ADHD and Other Letters: Time, the Suitcase

As a person with ADHD, I do not perceive time passing.

Apparently there is a part of the brain that manages this in neurotypical people, to varying degrees, but for me, that just doesn’t exist. Time exists in one of two states: now and not now.

When I first tripped over this phrasing, it was in the comments section of the Captain Awkward blog, and I think my brain screeched to a damn halt when I read that. Read it again. And again. Holy shit. Holy shit.

That’s how I first began to truly suspect I might have ADHD. That was my lightning bolt moment.

See, the thing is, just the week before, I’d explained – with self-deprecating humour and apology and embarrassment, because I am always fucking late – that I had this weird thing where time only seemed to exist when I looked at a clock. “It was twenty past ten,” I said, “and I knew I had to get moving at ten thirty, so I figured I had ten minutes to read! The only problem is that, while I was reading, in my brain it was still twenty past ten, and it stayed that time until I looked up.”

At which point, time doing that thing that it does – i.e., being in continuous forward motion without stopping, like a complete bastard – I discovered that it was not twenty past ten. It was closer to eleven. I had now missed one train and was well on the way to missing the next one.

But… everyone knows what’s it like to look up at the clock and be genuinely shocked, right?

Well, yeah, but here’s the thing: most people don’t need a series of incremental alarms to make sure they get to their appointments in the morning.

Screenshot of an iPhone alarm screen with the following times and labels:
8:35am. put some fucking pants on
8:40am. What did I just say?
8:45am. Leave in 15 minutes
8:50am. Leave in 10 minutes
9:00am. You better be in the car, or so help me god
My phone, she cast the shade.
Continue reading ADHD and Other Letters: Time, the Suitcase

Goodbye to my very favourite wizard

Six years ago this month, I said goodbye to my little grey fluff elemental Jabba.

And now my brown tabby floof, who chews on blankets (and sleeves) and kneads paws like he is making bread to feed an army, is gone.

…he was chewing my sleeve but stopped when he noticed the phone.

I took this video on Saturday. He’d been off his feed a little, but with the winds that didn’t surprise me much. He was just as snuggly and purry as usual.

Then tonight he lost his back legs.

He had a heart condition — enlarged left atrium, mitral valve insufficiency, lots of blood mixing from different chambers — and along with an insistent heart murmur, that means a risk of clots and heart failure. He’s been on medication for over a year, but ever since that ultrasound, I knew he was probably never going to be the most long-lived little fellow.

But he got through the past year with us, evacuated from the destruction of our house in a dive tub, spending two weeks in a single bedroom being glared at by dad’s cat, scampering up and down the stairs of the AirBnB in North Melbourne, sunning himself by the back door in Yarraville and cuddling up to us in the cold in Upwey.

Though at all these places, the move-in day would be marked by him hiding so effectively in a new house that we would frequently be searching for a Magic Camouflage cat.

(I mean. Archchancellor of the Unseen University. He had to have a few tricks up his sleeve.)

Through it all: insistently stepping on keyboards and notebooks and claiming laps and climbing into the kitchen sink to lick the bowls, haunting the underside of the coffee table like a goblin, and sleeping on my head whenever I had a nap, feeling sad, as I have done a fair bit over the past year.

There’s not much they can do for this condition, when it comes on; and it’s pretty painful.

So we said goodbye. And I got a last cuddle, and a last little purr, and when the vet asked if I wanted more time, I said no, because he was so clearly in distress, in spite of biffing my hand. 

He was my birthday cat. I am going to miss him so much.

I already do.

Vale Mustrum Ridcully, but mostly Riddles. You were my very favourite wizard.

Frameworks: Valid vs Fair

Thinking about Feeling

We do it every day, but I think we don’t always understand how difficult it is to navigate the emotions that come with our own humanity. Animals very clearly have feelings – we recognise emotional responses in those that are most similar to us, and probably we misinterpret them, so keen to anthropomorphise; but humanity has an extra problem, and that’s the advanced cognitive response.

We have these sizable brains that are constantly reconfiguring themselves, processing and responding, analysing and calculating, and we have the thoughts and the reasons and sometimes the emotions crash into them so hard that you feel bruised on all sides.

We do it every day. It’s hard.

Give yourself a pat on the back for being human, for making it this far.

Continue reading “Frameworks: Valid vs Fair”

After the Storm: one year

I was on the front page of the ABC news website yesterday. You can read that story here.

I also did a TV interview, on the property. You can watch that here (I can’t seem to find a “not Facebook video” link, apologies. If anyone does, fling it into the comments and I’ll edit, with thanks).

There are so many parts of this whole experience that I need to write about; I feel bad that there are people who went to great lengths to help us out and I haven’t written their part of the story yet. I know they didn’t do it for that reason, but it’s important to me to acknowledge the hand that reaches out and holds on long enough to take any part of this load.

Continue reading “After the Storm: one year”

After the Storm: Patchwork

My last post dealt with the first day of salvage operations, and how hard I found it to ask for help. This is about the second day, and the strange transition into trauma mode.

The reason I’m writing about those first few days in such detail is that they were very intense and chaotic and focused, and every detail feels important, in a way that isn’t usually the case in everyday life.

I don’t really remember the rest of the time very well. Time at Dad’s place felt… diffuse and strange and unreal. Time spent in the wreckage of my beloved home felt vivid, almost hyperreal. I’ve been back there a couple of times since then – we had to shift the furniture, and take photographs for insurance, and I felt the need to dig through the rubble of my study in the faint hope of finding some other lost piece of my life – and it felt the same, every time.

I know this is a trauma response, the way the world sharpens so intensely when I go back there; the way I feel raw and broken and angry for days afterwards; how at some point I will break down, utterly; but there are reasons I am grateful for the intensity of that response, because there were some really good and important moments, and even if I don’t remember the order everything happened in, I remember the moments, and the good ones have changed me in some fundamental way.

That’s why I focus on this. It helps.

So here we are: Friday 11th June, 2021. Alternative title for this post: Friday Night at Fountain Gate.

Continue reading “After the Storm: Patchwork”

It’s so pretty!

Yes, it’s long overdue, but better late than never – what with me working hard behind the scenes to revitalise and level-up the ol’ WordPress site, I’ve finally gone and changed the template and the colours and just messed around with the layout a bit – I really like the way it looks, and I think the colour contrast should be very readable, but just to be safe I went with a sans serif font for the basic text.

(note: if you’re reading this in AMP mode, whether on your phone or otherwise, all you will notice is the change of colour in the header, but even that change makes me thoroughly delighted.)

Down the track I may want to change the URL, and that process is easy enough but the associated processes require a bit of fine-scale attention so I’m holding off for now.

Looking at this just reminds me how much my brain loves contrasting colour and whitespace as a way to divvy up information and focus on it. The sidebar backgrounds just make my brain light up. It’s delightful.

Anyways: I have plans, watch this space!

F**k the Pandemic: I smell a RAT

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. I’m not a virologist. I’m not an epidemiologist. I’m not an immunologist. I don’t work in public health in any capacity. If you have more detail and information on anything I’ve written here, or if I’ve made an error on something, please do let me know! I would much rather be a bit sheepish about a mistake and correct it, than leave up something that is incorrect and potentially cause harm. I write this stuff because people can’t make good decisions without good information, and it’s sometimes harder to find good information than it should be.

21/3/2022 Five new tests added, new omicron sensitivity data added. Replaced WordPress table with graphic of spreadsheet because life is short, damn it, but the Google Sheets link will still take you to the right place.
7/3/2022 Corrected a copy/paste error regarding two tests; added newly approved test.
2/3/2022 Added six new approved self-test RATs and no new omicron sensitivity data.
21/2/2022 Adding three new approved tests overall and one addition to the omicron sensitivity list.
11/2/2022 Adding another eight tests to the omicron sensitivity list! Woot!
2/2/2022 Added new approved TGA self-test (not on post-market review yet).
31/1/2022 Added Ko-Fi button to post. Two more test manufacturers provided evidence of Omicron sensitivity: those tests (InnoScreen and CareStart) added to shortlist.
22/1/2022 Added information from scientist and public health friends. Corrected errors and typos.

The Context for this Post

(You can skip this if you want to get to the meaty parts. It’s 400 words of background and complaint. Important stuff starts here.)

The next post I put up was supposed to be about the aftermath of the storm, and that’s about half done, but it’s become clear that this is more urgent.

I haven’t really posted about COVID-19 or the Pandemic in a long time – back in March 2020, I was trying to bust myths because everyone was drowning in a swamp of panic and misinformation. I kept doing that for a few months and then I really burned out. I think I threw out another post at one point because it touched on taxonomy and PCR, two things I happen to know a lot about.

Continue reading “F**k the Pandemic: I smell a RAT”

ADHD and Other Letters: Listen to How You Talk to Yourself

Note: this is a repost. I think I wrote this one in the middle of 2019, but I can’t be sure. I converted to “draft” without realising that the post would get taken down; I wanted to fix the footnote now that I know how to do the anchors.

Alternatively: “Mate, do not punch yourself in the face just to get in first, it’s not a good strategy.”

(Why yes, I did have some trouble with the title, why do you ask?)

At this point, I’ve read a good deal about ADHD (naturally; I am who I am). I’ve been reading the descriptions and explanations and therapeutic recommendations. I’ve been reading the experiences of other people, particularly other adult women, since that’s a very particular subset of ADHD folks.

A very common message in these sorts of books is one of acceptance: accept that ADHD is neurobiological. It’s a part of you, and it’s not a moral problem, and it’s not shameful. It does come with strengths as well as the more obvious difficulties. There’s emotional dysregulation, but there’s also a tendency towards passionate interest and dedication. There’s forgetfulness and chaos, but there’s also a strong correlation with creative problem-solving. There’s a noisy, distracted brain that freaks out and can’t concentrate, but there’s also a vast sea of ideas.

Mainly, though, we tend to focus on the challenges and the difficulties. Forgetting things all the time. Losing your train of thought. Losing your keys. Endless lists and post-it notes, endless calendars and diaries you forget to check. The inability to perceive time passing, a world that exists only in now and not now. Difficulty deciding to do things. Difficulty deciding anything. Fatigue and brain fog. An inability to manage and organise life in ways that seem very, very simple to neurotypical people.

Then there’s the shame. Why is it so hard to stay tidy? Why is it so hard to be organised? Why lose things? Why don’t you just concentrate? Why don’t you just try harder? You’re so sensitive. You’re so defensive. You’re so exhausting.

Most ADHD people (if not all) hear this litany at some point throughout their lives. It’s cruel and it’s miserable; it comes from a very human and understandable place – if you don’t have any form of executive dysfunction, it’s almost impossible to imagine what it’s like and why can’t you just do it for god’s sake…

Continue reading “ADHD and Other Letters: Listen to How You Talk to Yourself”

After the Storm: Salvage Ops and Letting People Help

evacuated in my pyjamas

Most people in my life learned about what happened to the Mountain Fortress from Facebook, in a short post I’d managed to get out there via our wavering 4G reception.

Enormous tree has crushed half of house. Literally crushed. Bedroom destroyed. Spare room destroyed. If anyone has cat carriers we need two. Still can’t leave driveway. Michael on phone to emergency services now.

Cats okay. Dog okay. can’t get to bathroom, meds or clothes.

What became of this Facebook announcement, what followed on from it, is really what this particular blog post is about.

That first night was about survival, about taking care of the animals, finding a place to stay (Dad’s), letting people know what was going on, and getting to Dad’s place. After everyone went to bed, I stayed up until about four or five in the morning, wearing a fluffy onesie that my stepmother lent me (since I’d been evacuated in my pyjamas and they were covered in very cold mud), and I sat up in the living room with Michael’s laptop: to update social media again, reply to a few messages, and to email my doctor and ask for replacement prescriptions.

There was so much to think about, so much to worry about. We were pretty sure we were underinsured by a few hundred thousand dollars, and we wouldn’t find out for several days that our specific insurer indexed our coverage annually. We needed to recover everything we possibly could from the wreckage, and we’d only seen it in the pitch black of the storm and associated power outages; we had no idea what we’d even be able to salvage.

Even if it weren’t for the insurance shortfall, I’d want to salvage everything, because I like my stuff.

The last post told a story that was brutal to live through.

This is about what happened right after that. I call those first few days “Salvage Operations.”

Continue reading “After the Storm: Salvage Ops and Letting People Help”