I think self-discovery is one of the most cathartic, and healthy things we can do. Constantly learning new things about ourselves keeps life interesting. Every day is an opportunity to evolve your existence to the next level.
The question is what is the next level for you? For each of us that answer will be different (so that was a “duh” moment, bear with – I am getting to the point), but how your mind works has a great bearing on that. Thursday I was faced with the question of what is a normal mindset, and what was a normal functioning level of awareness and focus.
This is where I might become a “Mommy Blogger” (props to @cecilyk), because here it goes… my seven year old was diagnosed with ADHD combined (which means she is hyperactive and has focal issues, the kid won the fucking challenged trifecta) when she was five. This was beyond difficult for me, as the daughter of a once prominent Psychiatrist, we are not “defective” people. There can be no mood issues, depression problems, or learning difficulties, we are of the “perfect people” (I might add perfectly fucked-up people).
When Katarina was three, as I stood in the Pediatricians office and she ran in circles I posed the question “Is this a normal energy level?”. It took a latte for me to keep up with the kid, the response “She’s three, it is normal”. Sigh.
When Kat was four, as I stood in the Pediatricians office and she ran in circles I posed the same question “Is this a normal energy level?”. It took a triple-latte for me to keep up with the kid, the response “She’s four”. Sigh.
Then Kat turned five, as I stood in the Pediatricians office and she ran in circles, occasionally spinning on the floor, I posed the question “Is this a normal energy level?”. It took a quad-latte for me to keep up with the kid, the response “She’s five”.
I fired the pediatrician, took her back to her original Doctor, my Family Practitioner and my champion of all things medical (I fired two doctors before I found him).
Kat became reacquainted with Dr. Eric, and within five minutes Dr. Eric turned to me and said “Have you ever considered she might be hyperactive?”. I think I might have cried, or perhaps collapsed on the floor in a heap from exhaustion. Or both? This was the miracle I think I had been looking for. The signs were there, to me, that my child could not maintain a normal focus, or sit still. I had asked her pre-school teacher, her pre-k teacher, and everyone said “No, Kat is so smart, and so kind, and so well behaved”. So therefore I was a nut job thinking my kid was not so well behaved.
After her formal diagnosis (at AI Du Pont Hospital – Nemours), I went back and asked those same teachers “Well I am not surprised”. What the fuck? They weren’t surprised yet told me they saw no problems?
Imagine trying to break this news to Psychiatrist Grandpa. The denial isn’t a River in Egypt people. Did I get a second opinion, did I take her to neurologist, it must be neurological because we are not defective people. I said I would, I just didn’t want to argue. A Mother KNOWS there is something different (I won’t say wrong, because there is nothing wrong with my brilliant, creative, beautiful daughter, other than her neurons may not fire correctly).
I can accept that, and I know that I fought the right battle for her, and even though so many were surprised at the “Young” diagnosis, I was paying attention to my child and knew instinctively something was amiss. I accept it, realize it is a medical problem and know there are other problems she may encounter related (social issues, etc.). Those may be tougher for me – the social butterfly in High School and College, but I am not one to judge and encourage my children to be confident. Raise your hand, shout out the wrong answer, any answer, just try – that is how you learn, and build self-confidence.
Katarina got her ADHD from somewhere. My Daddy the Psychiatrist would have known if I had a problem. He specialized in Children’s Psychiatry, so who is a greater expert. For over two years I have considered this. I have joke with my friends about Squirrels and “Shiny” objects on Twitter, and in real life. I say I do three things at one time, and I usually do, perhaps not all as well as I should do them. So I dug a little deeper back to High School, and College. I see the pattern, I recognize where it may have happened. The three-college transfers, the five major changes, the sixth iteration of my Professional life. I saw it. I can’t be “defective” I am a Psychiatrists daughter.
I was tired Thursday morning, had an important all afternoon meeting, and work to get done. I saw it on the window ledge above the sink – the old bottle of a prior dose of Katarina’s ADHD medication. I knew I shouldn’t try it, but I had been considering it all week. I opened the bottle and looked at the little capsule. Studied it’s shape, color, what it might contain. I was going to take it. This would either be a really wonderful idea, or a really awful idea.
The last few months my mind has been a bit “worse” than usual, I was always the “queen of the tangent”. Scattered. Unfocused. Manic moments. My IQ is high, my capability is great, my performance is good, my success is beyond the norm, so mostly this was not evident to anyone who knew me superficially. Still successful and functional, but in my own keen self-awareness, and far too critical nature, I thought perhaps there was something going on. I do have a lot going on, different projects, businesses, trying to find a good “team” to work with on my Real Estate business, but my lack of focus and utter avoidance of some things was incredibly out of character for me. This isn’t a pity party, I got past that already, this is my story, as I deal with what I term “my inner conflict”.
Recently I had felt significantly more neurotic than my usual “Jewish neuroses”, a few friends have borne the brunt of this, but have not complained once, and adapted their expectations – hats off to you, you are true friends. Two weeks ago while in a planning meeting, my silent business partner asked me to write down the names of those in my “inner circle”. I had five names, of those he asked, who was my best friend. I realized I don’t really have one, no one true confidant and person I can divulge everything too (except Rima, but we don’t talk as often as we should). Why was the list so short? (That is a post of a different color).
So, if 1 + 1 = 2, and it was clearly a simple mathematical equation, why was I refusing to admit the truth in the statement. Again with the denial thing.
I would take the pill. At 9:15 Thursday morning I took the pill. I waited. About 20 minutes later this incredible sense of peace, calm, tranquility hit me. It was a good thing to take the pill. I felt as though a part of my brain was finally free – as though it had been imprisoned by the other side of my mind that was scattered and the land of the “tangent”. It was really a very surreal experience (I am a fan of Dali so I like surrealism). I was torn between elation and sadness. In reflecting on what might have been I was incredibly sad. Dare say depressed. I did not like that at all. I am a happy person, and like to be funny. Depression doesn’t really jive well with that, in my opinion.
When I started college I was a pre-law major, I wanted to be a Lawyer, and I wanted to change the world, become a Politician with the right morals, I felt. I realized I would never be able to do all the research required. Then I moved on to Communications, then Fine Arts, and so on. I won’t go deep into my College experience in this post, but someday I will. I think a whole new blog might be evolving out of this.
I did do well, I am successful in everything I do, but what I realized last night, while discussing ADHD with a Twitter friend at the Delaware Happy Hour/Tweetup was this; there is this point I always reached in any process, in a task, in the activity where there was a gap – I visualize it this way… If a plan of action is linear, as I travelled the line and checked things off the list, I was getting to a point where the bridge fell out – a total and complete disconnect, and I couldn’t figure out how to bridge it. I could see the otherside, the solution, the answer, but the connections in my brain would not allow me to put the final piece in place to reach it. So just out of reach, beyond my grasp, was the next level – the next thing. Always.
Until Thursday morning. Suddenly – I knew I could do anything. ANYTHING. The connections all were completed, which is interesting as it is as though the neuroreceptors finally connecting were actually in some way always “visible” to me, or I was aware of them.
A lawyer friend called me, a Real Estate attorney I deal with often. Bad timing for him, but great for me. I confided in him, he was very positive and supportive, and as someone I do confide in, he knows about some of the things I am working on, and has always encouraged me. Then I called my husband, and told him. Then I called my Doctors office, this was interesting. The admin I usually ask for said “Hi Maya, I didn’t recognize your voice”. My affect was affected. I was very mellow and chilled. I told Emily my story and she felt the doctor would prescribe without seeing me.
My personality! What about that? I had a “40 mile therapy session” as I call it last Saturday on my way back from Dover with my friend Whitney Hoffman (aka @LDpodcast), as the conversation wrapped up I asked her a few questions about the effect of medications for ADHD on personality, that I was worried, if I was ADHD and took medication I didn’t want to lose what makes me ME. She explained, and I was comfortable. I knew I was going to take that pill. I just couldn’t do it until after the 140 Character Conference. Imagine if I had. No regrets.
I reached out to another friend, one of the “inner circle” I had listed, and told them, wanted their opinion and feedback. They are wise, had some good thoughts for me, and ideas. They tried the typical friend thing, making a few excuses about my Father and childhood, I appreciated that, and knew it was not really an excuse, but as I gave them more information their response was modified, and very helpful. Nice to see your super-human friends are also human. It is very good to have understanding friends who also uber smart, and experienced
That helped me calm down as I drove to my business lunch, timing was perfect as I was lunching with Whitney and my silent business partner. Since the biz partner was 1.5 hours late, that left a lot of time for me to pick Whitney’s brilliant brain about Learning Disabilities, and ADHD/ADD (call it what you will), she made me feel sane, safe, normal and much more at ease. Have I told you guys how fucking awesome Whitney is? Very likely one of the greatest human beings ever. Have I mentioned how interesting I find life, the connections, the path we all travel, serendipity? Amazing to me.
I know I can’t take extended release medicines, I have an extremely fast digestive system, and they overdose me and wear off quickly. I only realized that after the fact. The dose I got Thursday was not truly the 5 mg dose, it may have been more. Friday was better. I got a lot done, things came together, as my body got used to the new medicine my personality and outlook improved greatly.
Last night I went to the happy hour, I had fun, then I went out with some friends – Derrick, Terry and their friend Bob, we had such a blast, I was elated, I felt normal. And my personality was intact, and functioning fine. In fact I think I might have been funnier than usual. I like to be funny.
Today I feel good, I feel normal, I feel hopeful, I feel happy, I feel as though any chains that held me are gone now. Remarkable feeling.
But where does this leave me? And the stuff I went through Thursday/Friday, that is major self discovery, but still in the process. That’s is the unwritten part, still evolving. Finding my way now, but very happy to do so.