One Thousand Squirrels When You Just Need One.

Ok, time to take a step back. A moment if you will to explain a little about the blog and perhaps to give some insight into the thinking behind it. As a result, I’m going to talk about squirrels for a moment. Actually, scratch that, I’m going to talk about squirrels quite a lot.

You have been warned.

I have a major problem with squirrels. I am not of course talking about the actual furry, eat nuts, have a big tail, climb up trees and occasionally do cute things on youtube type thing. Mine are more metaphorical.

To explain, I have a couple of good friends. I love both of these guys. We’ve known each other for ages, and as such, a number of running jokes have sprung up about each other over the years. Now, I have a tendency to go off on a tangent sometimes – actually a LOT of times – sometimes in the middle of a discussion, something ‘shiny’ or distracting will catch my eye and WHOOSH – I’m off. Sometimes these shiny things are little flashes of oddness that just pop into my head without warning. Occasionally this can be down to some obtuse, long-reaching connection I’ve made to the subject matter. Other times it can be just because I’m bored with whatever route the conversation is taking and I’ve been holding on to what wanted to talk about for a good 3 minutes, so dammit, I want to talk! There are other occasions where I will drift off in my mind to think about something – even though the conversation is going on and I had been heavily involved. When this happens, I usually end up staring into space and one of the guys has to bring me back to reality.

This type of behaviour has been going on for years. I do it with pretty much everyone I know, My wife, family, people I’ve worked with and of course the previously mentioned ‘dynamic duo’.

I’m assuming you’ve seen the Pixar movie ‘Up’? Just in case you haven’t, there is a character in the movie who happens to be a ‘talking’ dog called Dug. Dug is able to speak due to a translator built into his collar. Of course, Dug is still a dog. This makes him a loveable character, noble, friendly, enthusiastic. But also REALLY easily distracted. Usually by squirrels. Indeed he says the word ‘squirrel’ – usually with a lot of enthusiasm – fairly often throughout the movie when he spots one, often whilst he’s in the middle of saying something else. It is, in fact a running joke.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

To spell it out, I get the ‘squirrel!’ joke thrown at me quite a lot. And I mean A LOT. It’s been going on for a few years, and to be honest? I don’t really mind it that much. I love my friends, and I tear them up over their quirks and foibles just as much, so it was entirely fair.

Then I had my ‘I’m fairly sure that I’ve got ADD/ADHD’ moment. Suddenly the squirrel thing became a lot more serious. My ‘squirrels’ suddenly made a lot more sense for one thing. Getting distracted by random crap is one of the conditions major symptoms. As is not paying attention. As is drifting off in the middle of conversations. As is daydreaming when you’re not one hundred percent engaged in something (regardless of what you may be doing at the time). As is being inanely focused on something to the point of excluding all else one minute – and then being utterly bored and disengaged with the exact same thing the next.

And I have a MANY squirrels that I get distracted by. If each random thought or distraction or bright idea or negative thought is a ‘squirrel’ and the average ‘normal’ person has – I don’t know, say – 10 maybe? Then it’s fair to say that I and (as a broad generalisation that I will no doubt get shot down for so will apologise in advance – and breathe!) other ADD/ADHD folks have considerably more. Put it this way, if my squirrels were ACTUAL squirrels, then I’ve got enough up here to keep Bear Grylls – and probably his family too – well fed, three square meals a day style for the rest of their days. Incidentally, that’d be a whole lot of furry underwear wouldn’t it?

Now it goes without saying that squirrels can be fun, they look all cute and stuff. They eat nuts, climb trees and do really funny things on an assault course that people have built in their back garden. And having a few running round isn’t bad. But now lets talk about dealing with  a hundred. Or maybe more. Or how about just a couple when you’re trying to do something really important and you’ve got two climbing all over you looking all interesting and funny and stuff. Now imagine that you are dealing with a mental horde of sciuridae (look it up, I had to) at any given time. It might just get to the stage where you shout ‘AAAAAAARGH SQUIRRELS!!!!!’, have a bit of a freak-out and then just freeze up entirely. Or have a bit of a squirrel related meltdown. Or (and this is the last one I promise) you have one squirrel that is really important, you need to spend some time with it, but the rest of them are a vindictive bunch so they’ll do everything they can to try and take you away from the one squirrel that you really should be focusing on. And the more you try to focus, the harder it is to shut the furry S.O.B’s up.

In a nutshell (I hate myself for using that one) this is my ADD life. I have so much going on in terms of thought processes, so many things I’d like to try and concentrate on, but can’t due to the noise of distraction. I’ve got unfinished projects lying around everywhere. And that’s not even including those that I’ve daydream about every day, but can’t/won’t/daren’t start because I don’t have the faith in myself to manage the ‘squirrel mafia’. To the point, where days go by without me actually doing anything. That’s without going into the basic stuff that I should/must do – eating and sleeping being a couple of examples – that I get distracted from far too readily.

Now I know I’m not the only one dealing with a rodent infestation. You might know someone who else who is. If so, have a read and a bit of a think about what I’ve said. Sometimes one of the hardest things about having ADD is trying to explain it to someone else who doesn’t. I know I’m using a hackneyed metaphor to get the point across, but if this helps to understand or be understood a little better, then I’ll be glad to have helped.

I said I’d try and write every day, and this is my second day. So thus far? I’m keeping up the commitment. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

As always, thank you for reading, and please free to comment.

J

I’m Pissed. It’s Official

There are days, weeks even, where I don’t seem to do much beyond stare at my navel, waste my time in meaningless crap online and generally hate myself for having (I think, though I won’t know for certain for another 5 months) adult ADD/ADHD. On days like that, I get so angry with myself that I do well not to put my fist through another door in the flat.

For a long time, when this kind of stuff happened, I use to pin it on me being an idle, lazy git. Someone who didn’t have the get up and go to motivate myself and that – just as my teachers and family members have said on countless occasions – I didn’t have the ability to apply myself.

Then, out of the blue, I found what I hoped was an answer of sorts. The ADD/ADHD label. Suddenly all those months and years where I’d had ‘breakdowns’. Where I’d seemed to be flying high before mysteriously falling off a cliff. Where I’d have a bright idea and throw everything I had at it, and then just write it off for no apparent reason. Well. It all made a lot more sense.

Now one of the well known traits of us ADD types, is that when confronted by something ‘new’ or ‘interesting’ or ‘stimulating’, we go balls out to experience it to the max. To know everything there is to know about our current fascination. To be more skilled or capable (at least in our heads) than anyone has ever been before. Suffice to say, that when I discovered ADD and had my ‘Eureka’ moment, I went all out to consume as much knowledge as I could. FINALLY I had an answer. After years of not knowing what the hell was going on, the answer to the eternal ‘why I am the way I am’ question appeared to be answered. I scoured forums, blogs and websites on the subject. I researched every detail that I could to help me get the diagnosis (and thereby the validation) that I needed. Although initially as excited as I was, my long-suffering wife soon started to become a little worn out by my constant updates. She’s patient with me – God love her – so she puts up with with many little (and not so little) quirks and idiosyncrasies.

When I met my GP for the first time, it’s fair to say that I steamrolled the poor fella with the wealth of knowledge that I’d acquired overnight. It’s fair to say the list of examples I could give where I could demonstrate ADD symptoms was ample (7 or 8 pages worth?). The upshot of the meeting being, that I had my referral to a psych team.

That was about 8 weeks ago. Since then, all I’ve had is a letter telling me that I am now on a waiting list which is 6 months long, at the end of which, my state will be evaluated.

6 months. 6. Fucking. Months. Since I got the ‘letter of doom’ through. I feel like the world has fallen out from under my feet. I thought I’d finally start making some steps towards getting treatment. I know it’s selfish, and I know that there are plenty of others in the same boat as me – as the length of the waiting list goes to show – but I’ve had nearly 35 years of this. That’s 35 years of feeling different and as if I just don’t fit. 35 fucking years where I’ve failed at the vast majority of things that I’ve tried to do. 35 years where everyone else I know has been quietly getting on with their lives and I’ve gone slowly backwards. As it is, I get to sit on my arse (my choice you say, but with ADD it really isn’t quite as simple as that. Don’t believe me? Well go look it up) and slowly fall to bits. I really don’t seem to have it in me to pick myself up right now. You have no idea how much I wish I could just grab myself by the scruff of the neck and MOVE! But I just can’t right now.

I’m right on the edge at the minute. I’m not eating. I drink way too much coffee, smoke too many cigarettes. I’m not exercising (something that when I’m focused I really enjoy) and I’m not getting any sleep either. I’ve got to the point whereby I’m scared of actually trying to do anything because I know that this bastard of a condition will stop me from making any headway. There’s actually a twisted logic to it really. Going from being super engaged with something and all systems go to completely unenthused and apathetic overnight is hard. It’s upsetting. The ‘lows’ really suck. So kind of figured that doing nothing might be the better way to go. I might be generally pissed off as a result, but I don’t think I can handle much more in the way of self-induced crushing disappointment right now.

But the thing is. I can’t live like this. I keep thinking ‘it’s only 6 months, you can’t write off that period of time’. And I know that I can’t. It’s foolish, pointless and to be quite frank, I’ve got plenty of other things that would be a much better use of my time.

So I’m going to give this writing a try. I’m going to try and commit to something that is a variation on pretty much what I’ve been spending my days doing anyway – pissing about on the internet. But I’m going to try and give it some purpose. I’m hoping that writing down a lot of the crap that goes on in my head (and indeed in my life) might help others. I can’t promise anything, I’m about as reliable as an elevator cable made from chewing gum, but I’m going to do my best.

Expect ranting. Expect swearing. And maybe – who knows? – you might occasionally get a little bit of sanity.

But for now? I’m angry. I’m pissed off. But weirdly, after writing this, I feel a little bit better about that.

And maybe, that’s just a little bit of progress.