With Adult ADHD, when we are in a hurry, we blunder in glorious ways. If only there was a way to prevent that.
I have a quickie tip for you today as I’m blazing around my life like some earthbound comet.
Last month, I was quickly packaging up an item I had sold on eBay. The item was secure. The box was sealed. All it needed was a shipping label.
I don’t sell a lot on eBay, but I’ve got a system I’ve developed over the years. After I pay for the postage online, I both print the label AND save it as a PDF. Redundancy is good for these sorts of things. When I went to fetch the printed label, I discovered that the UPC code was all smeared. Back to the Mac I went, but since I had closed the tab, I opened up the PDF and printed from there, this time at a higher DPI and clarity.
The second printout looked great, so I clipped the shipping label out and prepared to tape it to my package. That’s when I stopped myself.
”Which PDF did I print?”
You see, I had shipped another package out the day before. There were two shipping label PDFs on my Mac. I double-checked and just as I suspected, I had printed out the previous customer’s address!
Trust yourself, but don’t trust your ADHD
Although I have never mailed a package out to the wrong person, it is precisely because I am prone to careless mistakes like this that I double-check myself.
We all can get careless when in a hurry whether we have ADHD or not. However, I’ve noticed that when I am hurried, I tend to make careless mistakes of such magnitude that outside viewers boggle at their wonder. It would be just like me to mislabel a package, just as it’s just like me to hurry off to the post office without my wallet—or worse—without my package.
Always Double Check
By building double-checking into my shipping habits, I catch most of my mistakes before they head out the door. In fact, I’m surprised I don’t double-check everything in my life.
But then again, if I was always careful, what would I write about here?
It’s hard to imagine, but your iPhone can be used for more than tweeting, texting, and playing games. Crazy, right⸮
How many times have you driven out to do errands and forgotten to do something? It might be getting strawberries at the grocer while they are in season, or maybe you forgot to drop off those library books knocking around the back of your car, or you’re tired of remembering to fill your car tires long after you’ve passed that station with the free air pump. My neglected errand was that I kept forgetting to update the insurance cards in my car.
First I lost the insurance cards, then I kept leaving them at home. When I finally got them into the car, weeks went by without me actually pulling the cards out of the envelop and sticking them someplace safer. The problem was that I was always running in and out of the car on my way to someplace else. It wasn’t until I made a specific reminder that I finally took care of this errand.
Unlocking Your iPhone’s Power
Don’t you think it would be helpful if something could interrupt your reverie right about the time you were in the vicinity of the errand? That’s where Apple’s location aware Reminder app comes in. It packs some features that make it indispensable, but where the app truly shines is with location awareness, taking full advantage of your iPhone’s GPS.
Once I create a task by typing into the space next to the “+” symbol at the bottom of the screen, I can select the ⓘ symbol to the bottom right. From there, I turn on “Remind me at a location”, and tap on “Location” beneath. There are four default locations to choose from: Current Location, Your Home, Getting in the car, and Getting out of the car. The last two options require your iPhone to be paired with your car’s Bluetooth. You also have access to every address you have ever pinned in Maps, plus any address that you can type into the search field. From there you can choose to be reminded when you arrive or when you leave. You can even expand or shrink the awareness zone that Reminders will activate within.
What does this all mean?
I’m not going to lie. That’s a lot of technical gobbledegook for those not fluent in geek. Let’s see if this helps. Want a reminder to bring along those library books before you leave the neighborhood? Tell Reminders to give you a holler when you turn on your car. Want to remember to stop by the front office before getting busy with dinner? Tell Reminders to give you a holler when you arrive at your apartment. Do you keep leaving your messenger bag in the back seat? Have Reminders holler at you when you shut the car off. If you want to remember to pick up strawberries at the store, tap in the search field and add your grocer. Stretch the awareness zone out past the street you zip by. Now your phone will go off as you near the store. Can’t find the store you’re looking for? Add the approximate address and Reminders will try to find the real address for you.
In practice, I have found Reminders does a great job using the iPhone’s built in GPS system. When leaving my home, Reminders will go off, giving me a chance to turn around and get paperwork I need to drop off at my daughter’s school. When driving near the vicinity of the library, Reminders will go off and help me remember to drop off the library books before they bang around into dust. I especially love how reminders can activate just by turning my car on or off. I used that feature to help me finally take care of the insurance cards. The Bluetooth pairing features are very precise, but if your car doesn’t support this feature, you can use leaving or arriving at your home to accomplish the same thing.
There are a few times when this reminder method is limited. I once wanted to remind myself to drop by a store to pick up some groceries, but for some reason, Reminders couldn’t find the store. It found franchises twenty-five miles in either direction, but not the one down my street. Maps can be glitchy like that sometimes. I just entered an approximate address for the store and was in business. If the shop you want to remember to drop by is too far away from road, sometimes the reminder will not activate. Similar problems occur with reminders for routes that you travel faster than 40mph along. The alarms can go off after you’ve passed the exit or turnoff. The best solution in these cases is to expand the location awareness circle out a mile or two to give yourself ample time to respond to the reminder while driving.
A Vital Tool in My Toolbox
Overall, I find Reminders very useful in combatting my ADDled mind. The location awareness feature is very handy, even with the GPS quirks. I limit my location aware reminders to an as-needed basis to avoid burn out, but it is a tool that is a vital part of my ADHD coping strategies. If you have an iPhone and also ADHD, you will be doing yourself a massive favor by taking a few minutes to become familiar with this powerful reminder tool.
This article and others will be featured in my upcoming ebook on ADHD and ToDo Lists.
It’s a good thing my friend isn’t easily offended. Today my ADHD took our conversation on a colorful roadtrip.
I will spare you the details, but I made a gaffe today that involved flagpoles, fidget spinners, and ED. If I was headlining in Vegas, I would certainly have outdone myself for sheer, bold, cheeky humor—celebrated by the audience’s raucous laughter—but since I’m some average rando calling a friend on the phone, I got the following:
“Am I the only person you have conversations like this with?” “Yes,” I said while laughing. “You are the only person I can openly talk to this way.” “Let’s remove one person from that equation, and I think we can solve your problem.”
I don’t know if I got the quote right. We were both laughing. It is common for us to zing each other. However, part of my refined, adult mind started working on what he had said. I suddenly realized that I had stepped over a line.
“Well, I may have been excessively colorful.” “Oh, you think?” he said while laughing.
My friends respect me—hold on, maybe “respect” is too strong a word here. Let’s say they find me entertaining like a dancing monkey on top of a car wreck. This dynamic usually works out alright, but there are times I go too far. The problem is that sometimes I don’t think before I speak. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have tread down that saucy path today. I can’t remember how we, or should I say “I”, got on the subject of ED ads, or why I didn’t stop myself. I suppose it was all those happily satisfied women in their 60s, snuggling into smugly confident men. I laugh at the ads every time. But I’m not laughing now. I almost wish I had ED instead of ADHD.
Well, I expect better of myself. For example, I haven’t used profanity in seven years this very month. It’s an accomplishment that I am quite proud of. It required a lot of work to get to this point, with several years of effort before the final grawlix. I don’t even think swears now. So why do I occasionally have conversations that head off in off-color directions? Aren’t they inconsistent with somebody who forswears swearing?
It seems to me that ADHD, more than humanity, is at play here. Inconsistencies in behavior are hallmarks of adults with ADHD. They are born from fiery impulses that burn their way out and leave scorched earth behind. Angry words, insults, jokes—even love confessions!—come from the same source. We get carried away, an errant thought crosses the stage, and we suddenly open the curtains for it. Afterwards, we get embarrassed, not because the audience booed, though that has been known to happen, but because our behavior is either not in sync with the person we wish to be, or it is completely out of sync with the people around us.
”Why did I say that?” is something I ask myself in those situations. Women who I’m not interested in suddenly think that I am. Co-workers think I’m making fun of them when I crack a joke. Friendships die in blazing glory with yet another foot-in-mouth moment. Without a positive sense of self, the entire process can be humiliating and discouraging.
Passion is the culprit. Be it anger, fear, or joy, when emotions run high, the impulse control center in the untreated ADHD mind is poorly equipped to rein in the flood of words that come pouring out. Fueled by adrenaline, what might be an occasional spurt of intemperance from somebody without ADHD becomes a firehouse of shame for somebody with the disorder. Practicing coping strategies or taking medication are often the only respite.
Fortunately, I have good friends who can let me know in a good natured way when I’ve left propriety behind like a last rest stop sign on a desert highway. Truthfully, these moments aren’t frequent, but when they do happen, I am grateful for good friends who don’t hold them against me. They let me turn around. They let me backtrack. Then they mock me mercilessly afterwards.
⁂ Coping Strategy: Learning to temper one’s tongue takes practice and determination. Fortunately, you have ADHD, so you’ll get lots of opportunity to practice. I recommend first closing the gap between when you make a gaffe and when you realize that you have. Once you can close this gap to the point where you are aware as you are making the gaffe, you have a fighting chance to take measures to choose differently in the moment.
2018 was a good year for me. Thank you all for reading my articles, sharing them with friends, and supporting me over the years. This blog, A Splintered Mind, has been tackling ADHD and depression with attitude and humor online for fourteen years now. It is the longest project, aside from parenthood, of which I have remained consistently engaged.
The event that took the most effort was the blogger advisory panel—even more effort than trying to get a decent portrait for Esperanza magazine that didn’t make me look like a doofus. That project involved all of my smiling daughters giving me encouragement on a bright summer day. I felt so awkward doing a photoshoot in a public park, as if I’m a looker, but my girls boosted my self-esteem and got me through it. For the Boston gig, in contrast, I had to utilize every coping strategy I’d invented, plus make up a few on the fly, to prepare and present for the panel. It was me vs. myself.
I was flown back East at the beginning of December to give my feedback on depression websites. It was a paid gig, so I spent weeks putting all my focus on making it happen. No ADHD mishaps for me! I was so anxious to be ready for my flight, I accidentally got ready a day early. I felt both stupid and liberated since all I had to do now was leisurely head off to the airport on the correct day.
This gig came at a good time for me. I needed the self-validation and focus on myself. My family life has been hectic due to the Brownie’s challenges. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been writing. I’ve just been busy. This gig helped me reassert my own needs into my life. It sounds selfish until you realize how completely lost I have been in my daddy duties. There wasn’t any balance.
Finding balance between what I want to do and what shouts at me the loudest is a constant battle, especially when ADHD tips the scales. To give you an idea how focused I was on fighting my own tendencies, I woke up in the hotel room on the day of the event and caught myself reading news. I lost about fifteen minutes. Fortunately, I all of a sudden realized what I was doing.
I couldn’t read news! I had to shower, dress, attend breakfast, and socialize, never mind show up on time to the panel. Sticky notes, iPhone alarms, and ToDo lists weren’t going to save me. I needed to crowd out distractions from my mind. My solution was simplistic, but effective. I chanted the speaker fee out loud nonstop to myself for the entire time it took me to haul my fanny out of the room. Any time I even feared a distraction was eminent, I’d chant the speaker fee even louder! I got there on time with capitalism as a coping strategy.
I signed an NDA, so I can’t tell you too much about what we discussed. I can tell you that I completely agreed that █████ and ███ were important considerations when a product like ████████ is brought to market. That’s why ████ ████ ██ ████████. Also, █████.
When I arrived back in Utah, all that hyperfocus had a price. I had pushed myself too far and was knocked out of commission for a week, but the trip was worth all the effort. I had a fabulous time meeting new bloggers as well as meeting old acquaintances I had only previously met online. One of those bloggers used to take issue with my posts because of my earlier anti-meds stance. We went back and forth for a while. I was initially concerned about meeting her, but it turned into an extremely positive experience (More on that at another time). I also made time to visit with family for a day before hopping back on the plane.
Most importantly, I took away from the experience several epiphanies. The first I described above. I need to take more time out for myself. I interpret this to mean that I need to socialize, date, and work on my book projects more. I’d already been exercising over the summer with a secret project, but it wasn’t enough. I still walk around like a soda bottle shaken to its limit. Those will be good goals for my 52nd year. The second epiphany I took away was that my blog needs a serious revamping. After spending a day critiquing other blogs, I could no longer turn a blind eye to my own blog’s shortcomings. I also need to recommit to a regular schedule. The final epiphany is that I miss traveling. I need to plan more trips. I don’t need to travel across the country to satisfy this itch. There is plenty in Utah I have yet to explore. I should get out there and reflect those new experiences in my writing.
If you’re willing to do the work, your ADHD will come out of the oven like a batch of perfect cupcakes?
I have to agree with you. Comparing ADHD to cupcakes isn’t the best simile. What could I possibly mean? Am I saying that ADHD is covered in sickly, sweet frosting and helps you put on weight? Coping strategies for ADHD are most efficacious when baked at 325ºF? ADHD is best dealt with by spreading it thinly with a knife while gently twirling?
If only dealing with ADHD was so tasty!
Over the past few weeks I have encountered several guys who have ADHD like a sack of spilled marbles, but they don’t treat it. They won’t even acknowledge it. “Oh,” they’ll tell you. “I have ADHD,” but it’s used as an excuse to get out of responsibility. Knowing the medical reason why you stood in a long line at the grocery store only to discover that you left your wallet in the car so you went back to the car then discovered that you had the wallet with you after all does help. But you don’t push your way back to the front of the line and sheepishly say to the angry customers now behind you, “Sorry. I have ADHD.” Wait, you do? Okeh, let’s tackle this another way.
ADHD isn’t a blank check to excuse all your goof-ups. The diagnosis isn’t the treatment. Knowing the diagnosis is supposed to pave the way towards better mental health. Whether that treatment is a prescription for ADHD meds, cognitive behavior therapy, or a self-help book, the diagnosis is meant to guide you to a solution. If the doctor tells you that you have a broken leg, you don’t say “Thanks, Doc!” then crawl out of the office untreated. Wait. You do that, too? Wow, I’m not sure I can help you.
So, about those cupcakes.
My daughter celebrates her birthday on Christmas Day. I discovered (again) that she likes cupcakes, so I decided to make some double-stacked cupcakes for the party. I had never made them before, so I studied up on them and got to work. I didn’t have the equipment to pipe the frosting, so I had to spread it with a knife. I discovered rather quickly that spreading frosting with a knife murders cupcakes, may the first two rest in pieces. I stopped and thought about the problem, and decided to stick the cupcakes in the freezer. Then I pulled one out at a time, cut it in half, and carefully, fluidly, twirled it while spreading the warmed frosting. After the fifth cupcake (depicted above), they started looking edible. I did the best that I could, and finished the other eleven. By the end, I was spinning those puppies quickly as I pleased. They looked and tasted great. Better yet, they were a big hit with my daughter.
As I was looking over my photos recently, I saw the cupcake photos I posted online. It occurred to me that frosting those cupcakes was a lot of work, but with practice I became more skillful. It’s exactly like ADHD to me. Without skill and a proper approach to my ADHD, my life crumbles into a sticky mess. I have to analyze what’s going wrong, choose a solution, then act on it, just like I solved the crumbling cupcake problem. Then I get better at it each time.
Those guys I wrote of earlier don’t look at their life analytically. They make a sticky mess wherever they go, then blame it on ADHD. They don’t learn from their mistakes. We don’t have to live that way. If we educate ourselves, we can learn to work smarter.
Next time ADHD is making a mess of things in your life, don’t start blaming it. Pause for a moment and rethink the problem. ADHD may be chaos, but it also inspires. You’ll find the solution. Then practice at it. Coping strategies require work and dedication. It won’t be pretty, but in the end, you’re life will be a cupcake? You know, this simile just isn’t working for me.
Yet as Fall became more like Winter, I couldn’t go out for a walk or a ride on my longboard. At the same time, family stress spiked just when I could have used exercise. I found myself drifting into a depression routine: comfort eating and gaining weight again. Truthfully, I made a lot of progress over the summer. I lost seventeen pounds and four and a half inches off my waist as I converted chub to muscle. Yet there I was, deep into Winter Depression with a face full of comfort carbs.
Many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (Winter Depression) at this time of year. The days shorten as the earth makes it elliptical dance around the sun, and that lack of light causes a gloom to settle over some people. It’s more than merely a disappointment that there is no more fun in the sun. Certainly, I can relate to that disappointment since wet, cold nights curtail my exercise regimen, but depression isn’t disappointment. It’s a pervasive sadness that clings to the victim. Depression defies reason and builds up a dark momentum that draws the person increasingly inward—away from the people who can help.
At this time of the year, Daylight Savings Time is supposed to help with the lack of light, but it always hits me like a KO punch in the kisser. This is why I found myself spiraling downward, and why I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to use my coping strategies. If you already suffer from depression, Winter Depression is like giving your depression a depression, yet after so many seasons where I successfully fought it off, I was caught unaware.
When you combine Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), it is often referred to as Double Depression (DD). For some people, Winter Depression is the only time they experience depression. For me, however, Winter Depression fuels my PDD on top of my MDD, giving me DD. And that’s enough of the alphabet for today.
Usually, I prepare ahead every year for Winter Depression with coping strategies like the following:
Remind myself that I’ll be seeing greater symptoms of depression soon.
Install Daylight spectrum lightbulbs in my working area.
Shift my exercise regimen from outdoors to indoors.
Make sure I’m getting a good night’s sleep.
This year I didn’t do any of those. I held onto longboarding in the hopes mild days were ahead while mounting family drama increased stress, decreased sleep, and ran down my health. The day I realized I had slipped into depression was the deepest of depressed days. I was on the couch, bored with TV, bored with reading, and needing to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t summon the energy to get off the couch. I was overwhelmed by waves of intense sadness. I sat there battered by biological urges, both mental and physical, but clearly the depression was the stronger of the two.
And I thought, “This is stupid.”
So I forced myself off the couch and took care of business. Then I did something silly—sillier than blogging about being too sad to pee. I turned up the music, made sure nobody could see me, then forced myself to dance.
I am not sure if I can express how difficult this was to do. Waves of crushing sadness don’t exactly sweep one out onto the dance floor. Moving was hard at first—even foreign—but the more I let myself get into the music, the more I moved, and the less sad I felt. I danced for forty-five minutes as the pulsing beat of vocal trance drove away the depression.
As you’ve probably heard before, exercise releases endorphins in the mind. Exercise relieves stress. It burns calories. So dancing for a length of time had a positive effect on me physically and mentally—something I was counting on. I went to bed exhausted, but slept well, which also helped. For the next few days, I implemented all my coping strategies and reversed the trend. I ended November with an uptick in productivity and mental health. My Winter Depression had been vanquished again.
I have Double Depression, but I manage it. I can’t use meds, so keeping DD at bay with coping strategies is a part of my daily life. Dancing didn’t magically cure my depression. Deciding to do something about my depression made the difference. Taking action. Following through. Being consistent afterwards. We need to take responsibility for our own mental health and do the work to improve. Even if you utilize anti-depressants to manage your depression, you can still upgrade your quality of life by analyzing your triggers and compensating for them. Depression doesn’t have to own you.
I’m just glad that this happened before egg nog was on the shelves. My waistline would have been doomed.
Sometimes you can do everything right and still get it all wrong.
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 lessonbefore. 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.
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.
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.