Thursday, February 9, 2012

Holy Bananas

So, I still haven't been back much. And here's the reason - my meds have really kicked in and I have a crapload to catch up on.

See, when I have a thing to put away, or a small project to finish, it usually hinges on 5 or 6 other things getting done first. I'm pretty good at getting projects 1 and 2 done, or maybe just number 4, but 1-6? NEVER. So small item that needs to be put away or fixed? Not happening.

And so goes my life for the last 5 years - since buying this house and having a second kid.

And then I got Adderall. And I'm getting things done. Projects 1-6? Yes. Small item that needs to be completed? Check. So yeah, I'm catching up on the last 5 years of projects in my house. With my children. ON my children.

Maybe I'll check back in next week and tell you how awesome Adderall is.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The bubble; or, It's not you, it's most definitely me

I haven't posted for some time, and the reason is my ADD. See, we all have this bubble of things in our lives that we can control - our families, our work, ourselves, our houses, etc.

My bubble is smaller than other people's. I assume it's because of the ADD, or the depression, or some other undiagnosed mental illness, but I seem to be able to handle less in my life than other people. When something comes up, something else goes flying out of the bubble.

So when the holidays come up, other things have to disappear. Thanksgiving was very busy - dinner on Thursday and Saturday (not here), I have a project going crazy at work, and my aunt and uncle were out of town and I was responsible for my grandma. Added on top of our regular schedule, it was more than I could do and some things had to give - Words With Friends, riding the bus, dishes, this blog.

You cannot believe what had to give when we had kids. If you haven't seen me in a while, believe me when I say it's not you, it's me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The medication debate

It was incredibly difficult for us to come to terms with the idea of medicating Car. In fact, we spent weeks in denial that she could really have ADHD and debating whether we should medicate her.

There is so much misinformation out there about ADHD and I'm embarrassed that I was a perpetrator of that. You know the stereotypes - ADHD is overdiagnosed, parents are medicating their kids because they want to control them, it's just kids being kids. You've probably heard some of the uninformed fears, too - we're hooking kids on stimulants, ADHD drugs are a gateway for other drugs, kids are getting diagnosed just so they can sell their drugs to other kids.

When conferences were held in October last year and we met with Car's kindergarten teacher, I already knew there were issues - she was bringing home work with comments like, "Had to complete during recess," "Didn't complete work, complete at home and return," and "Car had 20 minutes to complete this, have her complete it and return it to school." We were not surprised that her teacher expressed concerns, but we were taken aback with the seriousness with which she approached us.

If nothing else, her urgency prompted us to action. We knew there was a family history on both sides so we brought her to a doctor for an evaluation, but I don't think either of us really believed she had it. It took a few weeks to get all of the paperwork done and the evaluation complete and the doctor stated, bluntly and in no uncertain terms, that she had ADHD and we needed to medicate her.

It was hard to hear. We wanted to try other things. We were barely on board with an ADHD diagnosis - medicating our 5 year old was hard to swallow. I was sick all the way to the pharmacy. ADDDad was actually angry that I filled the prescription and not pushed harder for alternative treatments. We waited a week before trying the medicine.

I now have a year's experience with Car on medicine. It's not a cure-all for her - we still have up and down days. We've had to adjust the dosage a little as she's grown. I can tell you, though, that I KNOW it makes a difference for Car. Her teachers say they know if she's not on it without me telling them. At her doctor's recommendation, we have started giving it to her on weekends and we can see a huge difference. We now have a small dosage for evenings so she can focus during weekly cheerleading classes.

We have thankfully not experienced many side effects. Car has not had a problem with weight loss and she has generally tolerated the medication well, although occasionally we notice a burst of extreme hyperactivity in the evenings.

Long term, I don't know what the answer is. I would love for Car to be able to live without medication and I am afraid that by medicating her, we are not teaching her the skills she will need to do that. But I stop myself from those kinds of thoughts - as smart as Car is, she already needs help with reading and math so she doesn't fall behind her classmates. School moves so much faster these days and she had to be on medication right now to keep up.

The other practical reality that stops me? I've read the books and studied the websites on ADHD and all of them have great tips for getting through life with the disorder. The vast majority of those tips involve making lists, using a planner, and multiple other aids to memory and organization that require reading and writing. We're not there yet.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Buying School Supplies

One of my pet peeves about having ADHD is that I have difficulty getting ahead because we spend a lot of extra money to compensate for disorganization. I have paid tons for organization supplies, bought clothes on the fly because I was unprepared, and purchased a duplicate item because I couldn't find it the one I had.

But I'm smart. If I put my mind to it, I can come up with ways to save money. This is what I came up with this summer to get the best deals on school supplies because I noticed that Target would drop the price on one or two items for the week - crayons for $.20, for example - and you could save a buck or two on just those products for that week and it would be something else the next week. Last year I just bought all the stuff we needed in one trip, but this year I got smarter and devised the system below.

Buy school supplies cheaper, smarter:

  • Get a list of school supplies at the beginning of the summer. Many schools have theirs online and you can pull them up any time. 
  • Make lists: 1 list of everything needed for all the kids and a list of what each kid needs. Carry the main list with you. 
  • Set up a bag for each child - either their school backpack or a paper bag. Attach their individual list to their bag. Put them out of the way or somewhere the kids can't get into them (learned that one the hard way - kids love school supplies and will play with them as they get excited for school). 
  • Check the ads each week starting about early July. You can probably pick one store and just check that store online each week for their deals. Buy only the supplies you need that are on sale that week, but purchase extra of those items for your home stock - you need a stock of school supplies at home, too. 
  • When you get home, review the individual lists. Label the items if needed and place them in the bags. Check off the purchased items on the list. Put your home stock items where they belong. 
  • By the end of summer, you should have most or all of your supplies and saved some money. Anything you haven't seen on sale in 2 months probably won't go on sale - pick it up before school starts. 
Now, I go to Target more than once a week anyway and the girls really enjoyed going to pick out their supplies. Weekly excursions spread out the fun for them and I absolutely love office supplies, so this was easy for me. If you don't enjoy shopping and you have ADHD, this may be absolute torture and you might find it worth the money to just get it over with.

Consider the following adjustments to the plan:
  • If you hate shopping, have someone else do the shopping each week - and aunt or uncle, grandparent, or a friend of the family. 
  • Keep all of the items in the bags from the store in one place and sort them out once at the end of the summer before school starts. 
  • Shop for the sale items whenever you can, even if it's not weekly, and get the rest at the end of summer. Saving a few dollars is better than nothing, right?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adult Diagnosis, Part 2; or, The Medical Community Attempts to Weed Out the Drug Seekers by Screwing Over Everyone

So, this was initially one post, but this part got a little rant-y and I determined there's really a different message here. The "aha" moment where you realize you might have ADHD and that it might explain some of your struggles is poignant in its own way, kind of uplifting.

The rest is a fuster-cluck that will make you wish harder than you ever have that you could just be normal already. I actually cried at work.

I discussed the possibility of ADHD with my doctor a couple of weeks after reading the article at my annual physical and she gave me a referral to another doctor in the clinic that handled ADHD evaluations for adults. I was warned not to miss the appointment, that he would not reschedule if the evaluation was missed without a cancellation. I'm sure he's been stood up by Inattentive ADHD types before...

There was a SNAFU in scheduling my evaluation, of course. I thought I was so lucky to get an appointment just a week later, at 7 am Friday morning. Fantastic - I could be back to work before 9 and not have to take any time off! The day before, the nurse called and left me a message asking what I was being referred for (I was apparently referred for something else that had come up in my physical that I said I would take care of on my own, thank you very much). I left a message back that it was for an ADHD evaluation and drove in the next morning. The nurse explained when I got there that I could not be seen - evaluations are 80 minutes long and they only do them on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:20 pm. They could not squeeze me in.

She asked if I could wait until October - apparently there are a LOT of us getting evaluated and they were booked out until then. And then maybe she smelled the desperation because she began to offer me Friday afternoon at 3:20 the first week in September. No go, I had a pediatric opthomology appointment for our daughter Car (kid can't catch a break, I swear) that I was already waiting 5 weeks for. The following Friday? Nope - Scrapfest at MOA, for which my mom was flying in so we could spend the day together and we had already signed up and paid for classes. September 23? YES!

I went to the appointment shaking like a leaf. I was terrified the doctor would say I had ADHD. I was terrified he would say I didn't. He was really kind and walked through the whole test with me, discussing the questions and my answers rather than sitting me down with a piece of paper like it was the SAT. I tested VERY highly on the Inattention scale. I barely registered on the Hyperactivity scale.

A week or so later I spent several extremely painful days trying to schedule an appointment with someone who would prescribe meds for ADHD. Which is odd, because I have had NO problem finding a pediatrician (several, actually) to prescribe these same meds for my 6-year-old. I tried to get into a clinic specializing in family therapy for ADHD and other disorders, but they wanted me to retake the evaluation - 4 hours, over 3 appointments - and then wait another 3 months to see their in-house psychiatrist for a prescription. I finally have an appointment with a far inferior option - at the end of November, a full 7 weeks after I called to schedule. But I don't have to complete a new evaluation.

If you're considering an evaluation as an adult for ADHD, my advice is to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. As an adult, it's harder to find someone to evaluate you and it's excruciating to get an appointment with someone who is willing to prescribe a stimulant for you. Your primary doctor may be willing to maintain your prescription, but you will most likely have to get started with a psychiatrist and see them until you are stabilized on a prescription. It may take weeks or months to get an appointment with a psychiatrist after your evaluation.

But if the article I linked resonates with you, GO AND GET EVALUATED. You are not lazy, you are not a slob, you are not a terrible parent/spouse/housekeeper/friend/human. Your ADHD might look different from a man's, but it's just as difficult to deal with without some help and direction.

Adult Diagnosis, Part 1 - This is Really a Thing?

How did I know I had ADHD? I didn't.

Our daughter was diagnosed about a year ago with ADHD and, like the analytic dork I am, I started reading about the disorder and how to help her. My research informed me that there is a strong genetic component - diagnosed children usually have a parent or other family member with ADHD.

I looked immediately at my husband.

And we went on happily believing he was the carrier for nearly a year. I had thoughts on bad days that maybe I had it, but nothing more than a passing lament. Until my July copy of ADDitude magazine came in the mail.

July featured an article on ADHD in Women and Girls and it changed everything. ADHD in Women

Some of the things that resonated:
  • Inconsistent performance at work/school, including lots of small errors that "smart people" don't make, it appears as if they are sabotaging their own success
  • Women with ADHD tend to report years of low self-confidence and psychological damage from turning the frustration inside. There is a high rate of depression and anxiety. 
  • Girls with ADHD tend to falter more when they lose the structure of school, rules, and routines and venture into early adulthood.
  • When women with ADHD marry and have kids, they hit a "terrible wall of shame" because they are unable to perform the feats of memory and organization required today for child rearing.
Shortly before my brother died, we had discussed the possibility of him having ADHD and it seemed all but certain. But I didn't act like him, I wasn't hyperactive like him, I didn't have the impulse control issues or other traits that seemed to define his disordered actions. I never thought ADHD could look different.

It can. It does. To be continued...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


The technical diagnosis is ADHD - Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. But I usually refer to it as ADD.

The name of the site uses ADD because it's just easier to make a snappier site name with ADD. Try finding a kitschy name with ADHD - I dare you.

The other reason is my personal bitterness toward my disease - I could use a little more H in my life. If I have to have this issue, can't I get a little hyperactivity so I could get some things done once in a while? I CAN'T EVEN DO ADHD RIGHT!!

So yeah, I might often refer to the disorder as ADD, although technically it's called ADHD. When I start seeing the H, maybe I'll make the effort to add it into the name.