Squirrel!

Squirrel!

Originally posted 11/30/17

For those that don’t know, I have ADHD. And sometimes, it freaking great! It’s how I can hyperfocus and grind on my blacksmithing in Skyrim. It’s how when I get an awesome project at work that I look up in what I think is 5 minutes, it’s 3 hours later. It’s how I can finish 800-page books in a day or even when I become that cracked out squirrel everyone is used to seeing at Skeptics. At one job interview, the manager asked if I always have so much energy. But all those things aren’t how one goes about their everyday. In fact, all those things are actually the opposite of what should be productive.

The thing is when I am not hyperfocused, I can’t focus. I try, I really do. I say to myself, “Tonya, you are going to do this one thing, and you are going to get it done!!” 5 minutes later I have noticed something and have moved onto that, and then 5 minutes later, another thing, and then 5 minutes later, well you get the point. Me cleaning looks like a toddler ran through the house moving random things to random places. My life is just me looking for things that I picked up to put away and got distracted along the way. Or I start daydreaming through a task and realize that I have been sitting in one spot for 30 minutes living inside my head. Having conversations with people is the hardest thing ever. I have to constantly remind myself to listen to their words and not let my mind drift. People tell me information and less than a minute later it’s gone. Listening to lectures is almost impossible. Do you know what it’s like to be a president of a group that hosts a whole day of lectures when you can’t focus on a lecture?!?! During Oasis, I usually end up pulling my phone to play Soduku. And it’s not because I am not paying attention, it actually helps. Otherwise, I get this deep sensation in me that requires me to move. It is overpowering if I sit still too long without something to do. I bounce my leg, I fidget, I pick at random things, and literally feel like my insides will come out of me if I cant just move or scream or something!

Before my therapist thought of treating me for ADHD, I always just thought I was broken. The synapses in my brain just didn’t work like everyone else’s and there was nothing I could do about it. It sucked, but it also was great in some ways, as I processed information fast, it helped me think of ways things were connected differently than others. And in my high-stress jobs, being able to focus and multitask made me feel like a conductor of a symphony. I was unstoppable and amazing, and I loved it.

But it was frustrating when I did a career change and I had to sit and study and I couldn’t. I would initially be excited about my first setups, my first Hello Worlds, on my applications booting for the first time, but then came the reading about how it works. The endless chapters on good practices, methods, and all the things that come with programming, and the excitement left.  I would reread the same passages of textbooks, over and over again, and the information disappeared. Training videos couldn’t hold my attention. I found myself daydreaming, researching something else that I would pop in my mind, and then that feeling in my chest like described above if I just didn’t get up and move and really thought I was going to explode.

Here’s the other thing about ADHD that no one knows and why I went so long without being diagnosed, as I would always go to therapy for depression and anxiety.  You get pulled into a depression cycle super easily.   So imagine, trying to learn something new, not being able, and every time getting pulled into a depressed cycle? It destroys you in every way.

And now I have a job which that is my job. To sit for 8 hours a day and study. I thought it would be fine, now that I know that I have ADHD. It wouldn’t be a repeat of the last time. I would be able to conquer it. I am strong and determined. And I know I like programming and I can do it. I have done enough on my own and GameJams to prove that I understand programming, so this should be simple, right? Oh my god, no. I’m on chapter 2 of my Ruby on Rails book that I started 5 hours ago and I feel like I am going to explode. I have lapped the building at least 3 times today. I keep getting up and looking around. Checking the time, checking everything. Reading random articles on every site possible, and I am still only on chapter 2. And it all leaves so mentally exhausted, all I want to do when I get home is curl up in a ball and cry. What am I to do?

I was on meds for a short time when I had insurance, and it was great. The great combo of Adderal and Lexapro made me feel on top of the world.  I got things accomplished, I could focus on one thing, no matter how boring and complete it. I remember saying to Alex how strange it was that I thought of something while cleaning the kitchen, and I was able to put that thought to the side to deal with later instead of just doing that thought. When something went wrong, I was able to move forward without it destroying my entire psyche.  But now I don’t have insurance, I have no money, and I don’t have an active script anymore. I feel so screwed and scared all at the same time. I’ve read every article on focusing, I’ve used different timers, turned my phone off, have music on, don’t have music on, and I am still not anywhere.

So what’s a girl to do? I have no idea, but I do know that if I have to sit here for one more minute, I will absolutely explode.

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