Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Vyvanse, day 1

I told you ADHD is my new topic.

Also: this photo has nothing to do with this post, but it popped up recently and I don't think I ever shared the glory of me being the Tooth Fairy with you. 

I didn't win the office costume contest, and I couldn't fly because my wings were upside-down. But I did get some very weird looks on my walk to and from work.

And honestly, I wish I'd blogged about my journey with antidepressants, because then I'd have a record. Because at this point I cannot remember what all I've tried.

Like, I know I hate Wellbutrin because it makes my whole body clenchy and makes me constantly enraged.

Zoloft made me sleepy. And messed with my marital life. The confusingly spelled Viibryd, while sounding like a marital enhancer, did the opposite.

Mirtazapine helped me sleep, but was also the opposite of a marital aid, and made me gain weight. Which made me more depressed. So all around not my ideal antidepressant.

So far, Trintellix for the win!

But there have been a smattering of others in the mix, and every once in a while someone asks me if I've been on one...and I can't remember. Maybe? Odds are?

Anyway.

I saw my beloved primary care provider yesterday. I told her that I was feeling like kind of a basket case.

We talked about my concerns with Adderall and my hair, with which she completely sympathized. We have, in fact, had some in-depth hair discussions, as we regularly bump into each other in the neighborhood and she now goes to my hairdresser.

She asked if I could cope without ADHD meds (or if I wanted to), and I got all teary.

I mean yes, I can cope, because I've done so for decades, and for the most part I'm a fairly functional human. But the truth is, once I realized it didn't need to be so hard, I want it not to be so hard. And by "it" I mean everything. 

I really, really liked how they organized my brain. I liked the quiet inside my head. I know they're stimulants, but it was soothing.

Does that sound weird? Probably, unless they do the same to your brain, in which case maybe you totally feel me?

At any rate, I told her about my googling and my forays into Reddit, and how people who reported hair loss with Adderall did not have the same issue with another medication. So I asked if we could try something else.

She was more than happy to. She really, really wants me to feel good.

So now I have a Vyvanse prescription.

And she ordered a bunch of blood tests in case it's my thyroid or a vitamin deficiency or something else. 

Or maybe it's hormonal? I mean, I currently sleep in a cool room—and I know it's cool because I ask Nick. I'm like Peeta after being tortured with tracker jacker venom.

"It's so hot in here! Real or not real?"

Not real.

I walk around asking if it's hot all the time. 

Which is ridiculous, because when it's actually as hot as the surface of the sun in DC, I'm delighted.

But hot flashes are a particular kind of hot that feel like being stuffed into a sauna filled with fleece blankets. 

I love a sauna but not when I'm just sitting quietly watching Endeavour on Masterpiece Theatre, which is what Nick and I do at night because we have effectively turned into our parents.

We sleep in a cool/cold room, and! I have a robust fan blowing directly on me. Which makes me cold but then I get hot and then I get cold but then I get hot and this is the game I play all night every night.

Which I will be discussing with my GYN.

I've explained to my kids that they are heading into puberty, and their hormones are increasing, and so if they notice that sometimes they're upset or angry or really sad out of the blue, and it just feels beyond their control, it's totally normal. I said that we might have a few difficult years, because these hormonal shifts make people really moody.

Then I told them that basically my body is doing the same thing in the opposite direction.

And they were like, so sometimes you're really angry or sad or upset because of your hormones and you feel out of control? 

Yes oh my hellyesandmoreyes!

It's quite a party at our house.

ANYway.

I'm still not up there with most productive humans, my husband being one of them—because my gosh, does that man get an extraordinary amount of stuff done! 

But today I have done myriad tedious tasks, including many that involve calling people I don't know (which I postpone because calling people I don't know) to make appointments for several of my loved ones, and sitting on hold for long long lengths of time. 

I scanned the kids' health forms and filled out other forms to which I affixed India's health forms so that she can play sports. 

Forms upon forms!

I called the pediatrician and had a lengthy conversation with a staff member about how to set up two separate children on their brand-new and rather confusing—for them as well as for meportal. 

The whole thing ultimately involved using two separate email addresses because otherwise the system thought it was all for the same kid.

I won't bore you further but it was the kind of process that I typically avoid until it's beyond unavoidable just because it's detailed and confusing and boring. 

But today I powered through.

Not to brag, but do you know how many portals I have? So many! Because I myself have a number. And then I take care of a couple for my mom. And then there are these two new portals rather than just one for my kids. And school portals. And a sports form portal.

What I really need is a portal to another dimension just to pop out of this reality every once in a while.

And on a side bar, do you understand the multiverse? I feel like I believe in it but am not smart enough to actually wrap my brain around it.

But back to this universe: I also made mammogram and GYN appointments.

All this to say, so far so good on the Vyvanse and I'm pretty proud of myself.

I'm also exhausted because dusk is upon us at 4:248 PM and by 8:00 PM my brain is all, "OH MY GOD IT'S A MILLION O'CLOCK! 

You should resist going to bed and instead eat some sugar!"

And really, who am I to argue?

Friday, November 04, 2022

Adderall and hair loss or maybe not but maybe?

We've been watching Derry Girls, and now I have All These Questions about Northern Ireland, Ireland, the English, the Irish, and so on and so forth.

Apparently I always have a topic or two. I hadn't thought about it until Nick pointed it out some years ago and damned if that's not the case.

And I guess not everyone is like that?

Anyway, Ireland is a new topic, and Nick is relieved, because at least it's not rabies.

Of course my main new topic is ADHD. 

So in my last post I mentioned that Adderall does not seem to be my medication. I thought it was, because I had no side effects. Every week I'd see my therapist, and she'd ask, and I'd report that all was delightful.

And all was delightful, emotionally and brain-organizedly.

However.

I was losing lots of hair. Like, I'd run my hand through my hair and a multitude of strands would come out. My clothes were decorated with long strands of my hair.

This is not my norm.

And finally I stopped and thought about when it began, and realized it coincided with starting Adderall.

So I did two things: 1. I messaged my primary care; and 2. I turned to Dr. Google.

I can't remember in which order I did those. Possibly Google first for immediate panic gratification.

Google says that alopecia is a possible but rare side effect. Reddit has plenty of people talking about Adderall and hair loss. 

My PC said that hair loss shouldn't be a side effect, and that it was more likely a vitamin deficiency, thyroid, or something else, but that if I noticed the hair loss after starting, then it should to be considered. And if I wanted I could stop the Adderall and we could discuss at my physical, if I was OK waiting to see each other.

I was, as it's upcoming.

And I stopped taking Adderall immediately.

It might be OK if you're a person with plenty of hair.

Me, I do not have hair to spare.

(I do have an heir and a spare.)

A wild hare but no hare to spare. 

Watership Down: A novel of hare loss. (OK, they're actually rabbits and it's not that simple.)

What I don't currently have is a calmly organized brain.

So I've been back to fucking around and finding out.

And I'm looking forward to my physical next week.

I wonder if this has happened to anyone reading this? 

And by this I mean hair loss and Adderall.

Or interest in Derry Girls, Ireland, rabies, any of the above.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Let's talk about ADHD, let's talk about you and me...

(This is my brain on Adderall.)

Spinderella cut it up one time...

OK, sorry.

Anyway.

For years I've joked about being all, "Oh, look, a squirrel!" And then getting totally derailed from whatever I was thinking or doing. 

I've mentioned humorously that I was never able to create outlines, because you had to decide on the importance of the information for Roman numerals I, II, and III and their sub-letters and numbers. 

All the information at each level had to be of parallel importance. This was impossible for me.

I could never figure out the exact parallel importance. What if II was slightly less important than I? Could I still put it as its own whole thing? Or should it go underneath?

I'd wind up with a Roman numeral I with a million items underneath.

Which does not a decent-grade-worthy outline make.

Now I make my outlines with dashes. All dashes. Or dashes with dots underneath.

Maybe they're just more lists?

And when I had to organize things like events for work, I'd tape all of the pieces of information to my office wall. This surely looked crazy and chaotic, but I assure you it was nothing compared to the inside of my brain trying to keep all that information organized.

So, back to the squirrel. Or any kind of interruption in task, either created by someone else or myself.

I'd leave the task and not loop back to it for...who knows how long. Because 17 other little tasks can always get in the way.

Typically I bounce from one to the next, not necessarily completing anything until I'm up against a deadline. Then I'm great at being balls to the wall and getting it done.

"Balls to the wall" is an expression I quite enjoy. It's so visual and really rather uncomfortable, isn't it?

Anyway, on any given day at home, I might start in the kitchen making tea, leaving it to steep on the counter while I go in the back to start laundry, which makes me remember that I need to order more detergent, which leads me into email to a return label I need to send Nick to print out, which reminds me that I should ask him about taking India to basketball on Sunday, and oh my gosh, I have to make that appointment for my mom...

I might return to my steeping cup of tea two hours later, because I happen to walk through the kitchen and notice it.

By then it's no longer freshly steeping, no longer piping hot. I put it in the microwave and walk away, and...

Ultimately brew a whole new cup hours later. 

So.

Early in the pandemic, Jordan was diagnosed with inattentive type ADHD. 

And the more I read about executive functioning and executive dysfunction, the more I felt like I was reading about myself.

Around the same time a very dear friend of mine and her son got diagnosed together, and she told me I needed to get diagnosed. Because we struggle with so many of the same things. And medication helped her not just organize and accomplish things, but actually feel better about herself.

Because it's easy to feel like a loser when you struggle to get much of anything done.

Shortly after this, I mentioned it in a call with my psychiatrist. I told him about Jordan and about how so many of the described cognitive struggles resonate with me. I said, "I think I have ADHD!"

And he said something along the lines of, "Everyone feels like they have ADHD in Covid." 

So I did nothing about it. Because everything was hard and I wasn't in a position to pay a bunch of money for a diagnosis for myself. Getting Jordan diagnosed felt critical, and truly, it's changed his life. 

But me? I am not in school. I no longer work in an office. I have some freelance projects, but mostly I'm home taking care of my mom and the kids.

It didn't feel as important to pursue.

Then this year, two years after that phone appointment with my shrink, I relayed the conversation to a friend who said, "His response was very dismissive!" 

She was right. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to say that to him.

And this year, after a break of about a decade, I got back into therapy. I brought it up with my therapist.

We had some in-depth conversations, and she offered to speak to my psychiatrist or doctor about a diagnosis and medication.

I told her about what my shrink had said, and how I didn't feel inclined to reach out to him. Instead I reached out to my PC to see if she was comfortable with diagnosis and ask if we might have an appointment to discuss this.

I used to have a doctor who didn't even pretend to know who I was whenever I went to see him, but in the past couple years I've been seeing someone I adore. I switched practices to follow her across town. She's so smart and thoughtful and I both like and respect her.

In 53 years on this planet, this for me is a first.

So these two amazing, bright, highly educated women had a conversation about me, about my mental health and the best approach to my care, and I just don't know if I've felt so cared for by health care  professionals before.

At my appointment with my PC we discussed options, and she suggested trying the short-acting form of Adderall to start with, to see how I reacted to it and if it helped.

Unlike antidepressants, where you titrate up over weeks and wait to see if you feel better, with Adderall you feel the effects almost immediately. 

This was a nice change. I'm so used to waiting and waiting to see how I feel, and trying to figure out if I actually feel better or just want to feel better so I think I do.

(It took me a long time to figure out that Wellbutrin made me angry. It didn't take away any of the darkness in my brain, but it filled every single nook and cranny of me with rage. Which super fucking sucks. To use an industry term.)

Anyway, Adderall.

I took it, and what I felt was calm. My brain, usually busy oh so busy, was quiet.

Honestly, and I know for most people this is weird, I don't listen to music when I'm home alone. My brain is already too noisy. No TV unless it's something I'm watching, and no music, unless I'm walking/running or driving.

When Nick has music on in the kitchen and also wants to talk to me it makes me feel physically angry. 

I'm not suggesting my big brain is always occupied processing such important things. No. It's that there are too many things happening at the same time, and multiple inputs on top of that make my head melt.

Adderall mitigated the swirly chaos of the constant everything.

I thought I was a great at multitasking, but as it turns out, I am not. 

What I've been good at, at least at work, is being pleasant about being interrupted in the middle of a task, because it's so easy to turn my attention to something else.

(You're not troubling me because I was going to get up anyway.)

This one is perhaps my favorite: You know what else people with ADHD struggle with? Time management.

You know what I suck at? Time.

I've had friends who get insulted if you are at all late, because they think it's a reflection of how you feel about them.

These are friends I can love dearly but not make plans with.

Because time. My god, I've been so challenged by the space-time continuum my entire life.

I remember sending Nick a calendar appointmentI think it was for my amnio when I was pregnant with Jordanand he thought we needed to be there an hour and a half ahead of time. But really that was my time buffer because I was terrified of being late.

Nick, as it turns out, just walks through life tightly scheduling all kinds of important meetings and actually attending them without anxiety drama trauma.

Perhaps you do, too. I imagine this is nice. I don't mean this at all sarcastically. 

Anyway, reading about it and being like, oh, it's not just me failing to grasp the concept of clocks and hours and minutes and living in a linear fashion made me feel a hell of a lot better. 

It's my brain chemistry soup. And I am not alone in the struggle.

I don't mean to suggest that I've been a complete disaster for my over half a century on this planet. 

I've functioned as a reasonable human in society for quite some time now. I went to decent schools and got a graduate degree and held jobs and bought a condo and paid my bills on time.

But my gosh, I now realize things could've been easier. 

I remember feeling this way when I got on medication for depression. For so many years, things could've been easier. So much easier.

This is really the beginning of my journey with this, because I don't actually think Adderall is the right medication for me. 

Which I'm not concerned about, because I've tried so many antidepressants over the years, and I know medication is a Goldilocks kind of process.

I see that things can be different, and I'm happy about it.

But I've gone on too long, so that needs to be a whole nother post.

Monday, October 03, 2022

October and the trees are stripped bare of all they wear

Dear Dad,

Today is your birthday.

This morning I said to Mama, "It's Dad's birthday today." 

To which she quietly replied, "I know."

Of course she knows. You were together over 50 years. That's a lot of birthdays together.

I guess I just said it to recognize it.

***

It's grey and chilly and pouring in DC, and really kind of wretched. I walked Wanda this morning and was rather shocked and insulted by how cold it was, in fact.

I thought hurricanes were all about warm air.

You used to pronounce it "hyuricane" and I never knew why.

***

Recently I learned that I walk like you.

I was walking with my yoga teacher  and his partner after class and he told me that the way I walk contributes to my issue with tightness in my lower back. 

And then he demonstrated my walk. It was an exact imitation. 

So then he also showed us how his partner walks, in contrast to me. Also spot on. She said, "I walk like my dad."

I said, "You know, I bet I walk like my dad."

And a couple days later I told a dear friend about Asrat imitating my walk and she said, "You walk just like your dad."

Which makes me think about how you and I would go out for walks together and you'd say, "Stand up straight! Shoulders back! Stomach in!" 

I'd do all those things and then you'd say, "Sphincter tight!" 

I laughed every time.

*** 

Sometimes these realizations make me think about my brother. I wonder if he notices things like this in himself once in a while. 

I wonder if his children have features or expressions or whatever that are just so exactly you or Mama or me.

Distance, after all, doesn't erase DNA. 

***

In August, when Nick, the kids and I went to camp, Phil came and stayed with Mom so she wasn't all alone. They had a great time.

During that week, one of your friends from when you were in Afghanistan called to say one of your Peace Corps friends had died. I asked how many were left from your group, and Mom said three.

I think of how lucky you were (and by extension how lucky I was and still am) to have met such extraordinary people and kept them in your lives for so long. 

Maude's daughter Iris and our India will be friends one day.  Geography is challenging, but let's be clear: Denver and DC are a lot closer than Bangladesh to Philippines or just about everywhere else Maude and I were growing up. 

We're all in the same country, and we will make this happen.

***

Jordan is well and away taller than me now, and India is getting there. She's outgrown my sneakers.

I realized this fall when India started 5th grade that she was the same age I was when we moved to the US for the first time.

I remember my first day of 5th grade. We were supposed to fill out an index card with our home phone number and the number of our bus and I didn't know either.

She walks to school, and it's a school she's attended since she was four.

Halloween is fast approaching, and our alley is doing trick-or-treating. I remember how, until we moved to the US, you'd drive us from American house to American house to trick-or-treat. 

I think Halloween is fairly popular globally now.

***

We're all doing OK. Pretty well, in fact. Maybe you know this.

I hope you know this. 

It's your birthday, and I miss you.

Love,

Lisa

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Let me explain...No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Dear Nick,

I woke up this morning thinking about how to write about 14 years of marriage.

When I was younger, even past the age where I thought my freckles would magically disappear when I was all grown up, I believed that marriage would make me happy. Like, the fabric of my universe would fundamentally alter and I'd be happy.

Even though I was unhappy much of the time--something that would change with therapy and meds. But not for years and years.

But marriage is like moving; wherever you go, there you are, and you can't escape yourself. And marriage is unlike moving in that you're you, with all your own whatevers, having to try to build a compatible life with another human with all of their own whatevers. 

And then you add small humans into the mix, and the various stresses of jobs and life, and harmony becomes further complicated.

It would've been helpful for me to know ahead of time that in our marriage we could have tremendous, enraged, yelling disagreements and still ultimately be OK. 

I wish someone had explained to me that there could be an entire year that would suck, but then a really good year could follow it.

Recently a photo from our trip to Maine in 2014 popped up. We were laughing, looking so happy. And I remember what a horrible time you and I were having that summer. In fact, that whole year was wretched. 

We discussed divorce. And then decided to affirmatively work on our relationship.

That was six years into marriage, and here we are eight years later.

Which is not to say that it's all been sunshine and puppies. More that we have ups and downs but agree that it's something we both think is worth working on.

Because, jeez, loving someone and being harmoniously married to them are two different things.

At some point you told me that me joking about stabbing you really bothered you. So I no longer joke about it in front of you.

(Although please understand that I don't actually trust women who never admit to feelings like this.)

But, anyway, the other night we were sitting on the couch annoyed with each other about, I don't even know, something, and you made a Lisa face and said in a falsetto, "I'm going to stab you!"

I laughed and laughed. I don't honestly know what we'd do if we didn't find each other funny.

Today it's been 14 years since we stood up in front of so many loved ones and promised to love each other forever and ever or something along those lines. I loved our simple vows; I just don't seem to have a copy.

Honestly, I think the idea of committing forever is a daunting one at the outset. I see how it promotes societal stability, but practically speaking, it's kind of weird.

Which is not to say that my goalwhich I know is our shared goalisn't forever. Our hope is till death does us part. We sometimes joke about the other going first and what we're going to do when that happens, and other people don't seem to find those conversations as funny as we do.

But back to forever: it's more like how do you pick one person whose jokes you'll want to hear, whose hand you'll want to hold, whose air you'll be willing to breathe for the rest of your life?

It's such a leap of faith.

And then a lot of work. I mean, I suppose if it's work to be together at all, then it's just the wrong thing. But it's work to communicate effectively. And to listen to the other person and try to understand where they're coming from.

And all the compromise. My hell, the compromise.

I think what I find most important, and maybe most interesting, is the ability to see you for who you are and accept all of you despite the parts that annoy or frustrate me.

The things I love and admire about you are the easy things.

This is not something I thought about prior to marriage.

I didn't anticipate having to grow so much. I had no idea I'd need to learn so many skills in order to advocate for what I want and actually hear-not just listen towhat you want. I didn't think about needing to work as a team to achieve shared goals, like raising secure children.

Who knew we'd need to work so hard to build something together? I'm still my own whole person, as are you, and then our marriage is this whole entire, I don't know, thing unto itself.

I don't actually care about cut flowers or chocolates or fancy dinners. Gifts, as it turns out, are not my love language.

I don't know what other marriages are like, or what other people like about their marriages. But one of the things I appreciate so much is knowing that you always, always have my back. I'm independent, but I'm not alone. 

We are in it—and what "it" is variestogether.  

What I want is to be seen and heard and loved for who I am. Because of and despite who I am, as an entire, multifaceted person. I want to feel secure in the knowledge that that love is not predicated on me looking or behaving a certain way.

And in this, I have what I want. (Although I'd never turn down chocolate. Or a ticket to Cartagena.)

I love you. Happy 14.

Lisa