Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.Roy T. Bennett
Whew! I’ve been busy, my friends! As of today, The Winter Blog has a brand new web address, thewinterofmydiscontent.com!! I’m sticking with the same look for the time being because, honestly, I’m a writer (not a webmaster) and I have no idea what I’m doing. This was one of my big goals, so I’m pretty excited. I’ve spent the day updating relevant links and doing all sorts of awesome research on how I can make your experience even better!
I have an interesting and thought-provoking update today. Yesterday, I had 2 important appointments and my therapy appointment left me with a lot to think about it. I figure, where better to brainstorm it than here?
In the morning, I had an appointment with my primary care doctor (Jill). Jill is a nurse practitioner that works in my actual MD’s office and, though I’ve only seen her twice so far, she is pretty amazing. The first time I saw her, I was frustrated and hopeless after all the issues I had with previous doctors. Jill was kind and understanding and believed that my problems were real and deserved to be treated. We adjusted my ADHD medications a bit. I was feeling like they were only working some days and, even then, it was only for a couple of hours before I’d be back to what I like to call “mush brain.” Or maybe “mush motivation” would be more accurate. Anyway, I had a physical and got a flu shot and everything seems to be going well there. The rest of my medications are working and I’m doing well in that aspect.
My next appointment wasn’t until late in the evening. For the rest of the day, I was stuck in waiting mode. According to Dr. R (ADHD therapist), what I’m about to explain to you is, in fact, an ADHD thing. Waiting mode is when I have an appointment in the afternoon or evening and, for most of the day, I can’t do anything…except wait. He said it has a lot to do with the fact that the ADHD brain doesn’t like to be interrupted when it is managing focus, so it doesn’t want to be “in the middle of something” when it’s time to leave for the appointment. It makes total sense, but it’s frustrating to deal with.
Dr. W and her pesky questions
Last night I had therapy with Dr. W (main therapist, also a saint) and she really got my brain churning. I updated her on all the craziness that has been going on…I’ve had a lot. Dealing with the short-term disability people has been frustrating and stressful and don’t even get me started on the state of the country right now. We had a nice catch-up. Then Dr. W dropped the dreaded question on me: So, what are your therapy goals?
If you recall from several of my other posts (you can find them here and here), I’m not good at goals. Not any kind of goals. Big goals. Little goals. Blog goals. Health goals. Therapy goals. Life goals. They all elude me. I just can’t see the future the way other people can. Trauma has taught me that the bottom can drop out of your life on a dime, so what good are goals and dreams? I know…it’s not a productive way of thinking. Either way, I just can’t see far enough ahead to make solid goals.
When I explained all of this to Dr. W, she asked me an even more dreaded question, “So, what is it that you want to do in life? When you picture yourself in 5 years, what do you see?” Ok, Dr. W, I’m going to need you to stop attacking me like this. In all seriousness, though, it’s a problem. You can’t achieve your goals, can’t make your dreams come true, if you can’t quantify the steps that you need to take to get there.
This is also an ADHD thing, to a point. If we are anything, we are a people of big ideas. Sometimes GREAT big ideas. ADHD is not all bad and, to me, my big ideas are one of the best parts. Here’s where the problem(s) lie. We often only see the big picture, not the path to get there. When we think of a good idea (or find a new hobby that we want to try or a new, outrageous hair color, etc) our brains tell us that it needs to happen and that it needs to happen NOW. Of course, no one can change the world before lunch, but ADHD brains don’t care about your silly rationale! They want action! They want results! THEY WANT DOPAMINE!!
But then it doesn’t happen. You try the new hobby and you aren’t naturally a prodigy at it. You decided to open a bookstore in a quaint little village by the river and it will be the most amazing place that people have ever been…but you work in a restaurant, have no savings, and know absolutely nothing about running a business. And you have uncontrolled, undiscovered ADHD. At this point, the brain realizes that it will not be getting it’s treasured dopamine shot. Then it turns on you. You suck. Why did you even try this hobby? You idiot, you could NEVER be a success. Then depression sets in.
Anyway. Goals. I couldn’t achieve my vague, unattainable goals…so, I stopped making them, and eventually, I became incapable of making them. A woman without a future. A woman who will be in therapy forever because she can’t think of quantifiable ways to get better. I think I’ve just decided that one of my therapy goals is going to be to learn how to create goals!
One last note
During my session with Dr. W last night, I was trying to explain to her that I had been feeling a strange mood or emotion, maybe. While I was struggling to find a way to vocalize it, I managed to croak, “Apathy? Yeah. It feels a little bit like apathy.” Her response to me blew my mind and still has me puzzling today. She said, “Is it apathy or are you finally getting on the right medications and it’s emotional regulation that you’re feeling for the first time?” It gave me such pause because…I think she might be right. Are my “normal” emotions so big and so ever-present that having regular-people, “normal” emotions feels like…almost nothing?
Firstly, I know a thing or two about apathy. I’ll talk about this more in my next post, but the major depression of my 20s turned to persistent depression in my 30’s and the apathy that came with that was crushing. For years on end, I couldn’t feel joy. I didn’t get excited, even about things that I knew I should be excited about. Because I knew that other people would expect me to feel certain ways, I would pretend to be excited or joyful, but I could never find the actual emotions inside of me. What I’ve been feeling lately is not that. Not even close. When I think about what Dr. W said, it makes sense to me that I would confuse these new, toned-down feelings with apathy. On a second look, though, it really isn’t. I’m still feeling my feelings just fine; just not so intensely that it causes problems in my life.
Here’s the thing: as perplexing as the question may be, I don’t care either way. I have been begging for years for someone to help me regulate this brain of mine and that is exactly what is happening. People in the ADHD and mental health communities often worry that being on the right medications or getting the recovery help that they need will cause them to lose their creativity, their spark, their sense of humor…all of the things that make them, them. I am finding in my journey that this is not my experience. Despite all of the treatments that I’m going through, I have still maintained my imagination and ingenuity, my kindness and empathy; all of my core values are all still there and I am exercising them daily but through a different frame of mind.
So, that’s it! That’s the update. I start weekly appointments from here on out, so I’ll have plenty to update on! Don’t forget, My Mental Health: Persistent Depressive Disorder, will go live on Tuesday at 8. I will be discussing depression and some of its various forms, included Persistent Depressive Disorder. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an update and follow The Winter Blog on social media!
Do you have problems making goals? Do you have any advice for anyone who might be struggling with goal setting? What are your thoughts on apathy vs. normality? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
Love and light! Keep fighting the good fight!!💜💜
Writing about living with ADHD and mental illness and my journey down a thriving path forward. Breaking stigmas and creating community, one post at a time.