Tag Archive: analysis


ADD…..maybe

I first had an inkling that I might have at least some things in common with Attention Deficit Disorder back when I was languishing in college, spending pretty much all my spare time reading yaoi fanfic.  In one of these stories, one of the characters makes some observations upon visiting another’s house for the first time, indicating that some “classic signs of ADD” were exhibited.  I think it was something like multiple activities apparent all over the place, or something like that.  Anyway.  I don’t think I gave it too much thought for a long time after that.

The idea would creep back into the very corners of my consciousness every now and then, more so over the last 6 months.  Talking with my therapist last week I happened to mention it (actually I think she kind of guided me there), and since then I’ve been looking up websites and asking others I know who have it.

Looking at a website just now I suddenly had this shivering revelation.. if I do have ADD, if I’ve had it all this time, since I was a kid.. That’s my entire world thrown upside-down.

I can’t emphasize that feeling enough.  One of the things I keep coming back to in therapy is, what if it’s not depression keeping me from getting things done, what if I really am just lazy?

And from everything I’ve read, that’s a common feeling among people with ADD.  If my doctor agrees with me and decides to diagnose me with ADD and I try one of the standard medications and it works… then I finally, finally have my answer to that question, that fear that’s dogged me all my life.

If I have ADD, then I’ll know I’m really not lazy.

For someone who has spent her whole life believing she is just too lazy to do homework, chores, housekeeping… too lazy to be a worthwhile human being, basically… it’s just terrifyingly huge.

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Stumbled upon this article from the BBC News website, which shares the results of this study in The Lancet.

I was somewhat surprised to read that there hadn’t already been a definitive study (if this could be called definitive?) about the efficacy of CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy).  It’s been around for a while now.

“Before this study, no evidence from large-scale randomised controlled trials was available for the effectiveness of augmentation of antidepressant medication with CBT as a next-step for patients whose depression has not responded to pharmacotherapy. Our study has provided robust evidence that CBT as an adjunct to usual care that includes antidepressants is an effective treatment, reducing depressive symptoms in this population.”

I’ve been in and out of “talk therapy” for well over a decade, though I’m not sure how much of it was CBT.  I honestly don’t know enough about the history and development of psychotherapy, or even what different forms of therapy are commonly in use these days.  All my therapists have been more or less the same, so I’m guessing it has all been CBT.  No Freudian psychoanalysis, anyway.

Details aside, I can honestly say it has been extremely helpful for me.  Obviously it hasn’t “cured me” — I don’t think what I’ve got can really be “cured” — but having someone to talk to about whatever’s going on in my life has helped me make important decisions, take myself more seriously (in a good way) and, most importantly, kept me working on myself.

The thing about medication, great a boon as it has been to me through the years, is that it doesn’t encourage active participation in the growth process.  For someone like me, who probably has something of a chemical imbalance but also a fair amount of non-genetic emotional/psychological dysfunction, staying actively involved in my own treatment is crucial.

That’s not to say that I think I would achieve the same results if I were to sit and talk to myself or journal or something for an hour once every few weeks.  That certainly helps too, but having an appointment, having to go, having someone with notes who looks back and says “last time you expressed such-and-such a feeling,” keeping far better track of things than I could even if I cared to, makes it feel more substantive, somehow.  I don’t want to say I spend my $60 copay JUST so I can feel my treatment is more “real,” but there is something to that.  Plus, if I’m financially liable I’m much more likely to keep with it (tell that to the running shoes I bought last month… but that’s a different story).  It’s far too easy to “not feel like” meditating or reading another chapter or just practicing a little awareness.  Which is why I haven’t really done much meditating the last few months… so maintaining contact with a therapist is important.  It keeps me present, keeps me from being able to ignore or pretend.

I guess that makes me one of the 46% of people (as reported in the study) who respond positively to CBT.  I wonder, with no small amount of sympathy, what the remaining 54% do?

Enrichment

I’ve reached that frame of mind again where I think I need to focus on doing things I enjoy.  Enriching my life.  I think I’m going to be alone for quite some time.  I’m not swearing off the idea of good friends entirely, but I think when it’s something I want so bad trying to artificially manifest it is ultimately counterproductive.

I do start to despair a little, periodically, because it’s been so long since I’ve had a good friend that I don’t have things to talk about.  Like I want to have something I wouldn’t even be able to deliver on if it came along.  I don’t know what people talk about. Or I just don’t think about them. Or they’re so internalized, I’m so accustomed to not sharing my thoughts with anyone that it will be very difficult for me to get in the habit of doing so when the opportunity presents itself. And maybe since I’ve spent so much of my time by myself, with myself, thinking about myself, maybe I don’t have much skill at actually relating to others.  I don’t know.  That’s not the point here anyway.

My point is, I turned outward again.  I think it started when I sent that drunken e-mail to NM.  I don’t regret doing that, I think it was a good experience.  But what followed was that old panicked need to Not Be Alone.  And as nice as it would be to Not Be Alone, I can’t count on that happening anytime soon.  I have to focus on enriching my life as it is, not as I wish it might be.  I have to take care of myself now, do the things I want to do now, because Now is all there is.

I feel a bit better just typing this.  Honesty.  Works wonders.

Bit o’ this, bit o’ that

Today turned into a more or less positive experience.  Went uptown for the street cleanup.  Only the president and I showed up.  So we chatted for a bit and then went our separate ways.  I rescheduled the cleanup for a few weeks from now.  The weather was marvelous.  Walking back to where I’d parked my car I thought, I can’t just go back to the house and stay inside all day.  I’ve got to be outside somehow!  So I decided to pack up my textbook and study for my test outside at one of our local coffee shops.  I spent a good couple hours there, enjoying the feel of outside!  The high today was 66 F and it was breezy (courtesy of hurricane Sandy?).  So nice.

Now I’m lounging on the couch, a purring, sleeping kitty on my lap (and arm… requiring me to type one-handed) and another on the top of the cushion behind me.

I pulled up a really simple recipe for white bean soup that I can make later this week.  I’d like to make some caraway rye sometime soon, but making bread after work really isn’t practical if I want to get a good night’s sleep.

Anyway, despite the recent tendency toward being negative, today turned out pretty good.

I wonder how I can learn to be less judgmental.  What causes that tendency within me?  My first thought is that it’s self-protective.  Because I am isolated, it is easier on my feelings (which yearn for connection!) to set myself further apart with feelings of superiority.  Therefore it becomes not, “why can’t I connect with these people?” but “I don’t want to connect with these people, they’re immature, crude, noisy, smokers, meat-eaters, etc.”  If I’m right, there’s a constant conflict within me.  I don’t want to feel like I’m better than anyone.  I know intellectually that I am not.  At the same time, I don’t want to have to “be like them” to fit in, to connect.

Here’s an example.  I scheduled the atheist group’s quarterly street clean-up for today.  Then later on, another member posted a Halloween/birthday party for last night.  Talking with another member (NM, actually) at our guest speaker event on Friday, he asked if I was going to the party.  I said no and followed up with my reasoning that “any party with Jell-o shots is not the kind of party I want to attend.”  What came out of my mouth after that was purely uncensored judgment, something about not wanting to spend my Saturday night with a whole bunch of drunken, noisy, immature “adults.”  Which is exactly how I felt about it.  He called me on it immediately, and I kind of resented that.  But it was fair.  I was openly judging the other members of the group for being people who enjoyed getting a little wild and partying in the modern sense of the word.

I was also a little resentful because I feel that, because people attended the party last night, they will be hung over and not interested in attending my street clean-up today.  And it’s true, only 6 people have RSVP’d for the street clean-up.  The last 2 times it was 10 or 12 people and the first time it was over 20.  It’s hard for me to understand why more people wouldn’t want to spend a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon picking up trash in uptown Charlotte.  I say that with a touch of sarcasm — as I type it, I do kind of understand why people wouldn’t want to do that.  I have a hard time not judging them as “selfish.”  The group’s mission statement includes “put a positive face on atheism.”  What I don’t understand is why more of them aren’t interested in doing that.  I don’t know.  I guess in part my displeasure is personal.  As though somehow low turnout at my street clean-up is a reflection of my own popularity.

It all comes down to selfishness, I guess.  I’m selfish, they’re selfish.  We all are.  It’s part of what makes us human.  One of the things “The Untethered Soul” talks about it how ridiculous it is to try to make the world conform to what we want it to be.  The only thing we can control in this world is our own actions.  The world happens the way it happens whether we like it or not.  People act the way they act whether we like it or not.  I must act on my own convictions whether or not anyone else will join me.  But it’s hard.  Very hard for me.  Must keep trudging up that hill.

The last 36 hours

Had brunch with NM.  It’s funny, maybe it was just getting stuck in football game traffic, but about halfway there I was thinking, “man, I don’t really wanna do this.”  When I got there I was feeling pretty cool, probably feeling wounded by the no-shows Saturday night.  He was not nearly apologetic enough for my taste.  I admit I slipped into a little passive-aggressiveness.  And the man TALKS, let me tell you.  It’s funny, I was totally into him for a few weeks, even up to a few days ago, but listening to him talk over brunch was downright painful.  I appreciate a talker, but he just fills every moment, and I don’t have time to slip in if there does happen to be a break.  Funny how I didn’t seem to mind at first.

Anyway, we walked around the neighborhood for a while after that, then as we were about to get into our respective cars he started: “I don’t want to seem like a total jerk…”  (sidenote: it’s not jerky to be honest vis a vis a prospective relationship) so I said, “Go for it.”  He continued “I don’t really see any longevity in this…” To which I agreed emphatically.  I really, really had to pee or we could have chatted longer about how it wouldn’t work to drag it out any longer.  But yeah, after brunch and after-brunch conversation, I was also pretty much done.  As soon as he said it a light sort of went off in my head like “Bingo.”

This doesn’t mean that my subconscious didn’t process it like any other rejection.  I got home completely exhausted and promptly fell into bed, which is what I do when I’m unable/unwilling to process something just yet.  Ended up staying there the rest of the evening and through the night, then got up for work as normal this morning.

Here’s when it got crappy.  Halfway through my commute I started to feel what I hadn’t let myself feel on Sunday afternoon.  The combination of being stood up by my one friend and this guy on Saturday, plus the perceived rejection on Sunday, brought home all those feelings of unworthiness and abandonment that I probably should have seen coming but didn’t.  I guess I thought since I’d done such a good job dealing with things on Saturday night, I was through.  But no, here it came.  I spent the first 2 hours at work sniffling and shedding tears, going back and forth between doing my regular Monday work routine and feeling completely worthless and unqualified to do my job, unloved and unlovable.  In desperation I sent my therapist an e-mail about how hurt I felt about having been stood up by my friends on Saturday night.  Not expecting any therapy back, I just couldn’t think of anyone else to share that with.

I ultimately asked my boss if I could leave at noon.  I wasn’t crying anymore by that point, but I also wasn’t getting much work done.  I came home, cried some, carved my pumpkins, cried some more, read another chapter of “The Untethered Soul,” lay down and talked to myself, closed my eyes for a bit.  Then I got up and took a shower (my shoulders are sore from the sun salutations… chataranga kicks my ass), got dressed, made some coffee (I finally got around to getting myself a French Press), repotted some plants and here I am.  Not feeling 100%, but not feeling awful.

One thing that came up when I was talking to myself was the memory of getting lost at the mall when I was 3.  I wondered if my intense fear of abandonment/rejection stems from that occasion or others like it.  It seems likely enough.  Alone, helpless, surrounded by a bunch of adults I didn’t know (trying to find out who I belong to), trying to weigh the likelihood that I could make it home on foot if I tried (it was about a mile from the mall to our house).  It’s pretty amazing to think that my intense reactions to rejection at age 30 could all stem from that one event 27 years ago.  I’ll have to remember to see what Mom thinks about that, and hopefully remember to mention it to my therapist when I see her next month.  Anyway, continuing to feel better as I type.  Thankfully.

So I heard back from NM at about 10 saying he was just leaving his family and yeah, he was pretty exhausted.  Which is about what I expected, but it was still not fun to read.  I’m not ashamed to say I cried some.  A combination of the disappointment, a little hurt, and that victim feeling.  But I did feel as I was crying that it did not mean I was unhappy.  It was a momentary thing, and it passed.  I am doing my utmost not to be passive-aggressive toward my friend and NM, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job. So far.  I made plans to get brunch with NM tomorrow which is also nice.

As I type this, and view this practice experience as something of a triumph, I also realize this sort of thing will be very, very difficult to repeat.  It’s a great, very positive start, and I am thrilled at the apparent success, but I don’t pretend it will make the next challenge any easier.

BUT if I continue to remind myself a) I want to be happy, unconditionally; b) I have no control over anything but my own actions; and c) Life just Is, I may have half a chance at a second success down the road.

I’ve been looking forward to having my friend, her boyfriend, and NM over tonight to carve pumpkins.  We made the plans a week or so ago and I spent all day cleaning the house and setting up the living room to be safe for pumpkin mess.

Early in the day, my friend says she doesn’t think her boyfriend will make it.  Then she says she’s feeling sick.  I shrug and keep moving.  It occurs to me that she could use the feeling sick as an excuse to back out, but whatever, she hasn’t yet.  Then in the evening she says she’s still stuck at work and also feeling crampy.  I sigh, but don’t offer a rain check, only sympathy.  Then she gets home and tells me how crappy she’s feeling and that she probably wouldn’t be much fun to be around.

A few hours before the last two text messages I read the next chapter of “The Untethered Soul.”  The chapter I needed to get me through this disappointment.  The chapter says we have to make the choice to be happy.  We have to say “I want to be happy” and not qualify it with things like “unless my friend bails on our plans.”  Am I disappointed? Of course I am, because I thought it would be a really fun night, the four of us hanging out, laughing, carving pumpkins.  I’m sure it would have been, if all the pieces had come together like I wanted them to.  But is this disappointment worth getting unhappy over?  Absolutely not.

So I told her not to worry about it, we’d hang out another time.

NM had messaged me earlier saying some family was in town for today only, so he’d be spending some time with them for a while.  I sighed.  But he didn’t say he wasn’t coming.  But since my friend and her boyfriend aren’t coming, and I know NM must have had quite a busy day, I sent him a message that I would understand if he preferred to just go to his own home after getting done with family.  I haven’t heard back from him yet, so who knows, maybe he’ll decide to come hang out after all.  But I am operating on the assumption that he probably won’t — if it were me, and I’d had as much going on today as he did, I would be eager to get back to my own home and relax.

Again, it’s disappointing.  I do feel these twinges of displeasure, victimhood, “why does this always happen,” etc.  I’m not trying to suppress them, exactly.  At least, I hope I’m not.  I’m just trying to be aware of them, while at the same time being aware that these things do not make me, do not determine whether or not I am happy right now.

One thing that’s rather nice is that I did all that housecleaning earlier.  My house it tidier than it has been in months, and even though it was motivated by the prospect of NM coming over and staying the night, the fact that that’s fallen through doesn’t take away from how absolutely wonderful it is to have a clean house!  And I made black bean hummus and the rest of that pot pie, and they are both delicious!!  And I have been entertaining myself by reading “The Screwtape Letters,” which I have never read but always intended to.  And it is quite entertaining.  And I have a fluffy kitty curled up on the sofa beside me as I read.  These are all things to enjoy and be pleased about.  They, too, don’t define my happiness, but focusing on the positive is helpful, I think.

Treading cautiously

I’m attempting to gauge whether I’m on a New Man high or if I’m genuinely feeling better these days.  It’s really hard to tell.  On the one hand, I am feeling better these days.  Tonight I’m cooking a big pot of vegetable stew, which will be the base for a pot pie with a pumpkin biscuit topping instead of the standard pot pie pastry (courtesy of Fatfree Vegan).  I have a small glass of red wine (courtesy of Trader Joe’s) and I’m clean, having showered after I got home from work.  The stew smells marvelous!  The seitan has to simmer another 15 minutes and then I make the pumpkin biscuits.

What struck me about this moment, and the reason I thought to write about it at all, is how seemingly carefree and mellow I feel.  It’s sad that I’ve come to distrust that sort of feeling, but my experience with this sort of not-depressed feeling is that I do something or say something or something and I end up looking back at this little euphoric moment with disgust.  It’s a strange conflict within me, trying to enjoy and appreciate this positive flow of emotion but at the same time trying not to buy into it too much — like I think it’s a con or something.  And my distrust is valid, I think.  It’s more than a little suspicious that I am feeling more positive, more motivated, less self-critical, at a time when I’ve been on a few dates with a guy I’ve been crushing on and who hasn’t disappointed me yet.  So you see, I can’t entirely trust myself in these matters.  I suppose that’s where meditation helps.

I guess what my concern is is that I feel quite strongly that an individual’s happiness is not solely contingent on the presence of an intimate relationship in their life.  I mean, sure, it probably helps, but I know that I have a lot of issues still to deal with, and I don’t want to see myself laying those aside because of some illusion of contentedness that is a natural byproduct of New Man high.  (I guess he’ll be NM from now on, eh?)

The mind is so complicated.  I guess I can vent some of this out on my therapist this Thursday, too.  But I was telling mom — it’s so funny — my therapist asks me if I’m seeing anyone every time we meet.  I guess it’s not that farfetched, but every time she asks I’m a little amused and a little annoyed.  After all, being in a relationship is not going to solve my problems!  But she knows I struggle with feelings of loneliness, of disconnectedness, so I guess she thinks having someone near my life could potentially be beneficial.  I guess that’s what it is.  So I won’t be annoyed anymore when she asks.  And of course, this time I’ll have a different answer for her.  Watch her fall out of her chair when I tell her I asked him out! (she won’t, but she’ll be absolutely thrilled)

So that’s where I am now.  At this moment content, warm, hopeful and suspicious.  I’m afraid to let go of the suspicion.  I suppose that’s the last little piece of self-protection.  The author of “The Untethered Soul” would tell me to “just let it go…. open my heart… relax and release.”  Maybe I should try that, pain be damned.  We’ll see.  Maybe after another glass of wine.

I guess I haven’t been doing myself any favors lately.  I’m on the brink of another minor depressive episode and I keep feeding it instead of fighting it.  Feeding it with cookies.

Maybe it’s just the overexertion leading up to the DNC business that’s got me in this black hole of sorts.  A vacuum.  It just occurred to me that that’s sort of what it feels like.  Figuratively, of course.  Hm.

I woke up this morning feeling very heavy.  Like gravity was stronger than usual and it was too much for me to hold myself up.  So I laid down.  And slept.  Until about 3 this afternoon.  (I ate all the cookies first)

The primary symptoms of this current bout seem to be a general lack of sense of purpose in addition to the standard feelings of loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, lack of motivation about anything and everything.  I see my dying houseplants as a symbol of my inevitable failure at whatever it is I’m attempting (life, or a reasonable facsimile thereof).

I tell myself that in order to be happy I need to pursue the things that are important to me, things that give my life meaning, and I can’t think of any.

Part of me wants to go back to a retail job just so I can meet some different people.  That’s one thing about an office job; unless you really like the people you work with, there’s no social benefit.  At least in retail one comes across the occasional friendship.  But as soon as I had that thought just now I had a flash of a vision of myself working the counter at Starbucks, green visor and all.  It was sad and terrifying.

How does one find meaning in one’s life?  For many, I suppose, it’s family.  Get married, have children.  Two things I absolutely want nothing to do with.

What is there, if not that?  The good thing about having kids is that, if you play your cards right, you can count on having someone around to take care of you when you get too old to take care of yourself.  But jesus, that’s no good reason to have kids.  Not for the kids, and not for you.  Throw away your life and several fortunes raising, feeding, sheltering and clothing a human being.  The responsibility.  The strife.  The stress.  Not worth it, in my opinion.  They say it’s rewarding.  I say, only if you wanted it in the first place.  So that’s out.

The only other option is to find something really worth living for.  But typically, one can’t make a living at the thing one really loves doing.  If there were even something I loved doing that much.  And it’s so hard to find the time outside of work to hunt down any of the things one might feasibly love or come to love.

The teahouse is still a dream, one I don’t allow to come too near my heart because it will break me if I do.  But it still hangs around, waiting for me to gather enough money and know-how to give it a go.

I think that’s part of my problem, really.  I have marvelous ideas from time to time, but I won’t take any of them seriously enough, won’t really throw myself into them with passion and gusto and all-my-heart, because I’m afraid of failure.

And I’ve kind of known that all along.

So here I am, effectively treading water in life, waiting for something foolproof to come along, something instantly successful so I won’t be afraid.

And of course I know that’s not how it works.  You could almost say that my purpose in life (at this point in my life anyway) is to learn to stop being afraid of it.  Of life.  I’ve gotten to a point where I recognize that I am not happy with my situation, not happy with myself.  I think the only real change will come from taking the leap.  Maybe it’s a leap, maybe it’s a slow crawl out of a shell, I don’t know.  But if I don’t, I will continue to have these cycles of mediocre living to kind of crappy living.  But how does one make such a change when this has been my behavior pattern since as long as I can remember?

I have to care.  I have to remind myself each day, this is for ME, this is for HAPPINESS, this is for LIFE.  Am I ready for that commitment?  It makes me anxious just thinking about it.  What if I start tomorrow, and then Monday I fail again?  What if I tell myself things will be different and I don’t do what I promise?  The terror I am facing is the choice between continuing to be exactly what I have always expected myself to be, or believing that I can be more, that I deserve to be more, that I WANT to be more.

I can’t un-eat the cookies.  Can I keep myself from eating any more?