ADHD and me: three years.

Three years ago today I received the results of my assessment. While I waited awhile to have my ADHD diagnosis further confirmed, today—March 20th—is the day that I still see as my ADHDaversary (I mean, look, if I’m making this a cake-worthy celebration I’ll celebrate both days. Duh.)

Photo on 2016-03-20 at 11.02 AM #2

Like anything, I’m not defined by my ADHD, but it helps explain me—and, over the last 3 years, I’ve learned a lot about how ADHD influences who I am, and how its traits are woven into the person I am. My diagnosis helps me understand myself better—and that’s the most important thing of all. Everything I wrote back in August resonates so much here:

I just felt different for much of my life: [ADHD] explains the frustration, the self-doubt, the guilt that was associated with not being all people thought I should be, the huge shift I’ve felt in my world on meds, the issues I had in school, the issues I had/have at times interacting with people, the sensory overload, all the freaking feelings that sometimes justoverwhelm me. ADHD helps explain that. Those things are all a part of me, and so is ADHD.

it’s not a label, it’s a bridge: part two

I’m happy to have answers, to have words to explain my world, an amazing tribe of Smart Girls with ADHD who get it (Smart Girls founder, Beth, is the reason I actually went back and looked for my diagnosis date after her own anniversary a week ago!), friends who have reached out with their own stories, and others who may not totally get it, but they try. I am happy to be the person that I am, with the story that I have—ADHD and all.

In all of its chaos and ups and downs and the curve-balls it has thrown into my life, its still my story—THIS is what ADHD looks like: Me. 

Appropriately random for the day several of my quirks got explained, it’s National Ravioli Day today (and no, I don’t care which nation is celebrating ravioli.) Obviously, I’m going to celebrate my awesomeness with ravioli for supper.

Here’s to more attention deficit adventures ahead… Because ADHDers definitely have more fun—at least once we figure out where we’re going, find our keys, remember what time we’re supposed to leave, and learn to embrace everything about who we are.

12 of 12 – march 2016!

On the 12th of each month, I take 12 pictures throughout the day and eventually blog them. Here are my pictures for March 12, 2016.

http://i2.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1626/25670973361_3399257e1e.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=112:18 am | kitchen. Nikki got me into Bullet Journaling. Plans for the day: Smart Girls with ADHD webinar, rescheduling respite, and 12 of 12. But first, sleep.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1694/25135605804_58e02f131a.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

9:56 am | bathroom. I have lots of moisturizer. (I should use it more.)

http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1453/25645090162_f4e64403be.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

10:22 am | kitchen. I got my mom to make me cheesecake-nutella french-toast-sandwiches. Fancy. (Apparently the thing I was referring to that Steve and I got in Ottawa was not that difficult to make at home. What are the odds?)

http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1661/25645100802_0b61cc76a5.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1

10:58 am | Costco. Temptation to change thermostat = so high.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1612/25739999936_5a87e3037d.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

12:11 pm | Costco. I think the only items I threw in the cart were lattice (waffle) fries and smoked cheese ravioli.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1612/25135616534_645552581b.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

12:22 pm | 7-Eleven. 7 degree March days = slurpees and hoodies. I always want to try the fun Slurpee flavours like Gummie Bear, but if I do I’m sad I didn’t just get Coke. Even though I only really like Coke in Slurpee form.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1688/25766044005_b3406c0d88.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

1:38 pm | Kitchen. Discussing rulers and bullet journals with Nikki and Beth before the Smart Girls with ADHD Bullet Journal webinar!

http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1600/25739973706_4336739e3e.jpg?resize=500%2C281&ssl=12:31 pm | Kitchen. And Nikki is rolling on the first ever SGwADHD webinar. The TO-DONE list! And, choice quote, “Inspiration happens.” WORD, Emma.

http://i2.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1706/25465346860_1ab981cb45.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

3:03 pm | kitchen. Post webinar discussing tape with the SGwADHD admins. Except this is duct tape not washi tape.

http://i2.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1565/25645082992_e8c9ea4594.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

9:12 pm – Kitchen. Why does the Canada Revenue Agency always time out on me and simultaneously interrupt everything I am doing?

http://i2.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1653/25139450083_7dc0febd09.jpg?resize=500%2C340&ssl=1

9:13 pm – Kitchen. Taxes = done. It’s only March 12. Whaaaaat.
PS. I <3 SimpleTax

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1697/25645105162_7ca874bdd3.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

9:33 pm – Kitchen. Snack time. Is it normal for other families to find it perfectly acceptable to break off half/mix-and-match the giant Costco cookies? Either way, mine does. Plus cheese string and Fruitopia.

See you on April 12th! [Kidding, I’ll post before then. I hope.]

copeland and airplanes

What? Two posts in a week? [And I won’t make this a goals update ‘cause that is boringpants. Although I haven’t ridden the bike this week—confession.] Since it’s becoming evident I will probably never actually complete VEDA or #hawmc or NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo [the last two, I cannot actually stand the names. NaNoWriMo has grown on me a teensy bit but not enough to say I actually don’t hate it] (and, though I will probably try them all again at some point) {bracket},

Untitled

I have to start somewhere, right? Here’s some stuff I wrote on the plane back from Ottawa, fleshed out a bit.
So, let’s talk about Copeland and airplanes.

Imbalance. Unbalance.
Imbalanced. Unbalanced.

Stillness… [while] moving.
Waves. 

I tend to feel most settled in a place where I am unsettled. The preparation for the next adventure is not enough: right now, I’m four weeks back from Montreal and Ottawa, and less than a week back from Toronto.
And despite that, the desire to be in flight again is strong. As much as I want to feel home, I feel unbalanced. Unpredictability, the non-routine of being away, being on the road, feels like home to me. Maybe I can thank ADHD for that, maybe it’s just how I’m wired, maybe it’s the bit of Romani Gypsy in my genes (seriously)–chances are it’s all three.

and it feels like we can’t get out
and it feels like hell

i think i’m safer in an airplane
i think i’m safer [with my lungs full of smoke / if i run through the streets]
i think i’m safer on the jetway
than a world without [hope / peace]

oh, and arms will stretch out when they’ve had enough
oh, when they are tired of holding up us…

–safer in an airplane, copeland 

This imbalance, this unsettled-ness, is a different type of unrest. The only cure is to travel with hundreds of kikometers between your starting porint and your end point, wherever those may be, without touching ground. The flight map that shows you’ve travelled thousands of miles hundreds of feet in the air, all without leaving your seat. The number ticks up. It is in the air that I am settled, a place where many find unrest.

“wandering flushes a glory that fades with arrival.”

–j. a. baker

I put my earphones in and stare out the window. My In the Air playlist and the sky—exactly where I want to be. Sorry to my friends who are my plane neighbours, I am not an in-fight talker. To the strangers who are my plane neighbours, I will engage until those wheels start rolling. After that point, my attention belongs in my head and to the sky.

UntitledThe seatbelt sign is on,
And I am most alive here.
Turbulence,
Matching the imbalance
I feel the other thousands of hours a year when I’m not in the air.
Colours streaking the sky that I can never dream to recreate on paper or even with a camera.
I am alive, free,
myself.

I am these things in a place that so many attribute to chaos. While I’ve engaged in a few discussions about becoming grounded, I think maybe I am most grounded when I am airborne. Embracing chaos. The sky is place that so many worry about the things that can go wrong. That is out of my control, so I might as well remain unfazed.

Cell phone with transmitting modes off. Nothing but me and the moment I’m in and the music (maybe some words flowing from my fingertips, and the cabin service cart). And I need more of these moments, replicated outside of a plane seat. Intentionally.

“cause my mind just can’t stop moving
i think i know why.”

–i’m a sucker for a kind word, copeland

quantify this: march.

I started back on the quantified self track later in February. A few times a year (or more) I get data hungry, so I started using Optimized again as a starting point. It’s a great little app, and between that and my Life Priority List (hardest. task. ever.), I set a handful (more than a handful) of pretty straightforward goals. Pinpointing where I spent my time helped with both the goals and the priority list.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1456/25311823342_f1fd15e664.jpg?resize=500%2C281&ssl=1

Graph from Optimized on where I spend my time. Note that this is skewed because the app kept deleting my data. [Health 60.3%, creativity 2.3%, pleasure 10.8% (which includes things like Skype and reading), and routine 26.6%] From here, I get a brief overview that I’d like to spend more time on creativity.

http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1603/25134558020_d6ea471cb3.jpg?resize=500%2C281&ssl=1

Optimized then offers correlations and shows how accurate they may or may not be.

The more time you log, the more accurate they become. My overall mood correlates positively with the time i spend on health. I can later further break this down and see how, for example, including more cycling in my routine affects my mood. Sometimes, however, it might be more useful for me to log cycling as both “cycling” and “exercise” to get a bigger picture of how exercise in general maps out onto mood, for example, so I could do the same for skating, walking, or dance.
http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1519/24799584454_fda338cca6.jpg?resize=500%2C281&ssl=1

Both pictures also offer a disclaimer about correlation—that correlation ≠ causation. But, it’s a helpful starting point. In the above, the app has determined that time spent on routine activities correlate positively with time spent on health activities by 25.6%, but notes that this correlation is only based on 19 data points… so it’s likely not too accurate. Yet.

I did pretty okay getting rolling on the goals and the logging in the last week and a bit of February, and I’ll continue that process in March. I’ve got a badass spreadsheet even, very loosely based on the life goals spreadsheet tutorial from Ryan Dube.

sleep graph

Note that even though I have my goals defined, certain ones—like sleep—probably do better with context. For now, I’m just interested in the raw numbers and can map it out against other factors later. Cycling, however, based on my not-too-intensive 40 minute/week goal, isn’t too lofty of a goal to achieve (which means I should at least have 20 minutes this week considering it is Wednesday, no? :]) 

Here’s where I’m at in terms of goals for March. While I set goals within Optimized (which Ari, the happy little robot, will tell me about), the nice thing about this system via Excel is that I can map things out in terms of progress. With the chart above, you’ll see each bar shows how close I was to my goal of 7 hours 35 minutes (7.56 hours) of sleep, or the progress towards my weekly goal for cycling. Certain goals also are monthly, which means I have a weekly progress-towards-monthly-goal bar, and then a final bar. 

Because nerd things, duh.

These are the goals I’ve got all mapped out in spreadsheet form for March, broken into the categories from from Optimized over there. Health, Routine, Pleasure and Creativity. Below, I’ve vaguely split the lists into physical, spiritual/emotional (/creative), social, occupational, and intellectual wellness.

  • Sleep, about 7.5 hours a night
  • Exercise [total: 21 minutes, 4 days per week—not a lot but more than I am doing]
    • Cycling – 40 minutes per week
    • Dance – 1 hour per month
    • Yoga – 30 minutes per week (I should get on that.
  • Meds, 5 minutes a day (this is approximate but should be enough to mean I am taking everything I should be taking… including the often-forgotten midday doses.)
  • Brush teeth, 4 minutes a day (2 minutes, twice a day)
  • Meditation, 20 minutes per week
  • Journaling, 5 minutes per day
  • Personal blog, 1 hour/week (so you’ll be seeing more of me)
  • Creating, 1 hour/week (this is called visual arts in Optimized)
  • Movie making – 1 hour/month
  • Spend more time with more people (I quantified this as “4 hours per month with people from the “friends” category in Optimized.
  • Look for [more] work, 1 hour per week
  • Work – blogging, 3 hours per week
  • Creative writing – 20 minutes/day (may overlap with personal blogging, etc.)
  • Log finances – 5 minutes/day (I’m using an app called DayCost for this. All manual because I am not into a 3rd party app connecting to my banks.)
  • Reading for fun – 30 minutes per week
  • Web surfing – maximum 6 hours per day (let’s be honest… this can suck a lot of time but also my work kind of overlaps with web surfing sometimes.)
It’s a pretty ambitious list so the rationale for the Excel spreadsheet is to see how close I get, and how to adjust these things later on.

I also have a to-do list of things I never accomplish. So, here’s what I’ve got on there because maybe that will make me accountable.

  • Smart Girls with ADHD Guest Post (184 days ago)
  • Another item for SGwADHD (66 days ago)
  • Buy new bed skirt (Why are these things so hard to find? 56 days ago)
  • Read and review book (I am the worst person to give an ARC to, clearly – 45 days ago)
  • Final eCare Smart blog post (21 days ago – waiting on an e-mail)
  • Buy spray paint for pegboard (12 days ago)
  • Buy hooks for pegboard (12 days ago)
  • E-mail organ donor/transplant interview (10 days ago)

So. March.
Here goes.