A Funny Thing Happened While I Waited for Santa: Getting Diagnosed for ADHD

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow’s it going folks. Fancy seeing you all here again. For those that actually missed my regular posting on LATB, all one of you that is (Love you Mom), please accept my apology for my absence. It was the holidays and all, and work being as fun as it always is, I thought it was a good time to take a bit a break from the blog. Besides with all the stress that the holidays bring with it, anything that I would have posted would have been just a jumbled series of rants about how unfair life is, and how Christmas was now nothing more than an exercise in consumer excess and yada-yada-yada. Honestly, who in their right mind would want to sit through all that? Like the old adage goes, “If you got nothing nice to say, then perhaps it best you say nothing at all.” So that’s exactly what I chose to do. But that didn’t mean that I just sat in a corner somewhere and just went with the flow. That’s never been much of my style. No, instead I took that extra free time that I gave myself to finally seek help with a monster that kept getting the better of me no matter how hard I fought.

Since I started this blog I have been putting some serious thought about my suspected ADHD. I was 90% sure that I had it. My old doc suspected as much. But I had been hesitant to get it officially diagnosed. I had my reasons for this. Some were financial.  Plus getting a diagnosis wasn’t exactly high on my priorities list. But I think the biggest reason was that I was a little afraid that maybe I didn’t have it. I know you’re probably scratching your head a bit by that one. Please allow me to explain.

It’s no big secret that I have always considered myself a bit of a screw-up. I’ve taken the easy route more times than not. I have lacked confidence and never managed to develop the discipline required to persevere in those precarious instances when the road got too bumpy. I never could grasp and take-in any subject matter that did not capture my imagination or moved me, no matter how hard I tried. When something did finally garner my interest, I would become obsessed with learning all of its ins-and-out at the detriment of everything else around me. I have started dozens of hobbie over the years and spent a good amount of money on them, only to abandoned each and every one of my new obsessions after a couple of months once the novelty of it all wore off. I am argumentative, and can go from perfectly calm and friendly to hulkish rageaholic in a blink of an eye. I am guilty of opening my mouth and blurting things that I usually come to regret; which is really an extension of my lack of impulse control and my need to experience instant gratification. All of that, combined with a few less glaring, yet significant human frailties, have combined like robot lions to make me one Voltron sized underachiever.

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Being a chronic underachiever, over-time, destroyed my confidence. I felt stupid, angry, and lashed out to folks who did not deserve that kind of treatment from me because it is just easier to blame others for my own personal shortcomings. There was a whole lot of self loathing going on inside me. There still is to some extent. I would consistently beat myself up for always coming up short. I felt worthless, and deep down inside, I thought I always would be. Then I discovered ADHD. For the first time in two decades my life made sense. I had the sudden revelation that perhaps I wasn’t some pathetic loser that wasn’t good enough to archive anything worthwhile, but that basically I maybe had been trying to participate in a rock climbing contest while not realizing that my hands had been handcuffed behind my back. Now I’m not saying that if you have ADHD that your are destined to fail. But I am saying that if you’re not aware that you have the disorder, then you don’t have the amount of self awareness required to manage all the symptoms that come with it. And it also keeps you from seeking medical help when you don’t have the tools required to deal with it in a constructive and well thought out manner.

But as I had mentioned, I hesitated to get an official diagnosis. A part of me worried “What if I don’t have it?” What would that say about me? Would it mean I was nothing more than an apathetic slacker? The worlds most self aware village idiot? What if the only reason I didn’t accomplish many of the things I had sought after was because in the end I just simply didn’t care enough to push myself to work for it. Then there was my fear of the drugs used to treat the disorder. I read up enough info on them to grow a healthy amount of respect and fear of them. Coming from a family that has a long history of dealing with addiction, the idea of taking a controlled substance like most stimulants , was something I was hesitant to do. Then there where the horror stories I read up on about individuals who were scatter-brain like myself, but who had a perfectly healthy outlook on life, but once on the meds they where transformed over time into emotionless automatons. And then there were the cases of those unlucky few who were at one time high on life, but after being on medication decided to take a long walk off a very short peer.

But despite all my hesitations, I became resolute over the holidays to find out once and for all whether or not I had ADHD.  It wasn’t an easy decision for me. But it was one that I felt I had to make. Because if I did have it, then I could seek help in treating it. I came to understand all too well that I could no longer deal with this alone. No matter how many books I read on the subject, or how much I tried to treat my possible case of ADHD with simple lifestyles changes, the fact was that my brain just lacked the necessary tools to implement any positive changes for the long term. I would need help if I was ever going to learn how to cope with ADHD. So I made an appointment. After getting some blood work to eliminate any other potential causes for my troubles, and taking an assessment, my suspicions were finally confirmed.

Thankfully after explaining to the my doc the reservations I had on using stimulants, like Ritalin and Aderall, for treatment, my doctor thought that it would be prudent to put me on a drug called Strattera. It is the only non-stimulant approved for the treatment of ADHD. I’ve been on the medication for two weeks now. It is much too early to tell if Stattera will aid me in my struggles. So far I have seen some improvements in some areas. Productivity at work has doubled. Feel more calm and relaxed. The inner monologue isn’t chatting away 24/7, and I’m less impulsive. The downside so far is that there are a few uncomfortable side-effects that I could most definitely do without. Feeling lethargic, dry mouth, nausea, just to name a few.

I understand that the meds are not a long term solution for what will probably be a lifelong problem. Only lifestyle changes, like exercising, both my mind and body, practicing mindfulness, and following a proper diet will truly help me gain a measure of control over ADHD. But I hope the medication will grant me just enough momentum to implement and follow-through with the necessary changes. After all the medication will not grant me a mastery over what things I choose to focus on. They only grant me a slight increase in will power to focus on what matters. The rest is ultimately up to me.

Let Me Just Get a Little Taste

garfield-lasagna

So apparently I have a new hobby now. It basically consists of me constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I’m sure it doesn’t come to any surprise that this doesn’t make me feel very comfortable. However, life isn’t as short as the YOLO crowed would lead you to believe. Latinos have a proverb that says “hierba mala nuca muere”. Which translates to bad grass never dies. Or in other words, those that live a crappy life tend to live a really long one. I truly believe that it is important to challenge yourself constantly or run the risk of living a long miserable existence. I figure now is as good a time as any to get myself motivated.

The first thing that I chose to tackle was to completely reinvent my eating habits. At first I thought I should do so gradually. You know– to make it a bit easier on me. After all, you don’t just stop being a professional glutton overnight. Or so I thought.  But after some heavy deliberation. I decided to forgo that strategy. I mean a crack head doesn’t just take smaller and smaller hits until he is ready to wean himself off the pipe. Well maybe some do. There are always exceptions to the rule after all.  But the majority that do get clean don’t go that route. I figured that if I wanted to do this right, I would have to do it the hard way. Which meant that I would have to give myself as little leeway as humanly possible. So I chose to skip the foreplay and go right for the nitty-gritty.

Well as you might have guessed it, this has been psychological torture for me. I don’t know how you skinny or moderately plump people deal with food, but for the morbidly obese, food isn’t something that you just consume to keep you standing above ground for a few more days. It is a psychological crutch that gives you an immense feeling of comfort. Eating food for (some) of the obese is a bit like a self destructive act, attune to cutting yourself, or taking a hit from your favorite street level pharmaceutical. Although the act of overindulging on foods that don’t have much nutritional value may be harmful to you, for whatever reason the pleasure centers in the brain fire off on all cylinders giving you a momentary sense of relief and numbing you from the pain that you are trying to escape from. Of course the sense of relief that you feel is fleeting at best. Once you’ve had your fill of the sugary goodness or a small mound worth of carb loaded meals, the feeling of disgust come over you sinking you back a little deeper than where you were before you ate. So eventually you overeat again, and and the vicious cycle begins.

The way I chose to change my habits was simple really. I would eat nothing but leafy greens, lean meats, drink nothing but water, and I would allow myself one bowl of oatmeal every morning. I’m still eating the same quantity of foods as I was before, but I changed what I was eating. I never realized it until I started my new eating habits that my addiction to sugary foods and carbs was akin to having an addiction to drugs. I’ve been to two wedding and one birthday party since I started this. At each event there was plenty of soda, alcohol, desserts and cake. Each time it took every ounce of my fiber to resist giving in and allowing myself a few morsels. It was so trying for me that at several points I felt a drastic mood shift in me. I could feel myself getting agitated. Angry even. My mouth watered just by looking at all the delicious poison. What I hated most was just seeing everyone eating and drinking to their heart’s content. Everyone around me having the time of their lives, while I stood around, chewing on some chicken or drinking my 9th bottle of water for the day. To say that I was feeling a little envious was putting it mildly.

Everytime I walk into one of those big box stores or walk through the aisles at the supermarket, I am tempted by what seems like an endless supplies of sugary snacks and carb or starch loaded foods, that I know damn well taste 1000 times better than the spinach that I’ve been chewing on like a goddamn brontosaurus. But I am more than my urges. Or at least I tell myself that I am. So I resist. I let the urge wash over me, and then wait patiently for it to dissipate. It’s hard. Really, really, hard. It’s draining really. One shouldn’t have to expand so much willpower and patience on a simple thing like deciding what to eat for your next meal. And yet, here I am doing exactly that. I would say it’s not fair, but the truth is I did this to myself. I had my fill so to speak, and now it’s time for me to pay the piper.

The good news is that the effort that I have put in over the last 3 weeks seem to be paying some dividends. I’ve dropped 15 pounds and counting. So I’m feeling good about that. I won’t proclaim that I’ve won in any way because I I’ve failed at trying to lose weight dozens of times before. But I will say it is a good start.  I won’t start working out just yet, just because I know that if I increase my energy usage then my hunger will reach almost monstrous proportions. Slow and steady is the way to go for now. Once I hit the 300 lbs mark, then I will start working out again, and see if I can get those dimples on my butt cheeks that I have always wanted. Anyway peeps I am outty. I’ll probably do a post a month on this to kinda let you all know how my battle with the bulge is going. Until the next one, catch ya’ll later.

Possibilities

 

 

 

Love Love Love
Love Love Love (Photo credit: Gregory Jordan)

 

Possibilities

 

 

by

 

 

Thomas Gonzalez

 

 

 

 

Last Night

 

 

I caught the sight

 

 

Of you

 

 

Smiling timidly

 

 

Hand reached out

 

 

And held yours

 

 

Lips parted

 

 

 The words

 

 

I love you

 

 

Escaped

 

 

From the back of my throat

 

 

You Then

 

 

Caressed my prickly face

 

 

Leaned forward

 

 

And

 

 

 Pressed your soft

 

 

Sweet lips

 

 

Against mine

 

 

No disagreements

 

 

Strife dissolved

 

 

And no one else mattered

 

 

Just us

 

 

Alone

 

 

With a future

 

 

Filled with possibilities

 

 

Motivated to do Nothing

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some unashamedly enthusiastic individuals. Folks that are driven to wake up every morning and dedicate their waking life to pursuing the passions that move them. One or two aspired to guide the next generation of Latino leaders. Other’s get fired up about social and economic injustices. And do everything in the power to spread the word even though for the most part their message falls on deaf ears. Then there the many friends I have who have chosen education as their profession. I get tired just by thinking about the the amount of energy that they bring to a sometimes thankless job. There are those that dedicate every waking moment to their family. They sweat and toil at what mostly turns out to be dead end jobs with very little prospects  because they aspire to afford their children the opportunities that they themselves never had. Or how about some of my artist friends. They spend hour after hour working on their craft. Then they spend the rest of the time trying to get their art noticed so that they can make a meager living at it. And yet when they see those tiny returns, it is as if someone had handed them a convoy of trucks loaded with all of Fort Knox gold. Lastly, there are all the great blogs that I’ve come across since I started my own here. So many of you out there commit yourselves to the things that move you. Sometimes it only takes me a few minutes of browsing through WordPress or Blogger in order to feel both humbled and terribly inadequate. People place so much of themselves into these pages. I swear reading some of your stuff just makes me feel ashamed of myself because I know that I have never been one to work so tirelessly at anything ever.

Cover of "The Royal Tenenbaums (The Crite...
Cover via Amazon

I can’t bring up a single instance where I felt like I truly gave my all for something. As far back as I can remember I have always been that guy that does just enough to get me by. I’m not sure if it is a direct result of possibly having ADHD or if I’m just simply not cut out for hard work. Yes there have been plenty of things that I have dug and enjoyed greatly. Things that served as a means for some desperately needed escapism. I can enjoy a great show like Game of Thrones or genre defining films like the Dark Knight and The Royal Tenenbaums. I might even speak about them in excited tones and show an almost fan-boyish devotion. But in the end they are just someone else’s hard work that I happen to admire. Same thing with music. I listen to music every day, and spend maybe a couple of hours a week actively searching for new hidden gems. Yet music only moves me for those few minutes a track is playing. It doesn’t really linger in my head, haunting my thoughts. The same can be said for comic books, and concerts, and books, and video games, and anything else that captures my short attention span.

I’ve never felt impassioned about anything I’ve ever done. I never been dedicated to any of the jobs I have ever held. I mean I do the job I am supposed to be doing, but I never have been one to go that extra mile. To chase after that raise or promotion. And I wonder why is that? Why do some folks know exactly what they want to do with their lives from the get go. Almost as if they were born  just to serve that one purpose in life. While others just wander around trying everything but doing nothing.

My father was a great Respiratory Therapist. He may have been a rather questionable human being at times, but the man was an artist with a respirator. And I can only imagine how many life saving procedures my father was a part of.  His other passion was radio. He took a number of classes. He even recorded several audition tapes of his studio work and sent them around to a number of stations in the city. I remember accompanying my father to the broadcasting school’s studio a couple of times just to watched him work his magic. I’m not saying this because he was my father, but I honestly thought he was pretty damn good at it. He had a fantastic voice for radio. It was deep and booming, but yet smooth like Carvel ice cream.  If it hadn’t been for all the demons he was dealing with, plus the fact that he was seeking a radio announcing gig in the largest media market in the country, he might have had a future in the radio business.

My mother was also incredibly passionate about her job. Being a nurses aid for 20 years exposed her to all manners of horrors. She applied pressure on gaping wounds, washed the corpses of burnt children, she comforted deeply disturbed psychiatric patients, and she helped deliver probably hundreds of babies. And when I would sit down with my mother and ask how she could stand working in such a chaotic environment; her eyes would come alive and a smile would suddenly come across her face. Each time she would give me the same answer. She was never more alive than when she was working in the hospital making a difference in the lives of people who were probably too out of it to even notice.

Yet for some reason all that passion that my parents possessed seems to have eluded me. I can get myself motivated to do things for more few months if not less. Eventually the laws of diminishing returns kicks in and I just abandoned whatever it was that had captured my attention. Is passion something that you are born with? Or is it something that you discover within yourself as you grow as a person? If it’s the latter, then I guess I still have a whole lot more growing up to do. I just really hope I can get it together soon and figure out what I wish to do with the rest of my life. I think this whole drifting aimlessly has grown quite old if I do say so myself. Personally I hope my rediscovery for the joys of writing will be the passion I have been searching for my whole life. Guess only time will tell.

Every Day is Exactly the Same

Every Day is Exactly the Same

48 hours ago I was in such a good mood. I was feeling so energetic and optimistic. I thought to myself, man I hope this feeling last me through the week. Two days was all life could afford me. I worked 10 long hours. Was stuck in traffic for another 3 more. That’s 13 hours of doing things that do not bring me an ounce of happiness. It’s taking every ounce of my energy too not loose my cool. I don’t want to take my frustrations out on anyone. But these breathing exercises aren’t doing a goddamn thing for me. I really wish I had a better handle on dealing with this stress. That I could just let moments of frustrations pass me by, without ruining my day. I’m just not at that point yet. I’m even find it difficult to express myself right now. I’m just so damn frustrated, you know. Even my thoughts are stuttering at this point. That is why I’m cutting this post short. I just needed a moment to vent. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit kinder.

In the meantime I will listen to some Nine Inch Nails. Everyday is Exactly the Same. I think the son is fitting.