Thursday, September 18, 2014

Attention Deficit Dis - oh wait! Look at my cat - isn't she cute?

I'm in therapy.  Have been since Luther was diagnosed.

Apparently, I have ADD.  Which is Attention Deficit Disorder.  There is also ADHD.  The H standing for Hyperactivity but I do NOT have that.  I might have ADSD - S = Sedentary....

What I've learned is I've probably had this for a while.  Most of my adult life.  I don't recall having it as a kid.

A lot of us probably have some form of it.  I mean, who wouldn't in this day and age of so much input?  We multi-task, strive for more, do it all, set goals, lose 10 lbs in a week, read emails, texts, facebook, twitter, instagram, we watch tv on our phones, we get there faster, do it better, create more.  Who sits still to read a book anymore?  Calls a friend?  Sits on the deck on a sunny day and just hang out?  You get my drift.

ADD has served me well at work.  I can do 100 things at once without breaking a sweat.  I work in retail and between phone calls and customers and a pipe falling on the phone guy's head and hiring new people and watching a kid we think is stealing and the toilet overflowing and there aren't any quarters left and... I've learned how to manage this.

Sometimes, many times, I get really really distracted and it's tough to go back to #32 on that list of 100.  I've never kept lists - I usually laugh and point to my forehead and say, yup, it's all right up here.  It's the list in my head.  Which tends to make things even more chaotic.

People with ADD need lots of structure.  Self imposed structure.  The easiest example is car keys. Unless I have a bowl right by the door where car keys are kept, I never ever know where they are. Ever.  Same with shoes, purse, glasses.  I know a lot of you are nodding your head in understanding. Some of you might be shaking your head in disbelief, thinking, how hard can it be?

It's actually really hard.  For me, organization and order isn't something innate and it's nice to know it's not a personal failing.  It's not because I'm lazy.  It's a thing that can be addressed and understood and treated which is the process I'm in now.

Most of us tend to just manage it.  We get overly frustrated by losing things, not remembering things, with starting too many projects and not finishing anything and feeling like we got nothing done.  But - as grown ups - we figure it out, we eventually get it done, find the keys, remember we have a dentist appointment next week.

Since Luther's diagnoses and with his decline, I've become mega, uber, insanely scattered.  I forget dates.  I forget where I'm going, I start one thing and move to another and suddenly I'm late for work. I'm overwhelmed by the smallest project.  My feet, at times, feel like they're in cement and when I try to move, my body feels heavy and slow.  I'm too tired to unload the dishwasher, especially if I've worked.

In talking with my therapist, he says some of this is depression but he's keyed in on a lot of it being ADD exploding to the surface.  What's been manageable in the past, is suddenly completely unmanageable.

Accepting and adapting to the illness.  Trying to work, manage the house, take care of Luther - it's tough.  I beat myself up when I fail and I fail all the time.  But I've learned this is just the path I'm on. There's no roadmap.  I'll get lost, fall down, take a nap, call my mom or my sister or a friend and start again.  I don't beat myself up so much anymore.  No time for it!

But mostly I'm realizing - with such clarity - we all have only so much energy to expend in a day. My time with Luther is limited.  In the past, I was a pinball, just bouncing and reacting and careening wherever I was pushed or pulled or bumped.  Now, most every decision I make is calculated.  We're planning for so many things from small to huge:  daily schedules to bucket list items.  There are days it feels too daunting.  But it has to get done.  At times, this kind of calculated thinking drains me to the point I want to sleep for a few days.  I was, for a while.

If you've made it this far, you can probably guess my ADD medication has kicked in.

It's amazing.  It cuts through the spiderweb in my head.  It doesn't make me amped up or jittery but once I take it, things seem clear.  I don't feel heavy.  It isn't a euphoric or buzzy feeling, I don't feel altered.  Instead, I feel like a door has been opened and it's allowing feelings to surface. It's giving me a net to capture the tornado of thoughts in my brain and put them in some order.

What's unusual is the ADD med not only makes my head more clear, it also makes me more emotional.  I tend to keep the lid on that jar of emotions (whether good or bad ones) pretty tight.  Now, these little feeling of joy or warmth are sneaking out.  I've been hugging people.  I am not a hugger.

I've read the meds are addicting.  I can see why.  It's a pretty nifty feeling, this hugging and decision making and grocery shopping and happiness.

I think I can figure this out without taking drugs forever.  For now though?  I'd hug you if you were here.  I'm just happy and calm and feeling pretty rational right now.

It's a good thing.

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