Why Was I Not Diagnosed Already?

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I have Ritalin! Hooray. God, I hope this helps. I’m tired of feeling like my brain’s fractured and being sandpapered all the time, and apparently that’s not normal. Good to know!

Also, I’m…kind of shocked no one offered to test me for ADHD before? I match up incredibly well with many of the criteria, *and* I’ve responded well to the one dopamine-affecting drug I was already taking.

I’m guessing two factors were involved:

1) I already have a set treatment ‘story’ and it’s been in place for years. My story is that I’m chronic depressive and OCD. Once you get a narrative set in place like that, it’s hard to look around, both for your professionals and yourself.

2) I’m femme. Girls are taught to make it an absolute priority to be thoughtful, polite, quiet, and *not disruptive.* And I am and was heavily invested in Being Good. So I think there’s a gender bias towards not considering ADHD for girls, because there’s a greater chance we learn to mask *and* learn to endure constant internal discomfort because we’re trying *really hard* to be good. If we hurt and feel bad a lot, that’s okay, as long as we make sure to *keep it to ourselves.*

Obviously, I’m a little salty about that second one.

Here’s hoping treatment helps.

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More FFXIV art!

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Oh, in fun and not complicated-brain-and-body-health news, I commissioned some more art of my FFXIV OC, Camille Delane! Here we go, these portraits are by EllieMars; you can follow her on Mastodon and look out for flash commission spots here.

Taking Next Steps

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Alright, there’s no point beating around the bush with a mental disorder (or, in fact, any health disorder that’s proceeded to the point where it’s impairing one’s ability to be employed and to care for oneself).

I’ve contacted both my therapist and my psychiatrist to ask to talk to them asap about testing for ADHD and pursuing both therapeutic and medication help, if it seems like I show signs. (And if they say I don’t, I’ll have to build my case, because I think I have a very solid one, and nothing I’m taking or doing right now is helping me, so…trying this may be incredibly important.)

I hope there’s something I can do. It’s so frustrating both on a personal and a professional level to just *not be able to do* tasks I *want* and need to do. Anything that doesn’t involve an inherent simplistic flow (translation, knitting, reading, language-learning through exposure, video games, chatting online…), where I can pick it up, do it without planning or following steps (beyond basic skill knowledge), and then put it down just doesn’t get done. And I can’t live like that any longer! It’s terrible for my employability, my health, and my mood.

Fingers crossed I can find a first step towards better health quickly. And that I can move through the part where I grieve for not having support or abilities in the past and its effect on my life as quickly as is healthy. That part is always the least fun.

Rebuilding from the Base

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So, if you’ve checked out my About page, you’ll know I’m obsessive-compulsive (diagnosed) and chronic depressive. (I also have some traits that match up with ADHD. The long and the short of it is, put me in a room with folks with social/mood disorders of any type, and I’ll relate to everyone at least a little bit.)

And I wear out. You can set a clock by it–after four or five years, I hit a wall. Burnout, anxiety, and depression take over; my living space falls apart; I feel lost and frustrated; I can’t focus or plan. Everything’s overwhelming and tiring. I’m exhausted no matter how long or well I sleep.

Not good for work, obviously.

In the past, I’ve kept going until I crashed and burned, hitting the health-crisis wall. Weeks or months later, I get up and start over, hoping it won’t happen again.

It does, of course. And it’s been about five years since my last crash. I’ve felt the next one coming for at least eight months now, right after my stamina was depleted by helping run a massive conference. I’ve tried short breaks (a week), med tweaks (I’m taking Welbutrin XL now, which has helped! And also is part of why I’m now considering that, with my lack of ability to plan and fractured attention span, ADHD may be an issue…), letting people at work know about my depression and burnout…

Nothing’s helped. The crash keeps coming.

So I’ve done something new. This time, I’ve decided to be proactive. I asked work if I could use all of my vacation hours at once, plus, with my medical professionals’ support, several sick days. They granted permission, and I’ve just started a full three weeks off.

I’m going to use this time to start building back up from the bottom. First, I want to address my anxiety and the possibility of ADHD. If I’ve been misdiagnosed for most of my life, and depression and OCD symptoms were either comorbid or caused by struggling with undiagnosed ADHD–I don’t know. I’ll have to rework my identity again to think of myself as ADHD, not OCD. I’ll need to educate myself on a disorder I don’t know much about. I’ll have to work with my psychiatrist and therapist to see if they’ll help me explore alternative drugs and therapy techniques; I may need to find a new psychiatrist to focus on that with.

And I have to keep a job. That’s the big one. How do I do that around this? I’m going to have a *lot* of work to do, and it’s hard enough for me to focus on big jobs even when I only have one or two to focus on…

I’ll get it done. If it can help, and I can feel like I can plan and focus, and if that’s what’s been causing me pain for so long… I’ll get it done.

Woo, mental health. I wish I had a neurotypical brain. I love my ability to daydream intensely and to learn languages and pick up certain other skills quickly, but… If I could plan and focus and wasn’t anxious all the time… That would be so nice.

 

Me and My Compost Worms

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I’ve had a homemade (two stacked plastic bins with holes drilled in them) compost bin full of red wigglers doin’ their thing under my apartment kitchen sink for…at least six months now? And, boy, are those worms good at what they do. Which is eating and shitting.

You go, worms, you’re knockin’ that out of the park.

Seriously, though, they devour and convert into compost soil all of the food and non-recyclable (food-stained) paper waste I can produce in a week within the following week. You wouldn’t even know there’d ever been food in the bin.

The only drawback is a) I had fruitflies until I figured out I could wrap the bin in a pillowcase and the worms would still have enough oxygen, but the flies couldn’t get out. And b) I still have small black gnats. These seem better at finding their way out of the bin, no matter what I do. They’re a pain in the butt, but a small pain compared to lasting environmental damage. I’ll figure out how to get rid of them eventually.

So. Composting! Incredibly easy, even if you live in an apartment. Just be prepared to have a lot of compost soil to find plants to nourish with it.

 

FFXIV Art Commission!

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I got my first piece of art I’ve ever commissioned a few days ago! This is Camille Delane, my Final Fantasy XIV player character, drawn by artist CakeChoZ aka Sandrine (you can see more of her work here).

Artwork of my FFXIV guy by artist CakeChoZ

Artwork of my FFXIV OC by artist CakeChoZ/Sandrine

I’m very happy with it! Those are double cherry blossoms (Kwanzan cherry blossoms is another name for them), my favorite flowers. They’re honestly one of my favorite things in the world, and I wait for them every spring–they bloom about two weeks after other cherry trees. So it’s very neat and personal to see them in an image along with Camille.

Drawing Again!

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I used to draw all the time as a little kid and a teenager, but, in the crush of stress that was college and then coping with life (not usually all that well), I stopped. Not deliberately–it just stopped happening.

With my friends’ interest in commissioning art of characters (and my own dive into commissioning a piece featuring my Final Fantasy XIV character), I’ve been reminded drawing was a thing I used to do and enjoyed.

So now I’m drawing again! Which is a big relief, actually. It feels like something I was missing. It’s nice to do it again.

Here we go, here’s a sketch of the existential angst of a friend’s cat as a sample:

A pencil sketch of a tabby cat on its back, limbs flailing, either screaming or yawning up at the viewer.

Very Geek News

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I’ve just commissioned my first piece of art of an original character ever! Apparently this is something the Youth and many of my fellow roleplayer types frequently do, what with DeviantArt and Twitter and Tumblr and all of the other venues available for finding and sharing work.

I’ve never done it before, but I saved up some dollars (despite generally saving as much as I can right now, I’ve budgeted myself some fun purchase money each month) and asked Sandrine aka CakeChoZ to draw my Final Fantasy XIV main.

I’m looking forward to the results, and I’m also looking forward to exploring my own renewed interest in trying to start drawing again. I used to draw all the time as a kid and teenager, and talking with my friends about character art has made me miss it.

Reprinted in Apex Book of World SF, vol. 5

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Oh, right! In the middle of dealing with depression for the past half year or so, I completely forgot to mention that “Alone, on the Wind” has been reprinted in The Apex Book of World SF, vol. 5 (ed. Cristina Juradow).

As you might imagine, I was thrilled by this! Apex’s Books of World SF were some of the first publications I encountered when I was just beginning to consider daring to translate–and wondering if anyone actually published science fiction short fiction translations. After discovering the Books of World SF, I followed the trails of its authors, translators, and editors online and found the openness to translated genre short works that the net has sparked. (The English-speaking world still has a long way to go in terms of its curiosity about non-English-original fiction, but we do seem to have made some progress!)

So it’s lovely to have my first translation, which I dared to try partially because this anthology series exists, come around full circle and be reprinted in the most recent volume of the series.

My younger self would be very surprised! And pleased, in a baffled ‘wait, I can’t even emotionally- or planning-wise find my way out of a wet paper bag, how do I manage to get published in the future? …And when did I learn German?’ kind of way.

Getting Back in the Saddle

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One of the fun things about having obsessive-compulsive disorder and chronic depression is that sometimes you hit points in your life (particularly during the fall and winter and particularly if you have a low-activity–see, office–job) where you need to go into survival mode just to get through the season–or even the day.

After a week-long spate as staff at my day job’s 6,000-attendee conference this past August, my stamina hit bottom and I’ve been in survival mode until just a few weeks ago. Now that I’m back, I’m returning to hunting for a home for my translation of Karla Schmidt’s “Salvation Deadline,” a near-future scifi story set in Berlin. It’s challenging!

Unlike the beginner’s luck I experienced with “Alone, on the Wind”–accepted by the first venue I submitted it to!–“Salvation Deadline” hasn’t found a home at any of the leading SFF venues. Fantasy & Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons/Samovar, Asimov’s–no go! It’s out with Analog right now, but I’ll be surprised if it’s accepted; Analog is the most technical, ‘hard’ scifi-ish of the major venues out there, and “Salvation Deadline” is definitely character-driven, with the scifi more background than foreground.

So I’m at the point where I’m going to have to dig down and get creative and patient. To find a home for “Salvation Deadline,” I’ll need to start keeping my ear to the ground for upcoming projects that might need German scifi short stories and for more niche venues. I wish myself luck!