2010-03-23

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!

2010-03-12

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!

2010-03-10

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!

2010-03-07

I Am A Ghost From The Future

(Cross-posted from Slow Down, Gym Shoe!)

I sometimes babysit for other families, during evenings and weekends, to make extra money. That extra money is my saving grace most of the time! Lately I've been babysitting for an awesome family with two little girls who are 5 and 2. I'll call them Miranda and Eloise Jones. The 5-year-old, Miranda, has Aspergers and ADHD. (Does that sound familiar?)

Mr. and Mrs. Jones know that I have ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome. I told them when I first met Mrs. Jones, when I was "interviewing" to babysit for them. I get along very well with the Jones's. When I get there, and before I go home at the end, we spend literally hours just sitting and talking, about their kids and about life in general.

The last time I babysat for them, Mr. Jones was asking me a lot of questions about my personal experiences with Aspergers Syndrome. He wanted to know if I felt like things were harder for me than for other people. I told him that I have a hard time in social situations, and that I have a lot of anxiety. I told him about my sensory issues, like how loud noises hurt my ears, and how when I was a kid I used to love to walk in the stones along the side of the road because I loved the sound of the crunching, and how I used to spread glue on my desk at school because I craved the feeling of scraping it off with my scissors, and stuff like that. Mr. Jones said he was relieved. I think he was seeing me as a functioning adult and hoping that Miranda will also become a functioning adult.

Looking back on it, I wish I had thought to tell them that, if Miranda is anything like me, she will be able to do anything at all, but at her own pace and in her own way. I didn't learn to drive until I was 21, for instance. Even now, driving is hard for me sometimes. But I do it! I have to come up with survival skills to get through ordinary situations in life. with things like work, I have learned to compensate for my shortcomings by just trying to do the best I can at what I can do. For instance, when I had my first job at age 15 in a fast food restaurant, the experience was a total failure. But my second job was at a K-Mart, when I was 17. I learned to work the cash register very well, by rote. I had trouble whenever new problems came up, like an item without a price or a person's credit card that wouldn't go through, and I was also certain that I didn't want to be promoted any higher than cashier. But my strengths were that I was a fairly quick cashier, and I was extremely friendly and polite. I made sure to give each customer a big smile and a greeting. I was always smiling at that job. Customers could be as rude as they wanted, and I would just smile and be polite and friendly. I actually got lots of compliments on this, and people even told my supervisor how sweet and friendly I was. So when I was slow to learn new things or panicked when small problems occurred, people forgave me for that.

I still have problems with certain things. I have trouble organizing my life. I cannot, for the life of me, keep my bank account from overdrafting. When something happens, like I get into a car accident, I need a lot of help to know how to handle it. But one thing that bothers me is that people in my life, like my parents and Diana, feel it is an all-or-nothing situation. They feel like I should either be completely competent and independent, or I need to have someone to supervise me in every situation. My parents get mad at me because they say I resist their help half the time, and the other half of the the time I am upset if they won't help me. What I wish I could say to family members of people with Aspergers... or any people with special needs, for that matter... is that sometimes I need help and sometimes I don't. Sometimes you may think I can't handle something, when I am certain I can... and if I feel like I can do it, please give me a chance! Sometimes I will be paralyzed by a situation and I will need your help. Please don't do it for me, but guide me through it so that next time I might be able to try it alone. And sometimes there may be things that you are sure I can do, but that I feel like I can't... so give me a gentle push! Let me be as independent as I can be, and let me find my own ways of doing things... but please know that I still might need help some of the time. And if I do need help with something, please let me keep my dignity as an adult, and let me keep my independence in the areas that I'm doing well in.

Maybe next time I see the Jones's, I'll remember to tell them all of that!

2010-03-05

Angel's Answers

Hi! I've been neglecting this blog pretty badly, since I've been writing more often in my personal blog about my nieces. I am trying to set up a schedule for writing in this blog, and writing more often about my ADHD issues instead of just venting about life in general! So I thought, on Fridays, I will answer questions about ADHD. If you have a question you'd like me to answer, email me or comment!

Here are three questions for today...

Q. I am in eighth grade. I think I may have ADHD. Actually I'm very sure I have it. How do I tell my parents? Will I have to go to a special doctor?

A. A good place for you to start would be with your guiu adance counselor. He'll be able to talk to you about ADHD and about what is causing you to think you may have it. He can probably give you some information to take home to your parents, or even set up a meeting with them.

If you are having a lot of problems in school, and your teachers think this might be why, you might be able to get tested for ADHD in school. Otherwise your parents might either take you to your regular doctor to get evaluated for ADHD. or to a psychiatrist. Usually the doctor will just ask you a bunch of questions about the troubles you have in school and at home, and she'll want to speak to your parents too. You may also get to do a special test using the computer.

Good luck!


Q. Why do some people not believe that ADHD exists? How do you respond to these people?

A. I think some people don't believe ADHD exists because they can't obviously see it. People with ADHD physically look like everyone else, and their "symptoms" can just appear to be personality traits. For instance, someone might look at a ten-year-old boy who cannot sit still to do his homework, and say he is just an active little boy who wants to be outside playing. If the same little boy is on Little League and has trouble paying attention to the game, some people might think he is "effeminite" or a "geek." A woman who is often late for work and has a messy desk might be considered lazy or irresponsible. Its true that symptoms of ADHD can appear as personality traits in people, but if someone has a whole lot of ADHD-like traits, then it really may be ADHD!

When it comes to people who don't believe in ADHD, I've found that these people often cannot be convinced. People who don't believe in it are often the types of people who are rather close-minded and do not like to hear that they are wrong. I'm sorry if it sounds mean, and I don't mean to speak badly of anyone! My dad and several of my friends do not think ADHD exists or do not think I can have it. I've been diagnosed by five different doctors, in five different methods, and some people still don't believe me! Sometimes you just have to let it go, and avoid the topic with them... or agree to disagree. The only time it can be really harmful is if the person who doesn't believe in ADHD is the parent or guardian of a child who has it... unless the parent or guardian is committed to finding ways to help the child with his ADHD traits, no matter what he decides to call them!


Q. My son is in kindergarten. His teacher complains that he has trouble sitting still, yells out in class, and doesn't follow directions. She thinks he may have ADHD. I asked my son's pediatrician about this, and the pediatrician says kindergarten is way too young to even think about ADHD! I explained this to the teacher, but she keeps insisting that he probably has ADHD and needs medication.

A. I'm not any sort of doctor, obviously, so I can't give you medical advice. I do think it is out of line for your son's teacher to persistently suggest that your son has ADHD... especially if you've already spoken to your pediatrician about it! A kindergartener is still very young, and not all children have the self control to sit quietly and follow directions when they are five years old. For the moment, see if you can work with the teacher on helping your son learn appropriate classroom behavior. Practice being quiet and using listening ears when someone else is talking, and raising your hand when you have something to say during classroom time. Maybe the teacher can post a two-sided sign, with a green side meaning it is okay to talk (like at playtime or times when the kids are working together on something) and a red sign meaning it is time to listen and use hand-raising.
Make sure the teacher is offering enough free time during the day, too! Some classrooms have cut out things like recess, gym class, and free play time. If your son's classroom is like that, he just may be having a hard time sitting and focusing on academic work for that long! Talk to the teacher, or even the principal, about breaking up the day a little bit
The teacher should also be playing up your child's strengths, instead of his weaknesses. Ask her to tell you what your son excels at in the classroom, and what he enjoys.
I'm not saying your little boy definitely doesn't have ADHD. He might! Within the next few years it will become more obvious. He will either learn the routine of school and get used to sitting still, raising his hand to speak, and following directions, or he will start having more trouble as classroom expectations are raised. For now, try to help your child enjoy kindergarten as much as possible. Good luck!

If you have questions of your own, email me or comment, and I will do my best to answer next Friday!
Also, I hope you'll check out my book, Why I Am The Way I Am, which answers more questions about what its like to have ADHD!