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

ADHD strikes again

It's 2am and I can't sleep.  Could it be because I'm in a mildly manic phase?  Maybe.  I think it's more likely to do with having forgotten to take my prozac in the morning, so I took it at night.

Not good.

I know that it's not good.  Prozac has a tendency to make you more awake.  This can be good in the morning.  Like coffee (which I don't drink) but not nearly as strong (dangit!).

Why did I forget to take my meds if they are so important?  The same reason I forget to put my purse where it belongs.  The same reason I randomly put things down and am not aware that I even did put it down.  The same reason I am late for almost everything.  I have ADHD.  I forget things.

I know, everyone does this.  The simplest way I have of describing this goes something like this.  You know how sometimes you get to the top of the stairs and you forget why you came upstairs in the first place?  Of course you know what that's like!  Everyone does that at some point.

Now, imagine you forget every (or nearly every) time you go up the stairs.  And worse, when you come back downstairs you don't remember what you went up for you start something entirely new.

In the meantime the baby still doesn't have a clean diaper or shirt.  But he's playing happily with the cereal he pilfered out of the pantry and is blessedly quiet.  So much so that he is easily forgettable, and you can go start the laundry.  Which you meant to do, but forgot because you wanted to check your email.  Some point later the baby will come near you again.  He still smells bad, and now has mashed up cereal in his hair as well.

Yup.  That's what my life is like.  EVERY STINKIN' DAY.

I once read a cute thing going around facebook saying that moms have child activated ADD.
That may be true.  But it may be more true that the mom in the story has ADD/ADHD and is trying to keep up with demands of caring for little ones, but is distracted in EVERY attempt.   It describes my day very, very well. 
Despite that I still think it very funny, so I'm posting a link with the cool story.  Enjoy.

It's now 3am.  I've been through 3 dozen websites to find that story, and I'm finally tired.  Good night.  :D

Friday, September 7, 2012

About the title

Hi.  I am a fat 35 year old woman.  I have ADHD.  I am also bipolar.  And I have four little boys.  That's right, FOUR BOYS.  And I am therefore, also a mom.  Thus the title: ADHDbipolarmom
I have anxiety too, but adding that would have made the title too long.  I have other quirks, but I really couldn't put them all or no one would ever be able to remember the name of my blog. 

Before I get into how I know I have these things, I want to preface it with this:  I am happy NOW.  It has been a long hard journey, but as of right now (September 2012) I am balanced and happy.  No, I'm not giddy all the time.  But I feel - "normal".  Everyone has their own place that feels that way, but it basically comes down to that I can handle the stressors and happinesses I am handed right now.  (I know, happinesses is not a word.  So sue me.)

It is hard for me to share these things because of the continuing archaic prejudice against anyone who has any sort of mental disorder.  I am afraid people will think less of me.  But for those I’ve already shared this with they have found help and hope in finding they (or a loved one) are not alone in struggling with something like this.  So I write this not just for me, but for them.  To those that will think less of me for it, well, I will just have to let that be your problem.  I already have too many on my plate. 

I didn't get diagnosed with bipolar disorder until I was 32.  I'd just had my 4th baby boy and I'd sunk into yet another deep depression.  This one was different though; I couldn't get my head above water ever.  I was drowning.  The suicidal thoughts were so pervasive that fighting them off was taking every last ounce of strength I had, and with four little boys I didn't have much strength left for me to start with. 

When I finally decided to try to explain to my husband just how bad it really was I had a panic attack.  I'm sure you've heard of those, and how some people mistake them for heart attacks.  They do feel like a heart attack.  My chest constricted, I couldn't breathe, and I was in pain!  Then my vision began going black around the edges and then closed into complete blackness as I fell to the floor.  I struggled to breathe while I felt like someone had just put a 10 ton weight on my chest.  Eventually I passed out.  I came back to in a few minutes, explained more to my husband how the suicidal thoughts were pressing on me nearly every 5 minutes now, and then had another (smaller) panic attack.  My husband finally got how serious it was and got me to a doctor: my OB/GYN.  That doctor started me on a prescription and insisted that I see a psychiatrist as soon as possible.

A few weeks later I saw my psychiatrist for the first time.  I went in sobbing and shaking.  I was wringing and clenching my hands repeatedly.  In short, I looked like I felt: a total mess.  
He diagnosed me with mood disorder (bipolar) and anxiety.  I'll go into details in another post about the conversation (as much as I remember) in another post.  

A few months later he diagnosed me with ADHD as well.  
Did I suddenly develop these?  No.  I've had them my whole life.  Did anyone know that?  I don't know that they knew the proper terms, but I'm sure people saw the traits and thought, "Oh, that's just Elona.  That's just how she is..."

I wasn't really surprised with the diagnoses.  I was disappointed.  I was hoping it was just postpartum depression.  Guess not.   Now the doc wanted me to take some serious medications.  But I was nursing a newborn!  Could I take the medicines and keep nursing?  I was seriously worried.  So I researched.  I talked to doctors.  And I decided to nurse the baby AND give him a bottle every so often too.  And it worked.  And he is fine.  Really.  I promise.  (so far…)

And my life is different, but still the same.  I’m still me, but now I’m more self-aware.  The medicine does not change who I am anymore than insulin changes who a diabetic is. 
Does it fix my conditions?  No. 
Does it help?  Yes.  Very, very much. 

I am in awe of my former self who worked 10-100 times harder at everything to accomplish anything at all.  I get more done now, but it is easier to do so most of the time.  Easier, but not easy.  And not even always easier.

Do I still get depressed even though I am on meds?
Unfortunately, yes.

Do I still get manic even though I am on meds?
Yes.  (woohoo!  ummm…. Wait…. No… not woohoo.  I think….)

Do I still do stupid ADHD things that mess up my life (and others’ lives too)?
Yes.  *facepalm* <hangs head in shame>

I’ll be writing about my journey through this stuff, and aow I found out I had these conditions.  I will write my reflections on the past with a different outlook knowing more about me now (i.e. why I was clinically depressed at age 7).  And I will write about all the strange, silly, awesome, stupid, clever things I do now.

Feel free to ask questions.  I’ll try to answer them.  But bear in mind that I am my own little snowflake, and even with the same diagnosed conditions anyone else is unlikely to have all the same symptoms, problems, and strengths that I do.