Monday, August 6, 2018

ADHD Update--Blips on the Radar, Acceptance, Hope

It's been kind of a wild time lately full of so much change. I got my official ADHD diagnosis, started meds and moved into a new house. The past few weeks have been full of looking back and trying to make sense and understand, and moving forward and feeling compassion and hope.

Phase one: Acceptance, Exhaling, and Relief

When I took my medicine for the first time a two months ago, I was nervous about how I would feel and wondered if it would actually do anything.

It did/does help. I felt calmer, less scattered, like my brain wasn't racing a thousand miles a minute. It felt good. It felt like relief. It felt like I had forgotten what being calm actually felt like. I was amazed by how bad and scattered and anxious I had actually felt before I took the medicine.

I seriously had no idea how bad it had gotten. Which is incredibly surprising because I thought I was hyper aware of my mental state. But I had no idea. Trying to pick a thought, a feeling, a mind, my heart, my brain, my body constantly racing and buzzing and exhausting me.  The medicine slows it all down and gives me some peace, some relief.

I come from a long line of troubled brains and a mother who suffered so much...from mood disorders, mental illness and addiction. So, to get an answer and find a medicine was a huge relief. For the first time in my entire life I felt hope that I would not end up just like my mother. Whether it was a valid fear or not, it had guided my life since I was 12 and I truly thought I was destined to be just like her, and that I would leave my family like she did. I write that and it seems silly, but it was a deep-seated, unconscious fear that impacted my entire life and all of my relationships for forever.

When I realized that the medicine was working and that I was feeling better and that I had a chance for a different future, I cried with gratitude.

When I went to see my psychiatrist I told him, "This is life changing. I feel calm and like I can be more clear and thoughtful and make a decision. I mean well, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and then it kind of wears off, but I'm so grateful and I told my husband we can have important conversations between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. everyday and I can actually be pretty clear."

He smiled at me and replied, "Well, you can do that or you can take a second dose that will help your clarity last a little longer."

"Oh, well that would be just wonderful," I exclaimed.

And now, I take Ritalin twice a day. (Metadate CD)

Phase two: Setbacks and Some More Hope

So yeah, then we decided to move and all hell broke loose. I mean moving is stressful for everyone right? Even people whose brains don't need a little assistance and can process information in a more "normal" way, right?

Our move is a good thing. We found a house almost in our price range that we could rent that would fit our whole family and is nicer and just kind of a house we never thought we'd live in, ever. So it's good right? Yes. It's great. But change can be tricky for my brain (and actually a lot of ADHD brains as I'm learning more about us). My hyper-focus is a real asset in times like these however because once I start packing I can't stop until it's all done, dinner be damned.

There were a couple setbacks over the last couple weeks. Emotional meltdowns. Moments when I thought "well, I guess I'm still broken. medicine doesn't work. I'm still messing everything up. what's the point." But those moments didn't make me change my course, which I believe they might have before. They were blips on the radar, nothing more.

There were a couple days when I forgot to take my medicine and well, those were the days when more blips were on my radar.

During the last couple months, I realized it isn't just medicine that helps. It is my medicine, working out everyday, getting enough sleep, having a supportive partner/husband/best friend, and a good therapist. It isn't just "self care," it is a very deliberate "I must do this to think clearly and be a good person for my family and my job" kind of care. It is all medicine if you will.

As I was cleaning and going through boxes during our move, I found journals and diaries from my whole life. It was interesting and emotional. "Basically, I've always been a mess," I told my husband. It was sort of sad to see how I've struggled with identity and figuring out my emotions and my brain for so many years. It was like I have been just around the borderline of normal for forever....functioning enough to get by but not feeling right. Until now. Now, I truly feel like I am understanding my brain more and respecting that it processes a little differently and there are good things about that and hard things about that, but it doesn't mean that I will become an addict and leave my family and I'm not doomed to feel anxiety from my racing brain for forever. And that, feels like such sweet relief. It's not perfect, but life is not perfect. I feel relief in working toward more understanding and less blips and more relief and calm and acceptance.

Where I am Now

I am learning to apologize less and accept myself more. I feel calmer. Less stupid. I say things like, "I think I got this." Even after I pull out my driver's license to sign the new lease agreement on my house and realize my driver's license expired three weeks ago. It's a process. Life is a process. I'm learning to understand and forgive myself. I'm learning to not take on too much. I'm learning that mistakes don't mean the end of the world...even if they do actually mean that I might have to pay more or not get the job or lose the job or make someone really angry. I am learning that doing my best doesn't always fix things and that it will be okay, I mean I hope it will. I am learning that accountability isn't the same as shame and self-hatred. I am learning that it is okay to feel sad that I can't be the person that I thought I should be and to be interested in the person that I can be. Just like the classic Whitney Houston song says "you'll find the point when you'll exhale" and I have been exhaling with relief and hope and it's going to be okay feelings for a while now, and well it feels really hopeful and really good, right now.

Because duh, I can't write about a classic Whitney song and not post it.

(Click here to watch the video.)