Thursday, March 28, 2013

It goes by so fast...

One of my favorite blog writers just wrote this about people telling her to enjoy every moment with her small children. 
Go on, look, I'll wait.

And I wrote a huge response to put in her comments, and then thought, "Geez!  I shouldn't put a whole blog post into a comment!"
So I'll write it here, and if she is the only one who reads it, so be it.

I've had lots of women (generally elderly, or at least my mother's age)  tell me that I should, "Enjoy it [early childhood].  It goes by so fast!"  And, my other favorite, "Someday you will miss all the noise in your house."

It DOES go by so fast.  Thank heavens!!  Whenever you have a kid under the age of five it's IMPOSSIBLE to enjoy every moment.  Many times when my kids were running amok somewhere they shouldn't be I got that well-meaning statement.  Well, it was either well-meaning, or said by someone who was in the middle stages of dementia that only noticed the one child I had calm in the cart by means of the 5th lollipop that outing. 

Now that my youngest is 3 1/2 I have often wondered, "Did I enjoy it enough?  Was I gypped due to my depression?  Did I miss all the wonderful things that babies bring?   Should I bring one more human into the world so I can have one more chance?"

Aaaaaaaaand the resounding answer is "NO".  And the last thing any new human needs is to be dragged into the mess I've created here.

I didn't miss anything.  I was there.  There were beautiful moments, but there was a lot of screaming.  And poop.  And not enough sleep.  And vomit.  And days stuck at home with sick kids (still happens) when I wanted to be somewhere, ANYWHERE else.  And did I mention the lack of sleep?!?

So, enjoy the moments that are good.  Look for them.  They're the shiny pennies in the bag of tarnished coins.  It does get better.  The training pays off, and little by little they become more civilized human beings.  (i.e. can use the potty instead of the floor).  But don't beat yourself up when you find yourself hating the day (not the kids - but I have found it IS possible to love someone fiercely and not like them at all at the same time).

It's still hard sometimes, but not as constantly.  And I'm sure, someday, when all the noise is gone from my home I will sometimes miss it.  And then I will invite small children to visit.  And they will be noisy.  And then, I'm sure, after a few hours, I will be extremely grateful I can send them back home to their parents.

Enjoy what you can, and to the next well wisher tell them they are welcome to come home with you to jog their memory about how much "fun" tiny screaming, pooping children can be.

Monday, March 18, 2013

ADHD parenting

Raising kids is hard.  Raising parents is worse.  My poor kids have a mom who has ADHD.  What does that mean?

Well, first of all it means that routines don't really exist.  You've heard the saying that if you do something for 3 weeks it becomes a habit, right?
Not for me.  I've heard that from a lot of other people who have ADHD.  We can easily do something for 3 weeks, or even 3 months, and still quit doing it at the drop of a hat.  It takes great concerted effort for us to add something - especially if it is something we don't like.  Most of my habits that Ive been able to keep have to be piggybacked on some biological need (eat, sleep, play video games). 
Kids need routines.  I don't do that well.

Kids need order.  Have you seen hoarders?  Me too.  I like it 'cause it makes me feel better.  I can still see all most some of my floor.  But there is clutter everywhere.  And there is a lot of stuff on the floors.  It's not neat, it's not pretty, and ALL the toys are in one big box (sometimes).  A lot of the stuff around the house are duplicates because we failed to find the original in time.

Kids need food.  Yeah, before you freak out, I still feed them.  But it's not the June Cleaver meals, it's whatever I can whip up in 5 minutes.  Seriously, anything longer requires planning, and I forget to do that until my tummy grumbles - or my kids do.  So we eat a lot of cereal and sandwiches.  Good thing we like both.

Kids need patience.  So do I.  Unfortunately they seem to have used up all of mine.

There are lots of other things I do wrong, but here are some things that my ADHD help me do well.

My constantly flitting attention (when I'm not hyperfocusing) helps me track them.  They're quite shiny.  And sticky.  And covered in.. What the??? Get out of there!!

I'm quite flexible.  That's easy when you can't remember what plans you had in the first place.   Ice cream with the kids is more important that some stupid city council meeting about a proposed highway going through your house.  Right?  Right?!?

I can find things.  I'm good at that because I always lose things, so I've had LOTS of practice finding everything.  And my kids have learned this invaluable skill, because I have painstakingly instilled it in them by losing my keys, purse, mind, shoes, (not necessarily in that order, or individually) and then recruiting the children in locating these things.  I suspect the children may have occasionally relocated the items in question, but I know myself better than to assume that the children are the primary culprits.

I provide wonderful humor for my children.  "Silly Mama!  You put the keys in the fridge.  AGAIN!"

Most of all, I love my children.   I tell them so often (usually accompanied by an apology for my latest gaff), and I can do it with a straight face!  I always mean it, even (or especially) when I can't feel it.  Love is a verb, and I do try hard to show it.

I guess most moms mess up occasionally.  I just feel like one constant failure.  But, if I'm a failure, I'm a loving, funny one at least.  :D

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Depression IS real, and seeking medication is not a sign of weakness.

I've been reading some, well, depressing articles about depression.  This one, at actually managed to make me angry.  What made me more angry were some of the comments in related facebook posts that got me to the article.

First, I think a definition is in order.  Most people think of depression as being perpetually sad.  And it is.  But, if it lasts too long (more than 2 weeks), or is especially bad (as in, you can't function normally) it is classified as clinical depression.  For the sake of brevity, in the rest of this blog post I will refer to clinical depression simply as depression.

The thing that made me angry, specifically, about the article was the comments of people who had obviously not experienced true clinical depression.  It wasn't so much their judgmental comments that people should just "snap out of it", "try harder", or not use medications because "they are just a crutch", it was their dismissal of the notion that clinical depression wasn't real.  "Just be happy" doesn't work for someone who is clinically depressed.  "Try harder" is insulting to someone who is trying as hard as they can just to even approximate normality.  Try harder?  Oh yes, because if I will it, I can just think my way past depression. 

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain.  Diabetes is a chemical imblance caused by the pancreas.  Would you tell a diabetic to just "try harder"?  No?  Same thing. 

Can some people just snap out of depression?  I bet there are some.  Just like there are a fortunate few who, with a little change of diet, and losing some weight, can "cure" themselves of diabetes.  I say "cure" because it seems to me that those people would forever be teetering near the edge.  Gain some weight, go off the good diet, and you're right back where you started.  Possibly worse than before.

There are lots of things you can do to help move out of regular depression.  Exercise.  Eat right.  Change your situation (or avoid change, if that is the problem).  Make sure you are taking time for yourself.  Meditate.  Help other people.  Get a hobby you love.  Spend time with people you love.  See a psychologist, or counselor.  Play.  Get some sunshine. 

And when these are not enough, go see a doctor (in my case a psychiatrist), and determine whether you need medication.  Then, if you two determine you do, give the medication time.  Most of them take weeks, if not months, to kick in all the way.  And you may not get the right one at first.  It took me a year, and five different medications to find the right one for me.  Believe me, it was a very hard year.  Some of the side effects were excruciating, and that was the reason for dropping some particular medications. 

And just when I had been stable for a while, my life would change, and I would be catapulted back into depression.  Hormones were a big factor in this.  Pregnant?  Happy!  (but physically miserable).  Had a baby?  Depressed.  Weaned the baby?  Depressed. 

And then, after being stable on my medication for a couple of years, because I'm bipolar I flipped up, and became manic.  And, because I was on a medication meant to stave off depression (SSRI), I flipped WAY up.  I was "higher" than I'd ever been, and it was scary. 

So, yes, taking medicine can be scary.  But if you need it, not taking it can be much worse.  And some people won't understand, and they'll judge you for it.  I wonder if they would also judge a cancer patient for doing chemotherapy going bald.  It's possible they would  Here's the thing: they are NOT you, and they are NOT your doctor... so their opinion doesn't really matter.  You need to worry about you, and do what you and your doctor determine is best for you.  And I know it can hurt to be judged.  My own family tried to second-guess my doctor's diagnosis for me.  I didn't talk to them for a couple of months.  I wanted support, not nay-saying.  And it was because I was diagnosed with a mental disorder.  If I had been diagnosed with cancer my family might have questioned what kind of treatment is best, but they wouldn't have (without any kind of medical degree I might add) dismissed the diagnosis itself.

So, if you are stuck in that awful black pit that is depression, get the help you need.  And, if you are so far in you can't see out, get someone to help pull you to the doctor.  It won't make you high (wrong class of drugs for that), nor will it make you better at everything.  It will make it easier to live a NORMAL life.  You may still have bad days.  I do.  You may still find life overwhelming at times.  I do that too.  But you will probably find a lot more joy, and lot less deep sadness and overarching rage.  Yeah, few people talk about the rage with clinical depression, but it's there too.

Be brave, and get better.  I believe in you!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Time keeps on slippin'...

Time is a problem for me.  It's a problem for a lot of people with ADHD.
For us, quite often, there are only 2 times: now, and NOT now.
Estimation is also a problem.  Not mathematically - I can do that one.  I mean estimating how long things take.   This is not true of all people with ADHD, but it is for me, and it is for lots of people who have it too.  So for the rest of this article I'm going to write of my experience and perceptions, but if you have ADHD, or know or care about someone who does, this may apply to you too.

This time & estimation problem helps explain why I am perpetually late.  I don't have to be there NOW.  I don't have to leave NOW, because it only takes 15 minutes (an hour for really long distances) to drive there.   It also explains (somewhat) procrastination.  Being overwhelmed is another component of that, but that is for another blog post. 

See a pattern here?  As a kid I would resist my mother's attempts to have me get ready.  We weren't leaving NOW, so I didn't need to put shoes on now.  Or get my backpack or coat.  But when she yelled it was time to be out in the car I couldn't find a shoe (or both) and my coat was NOT on the hook. 

Schoolwork was a problem too.  The assignment isn't due now, and it will only take about 15 minutes to finish (or an hour if it's a BIG assignment). And, the assignment isn't due until Friday, so I'd plan to start Thursday night - or Friday morning.  Of course, the assignment rarely only took 15 minutes.  It was more like 30-45, or days instead of hours.  And then that deadline would come and I'd forgotten my notes or books, or have inadequate research done.  Or worse, forgotten the assignment entirely until I got to class.  That was always fun.  I got really good at sweet-talking the teacher into letting me turn it in late. 

Time & estimation are still problems for me.  Only now, I have to get 4 other people ready in addition to myself.  We don't have to leave now, so there's no point in getting the boys ready - that will only take 5 minutes.  Right?  Their schoolwork isn't due 'til Friday, so we can start later, right? 

Wrong.  I've learned through being late and unprepared so often that things always take longer than you think.  Always.  Putting shoes on?  Takes 5 minutes if you did put them where they go.  With ADHD you have an 80% chance that you did NOT put them where they belong.  So you need to budget an extra 20 minutes just to find your shoes.

Getting out to the car with 4 small children will take 10 times as long as you think most days.  And even when I do get out the car the kids are used to me going back inside at least once (usually 2 or 3 times) to get something I've forgotten.  We're often lucky if we don't have to turn around partway down the road to get that one other crucial thing I've forgotten.

So here's what I've learned to help me with my problem:
  1. Use mapquest/google/AT&T maps.  They tell you how long it really takes to get there.  Add 10 minutes for finding parking, getting lost anyway, stopping for gas (shoot! forgot that too!)...
  2. If I am late, take the amount of time I am late and add that to the amount of time I need to prepare the next time I am doing the same thing.  
  3. I set a pre-deadline.  Or lots of them.  Then when I can't finish something in 15 minutes, or an hour, I have a few more days to get it done.
  4. I've (usually) accept that being done with homework and projects early is a GOOD thing.  I am just as free then to do what I want as I was before when I was doing my pre-goof-off/other busy work stuff. And as an added bonus I also have more time to double-check work, or add extra touches.
  5. I embrace being at appointments and other obligations (school pick-ups) early.  I bring a book, craft, or play a game on my electronic device in the car to reward myself for being on time.  I just have to be careful to set a timer so that I will stop in time to actually get inside where I'm supposed to be.
  6. I put my electronic devices to good use!  My iPhone can be a lifesaver.  I set timers and reminders on smartphones.  I put everything I can in the electronic calendar too.  I transfer all the school events as soon as I get those paper calendars to my phone.  And I set more than one reminder for the same event, e.g. one a day before the party, and one just an hour before.  I love my smartphone.  It's a thing that when I lose it I can call it to find it again!  
  7. I use my watch to help too.  I got a waterproof one so I didn't have to take it off when I washed my hands (and inevitably forget to put it back on).  It has multiple alarms and timers.  I have one alarm set to go off every day at 3 when it is time to pick up my kids.  It goes off everyday, even on the days I don't pick up the kids.  I've learned the hard way that if I turn it off I'll forget to turn it back on.  So on Saturday when it goes off and my kids ask what it is for, I tell them, "It's to remind me to pick you up at school. Would you like to go with me to do that now?" 
    They think that is hilarious.  So do I. 
  8. Establish routines.  This is harder for me.  For most people it takes about 3-6 weeks to establish a habit or routine.  For me, it can take months to years.  Yes, years.  Persist.  Don't berate yourself if you miss one time, try harder the next.  A slip is just that - a slip.  Don't let it change your attitude or direction.  
  9. Enlist help.  Swallow your pride and ask your spouse/friend/parent/sibling to remind you.  To follow up with you.  Especially with important things like taking your ADHD meds!   Ask them to call you when you're supposed to be there (or better yet when you should be leaving). 
  10. There should be something here.  I forget what it is.  So... tell me in the comments, what do you do to help you be on time & get stuff done by the deadline?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mania isn't all it's cracked up to be.

So you see the word "mania" and what do you think?  Fun?  Wild?  Happy?  Out of control? Energetic?   The answer for me was: all of the above - except the energy, unfortunately, was an illusion.

Everyone knows that depression is bad.  It hurts, and no one likes to be sad.  To be clinically depressed is even worse.  But very few know that mania, or being manic, can also be very bad.

I think everyone has felt like this at some point - you're basically on a natural high.  Only I would get too high.  I looked like a crack or meth addict.  I would think I could do everything.  I would find a good idea and then begin to get the necessary supplies to follow through.  But instead of getting one set I would get 3, or 4, or 7, or 10. 
I would schedule my day with too many things in it, and do the same for my children.  I would buy things.  LOTS of things.  Many, many things that were more than we needed.  I don't start one blog, I start 5.  Really.  I have 5 blogs.  I post for a while, and then forget about them. 

I could not shut my brain down.  And to go with that I talked faster and faster and faster - and couldn't stop talking!  And as I talked faster I began tripping on words and shaking.  And I would not stick to one subject necessarily.  I could go through 10 subjects in 30 seconds.  I'm surprised my friends and family weren't exhausted just listening to me!

Speaking of shaking, that was a fun new symptom for me.  I do lots of crafts which require fine motor control and my hands were shaking so badly that I could not work on them.  I hated that.

I was also irritable and my fuse was extremely short.  I would blow up at my kids at the drop of a hat.  Nevermind crying over spilled milk, how about going into a screaming fit about it?  (Me, not the kids).  I terrified them often, and I apologized, but the damage was done.  I have wonderful kids though that have forgiven me often. 

I would be mad at everyone (road rage much?) and my husband could do NOTHING right.  It wasn't like he was trying to be wrong all the time - he just was.  I did manage to bite my tongue though because there is no use in calling him out about giving the kids the wrong food, or not telling me that he was going out to the garage.  I realize that these were major infractions, but in my benevolence I forbore on reaming him for them.  I just seethed quietly.  Much better, right?

Being manic is exhilarating.  I feel invincible, I feel extremely creative (which I am), but I have a hard time channeling that creativity, or even getting it all down on paper or otherwise.  It's like trying to channel a fire hose spray onto a delicate flower bed.  Some things get watered ok, but most look a total mess.  

I don't have more energy - I have less.  I don't sleep.  I still need the same amount of sleep, but I can't go to sleep, and when I finally do drift off I can't stay asleep.  Naps become necessary.  Think of it this way: your brain eats up tons of calories - and when it won't shut down it eats more, leaving less energy for the rest of your body, But I usually don't lose weight.  Probably because I often eat more looking for that energy to complete the millions of tasks I have over-scheduled myself for.  I NEED sugary items.  Oh, and do I stay on task?  No!  Not at all!  I have trouble with that when I am not manic, but when I am... ooh!  Shiny!

I also have anxiety, and being manic it blows it sky-high.  For me being manic is like riding a bike downhill.  It's fun.  LOTS of fun.  But you can see that the hill is getting steeper and you don't seem to have brakes!  That and I remember former crashes from going down the hill before.  Then it starts getting scary - and you can't get off!  Not without help anyway.

So I got help this last time.  I talked to my doctor and he prescribed a medication for me.  Which triggered a panic attack for me.  LOL  I have a hard time with medicines - I've had lots of bad reactions.  Despite that, the mania I was experiencing recently was bad enough that I was no longer functioning well, and my life was HARD.  And I knew if it went on for much longer someone (or someones... I'm not naming any names) was going to die.  Maybe me.

I'm no longer taking that drug, but it got me where I needed to be.  And right now I am still in the mania stage, but it's much more subdued, and I have brakes again.  I still am doing a little to much, but I can stop and reign it in. My anxiety is back to hiding in the corner content to leave me alone. 
It's better.  I can live here.  And my family is better off for it too.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oops! I did it again...

I am clumsy.  
This is not a new thing for me.  I have always been clumsy.  (Funny word – say it several times and see how silly it sounds to you: clumsy clumsy clumsy clumsy clumsy)
Did that make me any less active or adventurous?  No.  I played tag with all the other kids.  I was just the one who tripped over her own feet a bit more often.  I climbed trees too, but was the one who had to do so more cautiously, more slowly, clinging to the branches just a little tighter.  I lost my grip once too often and fell far too many times.  Did I climb hills & mountains?  Yes, but I seemed to always come home with many bumps, bruises, and random scratches than all the others.  Combined.

Luckily I’m tough.  I would be in pain, but I would simply go on.  I was having too much fun to stop.

At school I found all sorts of things had it in for me.  Doors would move just in time to clip me as I went through.  If the door didn’t the knob or frame invariably reached out for me.  Lockers swayed toward me so that I would bump against them.  Stairs would change their height just as I stepped so that I often tripped.    

I’d like to think that clumsiness is something you outgrow, and for many I guess that is the case.  But for many people with ADHD we do not.  At the CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD) conference I found so many others who were just like me.  
Last night I found once again that even at 35 I have not yet outgrown this.  I went to a play with 6 of my friends.  We were seated in the balcony, and our view of the front of the stage was partially obscured.  Two of my friends moved up another row and claimed that it did have a better view.  I watched another friend gracefully step up over the chairs to the next row up.  They beckoned to me to come up as well.  I looked to my left to see if I could exit the row and just go up the stairs.  Nope.  To my left my friend was holding a baby and it would have been inconvenient for her to have to move to let me past.  So I decided to try to step up like my other friends did.

It did NOT go well.  My foot slipped on the movie theater style chair, and it folded back up trapping my foot underneath.  I felt myself falling backwards, but just then my friend Julie grabbed my arms.  She held on tight while I disentangled my foot.  I managed to get up to the next row then, and she asked me if I was all right.  I chuckled and said yes, and then added, “Well, that was embarrassing!”  
Later I went down to the lobby to get a drink of water, and as I ascended the stairs to return to my seat one of the stair moved toward me just as I raised  my foot to set it upon it.  Down I went.  Again.  I couldn't do anything but laugh again and feel grateful that all my friends were still seated inside.  

Today I boast a couple of rather nasty scrapes on my shin, and few bruises too.  I have not outgrown my clumsiness, but my sense of humor to handle it has grown.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First Essential Oils class in my house...

I am very excited for my essential oils class tomorrow - or well, today since it is 12:47 am now.  I know dōTERRA can be run as a business.  That’s cool, and it’s one of the very best MLM’s I have ever seen.  BUT what I’m most excited about is how it has changed my life.  My health is so much better.  Headaches?  All but gone.  And those that start are easily nipped in the bud now.  

I told my dear husband, Mike, that if these oils were merely having a placebo effect, they were the BEST placebos EVER.  I love them.  And they’ve helped many people I know so much too!  Michael even asks for them, and they’ve helped him too.  I can’t wait to use the vetiver & inTune oils on us.  If they help us concentrate even a little more it will be totally worth it.

I know I have to work hard to clean the house, but it will be worth it.  Yay!  If nothing else I’m excited to see my friends.  :D