The Call

I got a call from a friend

I don’t have many a handful of people that I consider this close I’ve known since childhood the people that know me and this is what makes it even more scary.  My friend started asking some pretty heavy questions, who I wanted things to go to and how I wanted to be handled after I passed away.

My friend was writing my last testament, he wanted me to have a last say and decided to call me on it.

At first I was a touch confused and then seeing the emails afterwards the truth set in, I’m pretty good at killing myself and the people that care for me are worried.  Worried so much so that they are trying to figure out what to do with my “stuff” after I pass.  Seeing this first hand in emails is an interesting thing trust me. Everyone involved in such is reading this as well I don’t hate you for it in fact I’m happy your there.  Just understand that facing mortality itself is tough facing it when brought up and pushed is slightly tougher.

I don’t want anyone to cry for me when I do pass, and I’m too much of a prick to pass soon so deal with me I’m going to be around for a bit.

~J

An interesting view…

So bear with me I’m posting from my phone, I sit surrounded by boxes of clothing and paperwork and trinkets sorting through and throwing away and building massive give away piles.

Sometimes something hits me, remembering a past that seems now long ago or a person even a dog that I lost along the way.  What of this do I keep and what to let go?  How many more pictures can I hang before I run out of wall?

On the one hand shedding some of this is incredibly freeing but on the other I miss a lot of the past.  I will grapple with this most likely for the rest of my life but it’s nice to know I have a few things to reflect and remember over.

Years ago in October I had a mentor pass away in a boating accident, I came across the news clipping last night along with custom tee shirts a friend made with his picture and the word “hero”, I came across a tee shirt a dear friend gave me with nothing but a picture of a chair on it.  So many things I drag around and yes I suppose it’s time to let some go.

My precious Akita’s ashes still sit by my bedside the dog I worshipped (she was amazing) various cards from the love of my life and stuffed animals, etc from my K that I hold dear.  Pictures and even funeral programs it has been an adventure.

I have charechatures from 8 years old on to a more recent 25 ish (well not all that recent I guess).  Box stamps from a former employer, hats, pens and notepads, all manner of random shit that I think we all tend to drag around.

My question is such, do I desperately cling to these pasts or move on?  Do I do a combination of both?

I think that in the coming days I might actually finally spread my pups ashes and play guitar in honor of my lost mentor.  I would view these as the best way to honor both. And my beloved Soja pup will have a bag of haribo gummy bears to keep her company (she loved gummy bears).

I will sort my paperwork and keep that which is truly dear (I have a happy one month anniversary card still) and the rest who knows.

The interesting thought is that I have gone through much of my life absolutely blind to the blessings I have been given through those around me.  My family my K my pup and many friends and customers.  

I had a good run but I don’t think I’m ready to give up yet!

Miss sojas stone

Of not sleeping and avoiding going absolutely nuts!

So, it’s been a while since my last entry as I’ve been running at 100 miles per hour for a while now. Moving is hard enough but being a pack rat definitely exasperates the str- er frustation.

I hesitate to say struggle even though it seems that way. I have received unparalelled support from family as well as the upstairs neighbors.  I always knew I was a packrat but I was not expecting to have packed so many emotions away as well.

In particular the last two days have been filled with emotions good, bad, sublime, regretful, fearful, strong, even guilty. I have found myself so high strung and stressed that sleep has evaded me now 3 nights in a row.  It comes in little 15-45 minute spurts and I wake up with night terrors or a severe panic attack.

So I change my sweaty pajamas and try again as I know it will get better soon.  I find myself stress cooking which I don’t think of as bad.  In fact not only is it a more positive way of dealing with stress than many other methods I’ve engaged in but, I’m eating healthy food which I suppose is keeping me going.  Maybe I’ll write a cookbook on that someday “Cooking yourself sane”??

All in all I’ve made great strides, I am still throwing/giving away a lot and have listed a lot to sell.  I’m also remembering a lot of past experiences and people in my life and realizing that I’ve been amazingly blessed and lucky.  

It’s almost as if I’m reading my past as someone else’s story sometimes and thinking “this guys a few fries short of a happy meal”.  It’s not that I’ve come to realize most of my struggles and problems are self inflicted, it’s more that I’m beginning to accept it. I have always known I self destruct but change is tough.

I’m still working on changing and I suppose it’s going to be a long task.  For tonight though I’m feeling pretty okay about tomorrow, I even managed an entire 2 hour nap without waking up badly!! 

I have to confess though being on my inversion table and absolutely exhausted from putting it back together might have contributed.  In any case I figured while I wait for my “ham and bean with stress reducing veggie” soup to cool enough to freeze / refrigerate I would stop digging in boxes long enough to post.

A good friend once told me “Don’t be afraid of life”

~Joe 

(Note the image is yesterday’s stress cook not my soup lol)

My Ever Changing Life

Today I planned to take things easy, mom is leaving tomorrow morning so it was a day to get last minute loose ends tied and relax for a bit…….

HAH!!!!  Not a chance, while mom ran some minor errands I got a call this morning from a job I applied for earlier in the week asking if I could show up for an interview at 1:00 PM.  So much for spending the afternoon relaxing before mom left.

Last night we made lists for ourselves, my mother had to drop off a clock to be repaired, pick up some minor items, and we were going to drop off items for donation.  I had some simple tasks of going through things, getting my utilities and change of address stuff in, etc.  Nothing super difficult, nothing too tedious.  Then as usual, all hell broke loose (or rather we came up with more to do).  Things in my life seem to change every couple of minutes, all of a sudden I need to do this or we need to get that or, or, or.  At least my days aren’t always boring!

Between the job interview, going through stuff, getting another load from storage, on and on and on I’m absolutely wiped.  I didn’t even allow myself time to blog this morning!  I’m okay with that honestly, and truly today was a good day.  I will be sad to see mom go but also relieved (sorry mom, I love you but I also love my moments of solitude and self reflection).  I’ve got exactly a week before things double in magnitude on the hectic scale and I need to be prepared if I’m to make it through sane and sober.

All in all I’m incredibly optimistic, a little disheartened by the difficulties in changing career but this is to be expected.  If anything, I am learning to accept rejection better than I ever have and this is not a bad thing at all.  A lot of these jobs I don’t even want and would most likely be miserable after a very short time.  I have to face the fact that I need income, and rightly soon!  So, I keep plugging away in a seemingly futile attempt to avoid going back to the tech industry at all costs.  Something has to happen.

Something *WILL* happen.  I am sure things will get better over time, I’ve been working too hard at progress for it not to be achievable.  I just need to keep leaning forward and stop looking back.  Going through my belongings has made this both difficult and easy at the same time.  Throwing away some things makes me feel just that much more free, finding bits and pieces of the past here and there sometimes makes me dwell.  Odd how our brains and hearts work sometimes.  Time for a restful sleep and a good final morning with my mother.

Never trust a man that doesn’t love his mother,

~Joe

Feeling a Bit More Free

Sometimes you need to let go of some things.

If you’ve been reading any of my prior posts you will know that I am preparing for a move to a new apartment on the first.  I have also filled two storage units with items from the home I lived in about 3 years ago and have “stuff” scattered about two other family homes.  While I’m not exactly a hoarder, I must admit that uhm…. well….

*My Name is Joe and I’m a Packrat…*

Rather than my normal morning ritual of reading the paper over my coffee I began going through old CD’s and DVD’s that I have kept for the better part of 18 years.  Old backups, outdated software, just stacks and stacks of plain “old”.  Boxes filled with cd books stuffed fat, thousands!!

It took about an hour and a half before I decided anything labeled “backup June 2002” needed to just be dumped.  I haven’t had access to these CD’s in 3 years, and god only knows the last time I’ve pulled anything from them if ever.  So what was going to be a several day project quickly turned into another hour and I was done.  I pared two file boxes worth of CD/DVD books to one single book.  Yes from thousands to less than a hundred.

Being one with severe ADHD I’ve had a million hobbies over the long haul and the amount of stuff I have been dragging around since I achieved self consciousness as a child reflects that.

Oddly enough, I found the entire process rather enjoyable!  I feel a bit more free right now, dumping old files from a company long gone and a career I’m hoping to never return to felt like removing a pair of handcuffs.  In fact, dumping a lot of the things I’ve made decisions on yesterday and this morning has made me feel just a little bit lighter.

Why is it that we tend to hold on to some things that serve no utility and often really have no emotional value either?  Being one with severe ADHD I’ve had a million hobbies over the long haul and the amount of stuff I have been dragging around since I achieved self consciousness as a child reflects that.  Do I really need that electric motor from the remote control car I had when I was 12, or that sucker in the shape of a bear that someone gave me when I was 16?  Hah, not so much no.

Granted there are a few trinkets with great emotional value, and I plan on assembling a few “memory” boxes.  I see no need for a 5X10 “memory” storage unit anymore though!!  So today it is onward, hoping to do at least one more load of boxes though I don’t think I’m going to go as hard as I did yesterday.  I’ve got to help a friend figure out some technical things in preparation to a function he has tomorrow and lets face it, I’m in a good mood but holy hell I’m tired!

Keep the candy not the wrapper,

~Joe

Getting it Done and Finding Old Memories

Going through boxes during a move can be interesting.

Sorry for the late post today, I’ve been quite busy here going through boxes and boxes and yes… more boxes of stuff in preparation for my new apartment on the first. I did have my mother who is still in town helping which made things go a lot faster but there were some highs and lows when opening certain boxes. We got a late start, leaving to get our first load from the storage unit just a bit after noon. We did manage to do two loads in total with each one lining the garage in three rows and two rows respectively.   Working through till around 8 PM we finally finished sorting and re-packing not just both loads but a good bulk of kitchen items that I already had here.

What I find interesting is how my attitude constantly changed, I will fully admit to being a complete moody prick today. I can make up plenty of excuses for my changing attitude, from getting organized only to have mom move a box on me trying to help to not getting much sleep but those are just surface avoidance tactics. Excuses are a waste of effort for me anymore, I try not to make them and still end up doing it anyways out of habit and sometimes shame or guilt. Sucks to step out of myself and watch “me” sometimes, I don’t always like myself.

I turned into a rubber ball bouncing from highs and lows with so much as a glance at a random nick knack changing my course.

The reality is, opening each box was a moment of holding my breath. Not knowing what I would find and what memories would spark was the worst, harder than dealing with the memories most times. I came across a good number of things that fired up old emotions good and bad and with the added anxiety of the unknown.  I turned into a rubber ball bouncing from highs and lows with so much as a glance at a random nick knack changing my course. Wow, I’m absolutely exhausted mentally this evening!

All in, it was still a successful day, we went through about 30 boxes / tubs and a few tackle boxes that I use to organize random items. I’m quite pleased, I managed to thin out a lot of items to give away, garbage, or sell piles emptying a total of 14 boxes a rolling bin, a small tackle box, and a medium tackle box. These empties will come in handy for my next few runs between now and the first and I should have a smooth move overall.

I’m okay with that, I’m comfortable and safe here right now and those are good things to be.

Depending on the job situation I may end up having to stay here a few extra days before I can get my key and move my bed in.  I’m okay with that, I’m comfortable and safe here right now and those are good things to be. Besides, staying a day or two will give me the opportunity to help my grandparents settle in.

Tomorrow I think we will try another load if there is time, as well as get the donate pile dropped off and god, laundry, and everything else. Mom leaves Tuesday so we’re trying to capitalize on as much time as we can. We also plan to meet my love for lunch tomorrow and I am wholly looking forward to spending some time albeit short with her.

*Treasure*

I’ve kept every card my wife has ever given me, and found the box that I kept them in when we lived together, this made me smile and honestly tear up a little. I came across my father’s paperwork that he left behind, his arborist certification, etc. this was slightly stressful as he died from alcoholism while I was in my first rehab. I came across many photo books, one of my beloved Akita who passed several years ago; her ashes sit in a small urn underneath a beautiful tile made in her likeness in the back corner of this yard that I will soon see sold (I will be taking urn and tile with me). There were many emotional treasures I found, along with a penny and a Starbucks gift card with $35 on it!!!

I suppose over time these emotions will stabilize, I cannot honestly say I am enjoying feeling so much but I cannot say that I am hating it either. Life is odd sometimes, I can only hope to keep myself from being so moody in the future and work to become a better person that provides hope, support, and love to those around me most notably my love K. and my family.

Feel your emotions but don’t let them control you,

~Joe

 

Letting Go in a Positive Way

There is a difference between memories and physical objects

I love my grandparent’s home, I grew up here I have memories here. My grandfather built me a clubhouse in back, I used to climb a plumb tree and pick gooseberries and raspberries to eat on the spot. I remember my grandmother used to pick me fresh strawberries from the garden when I would stay the night and I would sit and dip them in a bowl of sugar to eat in the evenings before bedtime. I used to use the crawlspace under the stairs as a clubhouse, in fact “no girls allowed” is still scrawled on the little wooden doors. I remember watching Sesame Street on the color TV, one of those giant cabinet deals that must have weighed a thousand pounds!

I know this neighborhood, I listen to Revelry in the morning and taps in the evening from the nearby army base. I can hear the coal trains on distant tracks, I love this home. My grandfather always wanted a champion yard, it’s one of the best in the neighborhood and has been as long as I can remember. When I was in my late teens I moved in to get a jump start on a new life and tonight I sleep in the same room and the same bed as I did then.

Now word is they signed a year lease on a place in Arizona where they have been wintering the last two years. I think it is best for them, much better for their health as well as mobility as it’s a somewhat assisted living place. So, it’s inevitable the house here will go up for sale sometime in the future. I know they are stressed about telling me even though I already know as they are well aware of my attachment to the home. In all reality yes, I will be sad however this is the best thing for my beloved grandparents and I support that above any brick and mortar “thing”.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of “letting go” lately, today we moved all my belongings out of the home I shared with my wife for over a decade. Today was very emotional and between pondering this post and pacing the house aimlessly I’ve been stress cooking. Cooking has been a solid fall back for me to keep my mind off things, currently I am working on a soup for tomorrow with various beans, fresh veggies, and pan seared pork seasoned with turmeric, garlic, rosemary, and a little bit of Portuguese sausage seasoning. Unfortunately, now I am at an impasse waiting for the beans to soften, boil and soak… boil and soak… repeat.

It’s been an emotional week for me, and I need to remember to keep a positive mindset. My mother is in town and we have done well at mutual support. I also have an excellent support system in place by way of my online community at HipChat, everyone there has been nothing short of a god send for my sanity and most importantly my sobriety. So today I am going to re-frame, my life is in a reconstruction phase (go figure the title of this blog) and I have some flexibility in how I move myself forward. I can focus on the positive and create a better me and that is what I choose to do today.

The house going up for sale? I’ll probably get furniture and *hopefully* kitchen stuff for my new apartment. My grandparents moving out of state permanently? I can always visit, and I know they will have help when they need it from the place they are moving to. Moving all my things? Well, I need to go through them it’s an opportunity to clear out all the junk I’ve been dragging around. I will soon have a place where I can sit and not be bothered, a place of my own again. And it’s dog friendly so when things stable out I foresee a pooches in my near future!

I’m off to find something to cook,

~Joe

Simple Things That Make Life Good

Memories and thoughts conveniently boxed and ignored

Last week I wrote about cleaning house and throwing away things I no longer need or want. I have had a day to explore the interesting newfound feeling of “just a little bit more freedom” and I thought I would share some of the thoughts that I have had in this short time.

Thought one: Things That Made Me Think

I came across a few items that had emotional and sentimental value, this naturally made me think back and remember things good and bad. I did get rid of a few items in this category but kept the bulk of them as they were small items (cards, letters, a rock my mother sent me on my 30th to hide under, etc.) and they did bring about a positive feeling overall. These items were set aside and dedicated a tub just for keepsakes in the interest of actually being organized for once!!

There were other items that made me think such as books, magazines, old notebooks from my time in the IT industry all of which I pretty much tossed. While it’s nice to know that I was able to teach myself a great deal of expertise in the past I don’t think a book on database management for software that was discontinued 10 years ago has any real reference use in my life today or tomorrow. The good news is that I realized that I can accomplish anything I want so long as I decide to put the effort in and not stop.

Thought number two, why did I even keep that?

Recently I wrote an article on collecting junk as a kid whether it was bolts, screws, even pill bugs!! This thought is still a very good and fond memory but probably not a very good habit in my adult life. I came across all manner of things that I haven’t the slightest idea what I was thinking when I decided to toss it! Some of these (well okay, most) things were absolutely ridiculous! I had cheap chocolate lollipops shaped like bears (broken of course), power supplies for nonexistent Walkman’s (yes the cassette players), rubber O rings for god knows what, film canisters full of little screws and plastic parts for laptops from 12 years ago, so on and so on.

I don’t consider myself a hoarder by any means I don’t find myself stopping at every garage sale and I can easily go into a thrift store and leave without buying anything. I just don’t throw anything away because I might be able to use it for uhm….. something? And so I find myself dragging around all these boxes and tubs of stuff on the premise of “it’s my stuff”. Toss, toss, toss and HAH! With each “thud” of something hitting the trash can I felt just a bit less tethered to garbage I simply do not need.

Thought number three, I can get more stuff!

Uh oh….. Now I’ve got this thought that I just made room for more stuff I want! This could be dangerous territory, I’m going to have to watch myself from here on out in this area. Several people I know have expressed a little confusion about why I am doing this blog let alone trying to get an article up daily. The answer has three parts (bear with me, the third is important to this thought):

  1. I have been journaling daily and have found it cathartic
  2. When journaling I tend to focus on the negative, by switching to writing with the idea of creating something positive for others, I can train myself to think more positively
  3. I never go back and read my journals, I do go back and read my articles particularly when someone likes or comments on them

So the focus on number three here, I can remind myself to not collect useless items by simply sticking with the ideas I present in this mess of random thought that is my blog. In fact I might PDF this one and just keep it on my desktop to read at my leisure, or screenshot this particular section. Who knows, depends on my mood I guess!

Thought number four, OH MY GOD THIS IS COOL!!

Finding things I forgot I had has had some downs as illustrated in thought 3, howevimg_6363er I must say there were a few really excellent up’s!! I found some pretty cool things that either already have been used or will be used quite soon. Bringing out my inner child I’ll use the best example of excitement I came across. Pictured right is a blow gun, I don’t expect everyone to know what it is or understand the absolute fun that can be had from such a contraption so let me explain. One inserts a dart into a simple tube, the dart has a set of fins or plug that keep it firmly in place and creates an airtight seal within the tube. The tube is then aimed at a target (in my case typically a paper target taped to a cardboard box) and the user exhales a quick strong breath into the tube thus launching the dart at the target. How fun is that!!!

 

So in closing, I must say the idea of just cleaning house has led me to a rabbit’s hole of emotional excitement! I’m incredibly excited to go through more boxes and tubs in the future for sure.

Aim straight and let the darts fly,

~Joe

Coping With the Perpetually Unhappy

Why be happy to be unhappy?

Yesterday I did something rather normal even for me, I went grocery shopping. I had a printable gift certificate that I wanted to use and given that the grocery store I patron had just changed point of sale systems a few weeks ago I expected a little bit of trouble. I have been through this before and at this point I can tell the checkout clerk the exact steps to take to use the gift certificate so I was pretty confident things would go smoothly.

The checkout clerk was a little frazzled to begin with, it seems he wasn’t having too good of a day. This is fine I tried to be as cheery as possible making small talk about the weather and such, my ID already on the counter for him as I was also getting cigarettes. And then the gift card, he scanned it first. This of course was the wrong way to go and it resulted in a little bit of delay which he apologized for. My response, “I’ve got more time than money no worries man” I wasn’t worried as I expected it and really I had nothing pressing and was in a particularly good mood to begin with.

Unfortunately there was a woman directly behind me who had just gotten in line that did not share such an upbeat attitude. Immediately she began to make comments about having ice cream and frozen chicken and making some of the most intense and ugly faces I have seen in quite a long time at the cashier and myself. The cashier made several attempts to assure the woman that it would not be very long she gathered all her items and turned around to use the self-checkout, giving us the finger after she moved her groceries.

This woman did not have a whole lot of groceries, I’m not sure what the hang up was, nor do I really care. In the end I was rung up and checked out, and as I walked by the woman who was still checking out at her new post all I could do was smile and say “Have a nice day mam” Having been around a lot of people in a lot of situations I have learned to identify those that seem to only be truly happy if they are unhappy. This woman fit incredibly well into this category, as she continued to grumble and make more nasty comments she proved that not only did she fit in the category, she *wanted* to be there.

I just couldn’t jive with this at the time in fact I had to actually try to keep quiet. I wanted to comment regardless of knowing that it would do no good other than to validate her anger with the idea that the world is against her. I have had times in my life where I have been in a hurry and things would hold me up and slow me down; in fact if you’ve read yesterday’s article on ADHD and have experienced any of those such symptoms you might understand how incredibly frustrating this could be to me. Still, I don’t think I have ever been so passive aggressive to throw snide comments at the world around me simply to validate my own existence. This woman’s anger actually attached to me and made me angry.

Wait… I have spent the last several days trying to spread positive attitude in the same exact way! I have set out to purposely spatter happy positive thoughts on anything and anyone I could. The confusion I have is that this woman most likely had no conscious idea that she was spreading her negativity. The dynamic is something for me to consider in depth for sure, why is it that spreading positivity is so difficult to do yet spreading negativity happens so naturally and often with very little effort?

The question of why popped into my head as I was driving home with my stock of veggies and healthy stuff (and yes the cigarettes) why would this person exert so much energy just to be sure everyone was absolutely aware of her disdain for what was a common and unintentional mishap? What does anyone stand to gain through such efforts? I began to think about times in my own past when I had acted in such ways and realized that in fact I myself had spent many years with the same negativity demon. Anybody that has known me for any long period of time can most likely bring up several instances of me exhibiting this same action. Oh wow!

I eventually let the thoughts fade off and returned to my new positive and happy to be here attitude that I have found to be quite simply much more enjoyable and healthy overall. I actually began to feel sympathy for this poor woman as I thought about the experiences I missed myself by pushing anger and negativity outwards. It was actually quite depressing thinking about it, so I found myself in this anger -> depression cycle that kept going on and on, I was angry that I had missed out because of my anger… the only answer was to come back to my positivity.

Bringing life back to the present, I try (and after a while it is starting to come naturally) to be as positive as possible, small talk and good comments no matter how trivial they may seem have absolutely changed my life and hopefully at least the days of others. If avoiding that one comment, or making a simple gesture and putting the small effort of a smile in can make somebody else feel better I now have a hard time understanding why anyone would not do this.

In the days of instant everything, the microwave, the internet, online shopping we have all but destroyed the reality of patience and god forbid we be held up for an extra minute or two even if we have nothing planned. Let’s take a moment to relax, and understand that maybe things do not need to happen so lightning fast for our own good, let’s compliment those in front of us rather than pander to our online friends. Today I choose to be positive and happy, I will take my time and enjoy my actions on purpose simply because I can!

Don’t shoot the messenger,

~Joe

An Honest Discussion About ADHD and Self-Medication

A Little Story With a Big Boogeyman

Authors Note: This is the longest and probably most difficult article I have written thus far, it was originally intended to be posted as my second article with an entirely different title and subject.  As I wrote to illustrate my point the article changed drastically into what is essentially a part of my life story.  As raw as I have tried to be in writing this, I will not be adding any pictures or fancy quotes, just the article as I completed it.  As always, and in particular with this one please let me know your feedback, ideas, rants, anything.  And look forward to at least 3 off shoot articles from things that came to mind during the writing of this one. A PDF version of this article for sharing can be downloaded here.  ~Joe

I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD more times in my life than I’ve stubbed my toe or hit my funny bone combined. Quite often people will comment that I also have a bit of OCD (more on that later). I wanted to take some time to explore how I have turned my so called “disorder” into positive adaptations that have brought me success and an interesting life. I also wanted to examine how my failed attempts at self-medication has caused destruction of those successes and held me back. All told, when I am thinking clearly I can honestly say I would never trade this so called “disorder” for anything.

I’m going to start by framing the view of ADHD I have come to adopt, it was once explained to me that ADD, ADHD, and many other similar so called disorders are in fact nothing more than different evolutionary types of “brain wiring”. The tag “disorder” is merely a societal method of coping with a version of personality that may not fit the present view of “normal”. To be more detailed as it relates to ADHD vs. “The Norm” it was described as a hunter / farmer relationship. It is not so much that we have developed disorders as it is that society itself has changed.

The hunter (being ADHD) has to maintain a high level of alertness and be ready to snap into quick hyper focused action during a hunt, or dangerous situation. The farmer (current norm) has to maintain a great deal of routine planting, watering, sowing crops on a clockwork schedule. This made perfect sense to me and I have built on this theory since it was first presented to me as a young man. Centuries ago the hunter could have been considered the norm or, in the very least the respected ones in society as survival required the natural skills to respond and react to danger for protection as well as prey for sustenance. Whereas presently in most modern cultures systems are in place to provide our protection, food, materials, and services for us without the need to hunt them down. Society itself has changed to a more routine mindset and over a great number of decades this mindset has become the norm pushing other thought patterns out into the fringes that we label “disorders”.

So now that I have described my viewpoint on ADH (omit the D) let me go back to the OC (again omitting the D) has come to play in my life. I have always been incredibly disorganized (a common trait for ADD / ADHD of course) often late, forgetting commitments, masterful at procrastination, quick to panic (and often get flash angry) when things spiraled out of control. Over time I began to force myself to organize, keeping things “just so” and religiously using alarms, lists, and stacks of notebooks to “normalize” my life. I *Made* myself OCD! Did I need to go to such lengths? Probably not, but the structure put me in a position to be incredibly superior in what I did, efficient and effective.

Well, hooray? One of the dynamics of ADHD is that of extremes, extremely distracted, extremely focused, extreme emotions, and so on. As I began to achieve my personality changed immeasurably, often cocky and egotistical, opinionated, boisterous, argumentative, and overly driven, I became an ass. I developed a fear of failure and a need for achievement that was so intense that success itself became an end game that meant I would no longer have something to do. This end game had to be avoided at all costs, add to this a deep seated emotional view that I didn’t deserve success, and a self-destructive cycle that would inevitably devastate my life as I knew it began.

Something happened to me, I became human. I had injected myself into a lifestyle that was hyper paced with little to zero room for a recharge. I had stormed castles that were beyond my ability to protect after capture, pillaged items that I had no means of transporting, I had overextended myself without consideration for anything, completely reckless. I began to self-medicate, drinking at first to relax and calm down, or in many cases to wine and dine a potential client, to be social, nothing too heavy.

Moderation and judgement were short lived, as soon in the same ways that I had trained myself to be obsessive / compulsive about my organization I had trained myself to be a highly functioning alcoholic. I could perform the most complex and intricate tasks perfectly while under the influence. This combination of achievement mixed with self-medication worked for me, until it didn’t.

I very quickly began making mistakes, forgetting to do things, losing my edge. The emotional distress caused by failure, or sometimes just perceived failure brought me to my knees. I began drinking to black out and numb myself no longer did I care about the buzz or enjoyment. Socially having a few drinks gave way to hiding in my workshop drinking vodka straight by the gallon with passing out being the only thing that would stop consumption; coming to and restarting the process at the wee hours of the morning.

I had crossed a very thin line from a treacherous path directly into absolute obliteration of my life as I knew it. I spent the next several years in a repetitive cycle of clawing my way to recovery only to fall right back into the pit of relapse, soon I had torched all but my own mere existence. At the time of this writing I am sober, slowly and carefully working to reconstruct my life. I say reconstruct rather than rebuild as I have come to the realization that in order for me to continue I must work towards something that does not resemble what I was.

I originally started this article thinking that I might do a list of “tips” on ADHD self-management; I had a pretty good start until I began to truly examine my experiences over the long run. Lucky for me there is this wonderful invention called the backspace key! I decided instead to illustrate my view of ADHD and the plight I experience that is self-medication and perhaps finish off with some positive lessons that I have learned. I am a firm believer that mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities that begin with a negative consequence. This does not make mistakes bad, in fact it is probably more beneficial to start with the negative and end with the positive rather than the other way around (this thought may be a topic for another discussion).

So, in many self-improvement and recovery programs there are aspects of creating “lists” if you will of ideas, goals, accomplishments, dreams, mistakes, etc. 12 step groups often refer to this as an “inventory”, many of the RBT (rational behavioral therapy) or CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) types use “lifestyle balance” tools. In any case I thought it important to look over some of my own past “lists” to continue this article. Below is a small cropping of notes I took while going over several journals and lists that I have created (the types of tools I used will be in the footnotes):

Positives Negatives
Serial Entrepreneur Flighty and aloof
Self-taught high level IT High strung
Flexible in task shifting Low frustration tolerance
Successfully built business Poor time management
High level of economic understanding Poor personal finance management
Ability to learn new things very quickly Bored with new things very quickly
High level of analytics Overly critical at times
Incredibly fast at accomplishing tasks Often cannot say no
Able to talk to anyone Sometimes present false masks to protect myself
Driven Low self esteem

This is in no way an exhaustive list, in fact creating this list was exhausting!! The good news here as I see it is that I’m examining my strengths and weaknesses. Again I must state that I am program agnostic however, the 12 step program has a very immaculate way of describing this in the terms of “taking inventory” and “defects of character”. My personal experience is that it is all too easy to get lost in the negatives when taking such an intensive look at myself and with my new goal of reconstruction I decided to focus on the positive aspects and try and narrow what has become a 2 page list of sometimes incoherent ramblings down to a simple sentence.

I am a flexible individual who is highly energetic, driven, curious, and capable of attacking new challenges while maintaining a high degree of integrity, honesty, and open communication.

That simple statement took me hours to come up with, and I am seriously considering writing it on my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker much like I used to write my to do list when I first started my career in IT. My point for this whole long explanation of my history with ADHD and self-medication is that self-medication in itself is not always bad; it is the way in which we choose to self-medicate that defines the results.

To further explain my theory on this I would like to describe my new methods of working with my so called “disorder”. With my reconstruction I have really put a lot more effort on living a healthier lifestyle, my sleeping habits, my morning routines, the food I eat, beverages I consume, my activity as a whole. In the past I kept myself so busy with my drive that I often forgot to take care of myself, I have found that changing this dynamic has helped me to become a lot more rational and has opened a window of opportunity for me to learn a better way to control my shifting of focus.

While this method of self-management is new to me, I can attest that even in these early stages I feel much more centered, focused, at peace with my history, and overall I am happy with the direction I am going. It has been a long time since I could say that! And yes I am still driven, excitable, inquisitive, energetic, and scatterbrained at times but I am back to learning how to harness those traits rather than shutting them out with alcohol. Since beginning this journey of attempting to write a positive article for each day I have noticed an overall general calm about myself, I’ve experienced no cravings, no urges, not even a thought of my affliction as it relates to today or tomorrow.

My hope is that I can maintain this forward progress and become a better human being I owe it to myself as well as my family and friends; and I would like to think that maybe, just maybe my smattering of words into the internet might help someone else.

Take it out of park,

~Joe