Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ADHD or How I learned to get things done.

For years I have had the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Click on the link here if you don’t know what that is.

When I got the diagnosis at the ripe age of about 7 years old they started me on Ritalin. This was not a bad thing however this was just as they were trying to figure out how to dose us kids back in 1980. This was also decades before I figured out that I hyper-react to medication. In other words I was severely overdosed.

I called the pills my “downers” and later learned to describe the effects as a pharmacological lobotomy. It killed most of my emotions and responses to things that were happening around me. It made me flat and a zombie. I told a doctor years later that “sure I could focus, but it took me four times longer to get anything done.”

I was on Ritalin from the age of 7 to age 11 (the point where I flat out refused to take it anymore). I vowed at that point to never take anything like that again. For years I self medicated (coffee and smoking) and denied that I needed any meds or if I admitted I needed meds that it wasn’t bad enough to merit trying anything like that again.

Till this past Monday.

This past Monday was the culmination of weeks of a downhill slide, which in turn had followed decades of struggling with trying to make and keep appointments, balance my budget, make it to work on time, keep up with work and get my life organized.

The start of the downhill slide was quitting smoking. I quit smoking June 5, 2008. Six weeks after removing a large stimulant from my system I was in the doctors office nearly begging to be put on something, anything, so that I could function. I had hit the point of not being able to do anything, not even the things I looked forward to. I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t follow a conversation, I couldn’t figure out where to begin with something, I couldn’t stay on task. I was losing my mind.

I was also driving those around me crazy.

My partner had to put up with me not being able to talk on the phone with her for more than 10 minutes before I had to go. My Mom (of choice) would watch me sit down, stand up, move around, jump from one topic to another in a conversation, and watched me be impulsive financially. Mom knew what this was because her daughter has ADD too and so she understood because she had been down this road before. (She had been encouraging me to go back on the meds for a long time.) My coworkers watched as I got more and more behind in my work.

My state of mind was subconsciously demonstrated the night before I called the doctor when I was fixing something for mom and was holding a drill talking with her about something. She looked at me and said something about it isn’t that bad or something. I looked over and realized that I had it pointed at my head like I was going to drill a hole in it. Yeah, that was about how I felt. I didn’t have the heart to look at mom for a minute after I put the drill down. It was a bit too revealing how accurate that pose was.

So, on Tuesday morning I called my doctor and got an appointment for that day. Mom wrote up talking points for the doctor since I could no longer pull things together in my head nor could I explain things coherently. Armed with my list I went to the doctor.

First thing the doctor said after looking up my records (no official mention of the ADHD there) and reading my list was “I guess you should be taking some medication for the ADD huh?” I said “that is why I am here” with a bit of a groan.

I went on to explain that yes, I did hold out too long but with what I went through the first time on meds combined with the chance that these meds may spark a Manic episode and the fact that up till I quit smoking it was manageable, why would I take the risk? She was more understanding after that. She prescribed Adderall for me in a light starting dose to see how it goes. I am to return in 30 days for a check-in, how you doing type of thing, and another 30 day prescription. (I call it being on a short leash. It works for me.)

I took the first dose way late in the day knowing that it would screw up my sleep. Hell, I wasn’t sleeping anyway so I figured at least it may make staying awake more interesting. :-) The first dose was a miracle! It was like Holy Shit I can sit still, I can focus, I can actually do my job! Woo Hooo!

The doc had told me that I would notice the difference right away but I didn’t really believe her too much. I hoped but I didn’t really believe. Each day has gotten a bit better. Till today where I feel like I am beginning to get my life together. This really is much like when I went on meds for the first time for the BiPolar. Its like “Wow, so this is what life is like for everyone else?” Later my thoughts were, “yeah, I should have been on this a while ago.”

There have been some interesting learning experiences this past week.

Adderall, if you don’t know, is an amphetamine. Essentially it is speed. (Speed kills man! Yeah, couldn’t resist.) This drug, in ADD or ADHD folks has the opposite effect than in folks without ADD/ADHD. Basically it slows us down and helps us focus.

I wondered about drinking caffeinated coffee with this amphetamine. So, Wednesday morning last week I tried a bit. Ooooo that was not a good idea. I drove to work that day looking like Tweeek from South Park. My eyes felt like they were really biiiiig. When I turned my head it didn’t feel like my usual slow turn to the side, it was like “whaPAH” and I was suddenly looking left. I don’t think I blinked for like three hours. Yeah, I quickly decided that it would be decaf coffee for me.

Then a few days later I couldn’t stay awake. That was ok for the weekend where I can take afternoon naps but not so good for weekdays where I have to work. I put just the teensiest bit of caffeine back in and that was ok. So now, it is about ½ and ½ for the first two cups then decaf for the rest. I will be asking the doc about the can’t stay awake thing. Perhaps the dose is a bit high? Donno, will find out when I ask her. I learned long ago with the BiPolar not to fuck with my meds. Don’t go off them without approval (read supervision) of the doc and support from family. Don’t change the dose, don’t! do! anything! without the doc and family knowing and supporting. It is a short road to crazy and I have a more direct route than most.

In writing this post I did a bit of research and found a lot of stuff that is making me say “oooooh, that’s why” a lot. It is hard looking at this stuff and at the same time, it is comforting. Hard cause I have to face what a mess my life is in, literally with my room, my truck, my desk at work, financially with lots of stuff that piled up cause I couldn’t deal with it. Comforting cause what I am reading and learning are steps to combat the usual stuff that goes on with ADHD folks. I read this and its like, wow, I’m not alone or lazy or stupid or crazy (all the things I have secretly said to myself over the years). I really do, as much as I hate to admit it, have a disability that makes some things a lot harder for me than for other folks.

There is a part of me that is looking forward to the adventure of succeeding with this. After so many years of struggle and failure it is neat to begin to see what I really am capable of now that I don’t have one arm and one leg tied behind my back.

More later…

Friday, July 18, 2008

Where do I begin

Where do I begin to get all of these things out of my mind? So much is in there. The trip to Ohio. The seeing my daughter after six months of waiting. Losing my grandmother. Contacting an attorney to get visitation rights spelled out. Reconnecting with lost family. Thanking my mom of choice in a deeply open hearted way for all the love and support she has given me. Starting a new medication to help with the severe ADHD that I had denied for years. That med allowing me to drop a few more of my emotional walls.

All of this was just in this past week.

Where do I begin to empty my head a bit so I can sleep better?

Stream of consciousness seems to be the key. Not thinking and just typing. Whatever comes to mind in whatever form.

This week, I thanked my mom (of choice) for all that she is to me. I put it in the form of all that she has done for me but that is not what I meant. Nice thing is, she knew that.

I have to add the descriptor after her “title” so to speak because I am interacting more with my Biomom as I am calling her. That would be my mother of origin, birth mother would be another term. She is…

ohhhh. I think I hit close to why I am not sleeping.

My biomom (short for biological mom) is in large part the reason I did not see my father’s family for 10 years. (See the July 16th entry in this blog) I am very angry with her right now. She separated me from half of my family and instead gave me her family as the only option. This family consistently treated me as less than because I asked questions, couldn’t sit still, wasn’t the pretty little girl in a cute dress and didn’t play with dolls. A family that looked good from the outside but were not what they tried to present themselves as. A family that, to me, is more interested in “winning souls for JESUS” than they are with talking to/with people and getting to know who they are trying to “save”. The family that when I came out as gay, chose to believe what they heard in church from their pastors rather than read the bible and turned me away. My Aunt even went as far as to tell me that “satan has written his lies all over your face”, after I had opened myself up to her and told her my story. My story of knowing in my deepest being I was born gay and my years of struggle to stifle and kill that part of me. Imagine being that vulnerable, just months after coming out to yourself, only to be met with being told by someone you loved that it was a lie. (I have been trying for years to forgive her that. I just can’t seem to let it go.)

My mother had good reason to limit my contact with my grandfather (Fathers father). He had problems that I don’t want to get into here. Perhaps another time. I understand her wanting to protect me.

But, I don’t understand her wanting to protect me.

This is the same woman who told me that she hates me. This was not when I was an adult that she did this. All through growing up I heard this. I got chills one time when I did the math about Roe v. Wade and my birthday. Had I been a little bit later I probably wouldn’t be here. This woman that I owe my birth to… it is a shame. I try sometimes to be compassionate toward her. Not tonight. Tonight I am pissed. Shit, not just tonight. I have been this way an entire week since I was in Ohio and realized that the stories that she told me about my father’s family were only one sided. They were told to me to accentuate the negative about them. They were told to me to control me.

ooooooooh…. another moment of understanding.

Is this what I am angry about? Am I angry that my birth mother still had this control over me 10 years after I started to remove myself from her suffocating grasp?

Or am I angry that I allowed her to manipulate me like that for so long. That for so long after I became “an adult” that I still let her run my thoughts and actions and beliefs. And that this “training” had continued even after I thought I was done letting her.

Or, is it just the fact that I am angry at missing the last 10 years of my grandmothers life. That, when I sat across the hospital bed from my Aunt, I had to ask my aunt questions about my grandmother that I should have known. I didn’t know what her birthday was till I read it on the hospital wrist band… last week… a few days before she died. Her birthday was in the same month as mine. I never knew that before last week. I didn’t know that she has two brothers living that she didn’t have any sisters. I learned last week that the Cherokee heritage comes down through her. I learned more but I don’t want to put it here yet.

I got the chance to tell her that I am doing well. That I am studying to become a Shamanic Practitioner. When she asked me what that was I told her that I was studying to become an Indian Medicine Woman. I was floored when her eyes got really big and she got a huge smile and said “that’s good”. She was proud of me. It was wonderful seeing that look, even though it was behind an oxygen mask.

I was accepted and loved for who I am. No hiding what I thought or felt or who I am. I was just loved.

I helped care for her for a bit before I had to tear myself away to return home to go back to work. I wasn’t afraid to touch this frail woman. In fact, it was hard not to keep stroking her hair, even when she was sleeping. I held her hand for as long as I could when I visited her.

Then, too soon I had to come back home. I knew I would not see her again in this life. I was right. She dropped the robe this past Monday.

My biological mother let me know of Grandma’s passing via a text message to my cellphone.

Yeah, my biomom really is that heartless.

I am sleepy again. Perhaps this was what needed to come out of my head. More tomorrow after I buy some tissues. I thought I had some around here but I don’t. So, I have to make due with fast food napkins that I scrounged up. Not too soft those…

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Letter to My Family of Choice Back Home

I am in Ohio. Location of my family since just before the Trail of Tears in 1836. I find myself looking around and merging with any number of times, 1980, 1974, 1995, all of them. I see things that have been here for nearly 30 years (the sign outside a Baptist Church) and things that are new (The Panera Bread place I am at now). Makes me wonder what year it is sometimes. (I will splaine more sometime but not now...)

As you all know (if ya didn't I apologize) my Grandmother (Father's Mother) was not doing so well. Tuesday evening they weren't expecting her to make it through the night. She did make it and is now doing a bit better. She ate something this morning for the first time in a week. She woke up for a bit when I was just there a little while ago and we talked a bit. She has an oxygen mask on so it is a bit hard to understand her. She lost a LOT of weight so she is not the large, loud, wonderful woman that I remember. She is thin, and frail, and looks like if you looked at her too hard she would break. Still one tough bitch though! :-) I can see it in her spirit even if I can't see it in her body.

I have spent time with my grandfather as well. He has changed so much in the last 10 years. Perhaps the throat cancer has him thinking about his mortality and what went on in the past, I don't know. I do know that he is MUCH quieter (not just verbally, but emotionally as well). Less demanding and less needing of being the center of attention. Perhaps it is just the fact that as tumultious as his marrage has been to Grandma, this is his wife of more than 60 years who may be transitioning, and he does love her. This is the first time I have ever seen it.

I have spent a good amount of time with one of my dad's sisters (Nancy) and ran into one of his brothers (Brucie) at the hospital. I am still wanting to see his other brothers (Terry and Eddie) and sisters (Connie and Cathy). Those reunions should be interesting... They are all pissed at my dad (Teddy) for not coming up and as his "unofficial representative" I am getting a lot of the "Why didn't your dad come up?" kinda thing. What do I say? I just say that he isn't doing so good these days cause he is drinking too much and try to leave it at that. What the hell, why not tell them that his drinking is out of control. Interesting thing is everyones's drinking up here is pretty much out of control too. Irony is my middle name these days....

At last count I had 26 first cousins. This is a bit of an advantage given that I cannot remember people's names. There are too fucking many of us to keep track of so it is ok for me to ask what someone's name is. I am trying to start the trend of introducing ourselves to each other by saying something like "I'm Aimee. I belong to Teddy." just to give an idea where we come from. LOL I mentioned that to my dad this morning when I was giving him an update on Grandma and my Aunt Nancy about shot her coffee all over the place cause she was laughing. Good to keep the sense of humor when ya are completely overwhelmed. She by losing her mom (dad too soon cause of the cancer), me cause I haven't seen these people in 10 years and the mental/emotional whiplash is...

On my way up, I was very nervious about coming here. I am sure that I have told stories about some of my experiences with this side of the family. Spirit and I had a good conversation while I was driving. Spirit asked me to take everything from the past and set it aside and approach my grandparents, aunts and uncles from the perspective of today. I agreed to do that with a little caviat. Just as long as it did not compromise my safety or sobriety. I did this and wow. I can't wrap my head around some of this... I can't wrap my head around the fact that I feel like I have come home. That I am welcome, that I am family. I have never had that feeling with my Mother's side. I arrived here, after not speaking to anyone here for 10 years and I am welcomed with open arms. Not one person asked me why I haven't been back in 10 years. They just keep saying come back again sooner than ten years from now. Fucking wierd not to be judged or critisized in any way.

One of my Cousins (Cathy's daughter Alicia) was at the hospital last night. I remember when her mom got married (back in 1980 I think) I kept looking at her and saying in my head "I remember your mom's wedding... Damn that was a while ago wasn't it" considering this person I was hanging out with is like in her early 20's. She and I had good, honest and frank conversations. Talking about the family, ourselves, how we are doing, where we are headed type of thing. It was neat. None of the hiding information that I am accustomed to from my Mothers side of the family.

So, I am in Canton, Ohio, visiting with relatives that I haven't spoken to in 10 years. my mind is blown and I find myself asking a lot of questions about belonging, judgement, redemption, acceptance and forgiveness.

I find myself asking another question over and over.... Where are all the Black people????? Since I got here I have seen three. What the fuck?? :-) (Yeah I do keep asking myself that but I also needed the humor too....)

More soon. Love to all of you.