Category Archives: ADHD

I’m back (again….)

…maybe my return will “stick” this time? 😛

First, I want to thank those of you who have stuck with me despite such a long absence. I really appreciated the comments and messages you’ve sent during the last year while I’ve been “away.” These helped me feel more like myself during the very hard first year with baby Adelle in our household.

Oh boy, has it been a year.

With my return to the blogosphere, I should warn you that the focus  of my blog is probably going to shift a bit because my life has shifted so much since Adelle’s arrival. I love my baby to pieces, but being a parent is hard work. ADHD or not, this is the hardest job I’ve ever done. My dissertation comes close, but this is still way harder and rewarding in ways academia (or any job) could never be. This shift might annoy some of you who are not parents. Sorry 😦  The polish will also probably be off the writing because this is a task that will have to be reserved for after bedtime, when I’m already tired and still have work to do before heading to bed. My goal is one post per week. I might get to more than one per week during the summer, and I might struggle to get to one per week once the school year starts back up again. We’ll see how things go.

Moreso than before, I’m finding that it’s incredibly important to have reasonable goals in mind for each day, both at work and at home. I’m still keeping my task list going, and I’ve instituted a new electronic system for tracking paper-writing progress (more about this in a future entry). I don’t write down the home goals, usually because they stare me in the face and can’t be forgotten as easily as relatively nebulous work goals. I’ve also found that I need to be nice to myself when I fall short at home or at work, and to keep things in perspective.

Off of my blog, my first home goal for tonight is to take out the trash. This will involve sneaking into Adelle’s room to empty her diaper pail (YUCK). This doesn’t sound like a big challenge, but it’s tricky to do this without making lots of noise. Plus, once I have the trash ready to go, I have to open the garage door to take it outside… and of course, Adelle’s room is directly over the garage and she’s not the heaviest of sleepers. If we make it through the trash without waking her up, then we run the risk again when we unload & reload the dishwasher (i.e., a task that must be done daily with 3 people living in a house, especially when one of them goes through about 10 sippy cups in a day and loves to watch her spoon fall on the floor after she drops it from the highchair). Usually she sleeps until the point when I *just* sit down with my cup of herbal tea…. To non-parent readers, this evening’s plan of action probably sounds incredibly lame. Readers who are parents will likely understand how difficult it is to get these two little tasks done after chasing after a toddler for the last few hours after putting in a day at work.

Of course, since Adelle’s arrival the house has suffered. The home goals are much smaller now than they used to be, and we have lower standards for what is acceptable. The same has happened at work. I really didn’t write at all for most of Adelle’s first year. I spent most of the year trying to do a full-time job on 60% time. It didn’t work so well: I was exhausted all the time from interrupted sleep and couldn’t focus very well because I was so anxious about not making progress. It’s just now that things are starting to get back on track: I just submitted an article last month, the first one I’ve written in about 18 months, and I’m incredibly proud to have done so. The next step will be easier, because the first is always the hardest…

…and with that, I will now take that first step toward taking out the trash 🙂

 

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It’s a girl! Baby Addled has arrived!

Baby Addled arrived via emergency c-section early in the morning on April 17.

Since then, I have been recovering from the surgery, adjusting to parenthood, and trying to get the hang of breastfeeding.

This is a quick post (after so many months!) because I’m also trying to finish my academic work by a pressing deadline.

In the meantime, has anyone heard of ritalin inhibiting the production of breastmilk? I had issues with my milk coming in and wondered if it might be because of methylphenidate. Apparently prolactin (the chemical that makes milk come in) is the opposite of dopamine, which is stimulated by stimulants. Too much dopamine = too little prolactin (and no milk), but there doesn’t seem to be any research on this. Anyone else heard of any?

the reason for my long silence

At long last, I can break my silence and explain why I’ve been away from this blog for so long. It’s because I was afraid I would spill the beans before the time was right.ultrasound clipped

I am pleased to announce that Hubby and I are expecting, and I’m due at the end of April. The ultrasound pic at the right was taken about 6 weeks ago, during my 1st appointment at the High Risk OB (consultation regarding my ADD medication).

So far, things are going well for both me and the little one. Our offspring has a good strong heartbeat, and it danced around a ton during the ultrasound! We have our real ultrasound next month, and will have more information then about its development thus far. The pregnancy has been quite easy for me overall. I had very little morning sickness, other than some food aversions and mild nausea at odd times of the day. It only lasted for about 3 weeks, and the worst of it went away when I stopped taking the fish oil supplement (prenatal vitamin adjunct).

A note about fish oil that’s relevant for ADDers, pregnant or not: This might sound stupid, but do not try taking it at night. For a month, I took it with my regular prenatal vitamin at dinner, and I had insomnia for that entire month. It was miserable. The insomnia decreased when I switched to taking it in the morning, and it helped a little bit with concentration. Notwithstanding, a single capsule was murder on my stomach. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so awful if I hadn’t been in the middle of morning sickness, but I’m also not convinced that it wasn’t the cause of the morning sickness itself.

Medication has been a bit tricky, at least at first. I was switched to a new pdoc around the same time I had the positive pregnancy test. Amazingly, my new pdoc has ADD, and she’s been amazingly helpful and supportive with troubleshooting my medication. We tried various options: I dropped back to 10mg of ritalin 3x/day, then 5 mg 3x/day, on the way to the goal of 0 mg of ritalin 0x/day. I was frustrated and miserable at 5mg, and barely functional at 10mg, but I stuck with that dose for a month before going to the aforementioned high risk OB consultation. The three high risk OBs I’ve now worked with in that office have actually been the most supportive of my medication. One of them even said to me, “If you need this medication to function, you need it to function. Period.” Their acceptance was amazingly refreshing. Of course, the reality is that we won’t know for some time if my medication has done any harm… keep your fingers crossed for us, please!

Work issues have been resolving themselves. I met with my department chair today to let him know about our upcoming addition, and he was very supportive. It looks like we will be able to put some plans into place in advance to handle my inevitable absence at the end of the spring semester, and I have some decisions to make about using my summer funding, stopping the tenure clock for next year, etc. I have time to make these decisions, fortunately. This was a big relief, but it’s really the small things at work that have made it more stressful for me this semester. For example, I outgrew most of my work pants around 6-8 weeks of pregnancy, and now I’m starting to outgrow my work shirts. I don’t look particularly pregnant, just  a bit pot-bellied… The second “minor” issue is H1N1 flu. It’s going around on my campus, and I’ve had at least a dozen students out sick with it. I was able to get the H1N1 vaccine over a week ago, but still have a few days until I will have full immunity against all the nasty germs my students are sneezing and coughing all over the place. Yuck!

All in all, everything’s going far better than we’d anticipated, and I can only hope that things continue to go this smoothly between now and the end of April!

ah, summer (part 3)

About 2 months ago I posted about my experiences teaching over the summer. I had a student with severe ADHD in my small class, and it made the class a unique challenge.

This morning I received my course evals in that class.

Three students accused me of unfair treatment and favoritism because I was “too nice” to my student with ADHD.

Yes, they actually used these words in my evaluations.

I know for a fact that 2 of these 3 were students I’d had to threaten to physically separate the day before because they wouldn’t shut up for the 80 minute lecture (the “eye rollers” mentioned in the post from 2 months ago; these two students plan to be psychologists after completing their undergraduate degrees. HA!). The third student was one of their friends.

Apparently I was supposed to kick the ADHD student out of my class when they asked repeated tangential questions instead of dealing with them and moving on. Apparently it’s also unfair that I gave copies of my lecture notes to the student with ADHD.

Never mind that that this student was also paying for the course and actually displayed interest in the material, and that the student with ADHD had accommodations that guaranteed them access to my lecture notes as well as other types of support in the course.

I am livid and disgusted. Apparently as a professor I’m responsible for controlling everybody’s annoying behavior in the classroom, but I’m still unreasonable to expect neurotypical normals to shut up and leave their cell phones alone.

an ADD-friendly adaption of the 10-10-10 plan decision making

This morning I was watching the Today show as I prepared for work. I usually have it on while I get ready, as it’s a great way to keep on schedule in the morning. The segments are short, and they regularly announce the time, so it’s a lot harder to procrastinate with constant, cheery reminders. Today Suzy Welch was on the show promoting her new book 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea.

Granted, this is an oversimplification, but the gist of the 10-10-10 plan is that whenever somebody needs to make a decision, they should stop and ask themselves about the consequences of that decision/action in the next 10 minutes, the next 10 months, and the next 10 years. The best/right decision is the one that leads people to  where they want to be 10 minutes, 10 months, or 10 years later.

I was intrigued by this simple plan both as an ADDer and an academic who professionally studies issues related to this, but also because I’d intuitively come up with a way to do this on my own, and have been using a modified version of this strategy for at least the last two years.  I can see how this would be particularly challenging for ADDers, who might end up feeling overwhelmed by the 10-10-10 plan.  I know that this strategy could be difficult to employ in the heat of the moment, but I think it’s worth it to give it a try, with or without an ADD-friendly modification.

Part 1: Set aside a few free moments and figure out where you want to be in 10 months and in 10 years. If this seems too distant, think in the increments that work best for you. I tend to think about where I want to be 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years from now. I write these down in one of my notebooks, and keep notes on the steps to reach these goals (i.e., what I’ve accomplished, what I still need to do, back-up plans in case things go wrong along the way). Revisit this plan on a regular basis as suits you, and make changes as your life and goals change. Knowing what you want out of life makes it easier to do the second part, which is the ADD-friendly modification.

Part 2: A short-term modification of this strategy is key for staying on track in day-to-day life, particularly for getting through those “off-track” moments. I suggest a 1-1-1 approach. Whenever I catch myself doing something counterproductive (e.g., procrastinating on Facebook, not doing whatever is on my daily list, etc.), I take about 30 seconds and ask myself “How is this getting me where I need to be in in one minute? In one hour? In one day?” If I’m having a really bad procrastination day, I ask myself “What am I doing in this one moment that is going to keep me from meeting the day’s goals? How else will I go off track for the rest of the week and month if I don’t keep on track right now?” (Disclaimer: As beating yourself up can be counterproductive for ADDers, I don’t recommend bringing out this second set of cognitions unless your motivation is at major lows).

As all the ADD books say, it’s all about small steps and keeping yourself motivated. Knowing where you want to go is a big part of this, and structuring your life so you can get there is another important piece.

new rules for my blog

Part of the reason for my long absence was that I was contemplating ending this blog. On one hand, it started to feel like a personal liability, and on the other, I didn’t feel like I was meeting my goals for starting the blog. For the time being, I’ve decided to keep it going, but there are going to be some new rules.

Regarding it feeling like a liability… Non-academics might think academics are paranoid about protecting their “private selves” from the public at large (e.g., students and their parents), but let me assure you that there’s good cause for our paranoia. For example, my students regularly try to “Friend” me on facebook so they can see my profile and photos. Also, when candidates are on the job market, it’s not unusual for search chairs to “google” them to see what else is on the web in their name. Consequently, I have to be vigilant about the information that is publicly available. In sum, I blog anonymously for a reason. I ask that you please respect me on this matter, even if you know me in the real world.  I’ve opted to change my policy on comments so I may have better oversight. From this point forward, all comments will be moderated and will not appear on posts until I’ve approved them.  Don’t let this hold you back from commenting… just respect my privacy and your comments will show up as promptly as possible.

The reason I blog anonymously is because much of what I’ve written here details my personal journey with the mental health system in addition to my experiences as an ADDer in the academy. I do this both for my own benefit and for others out there like me.  I started this blog was to find other academics stuggling with the same types of issues, but unfortunately, there aren’t very many out there or my little blog hasn’t reached them.  I hope that this situation continues to improve, and that we can build a network of addled professionals together.

how to schedule exercise

After a prolonged hiatus, I am back! The grant(s) are in, and I finally feel like I’m reasonably on top of things again.

The only goal I’m not meeting so well right now is exercise. I’m not getting enough, particularly since moving to New City, where I am forced to drive everywhere because there is no infrastructure for walking. This is troubling because exercise is good for health, good for helping to minimize ADD symptoms, and can help with sleep (see helpful posts by Tara and Jennifer Koretsky on this very topic).

The problem with exercise is fitting it in my schedule/life. When I wake up in the morning (7 am), I’m groggy and need my morning caffeine and a bite to eat. Then I shower, get ready, and go to work for the day (arrive around 9-9.30). Three days/week I teach until after 6 pm, and on those days, I am ravenous for dinner once I arrive at home. I eat dinner. Then I’m too full to exercise, and it’s too late, as it will end up “revving me up” too much for me to sleep at a normal hour. Go to bed. Sleep. Repeat.

I fear having to set my alarm and start the day any earlier because I’m already pretty worn out by the time I’m done teaching class. I don’t function well at 6 am, particularly not on an empty stomach.

I’m curious… how do other academics (with or without ADD) make this work in their schedules without driving themselves crazy?