Above all this, I wish you love.
For most of the last week of February, I attended the (virtual) Folk Alliance International conference. I love conferences like these as a rule: it's an opportunity to learn some new things, confirm things I've already learned, meet lots of people (hard but awkward extrovert here), and of course, hear lots of music.
Honestly, though, at the start of the week, I didn't even want to bother with it.
I've mentioned in passing but perhaps not explicitly to all of you that back in December, I started using stimulants to treat my ADHD for the first time in my life. (Well, prescription stimulants. Because let's be honest: I've been using caffeine to treat it for quite a while.) This was a huge thing for me, and it took such a long time to find a prescriber I could work with. I finally found someone back in December, someone who heard and believed me when I told her my medical history -- a rare gem in my experience -- and we started trying Concerta.
I definitely notice the shift. My short-term memory is much better and I have more patience for the most part. When it's working (which at best has been for about 4 hours in a day), I can clean things without it feeling like an epic emotional journey AND EVEN READ. However, it doesn't last as long as it should, and the rebound when it's gone -- apparently termed the "Concerta crash;" you can Google it -- is like falling off a cliff. I get super sad and irritable and unfocused for a few hours. And then I'm just back to normal.
Just before the conference, we had upped my dose one last time in the hopes of seeing some improvement. Unfortunately, my ADHD symptoms seemed to get worse and I was super depressed for most of the day. However, this was at the same time as I was finally digging into some really difficult trauma that I somehow have never touched in almost twenty years of therapy. (Growth takes time, friends.)
Whatever the root issue, having to go and be professional at a conference, maybe try to absorb new information and pay attention, while also still fielding (and being distracted by) virtual school and my kids' needs there? I was a mess by midweek.
In the last year, I think we have all experienced how it isn't as important for us to be professional as it is for us to be human. Each of our individual experiences of humanity are colored by privilege and loss, triumph and struggle, joy and grief. Those systems that ask us to be at our "peak" at all times in all things are oppressive to the majority of people, some WAY more than others.
There is value in each of us looking inward and seeing where we have privilege, but there is also value in acknowledging where we don't. I can plan around and work with my neurodivergence to a point. And I have to remember it isn't my job or my purpose to magically become neurotypical, and I wouldn't want that anyway. There is so much beauty in how my brain works, so many gifts it gives me every day. And I can give back to myself by providing myself with the support and resources I need, even if they're different from what others need. It means store-bought dopamine and planned transition times and reminders for even basic things. It means movement so I can listen to a panel conversation, or a podcast so I can actually do my dishes. It means laughing a lot and crying a lot and saying things in the most roundabout fashion a LOT. It means asking for some damn help when I need it, even when that feels super weird or difficult.
It means no longer pretending to be something that I'm not.
My medication journey is not done. I know I'm on the right track; the benefits I've seen have given me the kind of hope I have been seeking for a long, long time. I'll get it figured out. In the meantime, I am really, really, really going to try to have compassion for myself. (And if you have any to spare for me while I figure it out, I will gladly take it.)
Whatever you're holding right now, I am sending you love and compassion and empathy. I hope you can send yourself some of the same. Let's be humans together. <3
Here are a few actions we're taking this week to fight systemic injustice. As always, we invite you to join us.
Take a breath. Rest can be an act of resistance -- particularly in the midst of the constant collective gaslighting we see by governments and corporations, where people want to pretend this pandemic isn't traumatic. Your value comes from your sheer existence, not from your productivity. "It's worth it. I promise. You're worth it."