Saturday, April 21, 2018

Too Proud to Have ADHD?

Are you too proud for ToDo lists? Don't like to admit you have ADHD memory issues? You aren't alone.

Shopping List of Usefullness

I have a family member who has ADHD. They never write anything down. They don’t make reminders. They insist that they have to remember everything on their own, and of course, they seldom do. I’m so glad I don’t have that hangup anymore.

It reminds me of the hard time we had with my daughter in middle school. Her teacher—supposedly trained to teach learning disabled children—insisted my daughter had to remember to complete all her homework assignments on her own. She wouldn’t tell me what the assignments were so I could help my girl get them finished. Her grades were terrible.

You see, my daughter has severe memory impairment, among other issues. I fought every year to get parental homework reminders on her IEP, and that teacher resisted. She didn’t want to be bothered? She was stubborn? She thought my girl’s memory issue was a discipline problem? I may never know. She’s retired now. However, it took us a full psych eval at Primary Children’s years later before we could have that diagnosis added to my daughter’s IEP. Fortunately, her teacher in high school witnessed and understood that my girl had memory issues. What a difference addressing that learning disability made in my daughters education!

I, too, have memory issues. They are of the ADHD kind. I’ll walk into a room and forget why I entered. I’ve developed the ability to reconstruct my fragmented thoughts and get back on track, but sometimes, there are too many distractions to filter out. For example, I can’t remember more than three things on a shopping list. Heck, I’m lucky if I can remember two. I’d enter those delectable warehouses of colorful distractions and suddenly I’d be calling home to ask why I was there. Embarrassing! So I don’t bother trying to remember anymore. I haven’t tried for over ten years. I write everything down.

I used to be too proud for ToDo lists. I HAD to remember on my own!! But after many years of coming home from the store with the wrong items or worse, having to go back for the items that I forgot, I became a convert. I love love LOVE ToDo lists now.

I wish my family member wasn’t too proud to help themselves out. I’d rather take pride in never forgetting anything than to obstinately insist that my flakey brain had to get its act together. I remember plenty of things, but milk, eggs, and that other thing aren’t among them.

Nifty logo of words in a fishbowl

Big plans! I had big plans to blog every Thursday while finishing up my Pokémon gaming book and structuring my next mental health book on fighting depression. I was also going to start sending out articles for publication again. Yes, indeed. BIG PLANS.

Then an interesting thing happened. I was awarded a scholarship to Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers out of the blue. I took a few days to decide if I wanted to accept the offer, and ultimately accepted. But I was in the middle of one of the longest bouts of illness I’ve had since 2013. Adenovirus led to a sinus infection, and Mother Nature’s ambivalence about whether it was Spring or not left me ill for over 45 days. I was bedridden, coughing up lungs ill. It was a nasty virus. You cannot imagine my relief that it is finally over. I wrapped up my research for the Pokémon book, finished the first draft, caught up with everything in life I’d been unable to attend to while sick, and only signed up for WIFYR two weekends ago.

Then I was told on the 10th that I had until the 12th to submit 6000 words of my story. “What story?” I asked myself. I had hoped to have more time!

I’ve been working long hours plotting, plotting, plotting since last week. My story idea was only the slimmest of thoughts — a cottonwood seed upon the wind. My original plan was to begin formulating the story sometime in the summer. Now it’s planted, and watered, and only needs 6000 words of growth. No worries. The hard part’s been done. Haha…

I have to admit that this ADHD thing of not being able to focus if there’s too much going on is a pain in the binding when I have blogging, writing, caring for a disabled child, and Tourette’s to collate and organize. I’m a mess, but it’s been fun. I began my book last night. I will not allow illness or disability to deprive me of this opportunity. Now if only I was that determined to stay away from Twitter.

Coping Strategy: ToDo lists are your friend. I’ve written many blogs about using them. Here, here, and here for starters.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Mormon Musings: A Reverent Moment with the Brownie

I don’t shy away from mentioning my religion here. I’ve even discussed LDS doctrine and how it intersects with mental health, but today I just wanted to capture a moment and share it with you.

Each highlight ends up on my suit. The rest falls all over my car seats.

“Dad, you’ve got silver things in your sweater,” my daughter whispers out loud. Perhaps it only sounds loud because we’re sitting in church waiting for the sacrament to come our way. I turn to my right to see my daughter picking at my new Irish Aran sweater. There’s a look of disgust on her face as she pulls out a silver strand.

“Yes, that’s because it’s made out of sheep hair,” I whisper back.

She recoils, then looks at me suspiciously. She always thinks I’m teasing her.

“It’s called wool, honey”. She relaxes with her mouth shaped in a silent “Oh.” I can see she’s still confused, though.

“But why does it have sparkles in it?”

“That’s because I have a daughter.” I smile at her as I watch her assume I’m teasing again. Then I motion with my eyes to her dress. She follows and shapes her mouth in another “Oh”. Her dress is a sea of sparkles. She leans in to hug me, splashing my sweater with more.

No pitch today. Just enjoy your Sunday.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

ADHD: Playing Cat & Mouse with Catfishers

She was a total stranger. She was cute and posed with a kid in her profile pic. She had an aversion to punctuation. Suddenly, she said, “Hi Douglas”, and I was off.

Art by Zoe Mozert

Today is technically Day 42 of my bout with adenovirus. Some aspects of the cold linger like our obstinate Winter this year, but I’m feeling better. This was fortunate, because today was the last day my daughter, the Brownie, would be wearing a home EEG to capture a seizure. She had gone the entire week seizure free, so I spent the day trying to induce one. I finally resorted to flashing a strobe light in her face. When that didn’t seem to work, she, her Mum, and I had a last, desperate prayer. Her seizure began one minute later. Coincidence? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

During my weeks of sickness, I finished the research phase of my latest Pokémon book. At this point, I am finishing the project out of sheer will. My enthusiasm for the project fled to more sparkly pastures weeks ago. I hope to wrap up the second draft this week before sending it off to an editor. See? I’m not entirely wasting away, but I am still wasting time, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some wasted time is a lot of fun, like when I string catfishers along.

I’m wrapping up my current project, so I’ll post a meatier article for you next week, but what follows is the most stultifying romance I have ever lived through. You can read for yourself that sharing is not her goal. She is trying to get ME to do all the talking. So I obliged, drifting further down the rabbit hole the longer she kept at it.

How do I know she’s a catfisher? When an unknown girl hits on me online and tells me how handsome I am, I can’t take her seriously. Real girls didn’t even do that when I was a god-like, 185lbs, all-muscle twenty-year-old. So I play with them.

I test first to see if she’s perhaps just conversationally challenged, but when her (or his, to be honest) idea of conversation is to exchange pictures, I know she is fake. Then I like to see how weird I can take things before she’ll break out of character. Because they want money out of me, they won’t stop messaging me no matter what I say or post. I let the ADHD in me go wild. By their rules, I’m engaging them, falling in love, and ready to mail them money, but we know better, don’t we?:

MAR 19TH, 9:23PM
Claire H——: Hi Douglas

MAR 24TH, 4:29PM
You accepted Claire’s request.
Douglas: Hi Claire
Claire H——: How you doing today?
Douglas: Just great! And you?
Claire H——: Am doing good thanks
I saw your profile on my friend suggestion list…you handsome and i have to tell you, lovely smiles you got
Douglas: Wow! Thanks! You good smile too
Claire H——: What are you up to
Douglas: Preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Got any plans for Saturday? Mine crashed.
(I should have said, “Mine were eaten,” but you live, you learn.)
Claire H——: Oh not really
Douglas: Yeah me neither
Claire H——: Just at home relaxing
What do you do for fun
Douglas: I am boring. I have forgotten what fun is. Haha
Claire H——: Lols don't be dirty minded…what do you do at your leisure time
Douglas: I plait goat hair. It's very relaxing.
Claire H——: Oh okay
I will like to know more about you
(Claire took my comments in stride. I have to admit it took me a while to stop laughing.)

MAR 24TH, 6:02PM
Claire H——: Hi Doug

MAR 24TH, 8:13PM
Douglas: Hi! Sorry! I've been away shaving my back. How's your night going, love?

(Completely unphased, Claire returns the next day.)
MAR 25TH, 6:11AM
Claire H——: How are you doing

MAR 25TH, 3:49PM
Douglas: You're back! I thought I scared you off.

MAR 25TH, 5:42PM
Claire H——: No
What are you up to Doug
(At this point, I have decided that I am being too subtle. It’s time to pull out the stops.)
Douglas: I am sick. Day 29. It's very exciting. I may be getting better, but the humongous boils on my feet are making it difficult to ballroom dance. At least the facial swelling has reduced. I can see again. Great, huh?
Claire H——: May I have some pictures of you

Are you with me

(Claire is getting nervous that she’s spooked me, but I am scouring the internet for the perfect photo.)
Douglas: This is a pic of me and my pet bear, Killer. I don't believe that last time was his fault. Besides, the guy was really old.
My and my pet bear, Killer, enjoying the 70s countryside.
Claire H——: It seems like a photo shoot
(Now we know that Claire is not a bot.)
Douglas: It is! My bear and I pose at petting zoos professionally. We have had zero casualties this year. Let's not talk about last year.
Claire H——: Okay
Can I have another pic of you
Killer and Me. The blood being lapped up is in no way related to the missing salesman we ran into. This is me with Killer. He is licking blood off my hands, the rascal!
Hey! This is awkward. I don't have any pictures of you!
Do you have any pics of you cosplaying as Laura Ingalls? I love bonnets.
They're hot.
Claire H——: I don't want pic like that
Send me a pic of you without bear
Douglas: You first. It doesn't have to be pioneer cosplay. I think pilgrims are hot, too.
Claire H——: If this is a pic of Claire, I am the Easter Bunny. (Claire sends a picture that is square in format, complete with white borders on the side, as if copied off the web.)
Douglas: You're cute! I like the borders, too. They've got that screencapped-from-Instagram feel that's super popular these days.
Claire H——: Oh thanks

MAR 26TH, 5:27AM
Claire H——: Hi

(I am beginning to suspect that my account is being passed around the catfisher office to different workers. How many times can one person say “Hi”‽ It’s time to wrap this up.)
MAR 26TH, 2:54PM
Douglas: Hi. I think I am feeling something that I haven't felt since Mia Sara kissed me in the second grade. I really feel like we have a connection here. This conversation has been riveting. Can you move out to Nebraska to be with me?
I don't live in Nebraska, but I'd consider it if you were there.

MAR 27TH, 1:53AM
Claire H——: Lols
(At this point, I feel that I won because she broke from the script with her first honest response. It’s time to say “Goodbye”.)

MAR 28TH, 4:40PM Douglas: The game is done. Wave goodbye!
Claire H——: Why are you sending me the bear
Send me a picture of you

(And so I bid Claire adieu. I wish her the best of luck in reeling in the big one with her captivating conversation skills. I could have continued sending bear pics, and she would have kept replying, but I had lost interest. Nevertheless, this was almost as fun as when I convinced the car scammer that my name was Mick Dundee and I would love to pay to have the car shipped from North Carolina, but could they ship it to the Australian outback instead?)

Coping Strategy: Sometimes I use ADHD as a coping strategy for depression. During the nadir of my illness, I was bedridden and miserable. Playing cat & mouse with a scammer was a perfect distraction and a healthy boost of endorphins. Hi.

If you’d like to support me or see how I use creative coping strategies to overcome suicidal depression, buy my book.

Friday, March 23, 2018

A Moment’s Respite from Pressing Thoughts

Finding moments of beauty can help alleviate stress and depression.

Sunset after the rain

Sometimes all I need to feel right is a moment’s peace with a beautiful sunset. Anxieties fade, and my spirit is lifted. That ephemeral moment of beauty has so much power for me. I wonder at the richly saturated colors spreading across the sky as twilight casts shadows over the color of the world below.

Some may claim sunsets are trite, but I do not find them so. I have trained myself to use them as cleansing moments. It is as if I have pressed pause on my day. I focus on something outside of myself. At that instant, the sunset becomes a grand, positive moment in my life in contrast to an otherwise stressful day. Truthfully, I am usually too distracted by the setting splendor to ruminate. Here, ADHD is a perfect coping strategy for depression.

An important aspect of sunsets is that you can’t plan on them. Most are unremarkable. However, when conditions are right, and if I notice the splash of color in the corner of my eye, I quickly find a place for a moment’s respite. I highly recommend you find your own random moments of respite when struggling with depression.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Dolores O'Riordan and I Have Something in Common

Just a few thoughts before my day takes me away.

The other day, I thought I’d celebrate St. Patty’s Day with The Cranberries. Dolores O’Riordan has been on my mind lately, and her voice was just the Irish taste I was looking for. However, I couldn’t listen to her voice and not remember what had recently happened to her. We won’t know officially how or why she died until next month. In the meantime, rumors swirl from police at the scene of fentanyl and suicide.

People pay a heavy price for addiction. Dolores struggled with depression, suicide, and addiction for years, then paid with her life. She sang in 1996 about the dangers of allowing drugs and external forces to have control over our lives, but it seems that years later she still hadn’t gained control. I suddenly felt very sad for her.

This brought an end to listening to The Cranberries. The pain was too recent and personal.

I experienced suicidal ideation early last week. It was the first time in six or more years. Just an errant thought. Caught me by surprise. I immediately fired up my coping strategies and called somebody. I let them know what was going on, and we chatted for a bit. Then the darkness passed.

If you struggle with suidism, I cannot recommend enough the importance of working out a game plan on a good day so that you can rely on that plan on a bad day. This is what saves me over and over again.

I wrote a blog about these coping strategies called “Six Steps to Overcome Suicidism” while writing my first book. I included the article in the chapter on knowing who to rely on. The article is loaded with helpful information, but I just discovered that I never remembered to post it here. Ah, ADHD… I’ll have to remind myself to rectify that.

In short, I try to talk myself out of suicide first, then pray for help second. I have a great deal of faith in prayer. However, if prayer fails to abate the suicidal feelings, then I rely on friends and family. If they aren’t available, the fourth line of defense is a church leader. The important thing is to tell somebody—anybody—what you are experiencing. Even a suicide hotline will suffice. Get your urge out of the shadows. These aberrant feelings don’t thrive in the light.

Decades ago, these suicidal feelings were overpowering, suffocating, and daily. It took me ten years of training to regulate my moods and to not let them take over my life. Now I go years between bouts. It truly is miraculous progress compared to the dark place I used to reside in. I’m so grateful that I made the effort and found success, but I never had drug addiction to deal with on top of suicidal ideation. I can’t imagine what Dolores was struggling with, or how the drugs addled her outlook. But this is speculation.

What I can say is that you are more important than you realize. Suicidal depression is insidious. It convinces us that we do the world a kindness by taking our lives. Please seek help if you struggle daily with these destructive urges.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1–800–273–8255

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