“Recovery is scary but also is remaining exactly the same.”Unknown
One of the reasons that I started The Winter Of My Discontent was to share my journey to recovery. I am well on my way, but still quite far from being in recovery. Just a few short months ago, I had a bad mental health episode. My ADHD and my OCD were skipping around in my brain, holding hands. I was having severe intrusive thoughts and my brain was trying to convince me that I didn’t want to exist. Life felt heavy and exhausting.
I’ve talked a lot about how knowing my diagnosis has helped me and this breakdown was no different. For the first time, I understood what the intrusive thoughts were and why they were happening. The experience was no less jarring; the resulting depression no less real. I was still in control, but I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to maintain it, so I called in reinforcements. My doctor adjusted my meds and we worked on some things in therapy and I was feeling better in just a few days.
My Recovery So Far
Since then, I’ve had some bumps and bruises…a couple of medication adjustments. Recently, though, I’ve been feeling well. The occasional intrusive thought pops up, but they are usually mild and not obsessive. My depression is manageable and I’ve had very little anxiety. I’m still struggling with my ADHD, though. My executive functioning has been suffering lately; unable to plan or maintain any structure in my life. Activation has been low; I have a million projects I want to start, but no motivation to do any of them.
And my mind. Oh, this mind. It is restless and bored, yet it refuses to focus on anything that I present it with. I’ve been keeping up with the blog, but by the skin of my teeth. It is one of the main things that has given me any structure and meaning lately. All 3 of my therapists encourage and approve it. I can’t get in hyperfocus the way I did at the beginning of my leave, but I’m still making myself put in the work and get posts out. It gives me purpose; something to work toward that I actually feel passionate about.
My thoughts race and I can’t focus on one idea for too long. I can count twice in the last 24 hours that I had a really great idea and had already forgotten it by the time I got up to write it down. I started this post once already. After WordPress glitched and lost my work, I couldn’t remember what my point was in starting the post in the first place. I started over anyway. Maybe I’ll remember by the time we get to the end.
I go back to the doctor next week for a med check; I’m positive that we need to do another adjustment on my ADHD meds. I’ve been worried about the meds. It takes so much time to find the right one. If you’re on the wrong one, it takes a while to tell and then you have to wait on your next appointment until you start the process all over again. It feels like a lot of waiting and a lot of wasted time.
Though it seems like I would be more patient, I’ve been waiting to find the right one for 38 years, I feel like I’m on a clock. I would like to have found the right combination of medications by the time I go back to work. I’m already apprehensive about how I will handle the stress of going back. My work situation is honestly toxic. I’m doing all of this work to better myself, but I know from periodic co-worker updates that nothing has changed there. It feels like quicksand, looming in the distance, ready to swallow me up the instant I step foot on it.
Alas, I have a couple of months until I have to start thinking about that. For now, I need to focus on getting and staying better. I need to focus on growing as a person and as a creator and not worry about the corporate oblivion that awaits me. I hope to start researching accommodations soon because I will be asking for them when I return. I will make sure to write about the process because I think it’s a question that a lot of people have.
In other recovery news, I officially start EMDR therapy next week. I was supposed to start last week, but I got COVID-19 and that put the kibosh on any in-person appointments. I intend on doing a much more thorough post about EMDR, but I thought I might give a shot at explaining it here. I am not a doctor and I do not specialize in EMDR therapy or any other type of therapy, for that matter. I’m going to try to describe it using the same layman’s terms that Elizabeth used to explain it to me. Again, this is just my understanding, so far.
EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to help you process traumatic memories. Bilateral stimulation can mean watching someone move their fingers back and forth in front of your eyes, tapping (back and forth) on your knees or shoulders, or holding a device that vibrates from one hand to the next. I have chosen to use the vibrating device because you need to envision the traumatic memories and I’m better at doing this with my eyes closed.
The bilateral stimulation allows you to reprocess the memories more healthily. Per Elizabeth, in brain scans, you can actually see the memories move from the traumatic center of the brain where they are currently stuck, to the logic area of the brain where you can process them more objectively. It can also “knock loose” repressed memories. Once you have remembered them, you can work on processing those as well.
When we have completed the process, I will still have all of the same memories, but they should no longer hold an emotional charge when I think about them. The negative emotional reactions that they cause will be gone. She also said that, once the process is completed, my anxiety levels should plummet; at least the parts of my anxiety that stems from my trauma. I’d say that’s probably most of them if we ever really got to the root of it all.
I’ve been excited, but extremely nervous, about EMDR therapy. Excited because this is another step in my recovery; nervous because all my research says it will get a lot worse before it gets better. It is psychologically exhausting and can be emotionally taxing. I’ve long run from these feelings, which is partly why I am where I am. Avoidance is my “answer,” meaning the coping mechanism that I’ve honed to a fine point to protect me against unpleasantness. This therapy scares the shit out of me, honestly.
That confessed, I’m ready for it. I’ve been carrying this baggage for 30 years and my back hurts. I’m ready to put them down, come hell or high water. I’ll be sure to update you on how it’s going. It will be in the weeks following Spring Break, so I have plenty of time to get into it and have real experience to bring to you.
Distance Learning…is hell.
I haven’t found my writing voice as a parent, quite yet. Nine years in and I’m still trying to find my footing as a parent; I don’t feel quite comfortable meting out advice about a gig that I’m on shaky ground in most of the time. Then I thought, “Maybe other parents are where you are and they need to know they aren’t alone.” With that, I’ve decided to talk about parenthood here and there on the blog. I’m going to stay away from advice; I’m no expert, but my experiences are not unique and I’m here for solidarity if nothing else.
It’s important to note, as I have before, that I have ADHD-Inattentive, my husband has ADHD-Hyperactive, and my daughter has ADHD-Combined. Our household is interesting, to say the least. I have a hyper brain. Ideas and thoughts a whirlwind at all times. My physical body, on the other hand, is decidedly not hyper. I am tired every second of every day. My husband is the opposite. He is a flurry of activity from the time he gets up until the time he goes to bed. He really never stops. It makes me tired, just thinking about it.
I digress. My daughter. First of all, she’s hilarious. She keeps me in stitches when she’s not making me feel like a crazy person. She’s learning to be kind. She loves animals. She has the most curious mind. And she’s smart. I know most people say that about their kids and I am not objective in any way, but she’s really intelligent. She is also a hyper, impulsive, hyperfocusing on the wrong thing, tightly wound combination of her mother and father. She is a handful and she keeps us on the very tip of our toes.
This poor kid hasn’t been inside a school building since February 2020. Let me be clear, distance learning has been difficult for all children. I think this is especially so the younger they are. My daughter is 8; not exactly an age known for its ability to regulate attention and focus on the right things at the right times. When you add pretty severe ADHD into the mix, it gets even more complicated.
We’ve always struggled with getting her to focus on what is happening on her screen during the school day. There is a lot of stop and pause throughout the school day. That leaves her with a lot of time to get distracted. You can’t lose her attention for a second or it’s gone. She also has issues with overwhelm at tasks that she perceives as too hard. Normally it only takes her a couple of minutes, but she gets overwhelmed with the sheer idea of it so she never starts. This results in a lot of missing work and a lot of evenings spent *begging* this child to just…do…the…work!!!
I’ve tried sitting with her all day, but it never goes the way I plan. If I work alongside her, I get absorbed in what I’m doing and I forget to pay attention to what she’s doing or I stop listening to the teacher and I don’t hear the instructions to help the kid along. Sometimes I think she stays more distracted when I’m in the room.
Other times, she argues with me more than she listens to the teacher. Today I caught her playing with paper dolls during class. It took me 20 minutes of miming to her off-camera before she finally relented and put them away. Last week she got caught playing her Nintendo Switch during class. She does have moments were she gets the work done; little bursts of attention, here and there. They are becoming few and far between.
Anyway, this week we decided that we are going to send her back to in-person school after Spring Break. I’m going to be honest, I’m excited. It’s a harsh reality, but we need a break from each other. The three of us have been stacked on top of each other for 12 full months. She needs some normalcy in her life, even if it is only for the last month of the year…and, real talk, mom and dad need the break!
Not that it doesn’t come with its own set of worries. She has had problems making friends in the past and she’s had some serious issues with her teachers. She is not received well by a lot of people and she has had a rough go of it, as far as school goes. This will likely be the year that we finally get an IEP/504 plan in place for her. I will write about that process in later blogs as well. I’ll worry myself sick every day that she is there, just waiting on Class Dojo to notify me of some infraction.
The school year has become my least favored time of the year. Its tough on her and its tough on us. I think a lot of ADHD children can probably identify with that feeling. Seeing our babies struggle will never get easier, no matter how old they get. Our worry for them will never abate. Neither will our love or loyalty to them. We just have to keep fighting for them, year after year, and hope that what we’re teaching them sticks. So, here’s to Summer vacations!!
So, that’s it. That’s my parenting bit. This gig is hard and this last year has made it even harder. We’ve had to worry for their safety and we’ve had to adjust our schedules and work accommodations to account for distance learning and hybrid learning and 2 months in school and then 2 weeks at home. We’ve had to worry about masks and being quarantined and isolated. We’ve had to wonder if they were even learning anything in this new environment. It’s been a lot for all of us and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and tired.
I’m going to spend that well first week in bed all day.
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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.