Monday, November 13, 2017

ADHD: Writer's Roadblock

Sometimes Writer’s Block is due to Road Work Ahead.

I wish the roadblocks of life would announce themselves better. Then I could chart my detours in time to avoid them. Maybe they could have mechanized arms to wave at me, catching my attention as I rocket from Point A to Point B. Most roadblocks in life do give me advance warning. It’s the ones that family members throw up in my way that catch me off guard. It is as if they announce the upcoming construction by standing on the side of a road with a postcard filled with tiny hand scratchings that somewhat resemble English. They don’t even so much as nod their head at me. Sometimes, I’m blowing by them so quickly, I don’t notice them, but for the most part, their troubles go off like bombs in my life. Then I find myself swerving out of the way, slamming on my breaks, or just careening into their manmade ditch. Surprise! Somebody’s having a bad day! My life has been like that lately, especially over the Summer. I wish I could offer myself some advice on how to avoid these pitfalls, but I have little to no control over other people’s lives.

I had such big plans for this year. I was going to be AMAZING. The stars would twinkle their approval even through the light polluted sky. I would accomplish great things. Instead, I’m scrambling to get even one book finished this year.

I read a blog today by an author boasting about how prolific he was. He made sure to point out several times that he was a single dad raising a kid. You know, to drive into his reader’s brains how incredibly awesome he was. I don’t have the ability to tune out stress and drama while keeping on track. Family drama scatters into my life like an upturned box of tacks in the road.

This year, my youngest daughter’s mental issues reached a head. It involved a new school, counseling, and group therapy on top of our already busy schedule with her physical therapy (for cerebral palsy), monthly seizures (epilepsy), and meltdowns (teenager with disabilities). Then I had to enroll her back in the old school. Our home became a battle zone, and with the increased stress, my Tourette’s became exacerbated, which then created strange, unproductive synergies with my ADHD. I had energy enough to take care of her needs, then collapse on the couch at the end of the day, mindlessly watching TV while I recovered. 

The problem is that I can’t think while I’m ticking. The sensation is as if my mind is having tremors while I’m unable to concentrate on anything else. TV distracts, but by the time I come around, the night is late, and it is time to prepare for the morrow. The end result was that I didn’t blog for my editor, I didn’t blog for myself, and I didn’t write much either. The upside was that my daughter’s needs were taken care of, and that we made huge progress with her. Everything is much better now, or else I wouldn’t be able to post this update. 

Upon consideration, I suppose I do have some advice to give myself: Play with the cards you’re dealt. We don’t always have control over our lives as much as we’d like. There are responsibilities, emergencies, and disabilities that spring up roadblocks in our path. They arrive unannounced and make a mess of things. However, if we have even a tiny idea of where we’re going, we can keep ourselves moving forward.

My goal was to finish Pokémon Ultra Beasts in 5 Easy Steps last Spring! Then I’d have a half a year of sales before the next Pokémon game dropped, whereupon I’d update the book quickly to include the new game, and get more sales. Meanwhile, I’d have moved on to my Twelve Ways to Fight Off Depression, finished it, then begun my middle grade novel in September. Yes, GREAT THINGS. Now I’m eight months behind schedule, I’ve discovered that nobody wants Ultra Beasts, and the year is almost over.

Oh, well…

Here’s what I am going to do instead. Since the new game drops this Friday, I’m going to attend the NAMI conference tomorrow, finish the first draft of my book by Wednesday, and then work on my middle grade novel until Friday. Then I’ll update my book and prepare it for a December launch.

I’m not sure if I’ll write about Pokémon again after this. I was a game reviewer before I began blogging years ago, so it’s not a wild divergence for me. It’s just not the subject matter that burns in my heart and demands to be let free.

Thank you for following along. I realize people expect me to be an expert, and some lose faith in me when I pull the curtain back and reveal the man behind it, but this is how I’ve always dealt with my limitations. I admit them. I analyze them. I attack them, and then I achieve victory.



If you like books with self-analysis, you’ll love reading Saying NO to Suicide.

Monday, November 06, 2017

ADHD: So You Screwed Up. What Else Is New?

Ever feel like you just can’t do anything right? Maybe it’s not just you.

I’m sitting here in my car, stunned and quite embarrassed. I just showed up to yet another appointment on the wrong day. You would think I’d be used to this by now, but the truth is that it comes as a surprise every time. And here I was thinking the worst I had done today was be seven minutes late.

Let’s Rewind

I began the morning sick again. This has been going on for weeks, and I’ve seen a roulette wheel of symptoms instead of any healthy payout. I wondered if I should even go, but I canceled the last two times because of illness, so I headed out the door in plenty of time. I obeyed all traffic laws, cut nobody off, avoided creatively driving over anything paved that might shave a second off my journey. I did not dash. I was not mad. I was at peace, or as at peace as one can be while coughing, sniffling, and driving.

When I arrived at the doctor’s office early, however, my exultant cheer was cut short. Wrong doctor’s office. Whoops. So off I was again, this time dashing ever so much along State Street, which I noted was much less congested than I was.

I arrived. I parked. I ran to the elevator and recovered, panting, for nine floors. Then I got the bad news: my appointment was tomorrow.

What Went Wrong‽

Sometimes there isn’t much you can do to thwart ADHD. I had set an alarm. I left early. I made being on time my only goal. This should have worked. I simply wrote down the wrong date. I didn’t notice the discrepancy even when I received a reminder call last week. I was sick. I wasn’t paying attention.

Moving Forward

So I’m deciding to not beat myself up about it. For now on I will:

  1. Double check with the doctor’s office if I don’t get a reminder call.
  2. Take time to verify the date during the reminder call.
  3. Leave with the destination in mind. That way I can’t brain fart my way into being late again (even though I was technically early).
  4. Forgive myself for being forgetful.

Point Three seems self-evident, but I will visualize the destination and route in my mind before shifting into gear. I haven’t been doing that. Point Four means I’m having a good chuckle right now at my own expense, blogging about it, then moving on. Mistakes happen, some more costly than others, but dwelling on them only suppresses your self-esteem and sets you up for more failure. Focus on what you can fix. Focus forward.



If you have a tendency to beat yourself up, you might find my book on fighting suicide full of helpful insights. I’ve gotten really good at dodging self-inflicted blows.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Down in the Dumps? Here Are Seven Steps To Beat Depression

I knew I was in trouble when I looked at the time. It was 12:30 already. Half past noon, and I was still in bed. I was just lying there feeling as if a giant weight was on top of me. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to. Eat? Nah, too sad. Go to the bathroom? Too much effort. Even social media seemed tiresome. I put my iPhone down and thought in stunned, heavy silence, “I’m depressed.”

Savage bouts of depression can still jump out at me and catch me off guard. I have clinical depression, yet I manage my depression on a daily basis. It doesn’t often get the better of me anymore. There was a time when depression ruled my world, but I have long since put that behind me. Which is exactly why I can be waylaid by depression from time to time. I get lax. I forget to be ever vigilant.

It’s not that I hadn’t seen the warning signs. They were pretty obvious all week. Yet here I was, caught “unawares” because I hadn’t acted on the advance warnings. Since readers have asked me over and over again how I manage my depression without meds, I find it helpful to share my coping strategies.

Let’s start with today. As I was wondering how I was going find the mental strength to get out of my bed, I decided to share my process on Twitter. Already, I’ve employed two coping strategies. I admitted to myself that I was depressed, then I decided on a course of action. Both events are very difficult to do when depression has sway over your mind. Regardless, let’s focus on the tweets where all the action was.

Alright, #depression. I’m going to kick your butt today because so far, you’re kicking mine. Step 1) Move. Doesn’t matter where. Just move.

Moving in that instance meant crawling out of bed. I wish that didn’t sound as pathetic as it does, but it was the most intense bout of depression I had dealt with in years. Crushing waves of sadness washed over me. I felt as if I was drowning in all that black misery. Getting up and moving seems far too easy for a coping strategy, but when you are dealing with hardcore depression, any step forward is a difficult one.

Step 2) Eat! Sometimes when I’m depressed, I forget to eat. Filling your stomach fuels your mind. #depression

I need to eat regularly to manage my Tourette’s, but clearly that wasn’t a high priority for me this morning, so I had to made it one. Up I trudged to the kitchen and made myself a protein shake. I also talked with family a bit. Conversation with friends & family can be healing.

Step 3) Organize something. I filled out disability license form and sleep logs. Both I’d been procrastinating. #depression (and #ADHD)

Filling out forms may not be sexy, but it is taking action, and taking action is often all you need to do to reverse direction.

Waited too long to eat. Started my thumper tic, reserved only for the dinner table. Protein helps keep my #tourettes in control. Avoidable…

Food is kicking in. Ticking has stopped. Sleep logs all caught up. And, as expected, #depression has receded quite a bit.

The #depression no longer feels like an immovable force pressing me down, but more like a weight dragging behind me.

Time for Step 4, but what is it? I have an obligation I’m late for. I need to exercise. Get ready. But all I want to do is sit still.

An hour and a half later, and I was feeling better, but more needed to be done. I didn’t want to slip back.

Step 4) Distraction. I need to stop thinking about #depression for a bit. Give myself more time for food to do its job. Time to read a book.

This was a very good idea. Thirty minutes later, a good book had been read, and I was ready for the next step.

Step 5) Exercise. I need to get going, but want to boost endorphins and drive #depression back further so I can function at my best.

This step took far longer than I had planned, but in the end I felt better. In fact, I felt good.

Step 6) Shower and get ready for the day. It’s 6:23pm, but I’ve vanquished my #depression. So much work for almost no results? Nah. I’m good

When I skip showers (or don’t make my bed), I can see how that carelessness spreads sends out waves throughout my day. To make a change, I force myself to be clean. It makes a difference for me.

At this point, my friends were going to not see me tonight. I had run out of time, but I was finally not depressed.

Step 7) Blog about it. I’m more than a little disappointed at how unproductive today has been. Here’s one way to turn it around. #depression

I have found that creativity is an excellent coping strategy for fending off depression. When you find yourself at the bottom of a well, there are steps you can take to pull yourself back up. There was a day that I would have spent weeks in a blue funk, unable to escape, deep in that well. I don’t want to ever go back to those days, so I make fighting depression a number one priority.

Good luck with your own battle. You can do it, too.



If you liked this peek into my coping strategies, you may enjoy reading my book on fighting suicide.

 

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Tale of the Corrupted Kingdom

Once upon a time, and long before the evil, fanged Facebook consumed the conversations of the internet, readers could leave comments on my blog. Most readers left intelligent and insightful comments on what I wrote about that day. They were delightsome to behold. Thanks to vigilant knights, trolls didn’t often blunder into our edifying conversations, but whenever they did stumble upon our happy kingdom, the trolls were quickly vanquished. Then one day, the king (which is me) decreed that Disqus would be the new conversation system for all because the old one didn’t work. Except that Disqus didn’t work very well, either, and so, after a time, the king switched back to Google’s default system. That’s when he, me, I discovered something was wrong. There were NO Google comment boxes to be found. I couldn’t even reinstall the Disqus system. My blog was corrupted on Google’s server. After a year of banging my head against the portcullis, scrubbing the castle’s layout TWICE, I turned all comments off, left Google Plus on, then gave up. And the people wandered off to Facebook to unfriend or mute anybody who didn’t agree with them politically.

Then sometime this year I started noticing that trolls were leaving spammy comments, but the comments were INVISIBLE!! They could only be seen if I followed the comment announcement link from the email. What evil magic was this‽ Most strange was how many trolls were having troubles with STDs. Good thing they found my blog to share their miracle cures with my kingdom! But alas! Because the comments system was corrupt, I could not delete the comments. Fortunately, they were invisible from users, so I left them there and continued to not post articles on my blog for the next several months. Then this month the spam began to increase. This time when I checked, the comments were showing. Hundreds of comments going back thirteen years (Finally!), but also the icky new one from trolls with socially transmitted discomforts. The cloak of invisibility had been dispelled. Curse those trolls!

All was not well. The database was still corrupt. The comments were there, but the controls were ghosted. Nobody could leave comments except the spamming trolls and their evil scripts. So I’ve disabled comments, banned Google Plus, and vanquished the trolls. Peace has been restored to my kingdom, and the few readers not scared away by STD ads rejoiced.

The End

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Four Things You Can Do to #StopSuicide

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

As National Suicide Prevention Week comes to a close, I wanted to share a few words. I was once suicidal. I hated myself. I hated my life. I was blind to the love of people around me. I was virtually on the precipice, but stepped back at the last moment because of their love. They mattered to me, and I mattered to them. I remembered that at the moment it would do the most good. I survived that dark period, and other dark periods that followed. I survived, healed, and now I try to help other people as desperately miserable as I once was by opening up about depression, ADHD, and suicide with my writing.

In fact, I wrote a book to #StopSuicide, but helping people doesn’t need to be that elaborate. Just listen and care when somebody is in crisis. Take the time to care. Don’t recoil from the subject. The fact somebody is opening up to you about such a difficult subject is an amazing blessing in your life. Don’t waste it.

The other night I spoke with a gentleman whose boy committed suicide years ago. His pain survives that suicide years later. He felt his boy didn’t mean to do it. That it was an accident. People care. They agonize over these deaths. If you are convinced nobody cares, that’s the suicidal intentions lying to you. This father, like most survivors, was wracked with survivor’s guilt. I could see it in his eyes. It’s a look I’ve seen before. “What could I have done differently?!”, they usually ask themselves. Sometimes there is nothing you can do. The ultimate choice is theirs to make, but you can do a few things to give them a fighting chance:

  1. Ask
    You know what people look like when they are sad. You know what people look like when they are devastated. If you see somebody carrying that kind of cloud over their heads, take a moment to inquire how they’re doing. They will probably tell you they’re just fine, because don’t we all? But you’ve opened a door that they didn’t know was open for them before.

  2. Listen
    If they choose to open up to you, their feelings may be intense, and what they describe may be hard to bear, but persevere. You are their lifeline. Don’t pull it back into the boat before they grab on.

  3. Care
    You may find their reasons for feeling suicidal are insignificant and even silly. I’ve heard it all. People without problems react to people drowning in problems with some form of “What? That’s nothing!” But keep this in mind. Suicidal depression magnifies small events into giant meteors of impending death. Their perception is that there is no hope, no way out except death. You may look and see tiny obstacles that would be easy for you to circumvent, but for them, these obstacles are mountains of impossible height. Don’t berate them for not being you. If they saw their life problems as small obstacles, they wouldn’t be confiding in you for help. Do your best to give them support, perspective, and compassion.

  4. Follow Up
    As the adage goes, out of sight, out of mind. You may pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but they may continue walking around with a cloud over their heads. Check in on them to see how they are doing. Your simple pep talk won’t erase a tsunami of suicidal depression anymore than one moment of sun dries your clothes on a rainy day. Don’t pester them, obviously, but keep at it. Ask them here and there how they’re doing. Let them know somebody cares.

From my own experience with suicide, we don’t think clearly during our bleakest moments. We may even believe that what we are planning is perfectly logical—even a kindness to the people we leave behind. Keep reaching out. Keep loving. It matters.

It’s not our responsibility to make their choices for them. It’s not our fault if they reject us and make that final, horrible choice. But if there is even one chance that a caring ear bent towards their needs could have helped them stop, wouldn’t you want to be the person who saved somebody from their darkest impulses?

~Dˢ



Thank you for your support this week. I hope you found my book on fighting suicide helpful, or gifted it to somebody else who might.

 
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