Archive for the ‘meds’ Tag

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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Disability and Identity   Leave a comment

I don’t understand why people want to police what we call ourselves.

I have ADHD. When I’m speaking to people, I usually say “I’m ADD.” When I’m writing about people who have ADHD, I talk about “ADHDers.”

Yes, I am more than my ADHD. I am more than my executive dysfunction.

But it is an intrinsic part of who I am, because it’s helped shape me into the person I am and it continues to influence my life in a myriad of ways.

I mean, I am also a Christian, a cis woman, taller-than-average (I’m 5’9”; the average height for a cis woman in North America is 5’6”), overweight, a brunette, creative, organized, a reader, a writer, an editor, and a nerd. I have tinnitus, visual snow, hyperacusis, and misophonia, and I wear glasses. I’m a housewife.

Some of these descriptors are things I chose; others are not. Why is it okay to say that “I am” some of these things but not okay to say that “I am” other of these things? Saying that I’m a brunette doesn’t define me any more than saying that I have brown hair does. So why does it matter whether I say that I “am” ADHD, that I “have” ADHD, or that I’m an ADHDer?

Thinking positively about disability doesn’t mean rejecting the fact that there are difficulties (extreme difficulties, or it wouldn’t be a disability) inherent to the condition.

I take medication and I advocate at least trying it because it can help people deal with their executive dysfunction long enough to actually learn skills they need in order to manage without it (at least for a little while). Medication makes a lot of things about my life much easier. I still struggle with my symptoms, but it’s easier to deal when I’m on my meds.

But ADHD is and will always be a part of who I am; I can’t escape it, and I don’t want to. Sure, it would be nice to not have to deal with executive dysfunction on a daily basis, but I have absolutely no idea who I would be if I didn’t have ADHD. I don’t know how I would relate to the world if it suddenly disappeared from my life. I don’t know what I would have grown up to be like if I didn’t have ADHD. And while I’m sure there’s an alternate universe in which I don’t have ADHD, I seriously doubt I’ll ever meet that version of myself. And that’s okay.

I choose to identify myself as being ADHD, as being an ADHDer. I choose to struggle through my difficulties. I choose to medicate while I work on learning skills I need to manage my life and my home. I choose to keep ADHD a part of myself, a part of my identity, a part of how I relate to the world. ADHD causes me plenty of difficulties (else I wouldn’t have been diagnosed with it), and I am hard pressed to know which of my talents and gifts are a result of my ADHD. So I choose to think of it as a neutral aspect of myself. Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass, just like my height can be. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun, just like my creativity can be.

Because thinking differently about disability doesn’t mean only seeing it in a positive light. Thinking positively about disability doesn’t mean ignoring the difficulties.

It just means accepting it and understanding it, and learning to incorporate it into your life – however you may choose to do that.

(That last paragraph means that if you don’t want to make your disability part of your identity the way I have, that’s okay. It’s your choice, and I’m not going to police the language you use about yourself. This post is about getting people to really listen to disabled folks about what we want to be called, instead of citing parents, professors, teachers, and professionals and telling us we’ve picked the wrong term.)

Posted March 7, 2013 by karalianne in Identity

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I want to write about this more. (October 4, 2012, Tumblr)   1 comment

I posted this as part of a reblog of this post.

I think that a lot of these books (and the professionals we go to for help) don’t give us enough credit. I want to learn something new when I read one of these books, not have all the same old stuff tossed at me yet again. If that same old stuff worked, I wouldn’t be reading yet another book, now, would I?

And I think part of the problem is that they’re approaching the problems we have from the point of view that we need to find ways to make our lives function the way others’ lives function.

That makes absolutely no sense.

Aside from the need to be places on time (like work) and keep a job, why does everything about my life need to look and function the same way a non-ADHDer’s life does?

The answer is: it doesn’t. It really, really doesn’t.

Figuring that out has really opened up my eyes and given me a lot more positive outlook. Finding ways to force life to bend to my brain (instead of the other way around) has been challenging, and I haven’t quite succeeded yet. I still do a LOT of brain-wrangling (read the post I made last night to see how bad it can be). But I have far more successful days than I did when I was trying to make myself fit into a set of expectations that were unrealistic and didn’t make sense given my particular neurology. And while I do think that being able to stay home has had a big impact on that, I don’t think it was vital; since figuring this out, I’ve had plenty of successful days while working full-time (in an administrative position), as well.

I think that we are capable of figuring out how to bend life to suit our brains and still fit into society’s general expectations of “success” and “adult”; we’ve just been taught to think otherwise, because there’s an entire industry that hinges on our need for assistance. I think we can help each other in this pursuit, and we don’t have to spend anything to do that except our internet fees, which we would be paying anyway.

I want to talk about this some more. Because it’s something I only just found the words for today, so now I want to keep adding more words.

I want to talk about how I’m a “strong person.” I lived for 28 years without knowing I had ADHD, and even though I couldn’t figure out how to adult, I somehow managed to achieve “success.”

I want to talk about how I don’t feel strong a lot of the time, and how I spit out the phrase like it’s poison, because it’s something I feel I have to be, not something I want to be or even really am.

I want to talk about how I’m a “successful person.” I have a university degree and completed the coursework for a second, and I worked full-time (or something resembling it) for nearly a decade.

I want to talk about how I have never really felt successful, and how I never feel like I deserve the praise I receive from people for the things I do, even though I know that I do those things well and worked hard to do a good job.

I want to talk about how there’s this thing that happens with some disabilities, where the people who have them are expected to just try harder and be like everyone else. We’re expected to learn to pretend that we aren’t the way we are, and there’s an assumption that this pretending won’t naturally take energy and impact our lives in a negative way.

I want to talk about the other thing that happens, where people refuse to claim the word “disability” and insist that they’re just “different.” I want to talk about the disservice this does to those who are truly disabled by the same thing. I want to talk about how this doesn’t help people who don’t have the disability understand what it is and how it affects us.

I want to talk about how focusing on ability is damaging, too, because there are people who struggle with everything, and people who can’t even begin that struggle, and those people are still valuable as people. And because people change over time, and they learn new things, so condemning someone to inability due to how they present as a child is just as bad as expecting someone to do more than they are currently able to do because they did it before so it’s something they can always do.

I want to talk about how the medical model of disability is awful because it assumes that disability is automatically “bad” and needs to be eradicated. I want to talk about how the social model of disability isn’t much better because it assumes that people are really only disabled due to the expectations society has of us.

I want to talk about how everybody is different, and how that means that the solution to a problem that worked for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for the next person, even if they have the exact same diagnosis. Even if they take the exact same medication at the exact same dose.

I want to talk about how changing my environment and my life situation to better suit my brain hasn’t cured my ADHD. About how all those “experts” who say that ADHDers find it easier to focus on things they enjoy and things they’re interested in are full of shit. About how hard I’m working to get my house in order, because I want it to be comfortable and I want to be able to redecorate and I want to be able to finally organize our books and things like that. About how much I hate my medication right now because it’s making me miserable physically due to indigestion, but I can’t stop taking it or I’ll eat everything in the house and regain all the weight I’ve worked so hard to lose over the last few years.

I want to talk about how disability isn’t “bad,” it just is. Like emotions. Emotions aren’t “bad” or “good,” they just are; it’s what you do with them that matters. Disability exists. People legitimately can’t do things because they are disabled. That isn’t a bad thing, unless the things they can’t do are things they want to do for themselves. And that’s when amazing things are invented. That’s how amazing things happen, how great ideas are born, how movements gain momentum.

I want to talk about how we’re encouraged to go to these professionals, and to read books by “experts.” How this is all geared toward “helping” us act like we aren’t disabled, like there isn’t this thing about us that makes us different, that makes it so certain things are incredibly difficult and others are truly impossible. How people who have our disability and achieved “success” are held up as amazing examples we should try to emulate. How those people are sometimes framed as having achieved what they have “in spite of” their disabilities and sometimes framed as having achieved what they have “because of” their disabilities, and that is really confusing and unhelpful for everyone.

I want to talk about all of these things, and probably more.

I might reblog this and expand on some of these points later on. In the meantime, here it is for everyone else to read and respond to, if you like.