I’ll try to enjoy my birthday for once

My birthday has been a source of hurt and resentment for my entire life.

I was born on December 25. For as long as I can remember, the fact it was my birthday was something that got in the way of everyone’s Christmas.

I felt invisible in my family and a birthday is one day you hope everyone notices you.

It was tradition to go to my grandparents house to meet up with aunts, uncles and cousins.

My mother did her best to encourage family and even my siblings to take notice.

The fact they needed to be reminded year after year added to my already feeling like an outsider.

When I became a parent the attention naturally shifted to my boys.

I began noticing myself feeling angry each year as my birthday got closer. Feeling guarded and wanting to be left alone.

For many Christmas’s I agreed to a cake Cath was generous enough to bake but I was left with a feeling of guilt.

Like I was in the way and burdening her on my own birthday. Gee, wonder where that came from.

Now comes this week. Cath and the boys had the idea of doing Christmas on Christmas Eve and just Christmas being for my birthday.

In my almost 51 years of life I’ve never had that offer.

I went through feelings of confusion, anger, resistance, sadness and finally today I cried.

I realized I didn’t know how to enjoy my birthday. I also realized I was sick of having them ruined every year.

This year we’re going to start a new tradition. I’m eager to see how it feels for once.

The wisdom of monotony

“Same shit different day!” is an unfortunate mantra.
 
One finding greater usefulness during COVID where its harder to tell one day from the next.
 
There’s actually a bit of wisdom in there that shows you a way out of the monotony you may otherwise be feeling.
 
The wisdom is the idea of same, but different. You may be doing things that seem the same. But today is a different day. You haven’t done them today yet.
 
In fact, the you in this moment isn’t the you of yesterday.
You have been refined by the lessons of yesterday and show up differently now.
 
Even if it’s the same shit, it isn’t the same you doing the same shit. It’s a wiser you.
 
I’ve had experiences where I emerged with greater appreciation for nature, people, what I already have. None of those things changed as much as I did.
 
I find more often than not, that when things around me seem “stuck”, in a rut, so to speak. The issue isn’t somewhere on the outside.
 
It’s in my forgetting to appreciate how much newness is blooming in this moment.

Here’s the thing about the idea of “overcoming” your disability…

When raising a child with a chronic condition, disability, whatever you want to call it.
 
It’s my position that “acceptance” is the goal NOT “overcoming”.
 
Overcoming puts you at odds with the challenges you’re experiencing. What emotions bubble up when you try to show your disability who’s boss (e.g. anger, anxiety, frustration)?
 
Acceptance requires a more compassionate approach toward yourself. One where you learn to be happy even while living a life that doesn’t match the one your friends live.
 
Acceptance is in part, the confidence that no longer looks to compare yourself to anyone else.
 
Acceptance isn’t the enemy of growth or skill building either. It doesn’t mean you “give up” or “let the diagnosis win”. 
That’s win-lose thinking driven by our competitive minded culture.
 
We’ve become such dopamine junkies these days. It’s easy to forget how much having to work through hard things has to teach you.
 
The more at odds you are with the teacher that is your chronic condition, the more you will have to stay in class.
 
I won’t belabor the point. Sometimes the condition is here to stay and with it, you must create a meaningful life for yourself.
 
It can mean whatever you want it to.

So you want to do everything yourself

You want to do everything yourself, I understand.

The thing is, you’re not good at everything and that’s okay. Neither is anyone else.

Not everyone is born to be the quarterback or prima ballerina.

You have gifts and gaps. Your gifts make you an asset for those with a gap in that area and vice versa.

One of the most authentic ways for us to connect with each other is in that vulnerable moment when you ask another soul to lend you their gift to make your life a little better.

You deny yourself that amazing experience when you refuse to ask for help.

Whether it’s to help you fix something, walk you through a recipe, give advice or just listen.

The energy you receive from a supportive relationship is empowering as though belief in yourself was given a RedBull.

It’s also a great reminder someone has your back.

Being a solo act is no bueno. It’s a lonely existence when you believe success only counts when it’s you alone.

It may not be a motivation problem

As someone living with ADHD, what looks like a lack of motivation may be resistance to the pain of progress.

Our failure rate is much higher than for the average person because of our executive functioning glitches.

We also receive significantly more criticism as a result.

So if you decide to set and pursue goals it can often feel like you’re choosing to be a glutton for failure and criticism.

If the successes don’t feel big enough for you to counter balance the negativity it may not seem worth it to you.

A few ideas.

It’s important to take on things where you can set the pace for yourself. Keep your frustration level low and do your best to enjoy the process. Slow and steady is your motto.

Find a mentor who can be a voice of reason and encouragement. You’ll need someone to help keep you from sabotaging yourself. To keep you grounded in the present.

Learn not to place as much attention on the time and effort between successes. Learn to enjoy the process as well as the success.

When you no longer fear the discomfort of the work involved in getting from A-Z the resistance subsides.

Then it’s easier to see yourself taking action and your motivation stirs.

Just remember, motivation requires a daily recommitment to doing the work to making what you desire a reality.

That focus creates your motivation to keep going.

When your child tells you, “NO!”

When your child tells you, “NO!”
Give em a little credit.
 
It’s their first foray into setting boundaries.
 
I meet too many adults who are overwhelmed because they learned at a young age that they had no right to say, “NO!”
 
It was considered, talking back, disrespectful, selfish, etc.
 
The result is you take on too much, try to please everyone, have horrible self-care and have difficulty meeting your own needs.
 
You were instructed to do what you were told or to play nice.
 
“NO,” “STOP,” “ENOUGH,” are essential for regulating the quantity and intensity of the energy you allow into your lives.
 
As someone living with ADHD or ASD (Autism Spectrum Differences), you need to be able to ask for clarification, feedback, accomodations and set boundaries. You need to be able to do this with confidence. (I can help you with this).
 
As parents we don’t have license to steamroll over our children “because I said so.” They can’t learn self-discipline and self-control if they aren’t allowed to say “WHEN!”
 
Put your ego in check and see what’s behind the, “NO.”
 
If your child’s, “NO” is never respected, they’ll stop saying it and it sets them up to be mistreated in relationships.
 
The healthiest relationships have articulated and respected boundaries. Help your child speak up for themselves. Including with you.

I just don’t feel motivated

Sound familiar? Common experience for many with ADHD or ASD.
 
In our all or nothing nervous system we like it or we don’t. We’re good at it or we aren’t.
 
We can hyperfocus on certain things for hours because they’re the things we’re good at. They place few demands on our executive functions and provide loads of dopamine and serotonin.
 
The other stuff is much harder with a higher failure rate. Gee, which activities am I going to lean toward?!
 
Also, motivation isn’t one thing such as will-power. It’s a combination of focused attention on a goal, emotional enthusiasm about attainment of the goal, belief the goal can be attained, for example.
 
There’s also the question, “Motivation to do what?” Maybe I’m more motivated to avoid the risks involved in what’s being asked of me. Will I feel stupid, look stupid, be reminded I need more help than other people, you name it.
 
I could also be reminded that it’s great I have people to call on when I need them. That I’ve learned clever workarounds for everyday problems and live in a digital world where I can likely find a solution online.
 
Becoming more motivated requires you to change your relationship with failure. From adversarial to advisory, it has so much to teach you about humility, curiosity and resilience.
 
It requires you to begin experiencing discomfort as the butterflies in your stomach right before your first kiss. It’s exhilarating, a little dangerous, an unknown, it won’t kill you, you’re going to be okay when it’s over, you may just be changed by it.
 
You may have more reasons for inaction than anything. You’re sick of feeling defeated. I get it. I spend much of my day bringing my attention back to what I was focusing on. I probably only spend a few hours of actual focused activity. That isn’t laziness that’s ADHD.
 
I’m highly motivated but I’m poorly focused and highly distractible. But I digress.
 
Bottom line. Motivation isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. You often need to dig a little deeper to see what bubbles up when the idea of taking action occurs to you.
 
What do you expect the result to be?
How do you expect to feel about that result?
How do you expect to feel about yourself?
How often are these your answers when faced with this situation?
 
Will you allow me to help you break free from this pattern?

Love yourself – just because

Love thy neighbor as thyself. That’s assuming you love yourself.

We’re raised to be on our best behavior. To be friendly, polite, social.

We aren’t typically taught how to be our own best friend. Loving, supportive and understanding.

In fact, we’re often taught to feel in such a way is selfish and prideful. Self worth is selfish 🤔

But you want to feel this love and acceptance somehow and the next best way is by creating it for someone else through an act of service (e.g. kindness, friendship).

It’s a conundrum. You can accept the kindness of others and feel good about it. You can feel good because they feel good. The behavior gives you permission.

You only seem to feel good when giving is happening and people are happy.

But you’re discouraged from loving yourself just because. Without conditions.

This is the kind of love you owe to yourself. To love yourself just because.

From that place you can love yourself when you shine as well as when you stumble. When you hurt and when, in time, you heal.

You’re always worthy of love you give yourself just because.

Hmmm. That’s an interesting idea. Just because.

Want to give it a shot?

What time is your ADHD?

Do you have trouble sequencing (doing things in order) because of your ADHD? Me too.

You know what else requires the ability of sequencing to fully appreciate – TIME.

We conceive of time in a linear way (e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc). Whereas counting is straightforward, the more abstract experience of time estimation or time passing requires you to imagine time as an experience vs a concrete measure.

Your brain struggles with that when it’s poor at sequencing.

I need to have a clock accessible at all times or I feel disoriented because I don’t know how much time has passed.

It’s like I feel stuck in time unless the clock tells me time is actually passing.

In fact, one reason folks with ADHD can be so impatient is because a brain lousy at sequencing wants to skip over the points between A to Z (because it doesn’t know how to sequence them) and just wants to deal with A and Z, all or nothing, now or not now.

One solution for this impatience is self awareness about the sequencing issue and the role it plays here.

Is this helpful?

I may just cry over this…

I could cry I’m feeling so frustrated.

On my way home from seeing yet another specialist in Chicago.

My MS Doctor believed the reason for the nerve pain in my legs was because of nerve damage being caused by an additional autoimmune condition that was attacking the nerves in my legs.

So I had an EMG and just met with the specialist to get the results. She said there’s no nerve damage in my legs and thinks my MS Doctor may be confused in thinking the MS can’t be responsible for my symptoms.

One problem the Doctors have in fully visualizing my MS is they can’t use contrast during the MRI because I also have kidney disease.

The Doctor today said she thinks I may have a lesion on my brain stem that isn’t far enough along to be seen without contrast.

She ordered 15 vials worth of blood work to check for some rare things and a few vitamin deficiencies but essentially we’re back to, “We don’t know why you’re feeling as miserable as you are.”

It’s harder to walk, difficult to use my hands and no one can tell me why.

Where do I go from here?

Wallowing in self-pity won’t do me or the people in my life any good.

If I end up crying so be it, it’s cathartic and cleanses the body of stress hormones.

So I’ll remind myself I’m no worse off than when I started this day. The things that make my life worth living are all around me.

The only thing I’ve lost is hope that I’d receive news that there was a way to make me feel better.

Since that isn’t happening today, I can continue focusing on the countless other reasons for me to be happy.

Shifting my focus back to what I have to be grateful for is the plan. I’m glad I decided to write this because I can already feel it working.