Field Trip Nightmares

I don’t recall the exact moment I began to hate field trips.  As far back as I can remember, they were a source of anxiety for me. I had a hard enough time fitting in when we were in class, so it was nearly impossible without the structure and oversight of a classroom environment.  The last fieldtrip I remember going on was in 1st or 2nd grade, to a small theme park in Southern California.  I don’t even remember what it was like.  Then there was the nightmarish “6th Grade Camping trip”.  I made a cool little leather something-or-other, stamped with a bull.  Everything else sucked.  I would get this pent up energy and have no idea what to do with it.  Being the new kid (I had just moved to IL from California at the beginning of that school year) it was already difficult to fit in, and being a goofball on top of that… well, that camping trip put the fear of fieldtrips in me for good. Continue reading

Time Stamp

Timestamp

Do you ever look back and think about all the mistakes (especially the more “life altering” ones) you’ve made and wonder what the “you” of the past would think of what you became, and how you live your life now?  I used to love to write poetry.  It all sounded fairly corny or dramatic (I was a teenager, it’s to be expected).  I recently came across my writing from way back when.  Reading it, I sort of re-entered the mind-frame of the young Andrew who wrote this and that.  What I was thinking then, and how silly I now find the emotions I had then.  Interestingly, thinking about how I dealt with things in the past; how much importance I placed on things that, today I realize, didn’t really matter that much, I wonder how the me in another 15-20 years will look at my life now.  Then I realized, I don’t really write much these days (thought that’s changing with this blog).  I have pictures from my teenage years, but none really from my late teens-early tweens.  So I began playing with my pictures, coming up with new images like this one:

timestamp

The moment portrayed here was also the moment I decided it was time for our first family pet.  Zoey the cat.  This was an actual photo of my youngest Daughter, with Zoey, at the sitter’s house, where our sitter fosters rescued cats until they are adopted.  I’m more of a dog person myself, but Zoey is great.  She sheds very little, with no hairball incidents thus far, and she’s outgrown the “shred everything” phase, so nothing in our home has been ruined.  I digress… I find myself wondering: What will Andrew 20 years from now think when ie sees this photo in a book or album commemorating his success as an auther and blogger of all things ADHD?  What will my daughter think if she sees this photo? Take a moment to think back in a time in your life where you made a decision that affected the years following it, whether it was a mistake or not.  How does the past “you” at the moment of that decision compare to the present “you”?  Now, based on the trend of how you’ve grown and matured since that time, how will the future “you” possibly feel about the decisions you make now?
Read the original HERE.

The illness that can’t be seen

MY ADHD 1986

The Semantics and criticism involved in ADHD amaze me.  So many people choose to nitpick over so much.  It’s an illness/disease.  It’s a disorder.  It’s a Spectrum.  It exists.  It doesn’t exist.  For those of us who are diagnosed with either ADD and/or ADHD, this one thing is constant: It’s real.

I will save the Illness/disorder/spectrum discussion for another post, and probably another blogger LOL.  But here’s a story about what’s real.

I was diagnosed with ADD at the age of 5.  My grandmother, being the old school rock star she was, denied the existence of ADD and believed I just needed rigid discipline.  Lots of people with ADD see positive results with devout religious structure, joining a convent or other religious order (monks etc.).  Others see great results in the military.  Discipline and a rigid schedule can go a long way.  I, however, was 5 years old.  Grandma had her work cut out for her.

Long story short, she had me for the weekend once (probably just once LOL), a few years after my diagnosis, and decided to take me to Sea World.  Now, she was against me taking Ritalin, and didn’t believe in the existence of ADD.  That was about to change.

She couldn’t keep up with me.  After just a couple hours, she decided it was time to leave.  I was all over the place, out of control, and she was exhausted.  I decided it was time to run amuck.  Now by this time I was probably 7 or 8, so still young, and I had just run away from my mean old granny at Sea World.  I’m not sure how she caught me, or if she called my bluff and started walking to the car without me (I vaguely remember following her at a distance through the parking lot…) but regardless, she had a newfound respect for the “hidden illness”.

Some poeple will argue that any 7 or 8 yr old boy who didn’t want to leave would do the same thing.  Not me.  I simply wasn’t paying a lick of attention to her, except a vague awareness that she wanted to leave.  I was wound up and couldn’t slow down.  I had very little trouble doing what I was told when I took my meds.  But without them, I had a hard time grasping the importance of direction.

A common response to the “ADD isn’t real” conundrum is “take my kids for 5 minutes and you’ll change your mind.”  that was me.  I was that kid.  I am that kid.  Spend a day with me and you’ll know, I’m not normal.  Thank God.  If you don’t think ADD is real, than think of it as a personality.  Some people are friendly. Some people have tempers.  Some have aggressive tendencies.  Some people have sexual inhibition.  Some poeple, like me, have ADD.  Maybe it will be easier to accept that way.

However you look at it, ADD is as real as bacon, and just as enjoyable.

a-squirrel-with-bacon

Read the original HERE.

Awesomesauce

3/25/2014

My huge helping of Awesome Sauce

Awesome.  It’s typically a dish served best by Tom Nardone (if you don’t know who that is, you don’t know awesome).  I digress…

I’m taking 3 classes this semester.  2 online and one that meets once a week in a classroom.  My Monday night classroom-meeting-class has a presentation for each student, mine was due last night (Monday).  Over the weekend, I was wrapping up my preparations for my Egyptian history presentation, and asked the teacher for some additional photos to help support my topic.   She advised me Monday Morning this was not the direction she intended me to take the topic, and that I wouldn’t be able to present.  Essentially she had sent me an email specifying her expectations as she had with presenters before me, and that email apparently did not send.  As this is an ongoing problem she has been having with her computer system at home, she assumed complete responsibility and offered to let me present on a different topic later in the semester.  I told her that I have mild anxiety issues, and asked her to clarify her expectations to see what I could come up with by the end of the day for my existing topic.   My mind’s kitchen ran amuck looking for the perfect Ingredients,  throwing together the perfect mixture and after letting it simmer, BAM! AWESOME SAUCE. Continue reading

Crazy Manic Hungry Thoughtful Helpful Tired Hyper Confused Regretful

Crazy Manic Hungry Thoughtful Helpful Tired Hyper Confused Regretful. And then there was Ritalin.

What does ADHD feel like?  You know, I can count on one hand the number of people who have ever asked me that.  I always hope this blog will enlighten people who want to know, and there are certainly those whom I want to know me better, but in the end, I have come to rely on this blog more for my own sanity. Right now.  It’s 5pm (ish) and I’m friggin Manic.  I am Crazy.  I am hungry, thoughtful,  oh wait… you read the title?  Perfect.  Moving along… I am all of this at once.  Of course, hunger always exacerbates everything else, right?  I find myself saying things without taking the time to fully understand what I’m responding to (online and in person).  I am putting in my 2 cents in too many different places, trying to be helpful and insightful, but in the end, just looking stupid because I clearly was not paying attention to all the details.  I’m then confused about whether there’s a way to retract my statements gracefully (the answer is no) and then regret the extent to which I’ve extended myself into things I should not have, at least not without taking more time to research the situation.  I am not calculating, I am impulsive.  I am not focused, I am all over the place.  And this brings up an interesting topic of conversation I had with someone who understands me, or at least acknowledges me, better than most others (even though a lot of the time, she doesn’t fully understand either).  My mom.

I don’t always agree with her.  She doesn’t always agree with me.  but that’s another story, probably for a different audience LOL.  Mom was bringing up how different I was when I was medicated.  It seemed to me that she would prefer I be medicated again.  I HAVE been asked a few times about my decisions regarding medication, and have written about my experiences, but it dawned on me, I have not really written about my EXPERIENCE, I just wrote about the events that happened with and without meds. So, what was it like?  That’s the grand question, even for me, as it is so difficult to put into words.  So much more was possible with Ritalin;  Focus and discipline, primarily.  Emotions, not so much.  They hide somewhere, erupting from time to time.  I couldn’t talk to girls.  I could barely talk to people period.  It was awkward, I was anxious… The focus and discipline did not afford me the luxury of curiosity.  I would regularly forget to take my meds at school.  Taking Ritalin without consistency is a BAD idea (at least it was for me).  My body was always trying to adjust.  So it was decided we would see how I did with no meds at all.  Initially it was ok.  My grades had been suffering, but with no internal turmoil, I finished out that final semester of High School with decent grades.  But I was curious now.  What did life have to offer.  College bored me.  I moved out and worked.  and partied.  It was like I was making up for lost time.  I spiraled downward for a while, then I took the opportunity when it came, to move back home and get back on Ritalin. Part of the problem for me was that, as a kid, I did not choose Ritalin.  It was a crutch I was forced to lean on (granted, it was for my own good).  Going back and making the conscious effort to medicate and move on in life successfully, made it easier to handle the notion that I needed help.  I stayed on Ritalin for several more years (about 7).  Eventually, I noticed it wasn’t working as well.  Being an amphetamine, I knew this could mean I was developing a tolerance, or that I was “outgrowing my condition” with the chemical changes that occur in adulthood.  The more prominent thought in my mind was that maybe I was ready to be done with meds.  I talked to the Dr., and over time we made that a reality. Fast forward ~3-4 years to now.  Mom is curious.  Is life really so bad with Meds?  No.  Not bad.  However, consider these things:

  • Meds don’t change our choices.  I still made a fair amount of poor decisions even when on meds. (this was a point she agreed with)
  • There is a psychological element, primarily relating to pride and self esteem, being dependant on meds.
  • There is a degree of Extroversion that could very well have help my relationship with my parents.

crutch

Ritalin is a crutch.  When it all comes down to it, I’d prefer to be Myself. I am who I am.  When I graduate college, I will be proud that I overcame my circumstances to do so.  Like I told her, “I won’t have to thank Ritalin.  Just Coffee and Alcohol, like any other college student.”

 

She made the argument that Ritalin didn’t change who I am.  It allowed me to be who I am, without the difficulties of a lack of discipline and focus.  This may be true, however, by doing so, it also took away my curiosity, my sense of adventure.  It made it difficult for me to make friends, because I didn’t know how to act around people (I was shy, or just overly awkward). In the end, it was good when it was good.  When it was bad, it wasn’t worth it anymore.

This is my experience.  She remembers it differently.  I’m sure my dad does too.  In another 10 years, or 20 years, I might remember it differently too (or not at all).  In the end, however, it is mine, nonetheless.  Not to be mistaken for yours, your child’s, or anyone else’s.  Hopefully it provided some perspective.  This is what a person with ADD or ADHD could be going through.

 

sidenote: I write a lot of these off the cuff.  This is raw, in the moment, and open to criticism.  I do not claim to know it all (I am inept when it comes to medical/psychological terminology and diagnoses) and I have difficulty putting my own experiences into words.  Feel free to question, contribute, etc. I welcome the conversation!

11/27/15 – I am one semester away from graduation.  I have had a fairly easy time of it, only taking classes which interest me, making sure I keep a calendar of assignments and tests.  I once started class a week late because I hadn’t paid close enough attention, however I worked with the teacher and he allowed me to catch up to the rest of the glass, and I ended up with one of the highest grades.  I have a class right now that I thought I would be interested in, but it turns out to be a very dry subject, thanks in large part to the way the professor teaches it.  So I am struggling with that class.  Call my stubborn, but it is my determination to overcome my obstacles that has kept me from going back to the doctor to ask about temporarily going back onto meds until I’m done with school.

 

Read the original here.