Accepting limits, part 2

I’ve written about my life-long struggle to accept the limitations imposed by my ADD here.

A few days prior, I’d written about my inability to dream. My father asked me if I was on medication for ADD, because he noticed that when he cycled off Ritalin – ours is a multi-generational ADD, best kind of inheritance there is – time frittered away, and he couldn’t find the wherewithal to get anything done. He too would feel mentally lethargic, weighed down by the constant stream of thoughts spinning around in his brain. I pondered.

I’d noticed I was underperforming at work: I was falling quite behind in my projects for the year. While not a problem for now, I do have 8.5 months to catch up, at this rate, I won’t complete the workload allocated to me by my boss, which would result in a negative evaluation, and worse, shame and guilt at my inability to perform to my expectations. I did an inventory of my emotions regarding work: I love my job, the projects given to me interest me, I adore my boss and the team that reports to me, the work environment is dynamic and supportive. I did not have any attitude problems caused by low motivation, unlike my previous job, where I hated the work environment and my boss scared the shit out of me, which paralyzed my brain. I also validated my self-assessment with my therapist: no depressive symptoms for almost 6 months. So my lethargy was not attributable to that. Diet was good, sleep levels adequate, excercising 10 hours a week, no boy problems… I had no reason to underperform at work. Every week, I would make myself to do lists, determined to catch up. Every week, I would finish the week with hardly anything done, dismayed at my lack of productivity, exhorting myself to just try harder next time. Don’t fuck this up, Vanilla. Don’t be a fuckup. Just do it already.

Then I did something extremely stupid and entirely preventable that could have jeopardized my entire career. At the last millisecond I avoided the apocalypse, but the close call left me shaken: the only thing in my life that I have actually going for me is my career. My finances aren’t where they should be. My personal life is perpetually in shambles. It takes every ounce of energy I have to play at being a self-sufficient adult. I have trouble not boasting if I manage to get laundry done AND cook myself lunches in a given week. Pay bills on time too? Super woman. Given the status of the rest of my life, there is no way I would voluntarily blow up my career, the only asset I have.

As I scurried to fix my inattentive error, it suddenly dawned on me. My father’s comments. My new perpetual refrain of self-blame at work: just try harder, don’t fuck this up. My crazy inattentiveness about something I cherished.

Textbook ADD.

“You have to accept your limits, in order to properly address the issues at hand, and determine the best course of action. Everyone has limits. Refusing to accept your own is not a sign of ambition and drive, it is a sign of immaturity.” – my new therapist, circa August 2014

In that moment, I accepted that it was time for me to go back on medication. I was exhausted. Exhausted at never having my shit together, no matter how many coping techniques I implemented, reminders on my phone, to do lists, rearranging my schedule to do fit my concentration patterns. Exhausted that no matter how much therapy and exercise I got (the 2 most important non-medication elements in the management of ADD), I still couldn’t perform up to my potential. Exhausted from the familiar feelings of being way smarter than my behaviour indicates, like my brain is muzzled by my behaviour. Exhausted that I can’t ever move onto other projects, goals, LIFE other than trying (and perpetually failing, bouncing from one crisis to another) to keep my day-to-day shit together. Exhausted from having some dreams that I give up on before even starting them, because I am weighed down by the constant noise in my head, that I can never sift through, to get to a spot of peace and concentration.

So I found myself a doctor, one who smiled kindly at me, as I wept in her office. Confided in her my sense of shame at trying to medicate away my problems. Everyone has crosses to bear – so many people have been dealt a hand of cards much worse than mine. And yet, princess that I am, I am giving up the fight, and gonna pop some pills to make my burden smaller. She listened, handed me kleenex, and promised me that we would work together, one month at a time, to find me a dosage that gave me access to the best parts of my brain, while minimizing the side-effects of the medication. I sniffled, and decided to trust her.

My therapist didn’t even try hide his glee when I told him the news. He danced a full blown jig, even as I weepily told him how guilty I felt. This, this is progress, this is maturity. Life is about compromising, Vanilla. You are finally acknowledging all of yourself, the strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out how to build your best life. That is only way to achieve happiness. You are FINALLY doing it.

So here I am. On medication. Trying to find my true self, even as it is chemically changing. Every side-effect makes me nervous and sad. The heightened anxiety, the extreme loss of appetite, the dry mouth, the increased irritability (my coworkers are very entertained by the appearance of Bitchy Vanilla. Apparently Bitchy Vanilla is fun to hang out with. I think she is short-tempered and snarky), the heart palpitations. The rising panic that my identity can be so easily manipulated by a pill – what kind of a trade-off am I really making?

This is gonna be one long bumpy ride. 

  

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12 comments

  1. Life is a bitch.
    I don’t have ADD, I have depression, but I completely identify with that feeling that I should somehow be able to control this and defeat it without the introduction of medication etc.
    I have finally overcome that feeling and I associate my acceptance of it with my acceptance that I am always going to have depression and that the fight is not to defeat it, it’s to manage it.
    I think you did the right thing. You did the thing that takes care of you and manages your life and your situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I relate so much to this, even though my diagnosis is PTSD, not ADD. When my kids were growing up, they called me a neat freak. I was, too, and proud of it. But now my children are grown with adult children of their own, and I am only a wannabe neat freak. My home is a pig sty and has been for the past five plus years What happened to my ability to get stuff done? I’m not sure. But it is frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ❤ I had the same worries when I first went on medication, and I've learned that it doesn't change who I am, it just helps me get through life and overcome challenges. So if it has a positive effect, I say go for it. Either way, in solidarity with you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’m at much more at peace with it this time round, because I am confident that my reasons aren’t some weird convoluted lazy ambition. Whole other blog post, but basically I think happiness is linked to BEING and not DOING. So it isn’t the DOING of my career that will bring me happiness. However, the ability to be productive, knowing that I did a good job, I pulled my weight in the team, BEING a good productive team player WILL make me happy. And medication will help me be that. And indirectly, make me happier.

      And really… there is nothing wrong with aiming for a bit of happiness. Right? right.

      Liked by 1 person

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