Monday, March 25, 2013

Shadow Boxing: Something Interesting to Add to the Discussion

It's been awhile since I've talked about or added anything to my ADHD exploits. For the most part, I think I'm doing pretty good, but I am noticing that, over time, I do have to enforce discipline on various tendencies. While Concerta is working very well for the majority of my symptoms, I am still me, I still have my habits, and I still behave in much the same way, just more even keel.

This is a two part post, the first part I'll explain in prose, and the second will be in video.

For the prose part, one of the things that makes an ADHD brain different is that we tend to fight habits unless we are really into them, and then, often, we overdo it. There's little in the way of middle ground. We either don't do things, or we do them to excess. A person with ADHD is typically not "tidy". We are either compulsively clean, or we just let everything go. We go in cycles where we focus with laser like intensity on certain things, but we totally ignore other stuff. I had hoped that with taking Concerta, I would be able to overcome this tendency. Overcome in my case has proven to mean that my pendulum swings are not so severe. Instead of swinging between 45 degrees on both sides, it's more like 15 or 20 degrees. The point is, my medication will not make me any better at truly prioritizing my time or focusing on the really important things if I don't first personally make an effort to prioritize the things that matter.

Additionally, when ADHD people tend to want to make a life change, we do it in spectacular fashion. Most of the time, we don't inch into a new habit, we quit things cold turkey and take on new things at a moments notice. We're not the type of people to casually and over time build up to skydiving. We just decide "hey, I'm going to jump out of a plane" and then we do whatever we have to, with borderline manic focus, to get to that goal. My posts this past week about my excitement about re-purposing my office, or de-emphasizing it as a dedicated office space, seems noble and natural to me. To Christina, it's a time of intense anxiety, because deep down she is thinking "oh good grief, what part of my ordered world is Michael going to totally up-end NOW?!!" She's not behaving irrationally, she has lots of experience with me deciding to make a "small change" that ends up turning into a forest fire that consumes all fuel in its path. Her comment to me was that "it's great that you don't want to have to feel like your office is the only place to do work, I get it. However, if I start to see wires, computers, peripherals, electronics and all sorts of other stuff lying all over the house that I didn't have to deal with before, I'm totally calling you on it!" Yes, she knows me well :).

So what was that second part I was talking about? A friend of mine on Twitter alerted me to a TED talk about changes in the way that we could deal with mental illness and the ways that we treat it, and more specifically, that maybe there was a way to stop treating our brain like a bag of chemicals; where adding something to the mix globally changes everything. Instead, what if we could focus on what our brains really are, which is a neural network with distinct nodes and branches that act uniquely, and that, when acted upon chemically or electrically, perform or change in very specific ways. For those of us who deal with aspects of mental health that are not altogether "normal", this is exciting, and I am very curious to see what this kind of research leads to. I also hope that I'm young enough to take advantage of it when it finally bears fruit.

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