Friday, April 25, 2014

If She Can Take It, I Can

HT to Goldilocks:

ADHD on meds is like taking your 45rpm brain and running it at 33rpm instead. The result can be surprisingly good.

(On these meds, the heart rate makes up the difference and runs at 60rpm day and night. It basically turns life into a 24/7 cardio workout.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Crash & Yearn

It really isn't easy to get used to new meds, especially when the new meds make your heart pound all the time, keep you from sleeping, make things taste weird, have you relearning how to tell if you want food at all, send your blood sugar plummeting, give you painful indigestion and then there are the headaches. The constant, constant, unrelenting, unyielding, merciless headaches.

Apart from that, this stuff is great. I'd recommend it to a frenemy.

Actually this makes me feel deliberate, capable, powerful, and quiet. Impulsivity and anxiety are at an all-time low. Focus isn't great (because I'm exhaustedly tired and headachy and periodically dizzy from the blood sugar thing) and because of that it's actually easier now to do the wretched, dull tasks than it is to do the exciting, challenging tasks. Trying to stick to things that don't require a lot of, you know, thought, but that isn't a terribly viable option today.

It's been so long since I had a good hyperfocus, I'm worrying that I won't get one ever again. But I don't worry like I used to, and the fact that I'm not worrying like I used to doesn't worry me (which it would have, it really would). So not really terribly concerned, but to give you an idea of what I'm missing, this is how I described it two months ago:

All I can say is, there’s the rest of life, and then there’s the zone. And the best analogy I could come up with is luge. When you get into the track and launch, you have some control, you go fast and free and it’s some serious badass achievement that you can pull off, but what you cannot do is stop. What you cannot do is get out of the track before it’s finished with you. And when someone else pulls you out of the track, it’s like they pulled you out of life, and yet, if you had them killed, you’d be the one who went to jail.

I could really go for some of that feeling alive thing right now. That and some serious sleep.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Underslept a Little

Vyvanse murders sleep. Strattera just kinda slugs sleep in the jaw and then promises that it can change, baby, just give it another chance.

Apart from that, it's not too bad, and I think it may be starting to have an effect.

Just finished re-reading Lord Jim. Is it possible to have a tragic glory? It's hard to think that Jim's tragic flaw was his willingness to forgive the faults in others that he saw in himself, and Jim's vulnerability really was that his romanticism and heroic ideals caused the appearance of those faults in another to blind him to that other's more serious character flaws. But without that romanticism and those ideals, Jim would have simply been a casualty of fortune, someone who, Conrad makes clear, was not terribly different from his brother-men, but who had the bad luck to have been put to a test that those brothers would also have failed as well. As the evidence of their own vulnerability, Jim had to be put outside his community, but Jim's greatness was that his romanticism bred an inability to accept life on the outskirts of fellowship.

Which has nothing to do with ADHD except, hey! Seems I've found my hyperfocus for the day!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I Think You Ought to Know I'm Feeling Very Depressed

Less than two weeks to go now before I become the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. B is organizing a shindig. He keeps asking me what I want it to be and my answer continues to be that what I really want is not to have to plan my own birthday party. But we have settled on a theme: Infinitely Improbable. So please come as whatever it is least likely for you to be, especially if the unlikeliest thing for you to be is present. We will be supplying the bowl of petunias and a Squishable Whale (to go home with a darling neice).

But I am truthfully mired in the mean reds today, and have been for several days now. Not sure why. Wish I knew.

I was away from home, traveling for work this week, and that was pretty good, but by the time I got home I was so down that, when B told me that he'd tried one of my Adderall and it worked - it really, really worked for him, he was expecting me to be thrilled, but instead I broke down crying. In a restaurant, no less. The way he was describing it, suddenly everything was so easy to do. When I came home, I discovered he'd done an immense amount of work cleaning the house, and it was different than when B usually cleans, it was more complete, more thorough. He'd gone through all the mail, months' worth that had collected in odd places, here and there, wherever had been the most convenient to drop it, and opened and dealt with it all. This is something that, before, had been a simply monumental task for either of us to deal with. These meds work for him and they don't for me.

Back to the doctor, armed with research that says that, for my type of ADHD, the best treatment is usually a specific type of antidepressant. Started a new drug today. Strattera, a non-stimulant SNRI, takes a month or so to start kicking in properly.

Meanwhile, B's experience with the Adderall has been enough to get him determined to go to the doc to get his own prescription. I am looking up at the prospect of B being able to deal with life.

I should be beyond happy about this. Just not feelin' it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

This week, I got to meet with a new client who is having trouble with database maintenance and performance. One of the things the client had mentioned was that database objects were disappearing on a fairly regular basis and nobody quite knew why. This client has two Database Administrators (hereafter referred to as Walter and Gladys) who weren't quite sure what was going on.

Gladys I didn't get to meet. She works from home for health reasons. She's a quiet, passive sort of creature, really quite harmless, but utterly unable to counterbalance Walter. Walter, I was warned, is a thing to behold.

Walter talks too fast, and too strongly. He's difficult to budge off a subject and difficult to engage. He dominates conversations with nothing in particular to say. He doesn't know what he's doing and as a result, the system he's charged with keeping running smoothly careens from crisis to crisis. During one of those crises, his boss appeared in his cube to ask how the remedy for said crisis was progressing and found Walter watching cartoons on his iPad.

I met Walter and felt sorry for him. I like people with crazy energy levels, and I have an easier time masking my energy than Walter does. I tend to get excited when explaining a technology or a solution, and I believe the general impression this gives is that I am "enthusiastic," even "passionate" about my work. And I am. I couldn't do this if I didn't find it intriguing. I wouldn't be able to stick with slogging it out to learn this if I didn't find it genuinely pleasurable to tinker with databases. So Walter's oddness, his rambling, his energy, they didn't seem that strange to me.

When he was taking my history, my therapist asked me if I have any physical twitches or tics. I showed him how I fold my hands into each other, fingers curled with each other like a greek key, to conceal the movement. "You feel you have to hide this?" he asked.

And I thought of all the times a co-worker has grabbed my drumming hand, stopped my bouncing knee, taken away my pen, hit me in the shoulder to warn me not to talk, the evaluations that have mentioned my doodling while I listen and my doodling while I talk, and one-on-ones with a boss who has tried to explain to me that I'm passionate and that's a good thing, but... Before having a name to put to this, it was hard to explain even to myself why it was so necessary to me to behave in ways that were so clearly not helpful to me.

Looking around the conference table, I could see how strange Walter's behaviors appeared to everyone else. I could see that his boss found it difficult to tolerate Walter's presence. I could see that my colleagues found it difficult to be tactful about his "input."

Sometime early that afternoon, Walter gave an instruction to interrupt a process that refreshed database objects on the public-facing production server. Soon after that came the first notice that a table was missing. The first commandment of Database Administration is "first, lose no data." The next 99 commandments are variations on the first. It is the cardinal, absolute, unvarying taboo of database administration to allow data to disappear, and the absence of that table meant that the public website would no longer be functional. Walter got the notice as he was leaving the building, and decided that it did not constitute enough of an emergency to interrupt his afternoon plans.

At 3:00, completely unrelated to the database problems, smoke had been detected on our floor and the fire department requested that we vacate. At that point, we didn't know anything was going wrong with the databases and settled in to the benches in the light rail station to wait for early trains out to the suburbs.

At 5:00, I had just gotten to my hotel. I checked in, grabbed some delivery menus, took a good hot shower and was getting ready to settle in for a night spent with an order of Shrimp with Mixed Veg and Lord Jim when my phone buzzed. Walter's boss had decided to open his checkbook and get the consultants on the phone to help get things back online.

The next seven hours were pretty goddamned awful.

Walter wouldn't follow directions. He wouldn't wait for directions. He said things like "do you think I should press this key? I pressed it." He was confounding, obstructive and utterly dominant. Nobody else could get a word in. My colleague was listening intently, as was Walter's boss, trying to intervene to offer what correction they could. It was fortunate that they were, because after the first time I offered the instructions on how to solve the problem and having supplied a script to do the job, I was not listening to the call with more than half an ear. I spent those hours "multitasking" - working intently enough on scripting other work for the client that I was almost entirely unaware of the content of the conversation. I was fortunate that, in this case, this was seen as a good thing. I could just as easily have been called to task and asked to pay close attention without actively participating, and that would have been almost impossibly difficult for me.

At 1:17, it looked like things were back up and running again. We agreed to reconvene at 4:30am to check on the site and make sure it was working before the rush hour traffic hit. At 4:26, Walter sent an email saying that everything looked good and he was going back to bed. At 4:31, my colleague and I had confirmed that the database was still not functional and had last gotten data input shortly after 1:00 the previous afternoon. We reassembled without Walter and had restored the database properly in about 15 minutes.

I got to hear the next day my colleagues venting freely about Walter. I got to hear them speculating about whether he would still have a job by the end of the day. I understood that - Walter had committed a series of cardinal sins and wasted a great deal of time and money in the process. "I had to tell him over and over again," my colleague said "to wait and not do the latest fool thing he'd decided to do. We'd sent him a script and he screwed it up because he wouldn't follow it. And then," and here he gave a carnivorous grin, "when it finally looked like it was working, he wanted to fiddle with it, and Jennifer just about came through the phone at him, telling him that that's exactly how to screw it up." I blushed and realized that I had been impulsive, fast-talking, dominating. Fortunately, I had spent most of the previous hours with my line on mute; also, fortunately, my statement and manner of delivering it was in that case accepted as justifiable.

I don't mean to suggest that I am as dysfunctional as Walter. I have a keener sense of triangulating to my strengths than he does (for one thing, I wouldn't ever take a job whose primary function is maintenance, as he has done, because I know that my temperament isn't suited to it). But I sat there the next day, listening to the office outrage about his incompetency, smiling, saying little, with my fingers curled together, like a greek key.