Category : mental health

Year’s End Self-Diagnostic

It’s been a while since I wrote about how I’m doing. Considering how little I’ve posted over the year, the short answer is: not great. But thankfully, the long answer is much better than that. (more…)


At Rest, in Motion

My fellow ADHD people! When you’re sitting or laying down, do you tend to feel more and more lethargic but also restless? Unmotivated and unfocused? Gluestuck in torpor? Do you feel more motivated and focused when you’re not just standing up but moving around? Or is that just a me thing?

I’ve become more aware that my mood and energy levels frequently drop like a tranqed bear when I’m sitting or lying down. Standing in place is better than sitting, but when I actually get moving, I tend to be more cheerful, positive, and energetic. I was never a physically hyperactive child–which is probably one of the reasons my ADHD went undiagnosed for so long–and exercise routines don’t do much for my mind, but more and more, I’m finding it harder to motivate myself and be mentally active when I’m being physically inactive. I wonder if that’s pretty typical for people with ADHD or if it’s more personal.


Behind the Mask

Depression and anxiety lie. Jenny Lawson has said it many times. So has Wil Wheaton. I’ve said it to many people, friends and strangers. I tell it to myself.

The sad thing is, even when you know it rationally, you can still fall for their lies. The saddest thing? The lies aren’t even all that good.

A couple of days ago, I had a very, very good day. That morning, two of my best friends told me I seemed more confident lately. When it came to digging at the roots of my anxiety and depression, “You’re making more progress than you think you are.” They both told me they were proud of me. I was beaming. Later that day, I got to hang out with one of them and chat on the phone with the other. With both friends, we made each other laugh so hard, I had trouble breathing. It was a very, very good day.

Sadly, the next day was terrible.

For the most part, I like my ADHD brain. Honestly, I don’t really mind being easily distracted, having little sense of time or space, going nonlinear, being creative and imaginative, being emotional and sensitive. Except…the sensitivity and high emotions also come with Rejection-Sensitive Dysphoria, which I only recently read about but which resonated strongly with me and explained a lot of bad interactions I’ve had with friends and romantic partners throughout my life.

Saturday was an RSD day. All it took was me sending out a few “Good morning! How’s it going?” messages to friends and not getting any replies for…oh, an hour or two, and I suddenly flipped into “I’ve been rejected!” mode. My brain started spinning all kinds of lies, one on top of the other, spinning out into a thrilling combination of spiraling-up anxiety and spiraling-down depression. “Your friends don’t really love you. Nobody loves you. You’re needy and insecure, a burden on everyone! If you withdraw, nobody will come for you! If you reach out for reassurance, you’ll push everyone away! Even when you explain what’s going on in your head and they tell you they understand and it’s okay, they’ll still ditch you as soon as they can to get away from your craziness! They’re probably all talking about you behind your back right now, asking each other how long they can stand it before they have to cut you loose!” I kept telling myself these thoughts weren’t true, they weren’t helpful, they weren’t good for me. I did my best to keep my breathing deep and regular. I talked to myself internally as if I were talking to my best friend instead of myself, because if your best friend came to you and said “I’m having these difficult feelings,” you wouldn’t tell them they were a crazy burden, no, you’d comfort them and tell them they’re loved and accepted for who they are. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t get away from the feeling that I was driving everyone away with my poorly-controlled emotions.

This went all day and into the night. And then just as suddenly as it had come on, I saw through it all. The monster that was yelling all these things in my head was revealed to be the cheesiest, hammiest actor in a cheap, rubber suit. Everything it was saying was nonsense. Yes, I’ve had people tell me I was weird and annoying, but they weren’t friends of mine. Yes, I’ve had romantic partners break up with me for reasons that probably had to do in some way with my ADHD, depression, and anxiety, but for the most part, it was because we weren’t a good match romantically, and that’s nobody’s fault, that’s just life. How many close friends have I lost because they couldn’t deal with my depression, anxiety, my emotional sensitivity? I can’t think of any. How many close friends have told me they love me, stuck with me during the difficult times, accepted me for who I am? Pretty much all of them. Sure, some friends drift away, the closeness fades. That’s nobody’s fault, that’s just life.

Sure, I’ve had friends tease me and hurt my feelings, but only unintentionally, and when I told them, they apologized. And the friendships continued. Sure, I’ve gotten embarrassed and felt uncomfortable when my emotions amped up around friends, but my friends have always assured me they still like me. And the friendships continued. Sure, my sensitivity and insecurities have gotten the better of me, causing me to react badly, but I apologized. And the friendships continued.

Depression and anxiety feed off of and into the emotional sensitivity that comes with ADHD, but they lie. They fucking lie. They tell you over and over again that you’re broken, unlovable, on the verge of being rejected and abandoned. But the reality is this: the people who truly love you, the ones you would stick with if they were acting this way, will stick with you when you’re acting this way. And the horrible monster telling you what a terrible loser you are is just a shitty, cheap special effect delivering badly written dialogue.


Points of Light

I’ve been slogging through a bad patch of depression for the past 4-5 months. I keep thinking I’m getting out of it, and then some little thing sets me off and I go tumbling back down into it. It’s frustrating and not that much fun.

Artax! (more…)


Cogito Ergo Cogito

There’s this fun thing you do when you have anxiety: overthinking. Yes, lots of people overthink things. Most probably do at some time or another. With anxiety, it’s a whole ‘nother level of overthinking. Catastrophizing, overgeneralizing, paranoia, hypochondria. Your fight-or-flight button, blinking like a sputtering neon sign, spins your thoughts all over the place, and trying to calm yourself down, picking the irrational thoughts away from the rational, when you can’t really tell which thoughts are rational or irrational, can get you paralyzed in a state of overanalyzing everything.

“Josh, you overthink things,” a friend in college told me once while I was fretting over something.

“Really?” I said. “Do you think so? I dunno…maybe I do, but–”

“You’re literally doing it right now,” she said.

Anxious overthinking is tremendously unfun. When it’s happening, you really wish you could shut your thinking off (or at least, as Sarah Fader says, put your brain on airplane mode).

However…

There’s another kind of thinking I do that may appear to people who aren’t me as overthinking. It isn’t.

I think a lot about how I live my life, how I do the things I do, how I don’t do the things I don’t do, how I dress, what food I eat and how I eat it, what I’m reading, what I want to read next, what TV shows I’m watching, what TV shows I want to watch next, what I write about and how I’m going to write it…it never ends. And it’s never going to end.

Maybe it’s an ENFP thing. I’m a┬ácontemplative, intuitive extrovert with energetic, introverted feelings. I’m always going to be thinking of an Ideal Josh living an Ideal Life…and I’m never going to be that person living that life. I’m never going to be satisfied with The Way Things Are Right Now. I’m never going to stop wanting to tweak things. Rearrange, recolor, start, stop, reverse, play back, add reverb. I’m always going to bouncing from cloud to cloud in my head. And because I generate ideas out loud, you’ll often see me posting online, or hear me in personal conversations, pondering my writing and how I approach it, or my job and how I perform it, or, to get really meta, how I think about thinking. And from the outside, it can look like I’m overthinking things, especially when you’re used to me stuck in anxious thought patterns. But I’m not overthinking things, I’m thinking things just right…for me.

When I verbalize these trains of thought, I invariably get someone telling me, “Stop overthinking it! Just do what you want to do.” Which isn’t bad advice, per se.

But what I want to do is…think this stuff out. And rethink it again later. I want to try living my life one way, then try living it another, then another and another. The universe is a laboratory, and my life in an experiment. My natural state is motion and change, thinking out loud as I go. I’m not a noun, I’m a verb.

So if it seems like I’m contemplating my life a little too much and I should just relax and do what comes naturally…that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m just…joshing.

Which, come to think of it, is exactly what this post is.