Thanks for joining me along the journey! I'd love to hear what you want to know ... do you have questions about sensory processing disorder, gluten-free/dairy-free diets, homeschooling, faith, life in general? Send me a note or post a comment and I'll try to write something that addresses your interests and questions!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where have I been all this time?

I could argue that I've been away from the blog because life with two energetic boys is super hectic, becaue it is.  I could say I was caught up in living life instead of writing about it, because I was.  I could say I was taking a much-needed break from the reflecting that comes with writing, because that, too, would be true.  But the reality is that the reason all those factors really kept me away is that, on top of the regular stresses of life and managing my kids' idiosyncrasies, I'm also learning to manage some of my own. 

A few years ago I was diagnosed with ADD.  When the diagnosis was first suggested, I balked at the idea.  I mean, sure, I'm a little scatterbrained sometimes and a little (oh, okay, a LOT) cluttered in just about everything I do, but ADD?!  Really?!  Nah!  I've managed to be pretty successful thus far in life, and when I'm really interested in something, I can focus on it for hours and the rest of world disappears until I'm finished with the task.  I even have a master's degree!  I thought people with ADD bombed in school and ran around like chickens with no heads and started conversations absolutely nobody could follow?!  They're not driven, articulate, sensitive, many of the things I'd say describe me.

So at first, I brushed it off.  But for a month or so, the thought kept nagging at me, and curious cat that I am, I started doing a bit of internet research.  Turns out I knew NOTHING about what AD(H)D really was, and I think it is equally misunderstood by many others as well.  As truth would have it, adults with AD(H)D often ARE all the things I've already mentioned: curious, articulate, sensitive, driven, focused, scattered, cluttered.  And they are a whole lot more: highly intelligent, active, successful, clumsy, entertaining!

In a nutshell, a lot of the misunderstanding of AD(H)D comes from it's ineffective label.  See, it's not so much of matter of a deficit of attention; it's more a matter of disregulation of attention.  Basically, our brains often move so fast from one idea to the next, that we can have trouble keeping our focus on one small, seemingly simple task -- but find a challenge we are motivated by, and our focus locks in so strongly that we tend not to notice a single other thing in our environment (and if you try to force us to break our focus, we might get grumpy about it!)  We tend to be naturally curious, so interested in EVERYthing around us that we can hardly sit still, literally or metaphorically, for the excitement of learning the next thing on the horizon.  And this can often mean tasks are left undone as we jet off toward the next adventure (though we fully intend to return and finish it, if we even realize we've left something behind in our quest for something new).

Especially if you're NOT someone blessed with an AD(H)D brain, living with one can be a real challenge.  I'm sure it wouldn't surprise many folks to hear that my ADD was discovered while my husband and I were seeking marriage counseling.  He just couldn't fathom why I couldn't clean my cooking mess as I went (because my mind has already moved on to the next step of the process and doesn't register that I have even put something down nor that it is still sitting there), or why I leave things in piles instead of putting them away (because I can't find them when I put them away!), or how someone so smart can lose her keys on a daily basis or forget the coffee mug she just set on the counter or waste half an hour searching for the sunglasses she's wearing on top of her head, or how someone who spent the majority of her young life taking dance classes can be so clumsy as to close doors on her own head, bump her shins into anything nearby, or trip over her own feet so darn often!  It didn't take long for our counselor to put those pieces together and suggest that I might have undiagnosed ADD.

I've spent much of the last few years trying to make sense of what it means that I have ADD.  Identifying it has simultaneously liberating and discouraging.  At least now I know I'm not, as the popular book on adult ADHD says it, "lazy, stupid, or crazy," but it's also not something I will ever be free of.  I've learned a few new coping strategies, and tried to start re-using some of the tricks that I naturally used when I was younger (the things that probably kept my ADD enough under control that it went undiagnosed).  But as my responsibilities and stresses in life grow with my children, and my opportunity to get a full night's sleep continues to stay beyond my reach (do SPD kiddos EVER sleep through the night consistently?), all added to the never-ceasing flow of the proverbial sands of time that make me older and older every year, I find the symptoms seem to get worse all the time.

Besides the toll it takes on my marriage, I find it makes parenting all the more challenging, as if parenting two boys, one of whom has extensive SPD issues and likely some ADHD of his own, isn't challenging enough on it's own.  While consistency may be the cornerstone of effective parenting, it's the stumbling block of many with AD(H)D, myself included.  I have loads of great ideas, so many that I rarely remember which idea I'm working on just now, and following through on any of them seems all but impossible.  Frustrating for me, for sure -- equally, if not even more, frustrating for my kids, I'm certain.  And I'm nowhere near having things all figured out.

So, despite my distractability and lack of clarity (I'll likely be doing a lot of verbal processing about this in the posts to come around here), I'm back, at least for now.  And if you have any tips for how to make parenting work when you and your kids are both blessed with crazily wired brains, I'm all ears :)