They may not be connected, but neither helps the other

Alright, so I’ve done an awful lot of thinking on my usual topic in the last few weeks. But I’m going to reach way back and pull up a topic I haven’t discussed in a long time. I have it, my mother has it, and several other relatives and friends have it. It is often considered something that is “all in your head,” even though it is now considered a disability by the government (in the United States). So, what is it? I’m not talking about ADHD this time. I’m talking about Fibromyalgia.

So lets talk a little about Fibro. It mostly affects women, but can affect anyone, at any age. Sometimes it is triggered by some type of trauma. It causes tender points all over the body. It causes widespread pain with no apparent source. It can interfere with sleep, and gets worse when you are sleep-deprived. It can make your mind a little scattered, resulting in what is termed “Fibro-Fog”. It can be improved with exercise, but it makes exercise difficult. There are probably a lot of other things about it that I am forgetting, and it affects everyone to a different degree. In fact, it can affect one person at a different degree from one day to the next. It can be linked to migraines, and may very well be triggered by diet, if not weather.

But consider this. What if I have Fibromyalgia, then I find out that I also have ADHD? So what, you might say. But hear me out. Lets talk a little about ADHD. Attention isn’t only difficult to focus at times, but it is also difficult to break at times; a symptom referred to as hyper-focus. Imagine a child, sitting in church, wearing uncomfortable dress clothes, and he is constantly pulling at his collar or scratching at the tag in the back of his shirt. He can’t focus on the sermon, or anything else for that matter, because the level of his personal discomfort is too high. All he can think about is how much he would like to take off all of his clothes. He is probably dying to get home and do just that, and has no idea what anyone around him is saying or doing. It doesn’t help him to ignore it, or distract himself from it by paying attention to the pastor. Telling him to sit still isn’t going to do anyone an ounce of good. That is what having ADHD is like. For myself, I almost always have my hair in a ponytail, because I cannot stand to have it touching my face. If my hair is down, it usually distracts me, irritates me, and imposes itself into my every waking thought until I can get it tied back. (Don’t get me started on when I get it cut too short to tie back.)

So what does that have to do with Fibromyalgia? Alright, now instead of a little boy with too much starch in his shirt, imagine a middle-aged woman with constant body aches. No matter what she does, if she’s moving or sitting still, those pains are with her. If the barometer drops, so does she, so to speak. She may be in bed all day, unable to bear the thought of getting up and moving around. But what if that woman also had undiagnosed ADHD? What if she is hyper-focusing on the aches and pain without knowing it. What if she could receive treatment, namely medication, for her ADHD, and it would help her focus on something other than the pain? What if it helped her ignore it long enough to start getting a little more exercise? What if the resulting pain from increased activity didn’t keep her in bed the next day? What if treating her ADHD helps solve many of the problems she has with the Fibro?

I know I am not a doctor, or a psychiatrist, or in any way in a position to make such a claim as these two disorders being connected. But what if having one really does make the other one worse? What if having ADHD makes Fibromyalgia that much more unbearable? What if the ADHD is actually causing part of the fibro-fog? Confusion, poor memory, inability to focus, or think straight. All of these leading to depression, which can actually exacerbate Fibro. And all of these things snowballing, making life impossible to cope with one day, even though you may be alright the next day. Maybe because of something you ate or drank. Maybe a stimulant (caffeine) or depressant (alcohol).

As I further my education, hopefully in the very near future, I hope to focus on psychology. I will likely pose this question to my professors along the way, and hopefully get a chance to do a study on it. If in the meantime I have an opportunity to speak with an expert, such as the authors of the book I mentioned before*, I hope that I make the best of it.

In the meantime, I’ll be on here babbling away and repeating myself. As usual.

 

*Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Halloway, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D.

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Direction

Since I found out that I have adult ADHD, I have learned so much about something I once only associated with young boys. I have learned that girls and boys tend to show symptoms differently, and that adults who have it are often not diagnosed, or were diagnosed as kids and told they’d grow out of it. With my elementary history of going to nine schools in three states by the time I was twelve, and making honor roll through all but my senior year, I slipped through the cracks. Knowing what I do now, and how it has affected me after all these years, I’m compelled to advocate for those kids like myself. The ones who look like they’re doing fine until one day, they’re high school graduates, and they don’t have the first clue what to do next. Or worse, like me, are handed an education by way of scholarships and grants, and somehow feel too much pressure and not enough support, and so they walk away, unable to succeed, and feeling like the only reason is because they’re lazy, or irresponsible.

I spent over an hour today looking at college majors at the local university. I want to write. There is a creative writing minor, but not a major. So the logical major, in my opinion, would be English. So I look at the English requirements, and I’m overwhelmed by the classes. British Literature. William Shakespeare. Thesis. Ugh.

So then I look at other options for an hour. Finally I settle on Psychology. I don’t know what I would do with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. I guess at that point I have the option of going for a Master’s. If I don’t end up writing for a living (which, lets face it, is unlikely), then I want to help kids like me, like my friend’s son, like my little cousin, who just can’t seem to get their head around things. I want to learn what I can about treatments, techniques, and routines that will help them succeed not just in school, but beyond school. So I guess that leaves a few options. I could be a teacher. I could be a school counselor. I could be a tutor. The thing is, I don’t know yet. I feel like I need to get into a classroom before deciding if I can handle it. I have a friend who teaches middle school math. I’ll have to talk to her about it. I also have a friend who used to teach art at an elementary school. I’m sure they could both offer me some insights. But none of that can happen, of course, until I get my medication where I need it.

So today I started to crash again, after lunchtime. I know it isn’t from not eating this time, because I did eat. I guess I have three weeks left before I can get it adjusted, since she made the next appointment one month out. All the amazing differences I was noticing the first few days are starting to fade as my body adjusts to the Adderall. I am still more motivated and I am keeping things much less cluttered. After my daughter goes to bed, I go through the living room and pick everything up off the floor. I never did that before. I also cleared the backs of the couches off, and they stay relatively clear. The few things that did gather there today, I put away before getting on here. So I know it is still having some affect on me. And I am sleeping so well. Probably because I’m doing more work during the day.

I noticed something the other day when I was talking to my therapist. I used to shy away from making a lot of eye contact with people. I guess I figured if I didn’t look at them, then they couldn’t see me, couldn’t cast judgment on me. Eyes are so intimidating when your self-esteem is in the tank. But with this medicine, not only do eyes and faces no longer intimidate me, but I no longer just see eyes and faces. I see the person. I’m not looking at something scary, but just another person, like me. Before when I mentioned that everything seems to have more depth and dimension, this is the same thing. I’ve always been pretty superficial about looks. I think that it was because before, that’s all I could see. I could tell myself that I was being shallow, and that there is a person under there. I could even argue with other people who would say someone was fat or ugly. But now it’s like I’m wearing glasses, like my vision has cleared, and now I can see the person behind the face. The funny thing about that is that before, I had such a hard time remembering faces. Even when I did look someone in the eyes when we spoke, even if I had a whole conversation with them, or sat next to them for a whole day. I would still have trouble recognizing them a week later, or in another context. I have spoken to each of my new(ish) next-door neighbors, but I guarantee that if they approached me in public, away from our neighborhood, I wouldn’t know who they were. But now, even though I haven’t tested my theory, I feel like that won’t be as much of a problem any more. Because faces aren’t just empty, intimidating vessels to me anymore. They’re people. And just realizing that difference, I am even more amazed that I have done half as well in life as I have. But not surprised that I don’t have tons of friends. I guess I will have to work on that.

On a somewhat related note, having been diagnosed with ADHD, and having learned more and more about the symptoms, I almost want to go back and tell everyone that I have ever known. I could almost take out a billboard, only it wouldn’t reach everyone who lives in other states. I want to tell the world that I wasn’t trying to be rude, I didn’t want to offend, I never meant to be self-centered, I didn’t realize I was ignoring you, or hurting you, or dismissing you. I hate that I’ve always known my brain didn’t work right, but I never knew I could do anything about it. It’s so frustrating to know that you’re smart, but to feel so stupid. To read a paragraph in a book, over and over and still not know what it said, or what they meant. To be shown how to do something over and over, and still not know how to do it. To have three kids, and still make it out the door without the diaper bag. Or your purse. Or the baby. How worthless you feel because you just can’t seem to get anything right. Or finish anything. Or even start something. Because you just can’t seem to make friends with your neighbors, even when they’re making friends with each other, just because you are so blasted shy. Then when you come across as being stuck-up or flaky. It’s all so blasted frustrating, so you get frustrated about everything, and so you don’t want to think about anything because you don’t want to get frustrated, so you just throw your hands up in the air and say, “Fuck it!” and go read a book or play a video game or watch a movie because then you can imagine a world where you’re not getting frustrated, and none of those real things matter anymore, and everything is copacetic, and there are no bills to pay and no dishes to wash and no dogs to walk, out there in the real world where the people are.

I have lived my whole life… hiding from my life. Trying to escape. Not knowing how to become an active participant in MY OWN LIFE. And now I am thirty-five years old, and I am looking back and thinking It wasn’t just me. I’m not worthless. Maybe, just maybe, I can turn it all around. I can be more than an active player in my life, I can be the director. I can be the composer, the author, the producer. And that is a wonderful feeling. Underneath is still the feeling of outrage that I have lived so long without a diagnosis, but for now, I want to focus on the relief, and start moving forward. Because I can’t get anywhere moving backward.

Crash-Boom!

It has been a week now since I started the Adderall. Today was the first day that I really crashed when it began to wear off. By about 3:30, I was feeling very sleepy. I put the baby down for her nap, then went and took a nap myself. Since I didn’t turn my phone off, I was disturbed several times, but passed right back out each time. Unfortunately, my husband woke me up around 4:00 to go to an appointment we had. Since he left his wallet at work, I had to drive. In the snow. While that wasn’t exactly an awesome time, I was more than alert enough that I was able to do it. I was just really sad that I had to get up and leave in the cold. I should sleep very well tonight.

I talked to someone who is taking the slow-release Adderall. I don’t know exactly why my doctor chose to put me on the instant-release. I would guess that it’s because of how sensitive I’ve been to other medications in the past. She probably wants to let me work my way up to a level that will work best for me. I seem to have a really good day up until my husband comes home. After that, I’m back to the old, addle-brained, frustrated wife he knows and loves. My only consolation is that he can look at the house and see that the medicine did its job while he was away, even if he doesn’t get to see me in action, so to speak.

In my reading, I’m finding other aspects of my life and marriage that could be affected by my distractibility, and I’m looking forward to finding out if that is the case. I’m hoping for some positive results. It truly is remarkable how very multi-faceted the impact of ADHD can be. The book I’m reading now is very easy to read and has shed light on so many areas of my life and helped me understand myself so much better. It is called Driven to Distraction, and it’s written by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D. I strongly recommend it. The main author has the condition himself, so the writing is not highly sterile and dry. There is a lot of description and dialog, which makes it so much easier to relate to.

On another note, I talked to my dad last night. It was the first time I have spoken with him since I found out about the ADHD. He said that when I was about three, that they had taken me completely off of sugar. Apparently I was drinking a whole jug of tea or more a day, and as a result, I was a pretty wild child. Sounds like good times to me.

Then, Now, and Who Knows?

I took a day off yesterday of writing about my dysfunctional brain to do a writing prompt. My goal is to write at least once a day, and I am starting to feel like I want to start flexing some of my old writing muscles. Even though I didn’t make up something to write about, I was still talking about a fictional world made up by my favorite author.

Today, I’ll get back to the brain business. I’ll talk a little about how I’m doing today, then talk some about how I’m seeing evidence of ADHD as I look backward at my life. At some point, whether it be today or some day in the future, I want to take a look forward and talk about where I see my life going, now that I have a treatment.

So today was productive. I didn’t gut and reorganize anything, sadly, but I did get all the laundry done, folded, hung, put away. I also ran a load of dishes and made dinner. Usually my mom takes care of kitchen chores, but she hasn’t been feeling good. Part of me getting my act together is going to be me helping get her act together as well.

It was a snow day here. It started yesterday afternoon and continues now. It’s a pretty fluffy snow, and even though it’s been going on and off for over twenty-four hours, it hasn’t amounted to more than three or four inches so far. Hopefully the streets are drive-able tomorrow, because we need groceries.

As you might have noticed, I write here usually in the evening. That means that by the time I’m blogging, my medicine has more or less worn off. Yesterday I physically felt it start to crash. From about dinnertime on, my family could tell I was pretty out of it. Tonight, it means that I go off on tangents. For that I apologize, but I will go forward without censoring my wandering mind.

Being a snow day, I was not able to go have lunch with my friend as we planned. She was home with all three of her kids and I was stuck in the house with a baby and two dogs who all would have been happier getting out of the house. I would love to have gotten outside, but Mom was having a bad day and was getting lots of rest. I did manage to get the backs of the couches cleared off. They tend to collect items, as that is a place the little one cannot reach. I’m happy to say that I succeeded in that mission despite the fact that things kept reappearing on the couches.

I no longer feel a noticeable difference when my medicine kicks in. I do feel more of a drive to organize the chaos around me. I also feel more inclined to move around in a productive way instead of just wandering aimlessly or staring at my phone all day.

As I was talking to my therapist yesterday, I started to say ADD, and corrected to ADHD, as both diagnoses now fall under the one. She brought up the hyperactive part of the whole mess and asked if I had felt like that part applied or not. Initially, when this was all brought to my attention a few weeks ago, I would have said that it did not. But the more I analyze different aspects of my life, the more I start to identify with that side of ADHD.

For one thing, I have certain memories of getting myself into painful situations. There was the time I fell off of the front of the house while climbing up after a cat. There is the story my mom tells of me climbing on top of the washer when I was two to get something out of the cabinet. I remember climbing up on rooftops, treetops, and just about anything else I could climb up on. I remember I always had a foot shaking or bouncing. I still do, some days. I got loud. I still get loud. I’m impulsive. I take risks and sometimes I get hurt.

But there is one thing that has always been there, a feeling that I’ve had as far back as I can remember. I always felt like I should have been a boy. Now don’t roll your eyes or shake your head, just hear me out. This isn’t about sexually identifying as a male, or about sexual orientation or anything to do with plumbing, aside from maybe wishing I could pee standing up. But seriously, women get the short end of the stick with that last one.

No, I’m not a boy trapped in a girl’s body or anything like that. In fact, if it wasn’t for our culture’s way of identifying certain things as being “for men” or “for women”, then I would not have felt this way. I promise that I’m getting to the point. I have always been happier doing physically demanding chores over doing tedious ones. For example, a few weeks ago when it snowed, I put on boots and gloves and went and shoveled the driveway, the front steps and the back steps. Twice in one week. I think I must have done the dishes once. One time, a bunch of my cousins were at our house and the adult in charge had us draw numbers to see who would do what chores. I lied and said I got the bathroom, even though I had gotten the kitchen. Clearly my sister had drawn the bathroom and didn’t say otherwise, as she was happier with the kitchen. I liked the bathroom better because it was more physically demanding. I hate washing dishes. I hate just standing in one place just to put my hands in warm water and scrub things. It’s so boring. In fact, my feet started itching every time I washed the dishes. My mom thought I was making excuses, but I swear it’s a thing. I looked it up once. I can’t remember the name of it, but it makes parts of your body itch when other parts come in contact with water.

But I digress. Again.

My favorite job at the store where I worked was when I was unloading trucks. I didn’t have to think about it. I didn’t have to deal with customers. I didn’t have to make any decisions. I lifted things onto the conveyor belt, or took them off and stacked them on the appropriate pallet. Later, we would pull pallets out to the floor, and then we would stock the freight. Eventually, the schedule for that position was no longer compatible with my family life, and so I switched to department manager. Worst job ever. I liked it on some days. In fact, I loved the days when I could tear everything down and put it back up again. Probably because I had a diagram showing where everything should go. If I had to organize it myself it would be a disaster.

Other things I have enjoyed over the years were mechanical things, like fixing the toilet, changing doorknobs, replacing the belt on the vacuum, things where I used my hands and felt challenged, or felt like I could impress someone with my handiness. Things I hated were things like doing dishes, folding laundry, vacuuming, anything monotonous or repetitive.

When I was about nineteen, I liked to show off at parties by standing on my head. I bet I could still do it, but it would give me a headache, as I’ve gained a LOT of weight since then. But the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve always preferred things that were considered boy things or man things. Boys stand on their heads, not girls. Boys fix toilets, not girls. I’m not saying that’s true, just that historically, women have been expected to behave as ladies, and I’ve just never been what you would call ladylike. Back when I tended bar, many of my patrons thought I was a lesbian. That might have had more to do with the owner of the establishment where I worked, but apparently it was credible enough that no one questioned it.

Maybe it’s because my mom raised us alone after she and my dad were divorced. Maybe it’s because when I was fifteen she showed me how to change a tire. She did her best to make sure we could take care of ourselves. But even though I get physically exhausted a lot quicker these days, I usually prefer a physical challenge to a board game. I’d rather wash a car than dust. And I’d rather climb a ladder to work up high than to sit around waiting for a phone to ring.

There was even a period, mostly in my teens and early twenties (but occasionally still, if the situation is right) when every time I talked to someone on the phone about something that I was excited about, I would pace. I would walk through every room of the house and chatter away on the phone, talking about boys or whatever it was that kept me interested back then. I probably also did it when I was anxious or nervous about something. Nervous energy. I’d pace if I was waiting on a ride, looking out the window every minute, watching for headlights. If I sat, my knees would be bouncing or my fingers drumming.

So I guess I have always had a touch of the hyperactive bug. My mom never recognized it because I was just like she was when she was younger. I guess in a lot of ways I’m still like her. Of course, that’s pretty normal of a mother and daughter. Even more so, knowing that ADHD can be hereditary.

So what do I see for myself, now that I’m medicated? I see a world of possibilities. I see what I was told when I was graduating high school. I see opportunities to be whatever I want to be. To do whatever I want to do. I see a chance to finally finish something. Get a degree and do something with my life. Have a career. In the past year or two of my life, I have started to feel resigned to the idea that I would never be happy with one job for more than a few years. My mother never was. But now, for the first time, I see myself having the tenacity to stick with something. To be excited about something for more than a week or a month, but to continue to be stimulated by the things I love and to stick with them. I see a chance to make my family proud.

I see a chance to make my husband proud. That man, bless him, had loved me more than I ever felt like I deserved. He has been there for me and believed in me even when I couldn’t believe in myself. Since I started taking Adderall, barely a week ago, I have started to feel like I am capable of finally making my husband proud. I feel like by making myself into something successful, I can redeem myself to him for always being a mess, and give something back. He has always been the successful, stable one; my rock. I feel like if I can succeed at something, anything, then it will have all been worth it for him. I really feel like above all, I owe it to him to take this opportunity to get right with the world.

And so the question remains: What do I want to be when I grow up?

Lazy Sunday

So I’ve been taking Adderall for five days now. The drugged feeling is gone, but I have noticed something else that might be along the same lines as feeling “drugged”. Everything seems to be in sharper focus, as though it has more depth, more detail. I seem to remember feeling that way those handful of times that I used marijuana back in my teens. When I look at things that I’ve been looking at for years, I see them as though through new eyes. Better eyes. It’s like putting on glasses and everything looks sharp, high definition. My cat is so pretty. I noticed the way her fur lays, and the way the light reflected in her eyes. And it worried me.

Adderall, Ritalin, you hear of people abusing these drugs. The pharmacist compared it to cocaine, but in my mind, I’ve always compared it to meth. It’s something that the perfect PTA moms use to help them be perfect PTA moms. It makes them go, go, go. It makes you feel like Superman, like you can do anything. The problem is, you can’t. You might feel like you could lift a station wagon, but if you try to, you’re going to hurt yourself. In someone with ADHD, the stimulant is supposed to calm you. In a way, it does. It calms my mind in a way that it can get down to business. Just knowing that I can complete two thoughts in a row without them getting interrupted is enough to shoot my confidence through the roof. I’m ready to take on the world. I’m ready to get in there and get my hands dirty. I’m ready to take my life my the horns. But it worries me.

I’m worried because Adderall makes me go, go, go. Does that mean that I have gotten the wrong diagnosis? Does it mean that I don’t have ADHD after all, and I may as well be on speed? I’m worried because I keep hearing that this drug is habit-forming. It’s addictive, and I’ve got to say, I want to be addicted to it. I’m already addicted to the way it makes me think and feel. I love how I am getting things done, and I’ve only just started. I want to take this medicine every day for the rest of my life. And that scares me. I’ve never been addicted to anything stronger than a Dr Pepper, and I don’t want to start now.

Like a lot of people, I am one of those that likes to freak out a little when things get good. When I started dating my husband, it scared me. When we got engaged, it worried me. When we got married, I kept thinking that there was no way my life could have gotten this good, and that at any moment it would all come crashing down around me. All this worrying I’m doing now is probably just more of that. I’ve failed so many times in my life, that it’s almost natural to just prepare for failure as I get started on something. And by the way, that’s pretty common with ADHD. I’m still reading the books I checked out. One minute, I wonder if I really fit the mold, and the next minute, I’m totally relating to a patient in one of these books. Here I am, not even a week into treating it, and seeing how effective the treatment is, and I’m having to talk myself into believing it.

One of the first things I think when I ask myself if I could really have ADHD is that I was never what I thought would be considered hyperactive. But then I start thinking back to my childhood.

One time I heard a cat crying up on our roof. Well, it was the roof over the porch, and it was made from a piece of corrugated fiberglass and held down with cinder blocks. The porch itself was built with cinder blocks, with a wall on one side, connecting the front of the porch to the roof. This wall was also made of cinder blocks. (There is a reason for all the cinder blocks, but that’s another story.) Cinder blocks, as you might know, are rectangular, and have two large holes. And although I think the ones on the wall on the front of the porch were a different, more decorative shape, they still had holes. And those holes made great footholds for a seven-year-old on a mission to rescue a kitty. I climbed my way up the front of our house and got close enough that I could reach onto the roof, and almost close enough to get the kitty. When I started to lose my balance, I took hold of the block on top, holding the roof down. When I did that, the damn thing rolled forward once, which was just enough to make me lose my balance all around and fall backward, more or less, off the roof. (I never appreciated at the time how lucky I was that that block didn’t follow me down.) This fall resulted in me having all the wind knocked out of me in a way I had never experienced before and hope to never experience again. It also cracked the back of my head open.

So maybe I was a little more daring than some. In fact, the more I think about my younger years, the more I remember getting hurt. I have always had a tendency to jump into things head first and full speed. Sometimes figuratively, and sometimes literally. This almost always results in some manner of pain and suffering, and almost always on my behalf.

There is more to ADHD than hyperactivity. In fact some people, and usually girls/women, tend not to show any hyperactivity. Sadly, that’s why so many go undiagnosed. So what might the girls do besides get up and run around in circles all day? They talk, doodle, daydream, and mostly just don’t pay attention to anything that’s going on around them. And then there are social problems that result from it. When you have trouble focusing on anything, or you tend to hyperfocus on something, you tend to miss some small details, like social cues. You miss body language that should cue you into people’s mood. You miss suggestions and details that should signal that maybe there is something going on with them. After a while you start to feel like you’re just self-centered, and you tell yourself that you’re a bad friend (partner, sister, daughter, mother). So your self esteem starts to go down. As you continue to start projects and quickly lose interest, leaving them unfinished, your confidence wanes. Eventually these things start to make you depressed. You feel pretty worthless and maybe that you don’t deserve anyone’s love. You might push people away because you don’t deserve them. Then things just sort of fall apart and you feel like you can’t even put two and two together anymore. You forget to pay your bills on time. You forget someone’s birthday. You kick yourself some more.

There is so much more to ADHD than hyperactivity. My reaction to taking my new meds is sort of typical ADHD behavior, because I’m doubting myself. It’s what I’m used to doing, and it’s what I’m good at. And that’s not good. It’s behavior that I have to learn to rise above. It’s time for me to put my life back together again. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

  
Today, I cleaned and organized. First, I did my daughter’s room. Anyone with kids knows how fast they outgrow things. I went though all her clothes and packed what she’s outgrown, then reorganized what was left. I really made a huge impact in there and it felt good. (Which worried me. Haha.) Then I finally unpacked our bathroom closet. We have lived here for over a year and there were still four half-empty boxes in the bottom of the closet. The end result was so incredible to my eyes, that I snapped a picture and sent it to my friend. But it still bothered me. I’m one of those PTA moms, just zooming around on some good amphetamines, I thought. I so love what the medicine does for me. But I just can’t help harboring some guilt over taking it. It kind of feels like I’m cheating. It feel like an athlete taking steroids. Sure, it works, but is it morally right? I don’t know.

I have to kind of laugh, though. My husband has always been the worker bee, and I was always the one who needed prodding to get moving. In the last few days, I have seen a huge role-reversal. I’m puttering around cleaning and organizing, and meanwhile, I’m shouting things at him that I need him to do. I had him carrying things to the garage, taking out the trash, changing poopy diapers, all in the name of letting me do what I was doing and not getting in the way. Believe me, he doesn’t mind.

Tomorrow I get to talk to my therapist again. I’m sure she’ll help ease my mind on the matter of the Adderall. Since being largely disorganized is a huge symptom on ADHD, and all I’ve wanted to do the last few days was to get organized, I’m pretty sure that it’s a good sign that the medicine is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing. Also, being able to have clear thoughts without getting overwhelmed and frustrated is such a huge deal. I have been freaking out way less. I haven’t lost my patience or gotten angry or frustrated. I haven’t felt worthless or unlovable, or unworthy of love. I feel like I have my life ahead of me. I feel like I finally have control. I look forward with confidence that I’m going to shape up and get down to business. I’ve worn the face of confidence lots of times, but never felt it in my heart like I do now. And that is something.

Cheers

Yesterday I had a very good day. I was texting with my husband on and off all day letting him know how things were going. When he got off of work, he texted me to let me know that he was taking me out to dinner. He was so proud of me that he wanted to treat me. So I asked my mom to babysit and we went to Red Lobster.

Usually when we go out to dinner, we will take turns being the designated driver. It isn’t that we like to get fall-down drunk, but a drink or two with dinner is a nice way to relax and enjoy an evening. And we like to be responsible, so only one of us gets to enjoy our evening each time. Last night, I asked for wine.

Rewind to three days ago, when I picked up my new medicine. The pharmacist asked me if I had any questions, and I did have a couple. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask about drinking while on Adderall, so I actually called the pharmacy after I got home. The pharmacist said a glass of wine in the evening would be okay. He did mention, however, that Adderall is a stimulant, and that alcohol is a depressant, and that you don’t really want to take them together. I guess it defeats the purpose both ways.

So I had a couple glasses, and we enjoyed our dinner. (Or at least I did.) Then we went home, put the baby to bed, I blogged while he played a video game, and then we went to bed. Nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. Then this morning, I took all my meds like I do every day and we got on with our day. And do you know what happened? I felt like any other day before I started my medicine.

And I remembered something.

Drinking always leaves me depressed the next day.

I’ve been taking antidepressants for a long time. And it took a long time for me to figure out that alcohol made me weepy the next day. I didn’t even have to get drunk or have a hangover. One or two drinks one evening, and the next morning I am sad, withdrawn, just flat out depressed.

And so it hit me: I can’t drink anymore.

If I want my medicine to work, I have to stop drinking. The idea of drinking to unwind is a nice idea, but if it makes me feel crappy the next day, it just isn’t worth it. And it’s not that I felt crappy today, or weepy, or extra sad in any way, it’s that my medicine only brought me back up to where I was last week. And where I was last week was not where I want to be. I want to be where I was yesterday. Yesterday I liked myself. I had confidence. I got things done. I played with my daughter and made my husband proud. I made ME proud. I did get some things done today, but not as much as I had planned on getting done yesterday. Of course, my husband was home, and we had some errands to run, but I really could have done more. I could have spent less time on my phone. And I was even forgetful today, more so than yesterday.

So here it is. I am finally feeling like an full-fledged adult. I am making good choices and following through. And I may have stopped drinking. (I wasn’t a lush, so it’s not huge.) Now it’s off to bed for me, so that I can sleep off today and get ready for a better tomorrow. Good night.

Getting into the groove

So my third day on Adderall went really well. I got a lot of things done and did them with the energy I used to have at work, back when I used to have energy at work.

There were some things, however, that stood out to me. I saw something that needed to be done, and instead of thinking I need to do that, or I’ll do that later, I just did it. And it took literally less that two minutes. That is so out of character for me. Then, later, when I took my daughter to her one-year checkup, I did not pull out my phone and look at Facebook once. We had a very long wait, and after the second poopy diaper, I did pull out my phone to check my notifications. I had a ton of emails, so I went through and deleted the unimportant ones, answered the one about a job, and by the end of the day, I had lined up a job interview! And when I did laundry, I folded and hung it and put it away instead of sticking them in a basket where they would inevitably sit for days.

Oh, and I walked the dogs. That means that I walked. Exercise.

Since I blogged a little early yesterday, I didn’t get to mention how I had forgotten to eat lunch and was shaking by dinner time. So today, even though I wasn’t hungry, I had a sandwich when my daughter ate.

I also want to clarify that when I talked about the medicine “bringing me down”, I meant that it calmed me down. Before medicating, my brain always felt like it was in a state of chaos. You remember that cloud of dust that always followed Pigpen around on the old Peanuts cartoons? The one where you can almost see fleas jumping off of him and can’t quite make out what’s underneath?

That is kind of how I pictured my brain. Constant movement, no clarity, no order, just a big, jumbled mess of random, indefinable stuff. But when I take the Adderall, the movement stops. Or at least becomes more purposeful. Today I made plans for ten days from now. My mom is going to have an appointment, and I made a mental plan for how I was going to schedule our day around it. Lunch at a certain time, so that we can get out of the door at a certain time. Normally, I would wait until that morning and think, I have to figure out what we’re going to do today, and how we’re going to work lunch and Mom’s appointment.

I feel like I am fixed. I feel like I am finally an adult. On one hand, I am considering the possibilities, the ramifications. On the other hand, I am scared that somehow the way I feel is temporary. I am worried that the newness will wear off and that I will revert to old habits. Either way, I really hope that I can lose about 30 pounds. (A girl can dream, right?)