A long month spent figuring things out for my mental health: OCD, Bipolar, ADHD, or all of the above?

I touched on this a little bit yesterday, so some of the revelations may feel a bit similar.

I figured out this week that I’d been sliding downhill since leaving college behind. I mean, I did my degree for my Bachelor’s, then went back fast as I could for my Master’s (when no job popped up and I was getting desperate to feel useful). And I haven’t done squat with either degree.

Something just wasn’t working for me. I mean, I was a bubbly, excitable student, but it was mostly because I was that kid that wanted to learn as much as possible. I wasn’t totally distracted by my environment. I was at school to learn, and I did as much as I could. High school was weird because I wasn’t so excited by school anymore, but still wanted to do my best and that was my main job as a teenager: pass and do well. College was amazing because I was such an eager learner again, and I kept going for more and more classes.

I noticed something I hadn’t before: that the structure of school and directed schedules kept me going strong. Once I’d left schooling behind and had to do for myself, go get a job in my career, direct my own self… I was lacking far more than I ever imagined. Somehow that desire to help and do more and be part of a group and learn just didn’t manifest when I had to tackle things myself.

I had people joke (after I got my Master’s) that I would probably go back to school and get my PhD, that I could be a professional student. I actually balked at that because I wanted to use what I’d learned out beyond the academic world and find a career that would let me.

It didn’t occur to me til this week that I had no clue how to do that. I’d missed something vital in my education. I didn’t know how to get away from prescribed schedules and assignments and make my own goals and stick with them without having to rely on someone or something else’s direction. Somehow I’ve borrowed bits and pieces of how to work and made them work for a time, but that’s it.

I was stuck, and I’ve been stuck going on 10 bloody years now.

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I took the path of least resistance and still managed to get nowhere. I’m now wondering if I really wanted to be a classroom teacher, or I was so used to school that I didn’t even try to imagine myself realistically working outside of that environment for a career. I became cynical and jaded while searching for teaching jobs to the point where even after 4 years and no classroom of my own (and lots of job fairs, resumes left behind, a few interviews, and many years of substitute teaching), my enthusiasm for wanting to teach and lead students through lessons began to wane.

It also didn’t help that as much as I kept hearing about “networking” as a buzzword, I never really learned how to do it, so the odds were more stacked against me every year, especially as the recession went on and on and nobody was leaving their teaching jobs.

And I noticed, this is when my tendency to make “to do lists” and “schedules” has become little more than busywork. I make study plans that stretch for months and discard them within a week. I buy planners that end up with either so much white-out on them you can’t write legibly, or the paper’s been worn through by too much erasing. It’s like there’s some weird tick in my mind where I feel that since I did as much as I could to meticulously write and revise my “to do lists”, that was almost equal to actually doing the task. Okay, maybe not that strange. But somehow it felt like once I’d spent all that time finalizing the plan, I couldn’t make myself actually DO the plan. It’s like the “prepwork” became conflated with “finished product”, even if nothing had been started.

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My therapist told me that this kind of behavior is indicative of some possible ADHD (and possible OCD, according to a few online screenings I took). It makes no sense to me because I know I can clearly see nothing has been finished and it’s just an idea on paper, not even sketched out of physically worked on. And yet, there’s some part of my brain that acts like it’s been done.

Scarily, it makes me wonder how far the “living inside my head” thing REALLY goes… how delusional can one get in that regard?

So, because of my crazy financial situation, even if I wanted to right now, getting a full test and possible meds for ADHD just can’t happen. Instead, I’m looking into whatever I can to get my hands on to find alternatives to help me out of any ADHD tendencies or behaviors. I have mental health workbooks and books galore that I could consult, and will start to this week. I am also seeing how well diet and exercise can help those with mental disorders (or suspected ones) and what to keep in mind for them. I mean, in some instances, it seems ADHD can be helped by these things, but it could be anecdotal, too. Or just coincidence with some other changes to the body or routine. Hard to say, though I’m more than willing to try it out or find out.

Can you be paid to be a human guinea pig for something like this? Because I’d love to do that if possible… long as they’re not jabbing me with needles and it’s a decent amount worth the time involved (hee hee).

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So, it seems every week I’ve found something new to work on for myself, and some newfangled thing to try and study or incorporate into my routines in some fashion, some way to keep it in mind. It’s just too much and I know I’ve been overwhelming myself with a lot of this, which is likely why I nearly snapped yesterday. But I honestly did feel, by the time I was driving to work, that if I went home to find that a meteor had landed square on my house and smashed it to kindling, I probably wouldn’t have been surprised. It just felt like “what next?”

I liken it to something I heard from one of those audio reddit stories where the guy made a boxing analogy regarding his wife’s infidelity and finding the truth, that there comes a point where the punches are still coming, but you just don’t feel them anymore, even though they’re still causing damage. Like you’ve been rendered numb as to what’s going on. That’s a lot like how I was starting to feel inside, and I just couldn’t stand the idea of it going on and on with no clear plan, direction, or even a glimpse of the resolution in sight.

I still can’t, and am hoping that this week I can get some meditation strategies in order, a cleaner house (at least a little more each week), a good exercise and eating routine, and be able to weather the tiny storms that come along with grace, and treat the bigger concerns accordingly without turning it into an end-of-world scenario in case things look terrible. Stress is a killer, after all, and it’s high time I stopped letting it rule.

And this week, of course, is gonna be about jobs. Lovely, lovely jobs. Things that make money, which makes the wallet feel happy and sated while the knot in my stomach loosens. There’s so much to learn, and it’s time to do more than just hope for the best. Time to learn what a better me (physically, mentally, socially, spiritually) can actually be.

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9 thoughts on “A long month spent figuring things out for my mental health: OCD, Bipolar, ADHD, or all of the above?

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      And the real world takes it’s precious time telling us that we still have a helluva lot more to learn… at least I LIKE to learn. I just don’t like taking years to figure out what others seem to just know (without being able to explain it because they just live it). I mean, I know I’m a late-bloomer socially in a lot of respects, and always have been, but then when this comes along, it starts to feel ridiculous!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Ray Laskowitz says:

    I wasn’t going to reply because I think this discussion is more internal but since you wrote about it twice I thought that I’d better.

    First, stop self diagnosing yourself. That’s a sure ticket to nowhere. If you think there is an issue see someone even if it costs you money. But, for my part I think you are over complicating everything. In our house we pick a koan for the year and work toward it. When we both came up with simplicity independently we knew we were on to something.

    My suggestion… throw those lists away. Sure, make a list of errands you need to accomplish. I would also suggest reading a book called “How to Write One Song” By Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. It’ll teach you everything that you need to know about accomplishing something. Basically, he says pick one thing and just start and don’t stop until it’s done. Polish it and move on.

    If you want to teach, now is the time. We have a lot of teachers in my world. Many have retired or just quit in the time of the great quitting. There are jobs everywhere. Of course, Texas isn’t Louisiana, but the teachers I know in Texas (four) are complaining because they are filling in as they do their own work. This could be your one thing…

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      I hear ya. I’m trying to avoid diagnosing myself because so many things overlap (which is another reason I don’t want to go for screenings and meds–how much money that would cost makes me shudder, and I can’t afford it). Just drives me nuts that my family used to see me struggling, but I guess they thought I could just figure things out. No, all I did was worry myself to death and try extra hard to control things, lists being what they are.

      There are a ton of things that need improving, but I’ve had to remind myself multiple times a day that I can’t tackle ’em all at once, and like you said, do one thing and stick with it a while. I hate those lists you mentioned and have been gradually getting rid of them. I can’t do it all, and certainly not all right now. They’ve been a bad habit so long that it takes some major doing, but exercise and better sleep have helped temper my worry and erratic behavior, so it’s helping.

      As far as teaching goes, I got so disillusioned with it I don’t really wanna be a classroom teacher anymore and I let my certification lapse. I could probably go for it again, but just listening to how disrespectful the kids are around me toward their teachers, my temper would be hard to hold in check and I’d probably get fired (lol). I’ll stick with tutoring a bit as my main job til I find better, more flexible work. As much as I love educating, I don’t think a classroom of my own is in my future anymore. I’ve “taught” in other capacities and liked it, but I’m behind on tech (still learning Zoom of all things), so it’ll take some more learning and catching up before I branch out.

      But yeah, getting away from the lists is gonna help my sanity greatly. Focusing on a day at a time has to happen. I’m working on a 30 day plan to curb spending in the immediate future (keeping it crazy simple and the only list is a short list of restrictions, not “to-dos” (hee hee). Be well.

      Oh, and thanks for the book recommend. I like Wilco, and heard that book’s title, but didn’t realize the two were related (hee hee).


      • Ray Laskowitz says:

        You sound like you are on the right track. As far as Zoom goes, it’s easier than you think. I’m used to a couple of Zoom meetings every other day or so, meaning I have taken the time to mess with it. I’ve three major projects, two of which won’t close until September. Some of us won’t even be in the same state. The other project is forever. Tweedy wrote a very good book. I use Audible so I actually heard him read it. One thing you’ll learn is that he is a very honest man.

        Liked by 1 person

        • TheChattyIntrovert says:

          That’s good to know about Zoom. I tried to use it when the shutdowns started and EVERYBODY was trying to use it. Seemed so buggy and they were fixing it right and left, so it was confusing that first month. then I ended up working full-time elsewhere and didn’t need to use it (while others were still struggling). Now that my backup computer is cleaned up and I got a webcam again (it kept ditching the software for some reason–stupid upgrades), i can practice. My bestie said she’d help me with calls and make sure my settings were good once i re-downloaded it and gave it another shot. My fear of screwing up has held me back a ton, but I’m (slowly) learning to just shrug it off and do it because it’s needed and waiting isn’t gonna make it any easier.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ray Laskowitz says:

            Sorry that I didn’t respond to this. I didn’t see your reply. If you followed me I’d see it in email. 🙂 It was a little buggy during the lockdown. Too many people using it, I suppose. I’ve been using it well before lockdown so I’d gained some confidence early. Like all software and apps there really is nothing you can do to hurt it. Ask if you have questions. It’s good that you cleaned up one of your computers. Zoom tends to use a lot of resources. The less junk you have lurking on your HD
            the better and faster Zoom loads and runs.

            Liked by 1 person

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