LOGIN
                     Become an Insider           Login
Avatar
Not an Insider Yet?

We no longer offer memberships.
Existing Insider Members may still login (right) and receive their benefits. Stay tuned for some major changes.

Reset Password - Forgot My Username

Username
Password
Remember me

Featured Article

THE INSIDE SCOOP: Covers That Sell

Whether setting up a display to entice readers or creating a cover from scratch, there…

Most Read Articles

All TopShelf Articles

SiteLock

My life is a series of adventures.

All our lives are.

We are born into the world with a family (if we are lucky) where we learn the skills we need to adult somewhere along the way. Some of us learn the skills better and earlier than others, someone us get more help than others, and some of us keep asking why like a small three-year old. (That would be me) We have our own gifts, and challenges. We are all uniquely us, whatever that package is.

I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge. I was the kid that turned down TV in favor of reading a new book. Learning how people in the world lived, particularly throughout history, was my favorite subject, but I wasn’t picky. I read history, mystery, fiction, fantasy, and even For Whom the Bell Tolls in Grade five. I didn’t appreciate Hemingway at that age, and haven’t read him since. Perhaps my 11-year-old self didn’t give him a fair shake, but I thought he was boring.

In general, my problem has usually been an abundance of things I want to do instead of being bored. Focus has been a life-long struggle for me because of this. For a long time, I wondered what was wrong with me. It wasn’t because I didn’t like school— I loved it. I did well too, graduating top of my class in high school, and going on to earn two undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees, but I wasn’t able to sit still and pay attention the way others did. All my report cards through my primary education bore witness to that fact, and in university I was the girl who crocheted in anatomy classes instead of taking notes, just so I could pay attention. 

Yes, my marks were good, but I was always interrupting despite trying not to. I always needed reminding what page we were on because I somehow had already jumped five chapters ahead of the class, but I learned how to keep my finger on the correct page, and come back to it before my turn. My work-arounds improved with age and experience, but I still struggle with waiting my turn. 

Some days, there’s so much in my head it feels like it wants to burst out, like the creature in Alien. 

What this means is that somewhere along the line, my tangential, hyperactive self-learned how to scold myself. I got good at it too, long before I understood why I do it. I still remember my A-ha moment. I was taking Intro to Psychology, and we had just learned about attention deficit disorder. Unfortunately, in the same breath the professor explained it, they mentioned how many university students take ADHD meds to get an “edge” in their school work. 

While I knew in my soul I was that thing, that ADHD the professor had summarized, there was an instant stigma in my head. I didn’t even realize the Inner Critic had made the decision never to see anyone about it until years later. Surely, if I could get through high school with good marks, I didn’t need those meds. 

I wasn’t one of those students, looking for an edge. 

So, I continued for another twenty years without them, graduating with good marks from a Bachelor of Science degree, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors, no less!) in Psychology with a minor in History, all without seeing anyone or ever trying medications for ADHD. 

I even completed medical school and residency, got married and had three children before finally admitting I was struggling. Yes, I could get everything done, but the mental exhaustion of listening to that nagging voice of my Inner Critic in my head was wearing me down. I was getting sick more, (kids in preschool are germ factories) and developed migraines and back pain, all around the same time. 

I was having problems sleeping and with anxiety, both of which were new to me. Part of my challenges were inevitable, and related to age, but it meant my usual medication, running, was off the table for several months, and that compounded my issues. Without the physical outlet I relied on, the exhaustion mounted and finally made me stop and look at my life critically.

I had reached a crossroad where a decision had to be made. 

I worried about my creative side being stifled by medication. What if my ideas didn’t flow anymore? What if medication took away all my stories? All the people I’ve created and written down? What if it caused a permanent writers block? And of course, what if it changed who I am, the personality I’ve earned during my time on this planet? I’m not perfect, but I liked myself the way I was.

The Inner Critic told me I was silly, and didn’t need medication. I was merely doing too much, and needed to get better organized. (This led to an ongoing fascination with the search for the Holy Grail of organizers, but that is an entirely different story I shall not go into here.)

It said medication was for kids who couldn’t focus at school, or people having work issues and home issues. My life was pretty good, so surely, I could go without it. But thankfully, Logical Brain stepped in. 

I like to picture it this way. Logical Brain has glasses and a clipboard, like the research scientists in movies who always lose their access pass to the good guy. The Inner Critic is more a librarian, so while they also have glasses, they have hair pulled up so tight in a bun all my wrinkles are gone.

Inner Critic (IC) “You don’t need medication. That’s silly. Maybe if you stopped saying yes to everything, you could get some stuff finished around here. Then you’d be just fine.”

Logical Brain (LB) “Dude, why are you such a nag? Of course, we could be more organized if we said no. But we keep saying yes because we forget about the other stuff, and then we are overcommitted, and feel bad turning anyone down, so we do more things. Like when we said yes to brownies, remember?”

IC. “Ugh, yes. We did not have time for that. Well, we had to do something. Two of our kids were in the group, so it was our fault the ratio of brownies to leaders was off.”

LB. “But we didn’t have to. You know that. So, look. One of the main characteristics of women with ADHD is the people-pleasing thing, remember? Maybe…just maybe…if we go see someone and get a medication trial we can know if it helps. If not, then no harm, no foul.”

IC sighs, rolls her eyes, and adjusts her glasses. She is about to speak when Cavegirl shows up, looking disheveled with troll-doll hair and interrupts.

CG. “ OMG! Guys! Looks! Sequins!!! I want to buy all the sequins!!”

IC and LB in unison. “NO! WE DO NOT NEED MORE SEQUINS!”

CG stomps her feet and pouts. “You guys are no fun. NO FUN!”

LB raises an eyebrow. “Why are you so scared to try? I mean, exhibit A.” 

LB gestures to cavegirl, who is now pressing her face to a pane of glass and licking it.

IC sighs. “Okay, fine. But we need to do this objectively.”

LB snorts. “I am always objective.”

So that, dear reader, is my brain in a nutshell. This story has a great ending, and that is one of teamwork. With medication, my logical brain, inner cavegirl, and inner critic learned how to take turns. Inner critic was shocked how much easier it was to focus on tasks and is much less naggy, inner cavegirl sleeps like a baby and still dances and sings as much as she ever did, and logical brain is a smug witch, like always. 

You may have guessed I have a rich internal life. I do. Thankfully, my worries about medication changing that didn’t happen. What the right medications have done for me is simply slow things down. The first time I ever took something for my ADHD, my head was quiet for the first time I could remember. I was able to do one thing, think one thing, and most importantly, take that extra moment to listen to others before interrupting. 

I’d like to say my life is amazing and perfect, and that I never, ever blurt out something I wish I could immediately take back, or that interrupting others is a thing of the past, but it still takes a lot of work every day to slow down and think of other people. Medication is only a tool in my toolbox for managing mental health. Exercise is huge, as is eating a good diet and sleeping enough. I’ve slowly been able to reincorporate running again, and I’m doing better listening to the early warning signs so I can take it easy before I over do things. 

Days when I run in the morning are the very best days of my life. I am happier, calmer, and able to weather life more graciously, and see the beauty with my Cave Girl eyes on. My Inner Critic is still there, but she shares the driver’s seat more often now, giving Logical Brain time to avoid the accident instead of finding solutions for repairing the damage. Cave girl is still happily creating away, but doing a better job of waiting her turn when it’s not appropriate to sing or laugh. Together, we are having a lot more fun navigating the rollercoaster of life. 

If you or someone you love are struggling with mental health, there are amazing people and resources available to help. Some of my favorites are https://www.anxietycanada.com/ and https://www.caddra.ca/ for add. These are Canadian resources, but anyone can check them out online. They have huge libraries of reading material and local resources for Canada, but similar sites are in every country.

The best thing about living right now is help is only a call or text away. We are all amazing the way we are, but everyone is wired a little differently. That can make life more challenging, but don’t forget—it also makes life more beautiful.

 

I’m a full time worker bee, mother, and writer by the wee hours of the day. I would write all the time if I had my way, but alas, life and family come first!

Somewhere in the last few years I’ve managed to carve out just enough time to write the trilogy that has spawned it all, based on a recurring dream I’ve had since my teens

http://hmgoodenauthor.com/

https://twitter.com/HMGoodenauthor

https://www.facebook.com/HMGoodenAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/hmgoodenauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/981341802029808/?ref=bookmarks