Full Stop: Tales of an ADHD Adult in Maine

This is one of those times where I am wondering if I should be saying what I am about to say because people may talk and and all that jazz, but I'm writing it anyway because stigma is bullshit and not talking about it only adds to the shame so many of us deal with when it comes to mental health issues. It's one thing to tell someone we love to be proud of themselves for talking about the hard stuff, publicly or not, and quite another to believe of and for ourselves. 

I stopped writing here and talking about mental health and body image issues and even the funny stuff a while back. I know why, and the short story is that I need to verify that the jar of fucks I've got is empty again. For a while, it wasn't. And that sucked. 

Let me give you the cliff notes version: I am a life-long recovering bulimic, will always have body image issues, and have severe ADHD with anxiety and depression wrapped up in that pretty little package. This is reality. It's as real a part of my identity as are my kinky curls and my fear of spiders. Please don't tell me that labels are bad because to me labels are roadmaps helping me navigate the unfamiliar terrain that comes with each new day. I like my labels. Labels are answers to questions I didn't know I had for far too long. 

ADHD. Anxiety. Depression. Bulimia. Recovery. Me. That's the nutshell. My anxiety and depression are controlled, for the most part, when my ADHD is controlled. All hell breaks loose when that first domino falls. That's me knowing myself. Plain and simple. 

Moving on...

Here's the deal. I'm here. But I'm not. I'm unmedicated and have been for a very long time. My therapist asked why I'm not on medication when she says I should be, and then confirmed its very hard to get treated as an ADHD adult in the state of Maine. This makes me sort of sad I sucked at chemistry in high school while highlighting a very probable cause for why Maine is in the running for Meth House Capital of America, necessity being the mother of invention, and all that. 

I'm A big advocate of natural remedies, but sometimes it's not enough. You can't tell a depressed person to try harder at not being sad any more than you can tell a person with cancer to walk it off and stop being such a fucking pansy. And I can't make my brain work the same way a non-ADHD brain works just because I want it to. (And trust me...I really, really want it to.) Thankfully, my therapist pays attention and has recommended a psych evaluation with the hopes that said evaluating doctor recognizes what she has. Doctors are gun-shy about prescribing any controlled medications with tight state regulations, which makes me jealous of my ADHD friends living Not in Maine, but there is still hope with this route. This means that I can only dream about being able to stop a panic attack in its tracks until I get a new prescription for anxiety medication, and that sucks. 

The thing about ADHD is it's not just a punchline. It's not just forgetting things. It's not just being flighty and late for everything. The doctor who diagnosed me, who also has ADHD, told me that the condition is very similar to bipolar in that we have ups and downs, but on a much lesser extreme.  My up is creativity and short bursts of focus and the ability to not only put the laundry in the washer, but to take it out, load the dryer, fold, and put it away. My down is depression and sensory overload and Full Stop. I can't focus so the little things pile up and the pile doesn't stay little for very long and then it's big and bigger and biggest and because I can't focus on any one thing, I don't do any of it. And that sucks.

I'm not blogging. I'm barely writing. I can't stay focused. I don't have many friends up here. It takes everything to do the smallest thing and I'm weeks and months behind myself on everything. I'm adding supplements and working out and avoiding alcohol and sugar and everything I can find I'm supposed to do outside of medication and it's helping... but it's not enough. It hasn't been for a year now. 

If I owe you something, I'm trying to get it done. If I promised you something, I intend to follow through. I'm just everywhere right now instead of able to focus on the things I'm supposed to get done. I'm really trying. I may be behind. But I haven't forgotten. 

So. That's what's up. 

(Also yes, I'm wearing a jacket. It's 31 degrees and snowing in May. Because Mother Nature can't get her fucking mood stabilizers up here, probably.)

(Also also my hair is fabulous. But thanks for saying so, anyway.)

(Also squared, I just looked. My jar of fucks is, indeed, empty. This is good. Fucks (read: the noun form) always fuck (read: slang verb form) a good essay.))

That hair, though...

That hair, though...

Catching in the Rye (in Spanglish)

If The Catcher in the Rye had a sequel based on a Spanglish-speaking Mexican-American homeschooling, allergic to everything, eating-disordered writer mama of one, I’d be a happy girl. Because then, at least, I could just hand people a copy of the book when they ask how I’m doing.

‘Fine?” That’s usually a lie.

“My cat just got ran over, thanks for asking,” could possibly be the truth, but when people ask other people how they are doing, no one really expects an honest answer if honesty means replying with anything other than “fine.” Except  I don’t have a cat. I do have three dogs, though. And a kid. And two websites and an agent and a manuscript sitting in a file because I don’t have a platform big enough to stand on and wonder if I ever will.

This isn’t a Poor Me post. Don’t get your violins out, folks. This is a Truth post; one in which I step out behind the bullshit and tell you that fine is a lie and that I miss my nonexistent cat because I am, in short, a fraud. Not the Push Up Bra and Spanx Coming Off On the Third Date kind of fraud, mind you, but the Holden Caulfield kind in which I find myself standing in the middle of the high school cafeteria, holding my lunch tray, not sure where to sit because I have no idea where I really belong.

I preach body pride and self-acceptance because for some of us, we can't do the work required to care for ourselves if we don't value ourselves. I encourage you to find your inner chingona, redefine your path on your own terms and to celebrate the hell out of her because no one else is going to do it for you. I say thing like Love Yourself As You Are NOW and Our Daughters are Counting on Us to Get (and Keep) Our Shit Together (And I mean them...for you). I want to mean them for me, too, and I figured that if I shouted it long enough and often enough from my soapbox that I’d start to buy my own bullshit, but that hasn’t happened yet.

That, my friends, pisses me off.

I want to connect and inspire and feel validated for what I say and what I do and what I am hoping to become and I see so many others doing exactly that while I sit back and cheer them on, not sure what I’m doing wrong to keep missing the boat or if the boat’s going to bother coming back to the dock again to give me another chance. I want to speak to women on the same journey and let them know it’s okay to be where we are right now as long as we keep trying because that’s what matters. I want to organize inspiring workshops and a regular conference for women to focus on fixing the mess inside of our own heads because our kids aren’t going to believe in their own self worth if they constantly see us tear ourselves down.

It’s the old airplane analogy: No point in passing out from oxygen deprivation while trying to get our kid’s mask on first if the cabin depressurizes. The only way we can truly be effective role models is if we fight every maternal instinct and put ourselves first for fucking once. Once our heads are clearing from the oxygen-deprived fog can we be there to ensure our children are breathing, safe, and secure in the knowledge that Mommy has her shit together. And this Mommy is busy focusing on raising a future self-respecting bitch who (I hope I hope I hope) will never second guess putting her happiness before society's complex.

Maybe, I think, the boat is on to me. The boat knows I’m a fraud and frauds are not allowed on board. Only passengers who are truly at ease in their own skin who don’t look for and rely on approval and validation outside of themselves are allowed on this boat. I’m not there yet. I used to be. I will be again. But right here, right now, I’m a self-destructive mess who’s best bet it is to just let it all hang out because it’s the truth and it needs to be said.

I don’t have The Answers. I’m not standing at the Finish Line waving the Official Flag of Self-Acceptance because I haven’t run my own race yet. What I do have is a burning desire to share the crazy idea that it’s okay to be a fucking mess. It’s okay to have bad days and worse days and throw a party on the good days because they are so very worthy of celebrating. It’s okay to not love yourself (but want to) yet and it’s okay to talk about the bad in public because if we don’t then no one else will and the world will just continue to assume that “Fine” is the only acceptable answer to be given when they ask how we’re doing and that’s really just a giant disservice for those of us who need to know it’s okay to celebrate The Journey because The Destination is just a little too far away right now.

I’m not fine. In fact, I’m a royal fucking mess. My ADHD and anxiety are triggering my seven-year-old’s anxiety into fodder for her therapy appointments which happens to fall under the Mexicans Don’t Talk About That Sort of Thing category because it’s uncomfortable and much easier to sweep under the rug with the rest of our emotional baggage (like  the whispers about how pregnant the bride really was at the last wedding we went to while we collectively pretended to believe she wasn’t because it matters even though it really shouldn’t). It’s why I told The Husband I wanted yellow gold when he asked what kind of ring I would like when he was fishing for engagement ring hints because that’s what my family wore. It took me ten years to admit I hated yellow gold and really wanted platinum because that shit doesn’t work for me anymore, either.

Away with the rug. Let the dirt fly. And when the dust settles, I’ll still be standing here holding my lunch tray because I’m not sure where to sit because no matter where I choose, I feel like everyone else will judge me for my choice even though none of that should matter. But it does.

And I hate that.

I most decidedly do NOT have my shit together. You need to know that. It’s okay to be a royal fucking mess. You need to know that, too.  I miss my imaginary cat and I have very real cellulite and I have a sweet tooth and a closet eating habit. I don't sleep enough and I am never on time unless a deadline and a paycheck is involved (or someone else is driving the bus.) My yoga mat is my zen place and I'm working my way back to being brave enough to step into the raging quiet inside my head (I'm almost there). I make sad things funny and funny things funnier because that’s how I deal.

I'm almost 37 years old and sans The Husband and the child, the words you see and the words you hear could be the same words I wrote when I was seven, 17, and 27.

All of this is today’s truth.

Now tell me…

How are you doing?

The Canadian GoldFish & the Dead Cat

I'm friends with Canadian fish who thinks she's a peach-flavored desert. Despite her incredibly amusing identity crisis, she's pretty much my favorite imaginary friend with access to wifi and a Facebook account. Peach Flambee (that's her name and it' perfect) keeps me around, I think, because she finds me --  and my penchant for amusing word tangent in response to her Facebook updates -- as endearing as I am easily distracted. Personally, I think it's unfair to bait the woman incapable of one word responses without first checking if:

A) I'm on deadline

B) what were we talking about aga...

C) I've got any adderall still working in my system whilst being tagged.

Because what's happening here is a perfect example of why Peach could probably live quite happily without cable.

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Peach got downright philosophical in response to Piccard voicing the very thing most of us are thinking when someone else says something like this after our cats get run over on the very same day we seem to have run out of chocolate. I was just going to paraphrase, but I went with a straight up cut & paste because I'm already losing interest here.

The meaning of what we say is determined by denotation, connotation, and context.

"Everything happens for a reason." Denotatively, this is self- evident, so why say it?

Consider the context: Something unfortunate has happened to someone you care about, typically involving a loss: life, mobility, job, functionality, home ...

Some well meaning folks respond with "Everything happens for a reason." What is the connotation of this? Somewhere, somehow, a benefit will come from this loss, so really, you don't need to feel so bad.

Excuse me??

That's right, you shouldn't feel so bad.

This is invalidation of normal, healthy grief and anger. And why? Can this person tell us what the elusive benefit is?

Uhhhh ... no. Well, sort of. Maybe. It might be guesswork, But no, not really.

Who feels better for this? The person suffering the loss? Let's see: The loss is still suffered, and in some way that he can't quite put his finger on, he now gets the sense that the way he feels is somehow wrong, or inappropriate or demanding ... but no one told him that, so *that* perception must also be wrong ...

How about the well- meaning person? With one platitude, he's spread a positive thought to a suffering person, and without any real effort on his part. He's been thoughtful and it was so easy ... and now he can stop feeling awkward because he has had something pleasant to say and something helpful to do.

We feel uncomfortable when the people we care about are suffering. This encourages us to say or do the first thing that will alleviate our own discomfort, often without thinking, because this is what we have learned to do by watching other people. We're not alone in this so it must be the correct thing to do, right?

When you're on the receiving end of the platitudes, they great, but you're conditioned to believe that you're just grumpy because you're suffering. All the same, you find yourself feeling that you want to push away the people who care about you, and that makes things worse. Around and around it goes.

Sometimes there really is no useful advice you can give to a loved one. So don't. Just offer to be there and not judge. Accept the sufferer's feelings. Give him space if he needs it.

I adore how Boggle the Owl presents advice for these situations. I suggest giving Boggle a read

(Tagging Pauline, as the resident expert )

 

I know what you're thinking...that's one smart goldfish. But stick with me here, because one of us need to stay focused and we both know I'm pointing at you when I say that.

My response?

The Reasons that Everything keeps happening include ( but are not limited to): - life's a bitch - karma has probably *always* a bitch - no, seriously. Have you EVER heard someone say "Wow, that Karma...sweet as pie, that one... No?! -EXACTLY.

* you like pounding your head, repeatedly, on a hard surface.

* don't lie and try to cover it up. "Namaste" is nowhere nearly as effective a mental picture as *HEADDESK* when trying illustrate frustration over The Everythings & The reasons the Everythings don't take a fucking coffee break

* your mother called

* his mother called

* you didn't forward that chain letter meme to 667 people before mercury went into to retrograde, DID you?

* you IDIOT

* You got out of bed this morning

* You cut the tag off of your pillow just to see what would happen

* It seemed like a good idea at the time

* You didn't bother aiming and crossed the wires, thereby angering Zuel and inspiring over-achieving Pinterest users to make your s'more look like the unoriginal schlopp is really is

* You wore white after Labor Day

* The damned chicken just wanted to get to the other side, okaaaay?

* Well you see, Susie, when a Mommy and a Daddy like each other, they share a special hug...

* You poked the bear. Stop poking the fucking bear, will you?

This list could very probably never become suddenly outdated because there will always be stupid people in the world who say stupid (but well-meaning) things like Everything Happens for a Reason when the best response is usually none at all.

It's either that, or Ben & Jerry's better get to mixing new flavor combinations and slap Sorry About You Cat on the label. Because that's really the only acceptable alternative allowed.

-- Signed,

The Resident Expert

AspiringMama on ADHD Awareness Month

 

It's ADHD Awareness Month.

Seeing as how I was diagnosed just last year (which explained the first 34 years of my life) I can't ignore an opportunity to well, make you more aware about ADHD. Because that's how this stuff works.

At the age of 16, I was misdiagnosed as clinically depressed and put on Prozac. I didn't know to question the diagnosis, or that the constant anxiety and racing thoughts that prompted me to keep asking for higher doses of my medication (that, quite obviously, didn't actually do anything for me) meant something was off. What has always stuck with me, however, is what the therapist said when she sent me off to the psychiatrist for further evaluation: "You are the most highly functioning clinically depressed person I have ever worked with."

Turns out I didn't fit the label because the label didn't fit me. ADHD is a complex brain-based pshyciatric disorder that has so many nuances that it's easilyu confused with other conditions and just as easily dismissed by those who don't understand it. I joke a lot about the squirrel and shiny things because there is truth in how scattered I am, and there's humor in that truth which is just as important to me to hold on to as it is to set the record straight on ADHD and the adults dealing with it.

We're forgetful

Well, DUH. Yes, we're forgetful because we have ADHD. It's all in the name, folks: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Becoming easily distracted, failing to follow through on projects, forgetting to pay bills on time, or even having difficulty keeping track of conversations are all signs of ADHD. None of these mean we are lazy or stupid or self-centered or even selfish and irresponsible. Just as a person suffering from depression can't just flip a switch and be happy, ADHD means we can't just suddenly decide to get our shit together just because we want to (and trust me, we do want to. In fact, we usually think we're doing a fantastic job of getting our shit together until a spouse or a friend or the credit card company reminds us with a late payment call or a frantic YOU BURNED THE EGGS YOU WERE TRYING TO HARD BOIL AGAIN that we are cute when we think we did something right.)

Right now I'm hoping a very pretty watch The Husband bought be recently magically shows up in my house because the last memory involves me taking care of housework or yardwork and thinking how I shouldn't be wearing the watch. So I took it off and put it somewhere with the intention of putting it away when I finished my work. For all I know, it's buried under a pile of leaves in the front yard. Not a good thing, y'all.

That being said? It's typically our short-term memory that get us in trouble with things like, you know, life. I might not know where I set my keys five minutes ago but I can name every teacher I had in order by grade from kindergarten to high school and tell you the design on the T-shirt I was wearing when my mother stood me before my father and asked him if he thought his 8-year-old needed a bra.

For the record, it was a pink tee with a glitter-lined, red, white, and blue arrow next to the words THIS END UP.

Exactly.

We are ONLY forgetful

Wrong.

ADHD is often an umbrella under which many other traits and issues tend to fall. Issues like poor self-image, depression, anxiety, learning disorders, executive function issues, distress tolerance, insomnia, bipolar disorder, and even bulimia (as cited in the book Fast Minds: How to Thirve if You Have ADHD or Think You Might) are often associated with ADHD. These and other diagnoses can be co-morbid with a person's ADHD or be simply be manifestations of an individual's ADHD. For me, that means that my aniety nd depression are controlled when my ADHD medication is at the right level. It's different in every case, so don't think it's a One Size Fits All Label.

It's not.

We also tend to hyper-focus during any activity that we may truly enjoy. For me that means I kick ass on deadlines (which, interestingly, is a common ADHD trait -- we tend to shine when our asses are put to the fire) and tend to get engrossed in things like crafting projects. Hell, I even wrote an entire manuscript and revised it three times to convince my agent I was made of awesome.

The flip-side is that hyper-focusing tends to leave other people in our lives feeling a tad bit neglected possibly, maybe. I won't lie... I've been known to put Sex with The Husband on my To Do list because that's how I roll, you guys. It works, by the way.

You're welcome.

We're disorganized

Obviously. Or we wouldn't be losing track of the bills we meant to pay when they showed up in the mail an hour ago. My workspace is a cluttered mess I keep meaning to make sense of until I get distracted by something else I need to do right this hot minute.

But? Disorganized doesn't mean hopeless. We tend to thrive in high-stress situations and usually are pretty good at multi-tasking. That's why I rocked busy nights while working as a waitress and thrived on the deadline rush while filing stories in the newsroom for cranky editors. ADHD is our super power.

I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on this blog. But I am an adult with ADHD who tend to hyper-focus while researching things like ADHD and hyper-focusing so I'm fairly certain I sounded slightly intelligent in this post. Either way, you can't sue me because I told you I'm not a professional. You can, however, take solace in knowing you aren't the only one if you're the one with ADHD or take a moment to better understand the people you love.

I promise you we remember that kind of thing.

 

30scondmom: Self-worth & Scrubbing Stoves

My house is spotless.

This is directly related to the fact that The Husband, Eliana, and I leave before I usually drag my ass out of bed in the morning for New York for my Secret Thing and my first visit to Latina Magazine offices since I started writing my Dimelo advice column.

I should be sleeping. I swept, scrubbed, and organized instead. Minus the lack of sleep, The Husband is all for high-anxiety freakfests triggered by things like, say, going to New York for a Secret Thing and vising the Latina offices for the first time since I started writing that column. Mainly because the house gets some much needed TLC and because we both know I'm not scrubbing a damned thing until the next time something big is going on. Or the Adderall wears off.

Since I'm waiting for the laundry to finish so I can fold it before climbing into bed, I figured I'd use the time I have to officially invite you to the 30Secondmom Twitter Party I'm leading on Wednesday night, 9 p.m. EST.

Being confident and believing in your self-worth isn't about weight, beauty, or that kickass corner office with the receptionist. It's about knowing yourself and loving who you are during the good, the bad, and the nights when bleaching garbage cans at 1 a.m. seems like the right thing to do.

RSVP here to be eligible for prizes. And don't forget to BYOB.

 

How Not to Plan a Surprise Party

Never plan a surprise party without making sure you've taken your Adderall first. Or do it, and make sure you tweet, Facebook, and instagram the hell out of that bitch because it's all blog post fodder and you know you won't remember any of it otherwise.

The Husband turned 40 last week and I dropped the ball big time on party planning. He picked me up from the airport from my Blogher13 trip the day before his birthday and I didn't realize I was probably going to have to make up for the lack of Big Birthday Gifty-ness with a blowjob or two until long after he fell asleep that night. The I Heart Chicago sweatshirt I got him wasn't getting me off the hook -- not for a milestone birthday. So I figured I'd redeem myself by using my Ninja with ADHD Skills to plan a surprise birthday party for him, instead.

I was going to Make This Happen and it was Going to be Epic. And by Epic, I mean a full menu that eventually got scaled back to pizza, two-liters of pop, bags of chips, and cupcakes from a box. A far cry from our normal paleo plan, but when shit starts to hit the fan, the Kale in Coconut Oil Sauteed with Asapragus is the easiest thing to cut from the list in the name of sanity and reason.

The Husband's parents arrived a few days ago for a 10-day visit and I figured I'd be sneaky and not let them in on the Big Secret until the last minute. There was bound to be conversation bounced around about the party when he wasn't around and Eliana was, I figured, and Eliana is six and her idea of not letting the cat out of the bag is by telling the cat that he's Totally Just Imagining There's a Bag to Begin With. Not very subtle, I'm afraid, which is why she is officially grounded from ever playing poker.

So I continued with my Super Secret Plans with a trusted friend who's husband was going to serve as The Distractor on the party day. The plan was simple:

  •  Choose the party date and time
  •  Invite the guests
  •  Get The Husband out of the house
  •  Alert The Inlaws after the coast is clear
  •  Revel in the glory of success

That was the plan. Here's what actually happened.

Choose Party Date and Time

I scheduled the party for Thursday night and got the word out. Then I learned that I was supposed to have had it Friday because my friend's husband was working until 6 p.m. on Thursday. I figured this out on Wednesday.

Invite the Guests

That happened easy enough. Except now I had to find a new Distraction. Let's ignore the fact that I forgot to invite one family altogether. It's okay. They don't know what the internet is.

Get The Husband Out of the House

My new Distraction became my Father in Law. But instead of getting The Husband out of the house, he got him into the garage to work on the riding mower with the blown engine. Things kinda went to hell in a hand basket pretty fast from here.

Alert the Inlaws When the Coast is Clear

Do I really have to spell this one out? I did manage to slip The Mother-in-law a handwritten note spilling the beans while she watched TV with my kid, but the coast was fucking foggy and clear was a forgotten dream. I thought All Was Saved when the grease-covered guys walked into the kitchen to grab something to eat before heading out to look for new motors, but that was a short-lived little ray of sunshine, my friends.

My phone told me I had a text message as The Husband was reaching for his keys. It was one of his friends telling me he was parking his car at the neighbor's place and heading over. This was obviously a major hiccup. He was three hours early and lives over an hour away, so I said fuck it and told The Husband the text was from the neighbor telling us she had homemade jam for him to pick up, thinking The Husband could laugh at the surprise being blown but still look like a genius for my mad planning skills.

Except The Husband "forgot" and blew past the neighbors place, leaving his friend wondering what the hell was happening. That's when I threw up the white flag of defeat, called The Husband, and told him to get his ass back to the neighbors because the jam was actually his friend and that he had better fucking pretend to be surprised when he got back here to see the party he wasn't supposed to know about in full swing because THAT'S WHAT GOOD HUSBANDS DO.

Revel in the Glory of Success

Funny, right? Because after The Husband and The Father-in-Law picked up the early party guest and headed back out to go to Manly Things, The Mother-in-law went outside to get the party snacks and drinks we had bought and hidden in the back of my truck. Which The Husband had taken without telling me.

I did what anyone would do in that situation: I texted his friend to tell him The Husband needed to come home NOW because he had hijacked my shit.

But wait...it gets better.

They guys figured they'd give up on trying to leave the premises again. I called for pizza, which we never get for us because of our gluten free and paleo diet, and sent The Husband and crew off to pick it up about 30 minutes before the guests were to arrive. The Husband texted me just as cars started making their way up our driveway to ask me why the pizza place didn't have my order.

Because I forgot to take my Adderall today and called the store 3 hours away from our house.

This is when I told the laughing Mother-in-law that there's a reason I write non-fiction.

The Husband placed an order for four pizzas and two order of bread-sticks totaling $65 because apparently pizza is quite the commodity up here in northern Maine. He triumphantly returned with the World's Most Expensive cardboard boxes Not Lined in Gold and a merry time was had by all.

That's when I sat back, smug and relaxed, mentally transcribing the day's events for the blog post that just wrote itself.

Ewn Nyork & Chinatown closets

 

My best friend thinks I need Xanax. Apparently the ridiculous amount of Adderall I am on for the ADHD is just enough to calm my own nerves enough to make me think I'm not pissing off the rest of the world. Turns out I'm now starring in my own fairy tale, that I'm still pissing off most people who meet me (or maybe it's just those receiving 30 text messages every five minutes in which I freak the fuck out about leaving Buttercup for five days while I trot off to New York for that conference you may have heard about), my own perception of calm is not shared by most living people.

But since my anxiety peaks before a new event and then levels off, I looked pretty normal while in NYC. Total win.

I also got to meet my agent, which was a major bonus.

And while BlogHer was a whirlwind of crazy that was too long and yet not long enough, I survived. And so did my kid. Also? The Husband, it seems, managed to remain breathing and coherent with a steady diet of hot dogs, macaroni, and Doritos, so I'm hitting the Safeway tomorrow and taking the next week off in the kitchen.

Here are a few other gems I learned at BlogHer:

* I only seem to be able to find time to read my Nook above 10,000 feet when no one is referring to me as Mama or Honey. I'm also wondering why the hell airlines haven't clued in yet and started renting out e-readers and passing them out with the peanuts no one actually eats.

* The Converse I wore to NYC? Not made of explosive materials. The Maxi dress I wore home? Not roomy enough to hide an army of terrorists. Live and learn, my friends.

* Anyone who ever fantasizes about time travel needs to first try jumping forward three hours when traveling from the west to the east coast and then willingly and, whilst whistling a happy fucking tune, rise from their beds at 5:30 a.m.Tucson time because it's 8:30 a.m. where all the other women who are reveling in 48 child free hours are hanging out. I'd suggest coffee and no-dos, but for me, that's like taking chasing a muscle relaxer with a bottle of wine. So we're back to that time travel sucking thing.

* Speaking of no-do's making me sleepy because ADHD is fun like that? Do you have any idea how many bloggers are certifiable and medicated like I am? And that every single one of them was duly impressed when we compared medication dosages prescribed by our doctors? That's right, folks. Out of every ADHD blogger I compared notes with, I AM THE MOST FUCKED UP. Have I mentioned the 5,000 conferences attendees and how impressed I am with myself?

* Turns out that an influx of (mostly women) conference attendees ready & willing to plunk down some hard-earned cash for a buzz and some conversation at the hotel bar is the cue to kick customer service standards to the curb. Throw that previously mentioned 5k in one central location for two days and watch the waitstaff immediately forget what customer service means and totally disregard the fact that the majority of us attending paid our way to get there. Translation? If I just dropped a shit-ton of money to book a conference ticket, plane fare, and a hotel room, you can bet your sweet ass I came with enough cash to blow in back alley Chinatown closets on knock-off designer purses to make my trip worthwhile. Every time you ignore me, I get to take what I was going to tip you and add it to my Buy a More Convincing Knock-off Fund.

* I left with two purses, a wallet, and a pair of "designer" sunglasses. So thank you, waitstaff, for being assholes.

* Getting out of bed at 5:30 local time (2:30 a.m. back home time, y'all) to work out with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so honored to have been invited.

* I slept through it. Which made me realize that I preferred the bed I was in to working out with outrageously long-legged women prized for their high kicks and beauty while short, fat-assed, and make-up-less. Considering that lipstick was only going to fix one of the three, I probably saved myself years of therapy.

* It is possible to survive on sesame seeds and hope while traveling with a mile-long list of impossible food allergies. If you think I'm kidding, pay $35 for two chicken breasts and some sliced tomato and avocado through room service just once, and then tell me how hope tastes again. Because free is delicious.

* Shopping in NYC is considered a contact sport, especially when trying to keep up with Robin O'Bryant and her BFF, known as Sister Wife.

* The American Girl Store exists not to fulfill a little girl's every desire but to soothe whatever type of parental guilt plaguing the buyer of a Chinese-made plastic doll with pretty hefty price tag. Also? She loved it and I think she really missed me while I was gone.

* It is possible for my five-year-old co-sleeping daughter to fall asleep on her own when she is forced to by an Ambien-taking BFF who refuses to buckle to the whims of the child used to Mommy snuggling next to her at night because Ambien and co-sleeping are kind of a pretty bad idea. At least, that's what the BFF tells me. All I know is that I've woken up three times this week with a little plastic doll hand trying to cop a feel and a sleepy kindergartner asking me when I'm planning on going back to Ewn Nyork.

I tell her that she is totally sleeping by herself the next night and she just smiles.

Mama's home.

 

It's the Red Wire, Right?

I am not counting down to BlogHer 12. I'm not. Countdowns make me nervous and increase my anxiety and things usually explode at the end of them. Plus the week before I'm supposed to be schmoozing it up with people who usually are not aware that I am not wearing a bra while we discuss Life and Other Important Things and getting prettified to take part in the BlogHer fashion show as a model is not a good time to use my chin as a scratching board. I might like to pretend that I'm a cool customer this time around, but my anxiety levels and heightened ADHD/OCD scab picking habit are telling me otherwise.

(Note: If you found the proverbial Waldo hidden in the paragraph above, please help yourself to a virtual cookie from the tray. You're welcome.)

No. I'm not counting down to BlogHer. But the rest of the internet is.

Don't worry. I've already blamed all of you for the Enjoy Life pseudo-chocolate chips sitting atop a big ole' spoon of raw almond butter because this is how I roll now when eating compulsively to deal with the fact that I'll be leaving my kid with BFF Heather while I'm off living it up in NYC and probably hitting the American Girl store with BlogHer roomie Robin O'Bryant before returning so we can both soothe our raging cases of Mommy Guilt because we are leaving our babies, people. We are leaving our babies with their fathers and our best friends, who happen to be capable adults that are not us, and we only feel guiltier for knowing that we will be thrilled to be away from them and on our own, having adult conversations, and not having to remind anyone to stop telling perfect strangers that they are getting pretty good at cleaning their vaginas without Mama's help because shit like that just gets awkward. 

It's too late to cancel my plane ticket or buy one for Buttercup to ride shotgun. And if I poke enough air holes in my suitcase for Buttercup to breathe en route to the Big Apple, people are bound to hear her singing show tunes to pass the time. My only option is to ease my guilt by bribing her love me upon my return. I'd better get cracking on a thank you gift to BFF Heather for taking on the ominous task of having Buttercup at her place (baths, books, bed, 5 a.m. wake-up calls to get herself ready for work before getting Buttercup up at 6 to get Buttercup ready for Kinder drop off before 8 in the godforsaken morning, and then school pick up, homework, dinner, and rinse and repeat) which I have assured her will be a breeze because it will totally not be a breeze but I'm trying to sell this thing, m'kay?

And yes, I did just say all of that in one breath in my head. Hence the lack of punctuation. Deal with it.

In all honesty, I'd rather stay home. While I know I'm going to have an incredible time and renew old connections while creating new ones and that my platform ain't building itself, nor is my manuscript ever going to get picked up be a publisher if I don't get my name out there (I'm thinking Bump-It and a fake tan, yes?) I also know that eating at BlogHer is going to be a giant bitch and that I'm going to two wine mixers and I'm allergic to yeast.

Que the Jeopardy theme-song:

Answer: See this wine I'm drinking right now? Sucks to be you.

I'll take, "What is Hell for $5,000, Alex."

 

It's okay. Really. I will just focus on the fact that seeing my friends in person is more important than the alcohol I won't be consuming which will be a total fucking lie. Maybe. 

Oh now don't get offended. You know I can't wait to see you and share actual physical space with you and squeal like school girls for approximately 30 seconds before each of us reaches for our iPhones and spends the rest of the time we spend in each other's presence conversing in tweets and hashtags because that's how these things work. We will only stop tweeting long enough to air kiss and squeal again as we promise to not wait until the next conference to ignore each other in person when it's time to say good-bye so I can get to the American Girl store and you can go drink more wine and then we won't see each other again until that next conference that we weren't going to wait for.

It's gonna be great.

There are only a few days left before I board a plane and leave my only child with a woman  who is on the fence about having her own children one day. Which means I should probably wait until I return to choose a thank you gift for the BFF. After all, it's kind of hard to wrap up a tubal ligation.

An Ode to My ADHD

I'm tweaking out, people. My head feels like it's in a vice and if I was still smoking, I'd tell you that I really needed a cigarette break right now. But since I've replaced the need for nicotine with a prescription for pharmaceutical grade speed, I'll be honest and tell you that I only took one of my two pills today and I am pretty sure the fact that I'm counting the minutes until 8 a.m. tomorrow when I take my next dose means I'm probably about two steps removed from a twelve step program and a sponsor. I didn't forget it. I didn't take it on purpose. The doctor tells me that skipping doses when I don't have to do anything important will keep my body guessing, thereby making the dose I am on work longer before it has to be adjusted and I start responding to Mama, I'm hungry with Not now, sweetie. Mommy hasn't taken her speed yet.

All of that was a really long-winded way of saying that the rest of this post will be a series of randomly connected thoughts because my brain is having a party right now and the music is too loud for me to concentrate. Also? Who wants coffee? Or can I down this whole pot I just made?

Random thought #1 - 

I'm writing this at 5:50 p.m. on Sunday evening. The Husband has been at work for three hours now and I didn't put a bra until I showered after he drove off for the first shift of a three month stint on swings. I don't know about you, but the bittersweet thrill of my almost kindergartner being out of my hair from 7:40 a.m. - 2:40 p.m. is kind of lost when you take into consideration that The Husband will be out of bed around 10 a.m. and leave for work just thirty minutes before I have to pick up Buttercup from school. That leaves me with a grand total of maybe 20 actual minutes to myself every day where I don't have to pretend I'm not slowly going insane.

Total buzz kill.

 

 

Random thought #2 -

Deciding to do an impromptu deep cleaning of the refrigerator is a really good way to remember that the last deep cleaning much longer ago than is socially acceptable.

Exhibit A:

 

Random Thought #3-

This coffee is fantastic. No, I'm not sharing.

 

 

Random thought #4-

Grounding an only child from television for the rest of the day because she decided to chew on a single piece of steak for 20 minutes -- because I HAVE NO IDEA --  instead of finishing her dinner so I could give her a Popsicle and turn on Nick Jr. so I could ignore her until bed time while doing some cleaning and writing something without feeling like a horrible mother is a really bad idea.

Note: The bad idea thing refers to the no T.V. thing. Keep up with me, class.

 

 

Random thought #5-

The same child who is driving me bat shit crazy today is the same child I love more than life itself. When she isn't driving me bat shit crazy. I'm also pretty certain she's a genius and no I am not bragging because it's not fun to be out-logicalled (shut up. It's called poetic license when a writer makes up a word) by a five-year-old in front of other people.

Exhibit B (a conversation):

Mom, calcium is good for us, right?

Yep.

Good for our bones and growing and being strong?

Uhuh.

I'd like some cookies to dip in a cup of calcium, Mom. Because that will be so yummy and healthy for me! Right, Mom?

Shit.

Clarification: That last part was in my head.

Probably.

 

The Laundry List

It's time for another Webisode of How to Fall Apart Publicly and Still Be a Smartass, my friends. In this edition, we're going to talk about how my eggs may not be as scrambled as I thought, why using myself as a scratching post makes me feel a little bit bad for recovering crack addicts, and why Nancy Reagan had it all wrong.

But first, let's talk about the cupcakes currently in the oven for Buttercup's 5th birthday party tomorrow. These gluten-free bad boys will be served along with the pizza and potato chips we like to think makes for stress-free kiddie-party fare. Seeing as how I've been eating paleo for a few months now and feeling better than I have in years, I had been planning on bringing along a little cooler with things like an apple, some nuts to snack on, and maybe a paleo-friendly brownie as my cupcake substitute. But things have changed, friends. And by changed, I totally mean Someone Hold Me and Can I Have a Margarita IV?

I just got the preliminary results back on my food allergy panel. There are 96 foods that I am being tested for (some of which I have been tested for before, mind you) and so far, the following list is exactly why I win the gold for World's Shittiest Dinner Party Guest Ever.

* Apples

* Beef

* Carrots

* Corn

* Oranges

* Peanuts

* Pork

* Shrimp

* Soybeans

* Wheat

* Dairy

* Bakers Yeast

* Strawberries

* Eggs (White & Yolk)

* Oats

I'll give you a minute to pick your jaws up from the floor and take this moment to thank my friends, Allison Nazarian, Becca Ludlum, and Valerie Demetros for helping steer me from the Knowing Something Was Wrong But No Doctor Listening To Me place I was last year to where I am now. A chance Facebook update regarding my hypothyroidism and  a response from Allison is what initially got me back on track with taking an active stance in advocating for my health and searching out medical providers who were willing to look beyond the standard lab results. I can't tell you how many times I've told doctors that something was wrong only to be told that the test results were normal, handed another bottle of pills, and sent on my merry little way.

Through plenty of reading, answer-seeking, and trial and error, I learned that going gluten-free was something I needed to do. Eventually I cut all processed sugar from my diet and following Valerie's advice, I also nixed dairy, all grains, gluten, and all sugars (including honey and maple syrup) to give my body time to heal. Not realizing I was feeling better because of having eliminated so many allergens, I eventually reintroduced a  lot of what I had eliminated (still sticking to my paleo-eating ways) and went back to feeling like hell but not knowing why. I couldn't lose weight no matter what I did. I was always bloated. And the rash that covered my body was a painful, itchy hell that no one could figure out. That's when a tweet from Becca caught my eye. She had found a naturopath in Tucson in the hopes of addressing her own health issues and was reeling from the news that she was allergic to a huge variety of foods.

I wasn't convinced I had food allergies, but I was sure I needed to take the plunge and make an appointment. Mainstream medicine wasn't doing a damned thing for me, obviously. During my first appointment, I was diagnosed as ADHD, which explained why anti-depressants, OCD, and anxiety medication were leaving me depressed, OCD, and anxious. My second had me following a strict medically supervised diet plan in order to reverse my insulin resistance. My third led me to drop all eggs and egg by-products on a hunch from my doctor and just a few days later, a chronic and painful rash on my rib cage suddenly disappeared. And now this.

Got your jaw up from the floor yet? Good. Now you get to wait with me for Monday's blood test results to determine what other food allergies I may (read: probably) have. I've been warned that there's a high likelihood that there will be more foods I need to eliminate based on the first set of results. But the flip-side is that there's also a good chance my eggs aren't as scrambled as we had all assumed and that a modified diet will fix me just fine. Except for the ADHD, of course, and the medication juggling required to keep my head in check. I'm waffling between insomnia when I take my meds too late and the extreme fatigue I'm dealing with right now as I ride out a few days with no magic pills so my body will react to them again. The Husband is hoping that getting me back on track will mean he won't reach into the cupboard for a plate and find a bottle of witch hazel instead. And truth? I have absolutely no recollection is setting that bottle there. I'm very amused and a bit freaked out, but as long as I remind myself that this is why I write non-fiction, it's all good.

Personally, I'm thinking life just got interesting. And I find it hilarious that had I not Just Said No in my formative years, it might not have taken 34 birthdays to figure out my brain was wired wrong.

So...who's up for some plain, grilled chicken?

Socially Acceptable Punchlines (Maybe)

 

*Ya know how I tend to gravitate towards list-style blog posts when my mind goes blank?

*There's totally a reason for that, but first let me tell you...

*That I stood on a scale backwards on Friday.

*Not mine. The doctor's. And I told the nurse not to tell me what it said.

*She was too confused to bother asking me why.

*I don't need the scale to tell me that I'm hormonal and in need of chocolate right now.

*So really, it's all for the best.

*Mainly because More Chocolate is totally not the answer.

*What do you mean, there was no question? Don't confuse the issue.

*I can do that perfectly well on my own. The naturopath I'm seeing now told me so.

*See, I went in with my notes and my story about being stiffed with the shallow end of the genetic gene pool, fully expecting him to nod his head, confirm my allergy suspicions, and tell me that all of my problems would be solved if I only drank water and avoided anything that actually tastes good.

*But before the allergy tests comes blood work and then another appointment to discuss the results from the lab. Oh, and it turns out that in the 60 minutes I've been talking with Dr. Naturopath, I've looked at my phone to check twitter or respond to an email no less than 15 times. Dr. Naturopath told me so before asking me if I always talk this fast and if The Husband is always accusing me of doing things the hard way and do I like coffee?

*Um, yes, yes, and yes. But how did you know that The Husband is an asshole and no I don't drink it because it's pointless when the caffeine doesn't affect me, Dr...So um, what's your point?

*I believe you have ADHD, says Dr. Naturopath. But I won't know for sure until you've tried the medications for a few days.

*Shut the front door, says I.

*I really want to look at my phone again.

*I twist my wedding finger hard enough to bust a blood vessel instead.

*Dr. Naturopath explains to The Husband all of the reasons he suspects I'm now allowed to use ADHD as a punchline with little revelations like my tendency to burn eggs while trying to boil them because I suddenly remember that the garbage needs to be taken out At This Very Moment and while coming back to the kitchen notice The Laundry Basket Full of Clothes Still Needs to Be Put Away Upstairs so I carry the basket up and set it at the end of our bed with every intention to follow through but first I Forgot to Respond to that Email and Oh Look It's My Turn on Draw Something and HOLY SHIT WHY DOES MY HOUSE SMELL LIKE BURNING EGGS?

*The Husband nods knowingly.

*I stare at both of them trying to figure out how Dr. Naturopath just read my mind. And also how I get a retroactive pass on all the times I used ADHD references in social situations as a punchline because I didn't wake up like this yesterday. In fact, it's all starting to make sense and...

*Oh look, a Squirrel carrying Something Shiny...

*What did you need again?