Thursday, June 29, 2023

April Snow Brings May Slow, But I Keep On Fighting

The biggest challenge in my life right now is Long COVID. The post exertion malaise leaves me depleted with no extra energy for blogging. All that energy is directed towards my Daddy Duty (I have an adult, learning disabled, autistic child at home) and my current work in progress. Yes, I am writing, and it’s filled with attitude and humor, but I’m not writing here. Let’s change that.

I’ll start with recent Facebook posts, elaborate on them, and then start charting my progress—perhaps even with a bit of cheek.

A Snowy Spring

April 4, 2023: Nice weather we’re having! 🌱🌿🥀

(To be honest, snow in April means I have to continue staying indoors. The reprieve from illness that I typically get with warmer, sunnier weather is delayed with every day that Spring doesn’t return from Arizona or wherever the heck she gets off to during Winter.)


April 12, 2023: Just working on getting healthy again. Not succeeding very well.

Current location: Bed
Current mood: Annoyed.

My Post COVID became worse with my 2nd bout of COVID last February. I’m currently increasing my stamina, but the effort takes me down afterwards. I’m desperate to get back to normal before I get this blasted virus again. But! I’ve made it up a local hill 3 times this past week. Progress!

What baffles me is the large amount of people I bump into who dismiss COVID–19 as a mere cold. Maybe it was for them, and bless their superior hearts, they were truly fortunate, but some of us didn’t fare so well.

I consider myself blessed that I avoided hospitalization the first time, but I have to admit that I’m a bit bitter because that virus ravaged my vision, health, and quality of life. When ppl treat me like I’m overreacting, I feel rage. Then the rage saps my stamina, and I have to lie down. I’m a veritable dragon of fury from underneath my covers.

It’s a touch pitiful, to be honest, but I’m determined to reverse this damage. Part of my efforts to recover is achieved by avoiding the people with glib advice, the cynical retorts, and those who assume I didn’t vaccinate (and therefor deserved to get sick) from my life. None of them are helpful.

The worst thing about Post COVID (or Long COVID) life is that I’ve lost my ability to laugh things off. That’s all on me. I’d dearly like to see the mirthful, cheeky side of me come back to full health, too. I want to spread my wings and cackle and caw as I soar above my hardships. This bird with a wounded wing routine is getting boring.


Old Man Selfie

April 17, 2023: Hipstamatic’s Tintype app is fun to play around with, and it simulates the effect well, but I always appear years older than I actually am, and often unrecognizable as myself. And those bug eyes! Makes me laugh.

At least Old Man Selfie brings a smile to my face.

Yesterday, I went out for a walk and caught some much needed sun and exercise. I tackled a local hill, and I’d like to tackle it for the next two days in a row. Sometimes post exertion malaise kicks in, and I spend the next few days in bed, but I’ll live with the downtime if it means I can push my uptime forward.


April 26, 2023: Dealing with a bout of depression today. Going for a walk.



April 28, 2023: The walk on Wednesday was a success. It felt good to get out. It felt good to fight my depression.

The first thing I noticed was all the barren trees. There were birds in the branches, but no leaves. This initially discouraged me. I had hoped that the rebirth of Spring would bring liberation to my doldrums. We’ve had many false starts, so there were dead buds in stages for each week Mother Nature decided to head south to Arizona again.

Yet although many buds died, but there was still hope for Spring. The dogwoods were in open defiance of Spring’s absence. As I turned a corner and walked deeper into the neighborhood, dogwood blossoms greeted me. They don’t have a notable scent, but with flowers erupting everywhere, perhaps Spring will come after all. It’s been eight months of cold, wet weather, and I welcome the change.

Later that day, I decided to ride my longboard. I managed five minutes on the board before my heart threatened to burst through my chest while my legs became jelly. FIVE MINUTES. It’s not the usual 3–4 hours I am used to, but it was a humble start.

Then I recuperated on the couch before going for a two mile hike. The only way to overcome this limited stamina is to exercise my way through it. I was so tired afterwards that it didn’t feel like progress, but it was.


April 29, 2023: Yesterday was wonderfully productive, but I pushed too hard. Now I’m sick in bed. I’ll try again tomorrow.


Stamina Chart

April 30, 2023: 3.8 miles walked today, plus I did 60 modified ab rolls. I feel like a phone battery at the end of a long day, but I’m also feeling better about myself. Here’s to dead batteries!

I’m experimenting with one day of stamina training and one day of recovery, then repeating. So far, I’m pleased with the results, although overall, I am fairly exhausted from the effort. Post COVID syndrome is not made up. I believe the chronic fatigue is my hardest challenge to meet. Tomorrow will be a recovery day whether I want it to be or not.

Until now, I’ve been trying to string together more and more days of exercise in a row, but it takes me down, i.e. bedridden, for three to four days afterwards. It used to be two days of exercise and FIVE days of recovery, but I’m pleased to report that I’ve improved on that, even if only meagerly.

I’ll just keep at it until I win.


Friday, November 11, 2022

How to Take Charge of Your ADHD Voicemail Hell

Ever find yourself missing important messages because your voicemail box is filled with half a decade of unlistened to calls? There might be a solution for that.

Pressing the delete key on your backlog

Adult ADHD is almost like the Baskin Robbins of the mental health community. There are so many flavors of ADHD, you can be forgiven for questioning if they’re all from the same diagnosis. Some adults with ADHD daydream. Others are chronically late. Some run their mouths off with their feet in the way. Others never stop talking. Some forget why they went to the store. Others forget who they just called because something distracted them after they dialed. There are plenty of attributes that we all have in common, but I am constantly surprised by how diverse the ADHD community is. One size truly does not fit all.

I find that I have difficulty getting organized, I have chronic procrastination issues, I have trouble following through, and all because I have an intolerance for boredom. Those are fairly basic ADHD attributes, but where I notice them intersecting with uncomfortable intensity is with tasks like email, paper piles, bills, and voice mail.

In short, I have an aversion to drudgery. Most people do. The ADHD mind, however, seems Teflon coated to protect itself from boredom. The second boredom occurs, the ADHD mind is off crossing the English Channel, launching into space, or thinking about anything but what it is supposed to be.

I’ve noticed that Adults with ADHD have a tendency to create these types of backlogs at a higher frequency than others. They can become stumbling blocks that worsen over time because the ADHD mind recoils at boredom. Today I want to touch upon how that creates our own version of voice mail hell.

For all the creative energy I put into my voicemail greeting, I sure don’t put as much energy into listening to the messages people leave for me. Somehow, it slips my mind. People reach out to me, the years pass, glaciers move across the continent, and suddenly I notice I have voicemails all the way back to 1995. Most are just doctor offices letting me know about an upcoming appointment, but some are important messages with information I had inquired about. Other times, I found messages from my lovely daughters that were never listened to. I might be only slightly exaggerating, but overall it can get bad.

There are primarily four methods to manage voicemail:

  1. Shut off voicemail. I don’t recommend this one, but there is no law that says you need voicemail. The best mess is the one that doesn’t exist, right⸮
  2. Keep on top of your messages daily by deleting most of them. Build a habit of triaging your messages. I will chuck the dull reminder messages first, as well as the followup messages from school or the doctor’s office. Don’t be afraid to delete a message halfway through your first listen. Work fast and get the drudgery over with. Family messages I save if they’re personal and heartwarming. That leaves me with the messages that are time sensitive. I return those calls, then delete the voicemail when I’m done.
  3. Prune your messages a little bit every day. Sometimes life will get in the way of your efficiency. At those times, it is easy to fall behind your voicemail. I get sick a lot, so there are many occasions where I begin to feel buried by the backlog. To get back on top, I’ll set the goal to process five voicemail a day using the criteria above. It doesn’t take long, and very quickly I’ll find myself caught up. I also make it a point to prioritize current voicemail first.
  4. Declare Voicemail Bankruptcy. Sadly, I find this is a necessary step every few years. For example, coming out of COVID and six months of respiratory viruses, I found my voicemail backlog almost too much to process. Pruning old voicemail everyday was exhausting me and leaving me with no energy for the important calls. A year later, and I still hadn’t caught up. Frankly, if you’re still holding onto a message from three years ago, it’s likely not relevant anymore. Do what I did. Select them all and flush them down the binary toilet. Now I am able to stay on top of my voicemail and respond to current issues in a timely manner again.

If you are the type of person to create a voicemail backlog, then dutifully slog through it for an eternity, you might need permission to free yourself from your self-imposed shackles. Old voicemail is no longer relevant; time is precious; and unfinished projects have an emotional weight that can bind you in the past. Choose the most prudent solution above for your circumstances and make your voicemail useful again.


Thursday, November 03, 2022

Depression: The Highway to Success Has an Awful Lot of Detours

I’ll write a bit vaguely today because I want to touch upon some things that are family matters and how they impact me.

Road work sign. Fun times ahead.

Recently, I have noticed longtime readers of my blog have leapfrogged over me while my life has become stagnant. I caught myself beginning to feel bitter about it, so instead of letting that bitterness settle into depression, I will share some things that I have learned instead.

My life took a detour a few years back, if eleven can be called of few. It was as if I was forced to take an exit and found myself on the service road bumping along besides the highway, falling behind all the other traffic. I could see where I wanted to go, but I just couldn’t get there as fast.

I called that detour “divorce”, and it took me a few years to get back up onto the highway. I finished two books and blogged professionally during that productive time. Managing my depression while optimistically making big goals helped me to move forward.

The next detour is a touchy one. I’ve never spoken about it in public. It involved pummelings and kicks, objects thrown, property damaged, bruises, and frequent calls to the police while I lived as a punching bag for two people. One of them was a sole instance, but it was bad enough that it changed their life permanently with police, counseling, and a new residence. The other person is precious to me and under my care still.

I couldn’t defend myself well in that sole instance because I was having a Tourette’s episode. My forearm crutches were up against the house, and I was laying down on the driveway. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. The majority of the events, however, involved the precious one. How could I defend myself against a child? I would take punches while I waited for the police to arrive. This precious one also had epilepsy, so there were many, many emergency calls. I called this detour “911 Hell” and it lasted over seven years.

Autistic children are hard to raise, more so when you don’t have a diagnosis. Teachers and social workers were quick to point fault at us as being negligent. The problem was compounded because the precious one would become Dr. Jekyll after I called the police on Mr. Hyde. Fortunately, we persevered and had our child properly diagnosed, which opened up avenues of treatment that have been life-changing for all of us.

The lessons that I learned were to ignore the petty tyrants in the school system, to not take social workers’ advice (they hastily pass judgement, then move on to the next case), and to proactively seek medical expertise. Also, have your doctor print out and sign your child’s diagnosis on paper with an official letterhead, then laminate it to show to any doubting officials. This saves so much time.

My third detour was less of a side road and more of a bridge that was blown out while I was driving across it. Having Major Depression Disorder and Persistent Depression Disorder, Tourettes, and ADHD while dealing with all of this suppressed my immunity system and caused me to become sick all of the time. I call this detour “the lingering death”. It began in 2014. The last year has been the worst, and I have detailed it more than enough in these pages. I’m still trying to get back up onto the service road, never mind the highway.

All of these detours have profoundly changed me. I struggle to find things to laugh about, and I smile even less. Tapping into my inner brat in order to write funny blog articles is particularly challenging. However, I have not given up hope. Although I occasionally lapse in judgment, I try hard not to compare myself to others and mark my success against my own progress.

As for today, the precious one has COVID–19 this week, but I dodged that bullet. However, I got some other respiratory virus at the same time. You might think those are uncanny odds, but this is me we’re talking about. I get sick just looking outside at the changing weather.

As I come out of this recent illness, I’m thinking hard about how I want to move forward. I need more progress in my life. I need more successes. And I need to acknowledge that I am not managing my depression very well this time around. I don’t know if writing all of this changes anything, but it seems to me that I need to get back up onto the highway sooner rather than later before the next detour presents itself. If putting my life into perspective in a short article can accomplish anything, I hope it accomplishes this.


Thursday, October 27, 2022

Bookwork Entry 10 – Frustration and Setbacks Plus Unfathomable Optimism

A month has passed since I last updated my journal. I'm afraid progress has been in short supply, but understanding my obstacles and deciding how to surmount them has made this writing process invaluable. Reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter if you've got something to say about what I've written.

(Mobile browsers only display the first page. Please view the text entry after the embedded PDF if you don’t wish to download it.)


25 OCTOBER 2022
BOOKWORK 10: It’s been a month since I last checked in. How have I been doing? The website project has come to a stop. I need to fiddle with some settings with my ISP, something I haven’t done to this extent before, so instead of charging in, I sit down and read a book. More on that later.

WaiMin has been stuck in revisions, but that isn’t a bad thing. Co-writing has been challenging, and story problems I would have worked out on my own before have become obstacles. It doesn’t help that Post-COVID has made everything take four times longer than usual. Let’s bookmark that for later as well.

The one major success in Bookwork has been my blogging. I’ve been consistently blogging weekly since August. This is a massive win. The second phase will be to blog every Thursday. The third phase will be to blog weekly while finishing my visual Todos book. If only I wasn’t so tired all the time.

Post Exertion Malaise has been the single most ruinous, most destructive, aspect of Post-COVID Syndrome. Its effect on my productivity has been disastrous! Even as I write this, I keep falling asleep. The toll I pay for thinking too hard is complete and total exhaustion. I understand physical exhaustion, but mental fatigue on this scale is brand new to me. I don’t know how to overcome it yet.

The Post-CoVID brain fog is a pain, but something I am accustomed to. It is worse than ADHD, but similar enough that my years of coping strategies help me function. The hyperactive part of my ADHD isn’t making an appearance, however. I’m used to boundless energy, not dropping dead in the middle of the day like a depleted iPhone.

I don’t want blogging to be the only thing on my list completed, but I’ll take it. Some success is better than none. Meanwhile, I’ve set up an appointment for cognitive therapy for next month. I’m hoping for mental exercises to build my stamina along with a new metric to chart my progress.

I’ve moved beyond discouraged to irritated. I can’t progress unless I biuld up my mental & physical stamina, but they’ve told me there is no cure for Post-COVID Syndrome.

Meanwhile, I am not shirking my full-time dad duties. They are taking all my energy—something I don’t regret, but I do wish I had energy to spare to improve my lot in life a little faster.

Despite all my goals, however, some days are spent in a stupor. I read a lot of books, I watch a lot of TV, but I don’t make a lot of progress. If I try to push through the stupor, or brain fog, I end up with writings that are dreadful. It takes days to edit bad writing into good as opposed to waiting and writing when I have my wits about me again.

This is the state my life is at. I wish I could explain it better. So I write in this journal in the hopes that my writing returns to its former level. I write to organize my mind. I write in defiance of my sickly, disabled fate.

I don’t continue to blog to find the readers that I have lost. I write to find myself.

What is next then?

  • I will post this journal entry and begin phase two of my blog: writing early and scheduling posts for weekly publication.
  • I will fix my home web server.
  • I will finish the WaiMin revisions.


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Ten Ways to Be Happy with Post-COVID Syndrome (Even If You're Miserable)

Let’s celebrate my one year anniversary since getting COVID–19! 🎉

COVID Top Ten Banner

I know people who felt that COVID was a pernicious plot by politicians to put down the populace. I know others who believed that nobody would ever get the virus if they were vaccinated, and anybody not getting vaccinated was trying to kill them. Because of this polarization, I have a hard time talking to people about my experience with Long COVID, or Post-COVID Syndrome as I prefer to call it.

Although I have found sympathetic ears out there, they aren’t the norm. The anti-vaccine folks look down on me for masking up and getting vaccinated, or they shun me for admitting that COVID–19 was far worse than a mild cold. If I acknowledge the dangers of COVID–19 in anyway, I’m a compliant sheep to them. On the other side, the pro-vaccine cheer team pretentiously lecture me on the importance of being vaccinated when I tell them I got COVID. I suppose their reasoning is that I couldn’t have got COVID if I had been vaccinated—even though I was fully vaccinated. Since WHO considers 50% to be high efficacy¹, we know that means around 50% of the test subjects got COVID despite the vaccine. At any rate, I’ve dealt with far more compassionate pitbulls out there. It’s as if the pandemic stripped my neighbors and associates of all their long-trained humanity. Life has become Twitter.

Unfortunately, I got the virus a year ago despite living like a cross between a hermit crab and The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Twenty-two months of avoiding every germ on the planet, and COVID slipped in through the backdoor with the family member of a roommate. It knocked me down hard, and months later I found myself sicker than usual with lots of questions. Why can’t I stay healthy? What happened to my vision? Why is it so hard to think? Why is it excruciatingly painful to give blood now? Why do my wounds take so long to heal? Why do I bruise easily? Why am I so tired all the time? Where did all my stamina go?

Why have I suddenly become so boring‽

Post-COVID Syndrome isn’t just a matter of taking a while to get over COVID. It’s a cornucopia of side effects and symptoms that linger afterwards for months or, in my case, over a year. I have to admit that I’m having a very difficult time adjusting. Last August, I passed out asleep on my bed after blogging. Blogging! I used to bang out a blog in under an hour. Now it takes me four of them. This is due to post exertion malaise, a common side effect of Post-COVID Syndrome, and one that is common to most viral fatigue syndromes.

If all of this sounds discouraging, it is. So I’ve decided to look at the upsides of this delightful virus instead of whinging about it. Since my blog is about overcoming disabilities with attitude and humor, I’m sure this will be easy:

  1. Who needs outdoor exercise when you can get a workout walking to the fridge? Buckets of sweat, a racing heart…it’s almost like running a marathon.
  2. The increase in crippling depression has been a great opportunity to stress test my [coping strategies][fightingdepression]. Just what I needed.
  3. Think of all the TV I get to watch while stuck on the couch. I can’t remember any of it due to the brain fog, but that just means I get to watch it again for the first time!
  4. Speaking of brain fog, I now find myself pining for dealing with just ADHD. At least with ADHD, I got a lot of things done. None of them were on my ToDo list, but I sure was productive comparatively.
  5. Another upside to brain fog is that sometimes I forget that I am depressed. Isn’t that convenient‽ It’s true I also forget to pay my bills, forget which day of the week it is, repeat myself in conversations, and sometimes I forget which day of the week it is, but let’s not focus on the negatives.
  6. I have a keen appreciation of my own mortality now. Before I would cluelessly blunder through life, eternally youthful in mind, but now I am old before my time. I’m positive that sagacity is around the corner.
  7. Thanks to Post-COVID Syndrome, my eyeglasses prescription no longer works. I’ve been limping by in the dark, so to speak, but others with my same condition have had entertaining repeat visits to the optometrist as their vision changes every few months. That’s so awesome. I love optometrists!
  8. I banged my shin at Thanksgiving a month after getting COVID. Here we are a year later, and it still hasn’t completely healed. It’s perfect for Halloween!
  9. I went out to dinner with a friend the other night and came home with a cold. That’s faster than any bout of sickness I ever had before COVID. It’s as if Long COVID has weaponized my immunity system to fail. So exciting!
  10. And the best upside to Post-COVID Syndrome is that when I cancel any one of my dozens of doctor appointments because post exertion malaise or illness has me down for the count, nobody shames me. Thanks, COVID!

As you can see, I can easily come up with reasons to be extremely grateful for this new condition. It’s just non-stop fun over here. So don’t feel sorry for me or worry needlessly. I’m A-OK! I may be sick in bed again, but my brain is feverishly working on even more upsides to Post-COVID Syndrome to share with you next time. Or maybe I just have a fever. With brain fog, I can never remember fully. But that’s no reason to get down, right⸮


Thursday, October 06, 2022

ADHD: It's Not Always Your Fault

Come explore with me the strange intersection of pants and ADHD.

Last July, I lost three pairs of pants.

As usual, I posted to social media to make light of it, but just between you and me, I stayed up fairly late searching the house like a ninja in search of those pants. Hiding my presence, I moved into almost every room in my home, making no sound as I lifted things, rearranged them, and rifled through them hoping those pants would turn up.

I didn’t search the fridge—because that would have been silly—but I searched everywhere else except my roommates’ rooms. It was possible that somebody absconded with my pants, but it was more likely I put them somewhere stupid, right? Besides, I could just imagine the conversation when I accidentally woke my roommates up as I searched under their pillows and bedsheets.

“Douglas, why are you dressed like a ninja?”
“Go back to sleep. You’re dreaming,” I’d say while making ninja-like hypnosis motions with my hands.
“I’m calling the police.”

It turns out that one of the roommates did indeed make off with my pants. This could have been scandalous, except that they politely returned them in the morning—folded—and apologized for accidentally forcing me to run around half naked for…well, no time at all. I eventually stopped looking for my pants, put on my PJs, went to bed, then woke up and got my pants. As far as scandals go, this one was fairly benign.

Except for the hours I spent blaming myself for something that I didn’t do while searching in every stupid place I could have possibly stashed pants.

Afterwards, I was a tad disappointed in myself that when three pairs of pants magically disappeared out of the dryer, I believed that I must have been responsible. I knew, logically, that somebody had taken them—probably accidentally—but I couldn’t believe it. I misplace things so many times on a regular basis, I just assumed that I had done it again. As Ned Hallowell wrote about in “ADHD and Shame”, ADHD adults …may feel that the real you is fundamentally flawed.

I have a brain and have even been known to put it to use occasionally. That means that I know when I’ve messed up and when I haven’t. This incident caught me off guard. Hadn’t I already changed this part of myself? I thought I liked myself better than this! I still don’t? What’s up with that?

I have seen two major ways that Adults with ADHD handle a lifetime of making stupid mistakes and being blamed for not measuring up. The first group internalizes the blame and even perpetuates it, holding themselves responsible for every perceived failure. The second group won’t allow blame to chain them down, so they sprint forward, but without much self-analysis. Both groups tend to become overachievers.

I used to fall into the first group. It was exhausting to constantly be my own worst critic, so I made large strides in putting that type of toxic thinking behind me. So what happened last July? If I were able to skip back through time in order to give myself some advice, I’d tell yester-me to trust his instincts and go to bed. Since I am not able to do that, I will inform future me to keep this lesson in mind.

Pants, even the most active kind, don’t leap out of the dryer and go for a walk. And since there is only ten feet between the dryer and my bedroom door, there aren’t an awful lot of places to misplace pants. I was so troubled by that incident, and so disappointed in myself that I had assumed fault where there was none, that I began to reassess my state of mind. That incident prompted me to seek more information about “Long COVID”.

In a way, I have those pants to thank for my new awareness. I’ve been blaming myself for an awful lot of issues that were out of my control this year. If I hadn’t blamed myself for something ludicrous last July, then been surprised at my error of thought, I might not have suddenly come to a stop and said to myself, “Hold on. Something is wrong here, and it’s not ADHD.” Brain fog is one of the major symptoms of “Long COVID”, but it’s also like a bad ADHD day every day.

I have to admit that I am glad that ADHD has taught me not to take life so seriously. I had a good laugh about those wandering pants. We and our ADHD aren’t always at fault.

The scars of our youth happened a long time ago. We should leave the wounds in the past and stop carrying them into the future. Whether we needlessly blame ourselves, or careen through life like a locomotive in an effort to avoid blame, we still carry those criticisms around with us.

Maybe there are people in your life who still relentlessly blame you. I won’t go so far as to tell you to cut them out of your life, but learning to push back at least can be part of nurturing your self-esteem. You don’t have to be angry, outraged, or hostile. Just draw a line in the sand and don’t budge. That includes pushing back against yourself. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Learn from it instead. Laugh at it. Take away its destructive power. You can stop yourself from assassinating your own self-esteem like a ninja in the night. Not everything is your fault.

Now that I think about it clearly, though, I lost my favorite jackknife that month, too. You don’t suppose my roommates would mind if I blame them for its loss, do you? It couldn’t possibly have been me at fault.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Bookwork Entry 9

A lot is said about adults with ADHD and their inability to focus, but not enough is said when they're focused on the wrong thing. Here I became fixated on adding a certain project to my list of things to do, which was already ridiculously long.

(Mobile browsers only display the first page. Please view the text entry after the embedded PDF…)


25 AUGUST 2022 Bookwork 9: Did I really want to write a book about Pokémon?

Yeah, about that.

One of my steady blogging gigs ten years ago was for a gaming site. When that job shriveled up, my love for gaming didn't shrivel up with it. I developed a trading system for Pokémon XY & ORAS. It sold alright but not as well as I had thought it would.

When Generation VII games came out, I wrote a sequel, but the changes Game Freak made to the GTS seemed to kill trading. Basically, my system worked, but not as quickly. I never released the book.

Fast forward to the future and Pokémon HOME has replaced GTS, and all of a sudden my old system works steadily again. Of course, I thought of dusting off the old book and updating it.

This is where things get weird.

I already abandoned that idea. Too much work. Not enough return. It's a distraction. It turns a fun hobby into a job. I'd rather write a novel.

While I was sick, the next Pokémon game was announced. I don't remember when this occurred. but in my feverish delirium, I latched onto the idea that I could whip out an update. It would be easy as pie.

No, it would not. I've made pie. It is anything but easy to make. This book would require weeks of testing. It would be a pain to work out all the trade variations. Then I'd have to write them up. No. Just no.

What is really a pain is my ADHD. I had already buried this project. Then one delirious/brain numb/sick day, I suddenly dig this project up out of its eternal slumber and toss it back on top of the project pile? I don't even remember doing it, yet the drive to finish the book in time for the new game's release this November lingered in my mind.

Here is my shovel. I am burying this project again. I don't even want to work up my system for a shameless blog post in November. It's a distraction. Good bye!


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Five Ways To Stop Shiny Object Syndrome

Long before “Shiny Object Syndrome” was coined as a term, an insignificant blogger from Utah referred to a similar condition and called it Multi-Irons Syndrome. Are they the same thing?

A girl gathers projects like balloons until she is lifted off the earth – Artist Unknown

Shiny Object Syndrome — The Fancy Term for Something You’ve Been Doing All Your Life

There is often a difference between what an expression means when it is coined and how people end up using it. People often don’t see eye to eye on these things. One group will insist on the academic or dictionary usage of a term or word, while the popular usage tromples all over them. Irregardless, we don’t have a lot of control over language. (Yes, yes, I couldn’t resist.) Language evolves. Take a stand on one meaning, and you’ll soon find yourself in the camp of people who hate the use of the singular “they”, shaking your aging fist at the sky, shouting, “But that’s not what the word means!” We lost that particular battle years ago when people got tired of typing “he or she” and “him or her” as gender neutral expressions in business letters.

Shiny Object Syndrome is another one of those terms. People don’t exactly agree on what it means, and they don’t all use the same expression, though it is clear which one is winning that particular battle. The original meaning of “Shiny Object Syndrome” has more to do with project creep than distractions, but that’s not how it is used. Just look at that wonderful cartoon. It was labeled ShinyProjectSyndrom_e1556842006339.jpg on the oldest link I found, like that helps. Syndrome isn’t even spelled correctly.

I have no idea who drew it originally, but they captured the manic zeal of the syndrome perfectly. I have referred to the same issue since 2008 as “Multi-Irons Syndrome”. My term has more in common with the less popular “Shiny Project Syndrome”, but “Shiny Object Syndrome” has the clout and its own Wikipedia entry.

Shiny Object Syndrome as a Way of Life

Recently, I embraced Shiny Object Syndrome as a coping strategy to deal with the crushing depression I was suffering from during the pandemic, and then after coming down with COVID–19. Laying in bed and staring at the ceiling for entertainment gets boring in a hurry. Letting myself get excited about new projects was the only thing at times that lifted my spirits.

I don’t regret the coping strategy, because it was so helpful initially. I’ve written about having too many irons in the fire before, but I ended up with a bit too many projects this time. To manage things, I’m journaling my process as I take this massive new pile of nascent projects and prune them before I fail to achieve my birthday goals. I call it my Bookwork project.

Adults with ADHD are particularly susceptible to Shiny Object Syndrome. Every task worth the effort involves a bit of drudgery before great things can be accomplished. Unfortunately, our Teflon coated brains are averse to the boredom that drudgery welcomes in with open arms. Our minds switch tasks to something more appealing so quickly, we often are not aware of the change. Then we end up with something like my Bookwork project where I wanted to write fifteen books simultaneously. FIFTEEN! As soon as I realized what I had committed myself to, I had a good laugh.

Simple Steps to Prevent Shiny Object Syndrome from Taking Over Your Life

If you’ve got ADHD, it isn’t likely that you’ll be able to kick this habit. An aversion to boredom is built into the diagnosis. However, you can manage it. Here’s how I halt the parade of ideas and finish the floats I began with:

  1. Keep the most important goals in the forefront of your mind. Plaster them on the wall if you have to.
  2. Periodically reassess your project goals to cut out the cruft.
  3. Don’t be afraid to shelf “cool” ideas if they are getting in the way of what you’re supposed to accomplish.
  4. Work on your projects in short steps to avoid deep boredom.
  5. Build in rewards for staying focused.

Whatever you want to call it, people with ADHD collect new projects without even trying. I don’t think this is a bad thing. Our minds are unfettered and freely creative. Good things can come from that chaotic maelstrom of thoughts. The trick is to regulate it so that we aren’t always creating and accumulating ideas, but taking time to bring some of them to life.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Experiment with Your Coping Strategies for Better Results

Rejection Stamp

Earlier this year, I admitted to myself that my current coping strategies weren’t fighting off my depression as effectively as they were before. Had they simply stopped working, or had something fundamental changed inside of me? The answer was complicated.

Obviously, my coping strategies weren’t working since I spent more than half of the days each week struggling to keep my spirits up, but for the longest time, I was too sick to do anything about it. I just limped along waiting to get better. The problem with that plan was that I wasn’t getting better. My depression was fueled by chronic illness. Waiting to get better to act was like waiting to see a doctor about a broken leg after it heals.

My coping strategies for depression were based on basic cognitive behavior therapy principles: Identify the trigger. Implement a solution. Experience relief. They were also based on the belief that I could regulate my moods. They worked great for years until I came upon a new vector into depression.

The pandemic, and then experiencing COVID–19 personally, showed me that my coping strategies didn’t compensate for long term discouragement. It’s hard to feel positive and upbeat when you’re sick everyday. It’s hard to go out for a walk when you have a respiratory virus during a snowstorm. It’s hard to change the scenery when you are quarantined.

A curious thing happened to me, however. Although there were more than a few days where it could be said that I wallowed in misery, and although I muttered and complained about my lot in life more than I am comfortable to admit, I didn’t stop being me. My need to solve my mental health issues didn’t park itself in the shed and gather dust, leaves, and cobwebs throughout the Winter. After some time, I realized that I needed to change my approach. I chatted with others more, I began new projects while quarantined, I started exercising daily in very minute amounts, and I stopped feeling guilty about being sick.

I kept trying to move forward with as much vigor as I could summon. As the expression goes, I threw whatever I could at the wall over and over again to see what would stick. I found quite a few projects that stuck. In fact, I ended up with a fairly bad case of Multi-Irons Syndrome, as I like to call it. Although I now have to go through the tedious process of pruning all these conflicting projects (I don’t have time to do them all), I am so very glad that I am recovering to the point that I can start pruning. I’m even grateful.

We all deal with depression in our own way. Some seek therapy, some seek meds, and some seek both. I won’t tell you which method is the best one for you. Only you can determine that. One size does not fit all.. As for me, I began to almost desperately reach out to any project or idea that caught my fancy. Making plans and projects is an act of hope. I am relieved that even at my bleakest, I was still counting on getting through the hardships to bring new ideas to life. Now I’ve been to a Post COVID clinic and have a healthcare ToDo list that exhausts me to just think about, but I am hopeful again, which is a nice change.

But where does that leave you? If you are struggling to manage your depression due to the pandemic or, like me, if you are dealing with Post-COVID (Long COVID), you may find yourself suddenly turned into a glass-half-empty type of person, especially if that glass was formerly filled with health and stamina. Chronic fatigue can sap you of cheer just as much as it does energy.

Approval Stamp

My advice is to not give up. Turn to your coping strategies and start adapting them to your new circumstances. Get wild. Keep trying. In my case, I forgot which aspect of depression my coping strategies were addressing. When I decided to fight back, even if each and every new coping strategy ended in failure, the act of trying was an act of hope. You need to exercise hope like a weak muscle—carefully at first, but then with greater and greater gusto. You are your own best advocate, so keep advocating with yourself for yourself. Find reasons to keep looking forward despite all the setbacks.

When your coping strategies fail you, it is important to rethink them. Eventually, you will find a remedy that is perfect for your situation. The alternative to is fossilize and mope, perpetuating your pain. Let’s all keep pushing forward instead.


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Bookwork Entry 8

After meeting with a care manager at the University of Utah's COVID Long Hauler clinic, I gained some new information that explained what I've been going through this year. I've been needlessly hard on myself for not getting over something that has impacted me greatly and will continue to impact me greatly for months to come.

I also point out recent successes, which shows me that this was a good project to undertake. I will overcome this illness. I will make my goals. This journal is helping me analzye things that have been overwhelming me for some time as well as allowing me to rethink overly agressive goals that may be fun or challenging, but don't get me published.

(Mobile browsers only display the first page. Please view the text entry after the embedded PDF…)


Bookwork 8: I now have a name for my greatest stumbling block:

Post Exertion Malaise

Common with other viral fatigue syndromes, Post-COVID has the symptom of taking you down after physical or mental exertion. Isn't that neat? There is nothing I can do about it. There is no "cure". Just months and months of convalescence. At the very least, I should stop calling myself lazy when I have to take a nap after blogging, which happened to me last week.

As of last week, I have blogged two weeks in a row. If I can blog again today, that will be three weeks in a row. I haven't even been able to blog monthly at this point, so I consider this a big win. The Post-COVID brain fog has been debilitating.

I still have to solve the third domain hosting issue on my rPi. I simply cannot fathom what I have misconfigured. It's driving me nuts. I was also hoping to work on WaiMin tonight. However, I've had two back physical therapy sessions, one knee PT session, and daily exercise homework. I'm pooped. We'll have to see how the day goes. but I remain hopeful.

Lastly, I've been rethinking choosing now to illustrate graphics for my Splintered Mind blog. It is true that I miss drawing, and the tic-which-shan't-be-named no longer interferes, but anything other than a simple graphic is a distraction from my WaiMin project. No more animated GIFs. They are fun, but take up too much time at this point.

With my health so severely impacted, I need to rein in my ADHD whims just as severely.


Written on a Kobo Elipsa eReader.