Right – I made it through Continuum, and it’s time to bring back my regularly scheduled blog posts. I have a lot to talk about, but some pretty important life changes came up during the lead-up to Continuum that I didn’t have time to write about at the time, so for context I want to start with a basic round-up of Where I’m At Now.
Continuum itself was wonderful, as usual, though unlike last year I won’t be writing up a thoughtful summary of the panels that inspired me. I was back on the organising committee this year, which meant a) I was already pretty tired by the time I got to the actual convention and b) I spent a lot more time running around taking care of things. So I got to fewer panels in the first place and, sadly, was much less focused on the ones I did make it to.
But speaking of focus…
This is the biggest change I haven’t talked about yet: last month, aged 36, I finally got a formal diagnosis of ADHD.
Image source: GIPHY
I’m frankly thrilled. This is confirmation of something I’ve suspected for a while now, and by far the best fit I’ve ever found for understanding how my brain works (I’ll go into that in more depth in future posts, I have no doubt). I’m also hoping that learning to manage my ADHD will prove the key to better managing my brain weasels.
ADHD itself doesn’t feel like a brain weasel to me. I’ve long found it helpful to think about anxiety and depression as brain weasels because that externalises them to some extent – brain weasels aren’t me, they’re challenges I have to live with, just like other people live with asthma or diabetes, but they don’t define me.
ADHD, on the other hand, means my brain operates differently from the neurotypical brain for better, not just for worse. It may come with challenges, but it comes with rewards too (again, more on that later) – and it comes with a community of people I feel a deep connection to. I’ve always felt different anyway, so it’s deeply empowering to finally have a name for that difference, and to have a new tribe to belong to: my #neurodiverse squad.
That’s a very short explanation, and I don’t know that it’s the most coherent, but if you want to know more you won’t have to wait long. I foresee a lot of ADHD posts incoming as I wrap my head around what it is and what it means for me and all the ways it makes me who I am.
Continuum, by the way, is like an ADHD playground for me, especially when I’m on committee: just a constant whirlwind of old friends I want to catch up with/brand new interesting people I want to get to know/important things to do/inspiring ideas to think about, non-stop 12 hours a day for an entire long weekend. It’s intense, and I love it, and I’m completely exhausted by it, and I want more.
That’s the good news…
Now for the hard part.
My anxiety medication has been brilliant for my ability to be happy and social and generally not hate myself, but there are certain problem areas it hasn’t done anything for: my ability to focus and stay focused, my ability to choose what tasks I engage with and get done based on importance, not whim… OH RIGHT ADHD.
(Besides which, my new diagnosis raises interesting questions about whether my brain weasels are essentially just effects of trying to get by with an ADHD brain in a neurotypical world. ADHD and anxiety/depression are common bedfellows, partially for that very reason.)
So I’m keen to try out some ADHD medication and see what difference that makes to managing the challenges of my brain. Unfortunately, my anxiety medication (Effexor) is in the same family of stimulants as most ADHD meds (which is probably why it works so well for me when so many other anxiety meds didn’t). So I’ve been recommended to come off the one before I try the other.
And coming off Effexor is a bit of a beast.
Honestly, after some of the horror stories I’ve encountered I think I’m getting off lightly, but each step-down of dosage is still accompanied by dizziness, sleeping 10-11 hours a night, waves of deep depression, and a real struggle to motivate myself.
I’m half-way through now (held off my second step-down until after Continuum thank gods), but I still have a good 6-8 weeks of this to go, so you can probably also expect to see a few posts about bad day self-care coming up. I’m practising a lot of self-care right now.
Still, Continuum is over, I have time on my hands again for what feels like the first time this year, and I’ve actually started writing again. It feels good.
Speaking of writing, I have one more bit of news, but as of when I’m writing this I’m not allowed to talk about it yet. As it happens, that will change right around the time this post goes live, so stay tuned…