Welcome to our Lives

Nice to meet ya!

I am Varmint. My husband is Stu. My children are Paddy and Kit Cat.

Myself, Paddy, and Kit Cat have all been diagnosed with moderate to severe ADHD. Stu is the opposite of ADHD and his full time position as husband and father is attempting to keep us from straying too far from the main path. It is a difficult job, but one he is very good at doing.

On this blog, I will attempt (with the help of the fam) to describe what life is like when you have ADHD. My hope is to help families who find having a child/parent with ADHD a struggle and to give advice on to how to change that struggle to a lifetime of adventure! Because ADHD should never be a battle if you fully understand the potential we have. I also hope to educate others on exactly what ADHD is because it can be complex diagnosis. It is so complex, that the school systems refuse to use the diagnosis in paperwork for IEP’s or 504’s and list the reason for receiving help in school as “other health impairment” because of the complex nature of each individual. But more on that later.

For full disclosure, I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or any other ‘ist’ out there. I am first and foremost an adult who has lived with ADHD my entire life. I was not diagnosed until I was in my twenties and fought most of my school life to understand why I was so different from everyone else. My children were diagnosed early due to my pushing the issue with doctors. I have studied and researched all I can on ADHD so I can be a good advocate for my children. On this blog, I will share my information with you.

Medication is always a topic of discussion when it comes to this mental disorder and I would like to say upfront that I neither advocate nor oppose medication for children or adults. There are excellent reasons to use it and others to not. As for my family, we are all medicated. Paddy doesn’t really have much of a choice, because without medications his grades and social life drop drastically. Myself and Kit Cat use medications in order to maintain our thought processes. However, all of us are medication free on our days off from school or work in order to give our bodies a break. Medication is not for everyone diagnosed, and there are many alternatives that can help, especially diet, and I’ll go over all of that on this blog.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

A Little Anxiety with Holiday Jollies

The Holiday’s.

I can’t possibly be the only one who has a love hate relationship with the Holidays. This time used to be a full plate of anxiety with a bit of panic attack on the side. What did I do to help all this Holiday Heart Attack inducing joy? I moved over a thousand miles away from the both my and the in-laws family.

I don’t recommend this strategy to most people. And being honest, I didn’t really recommend it for me either. It just sort of happened and not having to deal with the Holiday’s is a side affect I can live with.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. I love spending time with my family (certain in-laws included). However, not having the holiday commotion has been good for me. I would love to go visit for at least one of the end of the year holiday’s but finances do not allow that.

You see, we moved to Florida and my family is in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. November and December are months where the weather cannot be predicted. Living in Florida for several years means that we have limited warm clothing for cooler days and no clothing for seriously cold weather. Simply put, we are not prepared for 30 degree all day weather anymore. Which means, not only would we have to afford the trip up there, we would have to buy the kids clothes so they don’t freeze. The expenses just keep adding up.

But, I digress as I always do. The Holidays are not a joyous occasion for everyone. Although I don’t have to worry about social interactions during these gatherings (because everyone knows I’m socially awkward and I don’t have to try to hide it), I still get anxious about the claustrophobic feeling I always get when I’m in a room with more than 3 people.

This anxiety means that I will get loud, no matter how hard I try not to. This anxiety means that I when my vocal volume is announced to everyone by someone who is annoyed by it that I will feel the need to justify my voice. This means that everyone will look at me like I’m crazy because I can’t just control my volume like a rational adult. Then the panic sets in. Once the panic sets in, I can’t control my emotions.

It’s a horrible circle of constant battling the demons in my head telling me that I shouldn’t be there. That I’m an annoyance to everyone. That everyone in the room wishes I wasn’t there because I’m so annoying. That my family desperately wanted me to make an excuse to not be there and they are secretly blaming themselves for actually inviting me. Once the demons start in my head, its pretty much all over. I have no choice but to remove myself from the situation so I don’t make an even bigger fool of myself by crying. I hate my demons and I hate that they make me cry like that.

I have tried so hard not to make these situation not be so bad. But there is nothing I can do. I’ve tried everything my therapist has counseled me to do, but nothing has worked. I know that a crowded room will mean my volume with increase for no reason. I know that when I’m told to hush, I will get defensive even though I don’t want to. I know I’ll make excuses when there are no excuses to be made. I can’t control my panic. I can’t control my anxiety. I become a monster of emotion that I have absolutely no control over. I hear my voice, but cannot control what I say. I become a puppet to the demons.

Sometimes, I hate myself.

But then I remember that I am with family. They do tolerate me. They really do want me to be there. They do love me. That love is the reason that I still show up to our yearly gatherings in the summer. That love is why I can somewhat overcome my demons and not run and hide when someone tells me I’m being too loud. That love is why I don’t hide for that entire week we are together, and only hide long enough to shut the demons out of my head and then go back to socializing again.

I miss holiday’s with my family every year and can’t wait until we can go up there for Thanksgiving and or Christmas again. The holiday’s don’t have to be a nightmare anymore. It wasn’t until I couldn’t go that I realized how much I loved going to them and how much my anxiety didn’t really control me.

If you feel this way during this season, know that you are not alone. You are in good company with this lunatic.

Happy Holiday’s, Ya’ll.

Lists, Plans, and Strategize

What is it like being a Mother with ADHD and raising two children with ADHD. Well, let’s be honest, I say it’s a household of fun, lots of movement, and utter chaos. But it’s good chaos.

Except for Stu, the patriarch of the family. The one who was not gifted with ADHD as the rest of his family. When asked what life is like living in a household full of ADHD his response is to laugh and answer “Utterly bizarre”. He then describes it as “being the calm area of a hurricane.” Meaning, his wife and kids are the hurricane, and he is calm eye. It’s fine for him, and we are the lunatics in his calming life. I think he likes his life this way.

However, there are times when utter chaos is not a good way to live. Examples would be being successful in school and work. Being on time to important appointments. Making sure we have enough ingredients in the kitchen to make a meal. That last one is actually more important than most people would realize.

Stu’s answer to most of these problems is to make lists. And then more lists. And then when you are fed up with these lists, make a list to compare the lists together so that you have a complete list of all the lists. Strangely, this seems to work for me.

School and work lists have actually proven to be quite easy. The kids have academic planners to help with their lists. I have a steno pad at work where one side is my list and the other side is the completion of the list. Easy peasy. Appointments are also quite easy with electronic calendars that I can share with Stu. This keeps me up to date on every little and big thing I need to do and the little pings of my phone reminding me to do those things. I even set my alarm for certain daily tasks to I don’t forget them.

The most difficult task for me has been the grocery list. Making sure I have enough ingredients for meals. And then remembering what meals I have ingredients for. This probably seems easy for the non ADHD person out there, but it is a difficult task for me.

The solution – one complicated list. I make a list of all the meals my family would like to eat in a week. I get their input on it to and the kids like to come up with meals for me. I then take that simple list of meals, and then make the list of ingredients I need for those meals. I scratch off the ingredients that I have in my kitchen already and then head to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients I do not have. And then, the final list of what food can be made into what meals goes onto the white board that is on the refrigerator. Now, the kids know what meals we can have and what meals they can complain about on which day. It’s a system that seems to work for us.

This has made my life so much easier. And I’m sure the family enjoys having meals with a main course and not just a bunch of side dishes.

Meme – A Friend of ADHD

I love my friends. They always have great meme’s to share. This one was shared with me and I had to share with all of you. This defines me so well.

I know some people people may think this applies to all people and not just people with ADHD. However, for “some” people it only happens occasional. For people with ADHD, this is daily. This is why most of us have a great sense of humor!

No Shaming Allowed

Being ADHD is nothing to be ashamed about. Why anyone would think otherwise is beyond my comprehension.

I had a parent tell me the other day that at another school the teachers were telling their son not to tell anyone that he had ADHD. They told him that it would be best that way. Although I can somewhat understand where they were coming from, that is, not wanting him to be teased and bullied, I cannot believe that they would attempt to “protect” a child by shaming him. Yes, it is shaming him.

If someone tells you to keep a secret because of a diagnosis, then that means you should be ashamed that you received the diagnosis. There is really no other way to look at it. And this is just a child!

Instead, the teachers should have taken the opportunity to educate the class. If this child had been diagnosed with diabetes, tourettes, epilepsy, or leukemia the school would have used this as a learning experience for the children. However, with ADHD, they hushed the child.

Naturally, at the school I work at, when I was told of his diagnosis, I gave him a fit bump and welcomed him to the club. He was so excited. I told him he could come to me anytime he needed with questions or to just talk. The smile on his face was reward enough.

There is nothing shameful about having ADHD. We just think differently and react to stimuli differently. It isn’t contagious. Well, at least, physically. Mentally, we do have a tendency to hype up any crowd but that’s another story all together.

Children need to learn to embrace their differences. It really is that simple.

Treated Like a Criminal

I am not a criminal.

There, I said it. I wish certain people would believe me.

For the vast majority of our families prescription medication, I can walk into any pharmacy in the US and get the prescriptions filled no questions asked. It doesn’t matter which pharmacy I go to. I am allowed to get my medication.

However, try to do that with ADHD meds. You will get the third degree.

“Why are you getting this filled here?”

“What made you come in to get this filled in this particular pharmacy?”

“You can’t get this filled here. We have met our quota this month of patients for this type of medication. You will have to go to a smaller pharmacy with less patients.”

Yes, these are all exact quotes. You see, I forgot to get my ADHD meds filled after the summer (I don’t take my meds over the summer because I work in the office at a school and have the summer months off.) I wanted to go to the convenient drive thru at the CVS I drive past every day to get home from work. I usually go inside the Target CVS but I have to drive past my house and the traffic at the end of the work day is chaotic. But, I was unable to get my legal prescription filled because I don’t usually go to that specific pharmacy. Both are CVS. CVS is the preferred pharmacy for my insurance. However, I went to the wrong CVS. It is very frustrating.

Even at the Target CVS I was questioned. They know me there and I could tell they were a bit embarrassed to ask me the questions, but the computer forced these questions upon me. Why did I go two months without getting a prescription filled? Why am I at this pharmacy when I tried to get it filled at the other location? (Yes, they put it in the computer and flagged my account just because I tried to go to the more convenient location to me when I ran out of meds.)

To put simply, I was treated like I did something wrong. I have ADHD and I forgot to get my prescription filled before running out. One of the biggest symptoms of ADHD is forgetting important things. Yet, I’m not allowed to forget these things because of the new laws in my state.

More “simplicity” for you is the fact that if I get my prescriptions filled every month religiously I would not have to deal with these questions. However, I do not take the medication every day – only when I need them. Same is true for my children. We only take the stimulant medication when we need them, not every day. But legislation wants us to fill the prescription as if we take it every day in order for us to not have to feel like a criminal. This is a nightmare.

Many people look at me and roll their eyes and think it is a simple solution of just filling the darned prescription every month. However, with three of us on these medications, the amount of left over pills we have would more than likely be an excess of what a pharmacy with state of the art security is allowed to have left over at the end of the month. Lets do the math:

There are approximately 180 school days. Let’s just assume that me and the kids do not miss any days of school/work and take our meds all 180 days. There are also events that happen during the year that means we take our meds on non school days. Let’s be extremely generous and say there are 20 extra days (The equivalent of 4 work weeks) that we take our meds. That would be 200 days out of the year that we need to take our meds. That leaves 165 days in a year that we are medication free. (And, of course, this assumes that we remember to take the meds every time we need them.) However, legislation now demands that we fill our meds every 30 days without fail. This means we would have 165 extra pills per person every year and we have 3 people on these specific medications. That means we would have 495 left over pills every year in our house at the end of every year. Medications that are considered a controlled substance. Medications that the pharmacy cannot have an overstock of in their secured and locked safe. Medications that are sold on the black market. Medications that many non-ADHD teens take to get high. So the powers that be in the legislation want me to have 495 extra pills at the end of the year with two teenagers living in my house with I don’t even know how many teenagers coming and going on a weekly basis.

All of this, and study after study after study after study have proven that this medication is NOT over prescribed anymore and actually under prescribed now a days. It is just a medication that is sold on the black market by criminals who do not get the medication in pharmacies.

It’s time to lighten up the legislation. Stop treating us like criminals. Let’s bring common sense back into the equation and don’t force me to have 495 extra pills every year in order to not be treated like a criminal.

We need to stop treating non criminals like criminals. It is so frustrating.

Summertime Homework

Summer break is halfway over for us and it has been a great and extremely boring break. Kit Cat has advanced her drawing skills from dragons to creatures of the night. (The latest one resembles a strange spider faced long legged creepy crawly. *shiver*) And Paddy has been working on his CAD software abilities.

And yes, they are also working on the homework assigned to them by their schools.

I completely understand summer homework. I understand the science behind having children keep their mind working so they don’t fall behind in the summer months. However, I wish there was more variety in the choices for summer homework.

Math and reading. Math and reading. Math and reading. Oh…and some more math and reading.

There is so much more to learning than just math and reading. And the assigned reading has very little wiggle room for reading something they want to read. And the math, for Kit Cat, is fractions and all the other math things she hates. Paddy is forced to read books that usually have some sort of political agenda now that he is in high school.

Kit Cat would love to be assigned a science experiment. Something she could really consume herself in. Paddy would be in heaven if he would be assigned something for his CAD program or perhaps even a history research paper. But no. Math and reading. Math and reading.

Kit Cat, for fun, is reading the book “Gone” by Michael Grant. It is 581 pages long and the best way I can describe it is a mixture between Lord of the Flies and Stephen Kings “The Stand”. It is thought provoking. Has multiple characters in a variety of situations that allow the characters to develop and grow. She has to stop reading that book, which she loves, so she can read her two assigned books. Barely over 200 pages with limited action and adventure. She’s bored. She loves heavy sci fi and fantasy and is constantly reading. When we go out to eat she usually has her sketch book or a novel to read. I know she is not the typical teenage girl, and I know many in her class need a ‘grade’ to read something. I just wish the school would have more variety in their reading summer lists.

In order to keep Paddy’s mind active we have him do some small research papers and he gets to pick the topic. He did a great paper on the life of Beethoven and is now working on the Civil War. He is enjoying what he is learning. However, this isn’t what the school has assigned. At least he had to read a classic – 1984. He read it in one day. He went right back to his book on Egyptian Mythology when he was done.

I wish the summer months could be used for the students to pick their own topics for study. I know it is easy for our family considering I work in a school office and have a good portion of the summer months off which makes doing school work with the kids easy. They don’t have to go to summer camps nor do they have to stay home alone. I know this is a luxury many families don’t have.

I just feel like if we gave the kids some control over what they learn over the summer that it wouldn’t be so difficult to have them do it. Allow them to pick what topic they want to learn. Allow them to pick what kind of math they want to practice. If we give them some choices, I don’t think it would be so hard to get them to do it.

Just something to think about. Now, back to making my children put down their over 500 page novel and history books and forcing them to read what is on the ‘list’ that has nothing in it that interests them.

July 4 = Binge Watching

Many ADHD’ers do not do well in large crowds or loud noises. This means the Fourth of July becomes an anxiety fueled nightmare for some of us. For many years I pretended to like fireworks, and the outing to take to see them, because I was usually given the guilt trip if I didn’t go, so I learned that pretending was better.

Only problem was, I would be left for many days afterwards with anxiety ridden nightmares that would leave me unable to be productive. Then, for a few years, I took my kids to see the fireworks because, well, that is what we are supposed to do as parents, right? I learned to stop doing that when I saw the excitement of going turn into sensory overload and glazed over eyes for a few days afterwards. So, avoiding fireworks has become a family tradition now.

Last year, we found ourselves in Pittsburgh and were able to get a hotel room on the 14th floor looking over the water that has a big firework show on the fourth. That was an excellent way to see fireworks! We stayed in the comfort of our hotel room, no large crowds, and were able to see the fireworks with limited sound. It was awesome.

This year, we stayed home in Florida. We were thinking of going to one of the many and wonderful state parks don’t have fireworks, but it was just too hot this year. The heat index was around 110 with humidity levels that made it feel like we should use the adjective of swimming instead of walking. Staying home seemed to be the best option.

Netflix and Hulu binging became are fun for the day. Kit Cat and I watched the entire third season of Stranger Things while Paddy watched Mythbusters. Stu played on his computer – programming probably. It was a great 4th of July day for us! We did have Hamburgers and french fries too.

For families with ADHD children/adults, an alternative activity is usually needed for holidays like the fourth. Never make your families members feel left out because the large crowds and or the loud noises of fireworks are just too much to handle.

Remember, the best way to handle these holidays is to make everyone feel a part of the fun.

**On a side note – please remember that many of our military men and women also have difficulties with this holiday because of the loud noises. I have to admit, I find it difficult to understand why we celebrate our freedom and thank our servicemen in a way that can inflict feelings of war on them.

Rock on, My lovelies. But, just not too loudly.

A Bored ADHD Mind Can Be a Dangerous Thing

Summer is here and it is time for most parents to scramble to find ways to keep their kids from getting too bored. We do what we can to keep up their brains with homework, or summer camp, or VBA, or any number of activities that help them. Some parents find that the various summer activities are a bit too pricey, while others go over board keeping their kids active all summer long. Each family has different opinions on this subject. And none of them are wrong or right. Families have to do what is best for their families and their children.

However, for the ADHD child, things can get a bit difficult. It is advised by many psychiatrist that children go off of their medications in the summer months in order to give their bodies a break. Along with giving their bodies a break, they also have to give their minds a break. The way schools are set up is good for the majority of children, but it is exhausting for the ADHD child. To keep the mind in control for hours on end with limited breaks and not enough movement can take its toll on us mentally. So, summer needs to be a time to rest our minds.

Some kids spend their time playing a vast array of video games. For limited time, these games are very good for the ADHD child, just as they are for the non-ADHD child. It can help with fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. Some games also help with the imagination, allowing the child to set up their own towns and adventures. However, too much gaming can cause extreme mood swings and severe grumpiness.

Of course, there is outside playtime for kids. This is a wonderful time for imaginations to run wild and allow for a lot of physical activities, however, this becoming a rare event as most kids must attend summer camps because both kids work. This leaves the neighborhoods lacking in playmates for the kids who stay home. Not to mention, summer camps are a controlled environment which does little to help the brain of an ADHD child find release from constantly being forced to ‘be good’ in said control environment.

So, how can the child with ADHD relax their brains? My answer is a simple one, but it is not a popular one. Allow them to read the same book multiple times. Allow them to watch and re-watch the TV show of their choice. Limit the hours for the TV, naturally, but if they want to watch the same show for the hundredth time, let them do it. Don’t force them to read new books if they don’t want to (unless they are for the upcoming school year.) I know this sound odd, but hear me out.

Rereading and re-watching the same stories give our brains time to relax. It allows us time to have our brains fly. We don’t have to concentrate on anything, but have something to ground us to reality so we can find our way back home quickly, and without any mental pain. It seems odd to the person who lives life with a brain they can control, but to us, this is freedom. Listening to music is also helpful, however, I have found that having something visual allows better access to get into reality easier.

So, let your child read that book for the eight time. Let them Netflix binge the same TV show for the fifth time. It is our time to relax, and this is an easy way to do it. And don’t worry, we aren’t rotting our brains. We are relaxing in our ten thoughts per second. Letting our brains fly free without the constraints of having to think.

Mental Freedom is for summertime! This is why I love working in a school. I have the mental breaks along with the kids. Kit Cat and I are watching Stranger Things for the third time in anticipation of the new season. Paddy and I are binging the DC television universe which he’s watched countless times. Along with rereading Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven for the… um… I don’t remember how many times, but… best series ever!

I love summertime.

Marvel Mom and DC Son

Yes, I’m a Marvel fan. I have been for several decades when I first got my hands on an X-Men comic book in the 1980’s. I did occasionally dabble in the Catwoman comics, but that was my only DC luxury. I liked the more uplifting stories of Marvel versus the darker realities that is DC.

So, imagine my dismay when my son came to me and told me that DC television was better than anything Marvel had done. Sure, he was just saying that to get under my skin. He loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe as much as I do, however confessed to be watching DC television shows behind my back. He told me that I didn’t need to watch them, and assured me I wasn’t missing anything. But then, he started making noises about me watching DC Legends of Tomorrow that is on the CW. So, recently, we have been binging episodes through Netflix to catch me up. I have to admit, I’m enjoying it.

Sure, the special effects are about as good as Star Trek TNG (aired 1987-1984) and some might be more in comparable to TOS (aired 1966-1969). But, stories aren’t all about special effects, especially science fiction stories. This is something that has been lost for some time on the cinematic X-Men movies. The special effects don’t need to be perfect for a story to be good.

I enjoy the characters in the show. They are not perfect, which is always fun to watch in superhero shows. They fight each other, bicker, and make very bad decisions. Decisions so bad that it may take several episodes to right the wrongs. As a matter of fact, two of the characters in the first season are not hero’s at all. They are criminals that do not like to be considered hero’s. Sometimes it is difficult for them to not to rob someone, which leads to hilarious events.

The plots are sometimes laughable, and in order to enjoy the show you have to allow for an element of stupidity. There are times that the costumes from one edit to another are a bit off and the plot is sometimes questionable, along with some really bad dialogue. However, the characters are just so intriguing to me, I’m hooked.

The premise of the story for the second season is a group of misfits travel through time in order to protect the timeline from time pirates. (The first season was close to this premise, but the group of misfits were the ones messing up the timeline). So, they go into history quite a bit. I love the stories that are in the 1940’s with the women not behaving as they should. Or the Civil War one when the two African American characters see the brutality of slavery. Naturally, the confederate soldiers were zombies in that one, which of course led to some very hysterical moments. They do take liberties, because it is science fiction. But these liberties are fun.

So, if you are a Marvel Sci Fi nut like me, you may want to check out the Legends TV show. It’s fun! And it isn’t too dark like many DC stories are. This show may get me to watch The Flash too, as it is kinda of an extension of that show.

School’s out for Summer!

For most people, summer is here. Kids are running wild, or running wild in a contained environment known as summer camp. Since I work in a school office, my hours get reduced to part time. I plan on utilizing my extra time to, hopefully, finish my second novel. I also hope to get time to take pictures with my new camera that Stu got me for my birthday this year.

Here are some samples:

Have a wonderful summer!