Biting the bullet

Since the last time I updated this blog so much has happened. As far as my ADHD goes, it’s been extremely tough, to say the least. I have been struggling to manage it on my own, all my apps and resources slowly began to go unused, I sold my FitBit, and I sank into a pit of discouragement and lack of motivation. I started losing any bit of productivity I had at home and my relationship and friendships were struggling because of it. I excused myself on the basis that I have ADHD for a long time before I realized expecting a free pass for neglecting everything important in my life was absolutely unreasonable of me. Why should the people I love have to suffer because I’m not willing to change something I have the power to change?

So after literally years of procrastinating and telling myself I preferred not to be medicated, I finally bit the bullet and spoke to my doctor about going back on Concerta. The reason I went to see my doctor was completely unrelated to my ADHD but I figured if I was going to be there anyway, now is a great time to bring it up. Who knows when the next time I’d see him would be? So I went in, we talked about the initial reason I was there and then towards the end of the appointment, we talked about my ADHD. My biggest fear is that he’d tell me I didn’t need medication or that I was fully capable of managing my ADHD on my own, so I braced myself for that. That wasn’t the outcome.

He looked at me, arms folded and said “So… tell me about your ADHD.”, and with that I literally burst into tears. I started trying to tell him through tears and sniffs how tough the last two years had been. I tried to explain how I just couldn’t make myself do things I know I am supposed to do and how it was really affecting my relationships. I was struggling to even tell him because I was crying so hard, but I know in that moment he could see the toll my ADHD had taken on me. It had completely taken control of my body and my life and I was sick of it. We switched the conversation to which medication I had been on last, Concerta. We discussed the side effects I experienced at the time, the dosage I was on, and we decided to use that as our starting point. I was prescribed 18mg, 1 time daily.

My expectation of the Concerta was that I’d get home, pop this pill, and turn into super girl. I’d clean my whole house, I’d cook dinner, I’d do all the things I was supposed to do and everything would magically improve. Instead, I took my first pill and felt like the kool-aid guy about to bust through a fucking wall. My heart rate was so fast, I felt like I was awake for the first time in years, but I still didn’t want to clean or organize or do anything productive.

Fast forward to me finishing up my first month, I just ran out and am ready for a refill.

The verdict: 
I feel a lot more alert. Before being medicated I couldn’t recall the last time I went through the day feeling like I had the energy to move let alone do household tasks. It definitely makes me feel more awake, more aware of my surroundings, and more alert in general. I think that combined with sheer will power is enough to make me more productive. It’s certainly no miracle drug, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. I’m able to do more than I was doing before based solely on the fact that I don’t feel so physically exhausted 24/7. So I’m calling it a win and I will keep you all updated on my progress. 🙂

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Handy ADHD Apps, Products,Websites, and General Resources

I promised a list of apps and resources that I use, to help you become better at managing your time and commitments, and I dropped the ball. Did you expect anything less from a girl with ADHD? I decided to finish it up today and noticed it hadn’t been modified in 18 days, I was like “Wow… has it really been that long? Oops.” So, with that said, I am only including apps and resources I personally have tried because I wouldn’t want to recommend anything that will waste your time! Besides Calendars, I will be excluding the apps previously mentioned in my last blog posts because I felt that would be redundant. Here we gooooooo!

Apps:

logo
#1 on the list is 30/30 which can be found on the App Store! It’s an iOS app which I believe is available on Android as well but isn’t quite the same on both. So we will be discussing the version I use, which is on iOS.

Description:
You have never experienced a task manager like this!
➤ The gesture-based interface is completely free of clutter.
➤ Fully customizable task list: label, time, icon and color.
➤ iCloud sync, multiple lists and virtually unlimited number of tasks.
➤ Options let you control how you are notified.

Pictures:


calendar_icon
#2 on the list is Apple’s very own “Calendar”. This is available on any Apple device!

Description:
The Calendar app on iOS keeps you on schedule. It displays appointments, birthdays, maps, travel time, and other important events.
It’s so so easy to Navigate and access from all your devices. If you have any trouble using it, this guide is extremely helpful – http://www.imore.com/calendar-ultimate-guide

Pictures:


icon100x100

The last on the list is Fitbit. Now… this one is a little bit different because 1) you need to own a fitbit product (Well worth the money, might I add.) and 2) It’s more for tracking your physical activity rather than coping with the symptoms of ADHD. I am going to take the description right off the Apple Store so you can see just how in depth this product and app dives. I use this for the alerts which send little vibrations that remind me to do things throughout the day, I use it to track what I am putting in my body and how many calories I am burning, and I use it to monitor my sleep patterns. These things are all crucial to how I personally am able to cope with my symptoms. Let’s dive in.
Description:
Live a healthier, more active life with Fitbit, the world’s leading app for tracking all-day activity, workouts, sleep and more. Use the app on its own to track basic activity and runs on your phone, or connect with one of Fitbit’s many activity trackers and the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale to get a complete picture of your health—including steps, distance, calories burned, sleep, weight, and more.

TRACK ACTIVITY: Accurately record your steps and distance with MobileTrack when you carry your phone. For all-day tracking of stats like calories burned, active minutes, and sleep, pair the app with a Fitbit tracker.

RUN SMARTER: Enhance runs, walks and hikes by using MobileRun to track your pace, time and distance. You can also control your music, get voice cues and use your phone’s GPS to map your routes. (Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.)

RECORD WORKOUTS: Use your Fitbit tracker to track your exercise, then check the app to see your stats, their impact on your day, and how your performance is improving.

MONITOR HEART RATE: Use a Fitbit tracker with PurePulse™ to analyze heart rate graphs in the app. Identify trends, manage stress and see the results of your workouts. Review resting heart rate trends to see when your fitness is improving.

LOG FOOD FASTER: Easily log calories with our barcode scanner, calorie estimator, and expanded food database of more than 350,000 foods. See your meal history at a glance, and get nutritional insights.

MEASURE HYDRATION: Quickly log your water intake to make sure you’re properly hydrated during workouts and throughout the day.

SET & MANAGE GOALS: Create weight, nutrition and exercise goals, and start a food plan to stay on track. Then get a visual picture of your progress with colorful, easy-to-read charts and graphs.

SEE HOW YOU SLEEP: Set sleep goals in the app, and use a Fitbit tracker to monitor how much time you spent awake, restless or peacefully sleeping.

SHARE & COMPETE: Connect with friends and family by sharing stats, sending direct-messages, and competing on the leaderboard or in Fitbit Challenges.

STAY MOTIVATED: Get a nudge in the right direction with notifications that pop up when you’re close to reaching a goal or have already met one.

SYNC WIRELESSLY: Fitbit trackers sync your stats to computers and 200+ leading devices so you can continuously track your progress without needing to plug in.

MANAGE WEIGHT: Connect wirelessly to the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale to seamlessly track your weight, BMI, lean mass and body fat percentages, and to see your weight trends over time.

Pictures:

 


Websites / Groups:

#1 On this list is one I have been using quite frequently. It is a Closed Group on Facebook for support for Adults with ADD/ADHD. It’s been wonderful to see the support and share my experiences there.
Adult ADD/ADHD

#2 Is probably one of the best resource/information/support websites out there and that’s CHADD. They have a facebook page as well that posts interesting and educational articles!
Chadd.org
CHADD – Children & Adults with ADHD

#3 This is one is mostly just for fun, but I enjoy seeing the occasional post I can relate to. It’s a tumblr blog called “That ADHD Feel” and it’s just a whoooole bunch of people submitting “That feeling when-” for ADHD folks to relate to!
That ADHD Feel

How I Manage My Time

Time management is something I have struggled with most of my life, you know, from the time I was responsible for managing my own time. I’ve missed deadlines, missed the school bus, missed appointments, missed meetings, and I’ve been late for literally all of those things and more on countless occasions. I’ve found myself grounded for missing curfew, I was kicked out of a co-op program because I forgot I was supposed to be there for a meeting that day, I’ve almost been late picking my 5 year old up at school because I lost track of time… It’s tough. It’s something I will always have to strictly manage because it does not come to me naturally.
Recently one of my Instagram followers asked me if I had any tips for time management because they were always late for school and I shared with them what I personally do to keep track of deadlines.

Here was my short answer:

“I stick to pretty strict time-keeping. If I were you, I would take a whole day to time-keep your schedule. Start from when you wake up, then time approximately how long it takes you to get ready, that includes eating, dressing, and leaving the house. Then time how long it takes you to get to school. Once you know approximately how long each task takes, start setting a certain time for those things. For example: I wake up at 7AM and wash up, put on coffee, get my clothes ready, drink coffee. At 7:30 I get dressed. At 7:45 I start getting shoes and coats and bags ready. At 8:05AM I leave because I need to be there by 8:25 and it takes me 15 minutes to walk. That gives me 5 minutes extra in case I get distracted by something shiny on the way 😉 Best way to time keep, get a good watch!”

The only thing I’d add to this comment, is that it also helps to have some useful apps. If you have a phone or computer, utilize the heck out of those! SET TIMERS. SET ALARMS. SET REMINDERS. Doing this is pretty much crucial to my day. Even when I think I have my shit together, I don’t. I use my iPad quite often in my everyday life, in fact I have no idea what I would do without it. I use apps such as “planner”, I can set notifications to remind me of upcoming appointments and choose the time I want it to remind me at, etc. It’s very useful to make the most of your handheld devices and make a habit of looking at the time, as tedious as it sounds. It has really helped me to become more punctual in my everyday life. By the time the weekend hits and you’re free of responsibility, you can take a mental break and just relax!
On iOS devices you can use the Clock app for most of your needs. It has a timer, stopwatch, and an alarm, with many features and options for customizing.

iOS also has the Reminders app which comes in handy for tasks that are not necessarily restricted by time.


And finally you can find tons of Planner apps on the App Store that are really fun and useful. I use Planner Pro.


I am planning a future entry with a list of apps and resources on both iOS and Android, that you can use to help you in every day life, so keep your eyes peeled!

Before My Diagnosis

Basically this blog is going to highlight where it all began. No, this isn’t the story of my conception or birth, it’s the story of how I ended up with an ADHD predominantly inattentive diagnosis.

My Mother says I was always a busy baby, always on the go. She couldn’t take her eyes off me for one second otherwise I’d take off running and get into something I wasn’t supposed to. I was always making messes, I could never sit still, I was a terrible listener, and I absolutely could not stop talking. Unfortunately for my Mother, I talked from a very early age. Needless to say, I was a difficult, spirited child, and an absolute arm load to deal with. I loved to talk to myself in my mirror and my bedroom always looked like a tornado tore through it. But my Mother loved that about me, she loved how I wasn’t shy and could make friends so easily, and that I was full of life, quirky, fun, and expressive.

When I started school, my Kindergarten teacher didn’t have many complaints about me. She thought I was funny, cute, and my chattyness was a joy to have in the class. I always got to have a cool role in school drama productions because I had a huge flare for dramatics and I loved being the center of attention. I was a very emotional little girl, though. I felt things on such a deep level. Even at 5 years old I would cry watching sad movies or listening to sad songs. I was sensitive and often cried at school over trivial things. (Funnily enough, despite all the good things about me, I’d later be acknowledged in my Graduation yearbook for how often I cried… But that’s a story for another day.)

In Grade 1, my chatty nature was no longer “cute”. My first grade Teacher would often grow tired of my “disruptions” and separate me from my class mates by putting me behind a large mobile wall, alone. She had no patience for me, and would often grab my arm and pull me aggressively out of the room when I would protest that I wanted to stay with my class mates. I had bruises on my arms from her fingers. I was 6. She looked at me as nothing more than a nuisance.

In Grade 2 I had an excellent teacher with a high energy level. She found outlets for me to put my own energy into, mostly Drama productions. I loved performing, I loved making people laugh, and I was so glad to have a teacher who would accommodate me and my passions. She didn’t judge me or have preconceived ideas about me because I was chatty, hyper, or “annoying”. She lifted me up.

I have little memory of Grade 3 because this is when some big changes came into my life. I had, as far as I remember, a great teacher named Mr. Bird. But not long after school started, my parents decided we were going to move to a different town, which meant switching schools. I would be lying if I said I was upset. Even at a young age I had wanderlust. The idea of new friends, a new environment, and a fresh start excited me. So after March Break, I started school. I don’t remember much from the transition, I know I spent a lot of time making new friends, and my grades were sort of up in the air because I came in halfway through the school year and was still adjusting to my new surroundings.

By Grade 4 I had established some amazing friendships. I had 4 girls who were my squad. However, this was the worst school year of my life as far as academics go. My homeroom teacher had a strong dislike for me from the moment I stepped into her classroom. I was 9 years old and very talkative, bubbly, and eccentric. I loved attention, and continued pursuing my love of acting through the School’s Afterschool Drama program. My Teacher was also a lover of performance arts, particularly music, and choir. I looked up to her so much in the beginning, and couldn’t understand why she didn’t like me. I was often called out for talking during class, and being generally disruptive. She told me one time, to my little 9 year old face, that she didn’t like me. She said it was because “girls like you, blonde and blue eyed, picked on me when I was little. I know girls like you.”… I decided after that, that I didn’t like her either. Another time, she took my hand and brought me to the front of the class line up on the way to the bus. She stopped the whole line and turned to my classmates, still holding my hand, she looked down at me and told me that I stink… She said I needed to tell my Mommy to give me a bath, because I was dirty and smelled bad. My classmates watched on in silence, I was so grateful that they didn’t laugh.

At this point I was starting to struggle academically. My grades were a reflection of my mind – a mess. I was extremely disorganized. My desk was often full of garbage, papers, and other random clutter. I would always forget to do my homework and even when I remembered, I couldn’t maintain focus on it. I’d end up giving up and feeling stupid and useless. I’d go to school and hang my head in shame every single day as I told my teacher I didn’t do my work. It was embarrassing for me because I knew the struggle I was dealing with to complete basic tasks, but my teachers didn’t know my struggle. To them, I was just irresponsible, uninterested in school, a problem in the classroom, and a lost cause with terrible grades to show for it.

In Grade 5 a new teacher came to our school. Her name was Mrs. Paul and I absolutely adored her. She was fun, warm, kind, and interesting. She didn’t pick on me when she caught me day dreaming while she was talking. She didn’t try to humiliate me when she saw me doodling all over my books and school work instead of doing the work or reading the book. I’d listen eagerly when she talked about her Golden Retriever named Macaroni. She knew I loved to sing, so she let me come to the front of the class and sing the national anthem one morning. She gave me a big sparkly snowman sticker. I remember that to this day! I loved everything about her. So, it seems fitting that she would be the one to contact my Mom and let her know there was something different about me. She’s the one teacher who didn’t think I was making up excuses, but sought to find an explanation instead. I will be forever grateful to her for that.

The rest of the year and Summer was filled with psychiatrist, paediatric, and therapy appointments. Checklists and behaviour observations. Eventually, I was finally diagnosed with ADHD, predominantly inattentive, otherwise known as ADD. After that, everything changed. But that’s a story for another day, too. 🙂

YOU, ME, & ADHD

It took me a long time to realize that the reason I am the way I am is not because I am flawed, but because I have ADHD. My ADHD is predominantly inattentive which is often referred to as ADD. No I’m not just lazy, I’m not distracted all the time. When I zone out I’m not sitting there brain-dead, I’m taking in everything around me – literally everything. I’m listening to all the sounds and looking at all the sights, while trying to listen to somebody talk to me at the same time. Sometimes it’s impossible for me to focus on one thing because there are so many things that have my focus simultaneously.

The procrastination is not as simple as saying I’ll do it later and then just not doing it, I will actually look at something visualize myself doing it, tell myself that I need to do it and I need to do it now – but somehow just visualizing myself doing it has exhausted me and I talk myself out of it. I beat myself up for not doing it. Something that might seem like a small thing to someone else is a big thing to me. Such as being in a crowded area, too many people talking to me at once, not knowing where I left something, or losing my train of thought. All of those things cause severe anxiety for me. When I was a little girl in school it used to bother my teachers when they would see me doodling on my notebooks instead of listening to them, often I was listening to them but doodling helped me center my focus. That’s this amazing thing that a lot of children with ADD or ADHD have called hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is both a gift and a curse.  I had a lot of amazing teachers my whole way through school, however in my younger years, I had teachers who didn’t understand my ADHD and they saw me as a problem in the classroom. I was often humiliated because if I zoned out the teacher would call on me to answer the question instead of the other children who had their hands up. If I had been zoning out well, of course I didn’t know the answer, and unfortunately some of my teachers knew this and did it anyways. This is something that scares me to this day about sending my children to school. However I still don’t fault the teachers for this, I blame a lack of knowledge on the disability itself. If you are my friend, please take the time out of your day to read my posts about ADD and ADHD. Because this is something that is a major part of my life and if you are also a part of my life, I want you to understand me.

I will end this big spiel by pointing out to some of my friends who I have seen doing this, that it is harmful for people who don’t have ADD or ADHD to say things like “she just needs to get outside, she’s just daydreaming, teachers and parents these days are too quick to drug kids, I would never drug my child.” If you were the type of person saying things like this stop, you clearly don’t understand how ADD and ADHD work. Some children really need medication while other children can self manage. Personally I have been on a few different medications from the time I was in the fifth grade until I graduated. Now I prefer not to be medicated. But whether or not someone chooses to medicate or manage it themselves is no one else’s concern. If a parent decides to put their child with ADHD on medication you should assume they are doing it with their child’s best interests at heart.

And finally for any of my friends who have children that might have ADD or ADHD if you have any questions at all about it please feel free to talk to me.