I Wander, Why, I Wonder?
Wake up, no coffee needed; wired. Bathroom. Feed cats. Feed fish. Throw away that piece of trash on the floor, take a hit off my vape, breathe, look around. Studio. Sit. Open browser. Check e-mail, answer one. Thought: retreat needs a push. Secondary thought: need to update workshop schedule. Tertiary thought: I didn't change that error in my bio on BingFutch.com. Quatenary thought: make some tea with breakfast. Quinary thought: answer this other e-mail, it's been there for two weeks. It's important. Senary thought: I'll do it while I'm eating...
A lot of the other stuff is filtered out, man, there'd be a whole blog full of nothing but that. I walk through each day giving myself inspirational pep talks to move from task to task, attempting to stay on course even as I willingly tootle down the nearest rabbit-hole, helpless to do anything about it. It's like the Paula Poundstone joke about driving in San Francisco with a car that has a broken driver's seat. You head up one of those crazy uphill streets and, suddenly, you go from being the in-control driver to a passenger in the back seat, helpfully making suggestions on a direction.
It's been that way as long as I can remember, only time and experience have given me the ability to describe it in any way, and that still proves to be a dismal failure. So many of the symptoms are like the symptoms of other disorders and it's easy for people to jump to conclusions about you.
Approximately 237,000 children aged 2 to 5 years in the United States had an ADHD diagnosis, according to parent report from 2011-12. 4.4% of US adults have ADHD. Of these adults with ADHD, 38% are women and 62% are men (Kessler et al. 2006). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
I was diagnosed as a kid, did the Ritalin thing for a short while before my mother took me off of it, and then it was largely forgotten until, as a 43-year old adult, I decided to go have myself screened for ADHD and, sure and begorrah, I was off the blasted charts. Tried Concerta and Adderall, both just messed with my head and took away my highs and lows, so I decided not to go the pharma route.
Instead, I went with the most whack-job option that I could've come up with. I decided to be the passenger.
Screw it! There's no reining-in the insanity, so I'm just gonna fly this freak-flag and let the good times roll. It was a rough beginning, this brilliant moment of WTF, and I struggled to make that approach work (especially where it intersected with the schedules and expectations of other people.)
I can identify, and have experienced, all of these symptoms as recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health:
"Inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. Some people with ADHD only have problems with one of the behaviors, while others have both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.Most children have the combined type of ADHD.
In preschool, the most common ADHD symptom is hyperactivity.
It is normal to have some inattention, unfocused motor activity and impulsivity, but for people with ADHD, these behaviors:
- are more severe
- occur more often
- interfere with or reduce the quality of how they functions socially, at school, or in a job
People with symptoms of inattention may often:
- Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
- Have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
- Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily sidetracked
- Have problems organizing tasks and activities, such as what to do in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order, having messy work and poor time management, and failing to meet deadlines
- Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms or reviewing lengthy papers
- Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
- Be easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
- Be forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments
People with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may often:
- Fidget and squirm in their seats
- Leave their seats in situations when staying seated is expected, such as in the classroom or in the office
- Run or dash around or climb in situations where it is inappropriate or, in teens and adults, often feel restless
- Be unable to play or engage in hobbies quietly
- Be constantly in motion or “on the go,” or act as if “driven by a motor”
- Talk nonstop
- Blurt out an answer before a question has been completed, finish other people’s sentences, or speak without waiting for a turn in conversation
- Have trouble waiting his or her turn
- Interrupt or intrude on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities
Diagnosis of ADHD requires a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed clinician, such as a pediatrician, psychologist, or psychiatrist with expertise in ADHD. For a person to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be chronic or long-lasting, impair the person’s functioning, and cause the person to fall behind normal development for his or her age. The doctor will also ensure that any ADHD symptoms are not due to another medical or psychiatric condition. Most children with ADHD receive a diagnosis during the elementary school years. For an adolescent or adult to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms need to have been present prior to age 12.
ADHD symptoms can appear as early as between the ages of 3 and 6 and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD can be mistaken for emotional or disciplinary problems or missed entirely in quiet, well-behaved children, leading to a delay in diagnosis. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have a history of poor academic performance, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships.
ADHD symptoms can change over time as a person ages. In young children with ADHD, hyperactivity-impulsivity is the most predominant symptom. As a child reaches elementary school, the symptom of inattention may become more prominent and cause the child to struggle academically. In adolescence, hyperactivity seems to lessen and may show more often as feelings of restlessness or fidgeting, but inattention and impulsivity may remain. Many adolescents with ADHD also struggle with relationships and antisocial behaviors. Inattention, restlessness, and impulsivity tend to persist into adulthood."
Story of my frickin' life up there.
But it all began pulling back together in 2002 and by 2006, I was steadily working my way towards making music full-time, working on managing my ADHD each and every day and doing a credibly serviceable job at staying out of trouble. Some days/weeks/months were better than others, but I did my best to pay attention to what I was learning about myself, so that I wouldn't just repeat the same mistakes. This level of self-awareness has been mostly effective. It's improving.
Which is why music has always played such a big part of my life. It was the ONE thing that held my attention and captivated my imagination. It was the carrot that pulled me through this wild ride that I was marathoning every day. If I could just remain in music somehow, if what I did for a living was music, I could deal with this crazy-head, it would make it all worth while because NOTHING else is working. Good at jobs, until I lose interest (theme park jobs held my attention because FUN), complicated relationships, I built a wall around me to keep anyone from getting too close to the edgy. Music pulled me through and it has been the line that I hold for every waking moment of the day. Even more so since I began teaching. Because being beholden to others in the service of music keeps me focused.
in the immortal words of Daniel Amos, "I didn't built it for me. I didn't build it for me. It isn't mine, it's yours, it's really for you. I did not build it for me."
I enjoy teaching because it enables everyone (!) to speak the common language of music and bring us closer together. That's a goal anyone could get behind, right? That gives me purpose, to go teach, and to learn so that I may teach better. Having a goal, and a game plan to achieve it, is key to getting me through the daily obstacle course of ADHD.
I enjoy making good music, because I enjoy that people are enjoying it. I like for people to be happy, so I try to make music that will do that. It's a daily quest and it inspires me to try harder and do better. If I were left to my own devices, nothing would ever get done. I'd sit around the house watching Netflix or going down the rabbit-hole on YouTube, not that that doesn't happen with alarming frequency, mind you.
Plans, contracts, expectations, routines, these are all things that can engage the ADHD sufferer and keep them productive. The truth of Douglas Adams' oft-quoted snicker, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by", is no longer my truth, at least when I can truly help it.
This is all broiling at the surface because...aw shit, I've got Click-Heat hand-warmers boiling on the stove. Go take hand-warmers off the stove. Check my steps today. Hm - I should walk around the house a few times. Head for the front door. That exacto knife needs to be put away. Pick up knife, put it down. What's this package? Oh - my Aztec clay mask. And apple cider vinegar. Hey, there's Scrappy. Hey, where are you going? Oh, there's O'Malley and Stache, hi, you'll suffer me to pet you, right? Outside, what's outside? This box needs to go out. I'll get it in a second. Walk around the backyard for a bit. Fitbit chirps at me to say "nice job." I head back inside. I light a candle. I walk to the bathroom and stand there in the hallway for a second. I look up. I never did put that 9-volt back into the smoke alarm. I gotta do that. Walk into the kitchen. There's egg nog in the fridge. Open fridge, take a swig of egg nog right from the carafe'. Stand there for a second. Think about doing the dishes. Think about. What was I thinking about. My eyes fall on the Aztec clay and apple cider vinegar. I mix them together and apply a mask to my face. Ten minutes later, my face feels like Roddy McDowall's coat from "The Legend Of Hell House."
I recently discovered r/ADHD on Reddit (which is an ADHD-sufferer's dream - no lack of rabbit-holes there) and have been breathlessly reading about other people like myself. People who just thought that something was wrong with them. And it's encouraging to read of how similar people are going through similar things, feeling similar emotions. As someone who has always felt out of place in any situation, this is a group that I feel a real kinship with. Especially after reading this amazing post from redditor ging3rtabby:
It's such a powerful way of describing the inner workings of the ADHD sufferer and you know, it doesn't suck to be alone anymore, because I'm not. Not in that respect.
Many people wonder at how I can keep the pace that I do, be as prolific as I am. "Dulcimerica" was begun almost 11 years ago and that was a huge line that I held as I made my way from that crazy dark place to this crazy lighter place. There's a method to the madness and the method is to let the madness roam free-range and follow not-too-closely behind, as much as that's even possible.
I used to self-medicate through drinking, but that just led to more issues, so I switched focus and developed a production plan as well as a physical exercise plan, both routines that would keep me up to my nose-ring in checkpoints with little time for mucking around, and if it's mucking-around that needs to be done, then we'll muck like pros and get on with it.
Been walking 10,000 steps at least, each day, and I just put my trusty Mongoose Vadium in the shop for a tune-up so I can get back on the bike (haven't ridden all year - where did the year go?) and get down to my goal weight finally. Just so you know, because people got alarmed in January when I got down to 162 lbs, but it was all part of the plan. Get down to my goal weight, then start a plan to build up muscle mass. I'm gonna get skinny, but I have a plan, so everything is cool! Stephen Seifert is losing weight too. We've both talked a lot about our health and both want to just be healthier.
And I'm fine around people. A lot of my wall-building had to do with lack of self-esteem, fueled in-part by the conflicting self-analysis of someone who's spent a lifetime feeling "totally wrong." I'm in a good place, mentally, spiritually, physically and socially. Every day, I feel like a survivor. And every day, I'm reminded that I have to keep working at it. If not, it's so very easy to fall off the horse and sit, drawing circles in the mud, watching the world as it whooshes by.
It's 2 pm ET and I still have a "Dulcimerica" to shoot, two songs to mix and upload to Patreon, inset graphics designed for tonight's Holiday Masterclass (registrations still available!), upload and schedule Episode 368, call the electrician, take the fruit bowl out of the fridge to knock the chill off of it, get up and walk, take the trash out, open Imua and wander in, looking for something. Mess with the kitchen drawer catch. Check the propane level. The water level is low. Go get hose and fill up reservoir. I didn't water the Cuban Oregano. Walk over and water the Cuban Oregano. How cold is it supposed to be tonight? Pull out phone, look up overnight temperatures. Check e-mail. Answer this e-mail. It's important. Too much typing for thumbs, go inside. Hey, this isn't supposed to be here...