It’s come to this

I am on the bus heading to the end of the city where I will have to take a taxi to my home. Because that’s where my car keys are. 

My car is at work. 

My daughters confirmation is in 4 hours and I still haven’t found black freaking tights for her outfit. When I got into my boyfriend’s car this morning and said goodbye to my daughter I didn’t need to lock the front door. So my keys are hanging in the front entrance. 

At least I didn’t lose my keys. I think. Mistakes like this are at an all time high right now because of my anxiety. I am failing at communicating effectively with my ex husband. He in turn chooses to be lecturing instead of specific so just the idea of handling any talk with him makes me feel sick. 

Ah, end of the line stop: a shopping mall. Hopefully I can find some tights for my daughter. 

Anxiety is comorbid

Ugh. My Xmas shopping is done, my house and car are cared for and my kids are thriving. Why am I so anxious all the time?

Anxiety is a frequent comorbid symptom of ADHD. I excessively worry about stuff I cannot control. I’m so proud when at times I do some relaxation exercises and/or journaling and feel the buoyancy of my natural joie de vivre without the drag of worry. 

I’m sad when I mentally turn around a while later and get rear-ended by the omnipresent what ifs and am I good enough? How many years will it take to make that stop?!

I want to let go. I can let go. The scariest part is facing the wash of shame that inevitably will come if something happens that I could have prevented if I had been “ON”

Example: my boyfriend got a beautiful real tree for his kids. He forgets to water it and last year it died before Xmas! This morning I asked if he had put a reminder in his phone to water his tree every few days. 

Why the Hell am I worrying about his tree? He patiently replied not to worry about his tree. Bless his patient and compassionate soul. 

I see this pattern of anxiety in both my kids. We play mind map games to help classify and cope with these real feelings that are not always valid. My intent is for them to grow up with more understanding and forgiveness for themselves than I did at their age. 

 

Eyes at sunset

Those are my eyes, makeup mostly gone after working out at lunch and tired after a long staff meeting where I had to focus and process lots of information about future projects.  On the surface (in the sunset light) I feel I look warm and relaxed like a friend waiting to help everyone else and without worries.  But inside (the shadow side of my face) I feel ringed and worn on most days after work. Yet, I would still help you if I could because I have been on the receiving side of a helping hand many times.  Kindness from family, friends, and strangers is difficult to accept but with practice I convince myself that it is OK to accept help and that I am worthy.  I think accepting help with minimal shame is the greatest lesson that I have learned to put into practice this year.  With medication and constant affirmations I can sometimes reduce the traffic in my brain to a feeling close to zen-like. Throw in lots of exercise and humour and I may just get the kids and I through this!

2015June to October tremblant 117

The second lesson I have put into practice that has really changed my relationship with my two ADD kids is to talk about my experiences with my ADHD.  I tell them struggles from childhood (totally undiagnosed ADHD) and humourous and frustrating things that happen all the time nowadays.  I share how I dealt with it, OR how I suffered an EPIC FAIL.  We have all learned to laugh about ADD as much as we can and try to accept it as a gift and a curse.  I am always the first to point out how awesome we are when we so something really creative or hyperfocus and clean the whole house in 50 minutes.

The three of us can get so frustrated and angry when we can’t find something that we either put away for safe keeping or put down in the house somewhere out of context.  I created a story about an ADD troll living in our house. I started blaming this ADD Troll (when I couldn’t find my keys) for taking stuff and moving it around the house.  This troll kept coming up over the summer and now our visiting friends know about it and we all laugh.  The kids and I know the lost item is in the house but we run out of time to look for the bloody thing so we blame the troll and find a substitute object or write down a big note on the kitchen table to look for it later when we are calmer.  I am thrilled at how successfully we can be mad at ADD without feeling ashamed for not finding/not putting away something properly.  We eventually find the lost object but no word of a lie sometimes it is four months down the road and I have bought a replacement!

add troll

Meet the ADD troll, created from my daughter’s imagination.  This painting we created hangs in our home.  It says “Put your things away, we have an ADD troll!” And yes, that is an iPhone charger in one hand, and a remote control in the other.  The little creep always runs away with my keys to wear as jewelry, and our socks and mitts to keep warm.

Knee jerk 0, Empathy 1

Today was a big win and I am celebrating by going to bed early. Mainly because I have a head cold, but also because I need to review the good choices I made today. 

  It’s so easy to fume over inefficient actions or less than optimal decisions. How nice to flip the ADHD troll the bird and realize that the techniques I’m using to moderate my impulse control and even out my huge emotions are working sometimes!

Here’s the story: today was my daughter’s first day walking to and from school. She finishes school a good two hours before I get home.  I trust her to respect the rule of coming straight home after school. 

She was indeed home,but had her BFF with her and they had decided to surprise me and my son with dinner. First of all she has no experience with the stove top. Second, even though her friend does cook a bit  neither of them knew where our fire extinguisher was in case of a fire. Third, she messed up my plans for dinner and I don’t like it when plans change.

Enter the kneejerk reaction: she broke rules when she let a friend come over without permission, and used the stove top with little experience! So many bad things could have happened! 

I took a deep breath, then another, and asked her to meet me outside to hear her out. I walk into the kitchen and see that the girls made a big surprise sign and set the table with soup, hotdogs, and fried eggs. 

The friend left after I thanked her for the surprise. I thought about why my kid would want to do this- not to break rules or burn down the house but to show me that she can contribute in caring for our little family and take some of the workload off of me. To show me that she doesn’t want to come home early to sit in front of a screen for hours. 

I discussed her intentions with her and afterwards told her why I was concerned. I was appreciative of all her efforts. I got clearer with house rules. We laughed at the runny eggs but ate the soup and hotdogs. I taught her to cook eggs properly. She did all the dishes. She told me that she was proud and relieved at my reaction to her spontaneous meal. 

The lesson was full of empathy and vulnerability. My daughter really understood my concerns and felt guilty for her actions, instead of the dreaded shame that causes a lot of us with ADD to paralyze and hide instead of standing on our two feet and making amends. 

Because it was picture day, 

I had finished styling my son’s hair under the kitchen lights this morning before leaving for daycare. It turns out that the girls used the can of hairspray  thinking it was Pam oil spray to coat the frying pan. When she told me this hours later  I laughed until I cried and sent a silent but adamant thank you prayer to the guardian angels off creative and thoughtful ADD kids. 

My best isn’t good enough right now

I want to be angry. It appears that my workplace result after seamlessly integrating my kids into school this year is an unusual drop in precision in some of my experiments. Two, to be exact. I am guessing that the lack of sleep and above average stress took their toll on my ability to focus a few times and caused a red flag to pop up across the glass ceiling. 

I would like to stay mad at “the unfairness” because my colleagues screw up too sometimes. I would like to have some lack of training to blame or lack of proper instrumentation but I know better now. My ADHD is tough to manage on too little sleep and too little alone time. My colleagues get pulled aside and straightened out too if they start making repeated mistakes. It is my supervisor’s responsibility to work his ass off designing and writing to get the funding, and my job to assist in proving that our science can contribute towards a treatment for brain cancer. 

But man the reprimand hurt, and I was embarrassed. I didn’t apologize because I didn’t fail on purpose. I said thank you for the care and courage it took to notice me failing and for reminding me that I can yield better results. Reliable results. 

When I started my career, my then undiagnosed ADHD was fine tackling repetitive but interesting protein chemistry experiments. Over 15 years later I can barely keep up with the ever-changing technology and complexity of my work which is now gene-based cancer therapeutics. The two awesome kids and no so awesome ex-husband take up space in my head too. 

So yeah today I want to be angry. If I had been diagnosed earlier in my life perhaps I would be in a different  kind of science job. My best work is technical, not theoretical in the company of these amazing scientists who amaze me with their critical thinking. 

But as productive as “a good mad” can be it ends up just feeling like battle fatigue without gaining an advantage over the enemy. More productive is the never-ending presence of my pal “acceptance”, because as I get better at accepting my ADHD and the WTF days the better I get at recognizing the days that I succeed at everything I try. 

Tomorrow is another chance to succeed. 

ADHD and I don’t wanna

My kids are back in school and happy. I am forced to move out of the easier “survival” mode of decision making and into the more constructive “keep working on myself” mode. 

All my creative ideas are banging around my brain for front stage access. I want to keep practicing guitar, write ADD character-based stories for kids, help them start journaling their creative ideas, and study blogging because I’m still so new at it! 

The project that has me most excited right now is running an adult ADD/ADHD support group in my area. Yesterday I started sourcing locations for meetings. I have the motivation and desire to help others if only by listening and responding “me too”. I would enjoy sitting with a group of exceptional people and feel their energy and creativity. 

Sigh, what I need to do is study and practice effective communication techniques for home and work. Blah blah blah how I wish the excellence in my mind could just come out coherently and in the right order! It takes me a long time to write anything in full sentences. As a scientist in a support role my experimental notes are written in past tense amongst a sequence of protocols, formulas, and graphs. It’s perfectly legible. 

Sigh, what I need to do is write up a resume. This task is the bane of my existence. I’ve been trying to do that for six years.  

I especially do not want to tackle parental controls on the tech I have at home. My most excellent brother has handled all that crap for years. Since these controls will change on weekends (and with time) I have to learn it. I break out in hives just thinking about it. I have an iPhone that I love and depend on. I don’t use it as well as I could. My printer sits in the corner because I cannot be bothered to find the correct cartridges for it after I failed the first time. One of the superpowers I would ask for is to instantly understand all technology. That would rock. 

So would getting around places I have been before without getting lost. Thank goodness for GPS. 

It seems so easy for them

This morning I hosted my son’s first play date in over a year. I was nervous but kept cool as one hour went by, then two and our guest left with his mom, both happy and relaxed. 

I wanted a glass of wine! For one my son, who is now eight  and on medication for his ADHD, handled himself quite well and two, I had survived the hour before the play date.

It seems so easy for kids who don’t struggle with impulsivity and crippling anxiety to show up to a play date and go with the flow! That kid and that mom will never know the amount of pre-planning and time it took to prepare my kid to host another in his castle for two hours. We had a visual cue (me pulling on my ear) to signal that he needed to step back and breathe. He sat down two hours before the play date to write out a list of activities they could choose from.  I kept chores for him to do this morning to keep him busy until 9:30am when his friend would come over. 

I’m so tired. I’m also so grateful. My son had a very successful and rewarding experience with a buddy his age. Way to go my little lion.