This blog is not FDA approved
1. Here is a list of thoughts from my perspective as an adult person functioning with the diagnosis of ADD, and using Concerta to help me get through grad school, and also life.
2. Experience typing that sentence: recalled hours yesterday wearing a sweater knit from broken words because it is too damn cold on this holiday island. I meant to write a post for you thematically presenting research on the social stigma of mental illness. It became too confessional at every turn.
3. Doubting the value of research these days anyway. A thing with the ADD gig is its inmost excellence at sight; with practice you may glimpse the outline of organs, the blocks in your cells, the slow migrating stigmatism across the convex of your eye.
4. Relax, beautiful soul.
5. With practice you can know your own answer.
6. Being too confessional is also part of the gig. Eating speedy drugs helps me care less and adds a layer of skin, or fur. More instinct, less mental groveling. Whiny mind tattles while standing under the too tall handhewn countertop while waiting for the cream to rise to the top of the gallon jar, not knowing where is my mom.
7. Childhood rises too, often. Recognize the serious mind that began me. Frowned at birth; now it is my thing. Learning to stop apologizing.
8. Fear becomes muscle, claw, bone, spine, fine-tuned, energy, joy.
9. Psychiatrist, while discussing the constancy of anxiety, the short-twitch shadowjumping tendency, suggested that I feel very alert. I told him, I feel more like two. Together, they agree and disagree on everything, with ferret faces.
10. I can do advanced talk therapy, you know. Gestalt, est, encounter groups, the seventies were for all ages, child, in which screaming/crying/laughing ecstasy initiates adrenaline, producing orgy-porgy all-in-oneness, lovefeeling, intimacy and emotional wisdom. I grew up emotionally wise.
11. I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was five, it blew my mind, a couple of years ago I finally understood that a bluebottle fly does not mean a blue glass bottle. It blew my mind.
12. I watched Star Wars in the movie theatre when I was five, my first movie, it blew my mind.
13. I watched the Pink Floyd Light Show at the Planetarium when I must have been about nine, it blew my mind. (That time my mama had to take me home though, too much night wind kept rushing by.)
14. I took acid at the Peace March (Walk) when I was sixteen, it blew my mind. On that afternoon I learned to Look At what I can see. Flared up my ADD.
15. I skipped school in kindergarten, grade one, grade three, grade four, grade five, grade six, grade seven, grade eight, grade nine, grade ten, grade eleven. I skipped grades two and twelve.
16. I have a bone to pick with my mind. And fear becomes animal, and spinetuned energy joy, and unceasing restless belligerent persistence for more. And more.
17. Be stubborn, beautiful soul.
18. What I learned in the crying room: take responsibility for your feelings. What I learned in the woods in the afternoon: connecting with the dappled green means ignoring the candy bar trash and pretending. What I learned walking streets between lunch and three: bored. Annoyed. What I learned about these skips later: in liminal zones you may meet parts of your monster.
19. I sang on the radio, in stairwells, on rooftops, CITR was in Pigeon Park, that means so much more to me now, I wore a green velvet dress and someone said I looked like a woman, and I was a virgin, and I wrote and wrote, and I joined a band and played stages, and in America I’d be underage in the café until the band went on, and we busked and thumbed to San Diego, or Hornby Island, or Vancouver, and I learned to perform and roadie and jam (poorly. I was never good at jamming.) and record and be known by people I didn’t know, and sew silly hats with bells, and live in a house with angels, and I became pregnant and still fit into my clothes and homewaterbirthed my badass baby with a badass midwife and her badass ladies, and grew claws, and suckled my young, and growled and left the den and rambled on and on, and wailed my way into a mountain of music school and learned a thing or two.
20. And then writing school, university, and English and other humanities, and little kisses from the mouth of God, and writing professionally and editing and studying, and I learned quite a few more things, including ADD, finally. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, official disorders, with titles, and numbers, and chapters, and misdiagnoses, GPAs, and all that jazz. I traded the hot seat for the hot room and grad school to go with marriage and mortgage and lawyers and life with a daughter relentlessly wising up to our ways, and the past ankling by every once in a while and trying to trip you tumbling down the rail-less stairs like a cat deeply plotting your destiny. Life cracking open.
21. Life cracking open.
With the deficit of attention on one thing comes a vast amount of information about other things: this is what it is to be sensitive to the enormous amount of input that makes up the experience of being alive.
Being thin-skinned, impatient, interruptive, impulsive, confessional, and just so sensitive is not weak; these are the symptoms of processing (or not quite processing) a whole lot of information, all the time. It is not dull, in any sense.
When I learned to perceive being anxious as being alert (or two), I relaxed and began to enjoy my mind. That same psychiatrist asked me to see the dis/order as a gift, or a talent. This shift in perspective was, for me, suddenly and intensely empowering.
Anxiety (the kind that is debilitating) and depression for me are symptomatic of ADD. Using Concerta has relieved those symptoms and reintroduced energy and motivation. It does not alter me or fix everything; I cope in other ways. It works best when I intentionally harness it by means of other coping strategies: doing tasks (especially everyday routines) start-to-finish. Earplugs. Organizing my work space each time I reach a new phase in a project, or begin a new project.
It also works best when I’m eating right for me (avoiding wheat especially) getting enough free time, exercising, and pursuing hilarity, forgiveness, and compassion.
Free writing takes the edge off. It works for me because the way I learn involves words and word pictures, and they restlessly tug at my sleeves until I let them out.
It strikes me that, as an adult with the agency to choose medication, I have access to quite a different narrative around ADD medication than the one parents face. The doctors and pharmacists with whom I’ve discussed dosing and effectiveness are all quite relaxed; the overall message I’ve received is to experiment and not to worry too much. As a mother, I know the frustration of assuming and defending every decision around raising a child: birth, breastfeeding, vaccinations, childcare, relationship, rules, education, lifestyle, media, and, and, and. What I have found most useful is to change the language around what is at stake; rather than evaluating it, remove the words for good and bad, and get curious, detailed, nuanced about what is before you, and what kind of relationship you want there, and what kind of life might be available.