ADHD and acceptance – food for thought

You would never tell a Parkinson’s patient “just get a grip on yourself!”. You would never tell a Schizophrenic “Just don’t listen to the voices.”. But us ADHDers so often hear “You just need to focus”

Or “you just need a plan”.

 

Or “that happens to me too, that’s no excuse”.

 

We (as in Society in a generalized way of speaking) accept an incredible amount of ailments and conditions of the mind. If a doctor or a news article explains that it has to do with a malformation of the brain (saaay, in the pre-frontal cortex) and/or with a chemical imbalance in the body (with saaay, dopamine), everyone is willing to accept that and even go to the extent of feeling sorry. In the very least, they try to respect and take some distance if they personally can’t deal with the person’s symptoms, but they don’t blame the person in question.

 

But with ADHD, well sure, we don’t hear voices. We are very clumsy, but we don’t persistently shake like people who are afflicted with parkinson’s. And yes: Parkinson’s and Schizophrenia are, for the patient and those surrounding them, WAY much worse than ADHD. But ADHD still is a condition. We still have to deal with it, whether others have it worse or not. But we drop things, we forget stuff, we procrastrinate, we fall into bouts of depression and anxiety.

 

So maybe we just need to be careful, get a planner, just do it and just have a bit more confidence and think positive. Hey, because everyone else can do it, right?

 

I once saw a big outdoor poster of an organization for helping families of those who have mentally challenged (do we still say it like that?) children. I remember staring at the woman standing with the child on that huge poster and intently staring at the child, wondering. Wonnnderiiing… because the child looked mentally challenged, but not quite. Quickly, my hyperactive brain came with an idea for a story: a single mom of a mentally challenged child struggles with lack of money and lack of help with her child. As a last resort for getting some money, she goes to a casting session for a poster of a foundation that helps families in need who have children with mental illness, trying to make money off of her child and its condition. When it’s her turn, they look at her kid and say “I’m sorry m’am. Your child just doesn’t look retarded enough for what we want.”

 

I sometimes think this is the trouble with ADHD.

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When your best isn’t good enough… reassess

(This is a hard post. My head keeps finding ways of not sharing it, so bear with me)

Some people like making new years resolutions – new year, new me.

 

Others, like myself, get fired at the beginning of the new year and are forced to start anew.

 

I wish I could blame my ADHD for my getting fired, I really do, but the truth is, though I have a hard time keeping a job, it’s usually me who quits. More often than not, I’m an extremely valued employee by all, most of all by my colleagues. Out of the 3 times I’ve been fired in my life, I can honestly say that I was only once at fault; it was only once that my ADHD caused me to act up and blow up in my boss’ face – and let me tell you, even without shouting and insulting, that boss of mine a couple of years ago had every harsh word coming to her.

 

One other time, I was caught in a wave of layoffs and selecting me was a political move (I was too close to the worker’s union).

 

This time, I unknowingly annoyed the boss’ mommy. I’ll spare you the details, I’l only say this much: it’s not normal that a grown-ass woman refuses to even look somene in the eye, after that someone got her ass ripped by the boss and is humbly saying “I do apologize for causing such a misunderstanding”. You at least look at that apologetic person in the eye, if not with your chin up high and your hand triumphantly on your hip.

 

But I received not so much as a glance while apologizing for a slight I did not even commit. There was only an incompreehnsible mumble from someone who herself had accused me of being unpolite. And after a month of depressively dragging myself to work everyday because I knew my being fired was eminent, it happened.

 

I was summoned to the boss’ office and fired the first week-day after New Year (mind you, I was working on the 1st of January), after I had finished my shift. I still had two weeks left to work according to my contract, though no one – boss included – would expect me to show up. Since I had the next two days off, I decided to sleep on it. I was considering on keeping up my end of the contract and go to work, show up two days later, chin up and enjoy the shock and horror on the face of the lady who was the reason for my being fired. But I do have a tendency to depression and anxiety and my feelings eventually got the best of me.

 

Constantly torn between the beginnings of an anger black-out and the verge of tears, I decided to do the best for my health and go to the doctor and apply for sick leave on grounds of temporary mental instability, no matter the financial consequences. I thought I’d be in such a state of shock that I’d be very coherent when talking to my doctor, but as soon as she asked what was up, I turned into a snotty, sobbing mess.

 

It’s easy to hit a low when you have ADHD – or any other form of mental impairment, I would assume – but it’s even easier when everything around you crumbles down despite your best efforts. Despite informing myself about my condition, things can still go to hell when they’re not supposed to – I won’t say I’m never snipety with people anymore, but I’ve been getting very VERY good at managing it, and I ended up alienating someone with whom I had never had a real problem anyway.

 

I wallowed in self pity for a few hours and after remembering myself and feeling a bit positive, I’m indulging in cooking, talking with friends and family and reading up even more about avoiding and solving work conflicts for people who have ADHD. But what is more importment, I’m reassessing what really is my best effort and why it’s not working.

 

So far, I’ve come up with the notion that my best effort might be brilliant but totally misplaced. I’ve had the feeling that I need a dramatic change in my life, and I’m going to put my best efforts into making that change now. I just hope it won’t come back to bite me in the ass!

ADDmitedly a rough couple of weeks – staying positive (longread)

Staying positive is hard. The hardest part for me is knowing that it’s not all up to me. A better part is knowing I’m getting help. I’ve been getting help from doctors even before I knew I have ADHD.

Just today I was lying in bed, remembering how awful it was just 2 years ago when it started. I got fired from my job as a statement from the new Operations Director because I was getting too chummy with the union’s committee at work. I had been living for two years in a country that felt like a big tub of water repelling little ol’ olive-oil drop that is me.

I remember how awful sleeping was, back then: I felt tired but I just lay in bed. You know how when you’re falling asleep, in your last moments of consciousness you feel your body getting heavier, sinking in and having that one last thought “This is it, I’m going … I’m delightfully sinking,weeeee…”; do you know that feeling as well as I do? Well, I didn’t have that feeling back then. I lay there, eyes closed, tired and yawning with my eyes closed. Yawning until my closed eyes stated getting teary from the exhaustion. Yawning. I didn’t fall asleep, I fell into unconsciousness. I know this because I know I was eventually not awake. I knew this because it was very violent when the alarm clock went off. When it went off, I woke up like something exploded. It was the only time when I knew what it was like feeling disoriented for a couple of seconds, panicking because I didn’t know where I was and what was going on.

The doctor helped. He got me to sleeping regularly in a short time. I moved away from Austria. I moved back to Germany where I felt welcome again. Like I can connect with people anywhere. It was hard making the change at first. Later, the meds helped. What helped the most, though, was not stopping. Because I didn’t stop, when I felt better, I found everything standing right where I left it – I didn’t have the overwhelming and positivity-cancelling feeling of having to pick up the slack.

Having a tendency for depression and anxiety – that was non-existent in my teens and explosive once I got to college – it’s long been one of my mottos: “keep doing stuff. Eventually, if you get to the point you’re happy, you have most of the work done already!” 

Back in April I got an old used bike from a co-worker. From trying to fix it alone to joining an internet Forum and meeting some nice helpful people, with all my ups and downs I ended up getting a 2nd hand bike on E-bay in end of July and, end of August, doing a Tour of about 45km (30 miles) with people I met on the forum. I felt like I was on my way to changing my life. I had also gotten a job offer I quite liked. From whining and complaining that I was lonely and bored during my phone calls with my best friend, I had something new to tell – ok, still feeling a bit lonely, but not bored. It felt like the things I’d been working hard on were finally paying off!

And then I went ahead, and right after the job interview, I crashed my bike. I crashed really hard. I finished my planned tour – crazy gal that I am – but at home, I realized that I needed a doctor. I still could muster enough courage to do a trial-day on my soon-to-be new workplace, but after that, the muscles started bitching and moaning that they were gonna clench up nice and tight to compensate for the fall. I got immobile. I tried my best to go for a walk one hour a day and try to go window shopping, not sit on my ass all day.

But I did sit longer than usual and combined with the new pill I had started a couple of months ago, my left leg cramped up first. Then it wouldn’t let go. Then the pain became unbearable and I couldn’t walk. I had had a DVT – a Deep Vein Thrombosis. I almost couldn’t believe it, because even though I’m obese, I’m not morbidly obese. I walk on a regular basis, I have very low cholesterol and it’s simply not a common thing at 33. It was the pill (that I started taking because of mind numbing pain when on my period) and the sitting. I’m going to be home a total of 6 weeks. I have to bandage and rebandage my left leg several times a day until my “tailor-made” compression stockings are done because I have to keep the leg compressed. The bandage makes it hard to walk normally.

I had to cancel my trip to my best friend: the plane ticket to go to her in France had been a gift from her, non-refundable and we had both looking forward to that trip for months now, mentioning it every week in our phone calls. Because of the DVT, my doc forbade it.

Hit another financial crisis: the little help I got from the state had to be renewed, and because I have a new job in two weeks, instead of saying I still get the money before I get the new job, they decided they can only decide it in December – after I have proven them that I still have a crappy job for two weeks and not so crappy job come mid-October. So after paying lots of medical bills (which are teeny tiny in Europe, but there was a lot of them and I don’t have much), I have no money to pay for my cell and my electricity, even after I asked family for money.

I have been a sobbing mess most days and though I have new ADHD meds, I think they’re working better, but I can’t even tell because well…. it’s an extraordinary situation right now. So it’s hard to stay positive. It’s hard because, although I kept moving, there is still some slack to pick up (the financial slack, that one wasn’t 100% my fault). It’s very hard because I realized, being single and having family and friends far away, that there is no one to help me on my day-to-day life. I’m not completely alone, but there just isn’t any kind of support in the type of mild sickness that almost knocks you off your feet but still leaves you some autonomy. And that sucks.

I had a bitter glimpse of what the future might be like for me despite my best efforts; a glimpse of how poor and inadequate even the best of my efforts are and it’s hard not to panick. It’s hard not to go bonkers. So I sometimes panick and sob. I think this is normal. I’m still thankful for some things.

I’m thankful for being the kind of person who can at least still truly enjoy some little things. In a while, I’m going to the supermarket on foot (can’t afford my bus ticket this week) to fetch a can of pineapples. Because I’m going to bake a one-person-version of a recipe from the french baking-book my best friend gave me for my birthday. And the sun is shining, so I’m gonna be listening to my music, strutting and smiling and happy for at least 5 minutes.

And 5 minutes in 24 hours isn’t much, but if it’s all I can get right now, I’ll gladly take it! Because that’s what staying positive is. It’s not ALWAYS being positive. It’s being able to acknowledge the good parts and marvel at them when they come unexpectedly; it’s being able not to poop all over it just because you feel like crawling in a corner and dying for the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day.

Well, gross exaggeration on the crawling and dying part, but you catch my drift? ;)

“Victims” standing up for themselves

Kinda had another fight with my sis a couple of weeks ago. She, a regular person, is of the opinion that our society is a big meanie that doesn’t leave any room for people with mental disabilities (syndromes, abnormalities, special snow-flakeism, whatever) like ADD/ADHD. Me, having ADHD, well I got my feathers quite ruffled. While I have no problem with calling my mind abnormal or saying I’m disabled or that I have an attention deficit, I have a big… no a HUGE problem with people trying to put me in the role of the victim. So not only are you telling me I’m not normal, you’re telling me I’m sub-par (which isn’t the same) AND I’m a poor helpless little thing who can’t function unless the cream of society enables me to do so? Well, screw you very much.

A couple a days ago, there was another “incident” at work. I work on a bench opposite to the section chief. When the section chief is done pouring batter into about 20 cake-pans, he starts pushing the pans in the oven 3 at a time and he expects someone, ANYONE in the room to notice and wordlessly run to help him.

Not only that, he sometimes decides it’s a good idea to shout at the closest person (usually me, but only because of the working place arrangement, it’s not personal) when they fail to help him. So I was dividing my sparse focus between what I was doing and my wandering mind – sometimes I notice him, sometimes I don’t. Last week I didn’t. The colleague working behind me actually did (!) and promptly helped him. Not happy enough that he was getting help, my section chief, imagine that, started shouting at me for not helping him (!): “It’s amazing! It’s amazing how you fail to help! Just look away and screw the rest! Can’t count on you for help!”

This sort of daily abuse is especially hard for someone with ADHD and anger issues, but it’s still abuse. Well, my meds were actually working fine that day, so instead of unbearable anger, I felt deeply annoyed at the most, shrugged and told him “I’m totally focused on what I’m doing, didn’t notice.” which prompted my colleague into joining the bullying “Sure you are, where as I’m totally unfocused on my work and notice stuff like this!”

Fuck…

I kept my jolly face and admitted my mistake with sarcasm “Of course you are unfocused. I wasn’t trying to imply anything else!”. Still, my section chief kept angrily yapping at me, about my excuses, about this, about that, so I turned to him and said in the most jolly tone of voice I could muster “Look, you’ve known me for MONTHS now. How can you still expect me to notice? How can you still think I’m doing it on purpose, really?” eventually, the chief kept going on with his angry banter, but a friendly grin had creeped onto his face. Crisis averted. With a lot of nerves and effort. And ritalin.

Here’s the thing: the ADHD patient in me is annoyed and insecure because, once again, I didn’t notice something obvious that someone else in the room noticed. I felt that I wasn’t dealt a whole hand for this game. Again.

But the human in me can’t help noticing that f***ing asswipe of a human being would rather open his mouth to humiliate someone instead of opening his mouth to ask for help. And THAT has nothing to do with me, ADHD or society’s ability to accommodate any sort of minority.

Snake-oil bloggers

Oh dang it! Here’s another rant for you!

I’m quite aware that I pass the image of a very bitter person. This is mainly because

a) all I do is complain in this blog (well, mostly, anyway)

b) all I do…

ah, screw it! Read my About page and you’ll see this forum is a platform for the outflow of my bile when needed! I’m not this negative all the time (I’d be institutionalized by now), but when I’m being positive, I’m usually watching a good movie or taking a walk in the park, not WRITING about it. Maybe I’ll give THAT a go someday, but right now, I’m just gonna go with “NAH!”.

I have very few followers, for which I’m still thankful – some will even like a post once in a while, so I’m happy to know I landed in YOUR reader (yeah, YOU! Think I didn’t notice?) instead of being a random follower to get me to look at your page, which I always do.

And because I always do look at the page of people who started following me, I notice and get annoyed at the snake-oil bloggers. Every once in a while – must be 3 or 4 of them by now – I get a follower, go to their page, and what do I find? Sales. Worse! Self-help sales! Is there a worse kind of help than the stranger imposed self-help? I mean, seriously! SELF-help is SELF-explanatory. It’s the kind of help that has to come from within, or else…. where the hell is the self part?!

I’ve had it. I quickly checked and noticed that, on my blog, you don’t get to see who else is following, and that is good! No way those a-holes will make anyone curious about who else is following me and get yet another hit on their view-counter. The next step is telling them on their comments section that they can kindly stick it where the sun don’t shine – sure it won’t show on their comments, but I’m hoping they have to read everything before they approve the two or three thankful comments that show up (some really seem to only thank out of politeness, it looks like they didn’t even notice what kind of blog they landed in)

And yes, I know some people have to make money somehow, but I cleaned toilets for a living, once upon a time. It’s a decent, hard-working job. Anyone trying to make an easy buck from a low-morale job is telling more about their personality than I am about mine with this blog. I hate seeing people being abused for their vulnerability, and sadly, snake-oil sellers will always manage to get a few. I wish I could do more than telling a few of them that they’re no better than vultures and missed me as a target.

So anyway, here is a big thank you to the few followers who have me on their reader – and even to those who don’t, really. Thank you for not trying to sell me anything.

(I have one blog post every day now. The skies really need to clear up and gimme some sunny weather for my daily strolls in the park again!)

(and yes, this shows I’m unhappy with the image I’m giving of myself on a very anonymous blog. It should also show that I’m EVEN MORE unhappy with snake-oil sellers, don’t miss THAT point before you comment)

blind-Luck vs look-between-the-lashes-Luck

Some people think that life is all about blind-luck, but the thought of not being able to control anything is way too spooky for me. I’m not a fan of thinking you can control everything through hard-work and sheer willpower either – because well, you’re definitely not getting anything if you don’t work for it, sure; but working for something is not a complete guarantee that you will get it, you’re not god! You’re not omnipotent! There are external factors and you can’t control it all! And I think anyone will know at least one person to whom this applies. I do feel one has to keep optimistic, but assuming you didn’t get something because you just didn’t put your heart into ir or because – bullshit alert – you were unconsciously sabotaging yourself because deep inside you knew it wasn’t for you…. well, that’s the slippery slope towards self-loathe.

But it doesn’t all come to blind-luck. If you remember being a kid and trying to fool someone, you might remember closing your eyes to the point where they really looked like they were closed, but you could still see through a fine blur of your own eyelashes and “guess”. We grownups seem to have mastered the art of seeing life’s choices through the eyelashes and make what we called “pondered choices” or at least “educated guesses”. Looking between the lashes will sometimes even help focus things that aren’t clear.

You still need a certain amount of luck. You can write a kick-ass job application to your dream firm and if you get the job, you might become successful enough to be quoted in bold in a magazine saying you “worked hard and that’s how it goes”, but if you get to a certain age, you’ll know more than one person who wrote a kick-ass job application to their dream firm, worked really hard and only got a nervous breakdown and lasting psychic damage to show for. And you better pray that someone isn’t you!

It isn’t me. At least so far, and I’m still willing to try everyday until this ridiculously resilient body gives up or I get into a constant comfort zone. But on a bad day, the thought of this randomness will knock the air right of my lungs. Some mornings, I’m performing the easiest tasks at work that even a simple monkey can do, listening to the same people telling me the most obvious stuff I already know about my tasks, alternating between “Yessir” and “I know, I know, you told me before” and letting my thoughts roam free, and I’ll suddenly have to force myself into sighing for breath and mutter “Jesus f***, how did my life get this complicated?”.

I’ll tell you how: I squinted, like everyone else. My best friend squinted and got all the happiness she deserves. I’m still working at it: trying to make better choices based on squinting, waiting for the results of my squinting to land me to a better place and working on accepting what I can’t change. I’m miles away from where I want to be and miles ahead from where I was only a couple of years ago. Like the Germans say “only those who don’t do anything never make mistakes”. But just in case the mistakes aren’t really always mine, I’m looking for solutions. 

Being an authentic asshole

When the new colleague told me a couple of days ago that she lived for a year in a residence for the homeless after just coming out of bankruptcy; finally landed a measly job with us that allows her to rent a flat; after she told me how sparsely her flat is furnished and how she’s missing everything and can’t buy much because she doesn’t earn much (although she makes more than me, because she’s full-time and I’m part-time), I zoned out for a second. And I promptly told her “Hold on, I’m figuring out what I have at home that I could give you…

But as you might’ve noticed by some of my blog entries, I’m bitchy. And I can be an asshole. And sometimes, I feel like being an asshole is the more authentic me. Don’t get me wrong, thinking of how to help someone that has in any way something in common with me is something that comes to me very naturally and sometimes even baffles people around me – I guess not all impulsivity is bad – but I do realize that I write people off quite easily while I’m more than willing to accept and disregard stuff from very close friends and a couple of family members (but like… not even ALL family members)

Most people will say, this is my low self-esteem speaking out, but I always felt like bad self-esteem was putting yourself down in an unrealistic fashion. People will almost yell when I cook dinner and say “dang it, I’ve done this better before” like it’s something awful to imply that I’m such a badass, I’m able to cook that awesome meal EVEN better – the people accusing me of being negative are actually focusing on the negative part of my comment, har! But I do feel that if you’re an asshole to others once in a while, there’s nothing wrong with being an asshole to yourself once in a while, because anything else would be hypocrisy. And you know, sorry but I can’t be a hypocrite, I got my hands full being an asshole and whatnot.