Monday, October 20, 2014

Sometimes ADHD Mistakes Can Be a Good Thing?

ADHD autopilot errors
ADHD Autopilot Errors

It isn't unusual for ADHD to help me out with its upsides. For instance, I sometimes rely on ADHD's penchant for distraction to alleviate Depression. When writing here, however, I tend to focus on the outlandish goof-ups for laughs. This is why today's event was so unusual. An ADHD mistake that worked to my benefit? I'm still astounded.

It all began last Friday. I replied to an editor at PsychCentral after she emailed me to let me know that the recent interview on Depression was posted. I thanked her for including me in their article. I then offered to answer any questions on Depression that they might have in the future. I was so pleased with myself. Not only had I sent out a “thank you” within an hour or two of the email, but I pitched my talents—something that is typically difficult for me.

It was at that proud moment that I noticed the editor had already asked me in that very email if I would like to answer some more questions on Depression. She even included all the questions.

How on Earth did I miss that‽ How embarrassing. This was classic ADHD. I was so hyperfocused on one thing (thanking & pitching) that I missed the rest of her email.

I then sent another email, made light of my oversight, and explained in jest that this situation was evidence of my ADHD. I let her know that I would be happy to participate in another interview. Then I worried. After so many years, you would think I'd seen the last of my careless mistakes.

Today I received her reply. She laughed at my goof and then asked me to participate in an article on ADHD that she was writing. Could I describe what ADHD feels like? Oh, boy, could I!

Normally, my ADHD screw ups don't work out so well, especially ones done on ADHD autopilot. Little did I know that I was auditioning for another interview. I'm not necessarily elated that I got the gig this way, but I'm too practical to pass up this opportunity. Now I just need to remember to answer the questions she sent me. That shouldn't be too hard, right? It's not like I'm absentminded or anything.



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Saturday, October 18, 2014

How Would You Describe Depression?

I was contacted in September to contribute to an article for PsychCentral. The questions I was asked were “What did/does depression feel like for you? How would you describe it?” Margarita Tartakovsky, an editor at PsychCentral, put together a group of nine authors and bloggers who write about Depression to answer that question. I was thrilled to be included in such a project–not just so that I could contribute, but because I knew that people who suffer from Depression needed to know that they weren’t alone. With so many different voices describing a common condition, there was bound to be a perfect description in the collection for different people to relate to.

The article posted yesterday, and it’s terrific. I knew of no other participants besides Deborah Serani whose book I had recently reviewed. So I was pleased to see Therese Borchard in the list. I’ve blogged about her before. Her work on the necessity of faith to fight depression always fascinated me. Both ladies offered strong entries in the article. Their descriptions of Depression were heartbreaking.

I recommend that you visit the site and read the entries for yourselves. The other six participants also submitted strong entries. Descriptions like “being encased in a glass table”, a “daily feeling of sadness”, feeling like you “were a ghost in [your own] body” all may seem melodramatic, but that seems to be the norm when writers describe the condition. My entry wasn’t any less dramatic. I wrote a lot more than what was included, but I feel Margarita did an excellent job clipping my entry to its best minimum. With nine submissions, brevity was important.

I’m going to share my full answers with you here because you might find my answers helpful. I also ask you to answer the same questions in the comments section. I’d like to hear the different ways you experience this malady that we share:

What did/does depression feel like for you? How would you describe it?

Depression comes upon me in various tones and depths, and I often use mixed metaphors to try to describe it. Is it a tone? Is it a weight? Often it is simply an undertone of sadness that plays throughout my day, like a radio station signal that comes and goes. At the worst, Depression is a cacophony of low tones that throb and blare over everything in my life, like bass from the car next to you when you are stuck at a traffic light. During those times, I feel as if my chest is weighted down from within. Simple things like changing the channel on the TV seem incredibly exhausting, never mind getting up and moving. My heart feels burdened with sadness, and my sense of self-worth sinks. It is a bad time to make decisions, yet years ago—before I trained myself to act otherwise—many foolish decisions where made while I hated myself stuck there on the couch. Nowadays, I understand my depression better. I have learned to lighten its burden. The low notes of sadness still remain, but although I can’t reach out and change the station on the radio, I have become much better at tuning it out.

What’s the best description of depression that you’ve come across – whether in a book, blog or article?

I have read many great descriptions. Some artful; some practical. My most favorite description recently was in Deborah Serani’s book “Depression and Your Child”. Her section on changes in self-attitude was excellent. It put into words many things that I had tried to explain to my family over the years, but somehow never could. It always sounded like an excuse when I said it:

“Changes in Self-Attitude Depression greatly affects self-attitude and confidence. One of the most alarming aspects of depression is how it distorts thinking. Where positive thoughts once lived there are now negative and self-reproaching beliefs. For adults who have the advantage of having mature cognition, the corrosive effect of depression is extremely difficult to navigate. For the child who has yet to develop problem-solving skills, the dulled thinking that comes with depression is overwhelming, to say the least. Depression will impair a child’s judgment, making her feel worthless or unlovable, useless or stupid. She may be overly forgetful, pessimistic, and filled with self-blame. Self-esteem plummets, usually in quiet agony. It’s not uncommon for depressed children to make poor choices, feel hopeless, take risks, and deliberate suicide.”

Excerpt From: Serani, Deborah. Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers

Anything else you’d like readers to know about depression?

Depression hurts, as the TV ads say, but as long as we remain victims, the pain will continue. Finding treatment through medications, psychiatric help, alternative therapies, or a mixture here and there is key to becoming happy again. How is that done? Take action. The hardest part when I feel depressed is taking action, yet when I muster the strength to implement my coping strategies, even in meager, infinitesimal ways, I begin to beat back Depression so that the pain subsides. I consider it a battle, but since I have lost so many years and life experiences to Depression, it is a battle I readily face over and over again. Get help. Surround yourself with supportive people. Load your days with activities that elevate your moods so that you can offset the chemical warfare going on inside your mind. Above all, this is a battle that you can win, so believe in yourself.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

What Do I Have in Common with the Top ADHD Blogs?

I've been quite ill this month while working on my Overcoming Suicide book, and I've been a bit depressed because one of my daughters decided to live full-time with her mum, so I've missed some blogs and haven't been very active on Twitter or Facebook. In fact, I should be in bed, but my insomnia has been fairly nasty lately. I was more or less resigned to feeling miserable over the weekend. That's why it was a complete surprise for me to stumble upon in my email today that I've won the Best of the Web - Blog award from Psych Central for my work on ADHD. It's nice to know that I can be recognized for exposing my ADHD antics to the world. When it comes to fools, I guess I specialize at it. After all, there was that time I sent an author friend to The Pirate Bay as a source for subbed anime, forgetting that my browser uses arcane CSS filters to hide the ads. Oh, dearie me. She still won't talk to me. I said I was sorry! Gosh, what more does she want? Just because the ads were borderline pornographic? What's to be upset about, right? It's a good thing the award wasn't for networking. I'd have to refuse it.

Yet that's not quite fair. Although family members duck their heads and look around sheepishly when I greet them in public, maybe I do good work here. I talk about ADHD with honesty and with as much humor as I can muster, providing a safe haven for others like me on the web. I've been doing it online for ten years this January. Today I needed to be told to take pride in what I've done instead of worrying about what I haven't. Still, I can't believe Psych Central had this to say about me:

"A clear brilliance and an undertone of steely determination make him readable, not just for a one-off perusal, but in a way so engaging that you’ll want to keep abreast with his missives."

My eyes literally bulged when I read that. Clearly they haven't read my site recently. However, I'm not going to recommend that they remove me from the list. Instead, I'm going to recommend that you visit the list and see the other nine blogs that also won the Best of the Web - Blog award. Some are familiar to me and, perhaps, to you. I saw Tara McGillicuddy's page listed, as well as Terry Matlen, Kelly Babcock, and the inimitable Dr. Ned Hallowell. Each blogger has contributed greatly to the ADHD community. If you don't follow their blogs, you should correct that today. There are also new names that I hope to explore with you. Share your reviews in the comments below. Did you find any favorites in the list?

I should mention that I was listed twice in the top ten. The entry for ADDitude Magazine's ADHD bloggers includes my blog Family Guy, but I mention this so you can follow the link and see the other wonderful voices out there offering advice and sometimes commiseration for your ADHD reading pleasure. Well, okay, and to read my work there if you haven't already. There are so many more voices out there besides mine compared to how many there were when I began this journey. It is an exciting time to be an ADHD blogger.

Psych Central has been online since 1992, which is three years before I began my first web page. They've had a long time to create a quality hub for people like us to learn how to manage our ADHD and be happier with who we are. I hope their list proves to be helpful for you. Thanks for reading!





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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Depression: 12 Ways I Fought to Stay Afloat

Clouds heal me. Daft, yet deft therapy.

There I was on the eve of the 20th, all set to write a great article about managing ADHD procrastination with a small rewards system, when sickness struck. I'm not sure what it was, but I spent almost a full week comatose on the couch. I had food, but no energy to cook it. I had paid subscriptions to online video services, but forgot to pay my internet bill. What happened to the scheduled payment? Why didn't it go through? I didn't have the strength to find out. I then realized weakly that Netflix, Crunchyroll, and DramaFever were not going to succor me back to health. There was a free WiFi network out there in the neighborhood that taunted me in my low-grade delirium, but it allowed me to connect without Internet. Evil swine! How dare they mock the sick? By the time I began to recover last Friday, the 20th had long passed. Then one of my daughters announced that she was tired of switching back and forth between parents and had decided to live permanently with her mother. As the bottom fell out of my world, I knew that I wouldn't be writing much of anything for a few days.

So here I am on the eve of October and I'm finally able to write something. It's not much, and it won't likely improve your life, but I do have a few things to share.

I manage my mental health proactively, and you should, too.

My heart may have a bona fide reason to feel as if the weight of fifteen years presses it into the ground, but there is no reason to be suicidal. I do feel rejected and useless. I lost out to the bedroom of her own and the close proximity to friends & school. If only I had realized this when I signed a new lease three weeks ago. I would have found a way to rent a castle in a closer neighborhood or die trying. But these regrets are just the foolish imaginings of the mind. What happened happened as it happened. There is no way of telling Life, “I need gas? Why didn't you say something 50 miles ago at that last exit‽” You just have to get out of the car and hoof it as best as you can.

Here's how I kept my spirits up:

  1. I went out for walks.
  2. I climbed the three flights of stairs at my apartment building over and over again.[1]
  3. I cleaned my kitchen until it shined.
  4. I called friends when I was low.
  5. I forced myself to go to church.
  6. I drank lots of water.
  7. I made sure I got at least 6½ hours of sleep a night.
  8. I wrote in my book on overcoming suicidality.
  9. I prayed often.
  10. I baked cookies and gave them to people.
  11. I took photos of clouds.[2]
  12. I shaved. I dressed. I lived.

I am told all the time that my depression isn't as bad as losing somebody or having something tragic happen to me. People like to believe that their pain is the only true pain. They are either selfish or clumsily trying to cheer me up. “Don't worry,” they seem to say. “It's only in your head.” Yes, but so isn't their emotion. It's all a chemical response, isn't it? For them, they require blunt trauma to the heart before they sink into despair. For me, my heart is apparently more frangible. Sometimes, I don't even need an event to trigger depression. It could simply be because today is Tuesday. That doesn't mean that the depression is any less intense because it is false.

But you know this, don't you? That's why you're here.

I want you to know that you can manage your life and keep yourself from drowning. Believe in yourself and keep pushing against the tide. Eventually, you can get momentum turned around back to the shore. Be creative. Don't just choose one coping mechanism. Determine to be happy and fight for it.

Only one daughter stays with me now, and the writing is on the wall. They all will leave me for their mother eventually, and why wouldn't they? Mothers and daughters have a tight bond. Although my forever family is a fractured family now, and my heart feels broken, I do not wish to die. Not even once did I think it. I'm not happy by any means, yet neither am I in the throes of depression. That is a victory for me. I wish you luck in your victories as well.

[1] I'm doing it now as I write this. Sitting still to think would be too overwhelming.

[2] Clouds heal me. Daft, yet deft therapy.


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Friday, September 12, 2014

Kicking Suicide in the Teeth

I have to confess something. I don't like most online suicide prevention resources. It's not that they're wrong, but that they're too soft. I'm looking for Burgess Merideth in my corner shouting at me in a gravelly voice, “Keep hittin 'em in the ribs, ya see? Don't let that b— breathe!”, not “Someone need a hug?” like Will Farrel's character in Elf. Suicidal ideation needs to be fought tooth and nail; I need pep talks not greeting cards.

When I was suicidal a few weeks ago I had nobody nearby to turn to. It was very late at night, and I didn't think to call a hotline or wake up a friend. Instead, I texted my daughter in Germany. I just needed somebody to know what I was struggling with. She replied with sympathy, but also asked me what I was going to do about it. I laid out my game plan and she sent me words of encouragement. I had her in my corner, and I was going to win the fight. Even just confessing to her was a positive action that began the turnaround. By the time I woke up the next day, I was no longer in any danger. I had made it to the bell round after round and won.

I'm not sure why I was suicidal then. Sometimes there isn't a good reason. I've got more going wrong today than I did weeks ago, and I'm not experiencing suicidal ideation in the slightest. I'm getting over a nasty cold, I'm very depressed, I'm still struggling with the divorce, I'm lonely, I've got a buck in the bank with bills still unpaid, and I spent the day in forearm crutches because I was so neurologically off that I couldn't walk. I deal with much more than ADHD and depression. I tell you this not for sympathy, but because I need you to realize that I understand what feeling low is like. I understand desperation and hopelessness. I get it. However, I'm still not going to kill myself. Suicidal urges are a trick of the mind, and I'm not falling for it.

So if you are like me and are tired of the greeting card sentimentality of many suicide prevention resources, please understand that it's not just you who doesn't find them helpful. They're simply not targeted to somebody like you or I. We need somebody fighting in our corner for us and cheering us on towards success. I don't have a hug for you. I'm not going to tell you that you can't help feeling this way. So listen closely.

You can do it!

Keep hittin' depression in the ribs!

Kick those suicidal urges in the teeth!!

Get in there and knock 'em dead!


Yeah, I did just say that. I don't mollycoddle when it comes to suicidal tendencies. I'm fighting for my life. Maybe that sounds melodramatic to you, but it's been the technique I've used to beat back suicidal impulses for twenty-seven years. If I was suicidal weeks ago but I'm not today when things are much worse, then suicide just doesn't make any sense, does it?

Unfortunately, logic doesn't work so well on the depressed mind. The overwhelming feelings of despair are hard to think through clearly. So prepare today. Find your reason to live. Write it down. Staple it to your forehead. Do what you have to in order to give yourself a reason to hang in there until the urges pass. Because the urges will pass. There will be another dawn. You will get to the other side of the abyss and be happier for it. That doesn't sound as nice as a greeting card expression, but it is still true. Roll up your sleeves, and get ready for the fight. It's going to be difficult at times, but you can do it. Suicidal tendencies can be overcome.


Reposted from May 2014

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