Why I Need a Coach II
In, I Tried it My Way, the last installment of this series in which I'm explaining why I needed a life coach so bad I was willing to beg my husband to play the role, I listed the challenges and issues I'm up against. Starting with this one I'll be taking them one by one and showing how they impact my daily life and writing efforts.
I'm starting with the recently diagnosed ADD because its tentacles are entwined with nearly all the rest and the interactions between any two exponentially enhance the effects of both challenges and thus the effects of any of the other challenges entwined with either of the two. It's a snarl big enough to enclose and immobilize me like a spider's snack sack or a caterpillar's cocoon. Without coaching it would be the snack sack for sure but I'm hoping that with it I can have the same outcome as the caterpillar.
I Tried it My Way also described how my repeated efforts over thirty years to apply my own principles had accomplished little but making the snarl bigger and more complex. In the last few months I'd been slowly coming around to a willingness to try the way I'd been resisting: structuring my days and putting highest priority on self-care rather than projects like writing, crafts, research, blogging support and maintenance tasks and so on.
I'm beginning to understand that in light of the ADD the only thing that provides for the accomplishing of simple daily tasks is a structure to the day which requires the formation of habits consisting of routines that eliminate the need to think. To start from scratch each time allows the ADD gremlins in--diffuse focus, scattered thoughts, dithering, daydreaming, distractibility, impulsiveness.
For example, stopping to think tends to devolve into daydreaming which I may snap out of in 5 to 15 seconds but more likely 5 to 15 minutes. The result of the unfocused reverie in which I butterfly flit from thought to thought to thought is likely to be suddenly finding myself standing beside my desk with toothbrush in one hand and a mouthful of foamy toothpaste with nowhere to spit while I riffle frantically through papers and miscellanea one handed looking for the library book receipt to check the due date.
I'm lucky if it stops there as usually I find something I wasn't looking for that reminds me of an unfinished task or something that belongs in the kitchen which I traipse to the kitchen with, passing the bathroom still holding my toothbrush and mouthful of foam. There I find myself in need of both hands so I spit in the sink and rinse mouth and toothbrush and lay it down by the dish drainer.
It's a 50/50 chance whether the task I begin there gets finished or something my eyes land on reminds me of yet something else I need to do or something that needs to be returned to another room or someone finds me there and asks me to do something for them or...or...or...or...
This amounts to a huge challenge to get anything done. Ever.
And of course the next time I go to brush my teeth....well I might as well hit replay on the above scenario. Every search for a misplaced item is similar and every task expands into 2X, 3X, 4X, 14X or more the amount of time a focused person would do it in. IF it gets done at all.
Add serious visual impairment to that and imagine the repercussions...
then add mood disorder featuring anxiety, irritability and insomnia.
and then a household containing a total of 4 ADD
Now picture a scenario where the task is a writing project and the 'rooms' are the 20+ WIP folders...
add disorganized desk area with 6 to 12 inches of clutter overlay...
and then the temptations of everything else accessible from the computer--blog surfing, facebook, texting, Google search, games, videos, ebook library containing over 10K items and all the sites I find them on, an email inbox with over 5K items,,,
The ADD also creates a dilemma with the sleep issue. I need 7.5 or better hours to facilitate weight loss, tissue repair, immune system efficiency, and mental and emotional balance. Thus the med nurse chose Trazadone as my primary antidepressant this time for its ability to bring on sleep and return quickly to sleep if awakened. For the ideal results the med needs to be taken at the same time every night for it's going to be in my system for 8 hours minimum regardless. So pushing it towards or beyond midnight sets me up for failure the next day and the failures quickly accumulate into an avalanche.
So why do I keep fudging bedtime and the Traz schedule? Well, a good percentage of the triggers for the insomnia can be blamed on the mood disorder, the anxiety especially, but a significant percentage is my resistance to sleep due to my expectation that I won't return to the project I'm involved with the next day or anytime soon because the lights in my brain won't come back on for 4, 6 or 8 hours after I've slept more than 6 hours.
My husband disagrees with the 6 hour mark. He sees what I feel as a wide awake brain within half an hour after 4-6 hours of sleep as an illusion. His observation is that tho the brain fog isn't there my thoughts are racing and scattered and impassivity high. Hence productivity is no more likely than when the brain fog is at its densest.
He pinpoints the ideal amount of sleep at 7.5 to 8.5 and somewhere between 8.5 and 9.5 is when the brain fog settles in for the long haul. But, he cautions, when I'm sleep deprived due to several days in a row under 7 hours or a recent skipped sleep (24-40+ hrs awake) that 7.5 to 8.5 hours is not going to give me an alert brain either.
Now this next thing I'm not sure if it is caused by the ADD or some other factor because if it is the ADD it is counter intuitive. For there are times when the problem isn't lack of focus but focus on steroids. When I'm able to persevere through the first twenty to thirty minutes on a project I tend to get so focused on it I resist breaking off to move onto the next necessary task. If there are no interruptions, nobody depending on or demanding my attention I will stick with it until either it is done or I'm done in.
Every one of my stories that I have completed was finished after 12 to 36 hours of intense focus the last day.
I've crocheted on a large project for 20-36 hours straight
The last ten days of every NaNo is usually a marathon catch up from 50% behind--meaning I need 25 to 30K in the last week to ten days. I get them by not sleeping and spending 6 to 12 hour stretches with my hands never leaving the keyboard.
I've read 500+ page books in one sitting
I've played a single spider solitaire game for twelve hours unable to quit before I solved it
I've written 5K to 10K journal entries in one sitting
I've watched an entire season of a TV show on Netflix in one sitting
I've spent 20-40 hours in one stretch on enhancing the metadata in my calabre ebook library
That list is endless
ADD also creates a seriously hazardous environment for me--and my mom when I'm around her. My oops quotient rises and accidents and mistakes multiply like mosquitoes. Bite like them too. And occasionally sting like a scorpion.
The consequences of doing nothing to mitigate the ADD gremlin antics can be as amusing and innocuous as:
- putting on mismatched socks
- or wrong side out shirts
- saving a file to the wrong folder
- pouring juice in my cereal
- putting the milk in the microwave
- and the freshly poured coffee in the freezer
- breaking the egg over the compost carton
- and dropping the shells in the bowl
- putting Icy-Hot on my toothbrush
- or shaving cream in my hair
- taking the lid off the spice jar that has a lift top and dumping instead of sprinkling the spice onto my food--have done it with crushed red pepper, garlic, paprika, cinnamon and several different Mrs Dash blends.
- leaving the paper divider on the slice of cheese in the sandwich
- dropping a white twist tie onto a mayo spread slice of bread and not noticing until I bite into it
- frantically dumping purse and bookbag looking for my glasses and then calling the library which is about to close on a Friday evening to ask if I'd left them on the check out counter and while they look around I brush back my sweaty hair and find them on top of my head.
But they can be as scary, as potentially life or limb threatening to self or others as:
- bumping into Mom when she's walking
- stepping on the cat or accidentally kicking into him
- sticking my mitt-less hand into a 400 degree oven to adjust the position of the pan I just slid in
- running into doors, door casings, furniture, boxes
- tripping over a toddler in a store aisle or on a sidewalk
- tripping over a box
- tripping over the dishwasher door (6,7 ,8? times since New Year's Eve of 2008) and bruising my shins so bad I develop cellulitis or falling all the way to the floor on the other side
- turning on the wrong stove burner after carefully setting several plastic items on it because we never use it and there was no place else to set them
- forgetting to grab the rail on stairways
- smacking my face on counters, desks, breadboards and tables when bending down to pick up something I dropped
- raising my hand to scratch an itch or brush back my hair while holding a knife, scissors or seam ripper
- stepping off a curb to chase my hat blown off by the wind into the busy lane
For tomorrow's Friday Foray in Fiction I'm going to share a flash fiction piece I wrote nearly a decade ago that features an addlepated young lady whose day begins on the wrong foot and ends on no feet. Written years before I'd been diagnosed with ADD its almost a diagnostic checklist. And yes, it was based a bit more than a bit on my escapades.