ADHD and other letters: “Hyperactive” or “Inattentive” or “Combined” or “oh god just stop”

When it comes to medical situations, we like labels. Clear labels can shortcut explanations, save time, validate challenges that we face, allow us to access the help that we need, provide information to professionals, comfort us, describe parts of us, and ultimately provide all the blessings of naming the beast. There are downsides to labels, for sure, particularly when they are misused, poorly understood, incorrectly applied, or stigmatised; but when you’re searching for answers, sometimes you get hungry for labels.

Sometimes you want more labels, because more detail is better, right? Except sometimes labels are erected for shitty reasons and in half-arsed ways, and they can lead you down the garden path.

The disclaimer on this post is that:

  • I am not a doctor
  • I am definitely not a psychiatrist
  • And whoa, howdy, I am not a psychiatrist specialising in ADHD.

My one appeal to authority is that I did run these ideas past my specialist, because I wanted to know if I was on the right track, or just doing that thing that I do, i.e. “Yes, Kate, you did read a lot but you know a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, right?” and I figured a professional and a specialist was the right person to bounce these ideas off.

She agreed with enthusiasm (frustrated enthusiasm, for reasons that will become clear).

Let’s tell a story about labels. It starts with gender. Continue Reading

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Small Good Things

I’m not a huge fan of Raymond Carver, in the sense that I would never read his work for fun or enjoyment. I feel it would be a little bit like stabbing myself in the kidneys for fun or enjoyment. I’m not good with horror, tragedy, or the grotesque. All the same, I have an enormous admiration for what he can achieve with a minimum of words.

Sometimes, when there are less words, the reader has to do more work, interpreting and figuring things out – and there’s value to that sort of writing as well, but it’s not what Carver did. Carver used just enough language to poke at something deep down in a shared cultural awareness. Just enough visual, enough imagery, enough dialogue to arouse suspicion, to stir up the dark things lurking in the depths, rising up into a slow realisation of the horror or tragedy taking place, often without stating it outright – or, if he did state it outright, it was in the most blunt and stark fashion.

I read Short Cuts, an anthology of short stories, in year 12, which was ohdeargod 20 years ago now, and there are images and feelings that will always stay with me, after only a single reading that I have never repeated. Continue Reading

On Penelope

Sometimes, I think nothing is real until I write about it.

I’ve been avoiding this, as though if I don’t write about it – if I don’t let the feelings and thoughts come out the way they need to – then it didn’t happen.

If I don’t write about it, I can still believe that nothing has changed. If I go to that little townhouse in Newmarket, and lean heavily on the doorknob (because it got stuck, and even though her dad fixed it, we’d all been shoving it so hard for so many years that it was muscle memory), I’ll see Penelope sitting on the couch with an enormous tapestry frame resting across her lap, copper-brown hair fuzzing around her head. Behind the ever-present glasses, her eyes are quiet and focused, and her face is almost stern, an expression of an unflinching rationality that has been mistaken for coldness, for aloofness.

Continue Reading