Monthly Archives: June 2016

Get Up and Go

I noticed something a few years ago (before I was diagnosed with ADHD). When I got to work, I would be full of energy and determination to Get Things Done as I walked from my car to the building and on to my desk. As soon as I sat down at my computer and began checking emails, I lost all of my energy and drive, slumping into lethargy, apathetic to whatever projects I was working on. It was then that I first asked for a standing desk, figuring I could keep my energy going if I just kept standing. It took a while before I finally got to work consistently at a standing desk and it’s just what I suspected: it’s easier for me to keep my enthusiasm going when I don’t tumble into a chair as soon as I get to work.

This is great for my job, but what about the rest of the time?

My combo alarm (part phone alarm, part cat bugging me for his breakfast) went off yesterday morning and because I’d gotten a good night’s sleep (which isn’t typical for a Sunday night), I woke up easily and had pep in my step as I walked to the kitchen to get Oberon his food. Then I sat down at my laptop and felt all of my pep dissipate, like soda pop losing its fizz. I was so unenthused to do much of anything that after checking my email and social media sites, I moved to the sofa, Oberon curled up in my lap, and I suddenly realized I didn’t give a fuck about doing anything. Instant torpor and boredom. It took everything I had to get up and get myself out the door to go to work.

I have no interest in being driven to succeed. I have no interest in rushing through life, worried about productivity. (A family member once said to me, “They say there are Type A people and Type B people. You must be Extreme Type B.”) But I’m also tired of moving slow and losing what energy I have, what enthusiasm I have to do things I really, really want to do.

I know I need to exercise, or “actively meditate” if one prefers (and I kind of do). It seems clear that this “active meditation” should start right after I get out of bed. Feeding my cat is a pretty mild, easy form of active meditation (so decrees Oberon, King o’ the Cats!). I’m looking into yoga and tai chi as other forms of active meditation. I would look into walking outside if it weren’t so disgustingly hot and humid and sunny here. Getting a standing desk for home? Also something of a priority.

I can’t be active all the time. Everybody needs time to rest. But it’s becoming clearer and clearer that my brain works better when I’m not sitting still and I need to jump on that. Figuratively AND literally.


Dream Into Action

I’ve been feeling like I’m in a rut lately. The good thing is, I’m getting set to make some pretty big changes in my life. But at the same time, I’m worried that I’ll just jump into a different rut. I wish wish wish I was confident in who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. But I’m not. I’m marbled with insecurities and doubts. And so…

My “not really a plan, but plan-adjacent” move to Milwaukee has now graduated to actual plan status. Which means I’m now actively looking for a new job in a different, distant place. This helps explain my current anxiety, because looking for a job gives me even more anxiety than having a job. And yes, having a job makes me anxious, because I’m pretty much always convinced I’m one bad day away from being fired, or at least getting in trouble for sucking at my job.

If I were to make a Venn diagram of my applying for and keeping jobs, the Things I’m Good At And Enjoy Doing circle and the Jobs I Can Get circle wouldn’t even touch. I’m not saying they can’t objectively overlap, in fact I live in hope that they will and they do, I just don’t have much confidence in ever having a job where I’m doing things I love and am great at, where I don’t get bored to the point of distraction. With ADHD, it’s easy to get bored and easy to get distracted, ignoring things I should be doing in favor of things I want to be doing. And then I start to worry that I’m going to get in trouble, like when I was in school and I would blow off my schoolwork to write and draw comics.

I know, I know, any job, every job, can get boring at times. That’s why it’s called “work” and not “nap time, followed by juice and cookies and a story about a purple elephant named Eric.” But when I’m doing things I really love to do, I either don’t get bored (that’s called “hyperfocus,” and it can make people think those of us with ADHD don’t really have a problem with attention) (we do, just not when we’re doing something that’s consistently pinging our “interest” button) or if I do, I can easily switch to doing something else I love. I haven’t had a paying job yet that allows for that. Or…maybe I have had jobs where I could, maybe my current job is one where I could, but advocating for myself–after a lifetime of feeling a like an underachieving slacker, of being told over and over again that I need to apply myself more, work harder, pay attention–well, advocating for myself does not come easy.

(I should note that I have been told a number of times that I’m doing well at my current job, and I’ve been told to speak up and ask for changes if I think I need them. Which is amazing, because I’ve never had that happen in a job before. And still, the anxiety of getting in trouble persists. I’m streaked with insecurities and doubts. And so…)

It’s scary to ask for what I want. What if what I want isn’t a real job? Or it’s a job I don’t have the professional and/or educational qualifications for? Or it doesn’t pay enough for me to live on? How do I even find jobs like that? Are there listings for Jobs For Disorganized Dreamers? All of these worries make even figuring out what I want, what I really, really want, difficult and a potential trigger for depression. And all of these worries make the idea of declaring what I want, asking for what I want, difficult and anxiety-triggering. Which, you know, good times.

But I’m working on it. I’m brainstorming and free-associating ideas. I’m posing myself the questions, “What if there are no limits to the kind of jobs I could have? What if none of my answers are wrong answers?” I’m doing my best to shut out the voices that say I have to look for and apply for certain types of jobs in a certain way (even if I don’t know many ways to look for jobs because I’ve only ever done it the way people told me to) and I’m doing my best to shut up my inner critic that tells me I can’t do this (which ain’t easy, because that demon bastard has been with me for a long, long time and knows the best ways to get to me). I’m being very selective about who I ask for help on this because, frankly, I’ve had too many experiences of people trying to help me and doing it in all the wrong ways. I’m scared and I’m excited. I may be riddled with insecurities and doubts, but I’m also bursting with energy and potential.

And so…


Stormy Weather

Unlike your average dog, I love thunderstorms. The dark sky and the dark, dark clouds, the oceanic rain, the flashes and crashes and booms, even the flickering lights inside when the power is disrupted by the storm, it’s all disorder and surprise, the magic of unrestrained chaos. My cat, Oberon, gets wired during storms, racing around the house, darting from window to window to look outside, wide-eyed. That’s how storms make me feel, too.

When storms sweep in inside my head, it’s a different story. The lighting and thunder and torrential rains of anxiety turn me into a dog. I want to curl up and hide, whimper in fear at the unpredictability, the too-bright flashes of light, the cannonade of thunder, the rainy wash of emotions. They’re not fun, they’re not exciting, they’re just terror and sadness, an imminent threat to my well-being. I Can't Keep Calm, I Am a Neff

The weather outside has been hot and dry, but last night, a storm of anxiety flew in on butterfly’s wings. The storm hasn’t gone away yet. I’m managing to appear fairly well (or at least, I think I am), but inside, I’m shaking and on the verge of tears. I felt overloaded with energy yesterday afternoon, so the storm may have built off of that. I’m trying to remind myself that Energy is my gift and that this doesn’t need to be a weakness but a superpower. To that end, I’ve decided to try dealing with this anxiety differently than I usually do, which is to curl up on the sofa with my cat and watch TV and read and cry, waiting for the storm to pass. (more…)


Quicksand

My goal is to write every day and share what I’ve done, my work (my play?) publicly, either on this blog or my other one, so that I’m posting something every weekday. But some days, I just don’t have anything in me, nothing to share beyond, “These are the books I’m reading and these are the TV shows I’m watching right now.” You need input to get output. You can’t steal from an empty house.

I finally got to where I had something posting all week. I felt really good about it, proud of myself. Accomplishing something like that makes me want to do more.

And then Orlando happened. 100 people shot in a club that was a sanctuary for them in a society that still sees them as abnormal, even perverse and despised. 100 people shot, half that number dead, just for being who they are. Which is who I am, too, as well as many, many of my beloved family and friends. I took it hard. I’ve been overwhelmed with sadness and anger for a week now.

When I was a little kid, TV and movies had me convinced that quicksand was something I’d have to deal with a lot. (more…)


Pride

feel the beat of my heart
feel the pulse in my veins
i have nothing in me but love

i have nothing in me but love
while you venerate
fire & guns
muscle & hate

i can’t give you my blood
but you can spill mine
i have nothing to give but love
my love is my strength
stronger than steel
stronger than greed
stronger than muscle & hate

i have nothing to give but love
spilling from the beat of my heart
spilling from the pulse of my veins