Friday, November 28, 2014

Drug of Choice

Usually I do 5mg of Ritalin at 11:00, when the munchies hit. It takes the edge off the compulsion to eat, but lately it doesn't feel like it really does much beyond that. So today, at 9 am, I took one of B's 10mg Adderall. Feeling a little bit foggy and kind of loose in my shoulders, but as far as ability to focus goes... my god, this is life with an easy button. I feel like I can just decide to work on something... that's it. I can just decide to do it, and then do it. I won't be watching myself constantly to make sure I don't wander off onto something else. I don't have to spend my day chastising myself for getting distracted.

It's just, hey, I think I'll write this program I've been sluggish about. Okay, that's done. I want to blog about this now, but first, I'm cold, I should feed the fire, and at first I stop and feel the fear and anxiety, if I stop to do that, will I get distracted and not come back to what I really want to do? But then, feeling so calm on this drug and I think, I can do that first and it will be all right, I can just stop and take care of something and I think, I'm pretty sure, I think I can come back to this first thing without wandering off onto something else.

It's when I'm on these drugs and they work that I realize how much of the finite pool of effort I have to use on everything in my life goes into just making sure I don't drift aimlessly all. the. time. I read studies about decision fatigue and, it finally makes sense why I just want to curl up in a ball and play a video game after finishing a tedious chore - nearly every productive minute of my day I'm alternating between cheering and castigating myself, keeping a running Tiger Mom chatter in my head - and sometimes out loud - to keep working. I repeat the name of the task like a mantra, give myself status reports, note milestones, but also chide myself for every temptation to pause and threaten myself with exaggerated consequences for failure. What I have to do, to put myself through, just to get the normal work of life done, it's horrible.

I used to have this recurring nightmare - it would be slightly different settings, but the principal was always the same - my personal favorite expression of it was that I was a kindergarten teacher leading a field trip through the paddocks of Jurassic Park. I'd try to keep the kids together, but I couldn't keep them all in sight all the time, as soon as one of them needed attention, another one would see something interesting, wander off just a little bit, and as soon as it was out of my reach, crack! a velociraptor would appear out of nowhere and snap the kiddo up. The raptors were always dashing in from the treeline to snag any children that separated themselves from the herd. Somehow, the supply of kindergarteners in my charge never dwindled (and oddly enough, the raptors never tried to get at the core group, but the point isn't ever that the raptors are after the core - it's the T-Rex that's coming for the core - it's that wherever the kids go, I have to vector after them. In other variants of this dream, there was an actual protective field or bubble around me, so in the space dream there was oxygen and livable conditions around me, but there were all the pretty stars that you could just barely see if you were right next to me, but that got brighter and clearer and spectacular if you moved just a little bit away... and then I'd move out, trying to keep up with you, but you'd keep moving and drift out into space and die horribly of asphyxiation and cold, and I'd get pulled this way and that and I couldn't protect you and I couldn't stay on course, I could only fail over and over again and watch you float away forever, stiff and frozen, with all the pretty, pretty stars).
yes, that Patrick Warburton

So I'm running through Jurassic Park with these extremely mobile toddlers who never seem to understand that they have to stay close or they will die. There are velociraptors that will get these children if I don't keep them all pointed in the right direction, and the T-Rex that chases us as I try to get us all safe to the base, and then, suddenly, blessedly, at the top of the next hill, there's Patrick Warburton, decked out like Rambo. He doesn't come down to us because that would be too easy, I have to run the kids up to him, but when we get there, he says "Don't worry, little lady. I've got you covered now. I'll watch the treeline for raptors, all you have to do is hold onto the kids and run for the base."

It is difficult to express how much, in the dream, my anxiety lifts. I no longer feel like giving up, sitting down, crying, just accepting that it is inevitable that we will not make it back, that we will all be eaten, that continuing on is simply self-punishment and insanity. Patrick Warburton, in all his burly, ammo-decked manliness, is here to put an end to the madness. All things are possible again. This can be done. I am in a state of pure and glorious relief, and then the T-Rex materializes behind my new hero and eats him in one bite, and the field trip and I are off and running again.

And that's pretty much what my experience of life with ADHD is like. Some days I don't worry about it, I let the kids check out the park and the stars and just kind of figure this is a "crunch all you want, we'll make more" kind of situation. The kids pull me with them, and we aren't going to get back to the base, but the T-Rex isn't bearing down on us right now, so what the hell, it's okay. And some other days, the base is in sight and it's so cool, the kids all run toward that on their own, and those are just the best days, ever. But most days I'm riding herd on suicidal toddlers with a T-Rex somewhere behind me.

Only now, at the top of the hill, Patrick Warburton is wearing a labcoat, and he's holding a bottle of Adderall. Hunky, hunky Adderall.