The Therapy of Bullet Journals

At the end of August I was kinda floating. Uni was done. I still had no results. Lockdown was still a thing. I knew I needed to do all the house sorting that everyone else did when lockdown kicked off, but I had no idea where to start.

Go go executive function issues (but that’s a whole other blog post, coming soon). Obviously by soon, I’m talking ADHD time…


So, anyway. Someone on an ADHD Facebook group decided to make us accountable – join this Whatsapp group, post what you have to get done, and it was more likely to make us do it. Well, it worked, but that big a Whatsapp chat got overwhelming real quickly (as ADHD women tend to veer off topic fairly fast).

So, Calico had the genius idea that we would just have an accountability Facebook group. So, we trooped over there, and started adding our lists and support on there. Long story short, that is now a much bigger thing than an accountability group, and I am helping to run it… nothing like some impulsiveness and hyperfocus to make life fun.

Aaaaaaaaanyway. I started writing my list on paper. Then, I figured if I was doing that, I may as well try the bullet journal again. My first foray into The Craft didn’t work out too well. I liked the concept, but I don’t use paper diaries to keep track of appointments etc, so I was either forgetting to write them in it, or forgetting to check it, and then missing things because I decided to save them in there and not my phone etc. I eventually took Jessica McCabe’s advice (I cannot for the life of me find which How To ADHD video it was, but there isn’t a bad one, so just go watch them), and used the diary keeping that worked best for me – my Google Calendar. So the poor little bullet journal sat gathering dust.

With that in mind, I went with accountability. I wrote down what jobs I had to do, which ones I were there for me to do if I got the chance. I began to find it therapeutic. I was trying out different writing styles etc from Pinterest, trying different layouts to work out what I wanted to record and what I didn’t. I started doing it as my first thing when I got up. Just 10-20 minutes making a pretty outline of my day. It helps me start the day in a calm brain space, and gives me some sort of shape for the day rather than aimlessly floating. This has been going on fairly consistently since August 31st. Some days, my brain says nope. That’s ok, no need to journal that day. Just pick up again the next day. For the last couple of weeks I have done a “Week Ahead” spread on Sunday – writing down what meals I can make with what we have (which then gives me a clearer idea of what I need to order in the food shop), writing down the events happening during the week so I can check through it as I do the daily spreads, writing down things I want to get done for life, but also things I want to get done for me.

Strawb chooses two colours for me to use each day. She wants to be involved in everything and this is a way that she can be involved without me twitching about what she’s doing to my prettiness. It was her who suggested my “Coffee” section – to remind me to check if I have a half drunk mug that I have forgotten. I’m hoping she might start making her own daily plan. I’m not suggesting it, it needs to be her own idea. Seeing how much it helps to settle me, it might have the same effect on her.

I’m nearing the end of my current BuJo’s pages, but I have my eye on this awesome red one of the same style.

I’ll leave you with some of the spreads, remember, it’s a work in progress.

Have a play.

If you already do the BuJo thing, show me yours for inspiration!

Making the Invisible Women Seen – The Representation of ADHD Females in Fiction….. AKA I did it!!!!!!

I did it!

I took my late 30s ADHD self to university to get myself an English degree.

I figured I’d see how I got on in the first year, fully expecting to bail at that point because ADHD and me never completing things ever.

Well, that was four years ago.

My ADHD arse kinda enjoyed it. I loved learning. I loved my friends. I grew (both wider, and intellectually). You know what happened?

I GOT A FIRST!

I officially now have my BA English with First Class Honours.

Don’t let anyone tell you it is too late. Don’t let anyone tell you that your ADHD means you can’t do it.

Not gonna lie. It wasn’t easy juggling real life, kids, and uni, but I made it through and fcking won.

Anyway. I know that a few people said that they wanted to read the dissertation because it was ADHD in Women focused, so it is now uploaded, and can be read by clicking on the little linky right below.

Making the Invisible Women Seen –
The Representation of ADHD Females in Fiction

Uh… enjoy?

Any authors or tv show makers out there, we need some hardcore representation please!

What is…. Emotional Dysregulation?

I wrote this for my ADHD group, but figured I could start sharing them on here too.

What is …..? Wednesday

Ok, so the plan is that I will write about something ADHD related once a week. I’ll give you the science bit, and then do a more “this is how it actually affects you” explain it like I’m five type bit. (Me not rambling starts at the capitalised bit)

Obviously, as you will all appreciate, ADHD and “Imma do this regularly” don’t always go hand in hand, so we may have “What is…? Whursday” etc. Or miss a week. Whatever. You get the gist. Information will be out there. One day. But I’m still calling it “What is…? Wednesday” because I like alliteration. Oooh, maybe I could go with “What is…? Whenever” if it goes really wrong. Nothing like a bit of negativity to start a new thing.
Anyway.

EMOTIONAL DYSREGULATION

The s̶c̶i̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ History Bit
You see, I had intended to put a bit from the DSM, or maybe the NHS website about ADHD and emotional dysregulation, but you know what? It’s not there. It used to be, a few DSM iterations ago. It was part of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. But you cannot measure emotions within a lab. You can’t put a number on it. It can’t be objectified. Therefore, it got quietly removed. This means that doctors don’t address it. How many of you who have been diagnosed have had emotional dysregulation covered in your appointments? I suspect very few hands went up then.
So, what is Emotional Dysregulation? Put simply, it is an inability to regulate emotions. Reacting to things in a balanced way.
Fear not though, I DO have a science bit, thanks to the amazing Dr. Russell Barkley (seriously, if you don’t know him, he is THE ADHD dude, and he rocks). Dr Barkley pushed to have “deficient emotional self-regulation” recognised as a core component of ADHD in the DSM-V. It didn’t happen, but a recent study backs up his argument. Two dudes (I use dude for any gender btw) called Graziano and Garcia combined 77 studies on emotional dysregulation, covering 32044 participants, to study the data from it. The looked at three versions of emotional dysregulation:
ERU: The ability to perceive, process and infer one’s own emotions and the emotions of others
ERNL: The intensity and valence of the emotional response. Reactivity refers to the rapidity of the emotional response (like being quick tempered vs thinking things through)
ECUT: The empathy/callous side of things. The extremely empathetic person at one end who identifies and feels everyone’s emotions, and the psychopath who shows no emotions.
It was found that those with ADHD had impairments in all three categories, with a slightly higher amount in ERNL. This emotional dysregulation increases with age, and could be more important in diagnosing Adult ADHD than the current criteria of behavioural hyperactivity which decreases with age.

MMHMMM… YOUWHATNOW?


So, pretty much ADHD means that your emotions are a great big ball of joy to experience. Or not.

Think of emotions as having a number system. 0 is your basic level with not a lot going on. 5 is OMG level (be it happy, sad, rage, rejection – yes, ye olde RSD comes into this too). NT people (neurologically typical) tend to go up the emotions in increments of 1. They fall over the shoe left in the middle of the lounge, and feel mildly pissed off. That’s a level 1 reaction, and what is considered “normal”. Falling over the shoe, hurling it across the room, whilst feeling genuine rage and hatred for whoever left it there. That’s a 5. That’s us.

It’s not all bad though. We do it with joy too. Take bubbles. NT people (adults mainly) see bubbles, and think “Ohh bubbles” and then go on with their day. A standard level 1 joy. I see bubbles and think “I fucking LOVE bubbles” and wander around with a smile on my face for the next ten minutes. Level 5 bubble reaction ftw.
Think back to being a child. Did you cry easily even though it was something that you were told wasn’t worth crying over? Were you a child who “threw tantrums” more than most? Yup, emotions bouncing to a 5.
It’s hard. It is exhausting. It is like having emotions on a bungee. As fast as you go out, you come back to 0 just as quickly, which can be confusing to ourselves, but also the people around us.

I’ve found it best to explain emotional dysregulation to people using the number example. If your loved ones know that you don’t go up in 1s, and that you really ARE feeling this thing this strongly, it is far easier for them to understand you and help you.

For myself, realising it has helped me try to control it better. I still go from 0 to 5 in the blink of an eye, but if I can ask myself “is this actually a 5?” I can control myself more easily.

In terms of ADHD children – again, explain the numbers, you can show them with teddies on stairs maybe. Once they understand the concept, you can then talk to them about their emotions more easily. If they come out of school crying because Sammy hates them, you can ask what happened (they wouldn’t let me borrow their ruler), and then you can ask if they REALLY hate them, or have they taken it as a 5? Crying over losing a pencil – is this a 1 or a 5, bearing in mind we have other pencils? Just that gentle reminder to take a step back can do so much good.

If your partner has PMT, do NOT “helpfully” ask if this is a 1 or a 5. It is a 10. A genuine 10. They WILL kill you.

Embrace the positive emotions, they make up for the negative.

A previous post on Emotional Dysregulation can be found here!

The exhaustion of being poor in the UK

I grew up learning explicitly that we don’t discuss religion, politics, or money in polite company (I learned from society that we don’t discuss mental health either).

Why?

Why don’t we discuss these things?

I love learning about people’s religious beliefs, it lets me learn about them, how they see the world, and teaches me different viewpoints.

I love knowing people’s political leanings. Again, I can learn new things, gain different viewpoints, and in the case of the current political situation within the UK, I can learn who not to bother p*ssing on if they are on fire.

Which brings a neat little segue into what I actually want to write about – talking about money.

Why don’t we talk about money and finances?

  • It is impolite to brag
  • Debt is something to be ashamed of
  • Not earning “enough” is something to be ashamed of
  • The government would rather that we didn’t look too closely at it

I accept that I sound mildly conspiracy theorist now, but hear me out. When we are conditioned not to discuss a subject, we also do not discuss what our government is doing wrong in regards to said subject.

If you are lucky enough (yes, it is luck – your health and finances can disappear in the blink of an eye) to have never had money problems, please don’t look away, I want to explain it to you.

Basic Logistics

First of all there is just the basic logistics. You have X amount of money coming in, and Y going out. When X is less than Y, you have to work out how to do the maths to fix it. Will you skip certain bills? What is “non-essential” that you can cut out? Will you borrow money? Can you increase your income?

Making that decision involves various mental gymnastics which is both emotionally and physically draining. You’re tired.

Let’s look at those options.

Skip bills

Ok, so you don’t pay the electric this month. How are you going to pay it next month, when it is double?

Cut out “non-essentials”

What is non-essential? Mobile phone? TV? Children’s activities? Once every “non-essential” is removed, what is your life, or your children’s lives, like? Work, sleep, minimal food. Is that a life, or just living?

Borrow money

Who are you borrowing from? A loan? How are you paying it back? What about the interest? Can you get a loan if you have bad credit from skipping previous bills?
How about a friend? Do you have a friend who could help you? How will you pay them back? How do you feel about your friend knowing about this?

Increase your income

You generally can’t just go and get promoted because you have decided it should happen. So what now? Work more hours? Get a second job? How will you physically cope with that? If you have children, what about childcare? Will all the extra income go on that? Again, is this a life or just living?

Answering those questions is exhausting, performing any of them is exhausting. You’re tired.

Physical Logistics

No Income Increase

If you take the path of not increasing your income, you need to look at what you are spending on food and heating. Yes, making things from “scratch” is cheaper. This is mathematically true. But remember – you’re tired. Making things from scratch after work when you’re tired is even more exhausting. “Lazy” food such as ready meals, and processed foods are cheap, and easy. You can make them when you are tired. But then they affect your health, your body doesn’t work at it’s best. You’re tired.

Increase Income

You get more hours, or another job, you have more money coming in to pay for the bills. But the longer working day is more tiring. Back to the cooking from scratch vs processed foods options. There is no win. You’re tired.

Debt

The debt is increasing, with some borrowed money here, and a skipped payment there. It is constantly at the back of your mind, whispering “how will you pay me?”. Some days you just can’t cope anymore. You say “Fck it” and order a takeaway, but every mouthful you can hear the voice. You try to decide if your child should go on the school trip that would be incredible for them, or if you should buy new shoes as yours have holes in. You’re tired.


This all assumes that you are working, and are able to work. What if you aren’t?

Illnesses come out of nowhere, attacking the healthiest person. Maybe you got cancer. Maybe you got hit by a car and movement is now agony. Maybe you have preschool children and are now a lone parent for whatever reason. The list of possibilities is endless, don’t ever think that you are safe.

So, where do we then turn? To our government. The theory is that we pay into it to then protect and support those in our society who need help. How does that work in the UK? The most common option is Universal Credit.

Universal Credit

Oooh Flamey, tell us what this is. It sounds like some sort of income that would support those in need, in a kind of, universal way.

Indeed, that is what one would assume. It combines old things such as income support, housing benefit, tax credits, council tax benefits, into one lovely lump sum for you. No more multiple departments with pesky forms. No more payment mix ups. Yay!

Well….

The no more multiple departments thing is mostly true, so we get a tick for that. The rest, not so much.

First of all, you must update your “journal” on demand. If you miss updating it, no payment for you. Your journal is online. Many of those who need to claim UC don’t know how to work computers, let alone have one online at home. They must go and find a library (that the government hasn’t closed down), use their internet, and hope that they can update it.

Any messages saying they need to see you go on the journal. So you must regularly find the library, computer, work it, to check the messages as if you’re a no show, no payment for you.

You got a job! If it is not earning enough to take you off UC, or is not enough hours, you must update your earnings once a month. Where? Yup, you got it, library, computer, figure it out, update journal.

This increase might mean that you’re no longer entitled to Council Tax Benefit. Should be simple, just pay that regularly each month. Well…. simple if your hours and income are fixed. If they vary, so does your Council Tax bill. One month you could pay £20, the next £100. No stress there, worrying about if you will have enough to pay it.

This making your brain hurt just reading it? You’re tired.

Now we come to the best bit – The Benefit Cap.

Benefit Cap

Nay, this is not a fine piece of headgear that you get to keep you warm whilst you walk to the library. This is how much you are allowed to be paid.

As you can see, the benefit cap for a couple, and for a single person with children is £1666 (the irony of that number I am sure is not lost on those who did the maths. If you’re a couple with children, nope, same amount.

They very kindly tell you what your total entitlement is. I live in Bournemouth, the lowest four bedroom rental is £1250. This is the rates that Bournemouth Council will pay:

Moving away is not an option. So, based on three children, a couple, and the lowest rent, the “Total entitlement before deductions” would be: £2488.

Seems doable. Take off rent, and you have £1238 per month to live on.

But wait… you’ve forgotten the headgear haven’t you?

You get £1666 and that’s your lot. Take out your rent, and you have £416.

£416 covers all your bills and feeding a family of five.

£416.

Are you tired yet?

But you’re ill!

But wait, you say. What if you are not working for legitimate reasons, not just that you are one of those pesky layabout scroungers? Isn’t there help then?

Of course there is! We don’t call it “Disability” anymore. No, no, no. That made it sound like we though there was something wrong with these people. Noooo. It is now “Personal Independence Payment”. This lovely government is all about getting people back on their feet. Gently encouraging them to work.

So, you get the “ill” people to come to an assessment meeting, to discover how “ill” they are, and help them with the appropriate amount of money.

What? Those assessments are carried out by medical professionals? Eh… I hate to break it to you, but no. You don’t have to have medical qualifications to be an assessor. Just ask a list of questions, you know the kind, 1 is “never” 10 is “always”.

It’s clear that some people are ill though, so the assessment must just be a formality. Of course, you are right. Nope, my bad. That’s just a handful of articles about refused people, and people dying due to PIP.

Story Time

I know, you don’t have the little form in front of you, but let me tell you a story and you can decide if this is “ill” enough for PIP.

A person vomits 20+ times daily, every day. They experience constant stomach cramps. Any vehicular travel results in increased pain and vomiting. Walking is a struggle due to either needing to stop to vomit, or pain. Some days the pain is great enough that leaving bed is not possible, including not being able to cook their own meals. Shopping for themselves either involves transport (increased pain and sickness) to be able to get multiple bags back, or pain carrying them whilst walking (and being sick). Finances are difficult to manage due to impaired cognition from pain, or pain medication.

So, how many “PIP Points” are you giving them?

If you said any number other than zero, you gain nil point.

You’re tired.


This is real.

These are the choices facing the most vulnerable of our society.

This is how debt piles up. It is how people kill themselves to stop the pain. It is how people kill themselves to give their children some hope of a future. It is how people kill their children so that they don’t have to live in that future.

This is life in the UK under the current government. It is killing those of us who have ended up at the “bottom” of the pile.

I don’t know about you, but I am so, so tired.

Image by Mylene2401 from Pixabay

If you feel like it is all too much, and that you’re just too tired to carry on, please talk to someone. You are not alone.

https://www.samaritans.org/ Call for free on 116 123

https://www.stepchange.org/ Free, impartial, debt advice

Dissertation Acknowledgements

There will be a whole post soon, but for now, the acknowledgements…

I have been thinking about this section for weeks, with my brain jumping to everyone who has made me feel that glimmer of “I’ve got this” over the past year or four. It is to them that I am writing thanks. First and foremost, to Sam Goodman, for a calmness that I have never known in a person before, especially in the face of deadlines hidden in clouds, and me figuratively (and sometimes literally) crying under the table talking about a hamster. My mum, for taking over with endless child taxi services whilst I was at uni, or my desk, or hiding from life. Dr. Phil Wilkinson (I cannot say your name without emphasising the Dr) for so many offers of Zoom support that I always forgot to turn up to. My Uni Babes for being there for all the tears, good and bad – we made it out alive. Suzanne Gotheimer for showing me the kind of woman I want to be if I ever grow up. Mandy, my amazing ALS mentor who I always left feeling like I totally had this nailed. My babies, who have looked at me, and talked about me with such pride that I could never quit: Carys, with her face of unwavering confidence in my ability. Emrys for fixing my Rubiks Cube every time. Bronwyn, for all the tea, lunches, and “no, you can’t ask people that”. Charley (the Donovan fan), and the BlurStans on Twitter who I offended, yet they still sent support. Astra, for always being with me in hideous unicorn form. The many “strangers” who live in Narnia my computer who have supported me and dragged me through so many meltdowns. Messrs Beam and Daniels, without whom many drafts would have been far shorter. But finally, and most importantly – Adam. Stacey Turis says that everyone with ADHD needs that one person in their life who is their cheerleader, who will always pick them up regardless of whatever insane thing they have done (or done again) this time. Ok, he’s more like one of Marilyn Manson’s cheerleaders, or the Al to my Sam Beckett (that will make sense soon), but he’s that for me. He’s given me a mix of love, sarcasm, alcohol, and endless sacrifice (not the literal slaughter kind) to get me through this part of my quest, and I can never thank him enough.

Bring on my new chapter!

Oh ffs! I forgot Tuesday!

In my defence, I am living in a sauna and going near my computer is hell.

Lmao just got distracted by Gay Jesus on Queer Eye explaining the plot of Sister Act to the hero! (I have no idea if I posted about me screwing up reordering my hormone pills, but I’m currently experiencing the effects of that gap, so I’m all over the place today).

Anyway! I’m stupidly excited and terrified right now, because I just got this email.

6 or so years ago I would have described myself as a failure. Failed marriage, ended business, house always a mess, never finishing anything (not even a capped character in WoW after playing on and off from launch). Then I got diagnosed with ADHD.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t boom, meds, you’re fixed. The meds have helped, but the main thing has been me understanding myself. This understanding gave me the confidence to try university. I figured I’d I did just one year, I would have learnt so much. By the end of that year there was no doubt that I was finishing the degree. By the end of year two I was not only finishing, but fighting for a first. As my final year closes, amid pandemic and strikes, that first is still on the table.

But I didn’t feel finished. That stage of me didn’t feel “done”, so with the most supportive family ever, I applied for a masters course.

I’m so excited that I was accepted, and so terrified that I’m taking on more than I can handle. But it feels right.

Being on the new chapter!

Focused. Yep, all about the focus…

Imagine a world where I had a schedule for posting AND I STUCK TO IT!

Yeah, I found that funny too. I’m not too sure how ADHD bloggers manage it. I plan all these things, and then my brain goes “Nope. I don’t want to write on a Tuesday. “

“Ok Brain. How about we write on any day and just schedule it?”

“Nope. Then it won’t be the right day. Not gonna.”

“Well, this blogger suggests…”

“NO! NO WRITE!”

Season 3 No GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

So then we are two months down the line and I’ve not posted again.

~~~~~~~

Anyway, today it is all about Focused by Alyson Gerber. If you have me on Twitter, you will already have seen me gushing about this book.

It is about a 12 yr old girl who is having various issues, and gets diagnosed with ADHD. The thing is, the author wasn’t diagnosed until she was in her 20s, which means she can look back and remember the frustration of not understanding what was going. Of trying to navigate a new understanding of her world.

It isn’t just about Clea though. It is about her family and friends. Her parents have to learn why she can sometimes focus, sometimes hyperfocus, and sometimes manage nothing at all. Her friends have to learn about ADHD to understand her, and to help her to understand herself. They have to choose if they want to be friends with her, knowing that the parts of her that cause issues such as impulsivity, will never leave her.

I’ve been writing at the moment about how having ADHD is like having a map. Everyone is born with a map, can read where the roads go, plot out destinations and get there. We don’t know how to read a map though, and very often no-one notices. We don’t tell anyone about it, because we assume that it is natural, so we’re just being lazy and not trying hard enough.

One day, someone notices, and helps to teach us to read a map. Some bits we need help with – maybe bigger print, or different coloured roads, but that moment of realising that we weren’t stupid, we just weren’t born knowing HOW to read the map, is huge.

Focused shows us Clea finding all about her map, and in places it is heartbreaking, but in others it is powerfully uplifting. My copy is tear stained, but in a good way, I think.

The part that resonated most closely to me was this:

“But it would be very helpful if she felt like you trusted that she’s trying her best and if you assumed that she’s already being hard on herself. She doesn’t need help feeling bad.”

Alyson Gerber – Focused

Oh, and also referring to a dress as an insta-outfit, and wearing it less through fashion choice, and more through removing another set of things to organise and choose.

I’m either in a dress, or a top with black leggings or jeans. I love incredibly styled outfits, but after almost 40 years I am slowly realising that my brain can’t do that in the morning.

Anyway. It’s Friday. I’ve written stuff. If my brain agrees then I shall be back Monday. In the meantime – snuggle Ursa.

Executive Function, ADHD, and Analogies I Didn’t Think Through

giphy (2)Hey all you cool cats and kittens!

You haven’t binged Tiger King yet?!?!  GO!  I’ll wait for 10 hours until you’re done (see, I even allowed for loo breaks).

4f1ft2ib0qp41

Is your brain melting now?  Good.  Welcome to my world.

Anyway, this isn’t actually about TBCB (That Bitch Carole Baskins) – although I have just spotted a song with that title, which I am totally adding to the end of this post without listening to it, and then I’ll listen and it’ll be terrible.

Uh, where was I?  Oh yeah, TBCB.  NO!  ADHD Lockdown Isshoos (picture that in big sparkly MySpace text) – one of a 334534613 part set.

Today we are looking at Executive (dys)Function.

I’ve mentioned previously that one of the best ways of getting ADHD to play nicely is to have routines.  All the routines.  Ok, probably just one routine is best, but I need at least 3 on the go to make sure that it is the right routine… this may be where I am going wrong… anyway…

Lockdown has taken our routines and thrown them away.  Even if we didn’t really like going out much anyway, we have now been told we can’t so we are reacting like a toddler who can’t have the blue bowl even though they have only ever wanted the orange bowl.

So now we are at home.  We have a gazillion things to do.  Some for work, some for home, some for pleasure.  What are we actually doing?  Scrolling through Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/TikTok (I’ve avoided the pull of the last one so far).

Why?  Why, when for the first time in our adult lives we have been given all the time in the world, are we frozen?

This, my friends, is due to a delightful issue that we have with Executive Functioning.

“What is Executive Functioning?” I hear you ask.

You know all the things that go into doing The Thing?  You make plans, you juggle a few things at once, you remember all the steps, you remember you were doing The Thing… Yeah, with ADHD, pretty much all of those things are an issue.

Normally, our routines help some of those stages happen.  The making plans stage is often done for us – we have to be at work at set times, we have to go to class at set times, homework is due on set dates and there are regular interactions with people and places that flash a little light in our heads to remind us that homework being due is a thing.

It’s like being in a swimming pool and needing to collect balls, but they are all just down one lane, so you swim forwards and grab them as you go.  You occasionally drop them, but mostly it’s cool.

Losing the routine has taken away the lane, and added about three times as many balls.  You’re in the middle of the pool.  There are so many balls everywhere.  Where do you start?!?!?!  For a lot of us, it is here that we are stopping.  There are just too many balls, it is overwhelming, so we freeze.

OR, we prioritise the balls in our minds.  For me I have pink uni work balls, blue housework balls, yellow children balls, purple pleasure balls (and yes, I am totally regretting this analogy having types both blue balls and pleasure balls *childish snigger*).  I know that I need to collect the uni balls first, but they are far over to the sides.  Maybe I should gather the blue ones on the way to the pink ones?  But that will take up more time which I then don’t have for the pink ones…. the yellow balls will be ok floating by themselves for a bit, but what if they sink when I am focused on the others? What about the purple balls and self care stuff???  So once again, frozen.

Or, we have come up with a ball gathering system, but we then lose track partway through.  Or we forget one that was essential to collecting another one…

Every obstacle convinces us that failure is imminent, so we just sit in front of it and go nowhere.  I’m sure Jessica on HowToADHD on YouTube has a far more concise explanation.

But, knowing why we are frozen doesn’t fix the issue.  How can we fix it?

For me, it need to be a game in some ways, it needs set boundaries, and I need to treat myself how I am treating my 10yr old who has been tidying her bedroom for approximately 2343463135 ice ages – aka – look at one thing at a time.

So, inspired by someone on a FB group, I have made a list.

I have broken down tasks into small parts.  Housework tasks are 15 min max, and include things like “kitchen work surface” which means I do as much as I can on that thing for 15 minutes.  If I’m finished in 5, then good for me. Uni work tasks tend to be an hour so that I get a proper run at it.  Regular tasks are on the list multiple times.

ALL TASKS ARE NUMBERED.

Then the game aspect comes in – Random Number Generator.

I spin for which task I am doing.

I find myself being competitive with a timer, seeing how much I can get done.

I get to cross off the list as I go, which always feels good.

I get to move things off the reverse sticker chart of they are on there (if I haven’t mentioned this, let me know and I’ll go over it next time if I remember).

It removes the aspect of thought and planning.  It is the bedroom tidying method of picking up one thing at a time, asking where it goes, and putting it there.  We can all do just one thing.

I haven’t got a set amount to do per day.  If my brain is up for it, then I can do lots.  If it isn’t, then maybe I’ll do one.

At the moment it is just for pink and blue balls, but I may add in some of the other colours too – a block to watch an episode of Friday Night Dinner with the boy child, or a block to knit and watch Mrs Maisel.  As time goes on, I will see which things need more entries, and which fewer.  It is a work in progress, I can be creative with it.  All of those things make me enthusiastic to do them.  They give me a reward, they give me a direction, and they help to keep the executive function wheels spinning.

Obviously, this is just what I have found to help me.  If you have things that are helping you break through the freeze, please let us know!

Oh, and take your meds.  I have seen so many people online talking about coming off their meds because they aren’t at work etc.  They don’t just help with that though – they help with the emotions, they help with the extremes of mood, they help with remembering to clean your teeth.  ADHD doesn’t just make you a bit ditsy at work, it runs through all of your body and life, and keeping on top of it will help so much more.

As promised….

ADHD and Lockdown – Scream if you want to go faster! Or just scream…

How’s everyone getting on during this weird as hell time?

I am a delight, cycling through chilled, happy, rage, tears, deflated, all at a moment’s notice.

As much as we live in chaos, those of us with ADHD thrive on routine, and we have suddenly been flung into a huge change and need to figure out a new routine.

But wait… What’s that you say? Emotional dysregulation?

Yeah baby! We’re on edge because our routine has been thrown off. We’re anxious because of the whole pandemic situation. Our emotion dial is worse than a dodgy hotel shower. Finding the sweet temperature spot is a safe cracking exercise, and breathing heavily can knock the dial up to 10.

Today was a prime example.

I woke happy. I was Active Parent for the morning. I got up the kids, fiddled with my phone for a bit, dealt with a child meltdown in a calm, loving way. When it was time to tag out of Active Parent I got out my uni work and decided that I would watch the shows I needed for research.

Everything was all very chilled.

Then 3.20pm came and I got tired (I get very tired, very quickly each afternoon). I went to take a nap but I was damp and sweaty (medication side effects). I wanted a shower but it is broken and the electrician who was to replace it has not contacted us since lockdown.

I then heard the man thing mention me going to the shops later. I have always shopped little and often because the supermarket overwhelms me, but now I can’t. I started to panic about not being able to shop like that any more.

By the end of his call everything was too much and I was a crying mess with emotions ramped up to 15, in very much a 2 max situation.

I’ve now had a nap and can see all of this clearly.

Tiny things are amplified so much right now for EVERYONE, but especially those with ADHD.

Be kind.

And please help our loved ones. They’re walking through emotional landmines right now, and don’t deserve any of the injuries they’re getting.

Oh, and #staythefuckathome

Trauma responses, a scary dog, and a kitten.

Heya, I should be writing more at the moment, but there’s this dog who keeps growling if I try.

People always talk about big black dogs for depression, but I swear an angry chihuahua is way more terrifying

I use my blog to be open about my mental health, both for me to process it, and to help anyone in the void reading this to know that it isn’t just them. So on that note…

Urgh.

“May you live in interesting times” is always a fun curse, and there’s not one of us who can say that the current times do not count as “interesting”. Apparently it is a cosmic punishment for demoting Pluto. Or shooting a gorilla, or opening an ancient sarcophagus…

Anyway, my brain was mush and I was struggling to focus before we had a global pandemic. I had decided that it wasn’t just general low, and made an appointment to increase my meds. I was coming up with strategies. It was hard, but there was a light.

Then, shit got real. University started closing. My friends went home, or socially distanced. The schools closed.

I know enough from my Media and Trauma unit to know that my trauma reactions kicked in. My experiences of death, illness, and things going bad just as it seemed better have heightened my response to this. I have responded with a mix of anger (fight) and giving up (freeze).

I can see everything I have worked for over the past 3 1/2 years falling apart around me, but my fear response has me frozen into position. My depression has spiralled. All I want to do is focus on my family, but I know that I can’t JUST do that, so instead I am doing nothing… As if doing neither makes it less obvious that I am not doing my work. Maybe.

Today, I have improved. I watched How To ADHD last night and felt more confident about focusing on work etc. I woke confident. I got dressed in actual day clothes and a bra. I had breakfast not in my bed. I came in to sit at the PC and… I froze.

My heart started racing. My mouth dried. My eyes filled with tears.

Full on anxiety and fear response to the concept of sitting at my desk. I don’t know if my laptop would be less intense (Strawb is using it for school work).

I know that my stress is for valid reasons. I have ADHD, I have 3 children off school, one also with ADHD and one with Aspergers who doesn’t DO change. The third has had everything he has worked for over the last year cancelled. Poor kid was only in Grammar Stream for a couple of weeks… I have vulnerable people I am trying to protect. I am trying to (hah!) finish my degree. Plus the general natural stress of this entire pandemic. It is reasonable. But it is also something that I MUST overcome if I don’t want to lose all I have worked for.

For now… I’m a step closer. I have written. Not my assignment that is overdue or my dissertation, but words. Maybe later I’ll make it to the PC. Maybe the laptop. Maybe not. But I WANT to work, and that is a hell of an improvement.

I do have a bright spot right now too, including being healthy, having loo roll, food, soap, and my loved ones being healthy…

Meet Ember*

*name confirmation pending

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