Friday, June 9, 2017

ADHD Mini Essay

ADHD was actually an evolutionary advantageous adaptation to hunter/gatherer societies. The ADHD brain needs constant stimulation and short-term rewards. Hunting and tracking an animal, or searching for food/resources is full of stimulation, sensory data, and great reward. In other words, people with ADHD were amazing hunter/gatherers, and it started to become more genetically common because hey, people who can bring food home were sexy back then.
When we moved towards an agricultural society, aka very boring, repetitive crop and animal care with long-term instead of short-term rewards, ADHD started to become a "problem." Watering crops and weeding each day is boring, with very little reward on a daily basis. Feeding an animal, breeding it, waiting for it to give birth, and waiting for it to reach maturity for eating takes a very long time too. People with ADHD do not thrive in these kind of jobs. It's boring, it isn't stimulating, and has a low reward factor.
In our society ADHD is no longer an advantage, because we are all expected to do the same shit every day, keep the same routine, etc... Wake up, go to school, sit still, graduate, get a job, wake up, go to work. It's a terribly boring routine. This is unfortunately why so many kids and adults with ADHD look for outside stimulation. Some become addicted to tech like video games (constant stimulation and rewards), drugs (instant reward), or high-risk behaviors (high stimulation and rewards). They get punished or drugged for trying to seek what their genetics and brains crave.
This is why people with ADHD need to throw away other people's expectations and do what they know they enjoy, and schools need to stop expecting every kid to "sit still, shut up, and learn."
I have ADHD, really fucking badly. Meds gave me really scary heart palpitations and sent me to the cardiologist, because my heart rate shot up to 140. That's not normal. It was so hard to make it through school. But you know what? Now that I'm done with it, I finally figured out what my real talents are. I love mycology, the study of mushrooms and fungi, and hunting for them out in the wild. I love dogs and taking care of them. I love herping... literally hunting for amphibians/reptiles. I love making art. What I really want to do is breed pacman frogs. Can't do it now because of my living situation, but it's a legitimate job that a lot of people can't handle or can't be bothered to do because it's a shit load of work. For me though, that constant stimulation sounds like a dream.
So fuck the system, and fuck society trying to make people with ADHD fit into their idea of what a "normal" person should be. Drugging people with ADHD isn't the answer. We're just good at different things. We just need to stop being told that different is bad.

- originally a comment I was making on Facebook, but it devolved into an essay

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Anxiety and the daily suffering it brings

I feel that a lot of people get anxiety and stress confused. Sure, they both sound like similar afflictions, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Stress is something that we all feel, usually in response to something that makes us uncomfortable. For example, an upcoming exam could be stressful because we do not know for sure what is on that exam, or if we have studied all the material that is necessary to pass it. Anxiety, however, is very much a different thing, and I would go so far as to say that it is more of a medical condition.

Of course, is very difficult for people who do not suffer from anxiety to understand what exactly it feels like. There are so many possible symptoms of anxiety that one cannot simply summarize it by its symptoms alone. To give a quick example, it is a common misconception that a panic attack is when somebody begins to hyperventilate and lose control of themselves. While that is one type of panic attack, and it is true that many people do react that way in response to their anxiety disorder, there are many different other kinds of panic attacks. Someone suddenly overheating terribly and feeling as if they need to throw all of their clothes off, even when it is not warm in the room, can be a panic response. A panic attack is just a very extreme reaction to anxiety, and that is really all that can be said about that matter in particular without over generalizing.

In order for one to actually understand what anxiety is compared to stress, we must keep in mind that all humans have a flight or fight response. Is something that is ingrained in us and passed down through Evolution. It is what has helped us survive and evolve all this time, and it helps us in our daily lives to this day. When we are faced with stress, like that exam for instance, we know we must either study for it, or just give up completely. It is very simple to do either one, and therefore we are only stressed out. We can fight the exam through studying, or we can just simply concede defeat and not study at all. We could even drop the class if we so choose. We are uncomfortable, but we do not have anxiety. We have a solution to our problem that we can act upon, and that is solvable by our own means.

Now, here is the main difference between Stress and Anxiety. Anxiety is the response that we have when a fight-or-flight response is triggered, but we can do neither. Whether or not we are missing the means to fight it or it is all in our own mind does not matter. Mental illness doesn't have to be rational, so perhaps one could fight it yet their own afflictions are keeping them back from doing so. We could also just not have the means, because fighting back in every situation is not possible. The same goes for flight. We cannot run away from every problem, and there are some things that we simply cannot give up on or avoid in life. When you can neither fight something nor run away from it, anxiety takes over and begins to consume you. You panic, and it hurts whomever it affects tremendously.

In order to explain a little more accurately, I will begin to get into my own personal case. I have been diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist with what is known as situational anxiety. It is different than generalized anxiety disorder because it is caused by a certain environment or life situation. Once I am away from that environment or that situation ends, the anxiety will be alleviated and no longer be a problem for me. For me that environment happens to be my own home, and the situation is that I am 27 years old, currently disabled, unable to work, and have no income. That is probably over simplifying things; what is needed to have some background into my source of anxiety. One of the most prominent sources of my anxiety is specifically the topic of income.

Without telling my entire life story, I did have to drop out of 4 year college because of a bad case of anemia. After my recovery I began to work and was making very little money. I had decided to go back to college after almost a year of working, and despite my worsening physical and mental health, I continued on with my education. It was only when I got to the very last credit needed for graduation, English literature, that I realized that I had a huge issue with the class. It actually triggered anxiety in me, where I had night terrors, extreme chest pain, and terrible dizzy spells. I was trying my best to fight, but was losing the battle. I absolutely did not want to flee, because all I wanted was to finally graduate. Either way, no option was possible because I could not mentally handle the symptoms I was suffering from taking that class. Though in the end I did have to drop the class, and subsequently tried and dropped two more times, flight was never considered an option for me until the very last moment. Then it was the guilt that I could neither fight nor flee from, along with the overwhelming feeling of failure.

When it was clear that I could no longer continue my education and I could not work, that is when I began to look into signing up for disability. It did take a very long time to come to terms with the word. Disabled sounds so negative. I felt ashamed, and almost as if everything was my fault, though I know all of it was out of my control. When I did finally muster up the courage to apply, I felt a sense of relief knowing that perhaps I would get a little bit of financial aid to help me move out someday. When my application was denied I couldn't have been more crushed. I did not have enough work credits because I had chosen to go back to school instead of working, and because my health was so poor during that time, I had quit my job in favor of going to college. The only way to possibly get more work credits would be to get a job, but that was exactly why I had chosen to apply for disability in the first place. I obviously would never graduate college, and I couldn't work, so I needed help.

And here we have the biggest conundrum of all. How can I gain work credit if I cannot work? Simply put, it's impossible. I am stuck in a terrible situation, one which I can either fight, because I cannot work and get those work credits comma and because rules are rules. There's no way around the work credit problem, so there is no way to fight it. I can't just flee either, because there is nothing to flee from. How can I run away from all my troubles? Do I become homeless? Clearly, I would never want that to be an option, so I continued to stay at home with my parents. It is an absolutely miserable life though, because I have no sense of independence.
I cannot drive a car due to my anxiety and the medication that I take. I'm not allowed to operate heavy machinery. I tried to learn how to drive, and just ended up getting screamed at by the instructor. Trying to drive with my boyfriend got me screamed at by my boyfriend. It is clear I'm just not competent enough to drive, or maybe my brain is too addled to focus on it. Either way, it is not an option for me.
I can no longer sculpt with clay or cast in resin because of the mess involved. There is no work space in my house where I can do either of those things that I used to love so much. Previously, my parents were unaware of the process that I would go through because I did everything in the morning hours while they were asleep. It was an accidental awakening that clued them in to what exactly I was doing, and how it could possibly damage the surrounding area. Even though I insist that I am neat, I can no longer do either of these things. I could potentially work in the garage, but once again, there are problems. There is no room whatsoever to work because there's too much being stored there. I would also need to open the door for ventilation, which could be potentially dangerous in the middle of the night. Our neighborhood is a prime area for car robbery, and I do not want to be out in the open like that.
I tried painting on canvas, but none of my paintings sold. That was very disheartening and I no longer feel like doing any more paintings. I don't cope very well with failure.
I wanted to raise dragonfruit cacti, but my parents did not allow me to bring my cactus into the house this year because it was way too large, and it died due to the cold weather in the garage. That was six years of nurture and around $200 worth of actual cactus and trellis wasted. It absolutely broke my heart.
I have taken up an interest in frogs, and proposed raising a few in order to start a breeding operation. In order to do so, I would have to keep each frog for about a year until they are mature enough to go through the breeding process. By then, I would hope, I would somehow have moved out so my parents would not have to deal with the breeding. There is no room to do that anyway, as I previously have stated. They absolutely will not allow a frog in the house, not even in the garage if I rigged it with heating.

Every potential thing that I want to do is blocked from me somehow. I do not have the means to fight. To be honest, I don't know if I even have the strength anymore. I've suffered from depression since puberty, because unfortunately the case I have is hereditary and comes from both sides of my family. I feel like all of the restrictions I have on my life through my parents, my health, and just society in general, are causing my depression to come back in full force. Still, the most prominent thing that I am suffering from is the anxiety. The anxiety is absolutely terrible.
I have no income. I cannot work. I cannot make art in my spare time to possibly sell. I cannot start new hobbies that might potentially lead to money. Even hobbies that I was into previously have been destroyed, like my cactus. I am stuck, constantly stuck in this fight or flight mode, always dealing with the symptoms of anxiety. I wake up at night and don't know what to do with myself. I cannot fall asleep some nice. The chest pains, the dizziness, the lack of appetite, the voracious hunger, the racing thoughts, the feeling of being a caged animal, I absolutely cannot take it.

I am not stressed out. I have anxiety. I have it badly, and I feel like I am slowly being defined by it. It has made me want to avoid contact with people. It has made me unable to fall asleep without the aid of a sedatitive, because being alone with my own thoughts eventually leads me into a panic. It has taken the fun out of my hobbies because I can no longer focus on them without having the worrying and pain of knowing tomorrow will be no different gnawing at the back of my mind. It has kept me from keeping up completely with my personal hygiene because sometimes I feel too dizzy to stand in the shower. I still try my best, but some days I just fall asleep in my clothes, and others I don't change out of my pajamas for the entire day.

In summary, anxiety is horrible. It is so much different than stress. It is an all-encompassing mental affliction that saps away your being... and I feel like I am fading away more than ever.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Glimpse Into the Shitshow

Okay... so I know that lately I've been just complaining about how life sucks like a little bitch, but in all honesty I am just so fucking lonely that posting how I'm feeling is actually a semi-effective coping mechanism for me. Saying it instead of keeping it inside is like relieving pressure in a shaken soda bottle. It takes a bit of the pain away.

So now I will finally explain PART of why things have been so bad lately. Fuck, life is bad for a variety of reasons right now, but the most recent development is that Bruiser is still heartworm positive. On top of that, he's now showing up positive for a tick-borne illness.
The thing is, his heartworm injections AND monthly preventative are effective at killing both these parasites. There is absolutely no reason for these to still be in his body. This means something is either wrong with the testing equipment, which the internist said is very highly unlikely, or the worst case scenario is that Bruiser has the new, dangerous, drug-resistant "Mississippi Valley" strain of heartworm. He's from Tennessee. The chance that this is likely is... well, very high up there.
Bruiser is a 6lb chihuahua. A very small dog. This treatment has been hard enough on his little body. It's incredibly worrying, because heartworm is such a deadly disease. Google it, and check out Images. I fucking dare you.

Today he has an echocardiogram to see if the worms can actually be seen in his heart. This will determine the next course of action. The price tag on this test though? $400! Not covered by our vet plan, either.
I'm too ill to work, my art isn't selling, and I already liquidated some of my most prized possessions last time he incurred a huge vet bill. This is absolutely breaking my heart and my savings, which I have been hoarding desperately in order to help make a downpayment on a house someday.

So there. You have just the tip of the iceberg of why depression is eating away at my mind currently. I'm not being a little emo shitbag. I'm not seeking attention or even sympathy at this point.
Things just fucking suck.

Just please wish Bruiser luck today. Jon and I love and adore that little bugger, and we just want him to be okay.