People Who Have It

I met a person on Friday night, which happened to be the first day of taking a new medication for my ADHD.  This time it’s a stimulant and really something to get used to if you’ve never had anything like it before, and I wasn’t sure how to incorporate it with the way I ate, the way I drank, the way I talk to people–my social interactions–all of that.  I felt so much uncertainty about what to do with so many things and whether or not this type of medication would be a positive thing or if it would be more proof that I needed to incorporate more natural ways to combat it, in order to feel better.  To feel myself again on a regular basis.

So, then, by happenstance, we were outside of a local move theater/bar, on a break from watching the NBA playoffs, and my fiance, a friend and I discussed blockbusters and the nature of them. How did it compare to what it felt like when we were little, growing up and was it really all that different?  Was it that we were more naive or more open?  Were we really more cynical than kids today?

This became a conversation with a stranger, standing close by, about the way that different blockbusters are represented on the big screen, and why some directors/screenwriters/actors were brave enough to show something that was a little more complicated, more gray, morality-wise, than the movies who portrayed superheroes who saved the world over and over again–to then be re-booted and shown in practically the same way less than ten years later.  (Hints on what movie played at the theater?)  Gradually, we turned it to what defined a sociopath, or a psychopath, and do they represent well onscreen?  In that, do they need to be tweaked and made a little more fuzzy-wuzzy, so that way it wasn’t so intimidating for the audience?

To encounter something so complicated in the form of supposed entertainment isn’t likely to be what they looked for in the summer time and it wasn’t an escape to a cool, dark place, safe from the boiling outdoors.  I opened up about personal situations from my past and if either one of us knew someone who suffered from these tendencies and how that exposure stimulated various symptoms of ADHD throughout our lives.

It turned out that we were the same age, that we had the same kind of romantic interactions and self-discovery:  attempts to rescue men from sociopathic behavior, to save boyfriends as our love was so strong and pure, potent enough to render a “sick” man well again.  We weren’t allowed to be selfish because someone had to be freed from the chains of mental illness; our ADHD tendencies shoved under the rug because the relationship forced us to be otherwise.  When the relationships inevitably imploded, the aftermath was an absolute feeling of blindness frozen in a place black and far, far away.

Now that I’ve had to be so reflective about my past and present, I haven’t stopped thinking about myself and what I had to do to feel 100% myself again.  What was obvious from this interaction is that this medication created a moment for me to surrender to and to feel confident.  That I interacted with intelligence because I heard what he had to say, reflected, and actually responded.  I didn’t wait with a rising tide of impatience for him to finish, so I could talk, and therefore not hear what he said.  In other words, I had a conversation with a smart person about a fascinating topic and we became friends in that moment.  It was a comfort, a joy (and even liberating) to know that I could still make new friends and that I understood how to communicate and talk to people again.

Part of it was the way that the “happy” hormones/chemicals flooded my brain and the beer and pretzels helped, too.  The knowledge that to feel this way was normal?  It was a nice change of pace and something I haven’t felt in a very long time in that context.  Friday night was a lesson that I am headed in the right direction.  Everything that I’ve done, the steps I took to get to this point, and the hard work I’ve put into have led to something good…

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How I Should Start Every Weekend

How I Should Start Every Weekend

This was a simple spinach, ginger, coconut milk, banana, agave syrup and freshly juiced grapefruit smoothie that tasted so divine I don’t know how I couldn’t have it every day…

An Experiment with Exercise

I know that cardiovascular exercise improves the cognitive function of the brain, but does it help the ADHD brain, which has trouble with executive function—the management of various processes in the brain like reasoning, problem solving, working memory and planning—and how to regulate its neurotransmitters to produce proper levels of feel-good hormones and chemicals? Obviously, any action that floods the brain with more dopamine, a hormone-neurotransmitter my own brain can’t seem to keep enough of in order to stop the potential to bite someone’s head off for daring to interrupt me at work or in the middle of a really good book, is a positive step. Is it enough, though, that I can incorporate the potential to wean myself off of medications or at least my iron-grip reliance on how much it’s recently improved my life at work and at home?
One thing I struggle with is how to keep the motivations going to do the things that make me feel better and keep me on the path to discovery. I make plans (and usually abandon them halfway through); I write lists (and lose them in my workbag); I create folders full of reminders of my talent when I need to. All of this, to keep my self-esteem at a level high enough to force that essential forward progress, and not create another setback. Except now I have to take myself to task for not keeping the one New Year’s resolution that ninety-nine percent of us end up dropping in frustration?
To remember how much better I operate at a 9-5 corporate job (someday that will be in my rearview mirror, I promise), after a run at the gym during lunchtime, works if I schedule it as though it’s time to take my medicine. It is much more uncomplicated to frame it in that way because it becomes necessary to exist and be okay with where I am in my work life. I can’t forget to take my medicine no matter how a meeting unexpectedly comes up or if I’m running behind on a project or get caught up on a phone call.
The only thing that stops me from this lunchtime workout turning ritual is how long it takes me to remember how important it is. My brain needs a zap every 30 minutes or so and if I have trouble wading out of the morning coffee or the dip into last night’s television recaps, the delay to my workday is inevitable. I set a timer in the schedule tool on my phone to keep that zap on the visual level; anything that will shake me out of my reverie to keep on task and continue on with my day.
Any article that discusses the benefits of exercise makes sure to point out that it is a natural anti-depressant and anti-anxiety agent. These are two things I struggle with, and to think that it also helps with my ADHD, again, should be and will be seen as a gift to my very special brain.
This starts the experiment, as I’m currently in between medications to try and find something that not only works a little bit better than my previous one, but that doesn’t leave me broke after refills each month.