30 Things You May Not Know About My Illness

Someone suggested this site, Chronic Babe, which is for women living with chronic illnesses. Chronic means basically an illness you'll have for life, so ADHD, Aspergers, depression and anxiety count. I wanted to participate in this meme on the message board, and I thought I'd crosspost it here, too!

In honor of Invisible Illness Awareness Week, here's my contribution to the "30 things" meme. Want to write your own? Head over to the forum and post!

1. The illness I live with is: ADHD (i'll just focus on the one since i have a few)

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2003

3. But I had symptoms since: preschool, at least, and all through elementary school, high school, and adulthood.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: trying to find my own ways of doing everything. What seems like an ordinary piece of life for a typical person can be a complicated ordeal for me, such as trying to "pass" for normal at a job interview, sitting still in my college classes, trying not to annoy the people I live with, etc.

5. Most people assume: ADHD is just an excuse about laziness.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: feeling exhausted even though I slept all night, and feeling sort of sick.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: Gray's Anatomy

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: the GPS on my new cell phone! Its prevented me from getting lost about 100 times already! Before I had it, I was always getting lost!

9. The hardest part about nights are: when I am not ready to sleep but everyone is, and when I know I'm going to have to wake up in a short while. I'll try to force myself to go to sleep so I can get enough sleep, but it doesn't work!

10. Each day I take: Celexa, Wellbutrin, and vitamins.

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: wish I could find one that really worked for me and that was affordable.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I don't know. I am used to myself the way I am. Even though ADHD is a pain, I'm not sure I would want to trade it for a more visible illness, even if it meant I'd get more help for it.

13. Regarding working and career: I'm studying to be a special education teacher, but I'm afraid I'm not going to make it, because my professors tell me I'll have to get straight A's and be super "on the ball" in order to get a job. I am anything but on the ball!

14. People would be surprised to know: I have a really hard time connecting to others. I feel really awkward around people even if I know them really well. Family get togethers are totally hard for me. Its not that I don't love my family. I'd just rather see them one at a time, instead of all together.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: nothing because this has been my reality forever! I guess, knowing about it, its sometimes hard accepting that this is going to be who I am forever. I'm not going to wake up with that missing piece suddenly no longer missing!

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: l! earn to drive. When I was a kid I was told I'd never learn to drive. But I learned when I was 21. Its still sometimes hard for me and some people say I'm a "bad driver," but at least I get around!

17. The commercials about my illness: are mostly about children with ADHD.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: nothing, since I've had it all my life. But I think I miss out on things like socializing.

19. It was really hard to have to give up: n/a because, since I had it all my life, there is nothing really to give up. I've been told to give up caffiene but I cannot part with my Dr. Pepper!

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: I learned to knit and crochet. Also blogging.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: not know what to do because I was never "normal!"

22. My illness has taught me: to find the things that I am good at and enjoy, and run with them. I may not be able to do some things as well as other people, but I can do other things wonderfully. Also to live life to the fullest. I have a low tolerance for boredom, so I have had a lot of experiences just because I want to try everything!

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: "You don't have ADHD. The doctors are wrong. You're fine. You just have to... (try harder, gain more confidence, get over anxiety, stop feeling sorry for yourself, insert your own words here.)"

24. But I love it when people: understand and ask me questions to learn more, instead of just assuming they know better than me or anyone else.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:“Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.”

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: find the things you are interested, the things you are good at, and the things you love to do, and use those to help you get through. I love writing, so even though I have trouble paying attention in school, my ability to write fascinating reports and give funny presentations gets me through. Everybody has something that makes them shine!

27. Something that has surprised me about paying a living with an illness is: its tough. There's not a lot of help out there for people with an invisible illness. I am usually broke!

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Diana often talks sense into me. When I think everything is horrible, she helps put it back into perspective, letting me see that its not so bad and that others have gone through similar things.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I just learned about it, and I think it is an important thing for people to learn about, not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of the children I work with who have invisible illnesses such as ADHD, autism, OCD, etc.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: thankful that someone cares enough to listen to me!


Well, THAT was exhausting!

This has been an exhausting couple of days! I'm not going to write exactly why, because I may or may not still have stalker issues. But its just a matter of trying to juggle a bunch of things. Last night I slept at my mom's house, then went at about two to pick up all of the little kids in DuPage, and brought them back to my mom's house. I kept them there until about eight, and then brought them back to DuPage, where I will stay with them until about midnight, and then I will go back to my mom's house for the night. Does that sound complicated?

Its even more complicated because of the fact that Little Bear and Pufferfish were sort of sick.

We stopped at this little chocolate festival near my mom's house, which I thought would be fun for them. I envisioned it involving free samples of chocolate at every booth. No such luck! It was booth after booth of expensive food, nothing free, and a few rinky dink kiddie rides that were also expensive! I spent about twelve bucks on tickets so Rafael and Pufferfish could go on three rides each. Little Bear was saying she wasn't feeling good and didn't want to go on any rides. By the time the other kids got done riding their three rides and getting their faces painted, Little Bear was hollering up a storm! So I told them we would start heading for my mom's.

By the time we were almost to the car, Little Bear broke the news to me that she had to pee... bad! Of course she waited to tell me about it until it was nearly dribbling down her legs... and the only porta potty was way back on the other side of the fest, where we had just spent ten minutes walking from!

I told Little Bear to just hold it a few minutes until we got to my mom's. Little Bear started hollering even more, and then she bumped her head trying to get into the car, and it was a disaster for all involved! She gets like that when she's overtired... she's just one big blob of misfortune!

Finally we got to my mom's, and I left the others in the car so I could rush Little Bear into the bathroom. I showed her where it was, then went back for Rafael and Pufferfish, who had asked me about a bajillion times, "Why do we gotta wait in the car?" ("Because I gotta take Little Bear to the bathroom, I don't have time to get Pufferfish outta the car seat, and I don't want to leave her alone, so just STAY HERE FOR ONE MINUTE PLEASE!")

Unfortunately Little Bear had made it not quite on time to the potty and was hollering that she was cold, so I rifled around my mom's house for some little kid clothes. All I could find was a pair of Sarah -Jo's undies from when she was about six. (Back when they used to spend weekends with me, their dad never remembered to pack them clean clothes, so I started buying underwear and socks and stuff to keep at my house for when they were there.) I gave Little Bear the undies and one of my jammie T-shirts. Problem solved! Little Bear sort of looked like a ghost in the T-shirt that went down to her ankles, but what can ya do?

The rest of the night actually went better. The kids played with my doggie Trixie and visited with my less than enthusiastic kitty Sammy-Joe, and they played with the toys that my mom keeps there for my little cousins. Then they watched some cartoons. I fed them PBJ sandwiches.

You know your parents' lives have changed a lot when you have to scrounge around in their house for things to make PBJ! It was like, "Hmmm, here is some organic peanut butter! Here is some red strawberry marmalade! Here is some Country White Bread! Close enough, I guess!"

Anyway, I finally told them to clean up and we headed for home. Miraculously, all three stayed awake in the car! I got them inside, gave the girls some Motrin, let them lay down, etc. I took their temperatures and found out Pufferfish was 105.8 and Little Bear was 104.7! The rest of the night was spent just trying to cool them down and get them to sleep peacefully!

Its weird because they never had any other symptoms... no sore throats, stuffy noses, nothing!

Anyway, now I am just waiting for Rafael's mom to come get him so I can go back to my mom's for the night! Rafael, by the way, is still up and going strong, watching the old Chipmunks movie (the cartoon version from back in the day) for the second time tonight!

Ugh! I wish I never had to wake up again!


Dreaming About Cottage Cheese, And Other Awkward News!

I feel like I neglect this blog because I write so much in my other blog about the kids. The kids are just more interesting. There's always something new going on with them! But lately I've sort of been neglecting that blog also.
So whats new with me?

I am now on a new medication, Wellbutrin. Only its not called that. My doctor prescribed me something that is actually supposed to help people quit smoking, but has the same ingredients as Wellbutrin. For some reason it is cheaper in the non-smoking package. The weird thing is, Wellbutrin is an antidepressant, and the doctor prescribed it for me as an ADHD medication. The doctor before her, at the same clinic, originally prescribed me Wellbutrin when I told her I had ADHD, but she said it was for anxiety. And then the doctor I had next (before the one I have now) was just sort of not paying attention, and he said the Wellbutrin was to "energize" me.
I go to the Mental Health Clinic which is for poor people who can't afford their meds. And some of the doctors just act like you're a name on a piece of paper. They don't even look at you when they talk to you. That was how my first two doctors (the one I had to see for intake, and then the next guy) were. They wouldn't even remember me from one day to the next. They would literally say, "Have I seen you before? Are you my patient?" Ugh.
But right now I have a really good doctor, and a really good clinician, so things are going well.
Has anyone else taken Wellbutrin for ADHD or Aspergers?

Another thing is that I went on the South Beach diet for two weeks. It was Diana's idea. She had done it before and lost a ton of weight, and she wanted to try it again. So her, Jimmy and I all went on it!
The first few days were crazy! I felt literally sick to my stomach, achy, like I had the flu, and drowsy! That is because I was addicted to sugar and carbs. The South Beach diet means you have to boycott all sugar and carbs. If you do it by the book, you shouldn't even eat fruit, and even some vegetables are against the rules because they're starchy! But we let ourselves have fruit and vegetables so that we wouldn't starve to death and die, or, like, kill the kids or something. One of the things that was on the GOOD list for the diet was cottage cheese. And I really like cottage cheese, so I was eating it at least once a day, a big bowl of it! (I know that grosses some of you out.) By the fifth or sixth day, I was having dreams about cottage cheese.
I am not joking. I dreamed about cottage cheese.
By the third or fourth day, I was still thinking that I wished I could have some Dr. Pepper and some SunChips and some cookies... but other than that, I felt awesome! I usually feel really tired during the day. But I felt wide awake, and somehow clearer! I had more energy.
Then the two weeks ended (actually I think we lasted ten days) and I went back to eating carbs and sugar, and right away I started feeling tired and listless again.
I know that alot of parents of kids with ADHD and Aspergers put their kids on special diets that affect their behavior. So I looked it up and found that high protein, low carb diets are helpful for people with ADHD or autism. There's an article about it here.
So I think I should go back on a low carb diet. But this time I would just have a little bit of Dr. Pepper and cookies and stuff, to keep from losing my mind.
The only problem is, we eat a ton of carbs and processed food in my house! So I would probably always have to make my meals separately from everyone else. That would be AWKWARD!
One solution I thought of was to follow a low carb diet for breakfast and lunch, while the kids are in school and only Hayden is eating with me. Then at least my brain would be clear for most of the day! At dinner maybe I would eat some carbs, but still try to avoid them.

Right now I am at my mom's house, which I like because I can see Trixie and Sammy-Joe, and I can use the computer as much as I want! Possibly all night! But last time I spent the weekend at my mom's, Lily, the puppy, would not go potty outside. She decided she can only pee for me and me alone. She gets kind of obsessed with me like that. I am hoping this time things will go better and she'll pee like a normal dog!

Do I have a way to end this post? No, I do not.


Happy Easter and a Meme!

Happy Easter everyone! I saw a funny meme in another blog and I thought I'd try it out. What you do is do a Google search on your name and "enjoys." For instance, I searched for "Nicki loves," and here is what I came up with!

Nicki enjoys helping others in ways that are big and small. (True!)

Nicki enjoys sharing her knowledge with all ages. (True!)

Nicki enjoys competing in triathlons, horseback riding, backpacking, and cooking. (Not really!)

Nicki enjoys the variety and pace of publishing. (Does publishing a blog count?)

Nicki enjoys nurturing and chauffeuring her children. (True!)

Nicki enjoys both travel and leisure photography. (Kinda true!)

Nicki enjoys movies and relaxing with friends. (True!)

Nicki enjoys working with children of all ages. (True!)

Nicki enjoys spending time with her three children. (True...)

Nicki enjoys worldwide success. (I wish that was true!)

If you have a blog, Facebook, or something like that, you should try this out!

Okay, everyone, go back to your regularly scheduled Easter amusement!


The Irony Is Killing Me!

Who here thinks it is ironic that I, the blogger with ADHD, could not manage to follow the blogging schedule that I made up for myself?
LOL! Oh well, I guess I can't promise you anything after all... except that I will aim for at least one post a week, and I'll try to make it interesting!
Hey, here is something interesting! I got a tattoo! Its on my left calf. Check it out!

I used to think I'd absolutely never get a tattoo because it would hurt too much... but then I started realizing that, depending on what part of my body I got it on, it might not be too bad for me. Some of you who have been reading for a long time might remember that I used to self-injure and I still struggle with controlling that impulse! Anyway I realized that getting a tattoo would probably be no worse than what I used to do to my own self, and since I have always secretly wished I was brave enough to get a tattoo, I decided to go ahead and do it. Jimmy and Diana were both also getting tattoos, and so was Diana's mom and Tom, so it was a great time to do it!
I chose a heart with angel wings and a halo for obvious reasons... because I love angels and my nickname is Angel! I think it is definitely something that will remain meaningful to me for the rest of my life, and not something that I'll be like, "Oops, I shouldn't have done that," a few years down the line.
It did hurt when the guy was making the tattoo, but not horribly. The kid who was getting a tattoo before me, he was getting it on his back, and he was actually crying because it hurt so bad! But I was able to actually sit there and talk and function and even watch, and it hurt but not excruciatingly. But the weird thing was, then I started to get dizzy and light-headed. This happens to me a lot, usually when I am getting blood drawn but also sometimes when I am just too overtired. I was definitely surprised and embarrassed though, because I had been so proud of myself for being brave and handling the pain well!
I had to take a break and go put some cold water on my face until I felt better. And then I was fine. He was almost finished with the whole tattoo anyway.
So now I am tattooed!
Would I do it again? Definitely! But I'm not going to become one of these people with tattoos everywhere you look. I think there are only a few places I would be willing to get a tattoo. My calf is one of them. Diana wants us to get matching ones on our toes, and I would maybe get a small one on my hand, between my index finger and thumb. But once I had tattoos in all of those places, I'd probably be done forever!
Anyway, it was definitely a life experience I'm glad I tried!
Okay, I am at school now and I have to get going to my class... but thanks for reading!


Angel's Answers!

Its Friday again, and in the schedule I made up off the top of my head, I decided I was going to use Fridays to answer questions about ADHD! Remember though, I'm not a doctor or anything, so any advice I give is based on my own opinions, experience and reserarch.

Q. Does having ADHD make you super creative?
A. Not automatically! But people with ADHD do tend to be pretty right-brained, which means their creative and emotional sides are more developed than their logical sides. Also, many people with ADHD can hyperfocus, which means they can concentrate really hard for a long amount of time. (I know a lot of people think ADHD means you can't concentrate, but it really means you can't control what you concentrate on! So when something is interesting to you, sometimes you have the opposite problem, where you cannot tear your mind away from it!) Having hyperfocus sometimes helps creative people to put a lot of time and effort into creative ideas that they are excited about!

Q. I dropped out of school in high school because I just couldn't do it anymore. Now I am 39, and I just got diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers. I guess that explains all of the problems I had in school! Now, I am thinking about going to college. But would it really be worth it? Won't I have the same problems that I did when I was a kid?
A. I think it will be worth it, if it is what you want to do! I mean, I am doing it! I have both ADHD and Aspergers too, and for me the key to having a good school experience is to study for a career that you are really interested in. Don't force yourself to do something that is torture for you! If you take classes that fascinate you, you'll naturally pay more attention and remember more. You'll have to take some general ed classes too, but even those, you'll be able to pick and choose classes that are interesting to you. You can also get help from the disability office at your school, so you can get help with things like extended time on tests, preferential seating, the option of recording lectures, help with study skills, etc. So, the bottom line is, follow your dream!

Q. I have a roommate who is very messy and disorganized, and hates cleaning. Our house is always a mess, and I get tired of being the one who has to do anything! But I don't like to bring it up, because I know that, because of his ADHD, its not really his fault that he's messy.
A. Your roommate should still share the responsibility of keeping up the house! But you can help to make it a little easier for him. First of all, try to come up with an easy way of organizing your household. It may be really worth it for both of you to chip in some money for a personal organizer who specializes in ADHD!
Try to make cleaning up the house manageable. Avoid clutter like the plague! At a certain time each day, both of you should take just fifteen minutes to pick up around the house as fast as you can! Turn on some loud music if that helps! As for household chores, ask your roommate for input. He may find it easier to pick two or three chores he doesn't mind doing, and have those be his designated chores every day. Or he could mix it up a little by drawing two or three random chores from a jar each day and doing those, to add a touch of interesting-ness to the chore routine!
No matter what, talk to your roommate and try to be honest without being accusing. This is a learning experience for both of you!

Alright, thats the end of my answers for today! If you have questions, feel free to send them to me, and I'll answer them next Friday! Until then, I hope you'll check out my book, Why I Am The Way I Am, available at Lulu.com!


I Have To Keep Writing!

The other day I was Google searching "blogs + ADHD", looking for blogs similar to mine, written by people with ADHD. I have read a few blogs by adults with autism or Aspergers, and I thought there might be a community of ADHD bloggers out there somewhere.
Well, I found a few blogs... but mostly, people wrote in them once a month, or had stopped writing for months or years!
I guess thats ADHD for you! When you first start something, it is exciting and new and you look forward to it every day, and actually "hyperfocus" or obsess on it. But once it becomes routine, it is hard to keep up the good work! And so ADHD blogs fade away into nothing!
I have been pretty loyal at keeping up my other blog, Slow Down, Gym Shoe!, which is about raising my little nieces. But I have often let this one "fade away" in the past! I want to try not to do that again!
I'm trying to come up with a blogging schedule of days that I will definitely commit to writing in this blog. Here is my idea so far!

Fridays will be Angel's Answers, in which I will answer questions about ADHD. (So send me some questions! You've only got two days left!)

On Mondays, I will share an ADHD-related website, forum or blog I've found.

On Wednesdays, I will share a book or article about ADHD.

All of the rest of the days will be open-forum and I can write about anything I want, or not write at all! But you can count on hearing from me on those three days!
Alright, I'm off to hunt for some more blogs to add to my blogroll! If you know of an interesting ADHD blog, feel free to tell me!
In the mean time, I hope you'll check out the book I wrote about ADHD, called Why I Am The Way I Am!