Both-And of the Either-Or

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This blog is definitely more consistent with my blog’s theme: Musings of an Afterthought. The idea of a mild trail of thoughts after the original thought is mentioned. I thought I would give insight into my processing. This will not be very grammatically correct or orgsnized. Have fun!

Here it goes: The modern society likes to create division. The Either-Or dilemma. Only two sexes (make/female). Only two afterlives (heaven/hell). Only two of anything.

But in reality-the world isn’t like that. Afterlives have levels (even traditional thinking has three with purgatory at minimum) and science has discussed the truth that many species have more than just the either or option of sex. (Not fully researched right here and not opening up the political discussion-be nice in the comments.)

Cropped shot of a group of unidentifiable businesspeople joining their hands in a gesture of unity

I think as an autistic and ADHD person – we are created to see the both-and of the world. Its. Ot exclusive, just that we are internally programmed to look outside the norm. In school I was always “standing on the fence” of the theological debate (hi friend who knows this!) or trying to compromise or work in both opinions or perspectives. I remember reading somewhere that Autistic people are more likely to struggle in trying to balance things because we want it to be good for all. And yes-I have experienced this struggle personally.

But I do think we need to spend more time figuring out how things work together better than apart. More Both than Either.

Just a thought… comment nicely… or see you next time !

Day 2 meds

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While I will not be doing this every day for the rest of the time I am taking this medicine-i figured the first few days will be insightful at least. #EndtheStigma

So Day 2–for the first time I woke up on the first alarm. Like woke up, got out of bed and was awake. To be fair-i was awake at 6am already, cause i crashed so hard at 11pm last night i couldn’t keep my eyes open thru the three blogs i finished (see my previous post on Hyperfocus). But I have a feeling that is all related to my ADHD struggles that I didn’t know about.

You see-anyone who knows me knows I struggle with getting out of bed. I’m sluggish, even with telling my brain to “get out of bed.” It was really bad when I worked in Carson and had to leave the house at 6am. I was drive to work, then sleep in my car to get “more rest” until the office building opened. It was bad. It didn’t matter how much I slept, I was always tired. This has also become an issue with Church. I loce our eary service—but it starts at 8:30am and we live 45 minutes away. So getting up super early is extremely hard.

Then i read this article https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-sleep-disturbances-symptoms/. about sleep and ADHD and realized it was my brain probably preventing me from getting up and going. I also knew that PCOS has its issues related to sleep if you’re not taking your vitamin D. So I am excited to learn this may be the beginnings of better activity levels because i have found my brain’s help to function.

I have noticed one other thing: my talkative side has gone up. I partly know that it is because I am on a stimulant, but now I actually have to think about WHEN I talk. Like just now-I wanted to talk to everyone sitting around me at the Lab (bloodwork stop) but couldn’t. Why?- I think its not socially appropriate? So i kept to myself to keep blogging 😉 which is like talking to miscellaneous people. Hmmm…maybe ADHD and autistic people should blog and journal more. At least the extroverted people like me. It allows for “brain dumping” and release of stress to try and figure out where you fit in.

Thirdly, I have begun to notice I can legitimately stop myself from over-reacting to things. Now-its only happened with reacting to my son and only a couple times-but its an actual mental decision versus a physical habit with my brain catching up.

Anyways-lets see what the week on this medicatiom brings. If anyone wants to talk about their experiences going on new medication, feel free: this is safe space.

The Glazed-Over Stare Look

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                When people think of neurodivergent people (ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, & others), typically they think they lack verbal and language skills or lack intelligence or have a low IQ. However, neurodivergent people think and feel very differently than the average person.

After discovering what autism & ADHD truly are, I have began to see how my own struggles as a child and as an adult are representative of these two very different neurological thought-processes.. One of more dominate features I possess is hyperfocus.

Hyperfocusing is the state of mind when a person gets so engrossed in an activity or task that they doing only that thing and can not notice or interact with anything else. And when I say anything, i mean ANYTHING–people calling your name, your phone, your favorite food or item even. Autistic people and ADHD people both can have hyperfocus and it can manifest in different ways for differents reasons. Dare I say it can even be a trigger for the “journey towards the never-ending rabbit hole” of information that results in you barely remembering where the day went until its 3am and you’re still researching every detail of the topic you started at 8am the previous morning.

So I wanted to provide positive and negative pictures of what hyperfocusing can look for a Autistic/ADHD person.

click on image for source

My most recent example is adding to my blog. From my general reading of other autistic and ADHD, i decided I wanted to talk about common topics for Autistics and ADHDers. I got so focused on it so heavily that I wrote 5 blogs in one evening, all longer than the little “blurbs” I sometimes write. I also started several drafts of posts that were on very deep topics–something I have always wanted to do but lacked the energy. Or motivation. Or I was too…whatever (honestly, you should watch this you tube video about motivation in ADHD people–its EXTREMELY helpful!)I was able to produce a lot of information for the benefit of myself and others. This is why hyperfocusing can be a positive. 

I have also started a bullet journal. This has been a positive because I have used my creative techniques and imagination to almost my own DIY planner that I can change/add while continuing to write. It helps me stay focused and see my schedule for how busy it really is. And while I would like to call this a positive item… a negative side effect of this bullet journal is I have become so hyperfocused on decorating it. I skip getting ready on time, interactive with my family because I became obsessed about finding designs and templates online. It’s taken over my Pinterest. And while this is milld (focus on a planner), some hyper focusing can happen on negative things, and therefore should be addressed immediately.

Is there anything you hyper focus on? Has it helped you finish tasks? Books? A degree perhaps. Comment below your positive and negative thoughts.

Day one: taking meds

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March 6th, a Friday.

Today was the first day i started taking meds for my newly diagnosed ADHD. No worries–i find it a fun “afterthought” to realize less than 5 years ago, I had no knowledge of ADHD, autism, how to interact and treatment options. Life is life I guess 🙂

Anyways, probably because I was super hyper focused amongst trying to get my kiddo ready for the new sitter or because I was attentive to every little change in body and mood, I felt different after taking the first med. The major change was that I was able to actually clear my mind. Until today, my mind was always thinking something. Never turned off. And I see this medicine as a way of helping my brain turn off the countless stimuli that constantly turns off during the way. It was shocking at first but them actually calming. Today, I actually was able to calm myself down a lot and I’m not sure if I can attribute that to the meds or just having more confidence. I also noticed that I worked straight thru work with no “drawing” time. I was super productive. I was focused. And when I would switch from one item to another, I actually remembered what I was doing most of the time. Not as bad as before (like forgetting what file I was in for a good couple seconds. As I get closer to bedtime, I can feel it slightly drifting off. the pill is extended release and I took it at 7am this morning

Here’s hoping it works the way it was intended. My brain needs this.

Adhd-ing thru life

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I want to start off this post by saying my therapist is great. Its great when you find one you like, someone that pushes your boundaries just enough but not too far and most important of all listens. But when you go to therapy, you learn things about yourself that you never thought you would. While last year was more about learning the autistic side of things, this year is turning out to be an ADHD kind of year.

First—this is not uncommon (one google search found this article) A lot of people usually learn about one neurological difference or the other (ADHD vs Autism) and in learning about that end up discovering they are masking for the other side. They are almost sister neurotribes, to use the coined term. Let me tell you my story:

Silhouette of a child. Back to school. Doodle image. Stock Vector illustration.

It started when I was talking with my therapist about my anxiety and autism. We were going thru my traits and I would tell her how I didn’t feel like my brain shut off, that I had never had a “clear head” in my life (usually i try thinking of water environments as that was as close as I could get… or a dark warm cave) in addition to telling her problems I had in school as a young child learning, reading, etc. Personally I thought these were all underlying anxiety issues that finally rose to the surface. That I just couldn’t calm down enough to really “calm down.” (by the way– my brain, especially now after having a kid, does not comprehend calm.) I also began to notice I talked at my therapist very rapidly a lot. I mean a lot. For the full 50 minutes. I talked so fast I could get lost in what I was saying and end up at the end “now where was I?” constantly–usually jumping from one topic to another where surprisingly my therapist managed to keep record. Now I don’t know if it was that or my discussions about transitions that eventually lead to maybe this isn’t anxiety but a mild form of ADHD.

Thoughts burst into my head when it first came up: “Wait, What? Me? ADHD? Nah– I’m not hyperactive. Am I? I have other friends who are ADHD? But I don’t act like them. (spoiler: boys present differently then girls). And I can focus. And I’m organized, Right? wait..maybe i’m not.But my planner looks pretty”

Yep, folks. Sara fell for it. Didn’t even research or attempt to understand what ADHD looks like. So I continued to follow this train of thought until I realized I had started in the wrong place. I worked off my assumptions about a very well researched neurological difference where I should have asked around to those who know. So I went to my autistic groups and one recommendation in a chat was to watch a female YouTube channel (here, watch her, she’s awesome!)who has ADHD and explains things in a simple understanding way. Also, I decided to get officially tested (yep, ADHD has tests to check your traits) which had some hiccups along but the way but finally I was able to see my results from sitting in front of a computer screen for an hour.

So anyways, it was discovered that I have ADHD. ADHD can present itself in three main ways: Impulsive, Hyperactive or a combination of both. I have the latter–i am thinking maybe 70-80% impulsive and 20-30% hyperactive. What was also nice is that I finally got some medicine that could help me focus, turn off the motor in my brain every once and a while. Here’s a great explanation on this

sourced from this site

I am going to try and keep track of what is going on in my head with taking new meds and learning about my ADHD. Any thoughts, suggestions??-Place them in the comments. Especially if you are Autistic and ADHD. I’d love to know it feels like if your ADHD self clamming down results in your autistic self being stronger!

April O’Neil, Canine News Reporter (2005-2020)

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So change of pace. On February 4th, 2020 I had to put my first puppy-girl April down due to health reasons. It was really hard for me, still is fresh and as a friend said “she represented all that was familiar.” So I though a healthy thing to do would be to do a memorial post so I could appropriately remember her as well as let people see a little into the world of April and I. Careful-its long. She was 14.5 years old when she passed. 

image of April at 8-weeks old being held by a shelter staff member. This was her photos from the website I would watch.

April was born on July 9, 2005. She was part of a litter brought straight to the humane society upon birth where she had 4 brothers. The brothers were named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and she was the lone girl-hence being called April. When I graduated from college, I worked HARD preparing to take on getting a dog and I had watched April since was added to the website of the Vanderburgh Humane Society (https://www.vhslifesaver.org ) I worked at Starbucks and lived in a little 1-bedroom apartment on the north east side of Evansville, Indiana. At work-some one found out I wanted a dog and talked about how they were getting puppies of a lab husky mix that they could give me. So I went to what I thought was the shelter to get information on how to get a dog. I walked in, talked to the desk clerk and 1) found out there were a rescue and 2) go across the street. But as a general rule of thumb, I always promised I would take out a dog to play with them whenever I could to help them let out energy from living inside their kennels until adoption.

So October 14, 2005 it was 2 hours before my work shift when I first met April. She was a happy puppy, excited to see and play with me. I took her out into the yard to play. Now, keep in mind, the other dogs I had taken out always ran from me, so excited to see the world and get some bent up energy out. That day, April walked out, I went and sat down on the ground in a spot in the middle of the wood chips and she walked straight up next to met, sat down and cuddled next to me. I remember asking “you don’t want to run around and play? Go be yourself! Play!” … and she didn’t move. Almost as though she knew her place was next to me. I walked to the door to leave after putting April back in her kennel with the staff and I always promised if it ever came down to I couldn’t leave the dog, I knew it was time to adopt. Well, that was that day. I literally turned around at the door, walked back and said “so what would it take for me to take her home.” I was surprised by the little paperwork, minimal cost ($90 by the way I found the receipt) and here was my new dog, Christmas collar and all

image of April-dog and I when after a few weeks of having her in my first apartment in Evansville. She was about 4 months old in this picture

I rushed home to get everything I had written down on the white board planning for a dog for months. I called my mom who was not supportive of me getting a dog on my own and thought I should take her back (keep reading-she doesn’t think this for long.) I was so happy. I had my first puppy.

The next few months consisted of me taking my dog for walks around 3am (work shifts) or learning what “potty training” is and that baby gates are for the weak-minded because April learned to claim 6 feet of baby gate blocking her in the bedroom while I was at work. I took her to Petsmart (where people were so happy to see her get a home-they knew her from the shelter’s events at the store), to work on my days off and she learned about the awesomeness of our local mail man and about snow (I have several photos of her jumping and playing in it.) At the same time, my mom’s health was not in a good place, so she insisted along with my secrete desire to go home to move back to California. So I drove 3 days with 4 hotel stays (I left at 2am the first night because I couldn’t bare getting up so early to leave and ended up staying in St. Louis, MO with her mid day so I could make it to Oklahoma City the first night.) We fought getting pulled over with no lights on (forgot to turn them on), tole roads, hotel potty training, stopping often to walk and stretch our legs. But the memory of her curling up in my lap while I drove was one of our happiest cuddle moments.

image of April on pastel colored bed sleeping

When we arrived home, my mom tried hard to adjust. My mom’s friend Holly offered to watch her when I was out of town on road trips with boyfriends because physically and mentally my mom wasn’t quite ready. I moved in temporarily with my childhood friends nearby where I struggled with April chewing toys, spa tubs (yep-I paid for that) and with me working at Disneyland long hours. So I looked for affordable training and someone mentioned a facility where they kept shepherd for the local german shepherd rescue of Orange County (gsroc.org). Yep, that’s right. April is the reason I got into shepherd rescue. I also got into dog training at that time so April went with me to SEVERAL classes and become the example dog who excelled at sitting and giving paw for treats.

Image of April giving Shawn a lick on the side of his face

When I met Shawn, April had to make sure he smelled right. She loved him and enjoyed playing with him. They had this game where he would yell “get the puppy” and she would go into zoomie mode, running around and eventually jumping onto the bed to bed “safe.” It was adorable.

Now remember me saying my mom asked if I could take her back? Well–April and her began to form a special bond. April would always sit next to her in the chair, my mom would gradually pet her and she would also sit nearby almost to say ” I’m here Grandma.” My mom began to love her and befriends her in the best way. When my mom would fall, she would stay close by and come get me. When she went into a nursing facility before she passed, we took April to go on a walk with her (wheelchair ride-same thing.) My mom’s friends became “Auntie so-and-so” to April as they loved her as much as my mom refused to admit.

Image of April resting her snout on my mom’s had, looking directly at her eyes

After my mom died in Nov. 2011, I knew I wanted to have more dogs in the house, how many spending on how April felt. I thought I would be working hard to adopt a shepherd from the rescue I had volunteered with for years, but when a black & white husky walked across my path off the streets of Anaheim, he didn’t leave 🙂 I was super worried he wouldn’t like April or April wouldn’t like him–but in the end they ended up being the best bonded pair of pups I could ever want.

image of me laying on the couch, with April laying in front and Scout trying to lay on her hind quarters

The dogs and Shawn and I had so many adventures together. April and I had so many adventures together before Scout that’s its impossible to catalog them all. We went to In&out, road trips, did training together, took April to the Red Faire once, learned that I truly had an amazing dog. As she grew in age, she began to slow down. I knew early arthritis was going to be a reality some day so I learned to take things slow. Scout wanted to play but she would get angry and bark but I knew deep down, she was still a puppy at heart. Over the last few months, over the holidays, April started to slip on the tile more, fall over, have anxiety attacks about falling (she would shake) and eventually, when she couldn’t stand to eat or relieve herself, I knew it was time. I came home from work, took her to the vet with Scout and Shawn and we said our goodbyes to the best dog in the world. My Aprilgirl

I think I’m going to end this blog with just photos because its the way I want to remember her. She was always with us–and still is. From the movie “Togo”, it is said best:

image of April sitting perfect-photo taken by Petsmart photography

“If you were lucky enough to know a great one, they never really leave. They stay with you as long as you live. Harnessed to your heart, giving their all.”

(i’m not crying, you’re crying. thank you for getting thru this)

image of April and Scout laying on their “beds” when we first moved. Scout on an actual dog bed and April curled up on a blanket

An Expertise or Advocate?

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Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a medical expert or doctor. These are just my opinions about the situation and if you feel you have an actual real medical emergency or have concerns, talk to a professional.

How many people grew up going to the doctor, trusting them to say “yes, your’e sick” and “here take this to feel better.” I know I did. I trusted that all doctors had my best health interests in mind and were there to guide me. However, after spending the last several years in & out of doctors related to myself, my husband and my son, I wanted to talk about something I find interesting when it comes to your health: expertise and advocacy. Today doctors (at least here in the United States) seem to place generalizes over specialities, drugs handouts versus reviewing pros/cons and just trying to push thru their patients’ problems. I feel it is relevant to self-discovery of my autistic journey and my struggles with PCOS. but this does have application across all forms of chronic illness or standard health practice.

Adams Ruins The Hospital

So above is a link to one of the several clips the show “Adam Ruins Everything.” And while it is not an end all be all of the health industry, it does give an interesting insight into Western Medicine and its approach to health care. For me, I wish I had watched this show going into college. I think I would have made a greater effort to take serious my own health and also my own advocacy. I went thru several doctors for several medical situations (an ear issue/my PCOS issues/My inquiries about my autistic self) before figuring out that they didn’t always know the right answer or that they were not utilizing their medical knowledge to apply the best treatment. I read a lot of material on my polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS) only when I brought up not only my own “hey what is this” but also source material from experts in the field, I had both my gynecologist and my endocrinologist say “oh, no, you don’t need or don’t have that, here’s some birth control and move along.” I felt like I had to become the expert-not so I could prove my doctor wrong, but so I could show them that I wasn’t “stupid” in asking the questions I did or that I had “legitimate” concerns. Personally I believe this SHOULD NOT be happening when it comes down to a person’s health. However, in continued discussions with my therapist–it is true that doctors see hundreds of patients and it is not plausible for them to remember everything about them even with the file records they keep. So when a chronic illness (my PCOS) or someone comes along who has done some reading, doctors may or may not know everything there is to know about your problems. The same is said over and over about autism-something the American community knows very little about and the knowledge they do know is either extremely stereotypical with a history that begins with placing autistic people in mental institutions blaming mothers for their behavior.

Now, I am not going to claim I know everything or more than my doctors. But I wish they would think of themselves too highly and that their patient may find the information they can review or consider in their medical expertise instead of pushing people aside.

In the autism world–a lot of adults, especially women, non-white ethnicities and those of the LGTBQ+ community are ostracized for bringing up legitimate facts, concerns about a diagnosis, and sensory stressors in life surroundings their neurological genetic difference. A good doctor will listen to a patient, work with their strengths and support their weaknesses to find a treatment that works best for them. I use the term “treatment’ loosely as I do not think is the autistic person nature is something that needs to treat. We need more help with sensory needs, speech, etc. Not let politics, social-economical status or another topic get in the way. Sadly–it is just not true for many. I know several self-identified autistics because they don’t have the time/the resources/money to get something official and having issues of talking to a doctor make it more difficult.

My advice? Don’t give up. If you have spent weeks and months researching your health problems and made notes and spent time talking to those with similar problems, then maybe you have done all you can do and it is about finding the right care and right doctor for your situation. Keep at it.