ADHD Archive

The Spectrum

Posted July 29, 2019 By kmarrs

Nothing is official. I refuse to be officially tested because I don’t want this on my permanent record. Unless and until a time comes that I need it there.

I had my suspicion that I’m autistic validated. Sort of. My therapist and I had a long conversation about it. We compared my symptoms with other issues like ADHD (which I have and they share symptoms, but they are also comorbid frequently), my history of trauma, and my attachment issues.

The general consensus is that if I went and got tested for autism, I would probably walk away with that diagnosis. However, it could also be because of the ADHD combined with the attachment issues, combined with my general mental health. So it’s hard to tell.

That said, I relate to heavily to the autistic community. When they talk about what it’s like to be autistic, I share the symptoms and experiences. To quote the meme: Big Mood.

I would be diagnosed autistic if I went for testing, though they wouldn’t be looking at my history of trauma.

So for now, I’m calling myself autistic. For simplicity’s sake. Because the symptoms are there. Because I fit the mold.

So yes, I’m autistic. It’s not just ADHD.

(The ADHD is, btw, confirmed and on the record.)

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Adderall

Posted June 10, 2019 By kmarrs

Using a Fitbit (knockoff) to track my pulse long term worked beautifully and when I saw my psychiatrist on Friday, she approved me starting Adderall.

We’re starting me on 5mg which is a super low dose and I probably won’t be helped by that amount. However, if all goes well, on the 17th I’ll get to double it.

In the meantime, I’m to continue using my Fitbit to track my pulse. I’m also to keep an eye on my anxiety. Both can be made worse by even this small of a dose, so we need to be sure that I’m ok. I’m calling her on the 17th and reporting my findings.

I am super excited to finally start the process of treating my ADHD. I know I’m ready to graduate in a little less than 3 months, and only really have 9 more weeks of classes, but this medication will also allow me to focus at work, where I’m also suffering.

Oh! And because I take my anxiety meds at night, and I take my stimulant in the morning, I’m able to take both! The streams will not cross!

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Untreated ADHD

Posted April 8, 2019 By kmarrs

I have spoken to my psychiatrist about treating my ADHD and it just isn’t going to happen yet.

The main concern is that my rest heart rate, for a year or more now, has been in the 120-130’s. This is, of course not good. Add in a stimulant, which is how to treat ADHD, and there is an increased, serious risk of me having a heat attack. We both agreed that it is to be avoided. Especially since I’m graduating Summa Cum Laude without treatment.

One of the other concerns is that I will have to stop my anxiety meds. But it’s been argued, by my therapist, that a lot of my anxiety is tied to my ADHD. Which is valid. Executive dysfunction, the inability to initiate tasks, makes any task super stressful for me. And I get super bad anxiety just thinking about what all is on my to-do list, knowing I’m going to have to beat executive dysfunction with all of it.

So why now? Why not seek treatment before?

Because I’m getting to the point where my ability to function is affecting my ability to be successful in my job. Plus it’s really hard to study for a test, successfully, with ADHD. Between the inability to focus and the ability to have any functioning memory what-so-ever…

See, Franklin University, my current school, doesn’t really have tests outside of math and science. We have big final projects and an abundance of papers instead. So I don’t really need to memorize facts. And I am really good at finding sources and writing papers. It has gotten me far at Franklin. It has gotten me Summa Cum Laude. But that won’t fly in grad school. I’m assuming I’ll have finals to take. Which scares the shit outta me, if I’m on my own.

And for now, I’m on my own because my pulse is 120.

Actually, it’s currently 114. I know this because I’m now wearing one of those watches that tracks your vitals. I’m hoping… see, I get really stressed out these days when someone takes my vitals because I know they aren’t great. At least my pulse isn’t. So it makes me anxious which increases my heart rate. I’m hoping if I can have long term tracking through the day, every day, without me thinking about it, that my pulse will be better and I can show it to my psychiatrist. The goal is a consistent average of under 100. Or rather, a consistent high, of under 100. Somewhere between the two.

So for now I track and then hopefully I’ll stabilize and we can get me on ADHD meds.

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Do What You Can

Posted March 4, 2019 By kmarrs

This started as a Twitter thread, so you might have seen it there, but I want to expand upon it, and I want to do that here, in long form.

Sambam is at that age where it’s fun to do chores that aren’t her own.
Ask her to clean her room? It’s the end of the world. Try to do dishes (my chore) without her help? Also the end of the world. I let her help until (if) she gets bored then I let her move on. And when it comes to her room (her chore), once a day I set an egg timer for 10 minutes and tell her to do what she can but once the timer rings, she can be done.

In reality, all her room ever really needs is that 10 minutes a day, and usually, it’s done in 5. But instead of overwhelming her by the limitless “clean your room”, I redirect it into a clear time frame with a set beginning and end. And reframe the word “spotless” into “do what you can”. This allows an overwhelming task to feel manageable. Possible. And I get a much better end result. In 10 (5) minutes, instead of the 10 days, it used to take.


Now she is happy to do her chores. Is excited (bossy) to help me with mine. And our relationship has a lot less stress in it. She is my heart and is growing into a functional and happy and beautiful young lady!


(Also, her hands are seeing work for the first time and she earned a tiny blister she’s very proud of. She worked herself on the dishes far harder than I would have worked her. But she was having fun.)


Do what you can.

That is just such an important concept!

So many of us are sick in one way or another. Mental health, chronic physical health. So many of us are spoonies. And when you are a spoonie, being given an open ended task like, “clean your room” or “vacuum the carpets” can seem so overwhelming.

I’ve seen this concept stated in many ways by many people, but I’m going to work it my way and see what happens.

Your bathroom is a mess? Start with the clutter around the sink. Put everything on the counter in its place. Now wipe it down. Out of spoons or otherwise need to move on? You did what you can. You’re free to go. But be proud of what you did! Tomorrow you can tackle the toilet.

Not out of spoons and the counter looks great but you want to do a little more? Go for it! Nothing is stopping you. Do what you can for 10 minutes. 15 minutes. Stop when you need to stop. Continue on when you have the spoons and will.

Vacuum one room a day. Look. I get it. Pushing the vacuum around takes a lot of spoons. So just get your living room. Or your office. Or the one room that needs it the most. Do what you can.

Writing a paper for class and it needs to be 6 pages and that feels overwhelming? Well, unless it’s due in like an hour, write the introduction and walk away from it for awhile. Go do the dishes. Get a snack. Just walk away. But while you do so, work the paper around in your head. After 15 minutes, come back to the computer and get down what your brain tossed around. Polish it. Add a little more. Just until it starts to get a little overwhelming again, or right before, then walk away again for awhile. No one said you have to write the entire paper in one day, unless you procrastinated. Take your time with it. Take little bites as you can. Bit by bit those 6, 10, 20 pages will form.

Do what you can.

Don’t ever berate yourself for not having what it takes to <insert task here> in one go. But don’t just do nothing either. Idleness won’t help. It’ll only make you overwhelmed with the task in general.

Back to Sammy.

We used to just tell her to clean her room spotless and, especially to a young child, that was the single most horrible thing we could have done (aside from actual child abuse, I acknowledge). To her little mind, it was the end of the world because it was so overwhelming. So one day I set an egg timer for 10 minutes and told her to do what she could. As long as she actually worked for the full 10 minutes, just putting away what caught her eye, or whatever was closest, or no method to the madness, just honest cleaning… whatever the end result was, she just needed to work for 10 minutes. I figured 10 minutes a day for a week, and we might have a spotless room.

But she bloomed. Suddenly she didn’t have to clean indefinitely. She had a clear and solid end insight. So instead of letting it build up in her mind into this huge overwhelming task, and accomplishing nothing at all (or worse… continuing to play and letting it get messier)…

The entire room took her about 5 minutes and she bragged about it. It wasn’t an ordeal. It wasn’t overwhelming. It was 10 (5) minutes worth of honest effort, end results be damned, and the end results were amazing. Better than what usually resulted in 10 days worth of tears and frustration, and mostly procrastinating.

I have executive dysfunction. It’s paired with my ADHD and depression. Tasks can seem so overwhelming and impossible to start. My head paints this big picture that <insert task here> is going to take a million hours of exhausting, mission impossible work. As a result, I’m afraid to even start. It’s just built up and overwhelming and I can’t seem to make myself start.

When I do eventually start the task, more often than not, it takes a hell of a lot less time than I feared, and not nearly as much effort as I assumed. It seemed endless and impossible, but in reality it was manageable and not that big of a deal. Certainly not what I built it up to be.

Getting started is the hard part. With me. With Sammy. And possibly (probably) with you.

So buy a little egg timer. Set it for 10 minutes. Now, not forever from now. (Or if you’re like me, give yourself a little more leeway and start at exactly x:00 or x:15 or x:30 or x:45… it just feels more solid and definite.) Set that timer and just start. See what happens.

And do what you can.

Oh! And one last thing! Don’t set yourself up for expecting perfection in the results. No one ever needs that. Your honest best is your honest best and don’t let anyone, including yourself, expect anything more from you.

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ADHD

Posted January 24, 2019 By kmarrs

So many years ago I suggested to my meds doctor that I might have ADHD. She was willing at the time to medicate me for it, but insurance put up a fight and I just wasn’t up to fighting.

Now I have come to the terms that I almost definitely, though it’s self diagnosed, have ADHD. There is no denying it. And I’m to the point in my education and career, that if I’m going to succeed, than I need medication.

So I called my meds doctor the other week and asked her if I could come in sooner than planned and discuss me starting meds. I’m willing to go through the diagnostic criteria, and I have a better handle on the symptoms now, that I can really make a case for myself. So I should hopefully be medicated starting in maybe mid-February.

I’ll check back in around then to fill you all in on how that goes. I’m also due for a meds update post, but I might as well wait until I know what’s going to happen with ADHD treatment.

Also, while we’re on the topic, I’m pretty sure I’m autistic. They are comorbid a hell of a lot of times. However, I will never seek diagnosis there.

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A Brilliant Mind

Posted March 29, 2013 By kmarrs

We all brag on our kids.  So know that I know we all consider our kids to be the next Einstein, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Da Vinci, or in my case, Sheldon Cooper.  I do wholeheartedly get that.  Please understand that, as I quote the following comment left on Thawed, and then get into my response.

I’m sure you already know this, but on the off chance, here you go. If kiddo’s ADHD, showing signs of OCD, and isn’t able to manage in another educational setting (“it’s not them, it’s him”), these are red flags in the special education world. It’s worth asking the school district for a full psycho-educational run down on him. It should include academic, psychological, mental health, and anything else that you’re at all concerned about (speech pragmatics, ability to negotiate a playground, whatever). Your family may choose to homeschool, or to enroll him in a private kinder, and only you know what will work best for him and you, but it’s the district’s obligation to put him in a kindergarten with the necessary supports he requires to succeed (which damn well includes a school bus). Cognitive behavioral therapy and a tightly structured day can do wonders for kids with ADHD, and if that’s what it takes for him to manage school (and the school to manage him) then they get to provide it.

I think this warrants addressing beyond the comments section.

I don’t think the ADHD (or OCD, or any other possible diagnosis, for that matter) is why he doesn’t thrive in preschool, I honestly think he isn’t challenged enough. He went in there knowing basic multiplication so therefor couldn’t take them seriously when they tried to teach him how to count along with the other kids. At the same time he gets stuck counting past 12. It’s a patience thing. As in, he has no patience for the inferior brain trying to teach him.  He has to decide he cares and then teach himself.  Hence him questioning what the hell his brother is taught “at that school” when Thomas made a simple math mistake.  Kid was tired, Luke had no hesitation calling him on it though.

That dynamic of brothers competing aside, there is something in there that can’t be missed.  I haven’t taught Luke math.  Sure, I taught him how to count, and what the numbers looked like.  We even struggled on that.  Oh lord.  But even before he could count successfully past 8, he could tell you that 2 times 4 was 8.  Not because I taught him, but because he was watching me build something that had 4 screws on the one side and just assumed that meant there were 8 screws total.  Sure, he could have added it up, but he could only see one side.  That takes a certain amount of cognative thinking.  He was 4.

I pride myself on my math skills, but I couldn’t have done that, self-taught, at 4.  How many really could have?

He has a psychiatrist who is keeping tabs on him, though yes the school board could apply it to education. But honestly, I don’t want to IEP him if I can avoid it. And when he is medicated, I can avoid it. I was going to stick him in a regular class, the reason it didn’t happen that way is because I missed deadlines I didn’t realize where come and gone, and because of his age, but not the mental curiosities. The strive for pre-K was because he’s only had 1 year of pre-school and just doesn’t seem to be quite ready for kindergarten to me.  (The school bus issue was isolated to pre-K since it’s a separate program that happens to be housed in a school.)

And the relief that came when homeschooling suddenly became a serious option, goes beyond psych evaluations and IEPs.  It goes into knowing kids aren’t meant to fit molds.  Not every child is meant to be a brain surgeon.  And the most brilliant minds out there are going to look at a standardized test and a scantron and ask: what the heck are they teaching in these schools?  I mean seriously, WTF!

I have always known my Lucas was not meant to fit a mold.  And now I’m following my heart and acting upon it.

His mental health is a concern, always. But honestly, so is what the federal government is doing to the education system. I want my little engineer to be able to get excited about robots and spend his school day building his own and then programming it to carry off a hit on his older brother, and not having to worry about the latest standardized test out there.  I think Thomas is about to take his 3rd.  For this year.

I have no doubts this kid is brilliant. But he’s brilliant in a way that won’t come across on a scantron.  It will, however,  come across when he’s making millions on government projects you don’t have the security clearance level to hear about.  Momma just prays it’s ethical.

In a sea of education options, what works for one child shouldn’t have to work for another.  If I honestly thought a public school classroom was the answer for him, I’d go fierce momma and there he’d be come fall, with or with the evaluation and IEP.  Many of you nod your head knowing this to be the case.  Some of you are just thankful you won’t have to help me hide the bodies that could potentially pile up during the process.

In the same way I know this to be the answer for Luke, I know pulling Thomas out of school is the worst education decision I could make for Thomas.  Oh my anger of teaching to tests and government interference makes me daydream about it, but he thrives in a classroom.  I know, in my head, better than to mess with that.

Sambam, meanwhile, might inspire a 3rd option.  I’m thinking an all-girls, private, boarding school.  But only when I realize she has my personality, Aphrodite’s beauty, and breathes fire, like the red dragon she is.  Once puberty hits… well she’ll be the one we hide bodies for.  We’re going to need a backyard.

The homeschool program we are placing him in starting this fall, is a virtual classroom.  They’ll provide a computer, and then he’ll have a full class with a teacher heading it, just online.  There will be field trips you can try and make it to. (All across Ohio, hence the “try”.)  There is an initiative to connect those living close to one another for play-dates.  There is a PE log sheet so that they know you are up and outside running around, skinning knees, and pelting daddy with snowballs.  I’ve seen the curriculum for K-12th grade.  Not a standardized test in site.  It’s taught to foster brilliant minds, not convince the federal government of anything.  It’s amazing how much interference we have from the government and yet how uneducated our nation really is.  I know Pat and I aren’t brilliant, but with the freedom this program gives, paired with the structure this program offers as well, I think this will meet all of Luke’s needs.  And I don’t have to worry about Pat trying to teach him algebra, because there is a licensed teacher on the other end of computer who has it covered.

Speaking of, I’ve introduced him to algebra, he thinks it’s silly, but seems to be on the cusp of understanding it.  Give me til the end of summer.  He’s got this.  He already understand that if 2+5=7, then 5+2=7, and 7-2=5.  That is step one to understanding 2+x=7, solve for x, after all.

So in short: while his mental health diagnostics will always be something to work with/around, I think in ways they will inspire greatness, and I think conventional school will only hold him back.  It’s also worth noting that his behavior in the pre-school classroom is spot on.  They find him to be a helpful, sweet, loving, joy to have around.  They just can’t seem to teach him.

As an interesting note, tucked here at the end, that’s why he isn’t going back after Spring Break.  He’ll finish out the week/month, but once we decided to homeschool, it started to seem ludicrous to spend so much time, energy, and money to try to force pre-school to happen.  He isn’t getting anything out of it.  So he can spend those hours each week working on his math workbook I bought him.  As well as the letters and phonics books.

 

Our next step is a lined dry-erase board so he can work on penmanship, and which direction the numbers 7 and 3 face.  It’s the only thing I have to teach him in this exact regard.  He doesn’t seem to need my help otherwise.  Unless you count reading the instructions.  Other than that, I handed over the book and off he flew.

And he does.  He will.  He flies.  He will fly higher.  And I’m actually relieved to be able to loosen a chain or two.

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