Medication Adventure

Thought I’d write some words pondering on my experiences with ADHD medication since I was diagnosed this April. 80% of people with ADHD respond well to stimulant medication and caffeine actually makes their symptoms lessen; it makes them calmer and more focused. Unfortunately, as I have always felt more anxious and hyper as a result of caffeine I suspected I would be part of the 20% of people for which stimulants do not work, and I was right. 

After trying two different stimulant meds and experiencing my symptoms actually worsen; along with experiencing high blood pressure, I was then put on a non-stimulant widely used for people with ADHD who don’t respond well to stimulants. But only 50% of people with ADHD feel their symptoms are less on this non-stimulant medication…sadly this medication didn’t seem to work either, I felt more anxious and my rejection sensitivity was even worse. Now I know everyone would say they don’t like rejection but my response to anything that I interpret as rejection is really quite extreme and I always take it personally, even when I know it isn’t personal like I can’t seem to convince myself that they don’t think I am pointless as a human being and I massively catastrophise the situation. For example I got asked to give a 10minute talk on my work and then the next day got told they could no longer fit me in the schedule. This I saw as a personal rejection and I ended up walking in the common area by work for 2 hours crying, escalating this situation in my head that I wasn’t doing a good job and my work wasn’t valid and the academics didn’t care about any of it and my house job was pointless. When this happens the only way I can snap out of it is that I literally run out of energy from all the crying and anger, and then it’s just like I am stuck in an ADHD paralysis for hours. 

Anyway, my psychiatrist had one more medication she wanted to try me on. This one is actually not widely used for ADHD but there is some research in the USA that it can help with ADHD symptoms. These meds are actually used in the UK for people suffering from SAD and/or trying to give up smoking. But yes, I am so happy cos they seem to work – I still struggle with my racing brain and I find it hard to focus on tasks in work but overall I feel calmer and more able to handle rejection and not escalate it and take it personally. So yeah, the point of this post is that it took 7 months to find a medication that actually helped me. Everyone is different; but if you have a diagnosis and you are trialling meds then stick with it. I found it really handy to document how I was feeling on the meds each day in a note on my phone. Then I could feed back all that I had experienced to the psychiatrist when I spoke to them- because as is typical with ADHD you forget stuff if you don’t write it down and then you can’t articulate what you have experienced because you can’t remember…

What is one privilege you have that you often take for granted?

It’s been a while, so I thought I would do a morning journalling post (I am on day 11 of the prompts from this site)… I am just waiting for the banana pancakes my Dad made for me, to go down before I go on a run on the beach so this seems like a good a time as any 🙂

Well, I have a lot of privileges that I take for granted I am sure.

I guess one is the fact I have a job that provided me with a laptop, a laptop that I am writing this post on from my parents house by the sea in Wales. I can therefore work from anywhere which had been very useful through these lockdowns and doctors appointments in Wales.

Even though I have had to come back to Wales to have follow up appointments and MRI following the endometriosis surgery last month, and it’s not ideal having to keep leaving my ‘life’ in Southampton to come back and for – I am very privileged to not only have a GP in Southampton that I can access through the NHS but also a specialist in gynaecology in Wales that I can access through my private health insurance. These are both two, MASSIVE privileges. I have been able to access a psychiatrist through the NHS and get medication for ADHD in Southampton for free. Yes there was a waiting list – but still it’s amazing. And I am super privileged that I am going to be having an MRI next week to see inside my body and see where the rest of the endo is and if I need another surgery.

And all that aside I am privileged to be able-bodied…the fact I can just put my trainers on in a minute and run out the door – that’s amazing and I feel lucky and oh so privileged.

*Throughout this post I have realised I do not know how to spell ‘priveledge’ – that is not correct as it gets underlined with the red dashes – hopefully I will remember its 2 i’s and just the one e and no d- not all e’s !*

Countries I’ve travelled to…

My friend asked me yesterday how many countries I have actually been to; I didn’t know, so I made this list, and now I do. I am looking forward to when I can start adding to this list again 🙂

  1. Greece
  2. Japan 
  3. Spain 
  4. China
  5. Australia 
  6. Portugal 
  7. Germany 
  8. Austria 
  9. USA 
  10. Canada
  11. Costa Rica 
  12. Chile 
  13. Peru 
  14. Colombia 
  15. Scotland 
  16. England 
  17. Northern Ireland
  18. Ireland 
  19. Norway 
  20. Sweden 
  21. Denmark 
  22. Vietnam 
  23. Morocco 
  24. France 
  25. Belgium 
  26. Switzerland 
  27. Netherlands 
  28. Finland 
  29. Croatia 
  30. Italy
  31. Czech Republic 
  32. Poland 
  33. Russia 
  34. India 
  35. Wales
Cerro Tocco, Atacama, Chile.

and yes, I am counting Wales (‘cos it’s a country and I have been there) 😛

Lockdown Hobbies

Hobbies taken up during lockdown, and subsequently got bored of/given up on:

  1. Playing piano 
  2. Chin ups 
  3. Push ups 
  4. Punch bag workouts 
  5. Body combat workouts
  6. Mandala Drawing 
  7. Creative Writing 
  8. Chess 
  9. Knitting 
  10. Online dating 
  11. Meditation 
  12. Yoga
  13. Barre workouts 
  14. Dance workouts
  15. Free writing 
  16. Positive Wellness Journalling 
  17. Playing Sims 
  18. Playing Lemmings 
  19. Rowing
  20. Resistance band workouts  
  21. Cross stitch
me feat. cross stitch … I did this for about 2 hours before I got bored…

Hobbies I’ve taken up/rediscovered during the lockdown and still going strong with : 

  1. Zwifting on the Turbo 
  2. Cycling with a club outdoors 
  3. Running by the sea 
  4. Poetry (writing and reading of)
  5. Reading fantasy/thriller/fiction
  6. Paddle Boarding 
  7. Swimming in pools/open water
  8. Bullet Journalling 
  9. Calligraphy
  10. Audiobooks to sleep 
  11. Embracing curly hair 
  12. Facial skin care routine 
  13. Paint by numbers 
  14. Fidget toys 
  15. Playing Two Dots 
  16. Playing Spider Solitaire 

Who have you spent the most time with over the past month, and how have these people affected your life?

Well, I haven’t done a morning journalling blogpost for a while… since Lockdown 1.0 actually and now we are in Lockdown 3.0. *sigh*

It sucks doesn’t it?

But I am very grateful that I am still able to work from home – where ‘home’ is still my childhood home in the Valleys with my parents.

They say you will become the people you spend the most time with and being locked down with my parents I am certainly spending ‘ALL’ my time with them…and no time with anyone else haha.

But I don’t think I mind at all.

If I am going to end up becoming like anyone, I am happy to become like them.

Because they are awesome.

Zwifting on m’turbo

So yes, I didn’t really answer the question in the last morning journalling blog post…sorry, I got distracted, I’ll try again.

This whole getting disctracted happens to me A LOT haha.

I go off on tangents or my brain finds something more interesting than the thing I am currently doing…the number of times I’ve been walking out of a room and walked into the door or wall because I am already thinking about the next thing I will be doing…but yes.

anyway, I need to focus on this question below!

How have you stretched your comfort zone in the past month (even slightly)?  What did you learn from this experience?  What’s one new comfort zone challenge you’d like to conquer?

Well the thing that springs to mind, with regards to being out of my comfort zone, it’s cycling long distances.

I did my first 100km ride on Zwift, which is a virtual cycling platform, a few weeks ago while in lockdown with my parents in Wales.

AND this Sunday, I made the jump of joining an ‘in real life’ cycling group and doing my first 97km ride with a group outside. It was so much fun, and if I hadn’t spent so much time on Zwift indoors getting my cycling fitness up I would never have had the courage to do the group ride.

But yes, now I am really excited about doing cycling in the week in doors and my long rides on Sunday, outdoors with a proper group of lovely people.

The cycling club I am hoping to join is called SGCC btw.

I’ll put some info below about turbo trainers and Zwift below just in case people are thinking of buying a turbo trainer to start their own cycling journey.

So, I have the Tacx flux S direct drive turbo it was £599 online. There’s also a Wahoo trainer, that’s about the same price and also direct drive. I mainly just got Tacx as it was the only one available, as alot of people were buying turbos 2 months ago when I got mine. Any cheaper than that and you are looking at the wheel on ones and they are apparently not as good for power accuracy etc but then they are like £300 -£400. My Dad has the Tacx Neo which is the high end one that the pros use that’s £1200. That’s super quick changing in erg mode and has road feel, and is less heavy and easier if you need to pack it away or transport it between two places regularly, which is what my Dad does.

So there isn’t a whole lot of difference that I notice between the two given I have used them both. With my Flux S it is super heavy, but that’s fine for me as the bike just stays set up, with the bike on it in my bedroo, also I am not worried about the road feel :). To join Zwift you need a computer/ipad to attach to it and there is a subscrition, it’s currently £12.99 a month but I believe that price is meant to rise soon. Note for most of the direct drive turbos the bike you attach has to have at least 8 gears on the cassette, and you need to buy an extra cassette with the same number of gears to attach to your turbo.

Out of my Comfort Zone

Another ‘morning’ journalling inspired post…

How have you stretched your comfort zone in the past month (even slightly)? 

What did you learn from this experience? 

Well I guess I stretched my comfort zone by returning ‘home’ to Southampton for 2 weeks.

It’s funny, they say ‘home is where the heart is’ and at the moment my home isn’t in Southampton. I love my job, I find it very rewarding but at the moment in this covid world my job is not so rewarding…it’s the face-to-face interactions I live for in my job. It is seeing those questioning faces of the youngsters that fuels me.

I’ve been reading Scarlett Thomas’s World Quake novels (thoroughly recommend by the way). In those awesome books, specifically the second one, Effy (the heroine) almost runs out of her life force and gets a terrible affliction known as the Yearning. I think this is a good metaphor for how I feel now.

I feel low on life force at the moment; so going back to my ‘home’ in Southampton, my flat, with no garden, where I live alone… it has depleted my life force instead of topping it up.

The distraction of cooking my own food, decorating the spare room, doing my own laundry was not enough to calm my racing mind.

Anxiety stirred in me while I was there, my thoughts run a mock.

Even though I tried to meet with friends in the evenings there was two whole days where I didn’t speak to anyone in real life other than the dentist. I cycled to the common to sit in the sun and read a book but I was truly restless.

Somehow (well because of the global pandemic) my ‘home’ no longer feels like a home. It makes me feel restless and pointless. The pointless feelings are the most worrying; as that when I know depression is looming.

So after 2 weeks there I made the decision to come back to Wales to be with my parents and doggie siblings. I packed up my car last Friday and drove back.

Today it’s the following Saturday, and it’s terribly rainy weather (much worse than when I was in Southampton might I add) but I just went for a run on the beach and I’m now reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in the window seat, surrounded by dogs.

I feel so much calmer here and my mind is not racing so much.

Environment is so important, as I’ve learned from James Smith’s daily emails (again, thoroughly recommend you subscribe to these!)

I don’t yearn for the ‘old normal’ before Covid but I don’t yearn for this ‘new normal’ either… I think it’s impossible to do so to be honest. How can you yearn for a future that is totally unknown?

I am proud that I did get out of my lockdown comfort zone and return to my life in England. I am proud that I stayed there for two weeks on my own. But I am also proud that I was able to acknowledge that staying there any longer might have significantly impacted my mental health.

For now my home is where my heart is, in Wales, with my family; by the sea.

The Next Steps

Another journal prompt inspired post…

What’s the next step you’ve been thinking about taking, for far too long?

Hmmm, this is a toughy…

I have lots of next steps I think I should be taking…but for me it’s hard to disentangle whether they come from ME…

Do I actually, truly want to do these next steps or are they are something that other people/society dictates that I should want…

Because I am female and 35 and been in the same job for 9 years, have a small flat…

maybe I should be wanting kids and a promotion and a bigger house

but, I’m not entirely sure about this…I don’t think I want any of that if I am honest with myself.

For me I guess the problem is I know pretty well now what I don’t want in life…I just don’t know what I do want.

What do I want? ergh.

and like Matt Haig says the act of wanting something you don’t have just shows there is a void.

But is there really a void?

Maybe not, I don’t feel like there is a void in my life…so maybe that truly does mean I don’t WANT any of those things.

Am I lesser human being because I don’t wan’t those things?

I don’t think so. But it still doesn’t help me with what I do want.

Hmmmmm…

If I am truly happy with where I am now in life then maybe the next step is just to try to grow and improve in small ways…and take small steps

to keep on learning and be positive

But Vex King says you always have a goal to work toward.

but I really struggle with ‘thinking big’ or long term.

So I guess my next steps will indeed just have to mini steps.

I’ll list my intentions for a year from today below:

Next steps to take by 1st July 2021

  1. Finish Creative writing course and start to write first fiction novel.
  2. Complete an Olympic distance triathlon and train with the Triathlon club as soon as I can 😛
  3. Keep up my Spanish learning – at least an hour a week.
  4. Save money for future travel adventures (hopefully more South America/Spanish speaking countries).
  5. Get drafted for a B Team Roller Derby Game.
  6. Don’t buy any more books; read the many hundreds I already have!
  7. Be open to a romantic relationship and try not to be cynical about love and put up defences to such things.

There’s a tremendous amount to risk to playing it safe.

so, another morning journalling attempt…

Over the past month, what have your actions been silently saying about your priorities?

Well we are in lockdown so the past month I have had a lot of my actions enforced upon me by the law!

But, I guess my actions have shown I do have new priorities indeed…

I’m just going to list some of the changes/new priorities here ‘cos I am a scientist and ADHD and deal better with listing things haha, also it’s really bloody hot today and I am having trouble putting my thoughts in order:

  1. I’ve realised for me EXERCISE of some kind every day is very important for my mind and body. I have to do it to stay sane and happy. Even if it is just 2km on the rower or 4 laps of the field next to my parents house. I’m trying to just go running without being super dedicated to a certain distance. I’ve found when I am just running for the love of running and being grateful for what my body can do I actually go further and faster than when I put the pressure of distance on myself. I also get less injures.
  2. READING. Omg so chill time with a book and noise cancelling headphones has been so important. It’s amazing to escape and it forces me to not look at my phone so much which is always a good thing. I now recognise I need to make time to read everyday, even if its an audiobook (which is possibly cheating). It’s so healing and reading really does take you to new places and allow you to live different lives…and travel…omg I miss travelling :./!
  3. SHOPPING. I’ve realised all the things I actually need (toiletries, books, stationary -not food lol) I can buy online and I can buy them from local/small businesses. I don’t need to go to big shopping centers; where I will undoubtedly get stressed and anxious about all the people and overwhelmed by all the items and end up wasting my money on shit I don’t need. AND you can put adblockers on your browser so that’s amazing if you are like me and easily led by ads…and we don’t yet have the technology to block me from seeing end of aisle offers; it’s all too much.
  4. LEARNING a language…I’m still really enjoying taking time each day to do my Spanish learning, even if it’s just a quick Duolingo lesson on my phone. This is something totally different to my work so hopefully it keeps my brain going and expands my mind. Also, it’s nice for me to think that when we can actually travel I can go to a Spanish speaking country and talk to the locals innit. Hola!
  5. I’ve prioritised time OUTSIDE on my own in the NATURE too; I guess lockdown has made me realise how important this is…

I’ll finish this post with this quote I just stole from one of James Smith‘s daily emails…(I thoroughly recommend you subscribe to them!)

Anyway his email today was about being happy and not striving for a life that doesn’t actually make you happy just because you think that’s what you should be doing; and I really needed to hear that today.

Realize that sleeping on a futon when you’re 30 is not the worst thing. You know what’s worse, sleeping in a king bed next to a wife you’re not really in love with but for some reason you married, and you got a couple kids, and you got a job you hate. You’ll be laying there fantasizing about sleeping on a futon. There’s no risk when you go after a dream. There’s a tremendous amount to risk to playing it safe.

Bill Burr
Oh to be at a festival right now!

What’s something you’ve let go that once meant the world to you?

And, what’s something you love today that you never even knew you needed in your life?

This is another morning journaling attempt.

It’s a Saturday, week who knows of Lockdown. Here in Wales we still aren’t supposed to go more than 5 miles from your home.

I’ve had to force myself to have a rest day because I keep getting calf injuries from too much HIIT workouts (specifically squat jumps and burpees) and then trying to compete with people who run faster than me on Strava.

I think with my ADHD (undiagnosed) I always want to be on the go and doing stuff. Even writing this blog post right now is a compromise…I was supposed to be just sat here having an analogue day. No screens at all…(kindle doesn’t count!) but here I am anyway…

I just finished reading Superior by Angela Saini (I have first edition signed copy from where she did a book launch as part of the ‘Why not a Doc’ podcast at the RI) and then I started reading Girl, Women, Other by Bernardine Evaristo on my Kindle (reading it in a book club, with one other friend lol).

So here I am; perhaps these great writers have inspired me. I want to be like them; to write.

And at least if I’m here on the sofa on the laptop, as opposed to in the dinning room, which is the designated work space, then it’s ok.

I’m trying to think of things I’ve let go of…to adhere to the rules and point of the journal prompt heading for this blog post.

The truth is I have trouble letting go, in general. Haha.

My ex who broke my heart; I’ve mostly let that go, but probably not fully if I am honest with myself. I have let go of the anger though; I think I forgive him and I know I am better off. So, I guess in a sense I have let go of the life I thought I would have with him. It still bloody hurts some times, but I think that’s just the betrayal and the shock and fact I was so wrong about him. It hurts a lot less and I think about it in a much more fleeting and less consumed way than I used to, even compared to like 6 months ago. So that’s very positive.

I guess I have fully grieved for that life and I do genuinely feel excited about what this ‘new life’ has to hold.

So that’s the first part of the journal prompt done!

The something I love that I didn’t expect to love has to be my parents dogs!

Bili, Milo and Stella.

I wasn’t brought up with pets because of my asthma and my parents (especially my Mam) for most of my life has actively disliked dogs and their owners sometimes lol.

But then it all changed when she started to look after my sister in law’s dog. She used to cry when he would go back home. She did a full 180 on dogs…and now my parents have 3!

Bili was the first; he’s a Cavachon. I truly love him (and he is my favourite) …I didn’t realise I could love a dog so much, but I do.

When I had that bad break up which happened just before Christmas. When I came home to my parents he started sleeping in my bed instead of in with them. And he even slept next to me in the bed with head on the pillow like a little human. He cwtched into me as I cried. It was like he knew how much I needed him…

Now I consider him to be one of my bestest friends. As cheesy as that is.

Dogs. They give you unconditional love. And it’s impossible not to love how they react when you come through the door. Their excitement at seeing you.

How they force you to relax by snuggling up beside you and going to sleep on the sofa.

How they roll over in front of your when you are walking about the house and want a belly rub.

How they put their ball on the floor in front of you and look up with those loving eyes. And you have to throw the ball.

They have truly thawed my icy heart lol.

I really love them and they have made this whole lockdown thing berable.

These dogs have honestly been better than therapy for me.

I just wish I could take them back to England with me. But then I could not give them such an amazing life…