Progress (anticipated)

October 31, 2011

Morning, Internet!

Well today is the first day of my week of unemployment before I start my new contract. The plan was to get up at 7am, do some exercise (healthy body, healthy mind blah blah) and then sit down at my desk and not leave it until 5pm Friday (or until this chapter draft is finished, whichever happens first).

Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I woke up two hours late. Or maybe just one hour late depending on what time it actually is. I do think that the fact that the clocks change twice a year is time’s way of mocking ADHDers. If it wasn’t for the fact that, after six months of having to mentally add an hour to the clock on my microwave, it now reads the same time as my laptop and phone (which I think update automatically) then I would be totally confused. So really, it’s a good thing (yet not a particularly astonishing thing) that I never got round to changing it. Actually, I think this should be included somewhere in the ADHD diagnostic self-assessment. If your microwave clock is wrong for six months in every year, there’s a good chance you have ADHD.

Anyway (predictably), I digress. Despite the (probable) lateness of the hour, I am going to be a good little PhD student today and make some Progress (note capitalisation – that’s how much progress I shall make). I have devised a points system with M, who I think is as desperate for me to finish this PhD as I am, and so has become my unofficial second supervisor. For every 100 words, I get 1 point. I have to get a minimum of 30 points by Friday or I can’t go out. I know this sounds like a Primary School Approach to Getting a PhD, but at this stage, it isn’t just the ADHD causing the inertia – I’m just feeling a bit stale with it all. Making good Progress this week will help get me out of this rut and hopefully see me to the finish line. Thank you, M, you’re definitely going in the acknowledgements (if I ever get that far).

So today is likely to be a bit slow. But I did have two very late nights this weekend. Oh, Halloween drinks on Friday were good, btw. I still have Halloween decorations up, but all food and empties have been disposed of. I’ll get round to packing the Halloween decs away this week at some point. But if not, they can just stay up. It’ll be Halloween again next year, and that’ll save me a job.

Now, to work!

Happy Halloween, Internet.

Good morning, Internet.

It’s a chilly autumnal morning here in Wonderland. I have had an uncharacteristic (and entirely involuntary) early start to the day, having been woken up by the postman who delivered my Halloween costume. I forgot to take off my make-up last night and had been in a very deep sleep so the poor guy could be forgiven for his barely concealed surprise when his knock was answered by a creature for whom the donning of a scary Halloween costume could only represent an improvement. A creature who resembled this chap:

Anyway, I digress. After a shaky start, I am determined to remain on-topic today without hesitation, repetition or deviation. I need to talk to you about my decision to go back on the Ritalin before the rapidly loosening ball of wool that is my life unravels completely. I’m feeling completely incapable of getting things done and it’s always the PhD and my blood pressure that suffers most.

For example: I have so much to do today, and I am desperately trying not to panic. I am having people over to the flat tonight for a halloween gathering. Ideally, my itinary for the day would go something like this:

1) Blog about my ADHD meds (or lack thereof).
2) Despite lack of said meds, nevertheless, produce 3 or 4 hours of quality writing towards my PhD, thus sedating the little monster of PhD anxiety so that he has a good long nap.

3) Clean flat from top to bottom without breaking off at any point to explore the Internet or check that the dietary needs of chinchillas have not changed since the last time I conducted this research. Pay particular attention to the removal of cat fur from surfaces that guests are likely to want to sit on.

3.i) Decorate flat with cheap Halloween tat purchased from poundshop.

3.ii) Do so without sustaining injury from climbing on furniture.

3.iii) Dispose of all packaging and rubbish associated with cheap tat. Do not
leave on living room floor.

4) Go to Sainsburys and purchase food, alcohol and suitably proportioned pumpkin.

5) Carve pumpkin (may require sudden and spontaneous increase of artistic ability)

5.i) Do so without sustaining injury from big sharp knife.

5.ii) Should injury occur, at least have presence of mind to collect blood into
suitable container for incorpration into Halloween costume.

6) Shower, apply scary make-up to face, put on scary costume and wig.

7) Admit guests to flat without any indication of preparation hell. Probs attempt smile if poss but if not, pass lack of smile off as costume-appropriate expression.

8)  Drink Halloween punch until I pass out and care not that my flat enjoyed approx 1 hr of tidiness before being littered with the debris of celebration and intoxication, debris that I will inevitably be too hungover to dispose of.

Oh crap. How is that the time?? Despite the carefully delineated 8 point plan above, I am going to have to jettison Step 1 and postpone my post on ADHD meds. Again. FFS.


October 26, 2011

I did it!! I got to work on time! Not just on time but actually almost two whole minutes early! Am feeling v proud of myself just now (as evidenced by all the exclamation marks) but am so exhausted by the effort this has taken that I am going to leave my post about going back on the ADHD meds till tomorrow.

Rose 1 – 0 Lateness

Procrastination 1 – 0 Rose

And there it is. You win some, you lose some.

Good day to you, Internet.

Today is the penultimate day of my current contract at work.  I then have nearly two weeks to make some significant progress on the PhD, undistracted (HA!), before I return to the same place (but a different department) in order to begin a new contract. In honour of my last day in this office, tomorrow I am going to make a concerted effort to arrive on time less than an hour late. I am making this promise here and now, in writing. Because, clearly, if I tell the Internet something that makes it true.

I am so fed up of having to call in to work at 9.05 and explain, in my sleep-hoarse voice that I have overslept (again), and then make a promise to be in by 9.30 even though I know that it takes at least 30mins to get ready and at least 20 minutes to actually make it from my flat to my place of employment. Add at least 15 minutes to account for ADHD, and it is clear to anyone with only a rudimentary grasp of mathematics, that it will be AT LEAST 10am before I make it to work, overheated, overstressed, and dangerously under-caffeinated. Why do I do this??! Why is being late for work once not enough? Why engineer the situation so that I am compounding the original lateness, by further tardiness so that I have to feel humiliated by my own inadequacies not just once but twice?

The thing is, they’re kind of used to it here. It’s not that the chronic lateness goes unnoticed but it’s tolerated. It helps that I seem to have accidentally cultivated this image of myself as a sort of lovable scatter-brain.  I think it might be an ADHD survival strategy that enables one to get through life being a bit crap but without incurring the same penalties as other people might. I think I’ve inherited it from my father who is anything but lazy but whose working days were a scramble of missed meetings, forgotten deadlines, and lost paperwork. Strangely, he was always well-liked despite these short-comings, and I am fairly sure that he retained the affection of his colleagues by the same means as I do now: 1) Apologise profusely, even when things aren’t your fault. 2) Be more cross at yourself than your colleague is – this results in their irritation metamorphosing into sympathy before your very eyes. 3)  Seem a little bit helpless. Instead of wanting to kick you in the face, they want to help you.  4) Cultivate an attitude of self-deprecation which encourages others to laugh affectionately at your difficulties and roll their eyes with a smile instead of a final written warning.

As I write the above, I realise that this sounds very manipulative and a little exploitative, as though I purposely deploy these tactics of defence. This is absolutely not the case. It is a defence mechanism in the same way that a squid releases ink in response to attack. It’s the ADHD equivalent. In the face of attack by completely normal, everyday challenges, it’s me rolling myself up into a little ball with my arms wrapped protectively over my head, shrieking ‘I’m not very good at this, it shouldn’t be this difficult, but rather than you take my shortcomings too seriously, I’d rather you just took me less seriously. I am therefore prepared to relinquish some of my pride and dignity in return for your forgiveness and tolerance’.  I don’t want to be seen like this. I would quite like to feel that people took me seriously. I would quite like to feel that people looked at me and thought, ‘there goes a capable twenty-something woman who is going places’ rather than ‘ Awww, how typical – Rose has fucked up again, bless her. How *does* she make it through each day without close supervision?’  Sometimes I feel like I am a joke of my own devising.

But when I move departments, I would really like to try to minimize the extent to which my crapness is immediately obvious to my colleagues. I want to start a clean sheet, a new leaf, and other paper-related metaphors for a fresh start. And this brings me to the thing that I was actually going to blog about today but which might need to wait until tomorrow now because I am running out of working hours in which to do some actual, y’know, work etc: Namely, I have decided that coming off the Ritalin was probs the worst decision I never actually made (I lost my repeat prescription and was too embarrassed to admit to it.  And as an(other) aside, by the way, the staff at the GP surgery are definitely not as susceptible to the whole lovable scatterbrain thing as my employers seemingly are). So that whole post is now going to have to wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow, when hopefully I will be able to report that my punctuality has (at least temporarily) improved.

Until then, Internet, I bid thee farewell.




Systems, systems…

October 24, 2011

Ok, recently I noticed that everybody has a system. My mum, for example, has systems that enable her to not lose her car keys and find them several days later in the toe of one of my dad’s boots.**

My ex, J, had lots of systems.  These were incredibly intricately devised, compulsively maintained and … electronic. Therefore, I have not EVER seen any proof of the existence of these systems. I just believe in them because he said they existed (in fairness, the evidence speaks for itself. Before we split up and he moved out last October, their was a force of order and calm within the flat. Since then, there has been a rapid entropic slide towards the chaos which reigns currently.).

I don’t know where people get their systems from. I don’t know how they identify where a particular system might be adopted, and then proceed with adoption of said system, and then suddenly become organised and tidy and stop losing things. I just don’t get it.  It’s not so much that people manage to devise these systems themselves (although that is indeed a thing of wonder), but it’s a) that they STICK to the systems and 2)  (and this one is just mindblowingly incomprehensible to your average ADHD-er) They seem to do it without any fuss: nobody has to suggest it, there isn’t some big plan drawn up, the implementation of which somehow never seems to happen. Amazing.

So.  I have decided to get me some systems. Obviously I’m going to be realistic about this and start small.  If I manage to both implement and maintain the following small changes to my routines then I reckon in about a months time I can add some more.

1) Aim: Keep the keys to my flat hanging up on back of the door.

Objective: No more lost keys.

2) Aim: Post-it on the front door to remind me to unplug hair straighteners.

Objective: To get through a whole day at work without the  ‘Oh Shitting Fuck, have I left the straighteners on?’ panic.

3) Aim: Ditto Oven

Objective: Ditto Oven.

4) Aim: Before going to bed, check phone for unanswered texts or facebook messages from friends and family.

Objective: Not to be a shit friend/daughter/sibling any more. Or at least a little less shit.

Anyway, these may seem like tiny things but if successful in my mission to implements these checks, it will make my life a little less stressful. I figure there are some things that are unavoidably stressful. Keys, straighteners, ovens and text messages just shouldn’t be.

I’ll let you know how I get on.  In the meantime, I found this piece of paper folded into my bra one morning fairly recently (yes, I’d slept in my clothes). i have no idea how it got there. I think I may eventually need a system to prevent this kind of thing from happening but so far, the only idea i can come up with is to give up the drink and I fear that neither myself, or the local pub are ready for this momentous change anytime soon.

**Unless this system is foiled by my dad in which case, yep you got it, keys in the boot. Hi, Mum!

Funny how one day can make so much difference to my mood. Yesterday, I sat here, at my nice warm desk with the mid-morning sun shining in through the window and I felt happy and positive.

Today I sit in exactly the same place, complete with sunshine and coffee, and I feel like crap. Here are some reasons for this rapid deterioration:

1) High Hopes – not worth it.

Yesterday I wrote that I was feeling very positive about the PhD, and looking forward to spending the day really getting into it and making some progress on this last chapter. I really thought so too, which just goes to prove (even at 28) how little I actually know myself, and just how much I have the ability to deceive myself. Of course, despite my high hopes, I proceeded to piss away the day like a drunk pissing her money down the pub toilet (oh wait, I did that too – spot the other reason I’m cross at myself). I can tell you exactly why this happened. A simple household job needed to be completed, and i didn’t know how long it would take so I wanted to do it before settling down to work. But this simple household job was very boring, and I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about it. So from 11.30am until 3pm I drank coffee, tweeted some people, and must have done some other things I suppose but I’m now really having difficulty accounting for what I actually did for three and a half hours.

Anyway, I finally got round to said household job about 3.15pm. It took 20 minutes. 20 fucking minutes that’s all! Except by the time I’d got round to it, it had actually taken twenty fucking minutes plus the three and a half hours I’d already wasted trying to motivate myself. By which time I had half an hour before I had to leave to go to a lecture. Outcome – no PhD words written. Fail.

But the lecture went on until 7pm so I still had several hours after that of which I could make good and productive use, right? Nope! By that time, I was so full of self-loathing and recriminations that I went to the pub instead. Just to make sure that I would really really fucking hate myself by the time I woke up this morning.

Fail fail fail fail fail

Actually, I’m not going to give any further reasons why I feel crap this morning because that one up there ^ is the biggie. I am just hoping that writing this out, typing violently with angry fingers of self-recrimination, will be enough to prevent me from doing the same thing again today. Frankly, it has to be. Because this work is due in on Monday night and I have a friend staying from tomorrow morning until Sunday evening and then I’m working all day on Monday. So I have today. That’s it. And as my alcoholism will, as sure as eggs is eggs, drive me into the pub by 5pm, the diagnosis of the situation is clear:

1) Stop fucking about.
2) Get a move on.

Upon which note, dear Internet, I will conclude my lecture of self-hatred, and hope that today I do not fall foul of the demon procrastination and end up, at 1.30 a.m. tonight, a sad empty shell of a woman, dressed in the tatters of my self-worth and vomiting the last alcohol soaked dregs of the day’s potential into the toilet bowl.

Internet….wish me luck!

Am in a very good mood this morning. There are several reasons for this but here are some of them:

1) I has warmth.

After the painful saga that was having a new boiler fitted back in May, I have been aware that that the heating still didn’t work (I know this because it has been switched on at the boiler ever since but no heat. Clearly, during the summer months, this was fine but I sort of knew it wasn’t quite right and the day would come when this situation would be entirely unsatisfactory), but I was unable to put myself through the stress of having possibly the most stupid and annoying man in the world back in my flat in order to fix it (if this sounds harsh, consider that it turned out that the expensive new boiler was unnecessary as problem persisted even after replacement. Also he put the thermostat on the wall upside down. Fail). Anyway, I was finally driven into action by the cats, all three of whom have been protesting against the cold by burrowing underneath the duvet while I sleep, tracing the letters SOS into the cat litter, and googling the RSPCA helpline. After calling said annoying and stupid gas man, I had to sheepishly admit that no, I hadn’t actually checked the radiators were turned on. Turns out I may be the stupid one. However the main thing is that there is now a cat on the windowsill above every radiator and the flat is toasty.

2) Sobriety

I have been mostly sober for a week now. Mostly. Unless I’m actually drunk, I don’t count it as drinking. This might not seem like a big deal but it is. Not only am I warm this morning, but I am warm and I am not hungover. I can’t overstate the novelty of this. V proud of myself. I’m not going to go into this too much because I’ve wanted to write a post on alcohol and ADHD for a while now. But I drink too much. I know I do. I’m not sure if I have a drink problem as such but my drinking is problematic so I think this is something to which I ought to give some attention in the nearish future. For now, I’m adding ‘prevent slide into full-blown alcoholism’ to my list of things to sort out after I’ve submitted the thesis. Which brings me to….

3) Today is a PhD day

After three days at work, I have today and tomorrow to work on the PhD, and I am full of optimism. I am currently drafting the final chapter. I aim to finish it by the first week of November and then draft the conclusion by the third week of November at which point I will have a complete first draft. It’s a tight schedule but I am determined to do it. Really determined. Once I’ve finished writing this, I’m going to make a herbal tea, sit at my desk in my nice warm study and write until my eyes bleed and my fingers cramp up. No procrastinating, no panic, no stress. Just me and my PhD.

4) Tomorrow is Friday.

Tomorrow is Friday and so if all goes according to plan, I can totally legitimately enjoy a drink having safely banked another 2000 words into my PhD account. Wish me luck.

As an aside: It’s ADHD awareness week apparently. Excellent. I’m not entirely sure what this involves but I’m behind it 100%. Go check out the page here.

A bientot x

I have started using this morning pages site, an online version of the morning pages exercise from The Artist’s Way. It’s not a blog; it’s private. I like the idea of it. I like the way it automatically counts your words as you write, I like the way it produces a cloud of words that you use most often, and i like the way that it congratulates you when you reach 750 words. I am generally in love with any website that enables my narcissistic tendencies. But it’s more than that. I like the idea of writing 750 words a day   most days with some regularity, words that I have no intention of including in my thesis, that I won’t be viva’d on, and that I have no need to footnote, reference or edit. I enjoy producing non-academic writing, it’s good for me. But I also find that when I’m writing regularly, the quality of my academic writing improves, the words are more readily to hand, and I seem to be able to keep up with my own thoughts and I can focus for longer. I declare, therefore, that although this might sound like a brand new method of procrastination, it is absolutely definitely not. I am going to use it to tell myself to myself and see what I say.

Of course, it probably won’t last. Most likely, I will spend several days obsessively logging in, writing my words, poring over my stats, and congratulating myself on a new regimen of self-discipline. Then it will go the way of this blog, untouched, unkempt, and neglected for months on end. Until the next time I have a deadline, or have something else that urgently needs my attention, at which point, writing 750 words to myself every day will become the most important thing in the world again. I am so predictable. I bore myself. Part of this is the ADHD. People with ADHD are like magpies: they can’t resist the shiny sparkly, newness of concepts, hobbies, causes, and sometimes people. Distracted from all else, this new thing becomes everything. It is a prize to be valued, a project to begin, to nurture, be passionate about. But before long, the shine of that new object dulls, the attraction ebbs, and inevitably something else catches the eye, the imagination, the attention. People with ADHD often live among the debris of forgotten relics of past hobbies. Everyday they have to pass the half-painted living room wall, or the pile of fliers they volunteered to hand out. Every now and again they get a text or an email from somebody who they really meant to keep in touch with but whose last phone call they never got round to returning.

But you know what? I’m just not going to give myself a hard time about it anymore. I have spent so much time and wasted so much energy in hating this about myself and trying to change it. I’m not a bad person. But I’m disorganised, easily distracted, and a little bit fickle. That’s the way it is. Abandoning something, like this blog, used to mean that I’d once again failed to ‘stick at something’ (This was a common theme of my childhood – my inability to stick at things.I failed to stick at ballet, the recorder, the guitar, judo, gymnastics and countless other things. In the end, I ended up ‘sticking’ at things I hated, just to prove a point. Eight years of bloody piano lessons and I still can’t play). Well, I don’t have to these days. I may have Adult ADHD but you know what the good bit about that is? The ADULT bit. I’m nearly 29 years old so if I want to obsess about something for a few weeks, buy all the accessories to go along with said obsession, and then kick it to the kerb, well I fucking can. I might come back to it later, I might not. Doesn’t matter.

I have noticed that I come back to this blog when I don’t have the time to, when I really need to be doing something else. But I’m not going to give myself a hard time about that either. Because I’ve also noticed that there are reasons I come back to it from time to time. It’s not just about procrastination. It’s also about knowing myself, speaking back to myself, giving myself a good talking to. It’s there when I need it. And I like that. I just wish I hadn’t called it ‘I Won’t Forget A Single Day’ – perhaps ‘Here Lies An Account of Some Days Since 2008’ would have been setting a more realistic target.

Well, well, Internet. We meet again. Why? Let’s look at the evidence: it’s gone midnight, I have to be at work at 9am, and I have approx 2000 words to write before then. Conclusion? I am a bit fucked. And rather than trying to pull it back so that I remain only a little bit fucked, I have an uncontrollable urge to update the blog that I have neglected for the best part of two years, so that I am well and truly fucked. Only then it seems, when the plan A of 4 hours sleep has been replaced by the contingency plan of a painful all-nighter, do I feel fucked enough to actually start writing.

No, wait. I have a new conclusion – I am nearly 29 years old. I am too old for this. I need to sort my shit out.

I’ll get on to that. Tomorrow.