Executive Function

Brain Fog

Brain Fog

This is one of the most important topics I’ll post about on this blog (hence why it is permanently “stickied” to the top of my blog). I don’t expect to do much on it tonight. It’s too important to me and too overwhelming. *cut for sheer length* Continue reading

ADD Medication: Week 2

Hi again. I see that I haven’t kept up with regular postings for how I’m doing. The reason is two-fold: One, I would only have time to blog in the evening or at night, and by then the Concerta has worn off. Two, nothing has changed, so I have nothing new to report.

I must say that I find its effects mild and yet incredibly life changing. I never, ever want to go back to the way I was. It’s sad for me that the drug wears off by around dinner time for me, and so I don’t get the help with actually doing any of my chores in the evening. It’s sad for me that my doctor only wants me to take even this low dose in the morning on just a few days per week, so that I don’t get a tolerance to it. It’s sad to me that I would eventually get a tolerance to it and then be back to how I was before.

I never want that. My pinned post on this blog is a post I made on executive function. This Concerta, even its mild dose, makes a difference for me. I feel so much more confidence when I sit down to work, having taken the Concerta first. I feel capable of so much more than I thought possible. I can ignore so many more distractions. I can actually see minor projects to completion before jumping tasks. I feel more capable of organizing my thoughts and knowing what my next action step should be without having to ask my supervisor. Please, I don’t want to go back to the way it was before.

I’ve been reading more about ADD ever since this new doctor of mine suggested it might be my ADD that is causing me so much anxiety in my life. I was so shocked when she suggested it, because I’d never considered it before. And now, it is so crystal clear, I can’t fathom why nobody has ever, ever tried to treat me for it before. How could nobody have seen it? I have been such a WREAK in my life. I could tell you so, so many upsetting and sad stories.

The only explanation I can come up with is that I never, ever had the “H”. I’ve never been hyper. I am, in fact, extremely low energy. Part of that is probably because it takes me many hours to fall asleep at night, and then I have diagnosed Restless Leg Syndrome and other things keeping me from sleeping soundly. But from what I’m reading, it’s entirely possible that my poor nighttime routine is DUE TO ADD. What if I’d been treated earlier on and had a more normal sleep schedule and was more capable and could focus and on and on and on. What if I had thrived in middle and high school instead of becoming suicidally depressed?

They’re going to lower my thyroid medicine a little. That should also help decrease my current anxiety. It might help me fall asleep a little faster at night, too, because hopefully my heart will be beating slower. I’ve noticed for the last six months that my heart has been beating too fast at night– last time it did that, it was also due to my thyroid medicine being too high.

I feel very much like giving a chronology of parts of my past that could now have been explained by ADD, although there are so many other things I need to be doing (such as putting away clean clothes).

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL:

  1. My earliest memory was my teacher putting me in the hallway and putting headphones on me because the sound of the overhead lights was too loud for me and distracted me from everything else in existence. The audio sensitivity is courtesy of the autism function disorder, but certainly how long it kept me distracted could have been ADD.
  2. Homework was hell beyond words. Reading was hell beyond words, with the exception of fantasy books.
  3. Reading hell in particular, if you please. If it was a topic I lacked interest in, or didn’t understand, or used words I was unfamiliar with, or used a single date, I would zone out INSTANTLY. I would re-read the same paragraph for hours before realizing that I had been daydreaming the whole time. I would try and try. I would be in tears into the night, trying to accomplish my assigned reading for the next day, but could never do it. Never then. It was not until late high school that I found some work-arounds for my reading problems.
  4. Wouldn’t you know, but the fantasy books were books I’d then feel “addicted” to, and be unable to put down. To this very day, once I’m reading a good fantasy book, there is no such thing as sleep. I have never, ever been able to stop myself at a chapter mark.
  5. I daydreamed almost 100% of the time. I would daydream so much that people could be talking to me and I’d have no idea they were there. So many conversations took place where I was physically present, so people thought I was hearing them, but I was daydreaming.
  6. This led to some negative incidents. For example, one day my mom asked me if I was packed yet. I learned that we were leaving on a trip to another state and would be gone a couple of weeks. They’d apparently been talking about it with me in the kitchen for many weeks, maybe even longer, but I had never heard a word of it.
  7. I lost everything the instant it touched my backpack. I couldn’t bring them home to my parents from the teachers, and I couldn’t bring things from home to my teachers. I don’t know how a backpack could lose so many items, but it did. Poof – gone the instant someone gave me something.
  8. This led to a very sad incident. At my school, we fund-raised for a long time to raise money for a very special field trip across the state. It was a very big deal. My parents donated goods for sales to raise funds, and I helped as well. Then it came time for the field trip, and when I got to school, my entire grade was gone. The teacher must have been announcing that we were to gather for the field trip at an earlier time than usual, but I never once heard her. She also wrote it in a letter to give my parents, but I lost everything that I was supposed to bring home. Even had I read the letter myself, I wouldn’t have comprehended information from it — I would have just daydreamed. So there I was, the only kid in my entire grade at school. The principal felt badly for me and ate lunch with me. I stayed in a lower grade’s classroom all day, and cried in a corner, because it was very disappointing and also really awkward, with those students staring over at me all day long.
  9. Extremely poor sleep habits. This was in part due to undiagnosed restless leg syndrome. It was in LARGE part from anxiety and obsessive thoughts (undiagnosed OCD and even a little PTSD already). But also this transitioning from awake to asleep was non-existent and could have been part from ADD. It certainly didn’t help when I did get into a fantasy book and couldn’t turn off my flashlight and let myself sleep.
  10. I never stayed on task at home, either. My mom would have me try to tidy my bedroom, for example. I would put away something only to find something I’d lost for a long time, and start playing with that, and then maybe bump into something else that I had lost for a long time, and start playing with that… Forget it. I never, ever could clean my bedroom. It was a pig-sty.
  11. I always had some out of sight, out of mind. Like as much as I loved my relatives SO, SO, SO, SO, SO, SO, SO, SO much, and loved visiting them to pieces, it never affected me when it was time to leave. It was like “that” life was just on pause now. I didn’t feel emotions about it like crying or feeling sad in the way I have learned to do. Because now I know they are really out there, living their lives without me.
  12. My mom just reminded me that I never knew when it was my birthday. We’d be in a celebration and they would ask me whose birthday it was, and I wouldn’t know. I’m sure they told me the day was coming in advance, but I guess I was either daydreaming and missed it, or just didn’t remember.
  13. I had no sense of time at all. My mom would put me in time out for five minutes or whatever, and then an hour or however long later she would look for me and I would still be in time out, daydreaming. I think I may have had a coloring book or something in time out, so I could have sat there all day and been perfectly happy.
  14. In elementary school, I didn’t know about the existence of grades. I thought we tried hard in school just because. I had no idea what was going on in the classroom the majority of the time. I remember gym, class plays, and music classes very clearly, though. I remember recess very clearly.

MIDDLE SCHOOL:

  1. Grades. I learned about grades. I learned what they meant. Can anyone here guess that I was not an A student?
  2. Just more of the same, but more stress and higher stakes. A lot more tears in the homework department. The newer addition for this time of my life was the knowledge that some others in my class seemed capable of chunking out parts of projects so that everything didn’t always have to be done at the very last second. I had no idea how they did that.
  3. For me, the only thing that brought me to even be able to write a single sentence on a paper would be if it was due the following day. It was not for lack of trying; I tried and tried and tried. But it was no use. A paper that took another student maybe 20 minutes to write would take me maybe 20 hours of sitting in one place, crying most of the time, and resulting in at best a few paragraphs that would then get dinged for lack of a proper thesis statement. But not for lack of trying. I wasn’t slacking. I was giving it everything, EVERYTHING, I had.
  4. History, just give up. If I saw a single date, I was daydreaming. If I saw a single unfamiliar name, which is common when reading back in history, I was daydreaming. Just forget it. I failed exam after exam. I can tell you that my eyeballs did the reading. I probably physically “read” more than anyone else in my class, due to re-reading paragraph after paragraph. But I took in nothing.
  5. By late middle school, my sleep habits were TERRIBLE. I wouldn’t even try to go to sleep anymore. Some of this was physical:
    1. Again, undiagnosed restless leg syndrome was acting up like CRAZY in middle school. My limbs were just on fire and burning and I couldn’t stop moving them whether awake or asleep.
    2. Another issue was that sometimes I would start to drift into sleep and then have a moment of absolute terror where I felt I had stopped breathing. I will never know if I had diagnosable sleep apnea back then, because I told nobody at the time. It had stopped happening by high school. I don’t believe they were panic attacks; I believe I really had stopped breathing at the onset of sleep.
  6. More poor sleep habits: I used the night for writing and drawing. I would write in a journal, I would write poetry, and I would draw. I was very depressed and this was my only outlet. It also, I am quite sure, increased my depression due to only get a handful of hours of sleep per night. I wasn’t sleepy in that sense, though. Had I laid down, I would not have gone to sleep. It was like I lived in a strange dream, in a way I can’t explain right now. Perhaps only sleep deprived insomniacs can understand that living dream state. Also, the night was my ONLY TIME OF MY LIFE when I was without guilt. At all other times, I should be “doing” something, “accomplishing” something, etc… There were projects to be done, homework to be done, all kinds of things I was always late on, etc. Only once I was supposed to be asleep did I finally have a moment in my life when I could be without the overwhelming sense of guilt and desperation, and could do the things that meant something to me — sketch and free-write: Create without rules.
  7. By this time, I also had a visual disorder that started to impact my ability to look at a page of fresh ink on white paper. No way. I don’t think I learned how to used rulers above and below a single line of text at a time until later — maybe high school? The eye doctor didn’t believe me when I told him the spaces were moving around. He said I was just stressed due to my parents getting a divorce. I said, my parents are not and have never mentioned getting a divorce. He walked out of the room on me and asked my mom if she was getting a divorce, and she was shocked and said no. … He was strange. I’ve written a blog post about this visual disorder in the past. It actually helps me a great deal that sentences no longer have a double space between them, even though it was hard for me to break that habit.
  8. I could not fathom how everyone around me would bring in assignments and I didn’t know that we’d had something due. It turns out that the homework was being given out verbally. In spite of always trying to listen very hard to the teachers, there was something about their change of voice between giving a lecture versus speaking out the assignments that made me instantly daydream. No matter how hard I told myself I’d listen for the assignment, I always, always, always missed it.

HIGH SCHOOL:

  1. Same as always. Reading is blood, sweat, and tears. Writing is just impossible. If I had a writing assignment, I would be anxious up until the deadline, unable to relax but also unable to begin, and then only the fear of failure would drive me to write something the night before. I wouldn’t know how to start. I wouldn’t have read the instructions in advance. It would take hours. It would take the whole night.
  2. I hated myself intensely and blamed myself. Like I was to blame for this constant procrastination that made me so miserable and made everyone around me so miserable. I have no idea how many hours my mom sat by my side to help me read the instructions, of course saying the whole time things like, “WHY didn’t you start this earlier? WHY did you wait until the last second to take out the instructions AGAIN?” She couldn’t fathom. She is a very organized person and has no trouble reading and understanding instructions and whipping out a well-organized paper in moments or after breaking it into smaller tasks and laying out on a calendar when she’ll do each of the small tasks. It was so painful for her to watch me suffer, that many times she offered to just write the paper for me, but I always refused. I think it was part of my then-undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder — only full effort, and truth, was allowable. It was very black and white for me. Let it be known, too, that she’s an incredibly honest person, and to even imagine that she was then offering to do homework for me is astounding. She must have been in a lot of pain watching me. I was in a lot of pain.
  3. I hated school, even though my depression eased up and I made friends and had a social life. I didn’t want to go to college after high school. I never wanted to see homework again in my entire life. Homework was absolute torture.
  4. Except for Art, Choir, and Band homework, the few times I had those classes. I liked practicing instruments and singing. I liked drawing. However, I almost failed Art class because I would forget to turn in the assignments, and my teacher was very strict. Also, I would be unclear about which shelf to place the assignments, so then I wouldn’t turn them in even if I had them on hand. I don’t know why I never thought to ask, but I guess that’s part of the autism spectrum disorder.
  5. I missed out on many points due to forgetting to turn in assignments that I’d completed on time but had left in my locker between classes and forgotten to bring to the correct classes. My teachers were very strict and I was not allowed to go to my locker to get the assignment.
  6. Still, I missed assignments altogether by not hearing the verbal instructions of the teachers, because I would begin daydreaming the minute lecture ended.
  7. I don’t know how much of lectures themselves I missed. I often drew horses on my notes while note-taking. But I did try very hard to listen. One teacher said it was fine to draw as long as it was on topic. So in Math classes, the horses held a calculator and pencil and sat at a desk.
  8. In 12th grade, I met the guy who was my favorite person in the whole entire world and I still regret our later falling out. But to the point, he was a wizard at paper writing. And he gave it no effort. He didn’t even really care about getting A’s or anything. (I can’t recall if I ever got an A by that point.) He taught me that it was okay NOT to give it my all. It took until 12th grade to realize that every single paper and assignment was NOT LIFE AND DEATH!!!!! It was so liberating. Can you imagine how many years I was giving it my all and getting poor grades and hating myself and on and on? It was incredible. He and I used to stay up on Instant Messenger very late into the night, talking with each other. He would tell me when he was working on his paper and just putting out garbage and not organizing it or formatting it. See, he was also very gifted so he didn’t need that extra effort. But it made me smile so much and I started to learn to relax more and not try SO HARD, and even just put out a little garbage in a paper here and there so I could spend more time talking with him and actually SMILING at night instead of crying through it. And I kid you not, my grades went way up in writing. I’ll never understand how NOT trying to make my damn thesis statement align with my inner paragraphs could improve my grades, but it did. I did try super, super hard on my final paper of high school. I went all out on it. But, I was allowed to choose my topic, you see, and I chose one that I was fascinated with !!!!! It made all the difference. I went to the library and happily read books on the topic (it was a Psychology topic, although I can’t recall what). I took detailed notes onto index cards with precise references. I was basically just writing down things that fascinated me, so it was joyful and easy. Then in the end, I laid out my index cards into an order that seemed kind of logical, and that was basically my paper. I just typed up my index cards in that order. And I got an A!!!!!!!! I think it was the first and only A I’d ever received on a paper. My teacher wrote me a really kind note about how wonderful the paper was.

COLLEGE, FIRST YEARS:

  1. I had very kind friends. They let me read my textbooks out loud, even while they were reading their own textbooks. Sometimes, they even read my textbook out loud to me.
  2. I went to a very special school, where you only take one class at a time in a very condensed amount of time each. I would have failed immediately at a school where you take six courses at a time, because I could never have juggled different tasks due at different times for different instructors.
  3. Packing, part one. I get overwhelmed immediately when it comes time to pack or relocate things. I had agreed to switch dorm rooms once, and all it involved was moving directly across the hall. I couldn’t do it. I got so overwhelmed within the first two seconds, I had to leave the vicinity and hallmates had to move my stuff into the other room for me!
  4. When I had to leave college somewhat abruptly due to mental illness issues, I could not pack at all whatsoever. Two people who had been my friend the year before boxed and shipped all of my belongings back to me!! I have no idea if I ever paid them for shipping or thanked them or anything. I lost track of them pretty quickly…
  5. …Losing track of people. I’ve lost track of everyone I’ve ever known except one person (I’m excluding family; not that I’m in contact with my extended family, but I know my mom has all of their contact information, so I don’t count them as lost). I have one person’s cellphone number, and sometimes, maybe once a year, I try to reach out. It’s not that I don’t miss the people I knew before. It just feels impossible to reach out. And I lose and misplace contact information quickly.
  6. Just a couple days ago, I came across some of my free-writes from these first college years. There are pages and pages where I’m typing random stuff to myself, and explain how really I’m supposed to be working on a 2-3 page Reaction Paper that was due 3 hours ago, and I’ve already lost 15% of the grade because of tardiness, and here I can’t make myself even start it. I’m at the computer. I read the article I am supposed to be reacting to, but I just couldn’t do anything to get myself to start writing the paper. I had no ADD/ADHD diagnosis back then — my only diagnosis I’d ever had by then was depression some years prior.

WORK YEARS:

  1. In a job as a [], how did I not get fired? I was late very day to work. Sometimes, I was even two hours late!!!! It was not on purpose. I would be agonizing to leave the house, but procrastinating, and not being ready, and being full of anxiety and all that. Eventually, I quit the job because I was crippled with guilt for knowing I should have been fired and feeling that my coworkers hated me for it.
  2. It was fun to work the cashier and answer the phone calls. It was hard to count the drugs to fill the prescriptions, because of the concentration required. It was impossible to use my working memory to compute simple math. I would lose where I had written down formulas and eventually the manager was quite upset with me, because she hired me because I was the first person ever to get a 100% on the math part of the employment test. However, the employment test allowed for a pencil and paper. It did not test your working memory. It probably also listed the formulas in a clear location.
  3. As an [], although I loved my coworkers and I loved our work, and I was so proud of every one of my final products, it was impossibly hard. It was hard to sit at a computer that long and stay focused. It would have been awesome to have that job and grow in it for life, but I just couldn’t stomach the focus required.
  4. As a library tech, oh man did I love that job!!!!! I loved the atmosphere and I loved the people. But I couldn’t put away books anywhere near as fast as I was supposed to. Sometimes my shift ended and I’d sign out, only to sneak back down and spend another couple of hours putting away the books I was supposed to have put away. I had to run through the alphabet in my head for every letter. It’s sadly not a good task for someone with poor working memory, as much as I liked it.

OTHER ADULTING ISSUES:

  1. Holy moley. Running late to things. Running late to everything. I can’t make it on time to music practice, which I love. I left my favorite music stand in a cab. Even in recent years, I’ve missed probably 75% of my doctor appointments due to arriving up to a couple hours late. It’s all I can do to be anywhere on time. My uncle and brother thought I was slighting them for showing up late to every single get-together. I’ve shown up late to dates. I show up late to work. Then, my lunches tend to run long and I’m late back to work. I stay late to make up lost time, and try to work extra too, so nobody gets mad. I’m late to things I love. I’m late to things I hate. Having to be or do anything by or at a certain time makes me crazy anxious and then I can’t think. I can’t figure out what I need to bring. I can stumped by the stupidest decision, like should I bring a coat? I decide to bring the coat but then I can’t find where I just put my cellphone. I call my cellphone to find it, and then I’ve misplaced the notebook I was supposed to bring to work that day. I look for my notebook and then I’ve lost my cellphone again. On and on.
  2. I used to lock my car keys in the car. Often. I finally got used to attaching my keys to my purse with a coiling cord, back when I carried a purse. The cord was attached to my purse even while driving. I would never have forgotten BOTH items in the car, so one would inevitably lead to the other.
  3. I’ve left things on the train.
  4. Sometimes I space while people are talking to me, but I’m always honest about it and ask them to repeat. I usually catch it right away now. (I absolutely detest when people space while I’m talking and then pretend they heard my every word, when I can guarantee they didn’t. Just be honest with me and ask me to repeat my last couple of sentences! It’s so much kinder, in my opinion. My partner, who has ADHD, is always denying being distracted and it drives me insane when it’s so obvious that he wasn’t listening and didn’t hear what I just said.)
  5. Packing. I can’t pack. I get so anxious. I can never get organized for it. My partner finds it so easy — he knows exactly what he needs to bring and just throws it all in a little carry-on. But I have SO many little bits and pieces to gather. I can’t hold them in my head at once and it is very scary to have no idea if I’m forgetting important things. I have every list I’ve made for every trip for years now, because I look at them when it’s time to pack for anything, to see if I need any of those items. But it’s always hard, even with the lists. I have to take lots of anxiety medicine before I try to start packing.
  6. Chores. I come in with good intentions, and like, I’m going to dust regularly, or something. But it always burns out pretty quickly. It ends up being more like, my allergies are off the wall so I finally get the vacuum out. Or I’m totally out of clean clothes, so I finally start the laundry. Or my bathroom is starting to smell bad, so I finally clean my toilet. I want to be on top of all of my chores, but it takes so much energy to start things, especially when maintenance rather than emergency.
  7. Projects. My entire life (this isn’t adult-specific), I have started projects and not finished them. I can think of one single project I have ever finished. I started a latchhook in elementary school, ran out of one color of yarn, and didn’t touch it again until I was like 22. Then I bought some yarn of that color, bought or found a pillow somehow, bought a backing material somehow, and sewed the whole thing together somehow! Or maybe I brought it to a family friend to sew it into a pillow. I’m not sure. But I did finally finish the latchhook! All of my other millions and millions of projects are unfinished. I’m so sad that this includes a painting I was making for my best friend last year! I made it to the final steps — there is just a shadow I want to add to the the flowers — and I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. My life is littered with started and unfinished projects.
  8. Many chores are too intimidating to even begin. Like I want to go through and probably shred a million of my old paper files. They got dumped onto my floor a couple of years ago when my parents needed my filing cabinet for something else. I don’t know how I’ll ever get started on it.
  9. Losing things at random. For example, I own 4 different pairs of headsets because I can’t keep track of them. So I finally just gave up trying and bought extras in the hopes of one always being found at random. They just disappear. I knew where one was earlier today, and now I don’t. I just looked around for one but they’re hiding. I wish I knew where they are because I want to use one right now. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern — it isn’t like they’re always left in my coat pockets, or always left in my pant pockets, for example. I’ll find them in those pockets randomly, sure. But I’ll find them on the bathroom counter, or the kitchen counter, or the floor in the corner, or just anywhere at all. I apparently don’t pay attention when I end a phone call and unplug the headset from my phone. I try. I tell myself I’ll pay attention next time– I’m going to always keep them in this cup, for example. Ha. No way. There’s just no way.
  10. Rarely keeping up with any friends or family. 😦 — I mean I’m doing really well if I check in even once every year or two.
  11. Rarely actually mailing out the letters I used to hand write to people. 😦
  12. Not able to keep up with anyone on here, even though people I had come to care about on here, and I still think about, because I had genuinely cared about them.
  13. Dated a brief time before getting engaged, and I had no idea it was a short time because of my poor sense of time.
  14. Got married without ever having planned the future or even having discussed core beliefs or anything beforehand.
  15. Got divorced having no idea what I was doing or what I wanted with my future. I won’t discuss this time online, but it was certainly through my own actions although I had no idea what I was doing and was not behaving at all like myself, and I can only describe it as a manic episode without all of the symptoms of mania.
  16. Moved out of state abruptly and with no future plans or idea of what I was doing. I got to live temporarily with a relative.
  17. Moved again, to live temporarily with another relative.
  18. Moved again, to live for over a year with another relative (that’s when this blog started). Had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted with my future. Was lucky to get a job through a relative.
  19. Took a ton of crappy personality tests online; ranked all of the results and found that “Accountant” came up most frequently.
  20. Told my then-new partner that I was considering taking Accounting classes at the city college. He introduced me to his mom soon afterward, the first time I’d met her, as being an Accounting student. She treated me with so much respect, I kind of wanted to fit that mold. So I went to school in Accounting. This time, I had accommodations at school thanks to the Asperger diagnosis:
    1. I got a note-taker in classes (that’s the most amazing thing in the world, by the way). Even though I thought that I was focusing during all of the lectures and taking copious notes, the note takers would (a) organize things in ways that made sense and I that had never occurred to me, and (b) write out things the professors said that i had no idea they’d ever said. It was AMAZING.
    2. I declined extra time on tests, because I was NEVER AGAIN going to sit extra time for a test, even if it meant turning in something blank. But also, I came up with a new method of speeding up the testing process — I would drink lots of liquids before an exam, and the urge to pee would enforce a speedy exam.
    3. I was allowed to record audio during lectures! I think I had to ask permission of each professor first.
    4. I was allowed the electronic versions of textbooks, so that I could have a screen-reader read the chapters out loud to me. LIFE. CHANGING.
  21. When I finished the city college and transferred to the 4-year university for the Accounting degree, I don’t think I had any accommodations then, but it was an online university and the textbooks were all digital. My partner and his mom were a huge help in my studying. They discussed topics with me and helped me further my understanding. They made things more real-life and applicable. They helped quiz me.
  22. I played Pokemon Go on a kick scooter around the city A LOT during this time. I might have even done it for 8 hours a day for much of the time, studying at all other times.
  23. I’ve never in my life had any clue how to think forward into the future. Even though, since childhood, I’ve known that I want to live basically isolated in a cabin in the mountains with a few pets, that’s had no connection to the life I’ve lived. I’ve never made a single damn step to get there. My current partner will never leave the city, so in fact one could argue I’ve made steps in the opposite direction of the only image I’d ever managed to form of my future, as a child. I used to draw pictures of the mountainside I’d live on. But then I’d wonder, how would I get food there? I don’t want to hunt animals. That’s as far as I ever got.

My Concerta was basically totally worn off by the end of this. It’s a mess. Maybe I’ll clean it up someday.

Oh hey! Also, my new doctor is going to prescribe a low dose of lamotrigine for me. I have never tried that before. She says it can have the effect of helping manage anxiety. I didn’t want to re-increase the Lexapro after it was so hard for me to go down onto the 5mg from 20mg!!!!! (That’s all written about in previous posts.) I think that I will wait until my new, lower dose of thyroid medicine is routine in my system before I try it, so I will know for sure which had effect.

UPDATE: I just remembered the additional headings I wanted to add, and will fill in later on as I think of the details! I’ll try to clean this up more later. To be updated. [I have added to this a bunch of times already.]

ADD medication: Days 2 and 3

This is to describe yesterday and today, days 2 and 3 respectively, of trying an ADD med for the first time in my life. It is Concerta 18mg, taken first thing in the morning.

So far, it feels very mild and yet it must be helping because I’ve been way more able to stay focused on the tasks I start at work. I feel tempted but also hesitant to call it life changing. I’d like to see how I handle some of the tasks that take me the UTMOST concentration, but I haven’t had time for those yet this week.

There is a particular book I would like to read. It’s like a textbook. I’ve been wanting to read it for over a year. Imagine if I could read it. I will have to put some time aside for it one of these days.

I already fret about the potential of drug tolerance. I’ve read that I should take breaks from this drug, to avoid tolerance. I don’t want to // ha ha, I was gone for a while. My partner texted me, and I had to jump over to chat for a bit, because I’d had to excuse myself from our call rather quickly earlier in the evening, because I’d just started a project with my housemates here. Basically I feel guilty about excusing myself like that. I’ve never been much for phone calls really, so that’s probably where the guilt really comes from. [Update: Oh yeah. And the fact that I’m not living with him this year, still.]

Anyway. I don’t think I’ve had any side effects from the drug. No decreased appetite, for example. I have so much hope for this drug, but I have a suspicion I’ll need a higher dose or something. I’ve certainly started a lot more projects these past few days, but I haven’t really had the focus to finish them. On the other hand, I only get to start those projects after dinner, and it could be that the drug has worn off by then. If I’m taking it at 7a or 8a, and not finishing dinner until 7p, and then expecting it to be helping me accomplish more of my very piled up list of chores, I might be asking too much.

I feel so much MORE HOPEFUL. This has improved my depression quite a bit. It just feels like there might be hope. I don’t remember if I mentioned on my last post that I’d gotten very depressed over the last six months. I was so depressed, I had lost the ability to feel excitement or happiness or look forward to anything. I didn’t care at all if a freak accident were to occur and cause me to die. I am feeling quite a bit better than that right now. I’d still say I am depressed, but not as much.

Un-related news: I have had a back injury for a month by now. I thought it was healing, but somehow I must have re-injured it this week, because it’s so painful. I can hardly sit down. It’s my upper back. It goes numb at times, and other times it’s very painful. I might need to see a doctor.

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that I actually re-arranged some paragraphs up above while I was writing this post and before I posted. I NEVER re-read my posts before posting. I can’t stand to take even one second to look over what I’ve written, typically. So the drug must still be in my system a little bit even now, well past 12 hours since I took it. Or why else would I be feeling so calm and capable of reading my own writing before posting? That’s wild.

ADD medication: First try

I went to a doctor for the first time in over two years. I had a long list of issues that I brought with me. Interestingly, she told me that it sounded to her like a ton of my anxiety might actually be stemming from ADD issues. She had me fill out a questionnaire. I didn’t reflect super strongly on the ADHD field, but I know that’s because I don’t have the “H” part, and the questionnaire asked questions about being able to sit in one place during meetings and such. I’ve had a diagnosis of ADD for like 15 years, but never tried treating it in any way. It and OCD were part of my original autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, with OCD being strong enough to be its own, separate diagnosis.

I’ve known for half of my life now that I have ADD. Why have I never sought treatment or been offered treatment before? I have no idea. I’m definitely game to try ADD medication, and also the computer hook-ups that help train people’s brains to be calmer and more focused. In school, I was unable to read my textbooks. I would stay up half the nights trying to do my homework, crying and unable to start at all in most cases. I could read a paragraph, have no idea what I just read because I’d started daydreaming after the first few words, and re-read it over and over again with no improvement. That’s one example of about a million.

However, once I had the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and went back to college and then university, it was with accommodations made possible by the ASD diagnosis. It included help from note-takers, so I didn’t miss so much of the lectures and verbally-assigned homeworks. It included textbooks turned into audio recordings. It changed my life and let me get a 4-year degree! I won’t tell you my exact age, but let’s just say that was well over 15 years of trying.

Back to the topic at hand, this new doctor I saw prescribed me Concerta 18mg extended release. I took my first tablet yesterday morning, and here was my experience:

  • I spent 3.5 hours straight addressing my work email box and figuring out tasks I’d let pile up in there for over 1.5 months.
  • I felt bizarrely calm, for me.
  • Because of the calmness, I was able to temporarily ignore the myriad of Slack messages other employees were writing me (they write me questions all day long, because I’m in a very understaffed department and there has been nobody else to ask the questions). I was able to finish email responses and even address a particular issue via the telephone and write a summary email afterward so that my boss would also be aware of the situation.
  • By late afternoon, I felt a touch jittery and had two meetings and felt anxiety. That is not unusual for me, but I place it here nonetheless.
  • I did not experience any change in appetite at any point of the day (I had heard it might make my appetite lower).
  • After work, I went on a slow jog, which is a big deal for me, and my third of the year.
  • I was exhausted by late evening, which is also not unusual, but worthy of noting. I laid on my bed and read a fantasy book (about dragons) that I’m in the middle of, for hours.
  • I did not fall asleep immediately (I’d guess it took two hours), but that is my usual, unfortunately.
  • I slept a solid six hours and then woke up quite abruptly after a bizarre dream.
  • I tried to fall back asleep, because I am extremely, extremely sleep deprived due to obsessive thoughts keeping me awake much of each night for the last six months, but I was wide awake. EXTREMELY unusual.
  • I got up and cleaned my toilet and my bathroom sink, put away the clean dishes, and put away a few random things. EXTREMELY unusual.
  • I took a dose of the medication this morning. I have a sh#t ton of work backlogged. I can’t tell you how behind I am at work. It hasn’t been my fault– it has happened since my department shrank. All the same, my anxiety has been so, so, so high as of late. That has definitely reduced my ability to accomplish tasks and stay on a task to completion.

So, that’s that! I will try to continue recording my experience with Concerta until I am quite familiar with how it effects me.

OCD Intrusive Thoughts rearing their ugly, ugly heads

I really need to write, but it’s too late at night. I’ve hardly slept all week, with the exception of last night when I took half of a trazadone tablet before bed. I thought I’d sleep tonight, but my mind seems to be in a bad habit of obsessing instead of sleeping.

My OCD has been really bad this week. I believe I know the reason. I’ve already written a post all about my #1 OCD intrusive thought. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I just happened to stumble upon a picture of me and him, that I must have tucked away into the back of a photo frame a long time ago for safe keeping. Seeing the picture of us, with me at my happiest, and him, in one of my favorite locations on the planet, was quite a shock, to say the least.

It isn’t that I hadn’t had intrusive thoughts about him recently — they are a not infrequent. Perhaps they are not every day during good times, but surely at least every week. I randomly have dreams about him — this has been going on since 2003 at the latest. In my dreams, he has grudgingly agreed to meet me someplace public. We meet and I have the opportunity to explain things. Usually I wake up before that can actually happen — I have no memory of the actual conversations. But sometimes he has agreed to be on distantly friendly terms with me moving forward. Somehow we’ll get invited to a mutual friend’s house or some kind of public event. Usually he just completely ignores me if we happen to be in the same room. I think I’ve had at least two dreams where we actually spoke, but he’s never interested and always aloof.

Right now, the intrusive thoughts are too powerful for me to resist.

Although, work is getting slightly better with hope in sight. My department is still very behind in many areas, but I am less stressed about it. I think I’m getting used to the idea of being behind and working anyway. Besides, like I said, there is hope in sight.

So why won’t the intrusive thoughts ease up? I have tried to meditate, but let’s say I sit for 15 minutes, I only manage to remember my breath like twice. The rest of the time, my mind is running wild in things that do not make me happy and instead make me kind of hate myself and feel mildly like harming myself. I should try to find online koans or something to more actively follow, but I haven’t. Instead, if I have any down time at all, I quickly try to occupy it with silly nonsense that is light and fluffy. For example, I’ve rewatched probably a hundred old Jay Leno “headlines” videos.

The problem is night. I can’t watch/listen to fluffy skits on my phone and also fall sleep. I *have* to turn off all distractions and try to let my body sleep. But my mind finds the absence of distractions and …. I can’t fall asleep. I’d be better off just watching TV the entire night. Or reading books. I just finished Book 3 in a series I’m reading. I have Book 4 ready. Maybe I’ll try reading for a little while now.

Who am I?

I don’t know who I am or what I want.

I’m passing time. I’m very successful at passing time.

I have confidence that if I knew what I wanted, I could put all of my focus into achieving it.

But, I don’t know what I want.

If I look back across my history, I see continuity up until high school ended. It is as though my life honed my beliefs and desires to a razor-sharp point by the end of that year. I knew exactly what I wanted in life for the long term.

Then I said goodbye to you, not knowing it would be forever.

[If I could rewind and do anything in my life differently, it would be that. I wouldn’t go to the special college. I would go with you. My heart is in my throat and it’s hard to swallow without tears. It’ll never be less painful to recall. And you’ll never, ever know.]

In first year college, I change dramatically and abruptly, because I had some kind of amnesia, but I’m not here to discuss that. But two things stayed the same: My love of nature and my desire to create things artistically. So, I still had good enough path.

Second year college removed all of that from me. I won’t discuss it here and now. That’s when I became a caretaker without knowing and without preparation and without success. The panic attacks started and my loss of God[], for reasons left unwritten for now. I had no warning or knowledge about such things. I had no way to correct for what I was being told about my place in the Universe.

But then came many years of being suicidal with severe PTSD. I behaved entirely differently. I thought entirely differently. I was quite literally a different person. Any continuity was discontinued. I was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder and told that it would never go away and nothing would ever feel free or have any sort of meaning to me again.

But after so many years, I did get a thread back. I began to be able to physically feel my environment, for instance the wind on my face. And later more. Certain things that were important to me in the past became important to me once again. For example, my love of certain animals. I started to re-develop an interest in art, although in a very different way than before.

My folks and I learned about autism spectrum disorder. I was diagnosed. It helped in so many ways. It forged a language between us and for the first time in my life, I was able to communicate with my parents. I lived with them and we fell into a pattern and I was, for the first time since 12th grade, fairly content with my life.

Then I got married and I changed again. I won’t go into it. I am an anxious person on my best day, and I was often afraid. What always strikes me is that when I was at my most afraid with him, when he was in one of his PTSD-induced rages, I would undress completely. Maybe I felt he would see that I was totally vulnerable and stop feeling the need to attack. Maybe part of me wanted to make death come as quickly as possible. The marriage ended badly and I won’t discuss that still. A lot was my fault but in my defense, I don’t know who I was at the time. It wasn’t me making the decisions that I was making. It makes me sick to my stomach to even think for one second on the actions I took during the ending months. I was a very different person and I would like to discuss it here, but it’s not safe.

Then what? The police and his psychiatrist told me to leave town immediately, so I did. I have lived away for over six years, maybe even seven.

All this time, my life has been both on hold and yet also, of course, me changing into something new. There are times when my heart yearns to feel a connection to who I was so long ago. Maybe that’s ridiculous. Nobody stays the same as they were growing up, I feel fairly confident.

But I know why I refuse to have kids with my partner, and why I refuse to buy a house with him. Because I know that my life has all been a waiting game until it’s safe to resume what I wanted from life before. I still want those things. I still want my animals and land with a view of the wilderness. I still want the snow-covered mountains. And my partner doesn’t want that. He wants to live in the heart of the city forever. In the concrete jungle. No matter how much he supports me and no matter what I like about him and his long term goals, we never want to end up in the same place.

I live a lie. It’s not safe for me to pursue my old dreams and I’ll never feel safe. But I can’t pretend forever that I’m happy in a city when it was only ever supposed to be temporary.

And what of my “career”? Well, I never cared how I’d earn a living. I am lucky to have finally gotten my degree and to have found a job in it, even though the stress is causing me to become mentally ill. I’m not exaggerating. I’m really struggling and feel so trapped, I don’t know how to get help at this point.

How will I have the farm animals in a city, where they’re illegal? You see the problem when I clarify that I’m not talking dogs and cats. But also, I was never a very high-energy person, and now I’m old enough to have little enough energy to be unsure if I can do it on my own now. I feel so old and so tired. I wish there was someone on this whole entire planet who understood. I wish things had been different. I wish I had stayed in touch with my extended family, who mean so much to me yet I never interact with.

Maybe retaining the positive memories of youth is actually self-destructive. Maybe one should not recall positive things from the past, because then there can be a way for one to compare the present to the past. And that can only hurt. Negative memories from the past should also not be remembered. This is because it lets the fear continue. It gives such a strong blue print for how to hate myself, and feel ashamed of myself, and how to fear in all these millions of situations, and how to avoid these people, and avoid these other people, and never reveal this about myself, and never reveal that about myself, and never trust anything positive that anybody ever tells me, etc. Etc. forever. Perhaps it would be more useful to me if I could only recall neutral memories.

I don’t know what to do. I’m trapped in my job and it’s causing me to fall apart mentally. I can’t afford to go into a crisis right now. But I don’t want to just quit because I think the company would collapse if I did, unless I gave a lot of notice so they could find a replacement. But then it would just be even more stressful for a month or however long it took. Also, it’s possible it’ll get better. We might be getting a part-time assistant to help my department. I don’t want to think about work.

The cold, the snow, the ice, the moon, night clouds, clouds on a blue sky, ice fog, the feel of warmth as the sun returns, the knowledge that the ground will thaw and seeds will sprout.

I think what I need to do is get back in touch with doing art as I did back in the day, so long ago. I imagine that would help. I would like to begin real meditation again, as well.

The stress at work

Hi again. I’ve been promoted. But I honestly don’t know how long I will survive it. Tomorrow is my manager’s last day. As a reminder, my team was loosely six people and tightly four people. One was fired abruptly. Two were laid off. Now my manager’s position has been eliminated. The leaves me and my high level boss remaining for my entire department. It’s already official that he’s retiring in six months. I guess they’ll try to hire /////

That’s not what I’m here to write about. I’m experiencing impostor syndrome at work. I experience impostor syndrome at all things and at all times, but I’m here to specifically discuss this in regards to work.

I feel like I’ll be found out at any moment that I am a fraud. That I can’t do anything. That I have shit for organizational skills, can’t remember anything, don’t know what I’m doing, and can’t keep up.

I sometimes wonder why I’m with my partner when we don’t have the same life goals and have very few overlapping interests, and make each other so stubborn sometimes that we can’t move forward from certain things in a productive way. But one reason is certainly this. He doesn’t see me as an impostor. He sees me as real and capable. Sometimes, he thinks I’m so capable of certain things that I actually get really frustrated — I mean like when I was taking Piano 101 and he handed me an insanely complex song that could be played by someone who’d had 15 years of practice under their belt, and he expected that I could play it in like a week’s time if just practiced. I mean, I was insanely frustrated by his lack of being able to see my skill level clearly (he’s played for nearly his whole life, so could reasonably know skill level progressions, I believe).

But in this, he has faith in me. He had faith that I could get my B.S. degree in a topic I’d never studied before in my life, and I did it and excelled. My teacher in one class said I’d gotten the highest grade on the final that he’d ever seen. None of it was “my normal”. It was truly all because my partner just treated me like I was capable and competent.

He does that and he’s doing it now as well. We’re still living apart, but he just gives me these matter of fact suggestions on how I can handle a situation, and sometimes I think the ideas are ridiculous because they would be appropriate for a manager to do, not for a lowly nobody like me to do, but I think that overall, it starts to sink in that I can do this, and I am a capable employee.

Except that I’m not. I mean, I’m doing my best. I did say a few things to someone in the company last week that I am insanely anxious about. I really did something wrong. I even … ugh, I can’t talk about it. It’s too shameful and there was no deletion button.

But, all I can say is that I am not afraid of getting a new job. And if I treat this like I always treated school, then it should be okay in the short term: I will quit in two weeks. That’s how I got through all different aspects of school, from long ago to the more recent degree.

But at the same time, I feel so alone when I think of work. My partner doesn’t understand how afraid I am, and how out of control I feel. My best friend, “Joe” was it?, understands a shit ton (he has Autism Spectrum Disorder in some similar ways as myself), but he doesn’t know why I haven’t quit yet.

The stress and anxiety is pretty unbearable. I am living on Lorazepam in the past two weeks. Well, I am taking 0.5mg every other day, except that ever since I said something super condescending (accidentally so) to the executive director, which I cannot delete, with full regrets, I am presently taking it every day. Which I know is not sustainable — I will need to take a week off altogether soon enough. But I just don’t know when things will be settled into a pattern enough for me to feel less scared and anxious and out of control.

It’s the out of control part that scares me. It reminds me of other times in my life when stress and dragged down my mental health. At those times, I have made some amazingly, seriously bad decisions that I could never write online. I’m talking very serious mental illness and very unusual behaviors that were “not like me”. But that I am apparently capable of, because they did happen and I did have control over my body. At least sort of — when it’s like that, it doesn’t feel as though I am in the control. I mean, it feels that I am not me. It feels that I am someone else, or maybe that I am nowhere and there’s just someone else controlling my shell.

I feel all kinds of existential crises happening. All I can tell myself is to keep an open mind: Keep an open mind that maybe I can do this. Maybe I am capable and competent. Maybe I can learn this. Maybe I can get enough of the important tasks onto a calendar, and consult the calendar every single day and not miss the vital things. I did always say I wanted to learn how to be a reliable person (it is not one of my strengths) and always wanted to be dependable and able to follow a calendar and trust myself to do what needs to be done on time. Maybe this is just my personal playground for learning these skills.

If I’m fired, so what? It will not end me. I will be able to get work in the future. If I’m not fired, and my mental health goes downhill too fast, I will have to go on medical leave until I’m more balanced. And then will probably have to quit. I would like to say I could go straight to the quitting, but from past experience, once it hits that point, it’s already an emergency and I won’t be able to make a decision such as quitting or working until my mental health is more stable again.

I can’t let it get that bad this time. I don’t want to ever go through that again. I live a horseless half-life thanks to letting myself get like that the last time. What would I lose if it happened again?

I wish I could live the life that I know makes me feel whole, but that life doesn’t truly exist.

  1. Horses
  2. Crafts
  3. Outdoors / mountains / skiing
  4. Close family / partner / closest friends / dog
  5. Extended family <– this is the problem. They live all over the map. Even at my most complete-feeling, I did not feel complete, because I was not with them, and it is physically impossible to be with them all, unless everyone moved to the same area.

If anything on this list is missing, I do not feel whole. By what makes me feel at Home, I can never feel complete.

It isn’t an exaggeration. I mean this literally. Although, any of these can bring me close to feeling complete when I do own a horse or pony, because horses are, for me, for lack of a better way of explaining, how God[] speaks to me. And certain natural spaces as well, but mostly only places near to where I grew up. I wish it could have translated to all of nature over all of the planet, but I believe my high childhood anxiety influenced where I am able to connect and feel Home. I felt God[]’s presence in certain valleys, and on certain mountains, and in certain winds, and in certain trees, etc. I don’t like saying this out loud, but it’s my truth, and I don’t think I’ve ever put it into words before.

Poem: My love for you

What if the edges are tinged with lilac?
What if the leaf is soft and gentle, and not sharp with razor teeth?

What if you love me and the world is kind?

What if you’re good enough as you are?

What if you don’t have to pretend anymore?

What if the wind brushes only softly against the grass blades?
What if the heat dissipates as soon as the sun sets below the dirt?

What if the sound of thunder is only your hoofbeat?
What if the touch of silk and sweet, sweet smell is all that brushes my nose?

What if you’re out there?

What if my heart is whole and filled with love?
What if my love for you overflows and bathes the whole world in light?

What if we’re all connected?

Journal entry accidentally left untitled

Hello out there, to anybody who reads this! I am in a strange mood tonight, to say the least. I’m hyped up, without knowing why.

Work is falling apart but I’ve made it a sort of self challenge: SEE WHAT IS THE BEST I CAN DO AND WHERE IT GETS ME. I expect it to not be enough. My department cannot be run with only two employees. It is madness. It is insanity. It is company self-sabbatoge. Why am I not quitting, except to see how far I can get? Curiosity? See what exactly *can* I do?

And if I fail and my company doesn’t get their paychecks and one of them sues the company? Then I’ll be fired, I’m sure.

I need to tell them! It’s a disaster.

That’s why my intestines are ill every day in the afternoon. Because I cannot relax. It is harder to do the simpler tasks now. What was routine is now like pushing a boulder up a hill. It is harder because my heart is beating too hard and my mind is racing and trying to figure out every detail I need to ask my manager before he quits. He has two weeks remaining. Why they won’t replace his position after he leaves? I can’t understand that. How he and our supervisor agreed that it could be done with only two people? I can’t understand!

The simple tasks. If I could get the simple tasks done at the speed I used to accomplish them, it would sure help my stress level. But the stress level is so high, there are no longer any tasks that feel simple.

It is no matter. What I wanted to talk about was not reality. I wanted to talk about dissociation and also imagination. In some way, I am tapping into imagination more than I have in years. It’s nice.

But, I was trying to paint, and I hit a point in one of the paintings where I am too afraid to touch it any more. It’s nice as is — not good enough to give to my friend, who I was painting it for, but good enough that I am afraid my next stroke will ruin it.

I’d like to close my eyes and feel wind on my face. I suspect there’s an indication that I’m dissociating again right now. It’s been on and off lately.

I don’t know who I can turn to at work. I can’t talk to my manager; he’s leaving and he’s a sensitive person. If I confess my struggles to him, he might feel guilty for leaving me. On the other hand, maybe he could take back when he told the executive director that our department could be run with only two people!!!!! That would be a big help!

I’m listening to music. It’s been a couple of weeks now, where I am O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with certain audio things, and sometimes audio-visual things. But every day, I listen to a song. Often, it is a different song than the day before. But for that day, it is just one song, on repeat. I cannot turn it off. Maybe it is helping distract me from the stress.

Dissociation was always meant as a tool of protection. It just isn’t safe with me, because my body doesn’t always know how to turn it back off. I don’t mind feeling unreal when things are filled with stress, but as long as it stops again when I want it to stop. But in history, that hasn’t been the case. At least it has been many years, maybe even a decade, since the last time I couldn’t turn it off for several years straight. That’s unacceptable. I will have to deal with the stress in a different way this time.

It is not bad now. I am in reality plenty, only going in and out to unreality at times throughout the day. I believe I will be okay.

I asked my doctor for a new prescription of anti-anxiety medicine. He said no, I must make a tele-appointment with him first. It hasn’t even been a full year since the last tele-appointment. That seems harsh. The truth is, *having* the medicine is what’s important. I just need to have it available. The truth is that I lost the prescription he wrote me a year ago. I picked it up from the pharmacy. I am like 85% sure it made it into my bedroom. But it was months before I needed any, and by then I couldn’t find it, and I felt too uncomfortable to ask him for a new one. It’s only 30 tablets of 1mg lorazepam — like I don’t think that’s a big deal. He makes it seem like a huge deal to prescribe, though. He could give me 30 tablets of 0.5mg if he wanted, too. That would be fine. Like I said, I just need to *have* it, and I stay pretty calm. But now, I’m getting really low on my 3-year-old prescription of 1mg clonazepam, so I’m getting more anxious. I only take 1/4 tablet of those ones as necessary. Usually I just need a few every few months.

But like I said, it’s low now, so I’m getting more anxious. Why does he have to be so harsh? Why does he think I can just take time off of work for a tele-appointment, or how does he know I can afford it? I do have health insurance, so the cost is probably mostly covered, I’d hope. But having an appointment with him is so stressful. This is a medical doctor I’ve had for like six years, but I don’t trust him. I always tell myself I need to find a new doctor, but that’s really hard to do. I don’t want to talk about.

I sort of feel like I’m free-falling through the sky, passing beautiful clouds at sunset. There might be some magic involved. But I’m not going to talk about that tonight, although it’s what I originally sat down to try and talk about.

I wish someone at work knew. But then, I also try to appear professional and like I can handle anything. I think I pretended too much, and that’s what made people think our department can function with only two of us! But the truth is, I’m really having a hard time right now and I don’t know where to turn. My partner is a manager and says only logical things that I could do if I were a manager with the feeling of authority. He doesn’t understand that I always have the mindset of a peon and have a fear of authority. My best (and kind of only) friend is so kind but sometimes his support demonizes those in charge of me, and I don’t really want that, either. I don’t think my employers are bad people or like, maybe even aware of what they’re doing. Our company does really good things. Our company helps the environment and helps certain people in certain ways. We are a nonprofit and I really believe in our mission. I don’t believe they want to cause suffering. Yes, we’re having financial struggles, and so they are trying to cut back on as much staff as possible, and we’ve had to come back on some of our programs, but I think they’d help me if they knew what kind of support I needed.

For instance, I want to have a consult with our accounting books account manager. I believe there is some automation we could pay for that would save me countless, countless hours. They would save on an employee, but pay a bit more for that automation, but they’d come out ahead. I just need to present it to them. They have to take me up on this. I cannot do all of this data entry and also the reports and also keep up with all of the A/P! And the questions, and all of payroll! I’ve become the entire payroll department! I’m scared SHITLESS. I already reached out to an awesome young lady in another department and asked her to help me just by reaching out two days before each pay period ends, and asking me the simple question: “Have you already determined which day you’ll do the preprocess?” That’s all I need. If I haven’t worked out the day the Preprocess will take place, then payroll won’t be happening! That’s me. I’ll have a mental block against doing payroll and will forget it exists if I haven’t worked out the date of Preprocess on paper and scheduled it onto my calendar.

I already f-ed up this one because I didn’t Monday was a holiday for our payroll system, so everything is due 24 hours earlier than I thought. I would literally have missed this one except my manager is still around, and told me today that it is due Thursday at noon, when here I thought it was due Friday noon this time around! I just can’t even! Can you imagine?!

I have executive function difficulties!

Voice 1: I CANNOT DEFINE MYSELF BY LIMITATIONS.

Voice 2: I CANNOT PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE I’M NOT, WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES TO MY HEALTH.

Voice 1: FIGHT FOR YOUR LIMITATIONS AND YOU WILL NOT GO FAR IN LIFE.

Voice 2: DIDN’T YOU SUCCEED IN FINALLY GETTING YOUR DEGREE ONLY AFTER YOU ASKED FOR AND ACCEPTED HELP IN THE FORM OF ACCOMMODATIONS? DIDN’T ACCEPTING YOUR LABELS AND STRUGGLES HELP YOU GO FARTHER THAN EVER BEFORE?

Voice 1: IF I PRETEND TO HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL, I WILL LEARN MORE AND EVENTUALLY HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL

Voice 1: IF YOU PRETEND TO BE PROFESSIONAL AND HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL, YOU CAN STILL MAKE A PRESENTATION ON HOW AUTOMATION WILL ALLOW YOUR TEAM TO SUCCEED. YOU CAN STILL PRESENT YOUR NEEDS, JUST IN A MORE ADULT, PROFESSIONAL WAY. HAVEN’T YOU ENJOYED WHEN YOUR MANAGER HAS COMPLICATED YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL ABILITIES, AND WHEN YOUR MANAGER’S SUPERVISOR HAS BEEN IMPRESSED WITH PROJECTS YOU’VE SET UP?

Yes. I’ve learned a lot and honestly this pushing myself and pretending shit has gotten me pretty far. But the current situation is not okay.

My manager and our supervisor both know I have Asperger’s. I chose to tell him once. It was after a COMPANY-WIDE MEETING where out of the blue, we were all asked to go around and present on what we do at the organization. It was MY idea! I’m the one who talked with the executive director about how wonderful it would be if we could all present what our days look like, since our departments were soooo isolated at the time, and I never had a clue what other departments were working on.

But this was out of the fucking blue! Other departments knew it was coming and had fucking PREPARED presentations for the meeting! I’ve left out another amazingly ridiculous detail — THAT VERY MORNING, my supervisor emailed me and my manager about changes in our job duties, which was a complete shock to me. So I had only known about my new/revised job duties for about 2 hours, and then I was supposed to present them to the company out of the fucking BLUE!

Well, after that, I cried and cried. But later that night, after I had pulled myself together, I composed an email to my manager and explained that I have Asperger’s, and I require more advanced warning for (a) changes for things as large as my job description, and (b) given time to prepare before having to present.

I mean. Come on. He apologized a ton, and honestly he’s given me a lot of advance warning for changes ever since then. For instance, he and our supervisor told me how he’s leaving well before it got announced to the company, so I would have some days to process it before anyone other employee reached out to me with questions.

I don’t know how to go to bed tonight. I’m in a different room than my bedroom because I didn’t want to be staring at a screen in bed, but it’s the music I’m listening to. It’s hitting me too hard. Too emotional. I can’t stop it. I want to scream and maybe cry and maybe just dance.

I’ve been clenching my jaw like CRAZY. I mean, yeah yeah you get it, I’m stressed. But the jaw pain is getting unbearable from it.

Maybe if I get into pajamas, I’ll feel more sleepy. I mean, I know it can’t happen until I turn off the music. But. I can’t. And I charged my phone earlier, so I can’t just play it until it dies, either. Well, if anyone has made it this far, thanks for listening.

Changes at the workplace

I need to write. There’s no other way to say it. I learned shocking news about my workplace on Friday, and have been slowly processing it all weekend. I’m supposed to meet one-on-one with our executive director tomorrow morning to discuss it. I have a small list of questions, but certainly I take longer than this to process massive changes.

I work on a team of three. Together, we make up two departments that are highly interconnected. My whole organization would be considered small, especially after the layoffs of some months ago. However, we are always extremely busy and get a lot done, and the work never ends.

On Friday, my manager told me that his position is being terminated, as is his boss’s position (although the latter won’t be for a couple more months). I suppose a way to look at it is that those two positions will be merged into just one position. My manager, who hired me and has been training me for over a year, will not be accepting the new position and will be leaving the company. My own position will have an increase in responsibility, and some things will change and some will stay the same.

Our team of 3 was sort of two departments, as I said. They plan to contract out for the smaller of those departments. They would also allegedly be bringing on some kind of administrative assistant to help with some of the data entry I do. That said, I have been wracking my brain and I can’t see how it’s possible to do the remaining department’s work with two people, one of whom doesn’t yet exist (the person who would become my new manager).

But during this brain wracking, I find that my mind is blown. My view of the world has shifted slightly. Things that seemed so important at work, and which I put so much effort into, now seem trivial. Things I haven’t yet learned how to do now seem vital, and spike my anxiety the moment I think of them. How can we accomplish what needs to be done each month? It is as though I am viewing our department from so far away, and through a very narrow hallway. It looks barely recognizable.

And I took my manager for granted. I have a lot of regrets. I am so easily intimated by authority. Now, I wish I had talked with him more. I wish I had picked his brains more. I wish I’d asked more about his weekends, and formed more comradery. I wish I’d offered praise of his work, as he’d offered toward mine. I wish I’d done a better job of letting him know my appreciation for the things he taught me and how patient he was with me. Maybe he would be staying if he’d felt appreciated. I had taken his presence at the company for granted. I never dreamed he’d choose to leave, as I’d never dreamed they’d eliminate his position, and I never dreamed they’d try to take a team of three that was barely staying afloat and cut it down to a team of two.

I will certainly write him a letter full of belated appreciations. And tomorrow with the executive director, I will have to state my view that two people cannot be successful, unless perhaps they hire a data entry person FAST and we get 80% of their time. I don’t know what she could possibly say to me about it. But, with three, we haven’t been caught up a single time in over a year. And when I was hired, there were 4 of us!

I spoke with my uncle today, over the phone! The one I used to live with. That was fun. He is always comforting. He says that if you know 10% of a topic, then you are ready to be a consultant. What a crack-up. But it’s true in the sense that I did get a degree in this subject. I don’t have to kowtow to anyone about the things I don’t yet know about the job. I know enough to know what isn’t possible with two people. I don’t have to sound like a total know-it-all, but I’d say I’ve learned more than half of the job. Maybe even up to 70%. There are still some important, complex things I haven’t learned, but I’ve seen a lot of the process.

I don’t know why they’d even try to swing it with two people. Why not outsource the whole department? I would get another job. I do love what this company does (I wish I could share, because it’s great!), but what’s the point of crashing a vital department? Honestly, if this department goes down, the company will go down.

Later this week is when the latest batch of “transitions” becomes official. At this point, I don’t know if losing these two is it for the transitions, or if we’ll be losing more employees as well. What a mess. I know the last year has been hard for a lot of companies, and the fact that ours is still afloat is something to be grateful for. Many companies have run out of luck before now. But I don’t like this process. If I need to look for a new job, I’d rather just know that right now, and not have to watch one after another person get laid off, not knowing if that will be enough to keep the rest afloat.

Meanwhile, there’s actually a job opening at a place I’d LOVE to apply to. If I wait, I might be too late. It would be in a different field than my degree entirely, so that makes me cautious about applying. But oh man, it would be so great in so many ways. I know some of the people who work there, and they’re some really nice people. I used to work for one of them, many years ago. She’s the one who told me about the job opening. But I don’t know if I’m ready to just abandon my current company, particularly know that it’s in such upheaval, and I think would really need someone in the department to stick around at least until they’ve gotten the new manager into the picture, and got the person trained up in the procedures! So, you know. Life. And all that.

Maybe I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

A New Year

This is the time when one year ends and another begins. It’s based on the Earth circling the sun for one complete lap. What’s interesting is that I don’t know any reference point. On the planet, I would say I am starting on the North side of the track, or the East side, or what have you. But what’s our reference point for a year? What do astronomers consider up or down or left or right? I should look this up. We must be closer to one constellation than another at the start of the year, for instance. Are we closer to the heart of the milky way, farther, more this way or that way?

This is all to say… Not much. I don’t know what my hopes are for the coming year. I hope for a little bit of what I’ve got from this ending year, but not the rest of it. I want some things to change, and some to stay the same.

I’ve got some of what I want, but it’s so temporary that I can’t settle and live my own life. It’s all like I am floating. I’ve gotten to live here, but it’s only short-term, and then I have to go back. In choosing to stay here for now, I am blissfully lucky and happy, but also can’t relax, and can’t put out any roots. I can’t get a pet, or set up files to organize my paperwork. Because my paperwork doesn’t come here. I haven’t changed my mailing address.

I’ll probably have to go back within 2021. It’ll return me to my partner, who did visit me for a month, which included two weeks of quarantine. It’ll return me to sunshine and weather that lets me go scootering around the city. It’ll return me to many acquaintances and my best friend (an ex, “Joe” was it?). It’ll return me to other family I would very much like to visit. It’ll return me to my coworkers, some of whom I was getting to know a little bit before the pandemic. But let me tell you, work has changed a lot since then. Downsizing is no joke. I am lucky to still be employed, and luckier yet that they have let me work from afar this long, in spite of having wanted me to help do the mail and check runs.

I don’t know how I feel about it all. I can’t stay here forever without it being intentional, because I need to be able to set out roots. For me, that specifically means owning a pet. I never feel settled or truly “there” without the unconditional love and the caretaking role. Pet ownership is a rock around my neck for me, that helps me feel PRESENT and tied down in a way that is good for my mental health. Like without it, I feel constant anxiety and lack of self, not knowing who I am or where I should be or what I should be doing. I suppose that when I own a pet, I know exactly where I need to be and what I need to be doing. “At this time, creature needs food.” “At this time, creature needs exercise”. Etc.

I feel constant anxiety even with a pet, but at least about different things. There is no escape from anxiety for me. Aging has been good for me in some ways, though. My level of fear and anxiety is much less than when I was little.

I am physically much older this year than ever before. It’s the first year where I actually feel it. I am more tired, and injure things much more easily. I need to do way more stretches to stay the slightest bit limber. If I drop something on the floor, there’s actual effort involved in bending over to pick it up. I have to really make myself do it. My hearing is much worse now, too. I have to ask a particular household member to repeat things very frequently. My eyes don’t seem any worse, at least.

“Joe” sent me a weighted hula hoop as a Christmas gift. I didn’t expect to like such a thing, but I love it! It’s really fun to use. I sometimes take a break from work to hula for a few minutes at a time, and then again after dinner for a longer period of time. A household member has been enjoying it, too. If anyone reading this has Aspergers and likes the tactile pressure (eg. I am CRAZY about my weighted blanket–I could sleep with 3 of them on me and still want more pressure, although that would get too hot), I really highly recommend trying out a weighted hula hoop. It’s sort of like having a lower back massage.

For a summary, I don’t want to leave here. But I also don’t suppose that staying is feasible. If I were to stay, it would need to be an intentional decision and would free me to get a pet and filing cabinets and set up an actual life of my own. But, if I do have to go back to my pre-pandemic life, there are also things that are positive there. Maybe I wish I could do half and half. Or 1/4 there and 3/4 here. Well, I need to think of other things or I’ll never be able to fall asleep tonight. Goodnight, all, and Happy New Year! I hope you are all safe and well.