Archive for October 2015

Self-Care   Leave a comment

Something I’ve noticed a lot of disabled people are actually pretty bad at is self-care. (Yeah, it could just be my circles, but somehow I doubt it.) We push ourselves to do as much as we think we’re “supposed” to do (for me that is apparently like three times more than other people do in a day) and beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve that goal. When we have a bad day (as in, a day when our body or brain just won’t let us do stuff), we beat ourselves up over how useless we are.

Let’s be clear here: self-care isn’t coddling, it’s taking care of yourself and making sure you get what you need in order to be healthy and safe. Sometimes it means forcing yourself to do stuff, sometimes it means just going with the flow.

For example, when I get depressed one thing that often helps is spending time one-on-one with a good friend. I know this helps my mood lift and gives me energy and motivation, but when I’m depressed I often don’t feel like seeing or interacting with anyone at all. I’d rather just hide myself away in my room and stay there until I feel better. The problem is that doing that won’t help me feel better and is actually more likely to make me feel worse.

Meanwhile, sometimes I have what I call “bad brain days”: days when my executive functioning is shot all to heck and I am doing well to remember to eat. When that happens, I have to take it easy on myself. I lessen my expectations, choose just a few things to try and get done, and promise to be nice to myself if I don’t manage it. It’s not like I have any control over whether or not my brain is going to be able to do stuff on a given day; that’s part of having ADHD.

It’s taken me a long time to learn this, and I still have to work hard to make sure I look after myself properly.

Self-care is different for everyone. We all need to learn to do right for ourselves.

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The importance of sleep   Leave a comment

Like I wrote last Thursday, I went to see my ADHD doctor to talk about medication.

He listened to me, looked back over his notes from my previous appointments (I’ve been seeing him somewhat regularly since 2010), and asked me how my sleep was.

That’s an important question.

Over at the ADHD blog, people write in asking why their symptoms might be worse, and how to know if they need a higher dose of medication. I always say the same thing:

Check to make sure that these things are in order, because if even one is out of whack you will have problems:

  • Stress – Increased stress makes symptoms worse.
  • Sleep – If you’re not in bed for at least seven hours per night, you are probably short on sleep, and lack of sleep gives non-ADHDers the symptoms of ADHD.
  • Diet  – Diet doesn’t cause ADHD, though some allergies might cause similar symptoms for some people, but eating a healthy diet that’s high in protein is really good for the ADHD brain.
  • Exercise – Regular exercise is also really good for the ADHD brain and makes it easier to focus for a little while.

So these are all about as good as they’ve ever been, except my sleep… well, with a seven-month-old baby, I’m sure you can imagine what that looks like.

I’m now tracking my sleep for the next few weeks, and trying to get more (good luck), and I’ll go back to see him at the end of that time. Maybe I’ll post my results here, too.

Either way, my ADHD is big these days, as are my anxiety and depression (though not as bad as they have been in the past).

What’s big for you today?

Posted October 24, 2015 by karalianne in General Disability Discussion

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ADHD Awareness Month   Leave a comment

If you’re reading this blog, you know I have ADHD. (If you don’t, you need to re-read a bunch of my posts.) This means you’re aware of it. Job done, let’s all go home!

Except no.

Because what we need is awareness of the reality of ADHD. It’s not enough for people to just know that it’s a thing some people are diagnosed with, because there are too many misconceptions floating around and too much stigma surrounding both the diagnosis and the treatment methods.

The reality of ADHD is that I am going to see my ADHD doctor tomorrow morning to talk about getting back on medication. I’m breastfeeding, so stimulants aren’t recommended; I have researched antidepressants that often help with ADHD symptoms as well as anxiety, because anxiety and depression are clawing their way back into my life and I intensely dislike this sensation.

The reality of ADHD is that it’s not the same for everyone; while we often struggle with similar things internally, how that manifests externally is different for everyone, because ADHD is not a monolith and we are all individuals.

The reality of ADHD is that the diagnosis is a relief for many of us because we finally have a name for why we feel so different, an explanation for why things are so hard for us; and it is awful for many others because it is used to belittle them and to refuse them things they need.

The reality of ADHD is that it’s still not viewed by most people as an actual disability, which means that not only is it the punchline for a lot of really unfunny “jokes,” it’s also impossibly difficult to get accommodations for school, especially at post-secondary institutions in Canada that leave the final decision about things like extra time on tests in the hands of the professors. (That is Not Okay, just in case you were wondering.)

The reality of ADHD is different for each person who has it, so go ask the ADHDer in your life how it impacts them. And then really listen to what they say, and ask how you can help them deal.

Because nobody should have to be an island.

Posted October 16, 2015 by karalianne in Awareness Month

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