I just took an OCD test on Buzzfeed, and apparently I’m 100% OCD. While this is not an accurate test by any measure – it was way too easy, I think everyone would score 100% on this one – it also isn’t totally untrue. I know I’m a bit OCD. It’s something I’ve become more and more aware of the older I get. Or, rather, the more and more I try to dig in to my own mind, the more I’m finding out about myself…if that makes sense at all.
This summer has been a strange one for me. It went by very fast (which, if you’ve been reading this blog, you will know is totally okay with me) with lots of ups and downs along the way. I’ve been trying to do a lot of self-evaluation, a lot of mental and emotional work on trying to figure out the reasons why I do (or don’t) do things. I was diagnosed in May with ADHD, which, as a 31-year-old woman who would NEVER be described as hyper active, was totally shocking. At first I just kind of stared at my therapist, wondering if I should laugh it off and immediately find a new therapist once this session was over. But then she explained why she thought this diagnosis was accurate – feelings of impulsivity to the point of fear, starting things and never finishing them, high creative highs followed by depressing lows, a sense of underachievement, chronic procrastination. Yup, all of the above.
Immediately a flood of memories and feelings came rushing back to me. The times in grade school when I simply couldn’t concentrate on my math homework because I was too engrossed in the book I was reading. The plays I used to write as a ten-year-old, only to give up because I thought they wouldn’t be good enough. The times I was reprimanded in class for talking out of turn. The tattoo I got on a whim when I was 18…and again at 31. All the classes I started and never finished, the degree that I am still 18 credits shy of achieving. The novels I’ve started writing but never completed. The assignments I got A’s on because I was actually interested in them (like instead of writing a history report on the Revolutionary War, I wrote a historical fiction journal instead...such a dork) or the assignments I got D’s on because I had zero interest. Apparently, I’ve had classic signs of ADHD my whole life, but never knew it.
Honestly, it wasn’t until I started this blog – something that was supposed to be fun and creative, yet turned quickly in to something much more than that – that I realized I had a problem. Why can’t I stick to something I like doing? Why do I let myself go months without posting? Why do I get in my own head?
As a child, ADD and ADHD were not really talked about. Sure, there were kids that everyone knew had something “wrong” with them because they were sent to the nurse’s office for their meds every day. But there weren’t too many kids like that. Then, it seemed to explode. It seemed that everyone in high school was being diagnosed, and in college the availability of Adderall and Ritalin were as common as Tylenol. My parents were always very concerned with how many kids were being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, and truthfully so was I. It seemed like the default diagnosis. Your kid can’t concentrate in school – ADD. Your kid won’t do his homework – ADD. Your kid won’t shut up during math class – ADD. To me, it sounded like the education system was to blame, not the kids. It seemed like a cop out.
Growing up with the notion that “ADHD is the most over diagnosed disorder” I think hindered my diagnosis as a child. With that label being slapped on every kid that seems at all “rowdy” or energetic, and who are then prescribed pills that can certainly make them zombie-like, it’s no wonder parents are wary of any teacher or nurse or guidance counselor steering them in a medicated direction. In my case, however, I wish my parents had listened.
After a couple of weeks of talking things through with my therapist and my husband, I decided to give the medications a try. I was prescribed Adderall, and tried it for a week. At first I felt great – I noticed my concentration was focused - it’s like putting on a pair of glasses, you don’t feel different but you can see things sharper, more fine-tuned. But after a couple of days, the headaches started and I felt very strange. I’m not a person who does well with any sort of drug (I tried pot a few times...didn’t go over so well…) so I decided pretty quickly to take myself off the Adderall and try a more natural approach.
So here we are, trying to figure things out. I don’t know if anyone reading this has been to therapy before, but man is it a lot of work. I think it’s great, but It’s surprisingly hard to dig in to yourself and try to confront the things you don’t like or don’t understand. I usually leave happy, but pretty exhausted. I feel like being diagnosed with something new at 31 years old is a strange place to be. I am relieved to know that I am the way that I am for certain reasons, but I also feel silly for even thinking this is a big deal. Because, really, it’s not. I wasn’t diagnosed with a life threatening disease, or an ailment that affects my every moment, but it still feels like a change for me. Maybe it’s not a big deal…but it’s a deal. I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed…but can you ever just be whelmed? I think you can in Europe. (little “10 Things I Hate About You” for those of you that get that reference…)
As I posted on Instagram a few days ago, one of my goals of navigating this ADHD thing without meds is trying to stick to things – to calendars and schedules, to a plan. And the biggest thing on my plan is sticking with this blog. I don’t want to come out with a list of projected posts or goals I hope to meet, because if I do that I know I will stress myself out and throw in the towel and quit. Because that’s what I usually do…I go big or I go home. Sometimes I suppose that can be a good thing, but most times I end up crying on the kitchen floor covered in flour and angry that the recipe I spent all day working on didn’t come out. That may have happened on Tuesday. I’ve never been the type of person that caves to peer pressure. People have always said to me “Wouldn’t you want to prove them wrong?” as if that would work on me. I’m sorry, no. If someone tells me I can’t do something, I usually agree with them. I’ve never been the person to go do it just to prove someone wrong. I’m the person that says “Yup, you’re right. I can’t do it. Fuck it, I’m reading a book instead.” And I’ve usually been okay with that. But, in the spirit of changing my outlook, I’m telling myself that yes I can do this. Yes, I can stick to something and make it work. So I’m going to give it some solid effort, try not to talk myself out of it, try not to get suffocated by the what-if’s and the Negative Nancy voices in my head. I’m going to enjoy each day and each season and get excited about things instead of anxious and overwhelmed. Let’s start with apples, shall we?
• Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings •
makes 6 servings
I originally saw this recipe in an old colonial cook book, but I adapted it to fit my taste and my kitchen. If you like less spices, or more sugar, adjust accordingly.
• one half batch of this pie dough (I suggest that you make the full recipe, you can refrigerate one half and use it later, as you will only need one half of the dough that this recipe makes)
• three apples, peeled and cored and cut in half through its width
• three tablespoons cold butter, cut in to quarters
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon cardamom
• 1 tablespoon cloves
• 1 teaspoon coarse salt
Preheat the oven to 375F
Once your apples are peeled and cored and cut in half width wise, spritz them with some lemon juice and set aside
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, the spices and the salt and set aside
On a floured work surface, roll out your pie dough until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick
Cut your pie dough into six squares or rectangles. You want them large enough to envelop your apple halves
Place one apple half on one square of dough and put one cube of butter in the hole where the core was. Top it with a tablespoon of the sugar and spice mixture and add one more cube of butter
Bring each corner of the pie dough to fold over each other, to enclose the apple in dough
Repeat for each apple half, then place the apples on a parchment lined baking tray or in a baking dish
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown
Serve warm with a generous portion of whipped cream and hot tea
listening to: Cleopatra by The Lumineers