I have so many thoughts floating around in my head these days, and I don’t have a clue where to begin. So again, here’s some randomness.
Several years ago when I was finishing my undergrad degree, I only had two classes left to complete my Women’s and Gender Studies emphasis. The problem was that I had taken most of the classes in the regular schedule, and the two that I needed were not offered when I needed them. In other words, the only option I had was to take one class Spring semester, no classes in the summer because nothing was offered, and then take the final class the following Fall semester. At that rate, it would take over a year longer for me to finish.
I had already been delayed because of this same issue, and I did not want to drag it out any longer. I also had little money, a new baby, and I was overwhelmed with life, to say the least. I had hoped to begin graduate school shortly after, but I couldn’t make the pieces fit. In order to get financial aid, I had to take twelve hours minimum, and I only needed six total to complete my degree. My new baby spent all of his waking hours happily attached to my boob, so dragging him to the financial aid office to work something out made Everest seem like cake.
So, I spent more days than I care to count staring blankly at the television, tears streaming down my face, feeding my child, and trying to make sense of what had become my life. Luckily, She-ra showed up in the form of my amazing Women’s Studies advisor. There were many other She-ras during that time, but this one was exactly what I needed that particular day. She swooped in, cut right through my postpartum fog, and announced that the solution was really quite simple. I could do two independent studies with her immediately, and I’d be done in one semester.
After she rode off on her horse, sword and shield in hand, undoubtedly off to rescue some other beat-down damsel, I sat in shock but strangely energized by her presence. I glanced down at my sleeping infant, contentedly passed out after gorging himself at the buffet of breast, and I thought — Okay, this could work.
One of the independent studies was a Writing for Healing class, and I had to select a topic in the realm of Women’s Studies. There was no limit to the possibilities. I just had to have my topic approved by She-Ra. Again, she was amazing and agreed to conduct most everything through email. We agreed to meet in person for an hour every two weeks. After the first month, we could assess whether this schedule was adequate. I still struggled.
I was also struggling with my other independent study. It was supposed to be a service project — preferably some type of activism, but I was in a passive state at the moment. Getting dressed most days took more energy than I had. Thankfully, She-Ra knew me well. I was passionate about numerous issues concerning women and other marginalized groups and my past work spoke for itself.
She-Ra and I met after I had been reading, writing and researching for a month. I cried and told her I didn’t know what had happened to me. Nothing was finalized and I needed more direction. I felt terrible for letting her down. Inside I was screaming I SUCK and am incapable of working independently.
I kept my thoughts to myself, though I’m certain my appearance gave away the reality of my condition. I was a wreck, and I’m sure I smelled like dirty hair and sour breast milk. I handed over my “free-writes.” She-Ra put on her glasses, calmly took out a highlighter and worked quickly.
I had seen her do this in other classes. She was looking for themes. She circled, highlighted and made notes franticly — making sense of what felt as if it would never make sense. I sat quietly until she was done, grateful that my baby was somewhere other than my boob and thrilled that I was anywhere other than my house, Babyville Central.
After ten minutes or so, She-Ra handed my papers back to me and pointed to the notes she had made at the end of the last page. She gave me three different subjects, determined as my current interests based on the written chaos I had given her. She asked me to choose the subject that most appealed to me and let her know, and then she would send over some readings relevant to the topic of my choice and then we could further narrow my focus and come up with the topic for my final paper.
I need someone to do this in my life everyday — narrow my focus and assist me in choosing where to put my energy.
Sometimes I don’t know if I really believe in ADD/ADHD, or perhaps I just don’t like the label. I don’t like the looks I get when I let down my guard and share that focus and attention is something with which I struggle. I generally keep my diagnosis to myself because the term ADD/ADHD is so misconstrued and misunderstood.
I get that parents are leery of a diagnosis for their children. It seems that every time I turn around I’m hearing or reading something about children being over diagnosed. I dread the day that this comes up with my own kids. I do not want them medicated unnecessarily.
I’ve been off all medication since April, and in many ways I feel better than I have in a long time. However, the last month has been tough. I’ve had a lot to keep up with, and I know meds help. I had planned to go back to my doctor and start back with a low-dose stimulant, but now I’m hesitant. I don’t want to do it. I hate the side-effects that inevitably will come with a recommendation of “just a little” of this or that “to counter-act the trouble you’re having.” I’ll start with a low-dose stimulant and end up with a little more plus a bit of this drug and then this drug, and before I know it I’ll be taking three different pills. I feel like a guinea pig and nothing helps substantially.
I’m hoping this blog can help me like She-Ra once did. Perhaps if I write regularly enough, I’ll be able to pick out the recurring themes and figure out for myself where to focus. What are my passions and how can I best channel them?
So, as of now, I’m staying off meds. I’m keeping up the yoga, meditation and exercise. I will continue to see my therapist twice a month. We’ve been working together on a more active approach to some of my stuff, for lack of a better word. Perhaps I’m just not a linear thinker and that’s okay. I like that about myself. I approach things differently, and it works well lots of times.
The journey continues…