Friday, May 13, 2022

ADHD – I Forgot that I Was Dating Somebody?

Can you be so forgetful that you’d forget that you were dating somebody? For a few groggy moments, I was convinced that I had.

A Real Sensitive Guy

As I dealt with forgotten bills, paperwork unearthed from the Jurassic era, and various and sundry things I had meant to get to sometime around last September, I wondered if maybe, perhaps possibly, I was forgetful.

Oh, everybody forgets things! It’s perfectly normal. For example, my mother routinely forgets my name. After bringing me into this world many long and hoary decades ago, you’d think she’d have gotten the hang of it by now, but there she goes again, calling me by name by starting with the youngest son then moving upwards through the sediment of time until she comes around to me.

People with ADHD are just like that, except with trips to another room, a few phone calls, and a sudden urge to reorganize their closet in between each name. Perfectly normal! That’s why you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve forgotten quite a bit over the past half year.

My Fall was more hectic than usual. I started with a car accident in August, surgery in September, COVID–19 in October, RSV in November, then an attempt to catch every virus in Utah before the merry-go-round came to a stop last month. I’m surprised I didn’t end up with Hanta Virus somehow, as well as Chicken Pox for a third time. My life was such a wreck, I was lucky I remembered my own name!

Some interruptions derail the ADHD train so completely that when we finally get our caboose back up on the tracks, we often head off in a new direction. It’s not unusual for me to suddenly realize two months after getting over a death match with the Black Plague that I accidentally started a new project instead of resuming an old one. But there go I introducing a new metaphor. You’d think I had enough archeological material to work with considering how much my bedroom resembles a dig.

Speaking of my bedroom, aside from creating geological strata in all four corners with paperwork, I have been known to sleep there on occasion. Imagine, if you will, my sleepy head emerging from the covers one shiny morning in a panic. No, I hadn’t been buried under the weight of over half a year of mail. I had dreamed that I had suddenly realized that I had a girlfriend who I hadn’t called since September. I was so alarmed in the dream that my heart began pounding as I struggled to remember her name. How could I have forgotten my darling! Then my lucid brain had a chat with my dreaming brain and came to an agreement that it was time to wake up.

As I laid there in the bed calming my racing heart, I chuckled to myself. Like I could ever forget somebody so important as a girlfriend… Then I had a real moment of panic as I realized that I forget people all the time! I forget their names, I forget to call them back, and I forget that I’m on the phone with them when I suddenly start organizing my closet. Yes, I concluded from the sagacious perch of my pillow. I could possibly forget somebody that important.

But did I? I began to worry that maybe I had broken somebody’s heart. How do you apologize for accidentally ghosting somebody for eight months? Fortunately, my lucid brain realized that I was still sleepy and the whole incident was nonsense. There was no girlfriend. I was absolutely in the clear.

Probably.

I'm still surprised that I am so used to being forgetful that I could honestly believe such a dream-addled fiction, even for a moment. To my credit, I’m not so forgetful that I would space off a relationship, but if I ever do get a girlfriend and forget her name, you’ll know I’ll be buried with the dinosaurs if I’m tempted to dig through the layers of my memory and start rattling off past girlfriends’ names until I finally arrive at the right one.

 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Blind as an ADHD Bat

Ever been so ADHD that you can’t see what you’re looking for, even when it’s right in front of your face?

I’m over here! (iPhone hiding in plain sight)

Given that ADHD has as many flavors as a bag of jelly beans, you might not all relate with ADHD tunnel vision. I, unfortunately, can’t say the same. If I had a jelly bean for every time something I was looking for was found right there in front of me, I could go into business and give Jelly Belly a run for their money.

Today, the missing item was my iPhone. I got up from the table, left the kitchen, then wondered where my iPhone had gone. I went downstairs and searched for it. My daughter called it. I visited every room of the home as I retraced my steps all over the place. I imagine I traced paths just as comically convoluted as any you can find in Family Circus. Finally! Finally. There was one room I hadn’t visited. The kitchen. And there was my iPhone. The ringer had been turned off, but it was right where I had been sitting at the table, hidden in plain sight, clear as the nose on the end of my face, lying on the table next to my empty glass of strawberry lemonade.

Was I blind? In a matter of speaking, yes.

Sometimes ADHD concentration can be narrow-focused. In fact, this tunnel-vision can be so tight that we can miss things sitting out in the open. Haven’t you ever looked for an item, rummaged all around, then found it in the first place you had looked in? “How could I have missed this?” you might think. It was what you were looking for, yet you couldn’t see it. As I’ve mentioned before, ADHD attention dysfunctions aren’t too different than what anybody else might experience except in frequency and flair.

I used to constantly lose my wallet and keys in stupid places. They couldn’t be more obvious if they were waving a sign, yet I’d still look right over them. This lack of attention is caused by information overload and a lack of impulse control. To find objects, our minds will phase out extraneous details as we scan over the environment for the item we are searching for. With ADHD folks, everything can be an extraneous detail when we’re preoccupied!

In general, I’ve found that if I’m mistaken about the color, shape, or presentation of the item I am looking for—as in I have a preconceived notion of the item’s appearance—I’ll even put my hands on it, but pass it right by. Wallets and keys are familiar objects, so we have a better chance of noticing them, but if we are distracted at the right moment, any object can become invisible to us.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this particular myopia. For me, it’s as much a part of ADHD as distractibility. I know I can look forward to future scenarios where I lose my iPhone while it sits there on the bed or table and mocks me.

“Hey, Siri! Where are you?”¹
“Right in front of you, stupid.”
“Hey! Siri, you’re getting kinda cheeky lately.”
“Stop “losing” me then.”

To avoid imagined fights with Siri and other AI assistants in the future, I have come up with some tips that help me minimize the times I turn a blind ADHD eye to my belongings:

  1. Tidy up before you go: If I had cleaned up after myself before I left the table, I never would have misplaced my iPhone. I generally do this in public, but am lazier about it at home.
  2. Doublecheck, triple check…just check again, already!: Develop the habit of checking for your belongings before walking away from where you’ve been. I don’t want to make you neurotic, but this is a life-saving habit. I can’t recommend it enough.
  3. Bluetooth trackers: These l’il devices will save you so much headache and worry. I use Tile devices. I’ve attached them to my wallet, keys, and go bag. As long as you keep the batteries fresh, you’ll not worry again about where anything is. Now if only they made Tiles small enough to stick on my eyeglasses. I swear those things slip through dimensional pockets and reappear in random places.
  4. A place for everything, and everything in its place: Train yourself to place important items in specific locations. I’ve done this with my wallet and keys. They go in one place, and one place only. I almost never need to use the bluetooth trackers to find them anymore because I don’t lose them. My iPhone on the other hand…
  5. Take a deep breath, calm your mind, and look again: Once I become agitated and frustrated, it helps to take a second to center myself, then look again with fresh eyes. I usually see what I’ve been looking for soon after.

Developing these habits will help you become more mindful of where your possessions are, thus helping you get back up and running in a hurry. However, if you do find somebody handing out jelly beans for finding things in plain sight, please let me know. I’ve got a killer plan for taking over the confectionary world. Now, if only I could remember where I placed it.

~Dˢ

 


  1. Yes, this phrase actually works. You have no idea how many times I’ve shouted it out this year. 😕 ↩

Saturday, April 23, 2022

ADHD: Here Are Five Steps I Use to Rein In My Focus

A lack of focus is the one common trait that all adults with ADHD seem to have, but focus isn’t as elusive as you might fear.

Using timed reminders is one tool I use to maintain focus.

The other day, a friend texted me out of the blue. He wanted a list of some of the things that I do to maintain focus. Initially, I panicked. I’ve been chronically ill since getting COVID–19 last October. I haven’t blogged in four months, so my ADHD advice muscles were all out of shape. Fortunately for my friend, I haven’t met a topic yet that I didn’t have an opinion on, so I worked up my courage and sent a list to him.

Finding focus is a complicated issue for adults with ADHD. There are times when we have far too much focus and times when focus is as rare as a moderate during election primaries. Too much. Too little. This would be fine to work with if there was predictable rhythm to the pattern, but usually we find ourselves with too much focus on things we shouldn’t be doing (often called hyperfocus), and too little focus on the things that we should (often called many rude labels that I won’t bother listing). How do we regulate that‽ This is why I believe ADHD should refer to an attention dysfunction disorder, not a deficit.

The key to focus is understanding that ADHD minds have an aversion to boredom. Scolding somebody to not be bored motivates somebody about as well as a gun to the head. There may be some short term benefits, but in the long run, it will create self-esteem issues and other psychological hangups. Instead, accept that boredom is part of the problem and address it with targeted coping strategies.

Here are five steps I use to rein in my focus:

  1. Simplify your tasks: I break projects down into three steps at a time, usually in the form of a checklist, and memorize those steps. I call them my ThreeDos, instead of ToDos. I find I can simulate ADHD hyperfocus by doing this, but without the downside of being totally immersed in my own world and deaf to the one around me.
  2. Drown out distractions: I like playing EDM to pump up my energy levels, but any music that excites you will do. Dance music causes me to tap my feet, which has the same focusing effect as exercise. It’s important to not play any music with lyrics if you haven’t heard the songs before. The purpose is to prevent distractions, not add to them! If EDM doesn’t work because I’m working with others or I need to stay attentive to outside interruptions, I will play white noise (often mixed with brown and pink noise).
  3. Timers are key to focus: Use a timer and work for shorter periods. I’ve found I can work for about forty-five minutes when focused, but I start with twenty minute periods at first, building up from there. Once the timer goes off, take a mental break. Look around. Check in with others. Disengage from your task for a moment. Then, after a few moments, start your next timed session. If you work at home, an old fashioned kitchen timer can be effective, but if you work with others, a soft alert sound on your phone can be just as effective.
  4. Alarms and reminders can keep you on task: Similar to timers, having a message pop up on your phone can jog your memory if you’ve become distracted, or keep you on track if your focus is fading. I often utilize Siri on my iPhone to set reminders. Where this tool becomes most useful is when I’m in the middle of a working session, but don’t want to forget something that comes to me. “Hey, Siri. Remind me in twenty minutes to call X.” Utilize your phone, no matter the platform, for on the fly reminders instead of trusting your memory.
  5. Make sure you are fed and hydrated: You can’t focus without fuel, yet this one step eludes me time and time again. Hyperfocus is often to blame. I have found that when I plan in meals with my breaks as outlined above, I focus better, and I am far more productive.

When my productivity drops and time sails out the window, I know I haven’t been applying these coping strategies. I may not be able to get rid of my ADHD, but I can regulate it. Making the effort to tighten my focus helps me accomplish what I set out to do. Hopefully, these tips will help my friend, and maybe you as well.

~Dˢ

Thursday, January 27, 2022

When Does Research Become a Fixation?

I pull back the curtain a bit today, revealing a deep, dark secret about myself—a secret so dank, surely I’ll lose the last three readers I have.

Pandoras Box from an unknown artist at Pixiv

I’ve been reading far too many Japanese light novels lately.

It started as a form of research, but now I actually like the darn things. I can’t get enough of them. They’re my personal Pandora’s Box. I opened the beautiful, ornately engraved box, saw the plentiful wonders inside, and now I can’t shut the lid. Is this an ADHD obsession, or a newfound joy? I can’t tell, which is why I’m troubled. Have you seen my Goodreads timeline? I read almost all escapist manga and light novels these days. I know I’ve been struggling with depression lately, but it’s embarrassing! I’m sitting here wearing a Fair Isle style, wool sweater, a designer, long-sleeved, henley shirt, and Izod tech pants, not a 1-ply t-shirt featuring Sailor Moon with chip crumbs all over my belly. How will my polished author image survive this lapse in pretentiousness?

In 2019, I had noticed that many of my favorite anime that season had origins as light novels in Japan. The more I looked into them, the more I realized that most anime was based on successful light novels. I’m not sure when they crowded out manga as the number one source. Even many successful manga are light novel spin-offs these days.

The best way to describe a light novel is as if pulp fiction and anime had a baby. Most stories are told in the first person. Most are written in a rush, with rapid output outweighing literary craft as the number one priority. The emphasis is on story and entertainment, not languid, literary explorations of contemporary themes. That’s where light novels are similar to pulp fiction, but where they differ is that the stories share more in common with comics with overpowered characters, romance being secondary to adventure, and so many portals open to fantasy worlds, it’s surprising Japan has any population left. In fact, many read like visual scripts to anime—as if the authors already have the licensing goals in mind. At worst, they can be fannish, derivative tales where they don’t milk tropes as much as they stick a spicket in and drain them by the bucketful.

Light Novels are not all bad. Otherwise, I wouldn’t spend so much time enjoying them. I’ve found my favorites. The intricate settings of Ascendance of a Bookworm are inspiring, as is the characterization and complicated plot. So much detail and research went into that series that I’m a little bit in awe of it. Unnamed Memory is gorgeously written. Earlier volumes are more sumptuous than later volumes, but over all I find the strong world and character building very engaging. The story reads like a fairytale whodunnit. The marathon-named Banished from the Hero’s Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside is a LitRPG, traditional high fantasy story that slowly reveals deep explorations on the meaning of free will while it subverts the proverbial hero role. Like Unnamed Memory, the story bucks the Light Novel trend and features romance in a warm and healthy way. Also, the Rascal Does Not Dream of… series is notable for its rapid-fire and funny dialog. Imagine a Young Adult X-files crossed with Moonlighting situated in Japan. The story is funny, but the author makes me care about the characters. The last volume was a bit cruel with my heartstrings.

Reading for research is one thing, but light novels have replaced vegging out in front of the boob tube. That’s an improvement, right⸮ They’ve replaced gaming, too. The downside is now that I read for fun, I’m no longer studying the craft, the pacing, the compromises, or the output of the authors involved.

I blame j-novel.club (JNC). I paid for a subscription to read everything I could get my hands on. I wanted to understand the phenomenon better. JNC serializes the stories as they are serialized in Japan—weekly—so one can find themselves quite busy keeping on top of several series all week long. I just paid for one month, but here I am two years later. I’m just glad that JNC doesn’t serialize daily as some of the stories are released in Japan.

I’m not complaining. Light novels and Kindle Vella gave me the kick in the butt I needed to write more. Serializing daily? Do you realize how much work that is? Even if the output is a tropey lark with no originality, I am still impressed with the dedication and output. On top of my Tourette’s and other issues, the pandemic, along with family drama, snuffed out my writing flame. I felt like a podling from Dark Crystal, drained and lifeless as I moved from day to day. Now I’m anxiously engaged in a good cause in my own way instead of letting depression win.

If only I could cut back on reading and do more writing. (Serialized daily! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.)

~Dˢ

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Doomsday in December?

I’m run down and sick, so I’m posting something positive every day this week until I lift my spirits.

Hipstamatic Photo. Looking Fine!

There is a reason I’m depressed. It’s more than having major and persistent depression disorder. I’ve had a surprisingly cruddy year. I have to admit that I’m frustrated because my coping strategies are failing me. This is the sort of year that could only happen to a protagonist in a dark comedy. I’ve already written before how I was severely sick for seven months before the pandemic began. This feels like slow death sometimes. I’m so isolated from others, I’m forgetting how to be human.

Here’s my calendar since May. I think it’s a bit much:

May: I began running to lose weight and get in shape, but tore my right meniscus in my knee. I know its a torn meniscus, but insurance demands I do physical therapy first. Thus ends my newfound hobby, as well as my summer of longboarding before it began.
June: Babying my torn meniscus, I bent over to get something out of the fridge and ripped my quadratic lomborum on my right side. How did such a thing happen? When did I become so frangible? I have to cancel my knee PT.
July: My back is improving, but still sore. No exercise can be done, though I manage to walk long miles. It’s very painful, especially on the knee, but I’m determined to lose weight and get in shape. Then I catch a summer virus and go down for three weeks.
August: I feel like I’m getting back on top of my life, though my LD daughter began an extremely volatile stage this month. We haven’t seen temper outbursts like this in a few years, so it was surprising. It took up enormous amounts of time to deal with. Halfway through the month, She and I got rear ended on a highway onramp in the rain. One driver ahead of me braked, causing a pileup. The guy in front of me avoided that guy, and I avoided him, but the guy behind me wasn’t as skillful. Now I need a chiropractor, I can’t do my PT, and my car is wrecked. But we are alive and thankful that things weren’t worse.
September: Mostly filled with chiropractic visits until 2/3rds through when I have surgery to correct my torn meniscus. By the end of the month, I had one day where I began to feel functional again. I spent the day helping parents register their car, but not mine. I’d do it on Monday, except…
October: I got COVID–19 despite dual vaccinations. It was probably Delta. I have never been so sick in my life. It lasted for weeks, eating up the entire month.
November: Finally, I’m feeling normal again! I register my car. I get the insurance fiasco and repairs going. I put out fires here and there that had begun to smolder in my life. Then my daughter got RSV. I spent eight days tending to her needs. She hadn’t been as sick as that in twenty years. Then she shared it with me. I tested positive for RSV and COVID a week an a half ago. I hear I’ll test positive for COVID for up to three months. My symptoms were all RSV, but I was already run down from COVID. It was brutal. I’m still sick. Fortunately, I got the car in for repair. The bill came to over $5000, but insurance paid for it. One bright moment. I got my car back today, and I feel strangely giddy about my worldly possession. I have freedom again.
December: That’s tomorrow. Nothing short of disaster and ruin can follow up this chain of events. December shall usher in a personal Ragnarök, resulting in smoke, carnage, and a crater where my hopes and dreams once resided. Oh, is that negative? Gosh, shucks. I wonder why my outlook is so dark?

What’s most frustrating is that for most days, there is no brightness or joy in my life—just sickness, pain, and suffering. No friends to socialize with. I’m quarantining. No health to explore the world around me. I’m too sick to be active, and going outside will result in me getting more sickness. Just me stuck at home, sick and miserable with a compromised immunity system. In the past, I would hold tight and wait for Spring when the warmer weather would begin my days of living and health. It’s a dull way to live, though.

I recognize that this entry is filled with self-pity. Nobody set me up for a fall. There are no angry gods making sure my life is perfectly disastrous. Yet still, I had such high writing goals for the year. I needed to reach forward and lift myself up. I have little patience for life’s nastier distractions.

This is why I’m posting something positive every day. This journal entry doesn’t quite count. It’s sad, bitter therapy, but I feel better getting it out. No, I’m referring to my attempts at gratitude. Here is today’s:

I’m grateful for ebooks. I can go out shopping at 4am, dressed in swaddling clothes, and never leave my bed. 📖

I have not given up hope, but I may not make my writing goals. I wanted to have my new fiction work up on Kindle Vella by Saturday. That may happen. I wanted my ADHD visual ToDos book up on Kindle Unlimited by my birthday. That may happen. I owe a friend quite a few articles for his website. I think I can bang them out by the end of year, but it might be a bit much to expect them done by my birthday as well. I also wanted to reach certain goals in my Japanese studies. Those may happen. I’m not dead yet, and wallowing only makes depression stronger, which makes productivity harder. It is dour enough that I am sickly. My mental outlook doesn’t have to reflect that. I’ve been lazy in my coping strategies. It is time to recommit to being in control.

With that said, I’m being grateful and posting a blog today. I even took a selfie and tried to make myself look human. These are three proactive tasks that are hard to do when my outlook is bleak, but I feel that I’ve accomplished something, even if this blog is overly maudlin, lacking in humor, and heavy on ruthful observations. I’m getting it out of my system. I’m going to put this year behind me. I’m going to succeed.

~Dˢ

 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Feeling Down, So It’s Time To Be Grateful

Sometimes life gets me down. So what am I going to do about it?

Moody Sunset Looking West I’ve been way too sick to blog lately or post here. I mostly lay in bed and cough. It’s a party! But I did get some book writing in. One more chapter, and I’ll be ready to post it on Kindle Vella. Now I just need to design a fetching avatar for the book.

I started feeling better yesterday…marginally. I had energy enough to remotely log into my four computers and setup SSH key pairs, moved some doge into a dedicated hot wallet, listed items on eBay, updated my dynamic DNS account to make sure my web and ebook servers were working, downgraded Calibre and DeDRM to fix the Mac glitch with Kindle 1.31.0 where the DRM keys weren’t passed to the new install, then upgraded them so I can make DRM-free backups of my purchases again, ignored the crypto-markets because they were depressing, worked on the impossible family jigsaw puzzle that will be the death of me before sickness ever takes me out, read a lot of books, and laid down inbetween each task to recouperate.

What’s funny is that what I want to do is vastly different from that list I just shared with you, but I simply can’t exercise or do PT yet. I can’t write as long as I can tinker. I run out of stamina. Same problem with studying Japanese. Or blogging. I wonder why tinkering on my computers is easy, but working on them is hard?

I believe the reason is that I forget to take breaks when I work, but tinkering is intellectual pudding, effortless for me to do, and I take frequent breaks in between tasks. You’d think I’d set a timer and work in small blocks when working. You know? The Pomodoro method? Ten minute increments? I’ve been so exhausted from these oxygen-depleting coughing attacks that come up from the bottom of my toes, I’ve forgotten most of my coping strategies.

So I’m typing all this here to remind myself.

I haven’t gone into details on what I’ve been dealing with this year, but let’s just say that I ate my Thanksgiving dinner quarantined in my bedroom, so this current bout of illness has me a bit down. I just want to get back in shape, socialize with people more, and ride my longboard for hours like I did last year several times a week. But it’s December, we’re in a pandemic, Omicron is around the corner, and even though my knee PT has been delayed due to my car accident and COVID–19 (and now RSV), I couldn’t go longboarding in this weather anyway. If I owned a gun, I would put pictures of viruses on a post in my backyard and shoot at them all day until I felt better.

It’s possible that I’m in a dark place. Now that I’ve vented, I believe I will post something positive every day this week until I lift my spirits.

Here we go. Positive thought No.1: I’m glad I’m not dead.

Nope. Not positive enough. It sounds more like a lyric from the Smith’s than an empowering statement of gratitude. I’m sure I can do better.

Ahem.

I’m grateful for a bright mind and geeky things to keep it entertained.

There! That was better, don’t you think? What are you grateful for?

~Dˢ

 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Good Grief! Where Have I Been All This Time‽

My life was briefly put on hold, thanks to a certain virus, but now I’m back, more cheeky & cynical than ever!

Orange-tinted Sunset

So much for new beginnings.

A week after my knee surgery, just as I was able to feel more human than sore, I became sick. Then sicker. Then sicker still. A quick visit to the InstaCare on a quiet Sunday evening ushered me into my new life of exhaustion and fatigue.

I’ve had five or six COVID–19 tests since the pandemic began. They were almost beginning to feel routine. That Sunday night was no different. I showed up to pick up my pre-registered self-test, then opted to be seen instead because I felt lousy. I didn’t think I had COVID–19 because I was vaccinated, but I had something. I thought it was strep throat.

I waited outside. They called me in when they were wearing their biohazard suit. I had my vitals recorded. They decided to test for Strep as well as COVID–19. I waited some more.

I’ve been there before. Multiple times doctors would tell me, “Oh, 85% I’m sure you’ve got COVID”, and I’d test negative. Every time. They just didn’t understand how sick I get. Respiratory illness is my raison d’être . A virus only has to pass by the front of my home on the other side of the street, and I’ll be bedridden for a week. I’d made progress in recent years. I’d enjoyed traveling, longboarding, and shrugging off colds after a day, but the pandemic made me unhealthier. I couldn’t get out. Couldn’t exercise. It was as if the pandemic lay on my Major Depression Disorder like an anvil, then pushed my Persistent Depression Disorder down the stairs. It helped my sleep phase disorder knock me around the clock like a hockey puck. I was back to be being sick more often than healthy again.

When the test came back positive for SARS-CoV–2, I was irritated. “C’mon!” I thought. “I followed all the rules. I wore that stupid mask. I got my shots!” Yeah, but Delta didn’t care. From what I’ve read, it had a different protein spike than the one American vaccines targeted.

Delta’s path to me was logjammed with vaccines, all of which it vaulted over grimly and with grace. Apparently, my brother’s mother-in-law went to a party, came home and gave Delta to her husband. Then they waited to get better because they couldn’t possibly have COVID–19. They were vaccinated! Everyone says get vaccinated or you’ll endanger your grandparents, as if the vaccine is a magical potion that wards off evil, but the grandparents ended up sharing the virus with their eleven-year-old grandson, who then shared it with his daddy, who then shared it with me. All of us except my nephew were vaccinated—twice.

Can I be dramatic for a moment (as if I wasn’t already over the top). I’d never been sicker in my life. It was like pneumonia and the flu had a baby in my lungs then beat me down with its diapers. I’ve been bronchial all my life, but I’d never experienced anything like this. Even watching TV or reading a book took too much energy. I was miserable. Getting air into my lungs was exhausting at times. COVID–19 weaponized my comorbid conditions, then waged war on my health. With the time recovering from surgery followed with COVID–19, I’ve lost five weeks of my life. Fun times.

Now that I’m on the mend, I’ve begun taking back my life, putting out fires, getting things back on track…and sleeping at all the wrong times of the day when I collapse, battery depleted. Things couldn’t be worse if radioactive meteors began to rain down upon me every time I ventured out to check the mail.

Don’t worry, though. My spirits are up even considering all I’ve been through. Being melodramatic is all part of my therapy. Next time I’ll tell you about my comical trip to the ER for the monoclonal antibody treatment. Being in danger of a heart attack was never so hilarious. Just make sure you have “Yakety Sax” playing in the background while you read along.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the first sunset that I beheld in ages, venturing outside on my own for the first time since this whole ordeal began.

Date:   October 26, 2021 at 6:19:01 PM MDT
Weather:    46°F Mostly Cloudy
Location:   Sandy, Utah, United States

Monday, September 20, 2021

What Gets You Down?

Sometimes external forces can induce depression. They can induce panic. They can control how you see the world if you let them.

I’ve got surgery coming up this week, so I’m getting my blogging in early. I want to work on my current novel when I start to come out of the anesthesia. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I’m watching the crypto market implode…again.

I decided to get into crypto last Spring—two days before China cracked down on Bitcoin miners and the Chinese banks that did business with them. I had only invested $10. It was play money, to be honest, but what a lesson that was for me! China’s crackdown caused the market to crash. That $10 became negative in just two days.

I laughed. There I was. Mr. Moneybags. The Crypto Guru. All because I was so entertained just twenty-four hours earlier when my $10 had gained 50¢ in value.

The main character of my book made and lost a fortune in crypto, so I wanted to understand that world better before writing about it. He lost his business. He lost his girl. He lost his charm, optimism, and self-respect. He was destroyed in a week. It wasn’t my goal to lose my $10 bucks. I don’t need to write that authoritatively! However, I did feel that some background knowledge would make me write a more realistic character.

They say that the cryptocurrency market is volatile. Saying that is like saying the sun is somewhat warm. Since Spring I have seen the crypto market crash three times. It’s doing so again right now. It will probably be up again sometime after my surgery, but for the moment it is leaving a trail of blood all the way to the floor. The common internet advice is to “buy the dip”, which means buy during the crash. I’m not in a position to do that. I’m better off focusing on paying off my medical bills. Besides, sometimes dips have dips, too.

Though minuscule, watching my investment shrivel last Spring wasn’t a happy feeling, but I was insulated from the depression and panic many people experienced when their investments went South because I hadn’t invested very much, but also because I had already prepared to potentially lose it all.

Which made me wonder how people actually lost money on the stock market. As long as the market goes back up, I haven’t lost anything. I’d have to sell at a loss to lose my investment. As part of my book research, I talked to family members who had lost money in the stock market crash in 2008. With my newfound knowledge, it seemed the only way they could lose anything is if they sold low—which is exactly what they did. They sold for fear that getting something was better than getting nothing.

Panic & depression cause us to make very emotional decisions. Our worldview is skewed darkly as we envision nothing by doom. For me, my investment in crypto wasn’t meant to make me rich, so I wasn’t emotionally impacted by the dips. However, I mused that there were many other external forces that caused me to panic and be depressed aplenty.

This time I don’t have a succinctly numbered list of advice for you. I’m still formulating ideas. One thing I can say is that the trick to not becoming depressed by external forces is to separate your mind from the events that are impacting you. Personally speaking, I have to decide that those external forces don’t impact me at all. Just as the ups and downs of the crypto market don’t affect my self-worth, I need to ensure that the ups and downs in my life don’t affect my self-worth either.

My entire book on fighting suicide was based on the idea that there is always a dawn. Improving our perspective through discipline is a very appealing thought process to me. I am grateful for the second crypto crash this month for reminding me of this lost lesson…….

~Dˢ

 

Date: September 20, 2021 at 2:53:10 PM MDT
Weather: 61°F Sunny
Location: Sandy, Utah, United States

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Finding the Beauty in Chaos

A new beginning that looks an awful lot like the old one.

When I set out to explore fractal art, I face a confusing array of controls & parameters. It has taken me years to develop the eye to select the best cropping, the most flattering palette, and the most interesting settings, then present them in a pleasing manner. Without this discipline, the fractal is an utter mess with no focus. By making a few poorly chosen decisions, the same mathematical location and the same color palette can appear completely different—and far less appealing.

Of course, anybody with the time and desire to learn the software can produce pleasing images. It isn’t as if I received a PhD in advance fractal art, traveling to distant lands to study with the Mandelbrot masters before writing my doctoral thesis on the societal implications of sliders versus number fields and how they subvert the patriarchy.

However, as I was exploring a particular fractal set the other day,—tweaking the parameters to get something beautiful to leap out of the screen—I had an interesting thought that caused me to stop and ponder:

I wish my life was as easy to organize as these fractals are.

There is too much chaos to detail here, but suffice it to say that my life is more like the bottom image with its cacophony of line and color, overwhelmed with indiscernible patterns. It feels like absolute and total chaos, and I’m not pleased about it one single pixel.

I sat there wondering what my slider controls were. What could I tweak to bring my life back into focus? Was it as simple as choosing a new palette, in other words, changing the scenery? How could I pacify the waves of chaos that seemed to be carrying me far from my goals? Oh, I self-pontificated grandly, assigning various aspects of my life as metaphorical tools in my fractal art program. After a few minutes of that, though, I realized it was all a bit silly. There is no “frequency” dial in my life to reduce the amount of chaos.

But if there could be such a dial, what would it look like? How would I use it? Would I want to?

Since the pandemic, my family life has become complicated. I don’t write as much as I’d like. I don’t draw or play instruments anymore. It seems that I am entirely preoccupied dealing with my disabilities as well as those of my daughter. I must admit that I am thoroughly depressed, my ADHD is not being managed well, and my Tourette’s is running my life. Although I am not lying down, playing the victim, I am so busy surviving that I am giving no consideration to thriving.

Instead of being knocked around by life, I want to choose the direction. Recording my thoughts on social media has long lost its charm. I want to thrive. It’s not enough to tread water. We only tire ourselves out that way. Instead, we need a clear direction to head in.

Since I’m still living out in the fractal weeds, so to speak, that clear direction that I want in my life is obscured by chaos. I’ve decided to record my thoughts as I work through the process. ocial media has lost much of its appeal for me, yet blogging has also lost its appeal. I began to worry too much about each article being quotable, SEO-optimized, and shared. So I’ve begun a new journal instead, then post the pages here. I’ll try to get back to my roots to when I began blogging, offering more personal observations.

I will discuss my process more, working through my ADHD, depression, Tourette’s, and family life as obstacles. It’ll be more like my old Writing in a Fishbowl series, but I will try to be less colloquial and more beautiful in the way that I write. Finding beauty in chaos starts with me. I need to highlight the good in my life and emphasize my progress.

I hope you won’t mind coming along for the ride. There are some beautiful sights to behold. They may have even been right in front of my face, but I missed them because I was focused on the chaos instead.

~Dˢ

 

Date: September 19, 2021 at 12:30:54 PM MDT
Weather: 76°F Sunny
Location: Sandy, Utah, United States

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Feedburner Is Dying. I'm Moving Email Subscriptions to Follow.it

(cc) Douglas Cootey
Feedburner is being put to pasture by Google, so I have moved my Feedblitz email subscribers over to follow.it. Thank you for understanding. 

My original RSS URL is sixteen years old, back from when I called this blog THE Splintered Mind, long before I discovered that early blog indexers alphabetized their listings without ignoring determiners like "a" or "the". So A Splintered Mind was born, and suddenly I was at the top of the lists. Yep, I was sneaky. 

Then I discovered Feedburner which allowed me to track stats and such on the people who subscribed. Feedburner took the old RSS feed and gave you a new one to share with readers that made their magic work. Now Google's shelving the magic. Bad news for me, but not bad news for you.

Feedburner for end users will hang around for an indeterminate amount of time according to Google. You should be able to continue accessing all your feedburner based RSS feeds in whatever RSS reader you still use. That means you'll continue to receive updates from this blog. However, Google giveth and Google taketh away. I wouldn't trust them for long. It's time to update your feedburner branded RSS feeds. This link should do the trick:
It's also time for me to move this blog to another platform, so I'll be planning my migration in earnest now. I suspect that Blogger will be on the chopping block one day soon. I'm looking into self-hosting solutions, just for your information, but whatever I elect to do will be much better than this tired old Blogger platform. We've had a lot of fun here, though. Thanks for your continued support.

~Dˢ


















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