self-care sunday: mindfulness + adhd (02/31)

Mindfulness.
Is.
Tough.

I realize this is the case for just about everybody, even those without ADHD. My friend Scott posted on Facebook a couple days ago his own need to become mindful again—a thought that many of us appreciated him sharing. Because mindfulness is hard, anyways.
And THEN, ADHD is like
T-REX.
Or whatever.

Yeah, mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword—to me, that means mindlessness has become a prevailing approach to life, and the majority of us need to make a more conscious effort toward mindfulness. Which is simple.

Mindfulness is simply (per definition 2 on Google): 

a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

To dig deeper, the mindful approach means acknowledging and accepting feeling, thoughts and so forth without judgement, embracing that it is okay to feel the things you are feeling—even if you want to change your reaction or the situation you are in.

I read an article yesterday from ADDitude that explored emotions and ADHD. Emotions are hard to quantify, so guess what? They’re not included in the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, despite how common overly-intense or difficult to navigate/manage feelings are for people with ADHD—which, the rest of the world might interpret as overreactions or meltdowns. Another interesting fact from the article is how sometimes people with ADHD simply cannot articulate or identify how or what we are feeling (more here) and that it can be hard for us to interpret how others feel, especially when we are overwhelmed.
These are things that I definitely experience, and find that regular mindfulness practice can help immensely with: when I’m in a more mindful headspace, I pause to think—and breathe—before I react.

For me, this is what mindfulness is about: the pauses. They do not have to be long, but they have to be enough to plant me back where I am—to ground me—to reclaim a sense of calm when my mind is in the past and future simultaneously and not in the place I can control: right now. It’s about taking a few moments to hear the leaves crinkling along the sidewalk in the breeze and feeling my feet hit the sidewalk. It’s about remembering that my body exists and dropping the tension in my shoulders when I’m working. It’s about actually hearing the music I am listening to, picking out something new I hadn’t caught before. It’s about pausing to actually recognize the emotions I am experiencing before they are able to take over too much. It’s about the pauses.

When I am meditating regularly, I take these lessons out into the world with me. I am much better for it. It is still super hard, but, it helps. That’s where I’m at: I’m not about to trade my ADHD meds for mindfulness, but in tandem, they’re a solid pair helping me tackle the chaos that can be the ADHD life. Yeah, I’ll mess up—both in general, and with the mindfulness—but I’ll be able to tackle the obstacles better if I’m checked in to a more mindful space.

—–

Day 2 Challenge Update:
Plank:
 65 seconds. The foamy tiles in my office are quite rad for this.

Meditation: I think midnight meditation’s going to be a thing (though I do want to try to make it a twice-daily activity); I used the Smiling Mind app again and did the 10 minute Breath and the Body meditation but I think I didn’t pay attention to half of it because I was relaxed nearly into sleep. (Not quite the intent, but I’ll take it).

my chronic disease secret

Most of the time, I try to be of the voice that life with chronic disease can still be awesome.

But that doesn’t mean chronic disease doesn’t suck.

A couple years ago, my friend Chris launched My Diabetes Secret. An innocent question from him lead to a discussion, and then… to this:

My Chronic Disease Secret.

“A safe place to share your chronic disease secrets. No judgement. No shame. No stigma. Merely catharsis through honesty.”

I like this a lot.

Huge props to Chris for investing his time in setting up these projects.

Share your story. Even if nobody knows it’s yours.
Or if that’s too hard, share. Just read, even.
And keep going. If you need them, there are resources, people, who can help—even if you just want to type.

I hope you’ll check it out.

letdown.

I might have lost it in Physical Growth and Motor Development today if things didn’t start turning around.  It’s only Tuesday and I need this week to be over.

Those of you following me on twitter may recall the week prior to reading week I had three exams in twenty-eight hours. I started studying early, because the pressure was on. Lead-up to exams was stressful, not to mention I arrived at my Program Planning in Sport exam with mere minutes to spare after missing my bus and my mom coming to pick me up and the whole relaxation-exercise-in-the-car thing. I took all of the allotted time, and thought it went okay.  Principles of Coaching was much the same, though I left pissed off that 15~ marks were riding on my knowledge of very specific terminology and hierarchically outlined structure of the ethical decisions in sport because I had spent more time reviewing glycolysis and energy systems.  The afternoon pretty immediately following Program Planning I had Physical Growth and Motor Development, which people terrified my friend and I about. That the exam was hard and the final harder. That if we didn’t word things perfectly, we wouldn’t get the marks.

Yesterday, I received the 52% on my Principles of Coaching midterm. With a 75% on my research proposal, a research paper, and a final exam left, I am not too concerned — I have made similar comebacks in Intro Kinesiology with a worse midterm grade.  This morning I found out I got 59% on my Program Planning in Sport exam.

And this pushed me over the edge. I handed my exam back in, and went to my mom’s office, which I left blinking back tears that I finally let go once I was leaning against the locked metal stall in the main floor bathroom.

You can’t spell degree without a D [there is the humour for the post, which I am not feeling, by the way].  This scares me.  I am literally kissing any chance of getting into occupational therapy school goodbye each time I fail something since my GPA is currently too low regardless. [Note: I haven’t even failed anything yet and because I am getting D’s I am already in the failing mentality]. It’s not good enough, not good enough for a LOT of Master’s programs.
Unlike a lot of schools internationally, there’s no chance for exam rewrites. I know I still have a year-plus left, but the courses are not getting easier. The applied health courses I am actually good at are behind me, and I am facing the very harsh reality of not getting my GPA high enough to do what I want to, not to mention that the school I was seriously contemplating has for the last five years only admitted students with an A- average for the last year of undergrad.

Ironically, I am doing worse in the first and second year courses I am in than in the third year ones. Last term in my third-year courses I got A-s, and a B in second-year Issues in Sport.  To hold true, in contrast to the first-year Principles of Coaching and the second-year Program Planning in Sport, in the still second-year but as ranked harder by people I’ve met class?  That would be a 78% on my Physical Growth and Motor Development test.  (Which essentially saved me from just quitting school this afternoon after an afternoon of altercation with a group member for another class, the assignment of another group project in Motor Development, and all of the above ridiculousness.)  The voluntary withdrawal date is tomorrow, which means if I am getting out of Program Planning I have to make that decision fast or it is a done deal and is on my transcript forever.

I’ve always cared about school, but I’ve never simultaneously loved it so much and so much felt like I wasn’t able to handle it. Like there is too much going on academically, like I can’t pay attention well enough to all of the details, like I am doing too much because I want to do it all . . . like I am not good enough. Like I am trying my hardest and that isn’t good enough either.  In such a short period of time, I have never been so let down by so much stuff going on at school.

My friend Bobbi-Jo and I had a nice heart-to-heart outside the athletic centre today. Where we tried to let it go following class as I shivered.  Where we talked, laughed through the shit, hugged it out, and opened our hands towards the sky.

I’m still trying. Trying to decide what I am going to do.

Still trying to let go of the letdown.

knowing when to step back: i could use a little break.

Along with knowing how hard you can push yourself, there’s also that fine line of knowing when to step back.

Throw chronic disease in the mix, and that line blurs even more.

For me, it’s evident that I don’t exercise when I’m not breathing at 80+% of my best peak flow [aka in my yellow zone]. Especially right now when I’m not even doing anything and am breathing in my yellow zone. Something earlier compelled me to attempt some push-ups. Because I’m a genius. Three of them and I was on the floor, and not in push-up fashion [granted right now I am doing modified push ups. But that is 1) better than no push ups and 2) another story for another day].

Oh right, and the whole mom quote of the day saying “Yeah, you don’t sound healthy when you cough.” Thanks, Mom. Thanks. [That said, I have a normal, baseline cough. It is not as brutal sounding or feeling as this sick cough is. Sick cough you can totally tell there’s rattly gross junk in there.

And it sucks. I’ve essentially gone from almost 30K last week to zero, which will remain zero unless I get better. I threw some bicep curls in tonight while printing an assignment because really, 3 x 10 with five-pounders = not terribly taxing on the lungs and at least I did something a little good. YES, if I’m just flaring mildly, I often do throw a workout in there. I probably shouldn’t but I do. I catch a cold though, and everything gets put on hold, because my lungs don’t take that well.

That’s what’s brutal. That I may actually end up backtracking having to take a week [or more] off of working out. I’m averaging about six hours of physical activity per week, probably about four or so of those in actual workouts, and the rest in commutes and stuff. I’m 21 kilometers behind where I was in October for November, which is something I definitely would have caught up with this week if I wasn’t sick. Thank goodness i’m not training for anything [training? What’s that?]

It’s brutal when I was so excited to tell my doctor on Thursday that I’m doing fantastic and exercising for like four hours a week and so on. And now I get to go in and tell her I’m burnt out on the asthma shit and can we please get me in and out as quickly as possible so I can go on with my life outside of my currently screwed up lungs.

Oh, Mom and Grandma, if you’re reading this, consider this your disclaimer on the fact that I’m about to give asthma The Finger in this picture and drop an f-bomb in the next paragraph:

Last night, today, THIS is how asthma makes me feel. Pissed off and exhausted and angry. Fuck asthma. Screw the nebs and the inhalers, the jitteriness, the coughing, and the not being able to clear this shit out of my lungs. I’m waking up several times a night, and have done so multiple nights this week, and then I have to be awake and think about how while this flare and this cold are temporary, this disease is forever. And how I will have to do this again at some point after I get better. And that’s something that’s hard to think about. It’s much easier to deal with when I feel okay and I can just not have to deal with thinking about it until I get sick or flare again. I realize I have no idea how I went through months at a time of feeling like shit without a burnout. I have no idea. The intensity of it increases and decreases, but this intensity is what some of my friends with asthma face every single day and then some [also, to break the seriousness for a moment here, totally starting a giving asthma the finger project over here on Facebook. Because it’s therapeutic].

Last night I was burning out on the asthma stuff hardcore; it was honestly the lowest I’ve felt in years about something in my own life. Today I started out rough but have been trying to step back in a different way; push it out of my head, focus on one doubled-over coughing spasm at a time, one inhaler or neb at a time, one breath at a time.

Yeah, I need a break from this. That’s not going to happen, and I’ve accepted that. I know I will get better from this, but I also know that it will happen again. Because you can never let your guard down — you can’t just stop the inhalers, the doctor’s appointments, the germs, the nebs, the medication-induced jitteriness and tachycardia, the frequent hand-washing, the thoughts of every little step involved in taking care of yourself. And you know what, this is my reality. Nobody gave me a choice in the matter of having to share my body with asthma, but I do have the choice in how I perceive it [own it] and how I fight it with every last thing I’ve got.

And if I can have even just one more little piece of control in this that is in my control and doesn’t come off of a prescription printout, I want that. I want to throw all the fight I have into this disease — not just for me, but for everybody. And being able to share that with everybody–that your healing, inside and out, your body and your heart, doesn’t have to come from a pharmacy. That little piece is a big piece of my life: exercise.

But for now, it’s nebs and Watch The Sky on repeat.

Trying to remind myself that: even if today was a good day wasn’t true for today, it can be true for tomorrow.

i’m lost at sea. the radio is jammin’ but they won’t find me. i swear it’s for the best, and then your frequency is pulling me in closer until i’m home. and i’ve been up for days, i finally lost my mind and then i lost my way, i’m blistered but i’m better, and i’m home

i will crawl, there’s things that aren’t worth giving up, i know. but i won’t let this get me, i will fight. you live the life you’re given with the storms outside — some days all i do is watch the sky.

this room’s too small, it’s only getting smaller, i’m against the wall. and slowly getting taller here in wonderland, this guilt feels so familiar and i’m home

i will crawl. there’s things that aren’t worth giving up, i know. but i won’t let this get me, i will fight. you live the life you’re given with the storms outside — some days all i do is watch the sky. some days all i do is watch the sky

i think i, i could use a little break. today was a good day. i think i, i could use a little break. but today was a good day. and it’s a deep sea in which i’m floating, still i seem to think that i must crawl. there’s things that aren’t worth giving up i know, when you can’t bear to carry me, i’ll fight. you live the life you’re given with the storms outside. some days all i do is watch the sky. today was a good day. today was a good day.

watch the sky, something corporate