« Dogs form a good flying wedge. | Main | Nanowrimo -- since it's been a little while. »

Wednesday: Waiting for the atomoxetine.

The most frustrating thing has been the inability to string two words together in my head.

I was getting two, three hours of lucid thought out of the day. That's not even all in one lump; that's cumulative, spread out over however long I could stay awake. Sometimes, I could stay awake for over twenty-four hours; sometimes, I was lucky to get five or six before passing out completely again. Fourteen hours would go by and I'd still be tired.

This happens to me sometimes. I simultaneously cannot sleep at all, but sleep too much, and end up exhausted and dizzy across the board. The worst form of it this week has been staring at the screen, getting all of a sentence together, and then having the compelling need to take a nap.

For ten hours.

Meanwhile, thousands of unrelated thoughts are smashing up against the exhaustion. They bring the very physical sensation of consciousness colliding against a wad of sponge attached to the back of my forehead. I had all of this information and I am too bloody tired to process it. Coffee didn't make a dent. Red Bull didn't touch it. Drinking tea might as well have been drinking water.

I wanted to cry most of the time that I wasn't sleeping.


Usually, I have trouble passing out without the help of talkative radio or a television, because otherwise I think very loudly and very quickly and very incessantly. In junior high school, it took about twenty minutes of 100 Huntley Street to take me out completely. Today, it takes up to an hour of CBC Radio One, or TBN or God Channel or Miracle Channel or whatever -- and if they're playing music, I'm shot. If it's really bad, not even the talking helps, no matter how tired I am. My mind is too loud.

During the day, I can generally tap the flow with a keyboard. I don't know how fast I type, but it's faster than I talk and faster than I write by hand. Just don't interrupt me, because then everything will smash up against everything else again and I'll be lost for hours. Days, if you do it enough. I have a room with just enough clutter and just the right lighting and just the right sorts of sounds and textures. I keep my text editors in place, and Painter or Photoshop (or both, if memory is coping) when I can draw, a couple dozen browser tabs open, and mail or IM as needed, in case I hit capacity. If I have to leave that environment and go into the rest of the house, there's five different books scattered all around so that I can read while I'm doing whatever it is I'm doing. It's a fragile bubble. Don't break it.

I need that bubble. You can tell me all you want not to let myself get distracted, but I'm doing everything I can and it's still going to happen if you talk to me. And if you tell me not to let myself get distracted, I'm going to be distracted by my inability to prevent myself from disengaging focus. Then I'm going to sit there, everything collided, paralyzed because there's no way to determine what comes first. If I could make myself act the way you wanted me to, there just wouldn't be a problem to begin with.


Years and years ago, I checked my mail in front of this guy. "You can't read that fast. No one reads that fast and retains any information." In fact, I did read that fast, across two languages at the time, and my comprehension test scores were always in the Bitch Please percentile. But apparently this approach made it impossible to truly savour deathless prose or something, so I was exhorted to slow down and read things at the rate of "normal" human speech. When I tried it, I found it physically painful. I'm a good little girl, though. I did as I was told.

How anyone can stand to read that slowly is beyond me. I started finding it very difficult to retain anything I read all of a sudden; hours would seemingly pass between the first and last lines of a page. When I shook off the advice after a while, his declaration had become a self-fulfilling prophecy; I couldn't retain anything his way, so I didn't trust myself to do so with mine.


I stammer and I trip over my spoken words. I go blank and dim, and I'm not desperately eloquent. I say stupid, stupid things, because I'm shoving all the information into a straw and pushing it out my mouth at a snail's pace. I get shit for using "big words;" you're just pretending that you're smarter than you really are. No, I'm not; I'm cramming the maximum amount of meaning into the minimum amount of time. You want it simple? This is simple.

Words are frustrating.

There are words I won't use, words I can't use, because social overreliance upon worn metaphor empties them of meaning and makes them useless to me. I can't use broken containers.

I can't apply weight, regeneration, luminescence or direction to descriptions of clinical depression, for example, because I've spent years comparing my physical experiences to the emotional states and found them not the least bit analogous. I don't feel "low" or "weighed down" or "light" or "brighter." My preferred means of exercise is weightlifting; anything but dim light tends to aggravate migraines; I don't have a sense of increased gravity or slope at points of despair. I'm fat and I'm muscular and I like heavy things and I'm afraid of heights. These things just are. (I also don't have a reference point for feeling "refreshed" after sleep or food; the cells only turn over every seven years.) Negativity and positivity don't often have meaning for me. I don't think that there's such a thing as a "bad" attitude, just a contextually appropriate one. Some things really need to remain with bad poetry.

"My favourite thing would have to be..." Why? Do you experience a compulsion? While we're at it, "would have to"? What conditions prevent you from fulfilling your compulsion? Just say "is." "I like to call it [foo]." What prevents you from using the actual word for the thing you're discussing? Why do we need to know that you enjoy your pet name? Just say things.

Just say things. Say what you bloody well mean. Why doesn't this frustrate more people? Instead, it frustrates them when it's pointed out. "You think too much." Better this than the alternative. "You're overanalyzing everything." You're not analyzing it at all. "Stop thinking about it and just go with it." I don't have a fucking choice.


I don't have a choice about writing. When I'm not smashed up against my own forehead, I can be as logorrhaeic as Eric, and I often am.

No one but me sees any of it, though. I edit furiously. I trim and I trim and I trim until the essay bleeds. I throw things away, because no one cares, or it's all scattered, or it's not good enough, or it's parenthetical.

(Parenthetical isn't so much scatter as multitask, or additional content. One of the first things I learned was to strip out all of the stuff in brackets, because no one cares about that stuff. Not wanting to bore people, or to get called down to the principal's office again for providing supplementary context to an essay, or to provide redundant information which slows down the work, I just dropped everything which amounted to a parallel communication. (Don't most people have two to three strands of information going at any given time? Why the hell not?))

If I can't make it coalesce, then I figure no one else can, either. So I throw it away. It wasn't any good to start with. It wasn't compelling. It wasn't worthwhile. It didn't say anything you didn't already know, right? "This happened!" Yes, yes, we've seen it, we read it an hour ago; can you tell us something more? Just spitting the words out isn't enough. It has to convey everything that smashed up into the queue, and it has to focus, to boot. And it has to be worth reading, because otherwise there's just no bloody point.

It's got nothing to do with trying, at that point. The harder I try, the tighter the straw gets. Everything cramps up and shoves together and whirls around. "Trying" is just another word for not getting it done. And it's not worth doing unless it came out right to begin with. The frustration mounts and mounts, and blocks the gate, and then my head is spinning and there's a great big sponge between the words and the keyboard. If you look at me, all you see is someone holding very, very still. That's how you know something's wrong.

If I try to write, I'm fucked. It's sitting still. It's mashing the demon into a corner and then expecting it to fit into the straw.


I don't like sitting around and restricting myself to minimal stimulus. A little while ago, some girls came and sat next to me and started blathering about nothing in particular. They'd been to the bead store. (Seriously. They'd been to the hipster bead store at Carnaby, across from Playlounge.) One of them proclaimed, "Isn't it nice to just sit?" The others smiled and nodded. "Oh, yes. It's nice to just sit."

It's not nice. It's turning the drill on and letting it plunge into the floor. You're not getting anything done. Even eating something and reading a book mitigates the stultification.

I don't watch television very much anymore. Not by itself. I can't sit on the couch. I need to be on the floor, with a sketchpad or a laptop and a blanket and something to drink, because otherwise it's like using up perfectly good opportunities. If I go to a movie that isn't absolutely compelling, and I don't have someone with me I can talk to and MST with, I blot out about twenty minutes of plot thinking about details. And my legs feel trapped. I feel trapped.

Give me something which overrides everything else and shuts it up, if that's the way it has to be. I'll go deaf someday from the portable music players, but at least I don't have to listen to your goddamned mumbling or the little scratchy noises around us or the crying kid in the next aisle. If you're going to scratch me, have the common courtesy to draw blood in the process; anything else is dicking around.

No, I can't just be quiet and enjoy sitting there. It's a waste of time.

There's a bit in the MST3K version of Manos: The Hands of Fate which is pretty much my entire life. The movie grinds to an absolute halt for a minute or two. People holding still. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing can move. Sitting and staring and sitting and staring. You can feel Joel and the bots gritting their teeth, until finally Joel yells at the screen:

"DO SOMETHING!!!"

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at November 26, 2005 4:04 PM

Comments

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at November 26, 2005 4:21 PM

Hey, I know that feeling!

The feeling where you can't even "just write anything" because suddenly no words exist in the universe, just little bits of phonetic sound that you think ought to be combinable into something coherent, but no, not really.

That's why I'm currently 30K behind in NaNoWriMo.

Heeee.

Comment from: Zutto posted at November 26, 2005 4:35 PM

And yet I wish I could write that exhaustively.

Comment from: kirabug posted at November 26, 2005 5:08 PM

if it's any consolation, you're not alone.
atomoxetine, huh? hm.

Comment from: Ardaniel posted at November 26, 2005 5:09 PM

Rollins did an extended bit last night, a couple times during the course of events, about how he can't freakin' stand having a day off, and how other people's concept of "fun" is all well and good... but he *can't have fun.* Fun will *fuck him up.* Fun is for other people who aren't constantly angry and trying to shove as much information as possible into their narrow little minds at every moment. Fun is for people who don't go to the bookstore and scream "YOU FUCKERS! YOU HAVE ALL THIS STUFF I WILL NEVER KNOW" at the books. Not the people. The books. Because it takes him forever to read one book, you see, so he usually has five or six piled across his bed with pink highlighters so he can mark down all the stuff that doesn't make sense to him-- that's a lot, he claims-- because that must be the *really important stuff in the book.*

And then he goes and gets more books.

I suspect I may need to send Eric some Rollins DVDs. ;)

Comment from: Kudilu posted at November 26, 2005 5:12 PM

yeek . . . i am sorry and envious at the same time.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at November 26, 2005 5:32 PM

The most frustrating thing has been the inability to string two words together in my head.

I was getting two, three hours of lucid thought out of the day. That's not even all in one lump; that's cumulative, spread out over however long I could stay awake. Sometimes, I could stay awake for over twenty-four hours; sometimes, I was lucky to get five or six before passing out completely again. Fourteen hours would go by and I'd still be tired.

This happens to me sometimes. I simultaneously cannot sleep at all, but sleep too much, and end up exhausted and dizzy across the board. The worst form of it this week has been staring at the screen, getting all of a sentence together, and then having the compelling need to take a nap.

For ten hours.

This is so my last three and a half years. Wow.

Comment from: pwright2 posted at November 26, 2005 6:10 PM

"I think very loudly and very quickly and very incessantly."

That part I recognize. If my mind would stop running its mouth off, I could relax more easily. It gets especially annoying when it seques into my dreamstate and I can't figure which is which.

As to the rest, I figure you are using your writing talent to dramatize. And very effectively, at that.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 26, 2005 6:26 PM

I figure you are using your writing talent to dramatize.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, I'm afraid, is how you get a case of ADHD to go without diagnosis until you're thirty.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at November 26, 2005 6:29 PM

Sleep experts are always saying you need to have complete quiet for proper sleep...TV or radio in the background is just bad for you.

Bull.

I don't have it has bad as Weds, but I also need something to drown out the incessant THINKING, some pattern I can focus on other than an internally-generated one, or it takes me hours to fall asleep.

Comment from: Denyer posted at November 26, 2005 7:01 PM

Why doesn't this frustrate more people?

I often find the rhythm of language appealing even when literal sense is abandoned... much English doesn't make literal sense when you trace the roots of words back through French, Latin, etc.

Doesn't prevent me from wanting to smack people sometimes (the first example given is annoying, the second -- in the right mouth -- is characterful.)

because otherwise it's like using up perfectly good opportunities.

Plus if we've alway got an outlet or a distracting activity, it's a way of keeping other thoughts at bay. Which is what the learned behaviour is usually there to distract us from.

How anyone can stand to read that slowly is beyond me.

Mmm. More disquieting is that a good many people can't even do that. They can't read at a pace that enables them to read aloud from a text and add in emphasis, adjust tone, etc. It leads to all manner of feelings of inadequacy, but it isn't something that can be taught -- it's just a matter of practice, and a supportive environment few get.

It's really difficult to get ones head around the fact others can't interpret your world.

It's a waste of time.

...and we're all gonna die, there are limited opportunities, etc. Unfortunately (at least until those pills become available which will let us skip sleep without physical ill-effects) there are going to be lulls. Working out a way to enjoy them is probably the best long-term strategy.

Lulls aren't wasted if they improve something, be it our mood or health. That is getting something done, if you can look at things from that angle. Accepting that they're necessary if we're not going to make ourselves ill and ultimately end up getting less done.

Comment from: gwalla posted at November 26, 2005 7:23 PM

Kinda reminds me of "The Ballad of Barry Allen" by Jim's Big Ego:

I've got time to think about my past as I dodge between the bullets how my life was so exciting before I got this way and how long ago it was now I never can explain by the clock that's on the tower or the one that's in my brain and I'm there before you know it I'll be gone before you see me and I'd like to get to know you but you're talking much too slowly and I know you'd really like me but I never stick around because time keeps dragging on

Comment from: gwalla posted at November 26, 2005 7:25 PM

Trying again dammit:

I've got time to think about my past as I dodge between the bullets how my life was so exciting before I got this way and how long ago it was now I never can explain by the clock that's on the tower or the one that's in my brain
And I'm there before you know it
I'll be gone before you see me
And I'd like to get to know you
But you're talking much too slowly
And I know you'd really like me
But I never stick around
Because time keeps dragging on

Comment from: Elizabeth McCoy posted at November 26, 2005 7:26 PM

Reading slowly is... for people who have visual impairment, in my mind. (Which is why my occular histoplasmosis drives me up a wall. It slows down my reading.) I read paragraphs, when I've got a nice sized book. I get from point A to point B in a book and I rarely have memories of words. I have a PICTURE. (And writing? I have to turn the pictures into words. It's probably good that I'm nearsighted, so that I can focus on motion and color and not worry about getting the details in, since I am fuzzy on details sometimes.) And if I like a scene? I go read it again and again, veryfast, so that I have the picture again and again.

Trust yourself. Read fast. Flip that nameless person the bird.

(Nice to just sit -- and get off one's feet. Sit and read a book, or surf the web, or (at worst) not be gabbled at so that one can think of something to write. I get gabbled at a lot. *sigh* I love her dearly, but sometimes I want to string two words together and not be interrupted so that my thoughts are sprayed out over a zillion different places.)

I think this boils down to sympathies. And some amount of understanding. I snap and snarl when I'm writing, because I DO NOT WANT THE MOMENT TO STOP. The pictures are turning into words, and they are good words, and I must get them down NOW before they fade like fairy gold.

Um. Sympathies. And some understandingIhope.

Comment from: Meagen Image posted at November 26, 2005 8:59 PM

Dear Wensday (haha! I was paying attention to the tag this time! I heard this in the right 'voice'!),

You sound like you could get some use out of meditation or auto-hypnosis techniques. I know a few little mental excercises that help me deal with the stuff inside my head.

At the same time, you're most likely going to have trouble learning those techniques because you have a pretty rational mind and low bullshit-tolerance. And unfortunately, meditation and auto-hypnosis courses tend to be high on bullshit.

Maybe I could develop a meditation/auto-hypnosis system for smart people, with all the bullshit removed...

Comment from: Sundre posted at November 26, 2005 9:09 PM

Rollins is who now? Never heard of him, but from that I think I'd like to. It's staggering to think of all the things I'm never going to learn because I just don't have the time. It just isn't possible for me to live that long.
Mind, that's no reason not to try. I just occasionally have trouble deciding what to do first.

Comment from: Charlie Lewis posted at November 26, 2005 9:17 PM

The problem I've had since becoming a stay-at-home Dad is brain starvation. I think sometimes my wife thinks I'm being selfish, but if I don't get a steady stream of brain stimulation, I get twitchy (not literally, mind, but still...). Mind you, some children's stuff is surprisingly stimulating, but most of it is too easily absorbed for me to be satisfied, so I find myself reading a book while I settle my daughter down for a nap, and so forth. The poor kid probably thinks Daddy is ignoring her. There's nothing worse than a hungry brain! so I sympathize with your plight.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at November 26, 2005 9:32 PM

"Trying" is just another word for not getting it done.

This... is with the ouching.
There is another response to this post mucking in my brain where I go through the "just like me" (cannot eat food without something to read or at least conversation) and "not like me at all" (take very, very well to sitting in fronts of movie-picture-screens for huge amounts of time) bits, but right now...

I'm trying to write this damned thing for my acting class so I can get to the rest of my work.

(damned incredibly vague research/writing assignments. Seriously, the first part of my written work is supposed to be "Research Moliere the writer and the period - including social aspects, clothing, gender roles and politics." That's it, my whole guideline. So I have to chunk that up, make myself someday stop reading more websites about it even though I don't know everything yet, be doing it all with only internet resources because I can't manage to get myself to a library, and then synthesize all of this into whatever I'm supposed to be producing as my final result here. The 11 single-spaced pages that follow this section and comprise a series of detailed character questions, personalization work, scene/objective paraphrase? Those were easy.

Um. This is a rant. But dammit this page isn't accumulating comments fast enough to provide new stimulation everytime I alt-tab and refresh.

Comment from: Lilamrta posted at November 26, 2005 10:14 PM

I do homework in front of the tv while I work on my novel or my website design. Drives my dad crazy. But I -need- the background stuff to distract the part of my mind that basically spends all its time complaining and telling me I suck. Music serves the same function. I think I'd do much better on math tests if we were allowed to have music. Does it make me a not-real-writer if I write while I watch tv?

Sometimes my brain screams a word really loudly over and over again. A word, like fire-hydrant, or lunchbox, utterly unrelated to anything real. And it really screams. I can't shut it up. Lousy brain.

Are there really people who read at speech speed? Is -that- why everyone reads so goddamn slow and I always have to wait for them to finish when we're reading together? Damn.

Comment from: InkBlot posted at November 26, 2005 10:16 PM

I'd like to chime in with a "me too." If on a scale of one to ten, with most people at five and Weds at eleven...well, I figure I'm about an 8. My brain just never stops. It seems to make the world around me move in slow motion sometimes, because like a badly written movie I can almost always see what's about to happen next.

Most days, I can easily distract myself. I love books, music, movies, video games...especially video games. I ought to have an excellent work ethic, because repetitive manual labor is great for taking my brain out of gear for a bit. Sadly, I'm still lazy at heart, so you'll see me mindless blasting bad guys on my computer instead.

As far as sleep goes, again my average is 1-1.5 hrs just to get to sleep. Although now you mention it, I remember as a kid my first walkman. I'd smuggle it under the covers with me, and go so sleep with the Sorcerer's Apprentice, Bolero, or the 1812. Don't ask, I don't know how the 1812 Overature could put me to sleep and not wake me back up with all the cannons, but it did. Oh, and ELO was good too.

My "bad" times are rare, but when I get them, I get massive headaches. I get twitchy. Irritable. And insomnia to boot. From what I can tell, it's often triggered by stress. So, I don't know, could I be a mild ADHD case that was missed in my youth? Need I really bother seeking treatment? These are rhetorical questions. I just wanted to say I appreciate Weds discussing this with us all, because I've never met anyone describe something in my own head so well.

Comment from: InkBlot posted at November 26, 2005 10:18 PM

And apparantly I like the paragraph-returns

Comment from: quiller posted at November 26, 2005 10:38 PM

The bit about always needing to be doing something strikes a chord with me. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate into always needing to be doing something useful. It translates into feeding my little brain stimulation and if it is work, I'm going to need some extra stimulation so my brain isn't left with itself and go down some extraneous path instead of the one I want it to go down. And I'm not even that good at tricking my brain into working. I'm no longer sure I'm a functionning member of society anymore.

Comment from: Tangent posted at November 26, 2005 11:05 PM

Weds: It's been a common fallacy among the education system that if you "slow down" you retain more of what you're reading. It's been discovered that what you want to do is speed up children's reading. Once you get above a certain word count (I'm blanking on the number of words per minute, but I think it's anything over 180 wpm is considered "fluency") you start having better retention and it is physically easier to read.

Or in other words, that other person was talking utter educational bullshit that's been proven wrong. Read as fast as you want, because it's now been proven that you do retain what you read at those speeds, and it's comfortable and fluent to do so.

If it works for you, don't let anyone try to bullshit you into not doing it. Well, within reason, I'm not talking drugs here. ;)

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews
http://www.tangents.us

Comment from: Ardaniel posted at November 26, 2005 11:06 PM

Sundre: Former Black Flag lead vocalist/ current leader of the Rollins Band, Henry Rollins. 2.13.61 is his publishing house. You might start with Get In the Van for the backplot and historical reference, and then move on to his tour diaries and other writings. Or go straight for the DVDs to see his current spoken-word performances.

Comment from: Charlie Lewis posted at November 26, 2005 11:28 PM

You know, Tangent, I remember as a child someone telling me that, as well. I couldn't do it, though. If I don't read at /my/ pace, I get bored. And Ms. McCoy, that's exactly what happens when I get into a book. I see pictures in my head, almost like a movie. And I find that when an author gets carried away with description, I start skipping ahead, because I've already pictured, and I could really care less what the author says something looks like, as I've already determined that. That's why I can't read Tolkien - too bloody descriptive!

Of course, getting the pictures back into words is what is so difficult about writing for me, though I find as I get older, it gets easier. Good thing, since it looks like I've got a book deal pending. ;)

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 26, 2005 11:45 PM

I remember having teachers say to me "you didn't read that. You just skimmed it."

So I challenged them to quiz me on it.

It got me in trouble more than once. But I always answered the right questions. For me, if I don't read something incredibly quickly, it's because it isn't gelling for me and I retain nothing.

Comment from: Sukotto posted at November 26, 2005 11:48 PM

"Trying" is just another word for not getting it done.

Thanks for giving me my new email sig! Now the only question is "should I put the Yoda quote in parallel or leave this standing on its own?""

Comment from: Robina_PA posted at November 26, 2005 11:52 PM

Although I can't relate to having insomnia, I can definitely relate to not wanting to waste "perfectly good opportunities". If I can't "multitask" in some way, I find it harder to focus; focusing on one task alone is too dull, too inefficient. This drives my parents crazy. They just don't grasp the concept of doing more than 1 thing at a time. For them, when you eat, you eat; you don't read or write also. For them, when you do homework/study, you don't have -any- background noise to "interrupt". This rule drove -me- crazy when I was in high school, because I wanted/needed -something- in the background while I studied, but they didn't allow it. (I did not even own a radio, not to mention a tape or CD player, until I was in college, where I studied -my- way, and actually got a better GPA than in high school....) Now, I'm multitasking most of my waking hours, and still don't feel as if I do enough. (I'm slowly learning that, with a husband and 2 boys under 2, I'll be feeling that way for a LONG time to come!)

Comment from: Zutto posted at November 27, 2005 12:13 AM

Is the ability to read quickly a learnable skill?

Comment from: Charlie Lewis posted at November 27, 2005 12:22 AM

Zutto, I've heard of "speed reading" courses, but I have no idea how they work. I've always just read a lot, and somewhere in my early teens, my reading speed started going up. It might just be one of those "practice makes perfect" sort of things.

Comment from: Sundre posted at November 27, 2005 12:36 AM

Zutto: I assume so. It's something you pick up over time. When you first learn to read you have to look at each letter and piece them together to form a word. After you've been doing it for a while you start to be able to read a word all at once by glancing at it. Keep at it long (and often!) enough and you may start reading sentence fragments instead of words.
I don't know if there's a more organized way to go about it. Mostly I just wanted to know what happened next really really badly.

Ardaniel: Thank you! My list just got longer.

Eric: Or being assigned to read to chapter three and guess what happens next, but you finished the book last night? Makes group work tricksy.

Comment from: Kirath posted at November 27, 2005 12:48 AM

Sukotto: I think it stands on it's own. Adding the Yoda quote belabors the point.

I've heard it, too. Slow down. You can't possibly read that fast. Utter disbelief when I told people I was capable of reading a novel in a single day.

Books are like movies to me, I don't read them, I see them in my head. I have a story in my head that I am working on making into words, but it's coming slow.

Zutto: Just read. Don't time yourself or anything silly like that, just read and you will realize you are reading faster. You will get to where you rarely actually read an entire word, you just recognize the shape of it and the shape makes a picture in your head. Then you start reading really fast, you barely even conciously see the words anymore.

Comment from: RoboYuji posted at November 27, 2005 12:49 AM

For years, I always needed some sort of background noise running whenever I was drawing. Then all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, my brain decided to do a complete 180, and now I need silence, or else I'll end up concentrating on anything except what I'm supposed to be doing. Except when I'm inking. When I'm inking I turn on something to listen to, probably because inking doesn't involve my thought processes as much as actually figure out the pencil lines.

Comment from: Montykins posted at November 27, 2005 12:59 AM

Once you get above a certain word count (I'm blanking on the number of words per minute, but I think it's anything over 180 wpm is considered "fluency") you start having better retention and it is physically easier to read.

I would think that if you read at the speed you normally think, you'll retain more. If I read slowly, I get impatient and bits of my brain are yelling, like Joel, "...DO something!" and get distracted. If I read quickly, it just fits better.

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 27, 2005 1:11 AM

When I was a few months shy of my 14th' birthday, I learned to meditate. Until this time in my life, I didn't sleep much; couldn't turn off my brain for an hour or more at night, and woke at least once, for hours, every night. This was not learned behavior; my parents had to teach me to play quietly in my bed even when I was a baby. They tell stories of how they would have to step carefully in the morning, as I might be sprawled in the floor with a blanket and a book, literally anywhere in the house.

Strangely enough, I never "mastered" the art of meditation. I can't turn the little voice in my brain off for squat, if all I'm going to do is just sit, and if there's music or even repetetive sound in the background, I just sort of float and follow it (often ending up composing harmonies or such in my head). What I did learn, however, was how to turn my mind just so, and breathe like that and finally, finally, sleep. So I failed Meditation 101, but learned something which (I believe) was way more valuable. It's not 100% foolproof, of course. But perhaps a little Zen might teach you to bore yourself to sleep. Worked for me!

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 27, 2005 1:31 AM

Meagen: the Bullshit runs so thick in the Meditation circles, if you can make a primer that's crapless, I'll buy it. Just for support of the project.

The practice of meditation, of inner stillness, is oh so valuable, particularly in our noisy times - although you don't HAVE to be still. Tai Chi, Yoga, or even certain crafts (weaving, for instance) provide plenty of opportunities for the mind to find a quiet place to rejuvenate itself. Trouble is, even the word "meditation" gets lumped in with phonies like on "Crossing over with John Edwards" and is dismissed out of hand by "practical-minded individuals." So if you can overcome this... I'm so buying a copy (or 12, for gifts)!

Charlie Lewis: I always felt guilty about reading a book while my son snuggled down at night, until he told me one day that he didn't care what I was doing, so long as I was close (we always did his story and stuff first, of course). The older he gets, the more I am able to share my need for engagement with him; we play games, etc., together. If you're neglecting your daughter's needs, she'll tell you, one way or another. If she's not, you're probably allright.

Eric: I had teachers in school who would swear that I could not possibly be paying attention to the lesson while I was reading that novel in my hands (I was not really reading said novel while they spoke, but rather was filling in all the silences and glossing over the other students' stupid questions, but they didn't know that, now did they?)

This little disagreement seldom lasted long, however; twenty minutes into the first class of the semester, the instructor would say (loudly, and abruptly, of course) something like "Ms... Martin, is it? Darla? Would you like to repeat what I just said to the class?" It generally only took one or two times for me to recite the lecture verbatim from the moment class began for them to catch on that yes, I really was paying attention, even if I didn't LOOK like I was paying attention. sheesh. Man, I must have irritated the snot out of them.

And to whoever it was up there: I get so fucking tired of people saying I'm "trying to be smarter than I am" or even (often the SAME PEOPLE) that I'm "lording it over the rest of the world how smart I am." For one thing, I wish they'd make up their minds; either I'm stupid (or worse: merely average), and pretending to be smart, or I'm smart, and smug. I don't see how I could be both.

I learned to hide, to pretend, and sometimes I almost fool myself with the.. harmlessness.. that I project to the world. One of the reasons I like this site so much is that it validates, for me, the different world other smart(ass) people live in, while giving me an outlet for the bits of my mental processes that don't get tapped while I'm out there, at work, or with my sisters.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at November 27, 2005 1:36 AM

Trying again dammit:

I dunno, gwalla: I think that, given the subject, those lyrics worked a lot better as one long run-on sentence.

Comment from: Aufero posted at November 27, 2005 1:53 AM

I had a high school english teacher whose first assignment for us was to list every book we'd read in the last year. She didn't believe me when I said there was no way I could possibly list all the books I'd read in a period that long, so I just listed the first 100 or so that came to mind and didn't bother telling her that was probably less than a fifth of the total.

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only person who constantly has to cull parenthetical statements while writing. I always seem to have two or three thought tracks (sometimes unrelated or contradictory) going at once. Writing is easy, editing out all the parentheses and rewriting is the hard part.

Comment from: Eric Astor posted at November 27, 2005 2:07 AM

Wow - I've known many people with verified ADD or ADHD, and several borderline cases. This has made some aspects of it clearer to me... though I do want to be careful about overgeneralizing too.


Personally, reading-wise, I know exactly what you mean. My reading speed's somewhere between 200 and 300 standard paperback pages per hour... and it hasn't changed that much since around 2nd grade. Oh, if I'm studying for the short-term (i.e. quiz in the next few minutes), it might be 400 words per minute instead. (Why do I know this? A reading-speed test in 6th grade, which is only 7 years ago for me.) I used to hate reading aloud; I'd stumble and stammer constantly, because my eyes were always running ahead of my mouth. Slow down? I lose retention and understanding.


Oh, and stop multitasking? Right... maybe if I hit the groove, where I lose the sense of what's happening, even so far as completely losing my time sense. Normally? I can't stand it. I've never understood how people can find ways to get stuff done without the little tangential (or discontinuous) breaks to "reset" and settle closer to the optimum state of mind. Somehow it seems it's related to the whole thing where I can't write without editing simultaneously (which meant that the enforced drafting in school was ridiculously uncomfortable for me).


Well - I'm not sure if I was going anywhere with all of that. Let's just leave it at "This resonated with me" and let the rest of the comment speak for itself.

Comment from: Eric Astor posted at November 27, 2005 2:09 AM

Damn... I didn't even mention the parenthetical thoughts. I swear, sometimes I spend more time on essays/papers editing or deleting the parentheticals than typing the rest of the paper. Good to know I'm not alone.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at November 27, 2005 3:15 AM

The parts I can relate to:

Reading speed. Whenever I try to read one word at a time, fearing that I've been missing something, I get no meaning out of what I'm reading, and soon find myself skipping entire paragraphs because it's all just a bunch of words.

Unable to blank one's mind. This happens to me occasionally, usually when I'm trying to sleep. Not fun at all.

Weds, if you don't mind sharing for us less knowledgeable about pharmaceuticals, is the medication (I presume) you're taking causing the unpleasant effects you first mentioned (the sleep etc.)? I can't imagine it's simple to tell 30-year-old brain patterns "Okay, stop that, do this now."

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at November 27, 2005 3:17 AM

Reading for comprehension + Googling the title = No medication, yet. Ignore that last question of ignorance.

Comment from: miyaa posted at November 27, 2005 3:42 AM

Marlyn Von Savant (Parade columnist and listed on the Guiness Book of World Records as the world smartest woman (or at least the woman with the highest recorded IQ number)) once answered a question about how could one get to sleep if you constantly think about things (like I do. Like now, I wonder if there'll be a run of Karate Kid movies now that Pat Morita has passed on, and what the hell were they thinking about making the New Karate Kid?) as you're trying to get to sleep.

She responded that you should think about sleep as much as possible. Think about things like, how do you like to sleep, and which sleep positions should work for you, and imagine yourself actually sleeping for several hours. She testifies that this works for her (and as the world's smartest woman she obviously thinks a lot of things) and it works at times for me.

I also find that white noise sounds or sound generators work really well as well. My two favourites are the waterfall and rainfall actions. Purring cats also work really well.

What doesn't work is exercise. Exercise actually prevents you from sleeping and stimulates you to stay awake for a little while. I wonder if all of that thinking and trying to do things generated itself into you trying to physically do things (like writing).

Ever thought about trying warm milk or Turkey (trypophan works wonders in making you fall asleep)?

(Another thought has invaded me: Holiday song that should have never been made. My vote: All I want for Christmas is you by Mariah Carey. It's the song that made me realize she has to be part dog, the way she sings. Runner-up: Feliz Navidad. I have no idea who made it but he should have been dragged out into the streets of Acupoco and get shot!)

Anyway, I hope this helps.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at November 27, 2005 4:57 AM

I've linked to Rand's blog before (for the N.A.D.D post) but he had another post recently about one of the great pitfalls of this gift/curse most of us here seem to have, and one I find myself into all too often lately: He calls it Repetitive Information Injury but that's a bit of overkill so I just call it 'stuck on neutral'.

You have your white noise, your 40 Firefox tabs, your 4-5 IM windows and at least two instances of (Word/Illustrator/Visual Studio/whatever you use to create) and, usually when tired, you will find yourself going through the motions, again and again, checking the same 100 websites, maybe exploring a new link or two, waiting for an email to answer. You're like a coffee grinder that's already turned the beans into fine dust, and which is occasionally thrown a new bean or two. You will sure as hell come out of it informed about fuck all that matters to you, but nothing will actually get done. It's interactive slacking, a more directed and (ahem) optimized form of slacking, but still not much different than zombieing in front of the boob tube.

(The funny thing is how you will still whine and bitch if someone interrupts you or you have to do something else. At least I do.)

(Also, as a UI geek, I say we desperately need a 21st century Xerox PARC to come up with a NADD GUI)

(Also, there's been a lot of shit-talking around here regarding Wikipedia, so let me tell you this: Add Wikipedia as a search engine in the search toolbar of Firefox, and have it as default. Let me know if it doesn't change the way you think, or at least make you realize that we not that far from an intellectual HTTP-Singularity)

My intense and constant consumption of news, information and well-formed opinion (yes, you can get that on the internet) in the last year or so has also resulted in dramatic changes of character. I have come to hate arguing with people, because even the smart computer geeks among my friends seem to have forgotten the meanings of the terms: logic, deduction, induction, FALLACY, VALIDITY. Fuck truth, I'm a son of the Scientific Method.

Yeah, I had trouble sleeping yesterday. I had already slept for 12 hours each of the last few days, and I took me like 30 minutes to fall asleep. My thought was "Wow, this must be how insomniacs feel!"

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at November 27, 2005 5:11 AM

Thanks a lot miyaa. Now I'm constantly cycling Holiday songs with two second samples.

Wow. Every time there's an essay here about ADD or something like that I just say, "Wow. That's is SO like me. Sorta." Then I start to reply and find out that my slow typing speed is so much slower than my brain that I lose track of what I'm saying. Guess I'll give it a shot though.

The whole feeling of out-of-control thinking is something I really identify with. The thing is, it's not that I think about many things at once, it's that I can't focus on one thing long enough to actually accomplish something. As soon as I get started on something, I start thinking about something else. Sometimes I feel like I just am too smart for myself. I want to write. I want to (learn to) draw. I want to program. I want to play music. I want to write music. I want to do so many things that I can't just sit down and do anything. That's why I haven't been able to update my Code Lyoko fanfic (found at my URL) in about a month. I can't sit down and write it.

Also, I can't just stop and sleep because I know there's stuff I could be doing. Stuff I should be doing. Stuff I want to be doing. And I can't just do that stuff. (And, partially, that's why I'm writing this at four in the morning.) I end up just throwing my focus into a computer game or movie or TV show, and feel guilty I haven't accomplished anything.

The worst part is that I have these thoughts, these snippets, just floating around my mind. Scenes and sections for stories. Strings of music. Random questions about the nature of the universe or somesuch complicated matter. (The idea that order is falling into chaos? (Entropy, is it?) Bull. Everything's just changing to a different type of order. One that may or may not include us. And it scares people that their order might not be the only right one. But I digress.) And they're very good. But I can't sit down and turn them into words on a page. It's like there's a mental block.

Also, I'm working on going through college. People ask me what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. "What inspires you?" they ask.

"I don't know," I reply. "Everything. Nothing. Take your pick."

"Well just remember you can do anything you set your mind to."

"I know. That's the problem." And that is the problem. I can do pretty much anything I want. And I feel like I'm wasting my abilities if I don't use each and every one of them. (Also, I'm a perfectionist. Which leads to an occasional light depression when I can't do something well, I've found. It's an ugly circle, I guess.)

Anyway, yeah, I sorta know what it's like. I've been dealing with it more and more recently since I actually have (or should have) the time to do these things. And now that the block has come up again, I'll stop. Also, I think fifteen previews is enough.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at November 27, 2005 5:29 AM

Alexis: Thanks for those articles. That's me, all the way down.

Comment from: Zaq posted at November 27, 2005 6:09 AM

"I stammer and I trip over my spoken words. I go blank and dim, and I'm not desperately eloquent. I say stupid, stupid things, because I'm shoving all the information into a straw and pushing it out my mouth at a snail's pace. I get shit for using "big words;" you're just pretending that you're smarter than you really are. No, I'm not; I'm cramming the maximum amount of meaning into the minimum amount of time. You want it simple? This is simple.

Words are frustrating.

There are words I won't use, words I can't use, because social overreliance upon worn metaphor empties them of meaning and makes them useless to me. I can't use broken containers. "

...This whole thing made me say "Hell yes, I completely understand this," but the part I quoted above made me say that in a whole colorful new way which doesn't actually exist. And to think I was proud of my centrifuge metaphor a few weeks back.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 7:21 AM

Weds, if you don't mind sharing for us less knowledgeable about pharmaceuticals, is the medication (I presume) you're taking causing the unpleasant effects you first mentioned (the sleep etc.)? I can't imagine it's simple to tell 30-year-old brain patterns "Okay, stop that, do this now."

I'm not on the medication yet. The way the NHS referrals chain works, you go to your GP, they send off paperwork and you wait a couplefew weeks to see a specialist, you go to the specialist, they send paperwork back with the prescription, and then you go in as soon as you can get an appointment (which, in my case, was for two weeks after the assessment) and get the actual prescription. I start later this week.

What triggered the round of insomnia/exhaustion/nonconcentration this time was readjusting my sleep schedule from nightowl-US time to morning-person-British so that I could go into the doctor's office to have an unrelated procedure performed. Recovering from THAT knocked me for a further loop, since it caused enough pain to have me back on coedine for a day or two (which I'd had to do the week before because of the girl-issues I had the unrelated procedure to address to begin with). Then I had to sustain matters for another several days to make it to the morning assessment -- I can't sleep at all before appointments.

You sound like you could get some use out of meditation or auto-hypnosis techniques.

Been there, done that. It makes things louder.

Comment from: Kudilu posted at November 27, 2005 9:33 AM

Plaid Phantom . . .
. . .
. . .

ok, that was so me it was scary . . . (except i type faster, apparently)

Comment from: kirabug posted at November 27, 2005 10:25 AM

I had teachers in school who would swear that I could not possibly be paying attention to the lesson while I was reading that novel in my hands

All this makes me think of how lucky I've been over the years. My science teacher in 8th grade encouraged me to read during her class - she was so happy to see me so ravenously into books when most of the other students weren't that as long as I sat in the back row and continued to get A's, she was fine with it. (It also cut down on my heckling the other students, which might have figured into her decision.)

I hate television. Except for sports. Sports have no plot, so I can't stay up all night wondering what would have happened if this character or that one had acted differently. (Occasonally I'll get stuck on a single play or something but that's it.) On the other hand, CSI, House, and Without a Trace, while fascinating, hook me in so badly that sleep is just done for.

I could listen to music, especially nonvocal, all day with no problem. But even songs with words, when they're overly familiar, just blend into the background.

Last night, the internet went out (faulty router I suspect) and I actually kicked out 4000 words for my nano. Best thing that's happened all month. Forced me to concentrate. but even then I interrupted myself about once every 15 minutes.

Comment from: Lilamrta posted at November 27, 2005 10:39 AM

Plaid Phantom and Kudilu - exactly. Me in a nutshell.

Everyone's always telling me I have so much potential, and I'm wasting it away watching tv. Sometimes I wish I weren't so smart, and couldn't do anything I wanted to, because then at least I'd be forced into doing the one thing I'm good at. It's hard being good at everything and easily distracted because it means that I never stick with one thing long enough to actually become good enough to excel. I also have horrid time-management skills, which doesn't help, but I'd reckon that just comes with the territory.

Comment from: Aufero posted at November 27, 2005 12:27 PM

Everyone's always telling me I have so much potential, and I'm wasting it away watching tv.

This type of criticism used to make me angrier than anything else I can name in my teens and 20's. I always wanted to give the people saying it all my damn potential, let them figure out what to do with it. Fortunately, now that I'm in my 40's no one cares how much potential I have.

I've often wished I was only good at one or two things as well. I spend far too much time jumping from subject to subject - they're all so interesting, how do I choose?

Comment from: Zutto posted at November 27, 2005 12:35 PM

So what does it mean if a person takes an hour to read a 12,000 word short story? That they're stupid? That they're thorough?

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 1:04 PM

Also: I see recommendations in here for warm milk/turkey (both are highly unpalatable, and haven't worked the few times I've choked them down), sleep visualisation (which makes me frustrated and angry because I can't sleep AND it involves trying to think of one thing more than anything else -- I can only *not* think of white elephants), and white noise (too much like music; I need words, preferably in North American accents). I'm sure I've missed stuff.

I'm appreciative, folks, I am, and thank you, but: chances are I've tried it, with the possible exception of melatonin (not readily available in the UK without a prescription, and, well, then you have to get a prescription, and I've heard way too many horror stories of people like me taking it and having Horrible Paranoid Episodes). This is a long-term problem, it's much more serious than just the cyclical insomnia, and that's why I'm being started on atomoxetine soon to begin with.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at November 27, 2005 1:23 PM

Plaid Phantom, Kudilu, Lilamrta...

and me.

WHAT THE FUCK. This is CLEARLY a common or at least reliably occurring thing. Why the HELL have we never been aware of that? (The not-just-you-ness). I mean, that thought "God, I wish I were only good at one thing?" and then feeling awful because obviously you shouldn't be complaining about that, etc.

We recieve so, so, so much advice, so many platitudes and viewpoints, but I've only ever heard anything that responds to this when I specifically complain about it.

Dammit.
This would be a more substantive and engaged post if I had the time right now. This thread is incredibly thought-provoking; it is provoking many thoughts of how to characterize commonness of mental experiences, what is ADHD, what isn't ADHD, what should be considered it, why pattersn are more or less debilitating for different people... and here is this perfect audience where if I did sit down, think it through (and by think it through I mean start writing about it) and post, I would have responses from people with relevant information and vital input and arrrrrrrrggggghh I have two late papers, a massive group presentation, a scene to memorize and I won't get into the rest right now.

Dammit, if there were no Ritalin in my system right now, I would be writing that post. And if there were more I wouldn't be writing this one, because I really can't afford to be doing this and checking so often (as to why there isn't more: is compicated, but suffice it to say I've, er, lost my Ritalin. Even my problems are meta!).

Comment from: Nate posted at November 27, 2005 1:40 PM

Re: the meditation discussion up above, I'd suggest taking a look at Zen Without Zen Masters if you can find a copy. It's fairly bullshit-free, and the parts that are bullshit know they're bullshit in at least a couple senses. You could also look online, or ask wikipedia.

And in somewhat related, a koan, of sorts.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at November 27, 2005 1:53 PM

Dude! Nate! Thank you SO MUCH for the "koan" link! SO COOL! And now I can actually wonder about what I would consider the impossibility of it with some actual information!

Yeah, totally getting those papers done. Also, a recent quote:
Me, to a friend, frustrated with the vagueness of my directive: How do I talk about homosexuality in theatre?

Friend: How do you not talk about homosexuality in the theatre?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 27, 2005 2:08 PM

So what does it mean if a person takes an hour to read a 12,000 word short story? That they're stupid? That they're thorough?

It means it takes that person an hour to read a 12,000 word short story.

No more, no less.

One thing that's amazingly hard for everyone to grasp -- it took me years, and I still forget -- are that people are different cognitively. Peoples' brains work differently. Some people are extremely visual in how they learn and retain -- they can remember any given four seconds of a movie forever, but can't remember a book unless they had time to imagine it. Others imagine books as fast as the words pour into their eyes. Still others don't learn anything unless they read it out loud or have it read to them -- the words mean nothing to them, but the sounds mean everything.

My school has an entire instructional support program structured around the idea that people are different, learn differently, and approach reading and retention and everything else differently.

These aren't disabilities or stupidities. They're just different. Reading comes easy and fast to some, slow and painstaking to others. Some folks can't write two hundred words without opening a vein. Folks like me can write five thousand words just by sitting down and turning the computer on.

It seems so weird to us. The first time I really, really empathized with Wesley Crusher on Star Trek (hey, it could happen) was the time they were all drunk, and he came up with an idea to save the ship. The Engineer angrily refused, saying "it would take weeks to lay out circuit designs."

Crusher's response? "Why don't you just see it in your head?" And he did.

It's not that he was Teh Cool in that scene. It's that he truly didn't understand that other people couldn't do that. In his experience, this is how it works.

The problem that Weds described in her post is other people feel the same way. So someone who can only understand reading they've done slowly and painstakingly can't comprehend that it comes easily and fast for others. So they work to slow them down.

Comment from: Nate posted at November 27, 2005 2:24 PM

siwangmu, I can't vouch for the theological soundness of the "koan", or even its accuracy, but I found it amusing and it FELT right to me, it made a bunch of the various things I'd read "click", because as Eric said, people think differently. Which was kinda the point of the "koan" itself. And while I'm not Buddhist, it still resonated, probably from all the Discordian stuff I've read.

That and it's funny. To a geek like me, anyway.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at November 27, 2005 4:10 PM

Kudilu - ~45 wpm. Not that hard to beat, from what I've heard. I think I habitually think about individual keystrokes too much. But anyway.

I'm starting to wonder whether there's something about this type of brain pattern/disability/whatever-it-is which tends to draw like minds togeher. Perhaps we search out others so that we can work together in an environment that encourages or facilitates NADD or whatever and turns it into a serious advantage. That environment happens to be the internet. We log on because the rest of the world is so much...slower, I guess is the world...than we are, so we find our own little microcosm to run amok in.

Or maybe the internet just appeals to us, and we just happen to run into each other. But the fact that such a large proportion of Snarkoleptics have similar brain patterns makes me wonder if we really are attracting one another, perhaps through organizational...quirks...that we end up using to effectively lay our thoughts down on 'paper'.

Comment from: Meagen Image posted at November 27, 2005 4:34 PM

sleep visualisation (which makes me frustrated and angry because I can't sleep AND it involves trying to think of one thing more than anything else -- I can only *not* think of white elephants)

I guess there *is* something to that old "desire leads to suffering" thing. Especially in the case of sleep, where being frustrated at not sleeping leads to, well, not sleeping.

If it helps, I have it on good authority that laying around in your bed in the dark is still pretty restful. Not as much as actually sleeping, obviously, but even if you've been in there for like 2 hours and still haven't had any sleep, you haven't wasted the time.

And if you can't stop thinking, then think!

Think of your muscles. Are they tense? Run a complete checklist of your muscles, starting with the ones in the toes and working up towards the face. Think of each body part, check if it's feeling properly warm and supported, maybe wiggle it a bit, then relax it. Think of all the times you woke up in the morning and had to get up even though you'd rather have stayed in bed. Think of pleasant things - imagine being in places you like talking to people you like, I dunno, something. Think of things *other* than stuff you have to do for like, yesterday, or that you really really need to sleep now.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 4:49 PM

Meagan: I have done all of this. I lay around in the dark a lot. It doesn't work. I've gone through the muscle checklist and it's an agonizing exercise in needless physical hyperawareness. Thinking of pleasant things keeps me awake thinking of pleasant things.

Again, I'm appreciative and thankful for people trying to help, but I am at the stage where I am going on medication because none of these things are of any use to me.

Comment from: pwright2 posted at November 27, 2005 6:03 PM

Over here it's usually spelled codeine. Odd what an ocean can do to language.

Have you tried podcasts? I find that, if I am at all tired, TWIT or Engadget can usher me off to dreamland and I can be assured that I didn't miss much.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 6:09 PM

I can't spell drug names. I admit it.

I have yet to find a podcast which doesn't irritate me with poor mixing and presentation, I'm afraid. I keep wanting to scream "FIX YOUR LEVELS!" and "EDIT YOUR CRAP OUT!"

It's like listening to the English language presentation of Radio Polonia, really. :)

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 6:11 PM

Actually, that's not fair to Radio Polonia. They don't "um" and "uh" and give me redundant iterations of the program segment's name; they mostly just play their theme music all the damn time.

It's pretty the first time.

Comment from: miyaa posted at November 27, 2005 6:23 PM

Radio Polonia? Either that's a sub-region of a country I have never heard of, or a weird way to pronounce Bologna.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 6:27 PM

Polish public radio.

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 27, 2005 7:11 PM

I generally believe that we, as a society, medicate too much. Don't lynch me, I'm not saying Wednesday shouldn't go on her atomoxetine! It's just that I know lots of kids who are on ritalin who had marginal, if ANY, symptoms of the ADD they were diagnosed with; similarly, I know adults who went on Prozac or Zoloft and had side effects that were worse than their mild sadness. Too often, the modern urban society says "oh, you don't feel so great! Medicate!" when it should be saying "hmm.. can't sit still in class, maybe you need to have a classroom which involves more moving activities." etc.

The drugs themselves are not bad, by any means. It's that they are powerful, and should be a last resort. Weds there, she's obviously lived with her symptoms for years, trying everything sensible or non to control this noise in her head on her own. That's what the medication is for - for people who have tried everything else, and find that they just.. can't.. make it stop.. by themselves. Too often, it's used as a quick-fix; when it's taken seriously, and for the right reasons, medicine is a good thing.

My oldest nephew was a great little guy; clever, smart, calm, funny, and completely unable to focus for more than 30 seconds at a time. He did not represent as hyperactive at all, and so no one thought to see if he had ADD until he was ready to enter public school. The week before school, he started on ritalin, and made me a believer in medication for the right reasons.

This kid, who adored books, and coloring, and such things, but who hadn't actually colored a whole picture in over a year? Sat down on the first day we gave him ritalin, and colored. and colored. and colored. When asked why he was coloring so many pictures, he said, in his husky you sound way older than your 4 years voice, "because I can now. The noise is gone."

We, as a family, continued working with him to control his mild ADD, certainly, and over the years, he no longer required his medication, as he developed coping mechanisms, and outgrew some of the worst of the channel-changing in his brain. But the medication helped him discover what it felt like to have quiet in his brain, so he could find it again on his own.

As I said above, we as a society overmedicate ourselves, and our kids. Sometimes, however, the medication is necessary and useful. I hope that it's useful for you, Wednesday, for it's obvious, that it's necessary. I'm increasingly impressed that you've managed to support yourself and function at all; when my brain gets like that (thankfully, not often, certainly not all the time), I'm a complete wreck.

Comment from: Zaq posted at November 27, 2005 7:57 PM

Regarding the "me-too'ness", I kind of tried to say "yes, me too" last night, but I don't think it came out very well. 5 AM will do that to a person. I too have wondered why this place tends to resonate with such things... the closest I can come is, perhaps, Weds's writing. For those of you, or shall I say us, who do indeed have a brain that works (or doesn't work, as the case may be) in this strange strange fashion, do you remember being in junior high, or high school? And how within two days you could always tell if there was another kid who thought like you did, often before other people gathered to the fact that yes, this person Thinks Differently? I get that impression from Wednesday's writing. I understand her, I think, I understand what she's trying to say, from the perspective she's addressing. And since writing which resonates with the reader incites that reader to stick around for more in a way that merely noticing a fellow Different Soul in Macroeconomics might, it's not that far of a leap for me to say that if we happen to find writing like hers and understand it, it makes sense that we could gather together like this.

How this ties into Eric I don't know. Come for Eric, stay for Eric and Weds? Maybe Eric writes with a similar resonance? I don't know, I don't pretend to, and I'm merely speculating anwyay (I won't even call it hypothesizing at this point).

It's always interesting to hear both that you're not alone, and that you are still Different. We get caught in our own brain patterns (as mentioned before), and find it hard to believe or (more importantly) to remember that other people think differently... and seeing so much me-too'ism and wow-I-didn't-even-notice-but-that's-totally-me'ness all together in one place brings up both of those points... other people Think Differently, but not everyone Thinks Differently From You.

And frankly? I can't imagine having a discussion like this anywhere outside of Websnark. Interpret that one however you like.

Comment from: Violet posted at November 27, 2005 8:36 PM

I am not responding to Larksilver's particular family situation, but I'm disinclined to sit on this.

North American society (by which we clearly mean those who have ready access to health care and prescription medicine combined) does not strike me as overmedicated. On occasion, it is inappropriately medicated (consider the economic and class issues which force drug therapy treatment considerations according to insurance restrictions, available generics or OTC replacements, free samples in the doctor's office, free samples in the free clinic's office or what-have-you...). This is not the same thing.

Where mental disorders in the young are concerned, I observe a growing trend amongst parents towards refusing or minimizing medication on the grounds that the child is somehow "special" or "creative." Medication which brings the child to a quiet, calmer state is viewed as stripping the child of that which renders them unique in the parent's eyes. (Heaven forfend that the child is not actually a snowflake to begin with, or that the stigma of mental illness be overcome enough that treating a milder form of any given disorder becomes viable. We don't refuse sufficiently privileged children inhalers if they are diagnosed with mild to moderate asthma, for example! At least, we don't if we have any sense.)

If the stimulant treatments for ADHD, say, are undesirable in children who are not crippled by severe forms of same, then why on earth would they have paradoxical reactions to those stimulants? When those reactions take place, it is extremely rare that there is not something out of kilter. It has been my observation that many families would sacrifice quality of life - their own, and their child's - in the name of principle, denial, or a misguided overvaluation of the child's innate gifts. I find this nontrivially alarming.

For myself, I could not imagine either denying my child some treatment which might be effective, or revoking a *demonstrated* effective treatment and forcing a child to retrace their steps without it. There is ample evidence to suggest that leaving a mild mental disorder untreated in childhood can exacerbate the matter over time. Those years slip by rapidly, as do the windows for age-appropriate education and effective intervention. It strikes me as more worthwhile to employ what we know to be relatively effective and well-tested. Ritalin, for example, has held up over decades.

But we fear medicine, yes? We fear medication, and we fear diagnosis. We'd rather play with diets and exercises and whatnot. The answer is not denying treatment; the answer is increased research into and reliance upon those medications which are effective over time, and destigmatizing the conditions to begin with. Childhood mental illness is the one remaining bogey. It is a fantastic way to convey shame to the child - gracious, s/he should be able to overcome this with work! It's not so bad!

And here is where I do respond directly to Larksilver:

I hope that it's useful for you, Wednesday, for it's obvious, that it's necessary.

Perhaps if Ms. White had been successfull able to obtain useful medical treatment for her condition some years ago, it would not be so severe now. I don't believe that such a declaration is particularly constructive to someone so afflicted, although clearly it's up to her to declare same.

One does not wait to seek help for a deep wound until it has become gangrenous (or, at least, one does not sensibly do so). I cannot emphasize this point enough.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at November 27, 2005 8:42 PM

One does not wait to seek help for a deep wound until it has become gangrenous.

::cries:: (diagnosed ADHD after the parade of increasing school trouble became the spectacular crash and burn of first year of college)

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at November 27, 2005 9:00 PM

Derailing the conversation to announce that CHECKERBOARD NIGHTMARE IS (KINDA) BACK.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at November 27, 2005 9:08 PM

How this ties into Eric I don't know. Come for Eric, stay for Eric and Weds? Maybe Eric writes with a similar resonance? I don't know, I don't pretend to, and I'm merely speculating anwyay (I won't even call it hypothesizing at this point).

I haven't joined into this discussion yet for the reason that I don't relate (except maybe second-hand; my wife is diabetic and bipolar and has an anxiety disorder). This comment moved me to speak up because I don't think Wednesday's and Eric's writing resonate similarly at all. I took awhile to get used to Wednesday's wordsmithing, and she still loses me sometimes; whereas Eric seems to write much what I'd write if I had the opinions he does. Maybe that's not how it seems to anyone else. I'd be interested to see anything Wednesday and Eric might have to say about contrasts and similarities they see in each other's styles.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 27, 2005 9:34 PM

I wonder why all these end up at the metadiscussion of Wednesday's writing versus mine.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at November 27, 2005 9:58 PM

Uh, mine wasn't a legitimate point of curiosity?

Comment from: William_G posted at November 27, 2005 10:09 PM

I miss Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at November 27, 2005 10:12 PM

Eric: Certainly a combination of factors. Both you and Weds write about writing a lot, so the meta seed is already there. "Wednesday" posts, in general, less than "Eric" does, so her posts draw more attention to the "two writers" setup. And then there's the mind control.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at November 27, 2005 10:17 PM

The most frustrating thing has been the inability to string two words together in my head.
I know what you mean. This semester, I've been unable to write an entire paper, no matter how desperately I try, and no matter how much of my grade it represents. I just hope that I have done well enough on what I've managed to write to pass, and that this block dissolves before next semester starts...

Comment from: pwright2 posted at November 27, 2005 10:37 PM

Hypercritical didn't show up (except by implication) in the essay. (Lots of us have parenthetical thoughts. I don't find it distracting. Unless they add another two pages, of course.)

How do you feel about commas? Eats shoots and leaves.

Oh, and if you like SciFi, I recommend Escape Pod.

-----Paul-----

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 10:45 PM

I'm not hypercritical. I have baseline (arguably distressingly low) quality standards. In the case of podcasts, that means not sounding like bad college radio. (I forgot to mention that the Canadian Media Guild podcasts during the CBC lockout were superb, but of course they're not particularly current now. Tod Maffin's slowed down out of necessity, too.)

Commas are necessary, but I've gotten used to people not using them enough. British English relies insufficiently on them. People who use too many need to be shot.

Comment from: John posted at November 27, 2005 10:50 PM

I am going on medication because none of these things are of any use to me.

Well, thank God. Seriously. I'd definitely say you need some sort of treatment, based on what you just recounted. Hope that the adjustment isn't too difficult and it does help to calm your mind down.

I guess you've ruled out manic episodes?

Comment from: Lilamrta posted at November 27, 2005 11:08 PM

Escape Pod is nifty. It keeps me sane at work. Boring, boring work. I don't know how I survived work without my ipod. Of course I was in the main room then and not the laundry room that I'm supposed to call my office, so I could listen to half of phone calls and whole of office conversations. Now it's just me and my computer and my ipod and a washer and dryer and a coworker who sings too loudly when I'm trying to listen to some podcast or another.

Hmm. I guess I should go to bed, seeing as I just regaled everyone with useless information. Apologies all around.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at November 27, 2005 11:36 PM

Aw, c'mon, Eric, this is, like, the only time ever that the writing styles thing came up very organically as a result of the content of our discussion/comments on the post. I'm all for complaining about it the rest of times, though. Also I do think it is funny that the more I get to know about Weds the more I identify with her, although I found her writing at first somewhat inaccessible (I think it was most likely the cultural references but I've gone into all this before and am now devoted fan), whereas I have always found Eric's writing very accessible and am fairly certain my brain is not like his at all. Maybe this is why I do not understand myself!

Comment from: pwright2 posted at November 27, 2005 11:38 PM

There's good college radio?

Is anyone else having a problem with the typewhatever signin? It shows me as being signed in, even shows my name, but when I post it says I have to sign in again. Which I do and it (usually) works.

-----Paul-----

Comment from: Recovering Extrovert posted at November 28, 2005 12:23 AM

Now that this post has hit 80+ comments, I may be flogging a dead horse here (especially since I can't concentrate enough to read them all right now) but I simpathize with Wednesday in her plight, even if I do not share the exact extent of her problem. I was lucky enough to be forced into English as a second language, so my brain spends most of its time trying to translate appropriately instead of think of whatever, but (at the risk of sounding extra Californian) I totally get that whole neverending stream of consciousness, man. Like, totally. I am constantly frustrating people with my parenthetical speaking style (which gets toned down in my writing due to the erase function): luckily, I have been able to daydream myself to sleep succesfully for years now. Anyways, imagined credentials and insensitivities aside, I was wondering: have you ever tried using a dvorak keyboard and writing a journal in order to get the stream out? A buddy of mine routinely types faster than his computer can work with dvorak (there are no numbers for his typing speed, only hushed awe) and, well, if getting the thoughts down is enough (by this I mean, if you don't need to have everything you produce be some sort of artistic accomplishment to be "turned in" for review), a journal of thoughts and ideas written at a million miles an hour might be able to beat the flow, so to speak.



Now, if you have tried this, I'm going to feel a bit foolish. I had to get this out, in any case, it was clogging my mind, you understand. Good luck with the medication; I personally have never put any stock in that medical hogwash (by which I mean I am a guy, and guys don't need drugs, just beer, and other such manly phrases that go out the window when a flu hits), but it sounds like they could be a path to better days.

PS: sorry about the excessive commas; the pauses, they pollute my BRAAAAAAAIN......

Comment from: Prodigal posted at November 28, 2005 12:47 AM

KNTU is a hellagood college station.

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 28, 2005 1:06 AM

"Perhaps if Ms. White had been successfull able to obtain useful medical treatment for her condition some years ago, it would not be so severe now. I don't believe that such a declaration is particularly constructive to someone so afflicted, although clearly it's up to her to declare same."

Okay. so. Pardon the fuck outta me. Hopefully, the individual to whom the sentiment of "too bad nothing else worked for you, damn glad you're trying something new, hope it works" was directed took it in that sense. Frankly, anybody else can go sit on a swizzle stick. I would never in a million years tell someone to "stick it out" for 30 years, for crying out loud. If I had had the honor of knowing Ms. Wednesday during that time, I would most likely have been one of the people saying "hon, you shouldn't be feeling like this. Have you talked to someone?"

I had quite the post built up here, outlining the many times in my life (just recently, even) that I've suggested to someone dear to me that they speak to a counselor or therapist to help them deal with situations such as these, including the possibility of entering into a long-term treatment plan. I deleted it, because frankly, I don't care what kind of monster, freak, or loony some.. person.. on the internet thinks I am. Somehow, comments intended to say "hey, these drugs are powerful tools and should be used appropriately" was misconstrued. Alas.

I should have known better than to comment on this thread. Sorry for bending (if not breaking clean through) the "play nice" rules here, Eric and Weds. Having what I said turn somehow into "aaaaaaah! DRUGS ARE EVIL!" and "you lazy cow, how could you not handle this on your own?" - neither sentiment expressed in my post, much less implied in it - pisses me off. I'm apologizing for breaking the site rules, and will understand if the tone is unacceptable. It will have been worth it.

Comment from: Meagen Image posted at November 28, 2005 1:24 AM

I have done all of this. I lay around in the dark a lot. It doesn't work. I've gone through the muscle checklist and it's an agonizing exercise in needless physical hyperawareness. Thinking of pleasant things keeps me awake thinking of pleasant things.

Fair 'nuff, fair 'nuff. Only when I read the kind of stuff like the post here, there's a natural instinct to try and reach out and help somehow - especially if I have experience which I feel might be useful. It's only human.

And lest you think everyone else gets over their insomnia using nothing but mind-excercises, I'll admit that I wrote my previous comment at about half past 11 PM, and then proceeded to go to bed and not sleep until 3 AM or so. I've got huge trouble regulating my sleep cycle.

But I live with my parents - and my mum has a long-time friend who is, among other things, addicted to taking medicine. The friend simply doesn't believe that anything short of some really strong medicine perscribed by a specialist can cure her issues (and she has plenty of 'em). So whenever I mention maybe trying medication for any of *my* problems, mum just gives me this half-worried half-pitying look and goes into the "Only treating symptoms with medication is a fallacy of Western medicine and you don't want to end up like your aunt, do you?" speech.

I don't know how severe your problems are in comparision to mine. I don't know how it is to *be* you. All I know is, the way you describe your symptoms makes them sound similar to the symptoms I experience. Maybe your underlying problems are that much worse than mine. Maybe the way I was raised makes it easier for me to deal with my problems using my own mind. Either way, I am not an expert and I don't know you that well, so I should probably stop trying to help you before I inadvertently make things worse somehow.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at November 28, 2005 2:04 AM

larksilver, I feel kinda bad, because my first instinct was to include in my last response a section along the lines of "I think you're misconstruing what larksilver said as I know she didn't mean that even though your concerns are appropriate given a lot of the things that get tossed around in culture" but it just kind of came out "larksilver is nice!" and I kind of gave up on it. I think probably a lot of us can assume you meant differently and that the response was triggered more by your comments reflecting incidentally on a general misconception that bugs her than the specifics of your post, except for the part that was supposed to be directly responding to you which I kind of didn't get so let's pretend I didn't bring it up.

Comment from: gwalla posted at November 28, 2005 2:23 AM

You know, Ray, I see your point about the lyrics. Never thought of it that way before. (BTW, check out the song. It's pretty good. Also, one of the band members is Carmine Infantino's son, and Carmine did the cover art to one of their albums!)

Count me among the parenthesis addicts. Sometimes my writing looks like LISP code, with parentheses nested inside parentheses inside parentheses. I'm not so bad these days, but that's partly because I discovered the joys of the em dash! Beautiful, beautiful em dashes.... I also have the odd habit of using semicolons inside parentheses, which I'm not sure is even allowed but often seems like the best way to construct a sentence.

As for the nonstop thoughts, people shouldn't be so quick to self-diagnose as ADHD. Other things can cause that symptom...including clinical depression, strangely enough. If it's a problem for anybody, I recommend seeing a shrink. Medication is one possible option but not the only one. For what it's worth, I was on Paxil for a while and the only reason I knew I wasn't being given a sugar pill was because it made me feel like something was pressing on my heart, hard█not the most comfortable sensation.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 28, 2005 6:43 AM

Meagan: I'm sorry if I came off as defensive, and I do understand the impulse to want to help based on one's own experience. It's been rather frustrating saying "tried it, tried it, tried it" to people over and over, and I'm afraid it's starting to bleed through. One issue this whole experience has consistently left me with is the sense that people don't actually take in the things I say, so I can overreact when I hit that mental space.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 28, 2005 7:09 AM

Lark:

I'm apologizing for breaking the site rules, and will understand if the tone is unacceptable. It will have been worth it.

I sure hope so, because this is the warning shot. (This is also not the first time I've fired one in your direction, Lark. Apologizing at the end of a post like that really doesn't make it okay.)

I can see why you might be upset, but no one called you a monster, freak, or loony. Moreover, the one bit that was leveled straight at you (most of it was flagged as being about a broader trend that you'd touched on, whether or not you intended to) wasn't phrased as an insult.

Comment from: Buzzfloyd posted at November 28, 2005 9:31 AM

This post compelled me to sign up for a Typekey account so I could comment.

All the while I was reading the essay, I kept thinking, "Would it be rude or presumptuous to suggest a screening for ADHD?" Then I read through the comments.

It is always frustrating to deal with problems that other people dismiss or treat as personality defects. It is equally frustrating when people assume that everyone is the same as them (as Benedick said of Beatrice, "she puts the world into her person"). It takes great force of personality and a lot of hard work to develop compensatory techniques when the way you are doesn't fit in with the way others demand you must be.

I'd like to thank you, Wednesday, for writing this, because it gave me a far greater insight into my husband's ADHD than I had before. I try to be sensitive and not to make assumptions about the way he processes stuff, but that's not always easy when I just can't get a handle on how his mind works. Reading this was a bit like a window into his head.

By the way, he finds that caffeine and similar stimulants exaggerate some of the unpleasant aspects of ADHD. Maybe cutting out caffeinated drinks, although unhelpful in the short term, might help things like concentration as well as sleep patterns in the long term? Just a thought.

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 28, 2005 9:53 AM

"Apologizing at the end of a post like that really doesn't make it okay."

Allright. I see quite a bit of monkey-poop being tossed by commenters at one another, without apology, on this site, and simply thought that if I was going to break the rules, I would at least own it. I do apologize if my post was troubling to you. I do not regret, as I stated, that I posted it.

I do however regret having posted on this subject at all. I should, as I stated, have known better than to comment to a Wednesday thread; it seems that somehow, regarding psychological issues and medications, I have a viewpoint which is diametrically opposed to those of many of the commenters, resulting in my comments getting picked to bits. As you pointed out, this is not the first time you've "fired a warning shot," and both times have been on threads relating to these matters. I realize that the comment above which got me so riled was mostly tagged as a "larger issue," and thus I actually toned down my primary response. However, in future, I will be more careful to avoid these subjects, despite my interest in them.

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 28, 2005 9:54 AM

oh, and siwangmu: Thanks for the sweet support.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 28, 2005 10:37 AM

Allright. I see quite a bit of monkey-poop being tossed by commenters at one another, without apology, on this site, and simply thought that if I was going to break the rules, I would at least own it.

One of the hardest things for either Wednesday or myself is knowing exactly when to come out and swing the big bat of "settle down, kids." We want to encourage open discussion and debate, but we also want to preserve the tone. This is especially true because of the community that's built up around Websnark. A community that's very heartening to us both -- a community that means a lot to us both. As it clearly does to other folks as well.

However, at the same time, we're discussing the division point between a forum and a blog, here.

This, by the by, is why the rule exists as it exists. This isn't a forum. The only two people who get to put up new posts are Wednesday and I. This means that in terms of power and equity in the community, Weds and I are all powerful, and everyone else comments by our sufferance.

Now, as it works out, we suffer quite a bit of commentary, because we like it. In fact, that's one of the reasons why we allow people to insult us, and we don't allow other posters to insult our attackers even in our defense. This is in fact our house. We are your hosts. And if we set the general topic of discussion with our posts, we also don't want that discussion to get sidetracked into arguments without form.

Now, there is a venue that both Weds and I frequent where we are not the ones in charge, and on that venue the rules aren't set by us. That's the Snarkoleptics LJ community, where anyone who wants to can start a discussion, and it's up to mckenzee to decide what's over the line and what isn't. In that venue, Weds and I are just a couple of the chorus, and we're glad to get into the debate.

Over here, we're trying -- we're honestly trying -- to do the minimal amount of 'moderation' necessary to allow for discussion and debate, while keeping the core focus alive (namely, response to our essays).

This is also why, when we respond, we never really get into what was said. Just that it crossed the line. Because it's easy to fall into the trap of "he/she is just trying to help" and letting things slide, or "what you said to X was against the rules, but X was wrong and you're right, so just understand that I have to say something but I don't really mean it." Instead, as Weds did above, we simply say "okay, in our judgement, the line's being trod upon." In Larksilver's case, we're also mentioning that it's been trod upon before.

It's not that we think Lark isn't trying to say and do the right things. We're not rendering any judgement at all on her thesis. It's that there's a way to do this that's acceptable, and a way that isn't. And there's stuff that folks don't get to do on here, and when it happens more than once we have a responsibility to say "dude -- haven't we had this conversation before?"

Now, I'm more than happy to accept Lark's apology. As, I believe, is Wednesday. We're not saying "Lark! We're gonna git out the ban-stick! The BAN-STICK! YEEEEEE-HAW!" For one thing, the ban-stick's being lacquered this week, and that means it's all sticky to the touch.

Jesus, people. Get your mind out of the gutters.

What I'm saying is... well, let me respond, just briefly, to what Lark herself said:

However, in future, I will be more careful to avoid these subjects, despite my interest in them.

Now, if Lark is saying "these issues get my blood riled up and I'm not able to separate out my emotion from my opinion, and that means I'm way likely to cross the line in my response, so for right now I'd better avoid discussing these things entirely," I can respect that. We all have to know our limits. There's discussions I won't enter at all because I lose my fool head and say things I later regret. (A friend of mine named Geoff Grabowski's seen that side of me before, and it's an ugly one. And not that anyone but he knows what I'm talking about, but I'm still sorry, Geoff.)

However, if what Lark's taking away from this is "fine -- my opinion's at variance from everyone else, so I just won't talk about this, because they're going to disagree and I'll get a warning from Eric and Wednesday," then I have to speak up, because it's not the opinion in question that's the issue. Lark has an honest opinion both about the nature of medication and the appropriate time to go that route (and the attendant issues thereof). We welcome that opinion. We welcome the discussion that grows from that opinion.

But the tone of the responses has to be right. From Lark, from everyone else, and from me.

Now, if you want to call me an asshole for that... well, go ahead. That's within the rules. ;) Just no one say that about Lark, Violet, Siwangmu or other commenters or I'll have to get my sticky ban-stick out. And no one wants that.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at November 28, 2005 11:58 AM

It's kind of weird to read pieces like this.

On one hand, I know about being told to slow down, being unable to focus, and being told that I'm putting on airs. Or that I'm just showing off intellect, or the like.

I suppose, using a bit of armchair diagnosis, that I probably have ADHD or the like myself, presuming it isn't anything more serious (and there are theories that it might be, related to potential prenatal exposure to certain psychoactive chemicals). However, I've never been put on anything for it, and I'm mostly functional on my own.

I suppose it goes back to when I was 5 or 6. Sure, I had my times when teachers told me I couldn't have worked that fast, or didn't read that fast. And they tried to slow me down, as they didn't want me sitting there reading something else or playing with paper footballs or the like.

However, I was as stubborn then as I am now, so I decided to subvert what the teacher intended. And so, I learned to lie and act. I always looked like I was still doing my work, and in fact said act occupied one track of my mind. But another track or two would go off on the tangent of my choice, be it another school subject, games, or what have you.

I also started using that time to think through other puzzles that weren't my schoolwork, which included myself. I came up with coping mechanisms, realizing "it's just how my mind works" and running from there. I do wonder, at times, how things would have worked if just one variable was different. Which is enough of a puzzle to occupy my mind that I can work on most of my daily tasks.

Also, it took me a long time as well that I hadn't found the answer, just my answer. It was ultimately a combination of learning what surrealism really meant as a philosophy and hearing the G. K. Chesterton quote, "We are on the wrong side of the tapestry," to finally understand that I'm only seeing one piece of the truth, and even that is colored by my own perspective.

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 28, 2005 12:13 PM

You bein' from the North and all, the image of Yeeehaw coming out of your mouth gives me the giggles, even when I'm sitting in the time-out chair.

I'm not calling anybody an asshole, much less you guys. This is your site, and I snarled at another commenter, and I fully anticipated getting the bonk on the noggin for it. Granted, that's twice in a year. I can't swear I'll never do it again, but I'll try to avoid it, and, of course, stay outta these threads to minimize the risk.

These threads in particular tend to end up with comments that, even if they're not intended as such, feel personal, and I get cross. So... I'll just keep my little temper over here, thanks, and avoid the yeeeehaww.

Comment from: Denyer posted at November 28, 2005 12:27 PM

Still others don't learn anything unless they read it out loud or have it read to them

Yup. Silent reading is inevitably at odds with subvocalisation. Unfortunately it's often necessary with roomfuls of students working on separate material.

We fear medication, and we fear diagnosis.

Possibly it's more a fear of misdiagnosis and people reduced to a barely functional state, which I've seen happen a few times. From whence comes the opinion that trying a bunch of other stuff first is good.

Distrust of anyone who markets drugs for profit may be a factor too. Things are slightly less corrupt here in the UK, but your GP is still likely to have been wined and dined by at least one multi-national. Remove that conflict of interest and there would doubtless be more trust.

One does not wait to seek help for a deep wound until it has become gangrenous

Or amputate as a first precaution. Chemistry in developing brains differs from that of adults, and the potential exists for irreparable damage.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 28, 2005 12:46 PM

Chemistry in developing brains differs from that of adults, and the potential exists for irreparable damage.

On the other hand, we've had enough time to evaluate how Ritalin affects those developing brains, and it's pretty safe. (We also know that Strattera is a problem, but I think Violet's point about appropriate medication extends to keeping NRIs for the grownups. For this, because of a bunch of other factors, Strattera/atomoxetine is the most appropriate first course of action.) And if the problem is just going to get worse and worse without a calculated risk, well... I'd rather take the calculated risk that has a demonstrated consistent positive result over time. And I'd rather hit it before the kid grows up; coping mechanisms really only go so far.

Comment from: DarkStar posted at November 28, 2005 1:14 PM

Oh God, this comment thread is probably long enough as it is. I'm also probably going to stick my foot in it without looking to see if the water is in fact simply a harmless form of hydrogen and oxygen, and not, say, acid. I do this only because I am a faithful reader of the original posts, but a poor reader of comments. I have a bad tendency to skim, skip and avoid reading everything that is said in response (especially as it would take me much longer than the time I have).

I have, however, noticed that both the topics of Zen/meditation and medication have come up in dealing with insomnia, sleep, scattered minds and the possibility of ADD (and its cousins). I bring this up not to proclaim or decry either. I have little experience, and what I have from both is positive. I will not share my personal views on the use of either, as they are personal. They apply and work for me; I hold to delusions that they should work for anyone else.

I do, however, present a third option. It is not invasive; there are no chemicals to ingest, no hormones. It does not require training and mastery to work; no gurus, or video tapes, or books and long periods of study. All it requires is the ability to push a few buttons on a little black box and sit for a period of time with some sun-glasses and headphones on.

I will admit, right now, that I have a huge bias. I work for the company that makes these "wonder devices". In fact, I'm a hardware designer and programmer. I've made them work from inception to assembly. But I also know that the company has a decade worth of clinical trials and research that show that the process is effective.

The process is called AVE (Audio Visual Entrainment). The device is called the DAVID PAL. The company is called Mind Alive (www.mindalive.com). The practical up-shot is that the flashing lights in the eyes (the brightness of which can be adjusted, and the eyes can be, in fact are recommended to be, closed) and the tones in the ears can be used to, well... reset the brain.

I'm an engineer, I only know the practical side. We produce a stimulus at a given frequency. Say, 10Hz (or a normal Alpha rhythm, found in resting, quiet brains). The lights flash, the tones beep, and after a short amount of time, the repetitive stimulus causes the brain to follow suit. That idle frequency becomes dominant. The chatter shuts down, the mind clears. There is rest. The effect also persists for some time.

It works. It works on me, it works on my wife, it works on my dad. I'll stop preaching now. If you want to see some of the more technical information, go to the website. There are articles written on various related topics by my boss. There are studies and findings in the Research section of the website.

I guess that all I'm saying is that if you are not content with your insomnia, et al, that there are other methods to try. But I'm a convert. (And it pays my wages :-P)

-DarkStar

Comment from: Lilamrta posted at November 28, 2005 8:08 PM

Darkstar, that sounds really interesting. I'm quite often amazed by what science does. Whether it works for everyone, of course, is undeterminable. The brain is such a complex thing. It's neat to watch people figure out more and more about how it works. I don't have large problems with insomnia; it's more of an occasional inconvenience than a persistent condition. Anyway, sounds like a nifty little gadget.

Wednesday, thank you for sharing your writing with us. That takes a lot of courage if you feel like I do with the insecurity and the everyone will think I'm stupid. From the sound of it it's even harder for you to overcome. I may not know but I've always been empathetic and I think I can understand. It's been interesting following this thread, hearing about the different ways people's minds function, and finding out that it's not just me with the rampaging mind and inability to accomplish a thing. Anyway, before I go on and on.

Comment from: gwalla posted at November 28, 2005 8:41 PM

Isn't that how Brion Gysin's Dreamachine is supposed to work? Although IIRC it's supposed to cause hallucinations.

Comment from: Denyer posted at November 28, 2005 9:17 PM

if the problem is just going to get worse and worse without a calculated risk

The balance of feedback from friends and others is about half and half those who eventually hit on a medicated solution that works for them and those who couldn't live with side-effects to a greater degree than they couldn't stand things without one (some of whom found routine/diet changes effective, after being pushed towards trialling drugs.)

So many changes during adolescence do settle over time that I'm concerned the span of what is considered "normal" development is narrowing. This is certainly not to suggest that some will not greatly benefit from medication.

Indeed, the use of ADHD diagnoses to channel resources within the education sector does rather a disservice to those who do have severe problems, causing their needs to not be taken seriously.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at November 28, 2005 10:46 PM

"Indeed, the use of ADHD diagnoses to channel resources within the education sector does rather a disservice to those who do have severe problems, causing their needs to not be taken seriously."

I don't mean this snarkily (no pun intended) but can you clarify what you mean? Do you mean that resources are being funnelled to ADHD kids who don't in fact have severe problems and therefore denying resources to non-ADHDers who do?

Comment from: DarkStar posted at November 29, 2005 12:04 AM

gwalla - Oddly enough, the process that the Dreamachine taps is basically the same one that the DAVID units use. We, of course, use a bit more advanced technology. Stuff like isolating the left and right sides of the brain, being able to control the frequency a lot better (to within 0.1Hz), all sort of little details along the way. But, essentially, very similar. We've learned a lot about it since then.

Comment from: Recovering Extrovert posted at November 29, 2005 12:22 AM

See, the trouble with using a term like ADHD is that it refers to a disorder that not a lot of people fully understand. I had to look it up, myself, because I completely forgot what the acronym even stands for. Even then, it is vague: at what point does engergetic become hyperactive? At what point does "easily bored" become "attention deficient"? I mean, it's obvious that if person x can't do anything for more than 30 seconds at a time and ends up doing more different things in one day than most people do in a month, they have some sort of medical issue, but what about the grays? Everything has a gray area, but certain treatments (cough-MEDICATION-cough) are almost all or nothing, making the taking somewhat troublesome because there's no good understanding of the curve.....or maybe there is and I have been speaking from my ass. I would like some feedback, tho.
Honestly, I believe that you have a problem the day you decide that what your mind puts you through is unacceptable (this isn't an exclusive case, just one of the indicators). Therefore, I am somewhat eagerly awaiting the atomoxetine myself out of sheer morbid curiousity (she'll grow horns, I tells ya! Like the deveel!). But still, curiosity abounds in other areas as well. Like that dream machine thingy, the DANIEL units or whatever (scrolling up is for jerks).

Comment from: Denyer posted at November 29, 2005 4:22 AM

Do you mean that resources are being funnelled to ADHD kids who don't in fact have severe problems and therefore denying resources to non-ADHDers who do?

That wasn't the intended point, but resources are finite and tend to accrete towards issues that are buzzwords at any given time.

For the sake of not heading down a tangent, though: no. ADHD/ADD is widely seen as synonymous for excusing bad parenting, to the detriment of those who could be in the most supportive environment possible, limit their exposure to stimulus and still have problems functioning on a day-to-day basis.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at November 29, 2005 4:57 AM

I had to look it up, myself, because I completely forgot what the acronym even stands for. Even then, it is vague: at what point does engergetic become hyperactive? At what point does "easily bored" become "attention deficient"?

Not that you yourself have fallen into this particular trap, or anything, but this is, I think, a sterling example of what I call "Radlein's Rule of Disease Names":

Any disease name composed entirely of common English nouns and adjectives will cause more confusion and trouble than it is worth. People who do not suffer from the condition will underestimate its effects because they will think they understand them, and they will think they understand them because they understand the meaning of the words that comprise the disease's name.

When in doubt, stick with Latin or Greek compound names, even if they aren't medically (or lexicologically) accurate. Proper names are also acceptable, especially if the names in question are exotic or hyphenated. Common English words should only be used if at least two of them are 'Sudden,' 'Toxic,' 'Paralysis,' or 'Death.'

To cite the most obvious example, if Depression were called "Schwarzenberger's Syndrome," people suffering from it would at least be spared the chorus of suggestions that they should "cheer up," "buckle down," and "see it through, because things aren't that bad" from folks who think that it's like sadness, only, you know, sadder.

Similarly, people hear "Attention Deficit Disorder" (with or without the "Hyperactivity") and they think, "Geez, who didn't have trouble concentrating when they were a kid? And my kids are always running around like demons, too!" — and they don't get the qualitative difference between being bored and fidgety and having five people trying to carry on different conversations at once with you and something is jabbing you in the shins and you're hungry and there was something very important that you needed to remember and your head is full of angry bees and you're staring at the page in front of you and it's just so many words one after the other and...

It's not their fault, really; it's just the way our minds work: If we understand the name of a thing, we think that we understand the thing itself. It's a common problem with Terms of Art in lots of different fields: Think of the trouble you could get into by assuming that you know the meaning of 'contract' or 'offer' in a legal setting, just because they're common words; or the confusion that can arise if you apply the (essentially identical) everday meanings of 'force,' 'energy,' and 'power' in a Physics context.

...And that, for what it is worth, is why I tend to refer to the illness which has crippled me for the last several years by its old-fashioned British name of "Myalgic Encephalomyelitis," despite the fact that, if you want to get picky about your Medical Latin, it's roughly as accurate as "Demon Infested Vitreous Bile" would be as a description of my actual condition. But at least it's all Latin and stuff. People hear that and they say, whoa — now that's a disease.

Comment from: Canuck-Errant posted at November 29, 2005 10:32 AM

Ah, jeez. All this stuff about inability to concentrate, falling into stuff you feel vaguely guilty about because it's not useful, it's not worthwhile - so very, very familiar. (My current addiction seems to be City of Villains. Added hook: replaces the social interaction I'm not having here. I like give-and-take relationships, but those don't come around nearly as often as I'd like. I lose contact with people a lot.)

I was diagnosed with ADD back in... it must have been November, 1998. I was what, 13? Put me on 15 mg SR dexedrine. Strong gag reflexes, though, kept me from taking my medication on any sort of regular basis - which led to my losing a scholarship to probably the best-known private high school in Canada. (Yeah, I was at UCC. One year. Another story there.)

Computers are a tool, they give you a sort of focus, but they can also easily become a distraction from useful work - "useful" in this case meaning things where you are actually producing something. I bought a typewriter, last year - it helped, surprisingly enough; probably because I can type just as fast with a typewriter as with a keyboard. I just can't edit quite as well, which is irritating.

I'd edit this, but I think it's better to leave it as it is - a bit messy, but more indicative of my thought processes than any well-thought-out, educated essay on ADD I could produce.

Dexedrine, when I take it, keeps me awake nights. I produce like crazy, sure, but I also can't sleep, can't eat. And if it's something irrelevant I concentrate on - once I did a magnificent poster for a pubcrawl for the Psych students' society - then it's kind of wasted effort, wasted medicine.

Comment from: Elizabeth McCoy posted at November 29, 2005 6:36 PM

About the only comment I'm going to add to this, at the moment, is that there was a Discover article a few months back (probably several, by now; my ability to remember specific things is shot from parenthood) that some childrens' ADD/ADHD diagnoses were missing one crucial bit -- sleep problems. (Specifically apnea, IIRC.) Instead of getting tired and draggy, like grown-ups do, a tired kid gets MANIC. Distractible. Emotional. Unable to concentrate on anything for more than three seconds at a time. (I testify to this. I see it a LOT. It's only past that phase that the minx gets draggy.)

Cure the sleep issues, and **for_those_kids**, the "attention deficit" issue goes away. (Observe how I carefully do not say that anyone in specific is misdiagnosed. If anyone in specific feels that this might be applicable, please contact a doctor in specific and raise the concern in specific. If anyone in specific feels it is not applicable, then just keep it in mind as infinite diversity in creation.)

I suspect stuff like this is in some people's minds when they hear about medication. I have huge twitches about it myself. If someone had misdiagnosed my hypothyroidism (draggy, sleepy all the time, inability to lose weight combined with dizzy spells from low blood sugar... WHILE NURSING) as depression... well, I'd be on that lovely slow path to "depression, weight-gain, dementia, and death."

Comment from: Duff the Tragic Wagon posted at November 30, 2005 10:44 AM

Ray: Does that actually work on people? In my experience, regardless of which name you use, the ensuing comversation will still involve explaining that no, it is not "just tiredness".
I applaud you for being able to remember the name and spelling, by the way. I sure as hell can't.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at November 30, 2005 10:46 AM

::WANTS TO MARRY RAY RADLEIN::

Also, Denyer: Okay, I get it better now I think.

heh. "like sadness, only, you know, sadder." Heh.

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?