Staying on Task, Dealing with Mental Health

I feel like I’ve talked about this before. I’m going to talk about dealing with a lack of executive function. It’s something that comes up more and more frequently. As I understand it, this is a part of living with ADHD. I’ve never been officially diagnosed, but there are about a dozen signs pointing in that direction.

What is it like?

Emotionally, it’s frustrating. It probably looks like I’m being lazy or screwing around, but from behind my eyes, it’s much worse than that. There is a goal or a task I wish to accomplish, and I simply… can’t. Something won’t let me.

Have you ever had your arm go to sleep so soundly that you couldn’t lift it? You try and try, but nothing happens. That’s what it’s like.

Sometimes, I can expend a great deal of mental energy and force myself to work on the task. Sometimes, I can trick myself into doing the tasks through distraction. Bribes don’t usually work. Offering myself treats usually leads to me skipping the task and going straight for the treat. In addition to being unable to work on what I want to work on, my impulse control is also diminished.

I’m not sure how other people deal with it. I have a white board that helps, but putting the tasks on the white board can itself become a task that I struggle doing. Music is often a huge help, but that’s not always a practical option.

I think other people get help, but the act of asking is… well. I guess I’m still terrified. I don’t want to be like my biological mother. Bipolar. Manic depressive. The signs are there for that, too.

Even with my struggles with executive function, my brain is still my most precious asset. I use it to write. I use it to troubleshoot. I had a late evening with work tonight, troubleshooting and fixing things that depend on me being sharp. And, though this sounds prideful, I really am very smart, and it’s that strength that allows me to keep my job and be useful.

Messing with my brain scares me. After hearing about Covid messing with people’s personality and mental faculties, I was terrified that I would be diminished after getting Covid. So far, I appear to have avoided that problem. But drugs? Drugs for dealing with depression or bipolar or whatever I’m diagnosed with could be the thing that culminates all of my fear.

What if I’m unable to write?

If it comes down to a question of whether or not I would want to be a writer or be who I am today, I would rather continue as I am. Bliss is fleeting. Happiness is a moment. Even with the depression and struggles, there are still moments that rise above that are good and joyful. I would not want to trade away who I am for… I don’t know what.

And I really hope none of what I’ve said here is offensive. Mental healthcare is healthcare, and I’m not trying to diminish it or anything. I have fears around it, and I’m mostly talking about what I’m afraid of, which isn’t necessarily the reality.

The reality is probably that if I had better mental health, I could be free to be more of who I want to be.

It’s just really hard to see that reality from where I’m sitting right now. To me, moving towards that reality is like stepping into a burning building.

Why am I talking about this now?

Some conversations on Twitter made me think of it. And, last week when I went and saw Melissa’s doctor, I filled out a depression screening form twice. Once online, once on paper. Based on how I answered those questions, I thought I would be having a conversation with the doctor about mental health. But nothing happened. Nothing came from it.

Wednesday, I’ll be meeting my doctor for the first time. I’m going to try and talk to her about it then.