a little water on the table, it will eventually turn into a gas and disappear into the air. She said, “Oh! So that’s how rain happens! It evaporates off the ground and goes into the clouds and then when it rains…” Not bad for a first-grader who, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet learned about the water cycle. But she lost her train of thought near the end there and immediately burst into tears. My sweet baby who figured out the water cycle on her own felt stupid and ashamed. I worry that she’ll grow up thinking the same things about herself that I used to (and still do, sometimes).

So in that moment I was grateful for all of my blunders just a few days before. I knew exactly how she felt right then and dealt with it so much better than I would have a couple weeks ago. It’s hard to talk about this without making it sound like my parents are to blame. I have wonderful parents. It’s just that inattentive type doesn’t look like ADHD. It doesn’t disrupt the whole class or cause destruction. It’s daydreaming, procrastination, forgotten assignments, and a weird combination of slacking off and perfectionism. So, basically, everyone’s idea of a terrible student. Unlike my parents, we know what is going on with her. We can help her, and I can understand how she feels when she messes up.

*This title brought to you by my first grade teacher in all her compassion and wit.

Monday, September 19, 2016

98 Ways You Are Inadequate, and How to Fix That (Part Two)

For your information, Jessica from the cover is actually named Amri. And her kid is named River. I like Persimmon better, but I guess they didn't wish to consult me when she was born. Amri looks great in yellow. This is irrelevant; I'm just in awe of people who look good in yellow. I look like a zombie ghost clown.

Speaking of Manufactured Problems!

I immediately went to "Smoother Mornings, Easier Lunches, Fewer Hassles." Why? Because Facebook has been trying to guilt me into making my children's daily school experience just as magical as Christmas morning. I don't understand this. Certain cultural expectations leave me feeling like I'm missing something really obvious that everyone else gets. Why do their lunches need to look like I hired a Japanese animation team?

"Have a Better Morning" is pretty sensible and boring. But the sub-section on getting dressed (for Mom) makes me laaaaugh ("Have a few outfits ready to go that you know you look great in!").

My morning motto: do only the absolute necessities. I squint at my kids' faces, teeth, and hair to make sure I won't be arrested for neglect. I get a giant mug of coffee and a bowl of yogurt (which I usually eat in the car). My hair usually looks like a discontinued muppet that fell off a Big Lots truck, only to be discovered in a wind-blown shrub. Most days, I do manage put on my gym clothes and make sure I have what I need in my bag. This is not exactly dedication; if I don't do this, I come back home to change and oops how did this very comfortable bed get here?

By the time I get to the gym, I'll have been awake for almost an hour. THEN I can go into the locker room and make myself presentable. I definitely won't be planning out outfits that look great on me. If it covers all the important parts, my job is done. I'm not even visible from the waist down at drop-off, so I wouldn't really have to do that much (I only do because that would be the day the best-looking police officer of all time would pull me over).

"Master the Drop-off." What? Why? I pull up, the kids get out, we scream I love yous and blow kisses, I drive away. My friend who works at the school sometimes sees me with my muppet hair. That's it. The author, on the other hand, walks her child in every day. This I do not understand. Is it a school rule? Does your child have special needs? Does the neighborhood have roaming sidewalk gremlins? If the answer to these is "no," then drop them off a block away and let them walk. My kids would walk all the way if it weren't three miles. That year where Grace walked to kindergarten was fantastic. Statistically, she was safer than if I'd driven her, and the confidence she gained in that year was phenomenal.

Your kid will be okay. It's one thing if you want to walk your kid into school, but the woman writing this hates everything about it. I want to shake her and yell, "Why are you doing this to yourself?"

And now my favorite. Lunch!


There's another page of this, but I'm too lazy to upload another photo.

How is "simplify" the very first word on this page? I'll give you THREE ingredients: carrots, apple, sandwich. Bam. Done. It's not simple if your kindergartner can't do it herself.

Actually, some of this looks pretty good for a lunch. FOR ME. You cannot beat a lunch that your kid makes herself. Do you know what happened yesterday? Grace put together her own plate of leftovers for dinner and microwaved it herself, unprompted. Kids that make their own lunches are learning independence and initiative. This is no small thing if you know Grace. Lazy parenting has its upsides.

This is a bunch of solutions to imaginary problems. Ladies, why is this a thing? Do men do this? Maybe they do, but it's not something I ever see.

If you love making cute lunches for you kids, that's really cool. And I don't mean that in a patronizing way. It is super cool. If you love to look your best first thing in the morning, I totally understand (it's how I feel around... noon). If you like the special time walking your kid into school, that's sweet.

But if you hate these things, stop. Your kid will be okay. In fact, not doing some of these things can sometimes have great results. Doing them can also have great results. Guess what. Either one works out pretty well.

Save you energy for the stuff you actually like to do with your kid (and the stuff that you hate but is necessary). I ran the jog-a-thon with both my kids because it was fun. I love reading to them and doing the voices. Guess what I hate. *Mornings. Crafts. Mornings. Adorable lunches. Effort of any kind in the morning. Also, crafts.

By many standards, I'm a lousy mother, but I don't care. I've developed a radar other moms who feel the same way, and it's really fun. Why? Because none of us expect the others to pretend we love things we hate. And most of us hate mornings, too, so we have a good time waiting for our kids at pickup.

*Yes, they're much better with my new drugs, but they're still awful. Like how Sauron is the evilest evil, but Saruman is still bad.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

98 Ways You Are Inadequate, and How to Fix That (Part One)

Or, as most people call it, Parents magazine.

I don't know why this just came in the mail, but I'm going to have fun with it.

First Impressions!

"Smoother Mornings, Easier Lunches, Fewer Hassles." We'll get to this later. It's my favorite.

I love the article title, "The Chill Mom's Guide to School." I sense they're implying that the mom on the cover is chill (we'll call her Jessica), but she is not. That baby (her name will be Tulle) looks terrified. The older one (Persimmon) is clinging to her leg like it's Kate Winslet's ocean debris. Both she and Jessica have fabulous hair and clean outfits. Something is up with this family. But "chill" is definitely not that something. At the very least, they're all morning people, whom I never trust completely.

"Baby's Amazing Milestones: When to Coax Them (And When to Relax)." Or, as I call it, "Information for Parents Who Don't Trust the Pediatrician (Sometimes It's Legit)."

Guys, there's a Special Report! "Work. Life. Balance?" I'm not a working mom, so I can't be too snarky about this title, but I predict it will include at least 500 moms who are stressing about manufactured problems.

"30 Beauty Buys Worth Your Dime." Okay. I actually kind of like this.

"Safe and Easy Natural Remedies for Kids." I call it, "How to Reject Perfectly Safe and Highly Effective Medicinal Remedies Because You Want to Be Crunchy." I don't know. I haven't read it yet. Maybe it will surprise me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I ♥ Big Pharma

Let me tell you about me. I mean, I know this is my blog, so that's what I've been doing all along, but bear with me. I'm writing about this partly for the benefit of other people who might be like me. And now you get to know more about me. Are you super excited?

I function pretty well when I have a consistent routine. I function pretty well when I can keep my obligations to just one thing per day. Or maybe every other day. I do pretty well when I don't have to remember stuff on my own. This is why, since I left school, I haven't been a complete mess.

(I originally wrote the following paragraph with "we" instead of "they," but despite all signs pointing to "yes," I still hesitate to diagnose myself--out loud, anyway.)

This is typical for *women with ADHD, by the way. Women usually favor the inattentive type. Less with the hyperactivity. It goes unnoticed because they don't normally cause problems in school. They turn in assignments late. They struggle to finish assigned readings (unless the reading is super interesting; then they finish them weeks early by staying up until 4am until the book is done). They lose car keys. But they don't usually inconvenience other people, so it never gets addressed.

Until you're 33, and your kids are in school and have projects to do and need their own routines enforced, and all you want to do is nap because otherwise you have to face the mountain of things to be done. Because of me, Grace nearly missed an entire project last year. That's when I started thinking seriously about this. I first saw it on the Dr. Oz show when I was at the gym. I think Dr. Oz is all kinds of things, but "reliable source of medical information" isn't usually one of them. I have, however, picked up one or two useful things from his show. So after the initial brush-off and my complete failure in keeping track of a first grader's schoolwork, I started looking more deeply.

Just Google "ADHD in women," and you will come up with article after article that describes my life. I don't think mine is severe; I've been able to pass as a functional adult for quite a while. I'm not crippled by this in the true sense of the word "crippled." Until now, I've only ever failed myself. But then Grace's school projects started making me hyperventilate. And Emmy started showing signs, and I learned that routine is the key to managed children's ADHD, and I can barely manage my own routine, much less impose one on my half-feral child.

I can't cope by fleeing responsibility anymore, so here we are. I'm finally doing something about it.

Today I started week two of Strattera. I KNOW that it's supposed to take a full two weeks of this stuff before most people see improvement, but I am telling you, I am functioning well above my normal level these days. And it's not a stimulant, so it's not because I'm high. I know the placebo effect can be powerful, but I swear this is something else.

No anxiety. I don't feel like I'm choking on the (totally reasonable to a normal person) adult responsibilities I have.This week, I have two different friends' houses to clean, plus my job at church. I am not dreading this; I am looking forward to it. Even physical work, when it's an obligation or on a deadline, makes me anxious. Not today! I just keep thinking about how great it will be to have something to do all day. I've learned to ignore the dread and embrace obligations because, once I start, I enjoy good, hard work. But I've never been free of the sense of dread leading up to it.

No exhaustion. Folks, I am tired all the time, unless I'm up and moving. It doesn't matter what vitamins I take, whether I get enough sleep or not. I am just tired. There's a baseline of tiredness I have just learned to accept. It has become the new normal. Until now, I didn't realize how much of that was mental exhaustion. With the exception of the day I started Strattera and the day my dosed bumped up (yesterday), I have felt energetic throughout the day for the last week. The only other time I feel like this is when I'm **camping. I feel light and free.

Focus. I cleared out the kids' play room today. It took me two hours. I filled three garbage bags of junk, and about half again that much went to the thrift store. I went through a stack of old school binders. I picked up an article about ancient Lachish that I never got around to reading when it was assigned (judging by the lack of fold marks around the staple, anyway). I read the whole thing. My eyes didn't slip over the boring paragraphs--which, with this kind of writing, is all the paragraphs. I didn't go back and reread sentences over and over again before I actually read them. The information was interesting, so I took it in. I rifled through my old papers. The majority of them would have been high grades, if they hadn't been turned in late.

Morning person. Okay, I'm still not a morning person, but I don't need a full hour of what I imagine dying feels like before I can stand to listen to other people talk. In fact, when it's time to get up, I just get up. It doesn't feel like dying anymore. And so far, I have slept really well at night. My insomnia comes and goes, and it hasn't been as persistent in the last year as it used to be, so I hesitate to declare this a fix yet. But... yeah. I've been sleeping great.

This is like how I felt when the buspirone kicked in, only more complete. Buspirone helped with the anxiety and the overwhelmed feelings, but it didn't do much else. Those two things were a huge help, but it wasn't quite hitting the mark. And maybe this isn't the solution yet, but it's certainly a step closer.

I recently read an article on how ADHD isn't real. The author claimed that since the symptoms are things that all people experience to one degree or another, it was too nebulous a thing to be defined. I call that nonsense. Everyone gets headaches; migraines and cluster headaches are still a special thing. Everyone feels sad and apathetic; depression is still a real, treatable illness.

I don't believe that we have even begun to touch the surface of mental disorders and their possible treatments. If the mind were earth, we would still be calling America "The New World," if we were even that advanced. It's possible the idea of ADHD as we know it is completely different from what it really is and what really causes it. But in the meantime, so what? If you're having real trouble functioning in the way you need to, and something helps, go for it. I would love it if our society worked in such a way that I could be out in the sun and carry around heavy things all day, but that's not what we have. In the meantime, I'll take what I can get to be a half-decent mom and stop having to nap all the time.

*This is actually part of a larger problem in medicine. So much of what we "know" has been derived from male-focused studies. It's pathetic and little funny when it comes to ADHD, but with things like heart attacks, it can be downright fatal.

**My theory on camping is that I'm ideally suited to just work physically all day, to not have to think and do things outside my tasks. Give me good physical work and all-day sunshine, and I am at my best. If I were an animal, I would be a majestic ox.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hoo Boy

I started an ADHD medication today (that supplement helps, but I still want more help). I was a little irritated with my doctor.

Me: I'd like to be evaluated for ADD.
Him: Why is that?
Me: *Abandons mentally itemized list of textbook symptoms* I can't pay attention. And. Uh. Insomnia. My mind doesn't shut off at night. I feel constantly overwhelmed.
Him: How did you do in high school?
Me: *Abandons mentally itemized list of ways that life and school have felt like a constant string of--at best--Stooge-like pratfalls* Well, I'm smart. Ish. And, uh, high school wasn't terrible because I could learn enough just by being present to get OK grades. And then college was terrible. I was lost most of the time. It was hard.
Him: OK, what type of treatment are you looking for?
Me: *Abandons mentally itemized list of coping mechanisms that I have developed that are now failing me* I don't even know. I don't think I need anything super strong. I just couldn't even handle my first grader's projects last year, and I'm dreading this school year with two of them doing real school. Things.
Him: Well, I don't prescribe Adderall or Ritalin [which, despite the fantastic weight loss appeal, I'm not really interested in anyway], but you can try out this sample of Strattera.
Me: OK


I mean, if he's not qualified to give that evaluation, that's great, but if I have it, I want to have a doctor tell me, "You definitely have ADD," so I can start using it as an excuse for everything normal that I can't seem to do. Just kidding. Kind of. And if I don't have it, I clearly need a life coach. So, I don't know. I don't even know how insurance works with these kinds of things. If I want a formal evaluation, can I just make an appointment with someone? Or do I have to get a referral from my doctor? Does that mean I have to go back? Does that mean I have to pick up the phone and make another appointment?

I just don't even know. I don't mind (some of) the flightiness and the slight craziness. I kind of like a lot of those aspects of my personality. They're fun. But I don't want to feel like vomiting every time my kid brings home a project. I don't want to forget appointments and small but important tasks. I don't want to lie awake at night wondering about the phases of the moon and why locusts eat so much and how do skunks stand to be around each other?

So I started this sample. It's a big sample. Like 45 days worth, starting at 25 mg and working up to 80. It's supposed to take 2 weeks to see any benefits, and then 2 weeks after the full dose starts is when you can really assess its efficacy. Yesterday I took my first sample, and I basically napped all day. It was wonderful, yet also frustrating. It felt so good to slip into sleep so easily, but, you know, child neglect and needing clean clothes and things like that. I slept like a rock last night, which might have been simple exhaustion. I haven't slept well in a couple of weeks.

Today, I took it with some apprehension. It was the girls' first day both in school. I wanted to use all that time as much as possible. No napping! I went for my first swim in a long time. No amount of weightlifting or running makes swimming easy the first time. There was a lot of gasping for air by the wall between sets. Then I lifted. It was leg day. I really hate leg day. You'd think with all that running, I'd have strong legs, but they're surprisingly weak. The squat rack is my own personal cage of humiliation.

Then work at the church. And here is where I swear the Strattera is already kicking in. I sat down, did my job, never lost focus, and got it done in three hours. I didn't even realize it until I was almost finished. I had at least half an hour of extra work this week, and I finished half an hour faster than I normally do. Huh.

I got the kids from school, made dinner, cleaned the kitchen, and went to back to school night. At no point did I feel overwhelmed today. It was weird. I have good and bad days, but there is usually at least one point during the day when I feel overwhelmed. On a good day, it's because my house actually is a mess, and there really are a lot of things to do. On a bad day, it's because I have to buy deodorant for Jeremy, and there are too many choices (this is a real example, and I seem to remember reaching out and grabbing the nearest one, then running away). Today was ripe to be a bad day. Back to school night alone is its own mountain of details and obligations and too many people talking. But I was fine.

So, I don't know. It still could have just been a good day, but maybe this will work out. And I didn't nap at all today!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Make it stop

I’m so sick of the gorilla story.

Reasons I am NOT sick of it:

1. I hate gorillas and think this particular one wasn’t important at all.
2. I think the mom did nothing wrong and is a special unicorn.

I’m sick of it because all of a sudden everyone knows two things:

1. That he or she would never look away long enough for said child to something idiotic and insane in the worst setting possible.
2. How he or she would react in such a situation.

I know exactly two things about myself/my family:

1. My kids are naturally pretty calm and well behaved. We didn’t do this. They came out that way. But Emmy is a wanderer. Every once in a while Grace’s brain shorts out, and she does something awful and completely out of character (like that time last October she stuffed her mouth FULL of vitamin D capsules she filched out of a tall cupboard). Thank God they have never done insane things in a busy street or a gorilla exhibit or with toxic vitamins, but it is not outside the range of possibility. I have lost Emmy at the zoo a few times. (This is actually why we don’t go anymore.) The last time we went, she just kept slipping away, silent like a snake. She once did a swan dive face-first off the changing table in the three seconds it took me to turn away and look at her sister’s owie. Sometimes it’s the well-behaved kids that do these things the most easily, since your guard is down. They know this and will exploit it.
2. Sometimes I surprise myself with how cowardly I am, and sometimes I surprise myself with how brave I am. I just never know what is going to happen. I am 99% sure jumping into the gorilla exhibit to save my kid wouldn’t even have occurred to me.

Can I say something crazy here? Can I say that mom could have done a better job in that specific moment, that this happened because she was too inattentive? Can I then also say that it could have been me? Or you? Or any of us? You can say a woman messed up without demonizing her. We can have compassion and be upset or angry about the situation at the same time.

If you do not leash, carry, stroller, or glue your child to your body every single time you are in the vicinity of something dangerous, this could happen to you and your kid.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


In a surprise to no one (except me), I ran out of my brain enhancing supplement because I forgot to order more. I emptied the bottle into my hand the other morning, and thought, "Huh. That's strange."

News flash, Naomi: THINGS RUN OUT.

More should be here tomorrow. This is good because, if I wasn't sure it was helping after I started taking it, I know for a fact that it helps now that I've run out. Life is for sure more exciting when surprises (aka things I've planned/ordered/promised and then forgotten) happen all the time. But panicked flight from one barely-remembered activity to another is not how I enjoy spending my life. Thank goodness the kids are on a two-week break from school right now.