Saturday, November 13, 2010

Adult Onset...Whatchamacallit

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M.C. Escher, Mind-Bending Visualist Extraordinaire

Recently I was chatting with a friend, I can't remember who or when, which will make more sense in a moment.  She was briefly interrupted by her ADHD ASD child, and she puzzled for a few moments to get back to her subject matter.  She said that she feels like she has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) sometimes.  I told her I love her.  OK, now I remember who it was, which is good, since I professed my love and all. 

Mommy ADD: I''ve been claiming that for a few years.  Oops...irritated comments, smirks or puzzled looks remind me that I've forgotten something once again.   
Oh darn, it's flying again!
Darn, I'm flying my freak flag again.  Sigh.  I believe that having a child with special needs makes parents prone to ADD (maybe just kids in general).   In fact, I think we're prone to many disorders, short-term, temporary, call it what you want.   I'd like to see a study on that...hold on, let me google that...OCD.  In my case, I'm constantly on alert with my son, who is always on the move and an accomplished escape artist.  I must keep 2-3 steps ahead of him mentally to foresee where he'll go and predict what he'll do.  So staying on subject in a conversation - merely completing a sentence - is not a priority.  His sensory-induced fight-or-flight response becomes mine as well....SPD.  My eyes are always on the prize, I'm in panic mode....ADHD.  I feel horribly rude when trying to listen to a friend while my eyes dart rapidly, punctuated by sharp intakes of breath, accelerating to calls, warnings, and many times a running panic and battle.  It's a wonder I catch any conversation at all, because when I do indulge, I feel like I'm endangering my son by not keeping total focus on him.  I endure mini nervous breakdowns several times a day...Panic Disorder...Anxiety Disorder....Social Phobia....  

At the end of each day when the kids are asleep, which is not always an easy feat for ASD kids; I crumble into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), reliving the frightening moments of the day, vivid flashbacks playing out, letting my fears of what may have happened bubble over.  Woulda coulda shoulda...OCD rearing its ugly tentacles again.  Sometimes my husband is unfortunate enough to still be awake.  I may be worked up and ready to vent instead of exhausted and ready to escape.  Pity the poor patient man.   While he's relaxing and trying to chill/unwind before bed after a stressful 12-15 hour day, I unload.  How does he keep from getting worked up too?  He works hard to counterbalance my emotional purging: anger, guilt, fright, pride, delight, wonder.  I struggle to differentiate his calm from detachment. 

Gotta google "Google Addiction"
Is Google listed
in the dictionary as a noun AND a verb?

Or, I may jump on the computer to email or Facebook Escape-book.  I try to read at least 3 hours per day from my many sources of ASD materials.  I usually have at least 3 books from the library, a couple from friends, dozens of articles bookmarked on my desktop, or yahoo groups on several areas that I'm researching.  If I don't keep myself organized and on task, this research spirals out of control in a quick minute.  Authors, theories, programs, tests, sources, opinions, referrals, suggestions, warnings - keeping all of these topics straight can be a full load on a clear mind, let alone an exhausted one.  I often feel like I'm jumping all over the place in my research.  I've heard other special needs parents say that they can't seem to finish a book either.  I get curious about something that I'm reading and then search it out in another arena, "Hmmmm..let's see if there's current info or studies on that....Google".   If Google had frequent clicker points, I'd have some amazing trips in my bank.  The internet - with our immediate gratification society - promotes jumping around in subject matter.  Click here, sidebar suggestions, google ads, pop-ups litter our intellectual environment.  It's a wonder anyone ever has a complete thought.

 So I stay awake too late - researching, stressing, decompressing, reading or writing.  My attention flows between worries about my children, money, marriage, my miles-long list of must-dos, and friends/family who are going through rough times....Paranoia?  I pray, I worry, I cry, I laugh.  Sometimes all at once....Mania?  Depression?  Bi-Polar?  I need to cry, I love to laugh.  I try to find one thing funny or positive per day.  Usually it's several times an hour, some days I'm grasping to come up with just one.  That's life at DSM 4 Acronym Ave..

M. C. Escher
OK, so what was I talking about again?  Oh yeah, Mommy ADD.  Ha!  I figure I'm doing OK if I can keep my family's names straight, remember what day it is and keep schedules flowing, remember to defrost the chicken for dinner to keep stomachs full and gain/get my message across in necessary conversations, correspondence and business matters. 

Who am I and What have I done with myself?

So, if I forget what I was talking about, forget how I know someone, forget names, forget events, forget times, dates, places, or any other factoid that you may be expecting me to have at my immediate command; I apologize now.   For always, forever.  Let's call it my get-out-of excuses apology card.  No expiration date.  Please don't judge me or get irritated.  Or worse, think that I don't care.  I so want to be there for everyone, in the moment.  Instead I'm relegated to quick email/Facebook comments in between kids activities and projects...thank goodness for that or I'd be soooooo lonely.  I'm not senile (though closing in on 50), but I may be losing it.   I'm doing the best that I can to keep my family together, running smoothly; and ideally laughing, loving and ready for the world.  My priorities are right there and nowhere else.  I never, ever-ever-ever-ever forget to hug my kids and let them know how much they are cherished.  My commitment changed with an "I do", 2 beautiful babies with adoption certificates and a bio-baby miracle.  Nothing prepared me for the challenges I'm facing, and I've not lived a sheltered nor simple life - au contraire!  When I have time and trust, I have stories!   I'm not crazy, but I've seen it aplenty.  Ann Arbor, Art School, Advertising - those were the stable moments.  I hope someday to be able to socialize often and freely again, relaxed.  If that is not to be in my future of caretaker, I was blessed with that luxury for many years.  If I completely lose sight or forget about those fun carefree times, I have friends and photos to remind me.  You'll remember me, right?  We can wear name tags...

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