I was frozen in place this morning, unable to move or think of what to do next. It was the perfect storm of tiredness and mental frenzy. I wouldn’t call it a panic attack, because I wasn’t panicking, although I was certainly worried and stressed. It’s sort of like I just shut down for a while because I needed to recalibrate.
The flood of work coming in right now is a boon (more money, great!) and a detriment (except that all I do is work, ack!). I should be appreciative that my pay is revenue-based, meaning that I can’t be worked to death without seeing my income rise in a commensurate fashion. And I am, believe me. But I also worry about balls being dropped, especially since I can’t tell you off the top of my head how many of them I have in the air right now. I have forgotten some of their names, what they look like, how they feel when they hit my palm and are released upward back into the queue. I know they are there, but I can’t see them, except as a blur above my head. From up there, they resemble something I used to do, a procedure I knew intimately, a style of speaking and negotiating and counseling that was familiar and easy for me, because of all the time I spent doing it, becoming confident in it. I don’t know why I’m analogizing my caseload to juggling balls (are those a thing? balls made specifically for juggling, as opposed to say tennis balls?), but here we are.
Several weeks ago, I decided to terminate a failing experiment with stimulant medications that are supposed to help me manage my ADHD. The reasons include insurance issues, numerous confusing doctor visits, and horrible side effects, including that telltale feeling of COMPLETE DOOM that tells you something is very wrong with your brain chemistry. The whole complete doom thing was good in that I had another prescription adjusted, which I think was necessary all along. The second outcome of that event, which was supposed to entail a decreased dosage of an extended-release stimulant, is the part I discarded. It took three days of the doom returning for me to realize that I’m just not that into Vyvanse.
So, today I considered digging my old prescription out of the medicine cabinet, because I do remember the positive effects of these delectable amphetamine cocktails: a rush of happy, the zipping around the house, the getting shit done. That feeling of being invincible. God, I loved that. I just didn’t love feeling completely overwhelmed, exhausted, and depressed when the stuff wore off, or when I had to adjust the dose. But today was one of those days where I said to myself, “I am not going to make it without the drugs.”
And I stopped myself there, because if I knew that if I were to take the pill, it would mean that I was making that statement true. It didn’t need to be true when I said it, but if I reached out to a substance to help me cope, it would make the idea real. It’s like that feeling that you want to say something bad, to articulate some potentiality that would be awful and probably should be addressed proactively, but you’re afraid that if you say it out loud, you’ll give life to the problem and set it in motion. Geez, only someone with OCD would feel that way and actually type all that into a blog post for the world to see. Hi there.
So I did not take the pill, because I didn’t want that statement to be true. I got my kids to school that morning, late, as is commonly the case. I came home to a mess – not the one in the kitchen, which I’ve grown accustomed to, but the one in my mind. The mess of unanswered emails and phone calls, of expectations, of fear, of entreaties for help. I work with very vulnerable clients, despite the fronts of having nice homes and fat bank accounts and supportive family members. And not all of them fall into that category. Many of them have the stresses of demanding jobs, young children, family tension, and of course, someone in the family with a disability, which is why they are calling me in the first place. I share some of these stresses with them.
Today I blamed myself for slipping into my old habits of going to bed late, getting up too late, and starting work too late. Not too late to get things done, but only too late to feel on top of the work and like I can manage everything these cases – and the rest of my life – throws at me. And for a moment, I thought the drugs could help again … or rather, of course I knew they would help, but the problem was that they don’t help without slashing my quality of life in other ways. Worse ways. What is worse – living with ADHD and having a hectic life that involves the occasional freezing up and failure to function, or medicating ADHD and getting things done but undoing all the hard work I’ve done to improve my mood and outlook over the past six months?
Many well-meaning people have suggested that I simply wake up earlier, since a major trigger for both my mood issues and organizational ones seems to be that feeling of being rushed and running late in the morning. I know I need to do this. And I agree that the solution is simple. It’s just that simple does not always mean easy. I’m sure I could easily wake up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow, if it weren’t for the fact that today has already become tomorrow … I’m writing this at 12:02 a.m. I’m either going to be exhausted but on time tomorrow morning, or somewhat well-rested but late. I know which outcome I’m putting my money on.
And this is where I ponder whether I truly do have ADHD, or whether I just have too many damn things going on. Some would say that there isn’t really a difference. I can’t seriously entertain that notion as a generally applicable truth, but I am willing to accept that this hypothesis may explain my particular quandary.
Image credit: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons.