Moments of Permanence

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Because Meg made me, or something Aug. 22nd, 2012 @ 04:16 pm
So, [personal profile] lazulisong and I have been posting a thing over at AO3. Aimed primarily at Teen Wolf fandom, because Teen Wolf actually has a major character with ADHD, it's a bunch of stuff about ADHD and about writing characters with mental health issues and about researching fic, iunno.

Anyway, this is the link to the entire work. I've done chapters 2 and 4 so far; chapter 2 is basically a breakdown of what ADHD is, and chapter 4 is my best attempt to explain what it feels like.

Sooo if you've ever wanted to try and get an idea of what it feels like inside my head, with the ADHD thing, then here's the quick link to Chapter 4.

I aten't dead Dec. 3rd, 2010 @ 08:20 am
I'm just currently running at the limits of my personal resources. I'm doing an outpatient-but-full-time group therapy... thing.

Yesterday was particularly bad because I got caught by a sneak meditation exercise, which more-or-less shattered me outright. It's complicated to explain, just... meditation is not for me. It hurts.

Anyway, because my brain can't handle anything else, I come home and play Gran Turismo. I'm level 17 A and level 11 B.

Right now I'm watching my second-best B-spec driver take my Lamborghini Gallardo around the Daytona oval. My best driver just did this self-same race in the exact same car, and came an easy first. Where L. Abendroth cruised to victory, R. Yoshioka is struggling to hold 8th. Apparently driver class DOES make a difference - but hey, it gets him more of the experience he needs to be a better driver.

My Gallardo needed an oil change after 400 miles of driving (and could use an engine overhaul at some point, too). 400 miles! That's what you get for thrashing an engine - race driving isn't exactly kind.

You know, in video games, we all do things that in real life we wouldn't, for one reason or another.

Gran Turismo definitely is on that list, because in real life, you know what I wouldn't do?

Power-slide a small French sports car* past the Roman Colisseum.

* - No, I'm not somehow convinced a Lamborghini is French instead of Italian. The car I powerslid past the Colisseum was my Hommel Berlinette. (The Gallardo, despite its "baby Lambo" image in the past, is also not what I'd call small. Apart from anything else, you don't get to be "small" when you can clear 200mph.)

In which things work out well for a change. Aug. 3rd, 2010 @ 08:46 am
So, last week, I discovered that I was almost out of ADHD medication. (They can be deceptive, because there'll still be lots of pills in the bottle, the thing being that I take seven of them per day.) I knew I was out of refills, just the last few weeks have been kind of overwhelming, and actually the ideal time to make an appointment to see my ADHD-meds-prescribing psychiatrist would have been about two months ago, when I was knocked flat by severe bronchitis.

My nice psychiatrist, it turns out, is retiring in the next few months, so seeing him would be a less-than-optimal plan, because he couldn't give me my subsequent prescriptions. Also, changing my prescriber would require deregistering with the other one and registering with him... huge hassle.

So I called my other psychiatrist.

Aaand his office was closed until yesterday.

Well, as we say, dicks.

So I cut down on my ADHD meds (thus spending the last week severely undermedicated, which has complications and problems of its own), and was set to call yesterday morning.

Which I did, despite being, at the time, kind of freaked out and distressed and upset, because hey, when making the argument for no really I just need to see him for a new prescription any time you can squeeze me in please being a little upset can help, especially if, like me, you have a chronic tendency to underplay your problems when talking to doctors.

"We have a cancellation today, if you want that..."
"Yes. Please. What time?"
"Two thirty."
"I'll be there."

Which was awesome, but it turns out they had no record of my last referral. Argh!

Soooo, I called my doctor's office. The receptionist seemed a bit lost, but a few minutes later I got a call back from Paula, my Awesome Doctor, who told me that she couldn't give me a referral without seeing me, but come on in and she'd squeeze me in as soon as she could.

Off to her office. Chilled in the waiting room for a few minutes playing Sudoku on my DSi, then she called me in, I got the referral, and finally started to relax a tiny bit, although I wasn't really looking forward allll that much to my psych appointment.

Still, went off to that too, and got the prescription, and I even have an appointment set already for December, to get my next one.

Apparently? Sometimes things can actually work out fine.

ADHD and validation... Jun. 28th, 2010 @ 08:33 am
My psychiatrist notes that AD(H)D has an extremely high comorbity rate with depression.

I find myself wondering, right now, whether that could well be significantly to do with the simple fact that life with ADHD - by my experience, at least - means spending a lot of time feeling inadequate at best.

Everyone has Things To Do. And everyone, I think, is satisfied by achieving those things; you had X, Y and Z to do, you did X, Y, and Z, you're good, go on with your day.

But ADHD can mean getting those things done is really hard, possibly impossible, and yet, if you manage, well, you did basic shit, what do you want, a medal? It's demoralising.

Let's get more concrete:

I just got dressed on time. I have somewhere to be, this morning; I need to leave in a few minutes.

Getting dressed on time was challenging. First thing in the morning, my meds haven't really had time to kick in completely... You get processes like this.

I take off my pyjamas. I see the shirt I had intended to wear, but then I think of another, similar but better for the weather today, shirt that I should wear instead. I go to get that shirt. I see my glove, I remember that I can't find my other glove for some reason, I try to find that other glove, because where is that glove? They were together! Oh, hey, look, there's that Norwegian dictionary I got last year. Why am I cold? Damn, I'm not wearing a shirt. Okay. Shirt. Hey, there's my shirt. Put on the shirt. I have one of those little cuticle skin-things on my finger, there, I felt it catch on the fabric... I should fix that. I don't have the right implements, they're in the bathroom, but I can't leave my bedroom like this, I'm not wearing trousers. I'll do it with what's in my bedroom.

Dean knocks at the door, because she's leaving for work. Oh snap! Put jeans on in tearing hurry, say goodbye to Dean. Dean leaves.

Hey, now Dean and Dave are gone, the bathroom's free! I can do all the morning-bathroom-things I'd been delaying.

So, I get onto that, and, as mentioned, I did in fact get dressed on time (though this post now has to finish or I won't be leaving on time). But there's this thing, where getting dressed on time actually requires massive amounts of effort and/or preparation on my part.

When I manage, I secretly want to be proud of this.

But if anyone finds out I'm proud of myself for getting dressed - especially given I technically had help from Dean in the "on time" department, because there were also stages when I was still in my pyjamas when she helped me overcome distractions - then I would be humiliated, in many circumstances, because getting dressed is something people are supposed to be able to do by the time they're, I don't know, five...

Miscellaneous Sep. 18th, 2009 @ 09:51 am
I just watched How Not To Write About Africa. A couple of things leapt out at me:

1) "Make sure you show that Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls." My thought process: I wouldn't say that about Africans, specifically, but I do kind of believe it about all humanity. Especially rhythm. Rhythm is one of the deepest things in the brain - by which I mean it's something that it's almost impossible to lose, through brain injury and the like. It's also one of the things that makes us stand out. Most animals have no sense of rhythm.

And rhythm is part of the general human tendency to perceive patterns - which, to me, is what's behind an awful lot of what takes us to the place of being human - to crib from Terry Pratchett (in Soul Music), to being the point where the falling angel meets the rising ape. Science, art, literature - our most rigorous critical analysis and our wildest and greatest creativity (and sometimes those are the same thing) all, ultimately, start with the rhythm and music that are deep in our souls.

Obviously, though, the comment people make about Africans is patronising, racist crap.

2) "You also need a nightclub called Tropicana..." I've been to a place in Africa called Tropicana. It was a restaurant. A nice one.

3) I am realising that I have a curious confluence of capacity for travel. I can enter the United Kingdom on United Kingdom ancestry, if I go to the trouble of application; I have not one but two grandparents born there. Australia is reasonably well-liked in Europe; I don't have to get special visas to go anywhere I'm planning to visit.

In that video, Binyavanga Wainaina talks about a stereotype of Westerners on their way to trying to Save Africa being denied visas - but if I wanted to go to any part of Africa, I suspect I could do it easily, because I could just get a South African passport. I was born in South Africa and left it as a young child; as of a couple of years ago, this meant that I retain the right to citizenship under South African law.

I don't have a South African passport, because I have yet to plan travel anywhere where I won't be far more welcome on an Australian one, but I could get one.

4) I have long known that I am somewhat chemically sensitive. Today this came to a head when I discovered that my recent mild vertigo isn't as much a byproduct of poor sleep in the course of switching antidepressants as an adverse reaction to fluoxetine.

According to my psychiatrist this is incredibly rare.

This morning, though, I woke up feeling pretty much fine. I had breakfast. I had my medication. A little while later, I headed out towards my appointment at the Perth office of Passports Australia (a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), and found myself feeling fairly profound vertigo and mild nausea.

I tried to call my psychiatrist's office, but there was no answer, so I called Dean, because, apart from being, you know, my best friend and all, she works in a hospital, and has access to doctors, and even if she didn't, she has about as much medical knowledge as it's possible to get without actually having a degree in Medicine.

I got her voicemail, left a message, and by the time she called me back, mere minutes later, I could barely tell up from down and was in a cold sweat. She assured me that this was an adverse reaction to medication, her office deals with them all the time, and promised to chase up my psych's office for me.

It was established before long that my psychiatrist was to be having lunch between 1 and 2 this afternoon and I could speak to him directly then.

I staggered in to the Passports office, only to discover that in my state of wrecked physical wellbeing I was a few minutes late and had missed my appointment. I was advised to go to the counter and see what they could do.

However, I was feeling so intensely miserable that this was the last straw, and I started crying uncontrollably in the line.

So the woman at the main counter excused herself from the people she was dealing with then, and came out and around to see if I was okay. Through my sobs and apologies I explained that I was having a bad reaction to medication, and I was feeling very sick, and I'd missed my appointment.

They took me into a meeting room where I could sit down (I think I was swaying a little), where I was supplied with cold water and tissues, and someone came and did do my passport application for me.

By then more contact had been made, and Chas was on his way to meet me at the passport office, because I was very very sick. This was fortunate for everyone when I collapsed in the office - not quite unconscious, but unable to stand unassisted, barely able to sit.

A woman who'd just been going up to the counter herself interrupted her own dealings to come and make sure I was okay. She was very nice - and will return to this tale.

Chas arrived to find me lying on the floor of the office of Passports Australia - where the staff had fetched pillows for my head and someone with a managerial air about him to try and look after me and make sure I was okay.

I was turned over to Chas's custody, and, leaning heavily on him and my walking stick, made it to the lifts. There we encountered the woman who'd been concerned before. She asked if we were driving back, and, learning Chas and I were planning to bus home, offered us a lift, as she was going back to Campbell Barracks anyway. (Which is a fair way off, and it's not a huge detour.)

I remain desperately grateful to her, because I was still sick as a dog. We talked a bit on the way - she's military, in logistics and deployment - she spends a lot of time dealing with the passports office on behalf of our soldiers. (She's heading back to the Middle East herself soonish, where, she says, the boys are doing a lot of good that's just not reported in the media - I can believe it.)

She deposited us in our driveway, where Chas helped me to the couch, where I've remained since, drinking diluted juice and playing Yes Minister DVDs to pass the time. I'm feeling much better, comparitively, though still pretty terrible. Chas has been very good to me - fetched me my arrangement of bottles of drinks, made me lunch, even helped me to get to the loo and back.

It's a terrible thing to lose the ability to get from one room to another without someone else's assistance, it really is.

I've cancelled my appointment for a haircut this afternoon, declined an invitation for this evening, and am now planning to spend the rest of the day keeping my fluids up, keeping warm, and avoiding collapsing. It does mean I have to let people take care of me more-or-less completely today, which sucks. Chas and Dean are going out tonight, but our friend Oliver is coming over in the evening and can keep an eye on me then.

Current Mood: sick

Productive Sami is Productive Sep. 14th, 2009 @ 11:51 am
Am behind on everythng - by months, when it comes to reading LiveJournal - and still not really able to catch up.

I'm in the process of switching antidepressants, and between Tuesday and Sunday I got a total of twelve hours' sleep - and even those twelve hours were riddled with nightmares and restlessness. Unsurprisingly, then, not crashing and burning on an emotional level has been a challenge.

Still, in amidst all this, I have been making plans and preparations for my departure for Britain, which is in THREE WEEKS. Certain new things have cropped up - for example, my iPod spontaneously bricked itself for no apparent reason last week, so I've got to get that sorted out (fortunately, it's under warranty - as is the power supply for my laptop, which is suddenly disintegrating, and while I'm at the laptop service centre I can bitch at them for the fact that my laptop's performance post-repair is significantly worse than it was pre-breakdown).

I bought a TomTom (IQ Routes) and maps for the United Kingdom and Western and Central Europe - hilariously, the thing doesn't quite have enough space to store the European maps AND the Australian maps - it's about 20MB short. The Australian maps are 100MB, the European ones are about 1.9GB.

Fortunately, I'm not likely to need both in quick succession. It has Europe loaded, because I've been using it to plot things for my trip - entering places I want to go and people I want to visit, and so on. I'll switch it to Australia when I return - and am done writing about my trip, since it records past destinations, etc, and will be a handy aide memoire.

I'm me, I write about things, I will write a lot about this trip. If I get around to it, I'll probably eventually write a full chronicle about it and put it on my website. (I'm also going to be aiming to post blog updates about it there, as a blog I can totally share with family and so on.)

Today's list:

- Call re: iPod
- Call Malaysian Consulate, find out if there's anyting I need to do to take prescription dexamphetamines through Kuala Lumpur airport without getting arrested
- Ditto British Consulate, s/Kuala Lumpur/Heathrow
- Call hairdresser's, book appointment for first haircut in about four years (my hair needs to be more managable than it is when I'm on holiday and don't have anyone around I can ask to brush and braid it for me)

I'm not too worried about Perth Airport, because Perth Airport a) will recognise Australian prescription bottles and so on and b) will be in the same country as my prescribing doctor.

- Get passport photos taken
- Go to Asus service centre
- Go to Licensing Centre and renew driver's licence (so that in near future I can then get an international driver's licence, for driving through Britain and parts of Western Europe and Scandinavia)

... and then come home, and chill with my guitar.

Fun times with brain chemistry Sep. 11th, 2009 @ 04:59 am
So, I'm currently in the process of washing out (most of) my current antidepressants, in order to switch to a different one - under the instructions and guidance of my psychiatrist, mind you. This is, of course, the express ticket to Fucked In The Head you might imagine, and the sad thing is I didn't realise that was what was screwing with my brain yesterday until Dean was like, "Dude, I totally saw this coming, relax."

The next week or two should be Interesting Times.

... huh. Dreamwidth just gave me a "Restored Draft" of the post I was working on about twelve hours ago on a different computer and never finished.

Anyway, it's now 5am, and despite only getting about three hours' sleep last night, I can't sleep, at all. Hooray, fucked-up brain chemistry!

The best part is my supposedly-joyful trip out earlier this evening to go see Up! with [personal profile] elaran earlier this evening.

Without wanting to give spoilers, a few minutes into the movie I started crying uncontrollably, and thereafter everything that happened just seemed drenched in pathos and woe. It got so I couldn't stand it, and - for the first time in my life - I left the film early. (Early enough, mind you, to get a ticket refund, which was nice.)

Someone laughed at me, and I was deeply hurt by that - but at the same time, hey, I'm sitting there sobbing real tears at a Pixar movie.

On the bright side: planning for my trip to Britain continues apace. Travel arrangements are getting booked by travel agent. To my astonishment, I shall apparently be driving a Mercedes B 180 SE (something like that) or similar, for 78 days, for AU$1200.

My mind, it is somewhat boggled.

Some exploration of accommodation options in various areas suggests that B&Bs are really not that expensive, which is good.

Since I'm going to be over there longer than I was originally vaguely theorising - shall, by current travel arrangements, be arriving at Heathrow on the 6th of October and departing on the 22nd of December - I'm looking at going into Western Europe, too. Check out some major historical sites, maybe go to Legoland in Denmark... then, maybe, catch the Oslo ferry, and scoot up a ways through Scandinavia and, as well as taking some potentially gorgeous photographs, see if I can catch the Northern Lights.

I would love to see the Northern Lights, and in October, it's nominally pretty feasible.

Still working on a rough itinerary plan. Currently, my rough idea is: from London, go to Uncle Ian's to recover from the flight, depending on whether that's going to be feasible for him and his family, then head north. Edinburgh and Mary, then Aberdeenshire and Great-Uncle Ian and his family, ferry from Aberdeen to Orkney, ferry from Orkney to Caithness, south again, stop at Worcester and Great-Aunt Eleanor, onward to... Dover? to get the ferry across the Channel to France, then head north towards Scandinavia.

It might marginally increase my chances of seeing the Northern Lights if I aim for Norway first, but I'd rather go see my kin first. I could also skip Orkney entirely.

I did buy a GPS device, which came with maps for Australia, and I bought maps for the United Kingdom, Western and Central Europe.

The problem is, as it turns out, the otherwise-totally-pleasing GPS device doesn't quite have data storage space available for Australia *and* the UK/Western/Central Europe. (The problem here is largely Europe, which is almost 2GB of maps, where Australia is 100MB. There's less to map.)

However, it's not like I'm going to want both at the same time, and swapping them by connecting to my computer is trivial. (Somehow, I find it hard to envisage circumstances in which I would urgently need GPS driving navigation assistance for Europe and Australia in quick succession.)

I'm glad GPSes exist, because driving around foreign countries should be a lot less stressful when I have a little device to feed me directions, rather than having to mess around trying to work with maps. I'm used to using Perth street directories, but even that can be stressful finding thoroughly unfamiliar places, and this is my home town, and Australia is very, very different, in terms of geographical layout kind of stuff, from Britain and Europe.

Britain, at least, is so very densely occupied. I'm from Perth. The nearest major city to mine is halfway across the continent. Far further than, say, London to Edinburgh.

But my GPS includes things like petrol stations and Points Of Interest, which I think is pretty awesome, and, you know. Directions. "Where the hell am I going? Oh, right, thattaway."

Best. Exam. Ever. Jul. 24th, 2009 @ 12:40 pm
So, for my exam, in addition to it ending up deferred, I had Special Conditions.

Those conditions were: a computer to use, so I didn't have to write by hand, and a separate, low-distraction room. Partly, I think, because of deferral, but possibly as a general thing, what I actually had was an Arts Seminar Room containing me and the invigilator - Lee, the retired, totally awesome former philosophy/history departmental secretary who in her day saved the sanity of many of us, including just about everyone who ever had to study under Reverend Borthwick. (A man who is not inherently evil, but does a good impression of it. I think fairly highly of him in some ways, but... yeah, thank God for Lee.)

Another reason Lee is awesome, that also shows that she has her own philosophy background, however informal: upon learning that I have recently changed my full name, she said: "Oh, so it's a whole new identity!" Instantly and intuitively grasping the philosophical significance of it; that a name is important, and that someone changing their full name is almost certainly doing that as a part of changing who they are.

What all this stuff with the special conditions meant was that, in addition to being medicated for ADHD for the first time in my exam-taking experience, the room wasn't full of distractions, and when, halfway through, I couldn't stand sitting still any more, I was able to get up and walk around the room for a couple of minutes before I settled back to work.

Which meant that the questions which I'd looked at before in horrified incomprehension, I found I could still concentrate on, still read, could understand... and could and did answer. It was just such an amazing feeling - instead of spending my exam feeling stupid and frustrated and miserable as I stared at the words and struggled to get them to form sentences in my head, even, I could read and think and work and completed the exam using the full time alotted to answer questions comprehensively instead of writing abbreviated, semi-coherent crap and "finishing" early, but badly.

This is why I really, really wanted an ADHD diagnosis - I wanted it to be ADHD that was my problem, I wanted it to be something treatable, something that could be managed. ADHD means the problem isn't me, in the sense of it being a character flaw, a lack of willpower or dedication that has made me fail so many exams. ADHD means I'm just a little different, neurologically - arguably, biologically adapted to "hunter" more than "gatherer", attuned to my surroundings and unable to ignore them, unable to be passive. Born to multitask.

Just that little bit different. Not worse (or better), just different.

How did I do? Not entirely sure, but I think I actually did reasonably, where at first I looked at it and thought I was guaranteed to fail.

I don't at all regret how little I actually studied, because the stuff I wasn't sure about, I don't think it would have occurred to me to study. *cough* The things that were on my revision list, which I didn't feel motivated to study because I still felt like I already understood it thoroughly, I had no problem with the related content on the exam. Actually, I enjoyed those parts - I really like doing phonological analysis of data that's already been transcribed. It's fun to take a language apart to see how it works, the intuitive rules that underpin it in a way so elementary that native speakers aren't even aware of them.

You want an example? Sure. If you're reading this, odds are you speak English. (If you are Deaf, I apologise, but I don't know how or if this works in signed languages.)

In English there exists a sound, depicted orthographically (in writing) as "n". In theory, this represents the sound that is technically called an "alveolar nasal" - it's a nasal sound, meaning airflow/sound is transmitted through your nose (which is why saying it is so hard when you have a cold). The "alveolar" part means that your tongue is making contact with the alveolar ridge, that ridge you can feel behind your teeth if you trace the shape of the roof of your mouth.

Except sometimes, that's not the sound you make at all. If you say a word like "anthem", you actually make a dental nasal, when your tongue touches at your teeth. This is called assimilation; we're doing it because it's easier for our tongue to make the transition to the "th" sound, which is what's called a dental fricative. (A lot of stuff about articulatory phonetics involves "it's easier".)

Now, to an English speaker, this distinction isn't contrastive - there are no words that are distinct because of the difference between a dental and alveolar nasal, it isn't a meaningful difference. Which, in a demonstration of the odd ways our brains process language sounds, leads to English-speakers thinking they sound the same, even though they don't.

In some languages, that difference is contrastive and meaningful, and to native speakers of those languages, the difference is as obvious as the difference between "r" and "l" is to native English speakers - who, in turn, have a historical tendency to mock Japanese speakers for having trouble with the difference between those two sounds, which are again not contrastive in Japanese. (But most English-speakers can't pronounce "fu" correctly. OH LANGUAGE.)

Anyway. I am kind of hyper, in positive ways based on having finally experienced the process of taking an exam without having to swim upstream against my own neurology, and IT WAS AWESOME SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS IT WAS PRACTICALLY FUN.

Invisible disabilities are sometimes invisible from the inside... Mar. 25th, 2009 @ 09:44 am
So, a keyword to recent Sami Management (both by me, taking care of myself, and people who love me, filling in the gaps around my mental-illness-derived impairment) has been "overstimulation".

It's possibly the weirdest, because it's mostly just a giant conceptual shift. I used to get distressed in ways I couldn't explain or identify, and that would lead to me breaking down. Now, at least sometimes, I can identify it as overstimulation, explained by being ADHD and off my meds (as I am every evening), remedied by reducing stimulus, finding a quieter, calmer environment.

Oh, other factors play into it of course - I'm more likely to hit "overstimulated" if I'm sleep deprived, if I've had a stressful day, etc - but it can be a terrible relief to be able to say: This is overstimulation. Everything else is fine, this does not need to feed into depression and anxiety to cause giant total breakdown.

Last night - after a couple of stressful days and way too little sleep - it was, by late night, sufficiently ohgodstimulation that I had to take my dogtags off. Anyone who's seen me in, oh, the last couple of years will know I never take my dogtags off, but the chain on my skin, the sound whenever I moved, OH GOD GET IT OFF GET IT OFF, basically.

However, after removing all unnecessary sensory stimuli (including wearing headphones just to block out the sound of cars going by), I played Civ4 with the sound off till I felt better, and all is fine now.

If I ever say to you: "It's not you, it me - I need to go be alone somewhere," I mean exactly that.

Sanity is just a state of mind Mar. 23rd, 2009 @ 10:55 pm
I have an assignment to do by tomorrow midday. For various reasons, I couldn't/didn't get it started until this evening, and I'm having to work on it.

By this time of night I'm unmedicated.

I have no idea how the hell I ever managed things before. This is so hard.

Things which have been intolerable distractions:

- Other people. I'm hiding in my bedroom now.

- The awareness that I had laundry on the rack across the room.

- My shirt touching my skin. I've had to change out of it.


Fortunately, [ profile] velithya thought of a plan that lets me get through this with sanity intact, and I'm going to get it done, and then for the rest of this semester I will be getting my work done during my Medicated Time, oh hell yes.

The Pink Highlighter stands for Fail. You do not want my pink highlighter ON YOUR FACE. Mar. 8th, 2009 @ 04:11 pm
You know you've been concentrating on tutorial readings a lot when, taking a break to read other things on the internet, you have the urge to highlight bits and write margin notes and comments. That a lot of my online reading at the moment is RaceFail09 links... well.

(In other news, you can tell it's a good article when I'm writing "bollocks!" in the margins on the second page.)

I've been, today, playing Fall Out Boy's Folie a Deux on shuffle/repeat. It's a disconcertingly good album - I don't normally like Fall Out Boy this much or this consistently across an album.

Less conflictedly, I'm also loving the Lucksmiths at the moment, but I want something with more energy right now, while I'm slogging through endless historical discussion for which I have a strong feeling I don't have enough knowledge of the context, of the events in place, and so on. Accordingly, I'm not likely to see people at UniSFA much this week either; it looks like I'll be logging a lot of library hours, plus on Tuesday my between-classes gap is going to be occupied by a mad dash to my psychiatrist's office and back. Apologies to anyone disappointed.

Although, on reflection, attending my Tuesday morning lecture is a recipe for stress and panic. I better plan would be to skip the lecture (and download it when I go back to campus for my other classes), and spend the morning working in the Alexander Library, which is conveniently close to the train station, so getting from there to my psychiatrist's should be trivial. (They have much that is useful to me.)

My highlighter code is as follows:

yellow: salient point
green: could be a useful lead on my research essay
blue: I need to learn more about this, I don't really understand the reference
pink: FAIL - for highlighting arguments I think are deeply flawed

That's more-or-less the order of frequency in which they appear, in most articles, although occasionally I get one which gets quite a lot of pink. Those also tend to come with bitchy margin notes, although the whole writing-causes-pain thing is reducing my margin-bitching this semester.

Current Music: Fall Out Boy - Headfirst Slide Into Coopestown On A Bad Bet
Current Mood: tired

Comment replies will be forthcoming soonish... Mar. 5th, 2009 @ 01:54 pm
So, I accidentally lost my previous draft of this, but:

So far it's a little hard to tell how well my new meds are working. I was getting a bit distracted from the article I was reading, but the article was somewhat tedious and annoying. It's probably worth noting that the time it took me to lose focus could be measured best in paragraphs/minutes, not words/seconds, and I was able to refocus my attention on what I'm doing fairly easily, without that internal-static sense of impossibility about it. I can do it. My difficulty with the article can quite possibly be ascribed to the part where it was tedious and annoying.

(Any article where I expostulate things like: "So you're arguing that because you're stupid, everyone is?" and "... You sexist bastard." is going to be be a little problematic. But seirously, he argued that a certain change was irrelevant because it barely affected men, and the population-wide percentage change was explained by it affectiong 40% of women.)

Pleasingly, I seem to have made a friend. D. is the woman with the toddler in my Linguistics class from last week. We chatted before class today and now we're sitting together for this lecture. When I turned on my laptop she admired the beauty of Mizushima Hiro on my desktop background. This is clearly a sign that we are meant to get on.

No, really so far I still get distractions tugging at my attention all the time, but it's something I can resist. It's a real improvement, even if it's not perfect yet.

Linguistics, Thursday. )

Lecture ended, I made my way to the library - where, it turns out, SNAP is down so I have no internet. On the bright side, I suppose, I can get the work done I need to do today. On the down side, I have no internet, which means no googling things quickly that I either don't know or want to refresh my memory about, no e-mail, no WoW on study breaks, and this post threatens to become monster.

Interestingly, my anxiety problems seem to be a side-effect of ADHD. A little while ago I had a problem with my computer - no matter which way I flicked the switch that turns WLAN capabilty on and off, it kept reading as off. I couldn't work out how to fix it, and if my computer had somehow broken, that would be really quite a problem.

And I... didn't panic. Didn't even come close. I tried to fix it, failed, considered calling Chas, noted that he'd still be asleep and I didn't want to wake him for something that would be difficult to sort out by phone, and instead took my laptop over to SISO, where [ profile] reaps fixed it in about ten seconds and explained to me what had gone wrong. (This was also where I was informed that SNAP isn't working, so I came back prepared not to be concerned that that wasn't going to work.)

Too easy, as they say. Taking dexamphetamines has made me feel really... calm.

We'll see how I go with rising levels of complexity in my reading for the day, and the ongoing question of concentration. I just thought of writing, as something I've been having trouble focussing on of late, but I realised immediately that I won't be able to focus on that at all, because I will have this relentless feeling of pressure that what I should be doing is my History work - which, coupled with the fact that what I want to do is my History work, means the only thing I'm likely to be able to do successfully is certain. (But will be left as an exercise for the astute reader.)

Also notable: Today is quite a good day for pain levels so far, although as my days have some variation it's too soon to ascribe it to the possibility that ADHD exacerbates chronic pain, even if the possibility seems real based on the physiological basis of ADHD essentially being over-exposed nerves.

I'm having trouble concentrating on this article still. I'm due to take more pills in twenty minutes, but also, this article still sucks. It is tedious, the arguments are rubbish, and the guy is way too impressed with himself, so possibly my minimal retention is based on the fact that I am, as I go, categorising a lot of what he says is rubbish. I can call to mind the salient (for want of a better word) points he's trying to make, which is an improvement, though, so yay for that.

By the way, I recommend the soundtrack to Charlotte's Web (which I bought on CD a while ago for reasons that elude me, since I haven't seen the movie) as background music to listen to while reading annoying things. Very soothing. (I wanted something more pleasant to listen to than people shuffling around with bags at the desks around me. Light music + canalphones is win.)

Hmm. On a better-written article - after taking my second dose of meds, but immediately after, so relevance is questionable - I read the whole thing on one go, only getting vaguely distracted a couple of times, and I was able to refocus quickly and easily.

Is this what it's like for normal people?!

Anyway, now going to take a break between articles to relax for a few with a game, because I have 50 more pages of course reader as target for today, plus another chapter of The Nature of History to get through before I want to go to the Scholars' Centre and get some more research done.

This may take me less time than it would have yesterday, but I also don't want to end the day with my shoulders locked up and serious eyestrain, so.

Yay, SNAP is back!

Current Location: Reid Library
Current Mood: productive
Current Music: Cold Fairyland - Shrove Tuesday

Mar. 4th, 2009 @ 09:48 am
See, here's the thing.

Today is Meds Day. In a couple of hours I have an appointment with my psychiatrist at which, it is expected, I will be prescribed medication to try and soothe my ADHD. I've been pleased and excited about this, about the prospect of something that eases the relentless fizzing fury in my brain. It's surely a good thing - with some resolution to my focus issues, both my studies and my recovery from depression should be much less fraught with frustration, and my general impatience should be lessened, too. It should be a positive life change.

I'm also terrified.

I'm twenty-eight years old, and I've always been like this. I've developed coping strategies, ways to work around it. Parts of it are parts of my self-image. The restless intelligence - maybe it was just making virtue of necessity, but I like that I'm interested in everything, I like my ability to multi-task, to keep six different threads active in my mind.

And I don't know how getting medicated for ADHD is going to change me. I don't know how it's going to feel. What if I hate it? What if it just doesn't work? What if it doesn't really make things easier, what if I still struggled to focus on a page for more than three lines at a time?

What if nobody else likes the New Me?

Things are not always as bad as you expect them to be Feb. 25th, 2009 @ 06:41 pm
So, I've now been to a psychiatrist who includes in his list of specialities Adult AD(H)D.

I do not have ADD.

I have ADHD.

That whole loud, manic exuberance thing I get when I'm in a good mood/excited about something? One instance of my hyperactivity thing, apparently. There was much discussion involved in going through the diagnostic criteria (including me not being allowed to answer 6 of the 18 questions myself; this is why I was specifically instructed to bring along someone who knows me well, so the questions were directed at Chas, who came with me).

At the end of all this, it was concluded that I am definitely ADHD and should be given appropriate medication. However, because the appropriate medication is a heavily controlled substance by the rules of the Health Department, in addition to special forms for tracking the stuff I had to sign...

... I had to go to a drug screening, to prove I'm not just a junkie looking for speed.

My psychiatrist mentioned this in terms of me having to go get humiliated. Because this is that test where you have to give a urine sample... and be supervised while doing it.

Because we were in town and I'd been given a Clinipath referral thingie, we stopped by the pathologists at Wellington Train Station. The woman there was very, very nice, just treading the fine line between absolute professionalism and sympathy for a very awkward procedure. (She was also very, very quick to block the door when someone didn't see the sign she'd put on the door to say that the ladies' toilets were temporarily unavailable due to urine testing in progress and started to open the door, which, no.)

I discovered the hidden benefits of a short attention span when I got distracted from feeling freaked out that someone was (as unobtrusively as humanly possible) watching me pee by a thought that occurred to me and was able to complete the procedure handily. (Once you've given your little jar to the pathologist, you are allowed to close the door if you choose and complete your business in privacy. If you're paranoid, I imagine you might choose not to do this, so as to see the pathologist doesn't tamper with your sample.)

Afterwards, you sign a document saying you are satisfied that the process was conducted properly. This is because drug screening is a big freaking deal in a lot of cases - the pathologist mentioned things like having women who can't see their children unless they pass the drug screening. A portion of the sample is poured into a little vial to be kept as a referrer in case the result is called into question, even, and the vial and jar are sealed in front of you with stickers you and the pathologist both previously signed, then put into a bag which is *also* sealed like that, which is, in turn, put into an transport envelope that locks with a large padlock, and there are, I'm told, strict records of chain of custody of the envelopes...

Drug screening is Serious Business.

Me, I'm not that fussed. My test may come up positive for opiates and benzo-somethings - opiates because I sometimes take codeine for pain, and benzowhatsits because lately I occasionally take temazepam to try and help me sleep. Also on the list are cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines, none of which I'm even slightly worried about. The things I may come up positive for aren't an issue either, because it was already noted on the form that they may come up due to legitimate medications I'm taking. It's essentially a formality that will tell nobody anything that was not already known as a result of asking me what medications I take and whether I take any drugs. (He was going down a list, and I circumvented it by just saying I don't take any drugs other than my prescription medications we'd already discussed.)

But it's a procedure that must be completed, so completed it was. In all honesty it wasn't actually nearly as bad as I expected it to be - the pathologist I had was incredibly good at making it seem like really nothing at all, and observing in a non-freaky way.

I have another appointment with my psychiatrist next week at which I am to be supplied with Happy Brain Concentration Medications.

Ways a diagnosis can change your life all by itself Feb. 21st, 2009 @ 12:55 am
Tonight, despite having been good to okay all day on mood scales, I was starting to feel strung out and frenetic, like I was heading for a breakdown, and was having trouble calming down.

Then I remembered something my psychologist had said about how one way to help handle exams is to ask to be permitted to take it in a room where there will be as few distractions as possible. It occurred to me that being out in the main part of the house, sharing a table with [ profile] velithya and hearing the shouts and comments of Chas and Dave playing Left for Dead, the traffic going past, etc... there was too much stimulus around me after a day that had burned through a lot of emotional energy.

So I moved into the bedroom with my laptop, dim lighting, and closed doors for quiet. Less stuff throwing itself at my under-sheathed nerves (that being the physical cause of ADD, I'm told), demanding my attention HERE HERE HERE and HERE.

And almost instantly, I was calmer. My mind was no longer shredding itself on too much input. (Normally I can handle stimulus, but not always.) And I got through the evening without the breakdown that earlier seemed inevitable.

It's something to bear in mind for uni - if things are getting a little too much, I should find myself a quiet corner of the Reid Library, or settle on the grass with my canalphones to block out noise, and just chill on as little stimulus as I can manage, and I might well be okay.

Current Location: bed

Peter Piper Picked A Peck Of Pickled Peppers Feb. 20th, 2009 @ 10:06 pm
Today has been a day of quite good news. I'm even going to make a stab at catching up on some LJ (although I'm a week-ish behind on it, so there'll probably be stuff I'll miss).

I had an appointment with an endocrinologist regarding this hypoglycaemia crap - unsurprisingly, that resulted in: "Hmm. Get these three zillion tests done, then we'll talk again." The good news actually came in before that.

By a combination of some outstandingly good luck in timing and the persuasive efforts of my psychologist, my psychiatrist appointment for addressing issues of ADD has been moved from mid-May to...



Wednesday, people. That's TWO AND A HALF MONTHS of coping without even getting near a psychiatrist I don't have to deal with.

*returns from getting distracted by tabbing out to read a webcomic*

Ahem. Time was, I would have mentioned something like that with the rider, "I don't have ADD, I swear." As it turns out, I would be lying, but it makes things make so much more sense.

*gets distracted again*


Uni starts Monday. Found out today that there are "some perplexities" about how my 12-point unit can be run; the project may be offered in second semester, which would be rather annoying. The software involved is Adobe Flash, which, I could do worse than learning to use Flash, I guess.

Other stuff that has happened today is neither particularly interesting to most people who'd read this and not something to discuss in a public post, so! I might end it here. Especially since I'm having trouble staying in this window for more than one sentence at a time. (My focus issues are worse when I'm tired/have had a busy day, and having spent part of it actively doing stuff related to my focus issues I'm really freaking aware of them.)

Current Location: Destiny; kitchen table
Current Music: Chas and Dave playing Left For Dead

Sometimes I succeed at life Feb. 18th, 2009 @ 05:23 pm
I am awesome.

Today I:

- made an appointment to see a psychiatrist in re: ADD, and also begged a place on the cancellations list, since the appointment I got is in May
- updated my SmartRider information, address, contact details, and emergency contact information with UWA
- called the Co-Op Bookshop and inquired about course readers/textbook information for History, and discovering they had no information...
- e-mailed the lecturer to ask, as in order to thrive I need to get into the reading ASAP, and also explaining that due to chronic pain caused by injury, the Multimedia Centre computers are likely to be difficult for me to use, and asked about the software required with a view to installing it on my own computer, which I can use in a setup suitable for my needs

Since the ADD issue isn't going to be resolved that soon, I'm looking to coping strategies. The big difference it's making, really, is that instead of resolving that this time I'm going to "work really hard", like I've always done before, and going on to struggle through the semester and get grades I'm a bit disappointed with, I'm acknowledging that I do, in fact, have a legitimate learning disability, and so my approach shouldn't be to try and push through my focus issues by sheer force of will but rather to come up with strategies to work around them.

I know all this probably doesn't seem like a lot, but factoring in my problems with pretty much everything lately, it really does feel like an achievement.

Because DVDs wanna be free, yo Feb. 13th, 2009 @ 01:12 pm
Another happy thing that happened yesterday was my package from amazon UK arrived. Complete Jonathan Creek, seasons A, B and C of QI, and copies of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and How to Win Friends and Influence People, both by Dale Carnegie. Don't judge me. The anti-worrying book was my psychologist's recommendation, and so far it's streets better than any other self-help book I've glanced through (in other cases, in rising disgust).

Sub-aside: Anyone ever look through Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray? It's horrendous. It's the most sexist tripe I've ever looked at, disgustingly insulting to both men and women - and most of his little anecdotes about his growth as a husband etc reveal only that he's a self-centred prick. [end sub-aside]

This was one good thing, followed by awesome last night when I found a freeware program to let my laptop play DVDs regardless of region. (The previous discovery of a program to do this cost something like 210 euros. Which, what the hell, and while I acknowledge that it had other functionality, it was functionality I neither wanted nor needed.) This one, DVD43, does exactly what I need it to do and no more.

I approve of this.

Current Location: Destiny; kitchen table
Current Mood: calm
Current Music: QI (C series)

Feb. 12th, 2009 @ 04:44 pm
I have now been formally properly assessed for ADD.

On a scale from 1 to 10, my diagnosis is OH GOD HOW DO YOU FUNCTION. Next step: seeing my GP to get a referral to a psychiatrist who specialises in ADD and can prescribe the relevant medication, taking with me a letter also from my clinical psychologist explaining she's tested me and NO REALLY SHE HAS FERRETS IN HER BRAIN.
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