Continuum

Wow, a lot has happened since I started this blog a few years ago. It has been nearly four years since my miscarriage, which I think was about the time I started here. So here is an update on the life of Tracy.

In one year, I should be walking across a stage to accept both an Associate’s and a Bachelor degree. I graduated high school in 1999, and will finally have TWO degrees at the end of 2018. It has been a long road, and I truly could not have gotten here without my wonderful husband.

We now have two more children than we had four years ago. My daughter will be three in January, and my son will be one. My son has OMA (Ocular Motor Apraxia) and a few developmental delays. For a few months this summer, I thought he was blind, but he finally started tracking and making/maintaining eye contact. During those months, I learned so much about the blind/VI community, and made a few friends. I learned a lot about accessibility and advocating for those who need it, whether the individual is your child, your friend, or yourself. For those few months, I obsessed over blind accessibility, Orientation and Mobility, sensory rich toys, the possibility of learning Braille, white canes, and assistive technology. Because that is what I do, I obsess. I fixate on something and learn as much as I can until the feeling passes.

Eventually, I accepted that he could see, and that I no longer had to stress about learning about that particular topic. The timing was convenient, because the fall semester was starting, and I needed to focus on school. Then I had to choose a topic for a research proposal. This would probably be a good time to mention that I am a Psych major. I wanted to research a topic that I was interested in, since that makes researching a topic so much less painful. So I wanted to learn about sensory processing problems. This led me down a trail like this:

SPD–>Part of ASD–>SPD often seen in ADHD–>ADHD, I have that–>Taking meds for ADHD helped my Fibromyalgia–>Fibro is a lot like SPD–>DSM does not recognize SPD as a disorder, but it does include sensory issue as part of ASD–>Is Fibro a lot like ASD?…

It is.

So, that was around September or October of this year. Just a couple of months ago, really. In these last few months, I have learned a LOT about Autism and Asperger’s, Fibromyalgia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Alexithymia, Affective Spectrum Disorder, sensory gating and habituation, and the Autism Quotient. I have read studies. So many studies.

One study (here) concluded that ADHD and ASD could be one continuum. Just as Asperger’s is considered high-functioning Autism, ADHD could be yet a higher-functioning form, or however you want to say it. Another (here) found a higher frequency of ADHD in women with Fibro. There were others, but what I found was one puzzle piece after another which all seemed to fit my theory. Fibromyalgia seems so very similar to Asperger’s. Dr. Tony Attwood and writer/Aspie Rudy Simone both emphasize the fact that girls on the spectrum present differently than boys do, and so often, they go undiagnosed until much later in life. Most sufferers of Fibro are women. The pattern seeking part of me cannot help but put these pieces together to form a very likely picture of millions of women suffering with an invisible pain disorder that could be the result of living a life with a sensory disorder. Having hypersensitive everything can drive a person batty, especially if those around you just seem to think you are being whiny and demanding, or evasive and unsociable.

I started writing this as an update on my life and fell into my habit of over-sharing my current fixation. Sorry. That is just one of my many charming Aspie tendencies. I will share one more thing with you before I go. I read this thing today about tactile-defensiveness. I texted and asked my husband to read it as a favor to me. Later, after he got home from work, he asked why reading it made him think of me. I told him that was why I needed him to read it. I wanted him to understand that the way I behave sometimes is not a reflection of him or my feelings for him, that it is just my way of coping. I think it helped.

Please comment if you have any thoughts on my ideas in this blog. I will touch again on it at a later date, as I have much more to go into about the neuro-physiological aspect of all of it. Until then, good night!

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Growing up like this

What if I am a little autistic? How could I have gotten to be in my thirties without a diagnosis? I have some thoughts about that.

First, I was a smart kid. I’m not saying that I’m not smart now. But when I was a kid, I excelled at school. Math was the best, but I even did pretty well in spelling, reading, science, anything that grabbed my interest. I was a quick study. So when people said things like, “Don’t do that, that’s rude,” I learned not to do that. I learned the rules. I learn the metaphors. I learned not to take everything literally. I remember watching people’s mouths when they spoke. Sometimes I still have trouble understanding what someone is saying if I don’t. And I remember being told to look people in the eye. I did my best to follow this rule, but I also got confused by it. Which eye was I supposed to look at? Going back and forth was distracting. So I started looking at the bridge of their nose. By this point, who knows what they’re saying to me? Doesn’t matter. I look like I’m paying attention, right? So by being a smart kid, I learned to look and act as close to normal as I could. Changing schools many times over the years didn’t help. I have a feeling that a few teachers and administrators started to get a sense that I was different, but then we would change schools, move to another state, or whatever, and I would get lost again in the shuffle.

The second reason is my looks. I was a cute kid. Adolescence was a very awkward time for me. Glasses and puberty came together in a very unfortunate way, totally demolishing what self-esteem I may have had before. I easily disappeared behind a book during this time. But luckily, by my senior year, I started to emerge from my ugly duckling phase as a pretty decent looking swan. I was thin, a decent height, with muscular legs, and by then I was wearing contact lenses, so no more gawky glasses. As a young adult, I was quite attractive. I could get through the social scene pretty effortlessly on my looks and goofy sense of humor. If I stayed quiet, I wouldn’t look too weird. If I had a couple drinks, my behavior could be dismissed as a result of my inebriation. Once I was comfortable around people, I could get loud and boisterous, but that was forgiven as well. Pretty girls can get away with a lot.

I dropped out of college and met my first husband. I got pregnant. I had my son and got married, and later had my daughter. My marriage was a disaster. He was only with me because of my looks, then only because of the kids. We drove each other crazy, and not in a good way. Depression, rage, suspicion, there were a lot of feelings that I could not cope with. And he could not cope with my seemingly irrational behavior. He lied to me every day since the beginning. My naivety was to blame for the first couple of years, and after that, I was tied to him by our marriage and our son. Divorce, custody fights, and more lies. But I had finally learned that he could not be trusted. Now his words have no value to me whatsoever. I cannot believe anything he says.

I’ve been divorced now for ten years. A decade since I put my foot down and stood up for myself. I have come a long way. Another marriage, two more kids, a diagnosis for ADHD, which explained a lot to me. And I started school again.

But working on a psych degree is another learning process that has brought me to a realization that I never expected to make. I could be a little autistic. In fact, I see Autism in many of my family members. And I don’t think that I am jumping the gun. I am watching and paying attention. I am learning. I am researching. I am fixating, the way I tend to do. And I do say something to my husband every now and then. Sometimes he blows it off, but sometimes it sinks in a little. He brought up what I had said about his dad a few days after I said it. I guess I’ve got his gears turning as well.

I’ve stopped worrying about my looks. I dress to be comfortable and try not to look too odd. I remind myself to shower and brush my teeth. I continue to learn, but I don’t force myself to socialize. Socializing is very anxiety-inducing for me. It isn’t worth the meltdown. I’m learning to move forward. I’m really bad about living in the moment, and I’m trying hard to set goals for myself. I still need help in a lot of areas, but I can accept that. I’m a work in progress.

Hypochondriac, or just finally understanding?

I hate my hair. 

A lot of girls (boys, men, women, fill-in-the-blank) hate their hair. But they hate the way it flips up on the side, or how curly it is, or how straight. They hate how thin or thick it is. They hate how greasy it is, or they hate the color. 

I hate my hair. 

I hate having hair. If I wasn’t so self conscious about my appearance, I’d have shaved it all off years ago. I hate that hair grows out of my head and subsequently tickles my face, my ears, my neck. 

I hate being tickled. 

When I was a kid, I would cry if anyone tickled me. I hated it. I still hate it. I will hurt you if you try to tickle me. You may as well hit me, because I will hit you back either way. 

I can’t sit still. 

In fact, sitting up is so uncomfortable, I usually recline. I lay on the couch or in bed, lean back in the recliner, if I’m standing, I’m probably leaning. Sitting upright is so uncomfortable that I cannot sit still. I try to cross my legs, but after a few short minutes, I feel like the circulation has been cut completely off in my legs. Watching a movie at the theater is uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to movies. But I can’t get comfortable. I almost always have to put my feet up on the back of he seat in front of me, so I try to make sure I don’t sit right behind anyone. But mostly, I just don’t sit still. 

I have social anxiety. 

I’m great, socially, as long as the mood of those around me is good. I’m a wonderful mimic. But if they are quiet, or aloof, or awkward themselves, then I am clueless. If I embarrass myself, I feel physical pain. I react very energetically. If it’s laughing, crying, shouting in anger, it’s never subtle. I can’t suppress my reactions very easily. It takes an enormous effort. 

I have social anxiety. 

My mom used to say I was shy, but it was paralyzing. I recently came across the term “selective mutism”.  I could not speak in front of strangers. The anxiety it caused made me cry if someone tried to force me to say hello. 

But I was smart. 

My first grade teacher told my parents that he was certain he could give me college level work and test me a week later and I would ace it. He asked me how to spell “cousin” and “tomorrow” as though he knew I could. And I did. Perhaps he had made sure that I had read those words in the days before he asked me. I loved math and science. Algebra was like working out a puzzle. It was fun, and the answer was definite, it couldn’t change. I struggled with other subjects. I mean, I was still in the 90+ percentile in every subject, but reading and English were not my strongest by far. 

But I loved to read. 

I read Charlotte’s Web when I was seven or eight. The Time Machine and The Invisible Man when I was ten. When I was twelve, I discovered the world of Pern, and began devouring the works of Anne McCaffrey. Her world was amazing. There were dragons and lords, and dragon-like fire lizards. And the dragons had a telepathic bond with their riders that was so strong that it lasted their lifetime, and to lose a dragon or rider partner was enough to cause the instant, tragic suicide by the survivor. The characters in her world were so wonderfully written. Some children felt different and didn’t fit in in their feudal home, until they were “Searched” by the dragon riders, and presented as candidates at a dragon hatching. They found their place by finding a life-long friend, and found their purpose by becoming the defenders of their world. 

They found their place. And their power. 

I’m finally back in school. You know that thing where medical students start diagnosing themselves with the diseases that they learn about in med school? Well, I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac. I was floored when I was diagnosed with ADHD. I had joked that my idiosyncrasies were a little “ADD”, but I never truly considered that as a possibility. It was a joke. But then I examined my life, all the way back, and it all made sense. 

I’m a Psychology major.

I’ve always struggled with depression and anxiety. Then I learned that they could have been caused by ADHD. But now I’m learning about something I never studied before. I’ve known people with kids who were diagnosed. I have worked with very awkward adults who had been diagnosed. But I never honestly thought that I might be on the autism spectrum. 

Until now. 

Is it because I’m a hypochondriac who happen to be studying psychology? Or is it because of the way I can’t focus on what I’m doing if my shoes are wet, or if the light is flickering, or if someone is wearing strong perfume? Is it because I can’t meet people on my own? I tend to “put myself out there” and wait for others to approach me. It worked better when I was younger and more attractive. Now it just makes me look like the eccentric lady that no one wants to get stuck in conversation with. 

Is it Apserger’s?

I’ve been learning about it. I’ve been reading and taking tests. But I don’t know if I’m just answering like an Aspie because I have some knowledge, if I’m projecting, if I’m mimicking. I’ve never felt right just being me, and I tend to try to blend. Sometimes it’s evident in the way I speak. Sometimes I change my speech to match the tone, inflection, regional dialect, even the accent of those around me. Is that what I’m doing when I take the test? Or is that another symptom? Who am I really?

I think my mom could be Aspie. My problems might stem from being raised by someone who isn’t “normal”.  It’s laughable. I’ve never thought I was normal, but I often played it off as being okay, because I wasn’t boring. At least not when I’m comfortable, around people I know and like. But mostly I stay home. I don’t visit friends. I sometimes invite them over, because it’s less stressful than leaving home. 

I wear my heart on my sleeve. 

If I’m in a good mood, I tend to bubble over. If I’m stressed, I snap and tear into those around me. If I’m sad, I don’t do anything. If I’m tired or hungry, look out. And if I don’t like someone, I find it very hard to be civil or pretend that I don’t have a problem with them. And I don’t understand why/how other people do. 

Am I too analytical?

That’s what Dr. Ortíz told me. She wasn’t my doctor, she was my boss. It was right after I told someone they were lighting the candles on the cake wrong. The way he was doing it, he could have burned himself. 

I have short-term obsessions. 

When I was younger it might have been a boy, or dolphins, or a book, or some interesting thing I had learned about or experienced. I would be obsessed. For a while. Then it would be unimportant again, as a new obsession took its place. But I never forgot the details. 

I remember the stupidest things. 

The dumbest things. 

But I can remember things that I learned, that helped me in school. Not that the parts of the cell will ever come in handy. Except while I’m in school. 

I was always good at school. 

Well, mostly. I was great at school before junior high and high school. Then I was just pretty good. The closer I got to graduation, the more anxiety I had. Independence was scary. I didn’t know how to take care of myself. I still struggle. And I got a couple of D’s along the way. There was one in a science class because I couldn’t understand why we were given an assignment, so I resisted it, and it was a large part of my grade. Then later in Calculus. I knew the algebra like the back of my hand. But most of the other students struggled. I would get so frustrated that the teacher was teaching what these students should have already known. So I would read my book. Anne McCaffrey, Dean Koontz, Stephen King… When the part of class came to learn calculus, I was lost in my fictional world, where the other students’ incompetence couldn’t stress me. I dropped that class the next semester. 

I had a full ride scholarship to college. 

I got a 30 on my ACT. It took me less than a year to drop out. I quit school two more times since then. That was before the ADHD diagnosis. This is my last chance to finish school. 

Could I have Asperger’s? 

Am I overreacting, like my husband thinks? Am I onto something? My therapist is still warming up to the idea. She’s more interested in why I think I need a diagnosis. I need it to understand. To make others understand. To help protect my overly delicate psyche in the future. To learn techniques to keep myself from overloading. To keep myself from having meltdowns. To protect my family from my wrath by helping us all see the triggers. To help myself set goals and find a career that is a good fit. To make connections. To make friends. To learn. I need a diagnosis so that when I look at myself, I don’t see a hot mess, barely struggling to get by, but a woman who has done very well, considering being undiagnosed. To heal. 

The real starting place

I hate that I haven’t written in a few days. I was so proud of my blogging there for a while. But one night I was online looking for jobs, found “free” online training. I took a whole course, tested and passed, just to find out that I had to buy the certificate. So much for free.

Since that took up a few hours of my time, I forgot to get on here. Since I missed one night, I fell out of the habit a lot more quickly than I like to admit. But I haven’t been idle.

Friday I went to the university here in town to talk about my options. Since I was in Upward Bound in high school, I knew about the TRIO programs, so I asked if they were available here, and they were. So I talked to them and found out about some great programs and options available to me, as a first-generation college student, and even as a student who left school for a while and returned. I returned this morning for a meeting to go over some things.

As it stands right now, I have 78 credits and a 3.34 GPA. I think that’s pretty good considering that I have dropped out three times. They have two programs here for people who are returning to school after quitting. One if for a two-year break and one is for a four-year gap, and they both forgive and remove all F grades from your transcript, which can raise your overall GPA. So there’s that. Then the EOC, part of TRIO, paid for my application fee, and helped me with my FAFSA. I have a list of CLEP exams available if I want to study up and earn credit without taking a class. We discussed not only my major and minor, but also the possibility of picking up a few more credits and earning an Associate’s in Liberal Arts while I work on my Bachelor’s degree.

Having learned about many of these things last Friday, I approached my bestie on Saturday and made her fill out a transcript request so that I could see how close she is to graduation, and maybe even that Associate’s degree. That poor kid has so much stress, she could use a boost right now. Not only would it be a boost to her overall morale, but it would give her some options as far as her career. I’m afraid she’s stuck in a crap-hole now, and I feel like it’s dragging her down.

And I love that helping her excites me. Because for the first time in a very long time, I am excited about helping someone. It gives me hope for finding my own career. I want to help people. When I first learned about my ADHD, I wanted to learn as much as I could about it. The more I learn, the more I see those things about myself that were overlooked all these years. It hurts my heart to look back over my life and to see how lost I’ve always been. I want to help people find themselves sooner rather than later, like me. I want to work with kids, and help them learn to work with their challenges, in a way no one could figure out how to help with me. If not kids, then adults. I want to be involved in education. I’ve always said as much, but the amount of organization that is required always overwhelmed me before. Whether it’s helping kids in preschool, or high school, or college, or adults, or whatever, I want to be involved in that. I want to help people figure out how many more credits they need for a degree. I want to help kids master the technique of rising above their frustration and practicing patience. I want to teach them how to write a great story. Or how to get up in front of a class to speak. I want to help them succeed. I want to help people succeed. If I can do that, then I will have succeeded. That is what I want. I want to feel the satisfaction of having helped someone. I want them to look at me with gratitude and tell me how much they appreciate my help. I want to see them not walking away, but soaring away when I am finished with them.

I don’t yet know what I want to do with my life exactly. But I will get my BA in Psychology, with a minor in creative writing, and my certification to teach, and when I am ready, I feel confident that the appropriate opportunity will present itself. If I can work while pursuing a Master’s, I just might. If I can get a job I love without it, then I won’t need it.

I could teach elementary. I could teach middle school or high school. Maybe a Psych class, or a creative writing class. Maybe I can be a counselor, or maybe that requires a Master’s. I can tutor. I can be a special ed teacher, or an assistant teacher. I’m sure there are different types of therapy from a medical standpoint that I can work in. Speech therapy? I can work at the university, maybe for one of the TRIO programs. I can teach a class here or there for the university itself. Or any of the smaller schools in the area. I want to teach, advise, encourage and empower people, kids and adults. I want to show them the parts of themselves that shine, even when they can’t see them.

I don’t need a ton of money. My husband and I are doing alright. I just need an income, so I’m not trying to get rich. I finally feel like I want something more than just punching a time-clock and getting a paycheck. I want a career. I want to do it. I want to finish school, and this time I will. I won’t let myself get overwhelmed. I will look at the light at the end of the tunnel, and keep moving myself forward. I will make my husband and my kids proud of me. I will become someone that they can look up to, not just come to when they can’t find their shoes. I am so excited about my life for the first time in… well, ever.

This is what I’ve waited my whole life for. Goddamn, I better not disappoint.

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.

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.