Nothing’s Okay But It’s All Okay

You guys, I feel like a hot mess. In fact, my health insurance company has pointed this out by sending “helpful” pamphlets on combating anxiety, as if it were an army one could see and defeat. At least I haven’t gotten a diabetes one in awhile. That’s exasperating when it’s based on weight alone and not evidence. Anxiety is one of the things that’s not okay but that is going to be okay come hell or high water. 

Once I saw that I was losing sleep and reluctant to do my public facing job, I took myself back to the doctor and what she prescribed made me gain a lot of weight, fast. My eating habits didn’t worsen and I started exercising a lot more so that’s frustrating, to say the least. We talked, I cut back on the dose, and I’m hoping that the weight comes off, even if it’s not as quickly as I put it on. So it’s okay, even though it’s not okay. The thing is, the week we cut back, the anxiety got worse. On the plus side, I’m still okay enough that I can look the anxiety in the eye and name it which is better than it was before.

And to be honest, I could be eating cleaner but I’m watching my dog go downhill fast and I’m coping as well as I can given that he’s my first born, my best dog, my constant comfort. We put our mattress on the floor so that he can get up on it. I can’t get off of it in the morning because I am old. So it’s not okay. Losing him, stiffly struggling to get up in the morning (both of us), but it’s okay because I don’t have to worry he’ll puncture a lung falling off the bed or listen to him whimper and fail to get on it. I can’t help the rest of his problems, but I can do this. 

So perhaps saying nothing is okay is an exaggeration but it sometimes feels that way. But it’s all going to be okay, one way or another, now or eventually and hey, maybe those mindfulness classes paid off after all.

It's 2020.

Two things happened. The vet made a house call to treat our menagerie and I left to work at a coffeeshop because I’m gay. Now, I’m pretty delighted I live in a world where my vet will a) make house calls and b) I can afford this too-good-to-be-true luxury. But I am not delighted that the vet they sent is the one who is rumored to be homophobic. So I left my wife to it rather than be out. How is it that it was easier to be semi-closeted than to deal with any repercussions for being a lady loving family? Ha. Lady loving.

And yes, Dear Reader, I know you would have been perfectly happy confronting him with The Gay or even gotten a different vet, but I LOVE our regular vet and it’s worth it, at least for now, to stick with the practice. So there I sat, gay as the day is long, drinking coffee and working while my wife dealt with the vet. Non-gayly presumably. It’s a lovely decade to live in, until it’s not*.

*Which, don’t even mention the shambles around us, both in the US and outside of it. Shambles.

ADHD part 2

You should know that I really appreciate your comments and offers to chat about RR’s ADHD diagnosis. We were altogether hesitant to tell anyone, including RR, and it has made it easier to know that there’s a semi-silent (not everyone, I know, but lots!) army out there who are meeting things like ADHD and all of its cousins head on.

One of my biggest concerns in telling RR was that she would start to use it as an excuse or a crutch. That may sound harsh – it is, after all, nothing she’s doing on purpose. I’ve had some up close and personal adult ADHD professional interactions over the last couple of years that have left me in despair, yes, actually. From what I understand though, these folks are perhaps not managing their diagnosis or need help finding new methods of management that would help their professional lives stay…professional. And that’s enough said about that.

This diagnosis is having wider repercussions on the family and we’re seeing a family therapist to find coping mechanisms that work well for all of us. No medication was recommended at this point but as school gets more demanding I can see us getting there. I worry that, outside of her Montessori environment, she might be less successful. That’s several years away though and while I’m a worrier, no need to borrow trouble.

Speaking of, I was also reticent to tell the school and concerned that they would…I don’t know. Kick her out? They aren’t obligated to provide services for her. It’s not like an IEP situation that she might have in public school. But they were, as I should have known, wonderful, and I’ve felt like her teachers and the learning specialists have all been on top of it, low key, and supportive. We’re winning all around.

As for RR, she seems satisfied to know there’s a reason she struggles to be attentive and hasn’t once used it as an excuse. So far, it’s the best possible situation. Thank you again for telling your stories and lending your support. It’s appreciated more than you know.

ADHD Strikes

Since June, we’ve officially known that RR has ADHD and a remarkably slow processing speed. We suspected before (or we wouldn’t have had her tested) since she is both vibrating with life and blissfully inattentive on the regular. We wondered if it was interfering with her ability to learn (it was) and with her ability to make friends (it might be). So now we’re fully in the throes of making life as consistent and as motivating as possible.

At least, I see it that way. All the efforts to make sure she knows when to brush her teeth hinge on early preparation, reminders, and motivators. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has an almost 10 year old who wouldn’t dress in the mornings if her clothes weren’t already laid out and waiting for her. But maybe I am. So now her parents have a fleet of routines to follow and reminders to set in place and I’m pretty much exhausted by that already. On the plus side, it’s actually working and, if we remember to remind her to pick out clothes, we can start a chain reaction that includes getting dressed, eating, brushing teeth and hair, and putting shoes on all by a reasonable time in the morning. This is a triumph.

This is also exhausting (for me). I don’t like feeling as though everything has to be done the same way every time or keeping a list of all the trigger actions we have to take to get the chain reactions we’re looking for. But I dislike reminders more than I dislike routine so, here we are. We’re also motivating her with gold coins (Brazilian 25 cent pieces) in a jar which I’m halfway against (come on child, just get the bedtime routine done, please) but more in favor of than sticker stars or U.S. money.

Speaking of money, RR has a very blasé attitude about it all: Why do we even need money, mama, why can’t we just trade for things? Money is not a motivator.

So now we have some extra services at school. This is better than what we heard from the specialist at the end of last year which was that RR was looking at others’ papers rather than doing her own work. When reframed, it looks entirely like ADHD and not malicious intent. I still don’t love the specialist but her demeanor has changed entirely now that there’s a diagnosis at hand.

I hope this doesn’t make things needlessly hard for RR. While I feel like we can get a handle on the inattentive part of it all, the slow processing speed could hurt her ability to form close friendships as she gets older. That’s heartbreaking to think about, so I don’t.

Chris

You may be happy to know that Chris, the Impulse Cheetah, was a tremendous hit. He is also now a looming presence in RR’s room, but we knew what we were signing up for when we decided Santa had to come through on “a surprise”.

Santa's List

Following some advice given several years ago, this year’s “big” gift is coming from us, her parents, and not from Santa. The general advice was, don’t let Santa take credit for the great things, get some of the glory as the parents. And lord knows I need all the glory I can get this year. 

We are also way ahead (for us) of the gift game for RR. We diligently listened to her asks, sifted through over the last few months to find the most important/repeated ones, and carefully selected a few high priority presents for her delight on Christmas Day. And then she wrote a letter to Santa.

And nothing we got was on it. 

After some gentle prodding she added to the list with a genuine Oh I forgot that vibe and now some of the purchased things, including the big thing, are on it. But there are still unfulfilled wishes that Santa just isn’t going to get to, falling down on the job for the first time. 

I hope she isn’t disappointed Christmas morning. I remember that feeling and since she doesn’t get that many gifts, I feel sad not spoiling her a bit more. That said, there are gifts she didn’t play with this year from last Christmas and I definitely don’t want a repeat of that. And we’re not a gun household so that Nerf Blaster is out no matter what.

So Santa and his limited funds are heading into the end of December with a small sack of wish list items. But, we do have one ace in the hole. A life-size impulse-buy cyber-monday cheetah that 100% falls under the wish list item “and a surprise.”

Gratitude

You guys, I am so excited that we don’t have family visiting this Christmas. My mom is in Arizona and, well, we’re down to her as far as extended family goes. She’ll be joining my sister’s family again this year. I assume at some point we might have to field the request but she’s not a fan of snow and December in the mid-Atlantic can be unpredictable.

For me, Christmas was always a huge affair (as was every holiday) jam packed with grandparents, cousins, and aunts. As delightful as that is, years ago we declared Christmas morning an immediate family only affair and with one exception we’ve managed it. We’ve had some rule bending one or twice but the present opening has been joyfully just us for some time. I’m not sure why this is important to me and I don’t particularly want to take it apart and uncover some dark corner of my heart I didn’t know was there.

Still, there are moments in the quiet hours of the days between Christmas and New Years that I look around and wonder where the noise and commotion is and if I’m doing it right. But I believe this is due in part to the relentless grip of anxiety which is always poking around for some area of life to question and, subsequently panic about. Anxiety is a dick. I’ll be happily spending this Christmas with my wife and child and I’ll be damn happy about it, thank you very much.