Why your advice doesn’t work for me

Another aha moment. A gift so to speak.  I’m having a hard time with it. All this processing is so tiring. No surprise there – the CPU in my brain needs a serious defrag. And yes, I know I’m showing my age when I say that!

For context… I spent much of my life feeling deficient and broken. When I was officially diagnosed with ADHD, I cried tears of relief. Finally there was an answer. Before that, my self confidence was pitiful.  Over time it got better, in some ways… and in others, I was surprised that after the initial giddiness wave, it began to decline. I’d say that about 40% of my challenges were identified, little did I know at the time!

So I researched it. Why was I feeling so ick when I’d found the solution? why didn’t the meds fix my dragging feet? and then after another session with my therapist, my subconcious gave me a hint!

See, I’m a jack of many hobbies yet expert at none; a common adhd woe. It really sucks not being fantastic at even just one thing. I’ve never had the capacity to spend 10000 hours practicing just one skill. I feel a little silly now, expecting that I’d be skilled with things I haven’t been able to spend time with. Looking at it from another angle, it was all starting to make sense. I knew there was more to my story. The ADHD advice I found never stuck. The lifehacks failed me. I felt so betrayed. And while most of the articles rang true to a point, the suggestions never fit my needs. Tips for setting routines and meeting deadlines, or getting chores done… I tried them all and yet I remained routine-less, and in a sty of a home.

Lately, that same sense of frustration from days of yore has crept up on me. You know, the sense that despite doing my best, it still isn’t enough. Never enough. With my meds, much of my life is improved, but I’m in a holding pattern, clinging on to coping mechanisms which I’ve been unable to give up. For a long time I couldn’t figure out why.

Now I understand that I had it wrong. I didn’t have all the information I needed to move forward. So I kept on keeping on. I’ve done enough investigating and learning of self to fill up a museum, so I knew eventually something would click. I waited and waited until one day, I found a blurb that put me into a state of shock. It outlined a condition that when combined with my adhd, encapsulates so much of what I struggle with. The clouds parted and I could finally see a few moving parts that haunted me so mightily. My agoraphobia. My difficulty with math. My hatred of calendars. Planning… of almost anything. It made so much sense! All of these concerns were vaguely addressed by my adhd and anxiety, but it never quite fit, like an odd jigsaw puzzle piece, I figured I had some sort of comorbid disorder, only none of the common disorders fit me. It wasn’t OCD or dyslexia. A psychologist once declared that I’m bipolar. Friends, colleagues, family and even my GP were quick to ix-nay that and he never bucks a specialist’s diagnosis so I knew he would never do that lightly. I even considered that it could be a vitamin processing deficiency (tbh that could still be the case, or part of it).

There it was. I had an(other) answer. A rather obscure, rarely mentioned disorder called Dyscalculia that makes all of what I mentioned above into an everyday nightmare.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much out there in the way of research. Anecdotal stories and studies that look at demographics fill my search feeds. I feel as if that is where adhd was ten years ago.

It’s ok. I’m ok. I feel like I’ve reached a turning point. Things are finally starting to click. Like when you’re playing candy crush and you reach that point where you’re 90% sure you’ve won the game.

In therapy I’ve been unwinding the anxiety issues my lack of diagnosis bound up over the years. In the moment, my progress feels slow. Looking back, I’m quite impressed with my progress now that I’ve found the right therapist! One day soon I need to approach a learning disorder coach, though a lot of what I assumed would be taught by an adhd coach is now available freely on the web, so if I wait, I could save myself some cash. oh oh! there goes my indecision bell. Other “me” is pointing out that if I spend that cash now, I may qualify myself for a better job that much faster, and thus more earning power. and then other “other me” says well duh but what if that coach doesn’t know what to do with you and that money is wasted??

Sighs. What if… there is always a what if. and nope, hacks I’ve found for what ifs don’t work. They might exist, I know. I will continue the search.

~jitterful~

P.s Curiosity will likely get the better of this old cat. When I can afford it, I’ll be making that appointment with a coach!

 

 

 

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Ice ice baby

go beyond.

I’m not sure why, but today this memory comes to mind. Therapy has a habit of rehashing my history with emotional turmoil. Go me!

When I was a young thing, poor balance was a thing. As far as I can recall, and I’m sure this is my highly selective memory speaking, it wasn’t noticeable unless I was teetering on the ice. The parentals enrolled me in lessons along with a few peers when I was 7 years old. Ugh. What a nightmare. No matter how hard I tried, how often I practiced, or how much I wanted to be a pro, simply standing on the ice in my death foot traps left me at risk of my bum meeting the cold slippery floor of frozen water! Watching the other kids excel while I couldn’t get farther than two feet positively SUCKED. Five lessons in and instructors were still prying me off the rails along the sides. But it wasn’t just the shame that got me, it was mostly my failure to understand the directions given. Oh… how I hated it.

So much of that experience was frustrating. Without solid footing, I just couldn’t learn the swishing motion required for forward propulsion. Even with a chair to guide me, I had trouble getting down the makeshift lanes they set up for us.

Now as an adult, I can empathize with that poor sod of a child, especially since that feeling of frustration proved to create a running theme as I grew older.

But something about the whole situation has me pondering what exactly brought up the memory, and I suspect the skating experience is noted as unique in that I’m not certain if it relates to my anxiety or adhd, and if it does, how so?

Skiing isn’t so much of a problem. I’m not a superstar in that regard, but I do enjoy it and I can get down the hill without a face meets ground introduction, 98% of the time. So what gives??? Anyone out there familiar with personal training that can give me insight would have my gratitude!

It also has me questioning whether the corrective shoes I should have worn as a child might have given me better balance; or the fact that getting down the stairs nowadays if I’m carrying a box can’t  and thus can’t see my feet means I take twice as long…but that… well, its a whole other box of fun for unpacking another day.

So thanks for helping me relive my not so fun Fridays! Feeling a little uneasy, I think I need some meditation time 🙂

~jitterful~

P.S. I lied. Poor balance is still a thing – just ask my boyfriend why he won’t let me get anything off a high shelf!

Aha Moment #2… and more

Hard work pays off… but does it really?

Now that I’ve had my X aha moment, another few have piled on, around the idea of my relationship with hard work.

I was musing- how do I test the theory from part 1? Maybe by finding a project that involved hard work. And then a ball dropped. My definition needs to be finessed.

For years now, I’ve relied on moments when I have excess brain power to get certain things done. Things that for a neurotypical person would be no problem. For me? Not so much. This part wasn’t news to me.

Somehow, over time, this translated into doing things when I could tolerate them, and when I had the confidence to say I could do it… which as my anxiety increased (here is today’s first aha bit) and my joy making activities stripped were away, became “when I can enjoy hard work”. Anything else, or so I had learned, meant unavoidable and shameworthy failure.

This was then reinforced during training for my job, where we discussed the concept of tasks that drain or energize a person, and how they choose their careers. So hard work was synonymous with joy? SayWhatNow?! That couldn’t be right. But there you have it. I am a diva.

So indulgent! Right? Except that is how I have survived, and managed to keep a job for almost three years now… by getting lucky and finding a job that humours me with only tasks that I can enjoy. (Part-time rolling contracts are a win for me, what can I say).
I managed to reframe my life into tasks that I could do and tasks that I couldn’t… things that I “enjoyed” and things that I did not. And now a sidebar aha – now I know why my life has felt so binary. My identity was not only defined by my identity, but enveloped by it and divided into two sides.. or if you’ve read my previous blog, three sides. Is trinary a thing? I know it isn’t. Maybe it could be though, one day.  It all makes so much more sense now, when I follow the yellow brick road. I’ve known for a long time that my personality is constrained. Withheld. Stunted. Enforced, in some small part, by the evil that is math.

It all brings me back to my goal: Redefining my relationship with hard work. To start, I need to find a project where I haven’t mentally designated the tasks as those I can enjoy. Then maybe I can finally start building up my capacity. There is so much to consider and work on. But I have a new mission now, and I am confident that I will get there.  One of these days, I might even think of myself as resilient.

 

Aha! a moment…

Aha Moments

I had a random thought today, about why I’ve felt that the reward center in my brain is defunct. This is a problem I’ve been trying to sort out for years. The why of things haunts me. Kind of my thing, not letting that go.

​I suppose that’s why I’m feeling giddy. These discoveries drive me to continue. Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m rarely wrong with this sort of thing. Not when I get this feeling, this certainty, that I’ve nicknamed “the knowing”. and today, I have it. Intuition tells me that I’ve found atleast one piece of the jaded mental web which plagues me.

For context… When I was a child, I was given homework the same as any other. Sadly, without a diagnosis or guidance in managing my symptoms, I was not able to complete tasks easily and most often not on time. I wasn’t able to follow instructions on the page, which made math my most hated subject. I would miss steps, use incorrect values, calculate poorly and so on… Which meant that when I had a helper to walk me through examples, it all made sense! by myself? I was lucky if I got through one question correctly. Working harder, memorizing formulas, doing them over and over, seeing a tutor; none of it bore fruit. Over time, my anxiety compounded and my success rates declined even further. Retaking courses during summer class is how I got through school. It seems that information retained in my long term memories is less triggering of my symptoms, and since it was generally one subject at a time, much more straightforward.

Anyhow. Fast forward to today, when I’m finally addressing my anxiety/adhd with meds/therapy… I was scrolling my feeds over lunch, flitting from one thing to the next, when it occurred to me WHY my values around hard work have been skewed. Those early experiences showed me that hard work doesn’t pay off. Putting my mind to something was not useful for me at the time, and that effect seemed to spiral out from there. It is the flip side of my negative social interactions with trusted adults from that era telling me that if I could rock my Nintendo games and breeze through novels fast enough to take new ones out every week, straight A’s should be no sweat. Actually, this analogy will make little sense, but if it were possible to have a 3 sided coin, the third side would be manifestation of my anxiety… the negative self talk, the shame and the guilt and the pitifully low self confidence. Sighs. It works for me ok? Don’t judge 🙂

Now that I have medication, I believe it(math) could have been easier though not entirely up to par. Part of me wishes that I could fly back in time, meds in tow, and see if that theory works. But then another part of me finds that idea terrifying, despite knowing that it isn’t likely to ever happen. I find a lot of things scary, or burdensome, so nothing new there.

In the end, this learning isn’t all of the impetus I need to finish more projects. I’ll have to test it out and see where the gaps are.

My spidey sense tells me that while other areas may have been part of the equation, math is the X factor I’ve been solving for. Is there a Y and Z? Probably, if I’m being honest! Maybe my Z is my inability to let go???

New Years Resolutions

So I’m keeping it simple this year. My new goals:

1. Be my best self.  If doing so makes me less than perfect, so be it. Learn from the wins and move on. When I have trouble with letting go, don’t judge myself for it; I’m a marathon over-thinker, so this is a challenge. Elsa’s got nuthin on me!

2. Find myself. I know it sounds lame… however I’m finding new layers within as I undergo therapy. Scary? Yep. So much is unknown. Ambiguity sucks.

3. Fix my body. My only holdover from last year. Though I have a new plan now: work on muscle tension release, now that I know the technique, and cardio/strength… concurrently. Re-evaluate in 3 months.

4. Gear up for taking chances. See if I can put fear aside and leap. Apply for jobs, deliver seminars, go to networking events… and DANCE!! End goal? Karaoke… (Fringe goal: sans liquid courage???)

That’s it. Just FOUR goals. Somehow, they seem a lot bigger now that I’ve written it all out. and for the first time in possibly ever, I don’t want to elaborate.  Dare I say… progress on goal #1? booyah.

Well that’s all for now. Thanks to anyone reading

~jitterful~

P.S. Purging my excess junk doesn’t count, right? I mean, that’s my goal every year. I’m not a hoarder I swear…

 

 

Getting around

Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.

Out of the many conditions that I find myself mired in, one of the most frustrating is agoraphobia. It prevents me from doing many things in life, and it creates a lot of awkward situations. Over time, I’ve gotten to know it, and constructed tidy boxes that I fit myself into, that let me live my small life. I know where my personal “potholes” are. Or in some cases, more like landmines. Small, simply because those boxes can be limiting.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write this. But I know that doing so today is leading me towards a cathartic aha moment. I can feel something snapping back into place, that was broken inside of me long ago. Why? I’m not sure exactly. I’ve been in personal therapy and physiotherapy, which is slowly wearing away at my stress levels, but also releasing new layers of hidden, vaulted up stress as I go.

Factually speaking, it’s affected me in a few different ways: mainly my ability to drive, take complex public transportation, and make plans with others.

Some background, for context… as a teenager, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to obtain my learner’s permit until I had achieved “straight A’s”, or at least something close to it. I wanted so desperately at the time to take driving lessons with my peers. At the time, I hadn’t considered the immense responsibility of driving, or rather, that my knack for finding distractions could result in serious consequences. So in the meantime, I took public transit. Back then, we didn’t have smartphones, so if I’d forgotten my book for reading, it was generally a long, boring, and nauseating bumpy ride with multiple transfers, sometimes followed by a mind-numbing walk home. An average person might not think of that experience as a big deal, but to me it was. To me, it was excruciating mental and physical torture.

There were also times I had to find my way to places unknown, which for my ADHD brain was quite intimidating. Attempting to navigate foreign territory (to me) could put me into a state of panic, and the prospect of being late due to my directional incompetence loomed incessantly. I can recall one time maybe five years ago when I took a chance and decided it would be worth seeing friends if I rode the streetcar. What a mistake. My smartphone had me exiting the streetcar in a wooded area restricted from cars, where you could transfer to other transit… which was fine, until I realized that the pathway to where I was headed? closed down! and I had no clue how to get around it. Using the blocked path, it was 400m to the restaurant and 2.2km to go around. I asked a bus driver what to do and he gave me a rather rude non-answer. At that point, I was starting to feel claustrophobic without a main road around me, so I got on the bus anyhow. Looking back now, I can see what really set me off. I have an anxiety trigger which is that if people are in a position to help me, and express indifference or unwillingness to help, especially if I’ve disclosed my anxiety issue, it sends me into a kindof overwhelmed fugue state where I cannot think straight. Anyhow. Ashamed, I called my friends in tears. Heart thudding in my ears, barely able to string coherent thoughts, let alone sentences… well, let’s just say I’m very thankful to have friends willing to meet me at the nearest intersection. Silver lining? Definitely a learning experience!

Eventually planning my own journey became more accessible, however, I learned rather quickly to avoid places more than a few minutes away from subway stops or main intersections. This meant that if I missed my transfer, I’d have somewhere to park myself that might be more interesting than a bench, and if I needed to ask directions, there would be people around. If I wanted to go somewhere farther afield, I only did so if friends came with me, or if they were willing to drive. These rules still apply to this day. In fact, despite working on it, I carry a lot of shame over missing on friend’s baby shower’s, birthdays or other events, simply because I didn’t have a ride there and it was quite out of the way. People chastise me for not making the effort, and tell me that I was an adult now… it shouldn’t be a problem… heck, I should be driving there myself. Life can be hard when that which you wish to heal from is unexpectedly reinforced every now and then.

When I was unemployed, this became an even bigger hurdle for me. At one point, I left the house barely once per week, and that was only if a friend or family member drove me, or at least drove me to the nearest train stop. I ventured out only when I had the mental energy, which I had to save up for days in advance, building myself up knowing that it would be torn down within a few hours. There were times that I turned even a free ride down, though that was mixed up with depression issues as well. Dark times I tell you.

Sadly, driving myself was not an option by then either. In college, I did have my learners permit for a brief time before I let it lapse. I went through all the in-class lessons, the in-car lessons… the extra in-car lessons… the extra extra in-car lessons… and still, I did not feel confident behind the wheel. I studied, but I had no vehicle to practice on outside of paid lessons and so I went into my test feeling like a fraud, and oh boy did it show. I definitely did not pass that test, and I had no idea how to fix it. I still don’t. At the time, I felt as if the examiner did his best to intimidate me. Now, I’m not so sure, but I do recall that there were some things that could have been handled in a gentler, more accommodating way.

Nowadays, I am willing to try again, however, I’m not able to pay for lessons and I’m certainly not willing to put the vehicle of friends or family at risk of falling prey to my SQUIRREL! syndrome.

The idea of creating financial distress for myself or others in having to replace a vehicle or worse, in causing bodily harm… well I find it all terrifying. I’m prone to fits distractibility and often find it impossible to concentrate. As well, I have only so much “focus” in me, and worry that if I tap it all out whilst driving, I won’t be much use afterwards.

It’s ok. I’m pushing forward, very slowly and in my own way. I’m poking holes in the potholes. and I am proud of how far I’ve come.

Thanks for reading

~jitterful~

On finding forgiveness

When I was a child, I had absolutely loving parents. But I don’t remember much from those days. It’s more like facts that have been committed to memories. A certain knowing of emotions that my brain has recorded happening.

Maybe its because I’ve been in therapy, and as you know, therapy has the potential to bring up all sorts of emotions and other boxed up things that my lovely brain has sequestered away in an effort to protect me. Only those boxes are many, and I have only so much storage space.

What I do know of my family is that none of them understood my challenges. I’d try to explain, with the limited vocabulary I did have as a child, but that wasn’t the age of enlightenment with adult self-awareness, much less in children.

I have family who almost definitely suffer from anxiety or ADHD, which in hindsight makes me somewhat sad. They don’t care to fix themselves, or even acknowledge it, preferring to chug along, bearing the weight of all that burdens them. I am not a medical professional who can diagnose them so take my opinion with a grain of salt! We don’t talk about it, as they’ve dismissed my diagnosis as hogwash. and yep, I have shown them the report. Because apparently the tests from 30 years ago were fruitless, and that is all the proof they believe in.

They knew there was something “wrong” with me back then. I was sent for all sorts of tests. IQ tests. Hearing tests. Learning disability tests. Blood tests. So. Many. Tests. And ALL of them came back inconclusive. Every single one.

So my mother decided she knew what was best for me. She did everything she could to drag me through the years, forcing me to write lines until my spelling was up to scratch, somehow jamming it all into my head by rote. Fighting with me day in and day out until I did the thing, whatever it was, that needed doing at that moment.

I appreciate all that she did. I love her for it. I am humbled by her strength.

and yet… I have a hard time finding forgiveness. For making me feel so alone.

It’s ridiculous that I should have expected her to validate my feelings and anxieties. Isn’t it? She couldn’t grasp the intensity or depth of my barriers. I didn’t have the words to tell her. So why then am I still so angry?

I’ve read about parenting techniques for ADHD. There are tons of self-awareness hacks and articles around… and I think to myself that if she had executed all of that in interactions with me as a child, maybe I wouldn’t have grown this anxiety disorder. Maybe it wouldn’t have festered in me like a cancer that I’m struggling so hard to navigate.

Maybe if I hadn’t been told that I needed to try harder, and that the world didn’t care if I found things difficult… maybe if it wasn’t constantly mentioned that I could focus on video games, reading my novels, or watching tv for hours, so I shouldn’t have a problem focusing on my chores and homework… maybe if achieving good grades wasn’t the pinnacle of success in their eyes… and if that hadn’t been the reason life milestones such as obtaining a drivers licence were withheld, like a golden carrot… maybe then I wouldn’t have flinched everytime they spoke to me. and I wouldn’t have unknowingly taught my body that internalizing the stress of those conversations was easier than finding a way to expel it. Maybe then I would have found ways to overcome my disorder, and left it behind in childhood like so many others I know.

My anxiety stemming from ADHD is such a complicated beast. It hangs over every conversation I have with my family.  It’s more malleable than a black dog (depression). I don’t know what to do with it. I’ve mentioned it to my therapist. We are unpacking it little by little.

I know that one day, I need to sit mom down and have a conversation. But I have this ideal in my head that I want to do that when I’ve found some measure of success in making my disorder submit to defeat. I get that it will always be there, obviously. I mean “success” in finding ways to live my life despite the disorder, and living it well. Except what if not having the conversation is part of what holds me back? They’ve been so unwilling to hear me in the past. What if they still won’t listen…

Most of all… What if that conversation is the one that will free my resentment and allow me to forgive. Yep. There it is. The nugget I’ve been so hesitant to acknowledge. Can you tell I have a hard time letting go of things? Both physical and mental.

And I just figured out. I need to find a place where I can have that conversation, and be ok with their lack of understanding. I need to accept my family’s refusal to see all of me. That will take awhile. and look at that! I just bought myself a bunch of time whereby I can procrastinate, guilt-free. Sweet!

Well I feel so much lighter now. Thanks for reading.

~Jitterful~

*Not yet edited. Will come back for that later. Sorry for any parts that don’t make sense.