Monday, December 03, 2018

ADHD: On Time, but Half an Hour Late

Sometimes you can do everything right and still get it all wrong.

Cheerful Reminder

It seems the only thing I can count on reliably is my ADHD tendency to embarrass myself. It’s even more reliable than death and taxes. I make plans. I execute them. Then they execute me.

My regular hairstylist is out on maternity leave, so I’ve been seeing a colleague of hers. She does a good job, and I am intensely thankful to get a professional cut on my schedule at the same location. She’s a nice girl and very courteous, too, which makes me want to return the favor by being on time.

You can probably guess where this is going.

Between ADHD, Tourette’s, and my daughter’s disabilities, many days I find myself 15–30 minutes behind schedule, racing across the valley to be as close to on time as possible, basically Douglas Standard Time. If you’re wondering why I’m so chronologically challenged, ADHD inspires last minute distractions that put me behind, Tourette’s is a neurological earthquake that goes off unexpectedly, and my daughter is a learning disabled teenager who does a great erupting volcano impression. Any of the three is enough to get me off track, but often I get the full hat trick.

This is why I had been making a concerted effort to not be late anymore to my appointments. Even if ADHD was at fault one day, or I began ticking and couldn’t drive, there is still a level of control that I have to manage the interruptions. In the case of the hairstylist, I prepared in advance. I was ready for the appointment long before I needed to leave. I planned no other errands to run. I had eaten a full meal, loaded with protein, an hour before I had to leave to prevent Tourette’s. I had even slept well. Being on time to my hair appointment was my main goal that afternoon. When the appointed time arrived, I was early, sitting in my spot eagerly awaiting my hirsute transformation.

You could have knocked me over with a hair clip when the stylist awkwardly informed me that my appointment had been scheduled thirty minutes earlier. I sat there stunned. Just moments before I had been congratulating myself for being punctual—maybe even a bit smugly. Oh, yes! I was the master of time, all right! Behold my timely splendor! Chronos himself stands in awe of my godlike punctuality!

How could this have happened‽ I was so careful. With my stylist standing there, I frantically checked my calendar. Yes, there it was. One o’clock. Not 12:30. Yet there I was, half an hour late. She sweetly asked me if I had received the reminder texts. Yes, yes! Of course! There they were. I often don’t pay much attention to them because they are redundant. I have everything written down in my calendar, but upon closer inspection, the reminder texts did indeed state my upcoming appointment was at 12:30. Although it’s possible the salon changed the time (since that’s happened before), I probably wrote it down wrong. Either way, I never verified the appointment time with the reminder. That made it solely my fault.

I left dejected and shaggy. I usually laugh off ADHD blunders because they are often jaw-dropping stupid in their scope, but this mistake hit me hard. Not only did I not get a great haircut, I embarrassed myself and inconvenienced her. It was my last appointment with her before my regular stylist returned. This was how the hairstylist was going to remember me.

I was depressed about it for days. When I realized I hadn’t paid her, as per their cancelation policy, I was mortified. My depression worsened.

What surprises me is that I’ve already learned this lesson before. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn it completely. I take the appointment reminder cards and verify my appointment entry when I get home. I remember to call to verify if I haven’t received a reminder call. But I never applied those coping strategies to text reminders, as if they are totally different because the reminder arrives on photons instead of paper. Clearly, I should have opened up the Calendar app and checked the date and time. As we said as children, “No duh…”

What I take away from this is that I shouldn’t trust myself to remember things. I got cocky. Life has shown me over and over again that the unexpected will always occur. It’s a hard lesson to relearn. Reminder cards and texts are there to help us not forget. There is no shame in double checking. In fact, it would be prudent to do so. In the future, that’s exactly what I’ll do—right after I drop by the salon and pay the stylist what I owe. It’s an expensive lesson that I hope I won’t be relearning anytime soon.


Friday, November 09, 2018

Life Usually Has Other Plans

For the past week, I’ve been stressing out over an upcoming event: my return to the dating pool. I can’t say that my swim went well. First, I paced back and forth on the pool deck, eyeing the water suspiciously. Then I stuck a toe in, but quickly retreated to a safe distance. Wet! It was much too wet. Then I shook myself off, scheduled my swim, awaited my moment, and dressed for the occasion. I even took a selfie to send to my daughters before I took the plunge.

In the photo, I’m so nervous in my bathing suit, I don’t recognize the man looking back at me. There’s something wrong with his face. He doesn’t look anything like me. It might be his rigor mortis smile, or the overly pink complexion moments before he begins to steam from apprehension. Whatever is ailing him, it doesn’t matter. Life managed to keep him away from the water 35 minutes before he was scheduled to dive in.

The school gave me a call seconds after I took the selfie. My daughter was having a breakout seizure.

I recorded the following to Facebook on my way to the Brownie’s high school. For some reason I chose to use text-to-speech in Facebook. Maybe it was the app already open on my iPhone at that moment. Maybe I just wasn’t thinking clearly. Regardless, here’s what I said:

On my way to the high school instead of a date. The Brownie is having a seizure. It’s a rotten timing. It’s taken her years to be ready for me to date. And now, this happens. Hopefully, she’s all right. I’ll keep you updated. If you are friends or family, please let others know thank you bye

I later posted to Facebook that I shouldn’t dictate messages during an emergency. Text requires care to communicate tone. But I think my exasperation came through just fine. I was worried my date triggered her seizure. I was feeling frustrated and guilty all at the same time.

So why did I think this was about me and not her? To say she’s not been open to me dating since the divorce would be an understatement. Despite their mother remarrying quickly after our divorce, my youngest two daughters entered a state of abject terror whenever I mentioned the D-word. The decision was a simple one. I chose not to date for the past seven years. My second youngest daughter finally deigned to allow me to date once she got her first boyfriend, but my youngest remained adamant: NO DATING! Years passed, and I thought she was finally ready because she’d been telling me it was okeh for me to date recently, and she wasn’t upset about my upcoming date at all. Then this happened.

Her seizures for the past year have mostly been anxiety panic conversion disorder episodes taking the well-worn neurological path of seizures from birth. They’re non-epileptic, but still legitimate seizures. Part of me wondered if maybe she wasn’t okeh with the date after all. Maybe this episode was the result. That’s what I was thinking when I recorded the message above.

Then I arrived at the school.

Paramedics were already on the scene. A secretary was waiting for me out in the hall. In the school’s main office, my daughter lay on the floor, crying and incoherent. She was agitated, disorientated, and thrashing about, making it difficult for the paramedics to inject her with midazolam, a common sedative for seizures. You haven’t seen needle skill until you’ve watched a paramedic move his body to track a flailing arm to prevent a needle snapping. This was the post ictal phase of an epileptic seizure for my girl. There was no denying it now. The epileptic seizures were back.

Two days have passed since that moment, and my body hasn’t returned to normal. We spent only two hours in the hospital, and the Brownie has slept well and recovered, but I’m still a wreck. I picked up a bug at the hospital. My week’s plans have been obliterated. I’m frustrated, but not at her, poor thing. I am frustrated at how selfish I sounded in that initial post. I am frustrated with my fragile self. I am frustrated that my control over ADHD is still susceptible to random events because my week is in tatters. I am frustrated that my health is so lousy despite the hours and hours of exercise I have been doing all Summer long. I am frustrated that I am not perfect, something I know logically I cannot achieve, but emotionally I demand of myself.

That’s why I’m blogging this. This is my therapy. I write about what troubles me in a creative, and hopefully, entertaining way so that I wash away my discouragement. I do it to help me see things in perspective. For every person who reads my blog and thinks I’m no big deal, there are others who are looking for the human touch while they struggle with issues that overwhelm them. They aren’t alone. We’re all on the same path. Some of us are further ahead than others, but it’s common decency to look back and offer a hand—the same type of hand that others have offered ourselves. It helps us not feel sorry for ourselves. It helps us find the strength to move forward. Life is hard for everybody to deal with. Disability just adds flavor to the dysfunction.

And now I feel better. It’s time to mimic my daughter’s resilience in my own life. I have articles to write and a book awaiting my attention. It’s also time to suit back up and go for a swim.

The Best-Laid Schemes

This month, no, my life isn’t going as planned. It brings to mind a certain poem:

❝But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

~“To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough”, Robert Bruns, November 1785

I know. It’s not the most upbeat outlook, and Steinbeck repurposed it better, but life certainly does have a way of uprooting our carefully built nests. In response, I could get frustrated, or I could get creative. I chose the creative solution, even if it feels a bit bleak—even for me.


New blog posting later tonight.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Worry Is a Waste of Imagination

Worry is a waste of imagination. ~Walt Disney

What Do I Get out of Blogging about Mental Health?

I was recently contacted by a college student who requested an email interview. I share the answers below because the interviewer asked excellent questions.

If you follow my blog, then you’ll already know that I have been diagnosed with Clinical Depression (Major Depressive Disorder), Adult ADHD, and Chronic Tic Disorder (Tourette’s). What you may not know is what I get out of blogging about my experiences with these conditions. This was the one of the questions the interviewer asked that made me think.

Why on earth do I do this?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

That Time When Ducks Cured My Depression

Sometimes taking care of your own depression can be accomplished by taking care of somebody else.

I’ve been incredibly stressed and depressed lately, so when my 2nd oldest daughter, Cathryn, suggested last month that we celebrate the birthday of my youngest daughter, the Brownie, with a trip into the mountains, I thought it was a fantastic idea. Fresh air up in the clouds sounded like the perfect salve for my soul. My spirits are often lifted by a change of scenery and some exercise. There was only one problem: the Brownie hates hiking.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Begins to Hope Again

“But a sanguine temper, though forever expecting more good than occurs, does not always pay for its hopes by any proportionate depression. It soon flies over the present failure, and begins to hope again.” 
– Jane Austen, Emma, ch.18


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