The Blessing of ADHD From An Adult Living Happily With It

ADHD & Adulting

So, I may have mentioned in previous posts that I have returned to college to finish that psych degree that I started 30 years ago. I am loving the classes and subject matter just as much as I did all those years ago.

BUT, I am taking some huge issues with the diagnosis and prognosis for those with ADD or ADHD. I have no issue with diagnosing people with ADD or ADHD- it is REAL and I know what I am talking about because I have it. I was not diagnosed as a child because mine expressed itself as day dreaming mostly and I was labeled a ditz versus ADHD and I am so grateful for that mistake. But, I have huge issues with saying that the way these brains work is a flaw.

The reason I am grateful is that if I had been properly diagnosed I would have been “properly” labeled and fed a total load OF CRAP. Like that fact that I would always struggle with keeping a job or wouldn’t have friends. I do not argue with the fact that my brain operates differently than other brains. I do not argue the fact that interpersonal relations are difficult at times but theses differences are not necessarily bad, they are just different.

My brain is VERY active and I do have trouble sitting still for long periods of time.

So, what?

Yes, to the classroom setting or certain job settings this can be a problem- not for me but for the others who have set ideas about what makes for a good student or employee.

I produce a LOT, much more than the average person BECAUSE I have ADHD. In the course of writing this article, I will have gotten up from the desk no less than three times. BUT, in those moments when I had to get up and move- I washed and folded three loads of laundry, emptied the de-humidifier, watered my plants, and sent three texts. Let’s also not forget that while I was physically active, my brain was putting what I wanted to say in order. I was crafting my response to the information I am reading and thinking about what I wanted to say to those of you who share in the blessing of ADHD or are parenting a child with ADHD. Remember, my brain is NEVER still.

While I write, I wear earbuds so that the hyperactive side of my brain is busy so the other side can write.

Another falacy in the preception of hyperactivity is that we can’t focus. This is completely UNTRUE. I can focus but I have to really be into what I am doing. When I am writing fiction, reading, being creative, gardening or any other one of my passions, I can focus so intensely that I do not hear a thing that goes on around me.

Some see this as a flaw- why?

Because I am different from the average that makes me flawed? Nope, that makes me unique.

Stop framing these people that operate differently than the average as flawed. Just because a kid does not perform well in school is not a sign that they lack intelligence. More than likely they perform poorly because they are more intelligent than the average and are not interested in what you are teaching. Or, they need the material presented in a different form.

Saying that those with ADHD have memory deficits is also a lie when applied as a generality. I have an amazing memory. If I read it, I can remember it. If I write it, I can remember it. If it is interesting to me and I hear it, I can remember it. However, I can forget an appointment because I was engrossed in a project. This is not a memory problem. If I find you boring, I won’t remember you or what you said. Not because I have a memory problem but because you are uninteresting. Furthermore, just because I am doodling on my paper it does not mean that I am not paying attention. I won’t lie, I found it insanely satisfying when a teacher tried to put me on the spot by calling me out and asking me to repeat what she just said. Yes, I was doodling and “not paying attention” in your world, but in my world? I heard every word and could repeat it back to you. Which I did, much to their consternation.

How about instead of trying to force every human to learn a certain way, we attempt to teach in a way that engages the brightest of minds and encourages the celebration of differences.

If you believed what you were told as a child concerning your brain, reject it now. Lean how to yoke your strengths and compensate where you are struggling. For instance, wear earbuds and listen to music when you need to concentrate. Choose a job that allows you to be physically active if you need it. Set timers on your phone so you can remember important dates and times.

But, for the love of God, do not put your beautiful, active mind into a boring box that pleases society because you no longer challenge the “norms”.

I acknowledge that to be a friend or family member of mine comes with some challenges. I might forget your anniversary date, this DOES NOT mean that I am not stinking proud that you have built a beautiful marriage against all odds. I might forget your birthday, but this DOES NOT mean that I am not glad that you exist. Because my thought process are randomized, you may get unexpected notes in the middle of the year as a total surprise. But here is the thing, I have to accept you and all your flaws, as well if we are going to have a relationship.

I guess the thing that just irritates me to the point of desired violence is that the basis of a diagnosis of ADHD is based on that human performs based on society’s norms. How many times has society gotten it wrong? Really, do we even want every person able to sit quietly in a room for hours and never have moments of passion in which they can’t control themselves? How boring.

I would like to qualify my thoughts with the fact that I understand that there is a range of intensity in which the symptoms express themselves. I also understand that medication is needed at times. I am not judging on the choices that people are making, I am simply stating that if we framed it differently, we would see the gifts in these brains versus what is “wrong”.

Daily Encouragement: Psalm 18:

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

We know a God who is listening- even if it looks like he is not.

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Happily Ever After

This guy- I don’t know what I would do without him.

Four babies have come and gone. They are building careers and families of their own.

We are back to the two of us. We loved the years of raising our chaotic zoo and it hurts to know that we are officially done with that season. But, we are excited to be a couple again.

We started young and it wasn’t the easy way (I don’t think an easy way exists when it come to raising a family) but I wouldn’t change a thing.

When we look at our crew, we are SO FREAKING PROUD!

Happily Ever After is a way of life for us.

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See You Later- What A Wonderful Thought

This past weekend, we traveled back to Canton, TX and celebrated Jonathan as he embarks on his new life.

He has chosen to serve and departs for boot camp in less than a week. It was time to say, “See You Later.” Watching him interact with his friends and family was such a gift. Knowing that there wouldn’t be another moment like this was sobering. All of his friends will be very different when Jonathan sees them again. As it stands, we won’t see him again before August. One set of newly married friends will have welcomed their first child, his sister will be in law school and who knows what that much time will bring to the rest of their lives.

So, we soaked it all up. Laughter was in abundance as were smiles. He won’t look the same when he gets back. He will not be the same when he gets back. But, that is a thing to be celebrated, not grieved. Nothing stays the same, he is choosing to become more.

See you later, Big Boy! We could not possibly be more proud of you!

A Writer’s Day

Today was a perfect day.

I woke up happy.

Spent time with God on my balcony.

Reflected on a sweet evening with daughter #2.

Did my workout.

Snuggled with a grandbaby.

Worked a couple hours at my paying job (transaction coordinator)

Worked several hours and wrote 5000 words at my dream job. (Writer)

Marked chores off my list.

Cooked dinner

Took a walk with the love of my life in the fog and misty rain.

Completed the week’s homework assignment.

Soaked in a hot bath.

I mean, it really doesn’t get better than this! I wanted it documented so I can reflect on it when the day isn’t so perfect.

I don’t want to blow by the sweet everyday moments that add up to a beautiful life.

The Best Belongs At Home

So often, we give our best to our boss or our coworkers or our church family and we are so spent when we get home that our family gets the leftovers.

Leftovers are, 9 times out of 10, gross. Nobody wants leftovers, certainly not on a regular basis.

If we want a thriving marriage, then we must give our spouse our best. The world can take the leftovers, not the one who means the most to us.

Ornaments, Tradition, & Tapestries

Mickey Mouse & 3 of his friends came from our trip to Disney World
Mickey Mouse & 3 of his friends came from our trip to Disney World

When Cheyenne was about 3, a wonderful lady shared about buying ornaments for her grandchildren to hang on the “cousins tree” in her house.  Each Christmas the cousins would all come over and were given a new ornament to go on the tree and would then decorate the tree with ornaments from years past.  I thought this was great and I changed it a bit to fit the season of life that I was currently in and still am as I do not have any grandchildren yet.

Each year I give the kids a new ornament which is the first ornaments to be hung on the tree.  Their ornaments are stored in a plastic shoe box labeled with their names.  The idea was that when they left home that these would be their ornaments to decorate their own trees.  Last year, the first box left home.  Honestly, this was more traumatic for me than when the child actually left home.  There are precious memories in those boxes.

In the beginning, I wanted a themed tree- you know color coordinated and just so.  So, I purchased ornaments that went with my theme, mainly mercury glass type ornaments in shiny colors.  But then one year when the kids were still very little, I had the idea to purchase the ornaments while on our summer vacation.  I was able to do this without the kids noticing as my husband is great at keeping the kids busy while I hunt ornaments. At Christmas, the vacation would have long been a memory but when the ornaments came out the memories came back. Being stealthy about the ornament buying worked for a few years, but the children being smart and observant started looking for ornaments for me while we would be shopping.  Then this became a new tradition.  Also, it dawned on me the year we went to Chincoteague Island that if I didn’t buy myself an ornament I was going to have a very empty and sad tree when the kids left home.

From the island of Chincoteague- the light house
From the island of Chincoteague- the light house

Now, each year when the boxes are relieved of their contents, we remember each trip and tell the stories one more time.  Some years, there weren’t vacations so the ornaments were chosen based on a significant event in our lives.  Like the year all the kids got into horses, I bought horse ornaments that looked like each kid’s horse.  It has become something we all treasure and enjoy.  My tree is not coordinated, but it is themed.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I often ask the kids about their friends houses at Christmas- I am a bit of a junkie and I like to gather new ideas- so often their response is “The tree is pretty, but not special like ours.”  It seems I set the bar high without even meaning to do so.

Hand blown glass ornament from Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hand blown glass ornament from Hot Springs, Arkansas

This is what traditions are to me- threads that run through the years tying us together and weaving the tapestry that when we look back, it is the tapestry of our lives.  As the mother, it is my honor to be the keeper and maker of these traditions.

Tony would always sing the rymn "little pig, little pig let me in" to the kids and one year I found a set of 3 pigs and one big bad wolf.
Tony would always sing the rhyme “little pig, little pig let me in” to the kids and one year I found a set of 3 pigs and one big bad wolf.

What says Christmas like a pink flamingo?  Brought back from one of the many tips to the coast.
What says Christmas like a pink flamingo? Brought back from one of the many trips to the coast.

This years ornaments were make by me with shells, sand and drift wood collected from Galveston Island.
This year’s ornaments were made by me with shells, sand and drift wood collected from Galveston Island.

Opening the 2013 ornaments
Opening the 2013 ornaments

Hanging the ornaments from their boxes, the three still left at home.
Hanging the ornaments from their boxes, the three still left at home.

Divorce & The Holidays

christmas

As the holidays approach, life can really get complicated.  Add in blended families and divorced parents and it can be a real mine field.

So I am going to offer something that, I hope will make your holiday what you hope for.  Sit quietly and think about what memories you would like to make with your children and what you want them to remember when they are grown and look back on the holidays that they shared with you.  Frankly, this applies to any facet of life- what do you want your kids to remember when they look back and make that happen.

In regards to the holidays, don’t let all the voices pulling at you influence your dreams.  Just take a few minutes to dream about what you would like and what would be best for your children.  Now go do that.

I am reminded of a conversation I once had with a friend.  Her children were all little and she was married to her original husband who was the father of all four kids.  The stress she was feeling was that both his and her parents were divorced and remarried- and all wanted them at their respective homes for the holidays.  She was exhausted and didn’t really want to make 5-6 stops in a 48 hour period with four small children in tow.  This was not what she thought was best for her kids or herself.  When asked what I thought I offered this:

“You did not create the problem.  It was not your decision or your husband’s for either of your parent’s to get a divorce.  The adults at the time made that decision.  Now, they have to live with the consequences.  Because they chose divorce, they now have to understand that they will not have all the children and grandchildren at every holiday.  And that is not your fault or your problem to fix.”

Now, will people get mad when you choose to stay home or only visit one or two homes?  Yes.

Will they get their feelings hurt?  Probably.

Will they be harmed? No.

The main thing is that you live and establish YOUR family in the way that is best for you and them.  Your  children are only little once, don’t let it pass by missing out on what you dream of by trying to make everyone else happy.

I hope this helps someone have a less stressful holiday.  The holidays should be a time of joy and celebration- but we have to be purposeful for that to happen.

 

A Season of Transition- Are We There Yet?

tran·si·tion
noun
  1. the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

My handsome flight medic
My handsome flight medic

This has been the definition of our lives over the past three years.  In reality, we are all in a constant state of transition as nothing stays the same.  We either move forward or we deteriorate.  However, so often the change is small and not so noticeable and then there are those times where change is monumental.

Our first monumental change was Tony retiring from Mother Francis where he had been employed as a paramedic first on the ambulance and then as a flight medic for 16 years.  Given that our oldest was only 17, this was the only thing our children remembered Tony ever doing.  This was a good change, but scary.  We started our business selling plants, shrubs, and herbs- what was then called The Farm On Holly’s Hill.  I was so glad to have him home and not working so many hours  and being so tired all the time. We could be together everyday and sleep in the same bed every night.  I have never regretted making this change not that it was easy.  We have worked very hard.

What I did not know , was that once Tony quit flying and working in the field of emergency medicine, he began suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Now, his was not so severe that he could not function but he began having nightmares and night sweats about all that he had seen and heard.  His sleep was horrible, he would hear the buzzer go off in his head and then be up all night because of the adrenaline rush that this triggered.  It was a rough year and for the most part I had no idea.  I am a heavy sleeper and he is good at keeping things from me if he thinks it will cause me to worry.  When he did tell me- after the trouble had passed- I said, “Why didn’t you tell me? I could have been nice to you on those days and not fussed so much.” To that he replied, ” I just wanted things to be normal.”  Oh, maybe I should work on “normal” a bit, huh?

I write all this, not because I want sympathy but to say that if you have a loved one working in this field be aware that they see so much more than they will ever talk about.  Just know that even if they haven’t been in combat, there has been trauma.  Tony would probably not really like me posting this because he is a very private person and keeps most stuff inside.  But he deserves a lot of credit for how long he worked helping people.  The average tenure is his field is 2 years, he stayed for 16.  This makes him a virtual legend, the old guy.

Now, we are in our third year with the business and have changed the name to Hollyberry Herb Farm.  Not only did we change the name but also our focus.  This spring was the first year that we did not sell shrubs but focused mainly on herbs.  This has been a great change, one that I have really enjoyed.  Instead of flea markets and trades days, we sell at the farmer’s market every Saturday.

Last October, our oldest moved out for school.  We moved farms in March leaving behind the house we had lived in for the past 13 years.  Savannah graduated from High school.  Both girls move into an apartment in Athens next week and will attend college there.  So, I have gone from home schooling four children to two children in a 12 month period.

What I hope to be the last monumental change for us for awhile is that Tony has been hired by Amazon.com and will be working full time off the farm again.  We both knew the season had passed for him being home full-time working only a part time job on the side.  He will be a medical representative at a major warehouse, kind of like a school nurse.  No more working in the field, he will have air conditioning, set hours, and private sector pay.  Tony has certainly earned it.  I am so happy for him.  As I write this, he has just landed in Phoenix Arizona where he will be in training for 3 weeks.  I hate having him gone for that long, but it is only temporary, an uncomfortable step to something far better.

Now, I would really like to just settle down.  Develop a rhythm with the two kiddos still at home, work my gardens and sell my herbs- that would be on my list of wishes.  We shall see.  I can’t foresee any more major changes to come.  Well, I say that when- you have a daughter that is 20 you could have some major changes popping up if some one pops the question but there are no candidates at this time so I think we are safe- for a while.

Goodness, when I read back over this realize just why I have been so tired lately.  I need to rest!  And rest I will, Sierra , I, and Jonathan will be headed to Galveston next week.  We will miss the rest of the bunch something fierce, but it will help pass the time while their dad is away.  I get happy just thinking about it.  There is nothing more soothing than the sound of waves rolling in to the beach.

What changes are you facing?