ADHD Revelations and Thoughts on Breaking Bad Habits

Greetings! I’m going to jump right into a topic, because my brain is bubbling over with thoughts. Okay, so I went to therapy the other day and we’ve started doing this practice where I record my “Stuck Points” throughout the week, and we talk about them, so I had my list of “Experience, Self-Talk, and Emotions” ready for grading (I love homework). I’m not going to tell you all of them [you’re welcome], but I’ll give you one tame example:

Experience: I apparently didn’t read the fine print well enough on a Groupon deal, and ended up buying two of something that I didn’t need/want. This was explained to me kindly but matter-of-factly by the manager of the business, over the phone.
Self-Talk: I am officially and hereafter the dumbest bucket of garden rocks in the history of agriculture.
Emotion: Deep shame, utter embarrassment, self-loathing, defensive, angry.

Now, my read on this situation, post-experience, was that there was probably some deeply-rooted cause for my overreaction, having to do with being punished for making mistakes in childhood. And there absolutely may be something there, but my wise and perceptive therapist had a different take. She reminded me that I was diagnosed with and definitely have ADHD (combined type). I know I’ve blogged about this before, but in case you need a refresher, here are the symptoms of ADHD:

  • Inattention: Includes disorganization, problems staying on task, constant daydreaming, and not paying attention when spoken to directly.
  • Impulsivity: Includes spur-of-the-moment decisions without thinking about the chance of harm or long-term effects. They act quickly to get an immediate reward. They may regularly interrupt teachers, friends, and family.
  • Hyperactivity: Involves squirming, fidgeting, tapping, talking, and constant movement, especially in situations where it’s not appropriate.

My therapist looked down my list of Stuck Points and said emphatically that they were all in some way related to my ADHD. Specifically regarding the Groupon story, it made perfect sense that my brain would stop reading half-way through the fine print, because I literally can’t pay attention for very long. In fact, I remember even when I was on the phone with the manager, my mind started to wander. My brain has a disorder! It’s real, its effects are real, and there is no cure–– only treatment, which I am on.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I’ve been amassing an Indiana Jones warehouse full of self-loathing throughout the years, based on my disorganization, failure to follow-through, inability to pay attention, impulsive decisions, lack of long-term planning, and inappropriate social behavior. Now I’m being told that none of that was my fault, or even in my control.

NEVER SEEN BEFORE MEME FORMAT! INVEST NOW TO RID OF YOUR VISIBLE CONFUSION  FOR VISIBLE SHOCK!!! via /r/MemeEconomy – funny memes content

So if anybody needs any self-loathing, I have a hell of a lot more than I need.

On to other things . . . I’ve been spending quite a bit of time building up my website. One new thing you’ll notice is that I am now officially for hire! I know I spent a lot of time a few years ago trying desperately to separate myself from custom art, but I have a little more confidence these days, and also I just don’t care as much as I used to–– about “selling out” and whatnot. It’s not selling out to draw somebody I don’t know, doing something I don’t understand–– as long as it’s in my style. It’s been a while since I did any custom art though, so I’m going to be offering some pro bono packages soon. If you think you’re a good fit, just shoot me an email with “Pro Bono” in the subject line.

I also have finally populated my Etsy shop. It’s all old stuff, but I’m working on some new things that’ll hopefully be in there before too long.

I guess the big and glorious news is that I’m done with chemo! The staff at the infusion suite all signed a sweet little certificate for my last day. I feel so lucky, only having to do four months of chemo, and doing relatively well throughout the whole thing. There were so many people in that ward who were not doing well. It’s hard to think about. And I know I don’t have to, but it’s also hard not to think about. Cancer’s an Equal Opportunity Destroyer™️. It doesn’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did, as long as you’ve got something to lose 🎵 (not as catchy as the N’sync version, but just as poignant, am I right?).

It’s hard to talk about the nitty gritty of cancer, mainly because I feel so outside of it. All I know is that it’s been an adventure. The ups and downs, the new environments, the new language, the new understanding . . . it’s all been a real wild ride! But also, I know that I have some new responsibilities, some new expectations for life, some new decisions to make. These are the things that I don’t like to think or talk about. Like my love-hate relationship with carbs.

I want to think about this for a minute. Or, more to the point, I want to think about bad habits. So the first step toward breaking a cycle is to be aware of it. But before you can even start to process the “how” and “why” of the situation, I think an equally impulsive replacement habit needs to be formed, to prevent the negative effects of the bad behavior, thus making room to be able process anything at all. The new habit has got to be a knee-jerk rejection of the old habit. I’m going to give it a name.

This second step is to Flush. Flushing removes any possibility of engaging in the bad behavior. It’s a quick and easy motion, that’s hopefully already an intuitive action. For instance, if snacking is the bad behavior, flushing might be a lightning-fast slap on the hand and about-face. Or maybe it could be stamping one foot and declaring aloud, “No!” Or, if you don’t like the defensive posturing, you could lightning-fast snap your fingers and about-face, or stamp one foot and declare, “Boom!” Anything could probably work, as long as you’re decisively flushing that other impulse down the toilet.

After you’ve “flushed,” and maybe the stink has cleared a bit, then is the time to address the feelings that led to the temptation.

Anyway, I think this topic has gone on long enough. The point was that cancer has changed my life, in a hundred ways, but I think the new responsibility of taking good care of myself is going to be the hardest change to face.

Other big and glorious news is that Adam (my Howdy Partner) has successfully defended his thesis!! Hooray! That means he’s basically graduated. He’ll be officially accredited and acclaimed and ready for the next step in his career on May 14 (a day before his birthday)! What a weird and long and wind-y road it’s been! Whoa I just got a severe craving for stuffed grape leaves. His show is down now, but if you’d like to see it, he took a bunch of video and photos, and would be happy and honored to show it to you.

His thesis was manifold (manifold? That can’t be the right word . . . ). He wanted to involve all of the things he’s been working on over the past four years, from paper and board making, to conservation, to design binding. And he did it! The title of the show was, “Materials and Process for Rebinding Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” and it was a great success.

What’s next for the Bryant-Baudrons gang? Well, who knows. I’m trying not to start packing, although it is a temptation. Not that I haven’t grown to absolutely love my life here in Iowa City, but I’m anxious to move on to the next chapter of our lives. The thought is that we’ll wait for Adam to land a job somewhere and go from there. I can do my art and Art Office anywhere, and I’ll bet there’ll be an art supply store wherever we end up living, so I can get a job there if I have to.

The kind of work Adam’s looking for is very specialized. Ideally, it would be a conservation technician position at a museum or library, but he’d be open to any type of bookbinding or conservation job where he gets to work on actual materials (he’s calling that a “bench” job). If you hear of any, let me know.

I think that’s all I can muster right now. Hope everyone’s having a good weekend!

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