Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yesterday was a rough day

Depression ... ADD ... PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, or severe PMS, hereafter referred to as PMS although I definitely qualify for PMDD). And I guess yesterday I got a little more down, just because this lingering cough is tiring me out.

All that mental dysfunction is a lot to deal with, even without the added stress of job-hunting in a train-wrecked economy.

Both depression and ADD are somehow related to PMS. There is a link between PMS and serotonin, so a few months ago I started taking an anti-depressant for the PMS (I haven't been really depressed for a while, thank God), and it's helping, somewhat. But apparently there's also a connection between ADD and female hormones, with extra confusion, distractibility, poor memory etc. (i.e., ADD symptoms) coming before a period; and now I read that declining hormone levels in perimenopause also intensify the ADD symptoms and make them more resistant to typical stimulant meds. I haven't had my hormone levels checked, but I'm 41 and my sister was through menopause by 41 or 42, so it's a good bet that my estrogen levels are dropping.

The ADD was frustrating even while happily unemployed, as I struggled to keep up with the house and garden work, to keep productive without any externally-imposed structure. But I was happily grappling with it. I had found some tools for organizing my time, and I was working at developing good working habits. Job-hunting, though, is something else. I think I might need some meds, now. Possibly some form of estrogen....

The ADD brain only works well with motivation and stimulation. Think about it, the meds commonly prescribed for ADD are stimulants, amphetamines even. When an ADDer is motivated, she can do all kinds of things, but without motivation it's a terrific struggle to stay on task. But negative motivation (fear of not being able to pay my bills) seems to be counter-productive; I just get more paralyzed. I have to be going to somewhere, not just running from something.

Last night I slept poorly (actually I've slept poorly the last 3 nights, another symptom of PMS/PMDD). I woke at 2 a.m. and never really fell back to sleep. With this horrible aching anxiety -- how am I going to get out of this hole? What's going to happen to me?

Surprisingly, though, my racing thoughts actually became more positive after a while, as I thought about all the positive traits associated with ADD. Really, Attention Deficit Disorder is poorly named. It's not all attention deficit: ADDers can also hyperfocus, which is useful for, e.g., coding, reconciling accounts, proof-reading, etc. And it's as much a gift as it is a disorder: my ADD plays a big part in my creativity, my ability to always see the big picture, not to lose sight of the vision and goals and principles underlying policies and procedures and processes. The ADDer doesn't just think outside the box -- there is no box for an ADDer. I may have trouble keeping track of the trees, but I will never forget about the forest. I learn things easily, I understand concepts easily. I have a gift (the gift of ADD) for seeing connections that others don't readily recognize. I am an excellent trouble-shooter. I am very good at, and enjoy, meeeting with a group of stakeholders to tease out the issues and opportunities that each one brings to a situation; constructing a 365-degree view of a situation and identifying solutions that everyone can live with. I will be a GREAT ASSET to whomever ends up hiring me, and I can even enjoy a government job, as long as I have a really good assistant. That's going to be the key question for me to ask in job interviews, I guess. Who will be working for me? And, realizing that my private office in my old job was a rare luxury, can I at least get a cubicle stuck off in a corner somewhere, out of the flow of traffic? And can I use headphones for white noise to keep down distractions, and can I work from home sometimes? Do I have to create a lot of spreadsheets, or am I supervising the people who do that?

I am applying for jobs related to my old field (because I need to make enough money to pay this mortgage, I can't go starting over in a brand new direction right now). I was an administrative manager, in charge of budget & financial management, human resources, procurement, etc. Those fields are infamously full of people who are sticklers for the letter of the law but lose sight of its spirit. The letter is important, but so is sensitivity to circumstances of individual situations, flexibility rooted in a solid understanding of the spirit of the law, and so is the ability to identify needed changes to the rules. Having those tree-focused financial types supervised by forest-focused me would be an asset to a bureaucratic employer. Not only that, but as long as I've got the support I need (above and below, from my supervisor as well as a good assistant) to deal with the downsides of ADD, I could really enjoy a new job. Well, OK, I'd rather stay "retired", but I don't have to dread going to work.

Please pray for me, anyone who reads this. I need it!


  1. Hi Regina,

    Hope you are feeling better today. I will definitely add you to my prayer list. I really believe in the power of prayer and I know we will all be okay in the long run! We just have to be patient which is a virtue I don't love too much and I am not too thrilled with PMS either! :)

  2. Hi Regina,

    I will also pray for you. I was pondering your comment on ADD:

    "...Attention Deficit Disorder is poorly named. It's not all attention deficit: ADDers can also hyperfocus"

    And I thought about how much that sounds like me. There are times when I struggled between the two.

    I think it would be helpful to identify where you find joy and fulfillment in your life, and start directing your attention there.

    Problems will always come and go, but that doesn't mean that you can't be happy and fulfilled. Find a way to live and express your joy and the other stuff won't matter so much.

    Just my two cents.

  3. Thanks, Nadia & Michael. Yesterday was still bad, but today I'm doing better!

    "identify where you find joy and fulfillment in your life, and start directing your attention there." Michael, that's so much what I want to do, but I've got this damn MORTGAGE weighing me down. Trying to strike a balance between focusing on correcting my cash-flow deficit right now, without losing sight of the things I love: food (growing it, preparing it, sharing it), hospitality, prayer. If I could figure out a way to market my home as a Catholic (or ecumenical) guest house with garden.... but for enough to cover the mortgage?

    Your prayers are much appreciated, and reciprocated.

  4. Hi Regina,

    I have been thinking about your response to Michael's comment and some thoughts came to mind. I have been in a somewhat similar position as you and I know it is not easy.

    Sometimes thinking of the bigger picture (meaning what you want in terms of your future) can be overwhelming because you have no idea how to get there.

    I found that the best thing to do is to focus on what the you can do today. Kind of like do what you need to do in the moment. Of course, you can go after the things you want and do the necessary work but if you focus on the task at hand, you will be lead to the next task and you will get to where you need to be but just focus on the journey.

    I know it sounds easier said than done, I am doing the same for my dreams. I just thought I would share what I have learned. Apologies if I overstepped any bounds since I know your response was mainly directed to Michael! :)