Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A New Challenge in Life

The ADHD brain offers less guidance and structure than the neurotypical brain. Where someone else might sit to write a to-do list for their day off and come up with 7 items to complete, my brain lists 2 of the top 3 things I need to do (forgetting what the 3rd was) and then add 20 more items to the list. After a review of the list, I would recognize it was too much to do in one day, feel overwhelmed, and then go do something else (or lose the damn list).

You can imagine the challenges that face me in my new phase in life: being a stay-at-home mom. With an infant that only cries when a routine is placed on him so I won't be able to lean on the child's schedule, either.

I'm thinking general routines will be good or nothing but weight gain and insanity will ensue. A good place to start might be making sure I get outside for physical activity every day. I'm in my last sprint before student teaching so time for homework and a little time for observing teachers will also be necessary.

The last time I tried this my husband helped but I lost the schedule on Day 2. He's rarely mad, and almost never at me, but he was that time so I was warned I'd be on my own the next time around.

Maybe it's time to call my mom.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hello, Self

I'm due to give birth in 5 weeks so I'll spare you the promises to write more. Now let's dig in...

I'm in an accelerated program to earn my elementary education degree. I chose the program because I only take one class at a time (lending me some focus) but they are only 5 weeks long (supporting my 4.5 week long attention span). I love the intensity and so far I've been successful. I'm taking 10 weeks off for pregnancy/baby very soon and then I'll be back on track to student teach next fall.

The only part of the program that is not working for me is the grouping aspect. Learning Team work consists of at least 30% of my grade for every. single. class. I finally have myself together as a student so I am actually not bringing anyone else's grade down (which was my fear when I first started). HURRAY! Instead, half of our original cohort proved incapable of completing work, collaborating, finishing what they start, taking ownership, etc.

I managed to avoid working with the people that did not complete their team assignments for almost a year but that's no longer possible. The last 3 weeks have been hard on all of us. For me it has been very difficult because the man in my group that is struggling uses the same excuses I used 5 years ago. Every time we talk it's like talking to my former self.

"I didn't know I was supposed to [follow the instructions laid out in the syllabus]."
"I didn't have time to turn it in."
"I know it's not an excuse but..."
"I'll finish my work 3 days early this week. Just watch!"

And, most painful for me to hear, "I don't need help. I'll do better next time and I'll do it all by myself."

It is a tricky balance. I know exactly why he has accidentally posted the incorrect document twice: he waited until the last second, spent time floundering, didn't know what to do, and when he realized it was already 6 hours late he panicked. I can see very clearly why he has done things that have made it impossible for him to earn a good grade, despite his time and efforts. But he can't trust that I understand, especially when he doesn't understand yet himself. And empathy only worsens his anxiety/upset.

So, as the team leader, I try to work openly with everyone about what their needs are and help manuever everyone into a place where they can succede. I offer help. Then I spell out expectations and consequences and let him make his own choices. I can't drag him (or anyone else) to success in their schooling.

Perhaps one of the things I see most vividly is that "success" for this classmate might mean he flunks out. Heck, it took me 10 years of flailing about in college and life before I finally hit the real successes of understanding my ADHD, understanding my values, and start learning how to grow my strengths while acknowledging my limitations.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An explanation

I have several great ideas for this blog which have either been started, are almost finished, or are just buzzing around in my brain. But I haven't posted anything in months! The easiest thing to do in this situation is to share a fun (and incredibly accurate, if you ask me) video. I might be able to ride the momentum that posting something can start.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ambien-Straterra Dance to Hell

I've been on Straterra for 8 days to help me with concentration, impulse control, school work, managing distractions, etc.

I stopped sleeping on day 2. It's not a stimulant so it's not supposed to affect me that way.

My heart started racing in my chest on day 5.

I was so hyped up I felt shaky on day 7. And I still hadn't had good sleep in 2 weeks.

So I filled the Ambien prescription I'd been avoiding and took it last night. The half pill of Ambien helped me sleep like I usually do: up 4 or 5 times in one night but only for 5 minutes or so.

Today I had a short temper and a headache but there were also clouds, wind, and rain (all of which affect my moods and head) so that's not proof of anything. I've also been unable to concentrate.

Not to worry, though--I'm on the intro-pack to Straterra so I'll take a bigger dose tomorrow. I predict I will be hyped up again. So I'll take a full Ambien. So I'll loose concentration. ...so I 'll be glad when the Straterra dose is upped again...

You have got to be kidding me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cooling the Lava

I think of my emotions as hot lava or magma--they're intense (I use the word "brilliant" in my own mind), they can wrap up the people around me before they know what's hit them, and my emotions can be slow moving or fast and dangerous. Whatever descriptors might fit, they are always right. under. the surface.

These lava emotions can be a great strength for me, especially with children who generally appreciate enthusiasm. I tend to have a harder time with adults because the conversations are more sensitive and adults are expected to contain themselves (or that's what I'm told, anyway). So I was very, very proud of myself for being the voice of reason earlier this week.

I had my first class with my education cohort this Wednesday. ADHD-wise, I did excellently. I had no problem staying seated or listening for 2 hours at a time (well... ok, I started feeling antsy after 90 minutes but I was still able to concentrate). I was able to keep my comments and questions focused and relevant. I felt like an adult student.

During the break, I was chatting with 2 of my classmates while getting some of my online work set-up on my laptop. I sat between them while they talked about an upcoming vacation in Mexico. The woman on my right was very worried for our new friend because "Mexicans are crazy." Without warning, she launched into a frenzied diatribe because "I hate illegals. We should just round them up, take them somewhere, and kill them all."

There are many, many things wrong with what she expressed. The immediate leap between the citizens of Mexico and illegal immigrants in the US, the extermination of any group of people, the insulting phrase regarding Mexicans, saying something so extreme to people you've just met...

My usual instinct when confronted with bigotry is to ask, "Have you lost your ever-lovin' mind???" It's also what I actually do because these people have lost their ever-lovin' minds and there isn't any other way to put it.

But this was the beginning of a 2 year stint with my classmates. We were just told "you'll be like family by the end of this program." I can't start that kind of relationship off with a row, even if the woman is a nutso. Plus there are only 7 other people in the group--I can't avoid working with her.

So I took a deep breath. Without thinking about it, I kept my eyes on my laptop and very calmly said, "That sounds pretty prejudiced." Not the most elegant rebuff but there it was: "you're not going to spew your hatred all over me for the next 2 years and in return I won't scorch your sorry butt like the vicious volcano the other crazies have to experience" neatly wrapped into 4 words.

She sputtered out a lame excuse, to which I replied, "Hm." I've been honing that 'hm' since I saw an excellent teacher/professor/mentor use it to quell 20 teenagers 5 years ago. Thankfully it worked for me. Everyone participating calmed down and I'd gotten my point across without shouting or spewing back (or beating anyone senseless).

For once, my emotions stayed calm; impulse and reaction did not rule the day.

Ritalin in October

I took Ritalin for 30 days before being moved to a different medication. Or rather, I took half doses for 3 days in a row and was ready to crawl out of my skin. But it takes a while to get used to any medication, right?

So I took 1 or 2 days off and tried again. Again, by 12pm on day 3 I was a jitter bug. I wanted to take it regularly to give it a fair chance. My distractibility was way down--a huge plus. But my impulse and hyperactivity both jumped, as did my general anxiety. Concentration doesn't mean a whole lot if sitting still is physically painful or I have to walk for 2 hours after doing any amount of school work.

In short, I did much better in school (earning an A- in Sociology was frighteningly easy) but couldn't enjoy it because I was anxious, jumpy, and had impulsively made (and eaten) chocolate chip cookie dough enough times to cause acne and bloat me right out of the skinny jeans I'd spent the summer working myself back into.

The RN at the Neurology office was very frustrated to hear this pattern continued for the entire month. "It only works if you take it regularly."

I guess I was supposed to take the sleeping pills regularly too, huh? She covered her face and breathed slowly for a minute. But the sleeping pills were a similar story--I'd take them for a couple nights and then I'd stop sleeping through the night. Some nights I'd wake up for hours at a time. It just didn't seem worth it.

She moved me to straterra and ambien. The straterra has been a nightmare and I've put off the ambien until tonight. I'll write about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Current WIPs

**I came across this post from 9/13/2010. Even my new blog has a drafts build-up. Le sigh.**

These are a few of my current Works In Progress. I'll update one or two of them on Wednesdays. I'm hoping this will help me track my progress (goals have to be measurable, right?). We'll see how far I've come in a few months.

When I need to get back to an e-mail I mark it as unread. Sometimes I'll read and then mark it as unread again several times. Every few months I go back and delete these e-mails (or I'll just read them and leave them that way). 60 seems to be my limit before it's really bothering me.

I also save passwords as replies to companies but then never send them. This way I can just search my draft box for that company when I need the password but have forgotten it I don't have 40 passwords so there are probably a few e-mails hiding in there that were supposed to be send. I accidentally press SAVE instead of SEND more often than I'd like to admit.


Several months ago I had $100 set aside for yarn. I bought several skeins of yarn, all of which I'd been in love with for months (even years!). I spent a few months just enjoying actually owning the yarn. Then we spent some time organizing it (and the rest of our office closet) so I spent some time owning organized yarn. But now it's time to use some of it (because I can't buy any more until I've used some of what I already have). This project from Knitty.com shouldn't take more than 7 evenings.


This lovely bundle of organized yarn is for a knitting compitition. I signed up for it 9 months ago! I have to have it done before Christmas. I have to make balls out of the yarn before I can start making the stole.


Maybe my e-mail is just a symptom of a greater problem: I save to sort later. These boxes haven't been unpacked in years but I still keep them at the ready. Just in case. In case of what, I don't know. I'm trying to keep the other piles from becoming box situations but any time I go through them I'm left with a trash/recycle pile. ...and another, albeit smaller, keep and organize later pile.