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…

Meaningful Life

I haven’t done a blog post for ages and I am really feeling at a loose end today. I was supposed to be doing a sprint triathlon this morning but ever since I got back from Iceland at the end of August I’ve had this horrendous cold/chest infection that doesn’t seem to want to go away. So I couldn’t do that or the 10k race I was meant to do last Sunday. Sad.

I am so reliant on the endorphins from exercise to help keep the ADHD at bay and make me calmer and more able to focus. But yes it’s been tough. I hate resting and it feels like torture to not even be able to cycle the 2.6km into work…Also, being active is just such a big part of my identity, cycling, swimming, running like without that in my calendar there is a lot of time left over and then I spend too much time in my head. It’s not good.

Anyway, I’ll try focus and do this morning prompt, even though its 5.22pm…

What kinds of physical clutter have been complicating your life and diverting you from meaningful life experiences?

Well I had a really meaningful life experience in Iceland for the 17 days I was there it was absolutely amazing, and so needed after all the trauma of living through this pandemic. But yeah tbh I am very visual so I don’t like clutter in my line of sight, so I wouldn’t say that physical clutter makes my life more complicated! It feels pretty complicated yes, but I don’t think it’s because of clutter. haha.

Don’t get me wrong I have A LOT of stuff …Some people who come to my flat would certainly think it is cluttered. But I don’t and that’s all that matters, I like to be able to see things that job memories of meaningful life experiences I have had.

However, I guess I should do a ‘Marie Kondo’ at some point actually, but because a lot of my stuff is out of sight I don’t have the inspiration to get rid of it just yet, I always think it ‘might’ come in handy at some point, but yes, does all this stuff ‘spark joy’, probably it doesn’t – but out of sight, out of mind.

I am actually going to clothes swaps now and second hand shops to get clothes- I started doing that this year instead of buying new clothes. I just realised that ‘fast fashion’ isn’t sustainable and given the sheer amount of clothes I currently own it seems silly to buy any more…I should probably start just sharing my dresses and dressy tops with people because I have that many and very few events in the diary where I would be able to wear them 🙂

I think there is a new Marie Kondo series on Netflix thinking about it and perhaps I should watch that and sort my clothes out, given I am at such a loose end …

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 !*

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 

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…

What is truly worth focusing on today?

This a tough one, I find it very hard to focus just in general. So easily distracted, I am.

But actually working from home in my parents dining room (with my Dad working on the same table as me) has been ok!

I would even go as far as saying I am actually more focused here than in my office in work.

Because I have no commute to my ‘office’ I literally get up out of bed and get straight into my workout gear (I usually go for a run or do a workout in my lunch break), go downstairs and check my emails in the ‘office/dining room’ with my morning coffee.

With my coffee I flag any emails that need to be addressed, write some ToDo’s for the day in my notebook (from tomorrow it will hopefully be a new snazzy Bullet Journal – I’ll do a post at some point about my attempt to bullet journal in the future).

Then I go into the kitchen and make my porridge and then I eat that in the living room while watching the news (I can only handle a few minutes of the new in the morning if I am honest) and then I am good to go. I start work straight after that.

I take a lot more breaks here in lockdown but the actual work itself is done in less time, I think because I am able to be more focused.

I really struggle to work from home back in England because I have a small flat so the ‘office’ is in the living room, which means I can see the TV and all sorts of other cool stuff I can be doing instead of work, right there in my eye-line. Here in Wales all I can see is this screen, this table and the window to the outside.

Another reason I am able to focus better now is because just before the lockdown I invested in some noise cancelling headphones. These were a great investment, thoroughly recommend especially, if like me, you suspect you are ADHD. Also, my parents (especially my Mam) they watch the news A LOT, like every hour! So I am so grateful for the headphones because I can tune the news out, which is definitely a plus for my mental health right now.

For work, I can also just tune out and do 25 min blocks using the headphones by using the ‘Forest’ app which is really good, because after you use the app for long enough they actually plant an actual tree…

I have also signed up to ‘Brain.fm’ which is a similar app but with a different calming/focused music each time. This focusing music in combination with the noise cancelling headphones has meant that I am actually able to be actually really focused and productive here in Wales. Yay.

Also, I find having 2 or 3 things that I am trying to achieve in one day is actually better for me than just having 1 thing to do. The problem for me and my (ADHD?) brain is that I get bored of a task so quickly, especially if it is monotonous data entry or analysis, so if I can do a 25 minute burst while listening to the Forest app and then have a little break and then come back and sit down and do something else for another 25 mins then that makes all this admin stuff a lot more manageable.

Usually in my job I am out in schools or community spaces talking to people, I am a very social person and my job is being a communicator. So normally I avoid this type of daily screen work like the plague/coronavirus, it’s a bit like torture lol. But actually this extra time we have now to do all this admin is good in a way, because now all this ‘boring’ stuff I’ve been putting off, I have no excuse not to do it and it is quite interesting, in manageable chunks at least 🙂

In terms of what I need to truly focus on today… Well, I think for me it is just making sure to be present in the moment.

Just doing one thing at a time. Breaking it down and chunking it!

So if thats data analysis work I will focus on that and close down all the other windows on my computer and just have that document open on my screen. I will move my phone off the table and all the other pieces of paper relating to other tasks will get filed away so they aren’t in my eye-line.

When I go for my run outside later, I will remember to look at the sky and smile at each person I run past at a safe distance. Then later when I am reading in the garden in the Sun or sat on the sofa with the dogs watching TV I will focus on being present and grateful that I am alive and I have a job I love.