Tag Archives: mental health

I’m Trying

6 Jun

Monday I was diagnosed with ADHD.

Wait, let me back up.

I’d been waiting for the results of my evaluation for about two weeks. I’ve suspected I have this [condition? disorder? disability? mental illness?] for about four or five years. I’ve struggled with symptoms my whole life.

Back to Monday.

I am 35, and I sat in the psychologist’s office as he told me that I definitely should have had a diagnosis decades ago, and should I ever go back to school I will be entitled to accommodations, which I should have had the first time, and that medication will work, and I cried so hard that when I left the office the receptionist asked me if I was ok.

I started going back to therapy about two months ago, and have gone regularly since then. About four and a half weeks ago I started taking Zoloft. The very nice psychologist who did my ADHD evaluation talked me through my diagnostic report, talked me through my options, recommended some books and tools, and then sent me back to the care of my therapist and the psychiatrist who manages my meds. All three are the same practice, and thus can easily share my records (with my permission), which is good, because I couldn’t find my ass with both hands right now. 

I expected to feel better if/when I got this diagnosis–

(I was never 100% sure I would. Of course I very strongly suspected, or I wouldn’t have spent so much time and money and emotional energy getting an evaluation, but I always entertained the possibility that the doctor would say “nope, you’re just a lazy, melodramatic bitch who’s wasted everyone’s time, that’ll be seventy million dollars.” I’m such an optimist.)

–and I did. I felt and continue to feel a tremendous sense of relief. I fucking told you I was trying. I am also experiencing regret, rage, resentment, sorrow, grief, fear, and an upset stomach that is in part from the Zoloft and in part from the stress of upending everything I understand about myself. I am reading everything I can get my hands on about this topic (reading is my hyperfixation!) and for every quiver of joy when I point at something in a book and scream “THAT’S ME” I also experience the further implosion of my self-perception. It’s one thing to say “I think I have this condition.” It’s quite another to be told that I do have this condition, and have had it my whole life, and furthermore this condition is the reason for everything I hate most about myself.

I know I have a lot of work in front of me, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it yet. I only recently crawled out of a depression hole so deep I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to get out of it. It’s worth noting that I closed a show on Sunday and opened another one on Wednesday, so I’m a little wrung out anyway, and now I’m reevaluating everything about my life. My stuff is in total chaos–mr. biscuit doesn’t mess with my show stuff even to clean it up, which I legitimately appreciate–and I had to cancel rehearsal today because I just couldn’t. I’m being as gentle with myself I can, given that I have historically not believed in being gentle with myself and given that it’s show week. mr. biscuit is taking excellent care of me. I read books about the condition in small chunks (while playing Assassin’s Creed and Diner Dash and scrolling Twitter, huh, ok, I might have an attention problem) because it’s too real and it hurts too much to read for too long. My support system is being very supportive (especially those who’ve experienced this before), the cats are being snuggly. I have a heating pad and a blanket and a big glass of ice water, and I have therapy on Monday and a little blue pill that I take every morning that is giving me a platform to stand on in this ocean of feelings. 

There was a teacher at my middle school, a very loud and intimidating old man, who constantly harped on the refrain “No excuse, no excuse, you ain’t got no excuse.” It was obnoxious and kind of scary and I wasn’t even in any of his classes, but he used to yell it so loud everyone could hear and it’s stuck with me since then. I brought it up to my therapist a week or so ago, in context of the semester I almost failed out of college*, and she turned it right back around:

“It’s not an excuse. It’s a reason.”

I’m glad I started therapy and antidepressants before I started this ADHD thing, because I’m not sure I could do it otherwise. I‘m a mess right now, but three months ago I would have been a disaster. 

*this is another story, but it involved two jobs, a bounced rent check, the violent deaths of a friend and a cousin, several brushes with eviction, and undiagnosed depression so severe I spent many, many days unable to get out of bed. There were weeks I only ate because I was dating mr. biscuit, and he had the compassion and the resources to make sure I ate. Did I tell my professors any of this? No, don’t be ridiculous. No excuse, remember?

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Achieving Stuff II: The Search for Perspective

5 Dec

I have a ton of things on my to-do list today, and none of them are “write a blog post.” Then again, none of them are “organize pictures in downloads folder,” either, and I’m definitely doing that, so what’s a to-do list in the grand scheme of things, really?

I’ve been thinking about accomplishments.

A friend of mine graduated this summer, and I gave her a sketchbook with a little note that said something like “Your productivity does not define your worth.” I don’t remember the exact wording, but that was the sentiment, and it’s one that I’ve often expressed to her and to other friends. Of course that’s easier said than believed, and what’s sauce for the goose you like is not necessarily sauce for yourself when you don’t like yourself (that got away from me a bit), but I stand by it. Even for myself. Mostly. Sometimes.

Ok, though, maybe I don’t? Not really. I’ve spent most of my life believing I am lazy and  the worst. I’m 90% sure I have some kind of attention disorder, and who knows? Maybe in 2019 I’ll finally talk to someone about getting that checked out. Have I suspected this for several years? Sure. Have I been putting off seeking diagnosis because I’m secretly terrified that they will say “no, you’re just a lazy bitch and your inability to focus is a moral failing”? Yes, obviously, but that’s not the point. The point is: to combat this feeling of “you accomplish nothing, you are worthless” I’ve started keeping lists of what I’ve done every day, because otherwise I am likely to forget it. Come on: if a woman cleans the bathroom but doesn’t write “cleaned bathroom” down on the back of a crumbled envelope, did it even happen? So in the spirit of “I forget things,” what have I accomplished in 2018?

Well, I co-created four really great Dragon Age costumes. This blog started as a costume blog, and one might think I would have discussed that process here, but I was busy freaking the fuck out all the time and never got around to it. Anyway, my friend E and I put these together over several months this spring and summer. She made the armor, and I made the clothes, which means I custom dyed (it’s a mix! of two! different! dyes! and it took me! four! weeks! to arrive at this particular! shade! of video game blue!) and patterned all this fabric shit.  These costumes were hard as fuck. They took hundreds of hours. We cried a lot and wound up hurting and exhausted and deliriously happy. I’m enormously proud of both of us, as well as these pictures by YouAreRaven.

 

I finished a short-novel-length piece of Dragon Age fanfiction. It’s just under 75k words, mostly original characters, and yes it’s fanfiction but you know what? I finished it. I started and finished a goddamned long-form piece of fiction for the first time in my life. Like, I finally learned how to do that. Do you understand how big an accomplishment this is for me? Do I understand that? I’ve been scribbling away at stories for 20something years and can count the number of Beginning-Middle-End Finished Pieces on two hands. What’s more, I posted it. Like, for strangers to read. And it’s pretty goddamned good, if you like that sort of thing.

At some point I finished the rough (very rough) draft of a female-driven fantasy novel I’ve been working on since late 2013. There’s still a long way to go on this one, but the skeleton and the muscles are there and we’re moving steadily towards the tendons and skin and…nerves? what other pieces of a body fit into this metaphor? I’m working on what could be called the second draft now. It’s slow going, but it gets better with every change, whether big or little. I’m learning how to organize and work through this process. It’s sitting right around 100k words. It has a title. It has a beginning and an end and most of a middle. And it’s pretty goddamned good.

Around Memorial Day weekend I started a female-driven urban fantasy novel that I’m about 61k words into. It’s pretty goddamned good so far. It’s looking like a trilogy. And I wrote some more short stories and creative nonfiction, some original and some fanfiction (Mass Effect and Rogue One and more Dragon Age, because this is who I am), some for public consumption and some for practice. I started referring to little throwaway snippets as “practice” rather than “a waste of time, God biscuit what is wrong with you” and I stopped thinking of writing as a chore and started treating it as a thing that gives me joy, because that’s what it is. I have started seeing a future in it–a for real future, an honest to God path forward. I have started doing research for What Comes Next. I have started making tentative plans.

I did an entire season playing music on stage in a duo at the Georgia ren faire, and then I did an entire season playing music on a stage solo at the Carolina ren faire. Not every set was perfect. I was nervous as hell. I forgot words, I forgot chords, I chickened out of some of the harder stuff, I cried after some sets, but I smiled and I sang and I kept going and I persevered. I never missed a set. I practiced all the time. I challenged myself and learned new things. I am infinitely better at the guitar than I was this time last year. I got roped into performing in a last-minute show at the fringe festival a week after the Georgia faire closed, and despite a laundry list of obstacles, I pulled it off. I performed several other places. I’m looking for more. I entered some contests. I’m entering some more.

I dealt with constant pain in my back, knees, and elbows, and intermittent pain in my left ovary for almost the entire year. I forgave myself for that pain, I let myself get treatment, and I forgave myself for getting treatment. I forgave myself for a lot things that shouldn’t need forgiveness. I started wearing knee braces and using my inhaler when I need them, not just when I need need them. I kept up with my hair color. I flossed. I spent a lot of time strengthening my marriage and friendships. I promoted my friends. I promited myself a little. I voted. I protested. The world is a garbage fire, but I’m doing stuff.

This time last year I had no idea where I was going, except that it would have to be better than where I was. This year I have almost stopped telling myself that I am a worthless procrastinater who never finishes anything.

So that’s what I’ve accomplished in 2018. In 2019 I’m going to really work on that “getting my hair trimmed regularly” thing.

Because WordPress won’t let iframes work unless you pay them, this year’s Intention Playlist can be found here.

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